Some people are upset, surprised even, that PETA euthanizes animals. That’s understandable; no one likes the idea of euthanasia—least of all the caring rescue workers and shelter technicians who are faced with the heart-wrenching task of ending animals’ lives. But they do it because they care. Because it is the kindest, most realistic thing to do. PETA does everything it can to curb dog and cat overpopulation and stop the cruelty and neglect that is so prevalent in our society, yet it is often criticized for not doing enough to make loving homes magically appear. Unfortunately, no amount of money or wishing can do that. I’ve heard plenty of tsk-tsking at PETA, but I’ve yet to hear anyone propose a humane and viable alternative to euthanasia.
If anyone has one, I’d certainly love to hear it.
But first, please take a look at some of the animals that PETA has euthanized. I’ll warn you, the photos are bloody and graphic. They’ll crush your soul and make you cry. But all you have to do is look at photos–PETA’s rescue workers had to rush to animals’ sides and mercifully put them out of their misery. They stroked their fur and said soothing, loving things while the animals drew their last breaths. Sometimes the only kind word or gentle touch a homeless or neglected animal ever receives is from the person who must end his or her life.
Those who euthanize animals don’t forget about them after their day ends. The images stay with them long after the animals are gone–and long after they’ve fought for justice and worked to prevent other animals from suffering similar fates. It’s a thankless job, but PETA is proud to be a “shelter of last resort,” where animals who have no place to go or who are unwanted or suffering are welcomed with love and open arms. PETA won’t turn any animal away simply because euthanasia is unpopular.
Most of the animals PETA has taken in and euthanized were not adoptable. Many were severely injured, aggressive, or otherwise unadoptable, and we gave them a peaceful release from the world. Some had spent their lives on chains or roaming the streets; never having set foot inside a home. Some were sick and weak, covered with scabs and mange, or riddled with parasites.
Not all of them were as badly off as those in the pictures, of course, but most had a pain-filled life and were homeless. If you do the math, you’ll realize that there just aren’t enough loving homes (or even lonely cages) for the millions of animals who must be euthanized every year. No one who truly cares about animals is willing to stow an animal in a less-than-loving home just so they can say that they “saved” the animal.
Warehousing animals in no-kill shelters, which quickly become so packed and overburdened that they must turn animals away, is not a humane solution—and it certainly isn’t a viable one considering that between six and eight million animals enter shelters every year in the U.S. alone.
Many people, often known as collectors or hoarders, try to “save” animals from euthanasia by taking in so many of them that they can be found cramped in kitchen cabinets, hiding under beds, crawling through basements or attics, and even wedged behind toilets or sinks. Merely keeping animals alive is not a compassionate goal; we don’t need dog and cat “zoos,” we need loving homes where animals can have quality lives.
The bottom line is simple: There are too many animals and not enough good homes.
The solution, as I’ve written before, lies in prevention. By spaying and neutering and boycotting breeders and pet stores, we can reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats. That’s why PETA operates a SNIP (Spay/Neuter Immediately Please) mobile, campaigns against pet stores and puppy mills, places eye-catching billboards, public service announcements, and ads urging people to spay and neuter, and takes many other measures to curb animal overpopulation.
This, of course, is in addition to PETA’s campaigns to help cows, chickens, fish, rats, rabbits, elephants, tigers, and other animals—they matter too. PETA, for those who don’t know, is primarily an educational organization. It relies on attention-grabbing tactics to reach the public and teach them that all animals deserve compassion and mercy. Although PETA doesn’t operate a shelter, it actively campaigns against dog and cat overpopulation. Just this week, PETA encouraged newspapers nationwide to remind people to have their animals spayed or neutered, as the spring and summer months are the prime breeding time for cats and dogs.
But spaying and neutering is a solution that will help for the long-term. Euthanasia is a humane and viable solution to the current dog and cat overpopulation problem. If anyone has another compassionate, pragmatic, and well-researched solution, please share it.
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