Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Heartbreak is life educating us."

"I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts."-John Steinbeck

     According to recent data published by the Humane Society of the United States over 2.7 million perfectly healthy adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. The Greek word "euthanize" means "good death" and although we may use euphemisms such as "put down" or "went to sleep" these softened complaisant words will never lessen the impact of knowing millions of animals are senselessly slaughtered due to irresponsible human behavior. The harsh reality is that human beings are the cause of pet overpopulation. Healthy, loving adoptable animals are paying for our mistakes with their lives. With spaying and neutering programs, responsible breeding and the abolishment of puppy mills we have the power to prevent overpopulation and a potential companion animals certain death sentence.

     Animals killed in US shelters are almost always euthanized by intravenous injection, typically using a very high dose of pentobarbital or sodium thiopental. Unconsciousness, respiratory then cardiac arrest follows rapidly, normally within thirty seconds. Observers generally describe the method as leading to a quick, painless and peaceful death. Leading up to the moment of death is another story. Some frightened animals may stay in a shelter for months or a mere week before death due to overcrowding. Organizations that lack room and resources will likely euthanize animals more quickly. If animals remain unclaimed or are not adopted out within a certain time limit they have no choice but to be killed.

     Euthanasia in an animal shelter is typically carried out by a veterinarian or a veterinary technician working under the veterinarian's supervision. Often animal shelter workers are trained to perform euthanasia as well.  Until the US and other countries around the world face the harsh reality and examine the root causes of overpopulation all efforts for its control will be less effective. For the sake of millions of innocent animals we cannot continue to look away.

"Heartbreak is life educating us." George Bernard Shaw