Must Animal Shelters Kill?

by Patrick Appel

Brian Palmer defends shelters that euthanize hard-to-adopt animals:

No-kill is an appealing idea. But before condemning U.S. shelter managers as barbarians, look at a country like India, which prohibits the killing of unwanted dogs. The country’s 25 million stray dogs live in deplorable conditions—emaciated, diseased, surviving on trash, and in constant conflict with humans. The country suffers 20,000 human deaths from rabies annually, which represents more than 35 percent of the global total. Contrast this with the situation in the United States. Stray dogs are incredibly rare, and one or two Americans die annually from rabies, invariably transmitted by a wild animal.

The debate between no-kill advocates and traditionalists comes down to this question: What kind of life can we give animals that are surrendered to shelters? And would that life be better than a quick death?

When that life isn’t so great:

The conditions in some no-kill shelters are awful. “If you don’t euthanize animals due to over crowding, they get into fights,” says [PETA’s Daphna] Nachminovitch. “They injure each other. They kill each other. They spin around and throw themselves against the cage. They stop eating. They get sick, and they eventually die. This is the reality.”

PETA’s support of animal euthanasia has come under fire in the past.