I was at a meeting with both leaders in and outside of the animal protection business, discussing strategies to place more pets in good homes and to foster responsible pet ownership, when one of the "outsiders" called me an "enabler". She said that because spcaLA was so well run and boasted beautiful facilities - we were enabling people to turn in their pets without guilt. We were, in fact, letting people off the hook by providing safe, humane and loving places where unwanted pets could live while waiting for a new family to adopt them.
The idea that our efforts to reduce euthanasia, provide light and airy living spaces, and outpace human medicine in crowd health management is actually contributing to the cavalier abandonment of a pet is something to think about. Why do I spend hours measuring the correct tilt for pee to travel to the drain quickly, years creating indoor/outdoor cage free catteries and of course, weeks finding a gazing ball that the dogs will enjoy from the outdoor area of their cottages, if only to enable someone to give up a pet.
Did fear that animals would sit in a dark, disease infested environment with a clock marking their last hours force people to view giving up their pet as a last resort? Are we now giving people permission to do so by offering them the comfort that their pet will actually be living in a resort? I was called an "enabler" again during the legislative season. Apparently, mandating humane conditions for food animals allows people to eat them guilt free. Demanding humane conditions for puppy mills encourages purchases rather than adoptions and so on and so forth. What the hell am I doing?
Here's the thing. That criticism is nonsense. Animals should be treated humanely no matter what. Just because it is legal to eat them does not also permit them to be tortured first. The same is true for work, circus, zoo, pet shop and laboratory animals. Likewise, because an animal is in a shelter, whether to start a new life in a home or to end his or her life - the treatment provided should be humane and mindful of his or her dignity.
If I enable that - good! Call me an enabler.