SUGGESTIONS TOWARDS ATTAINABLE SOLUTIONS
Randy N. Warner
If more than 8 million homeless companion
animals are being killed every year, and shelters,
schools and society in general assign the lowest
budgetary, and operational priority toward
overpopulation education, then is there any question as
to why we continue to witness the vicious
cycle of suffering and death?
Overpopulation is essentially a product of
ignorance and indifference and only proactive and
aggressive community and youth education programs offer
the promise of breaking the vicious cycle.
We must not lose perspective, and we shall
choose those campaigns that will save more animals in
the long run. The animals who exist today are a very
tiny percentage of the animals who will be killed and
tortured in the coming centuries and millennia. Paying
excessive attention to those who suffer today is
condemning millions more to suffer the same fate. We
canít save them all, but we should be smart in dividing
our time and efforts to seeing maximum results for when
it comes to precious lives, today's reality cannot serve
as tomorrows excuse.
Due largely to sparse and painfully
ineffectual shelter outreach efforts most of the public
has little or no understanding of the horrendous
magnitude of the overpopulation tragedy. Compounding the
problem, when the public is reached, the message they
receive is "sanitized" with enough euphemisms to fill
Grand Canyon. Why isn't the unadulterated truth,
stripped of any veneer, imaginatively and assertively
brought to the public? Perhaps the unvarnished truth
would make some uncomfortable, but that is precisely
what we should be doing ó removing the killing from
behind closed doors and informing the public about their
role in the massive slaughter of our so-called closest
According to interviews with authorities
nationwide, the areas having the biggest problems in
animal welfare and animal control are these regions that
are generally low socioeconomic areas where there is
often a large non-English speaking ethnic community and
widespread difficulties with basic literacy skills.
Whether picked up on the street or surrendered at the
shelter, the vast majority of these animals experience
the kind of psychological trauma and terror that we find
so abhorrent for caged laboratory animals but tolerate
in our own facilities. Some are exposed to various forms
of physical mishandling and abuse, and all suffer from
the anguishing ordeal of being processed and warehoused
in a foreign and frightening environment.
A true civilized society would be a place
where life is affirmed, both in teaching and practice,
not one which is comfortable with being permeated with
the odor of death.
A new and larger vision is needed, a vision in
which society hold themselves accountable for meeting
demanding performance standards that preserve life ó not
Development of appropriate resources to
enhance education programs must be a top priority. The
principles of care and social responsibility that
underlie responsible animal care education programs and
are also important in human relationship education not
currently being taught in schools.
Our movement has to begin anew with each
generation because we fail to effectively reach the
preceding one, and the animals and the Earth pay dearly
for this refusal to invest in the promise of a brighter
Education is certainly one of the important
tools in achieving effective urban animal management
programs in any community. It is also one of the most
potent weapons the citizens and various government
organizations associated with animal welfare and animal
control have to address problems in these areas.
The most potent and cost-effective outreach
vehicle is the development of a creative volunteer
program. The focus of this crucial
outreach instrument is youth education. This area
receives tremendous lip service about youth representing
the future, but it invariably receives the lowest
We must take the initiative by approaching every school,
media outlet, club, civic organization, professional
association, shopping center, and wherever people will
listen. When it comes to precious lives,
today's reality cannot serve as tomorrows excuse.
Our current society is entangled in a convoluted system
that places a higher operational priority on "painless"
execution than preventive education.
No matter how much positive education the
community is exposed to, there will always be an element
of our society that is unresponsive to community
pressures and that fails to conform to conventional and
respected codes of behavior when it comes to animal
treatment and management.
But the concept of 'education' must go beyond
instruction given in schools by teachers or education
officers to knowledge, training and skills in a
particular field given to the community at large by
every available practical means. Not only does this mean
using simple posters, flyers and the media but it also
embraces the precept that effective education often
occurs through the process of prosecution.