rescue is a pit of quicksand as far as moral and ethical issues go.

Posted: January 21, 2013 at 7:35 am

it is like the whole issue of true “no kill.” it is morally and ethically impossible. you simply cannot save every single animal. suffering is suffering..it doesn’t matter if it is physical, mental or emotional and if you cannot alleviate suffering then you have to be kind and let the animal go. rescue is not about just keeping them alive…it is about ensuring their quality of life.

quality of life is another slippery slope..how do you determine how much someone else is enjoying their life? sheila and i had this discussion yesterday. wagging tails and happy to see you excitement does not necessarily mean someone is happy. it could actually mean they are frantically full of want/or need and desperately seeking something. i am kind of at that place with our diabetic cat oliver now. the insulin adjustment again did not work..his blood sugars just bottomed out. still once they went way up high again…he is eating with gusto, he is out and about and interactive..he purrs when i pick him up..but that cat is not happy. he is tormented physically and mentally by his disease that we cannot seem to manage or fix. and i need to quit procrastinating and admit that we are not able to provide a decent quality of life for him.

adoption fees are another moral issue for me. i simply cannot and will not put a price tag on any living or breathing thing. i am not an animal broker and i do not sell living things.
by the same token i absolutely will not give them to someone looking for an animal for free.
so i found my comfort zone by allowing adopting folks the option to make a donation towards caring for all of the animals here. how much or how little they donate is entirely up to them just like any kind of donation…it is a personal choice based on their beliefs and financial comfort. none of my business how much that will be. my business is to ensure they can and will meet the needs of their new family member once that animal leaves me and i have already made sure of that before the adoption paperwork begins.

i can and do rescue and provide care for 100+ animals every day of the year. but i can only do that well by having an army of dedicated staff and volunteers to fundraise and help care for them well. there is no point in rescuing anyone if we cannot or will not take care of them..better to leave them to whatever fate awaits then to take them and become just another ongoing problem for them. we are responsible for every aspect of their overall well being from the moment we take them to the moment they leave us. there are no excuses for not ensuring they are taken care of well.
there are rescues that are like concentration or refugee camps..that is not rescue..that is having too many to care for properly. having said that, there are some compromises that have to be made while animals live in shelters..but good food, fresh water, clean beds, clean and decently groomed, parasite free bodies, ongoing appropriate medical care, regular stimulation and exercise, personal safety, daily love and affection are the non negotiable basics of responsible shelter care. and you absolutely have to have the appropriate space, manpower and finances to provide this basic level of care.

animals in rescue do not have to have the perfect life..but they have to have a decent life that meets their basic needs. the perfect life comes when and if we place them with the right families. but to stay on top of caring for them in between, we have to have strong foundations in high standards of care and avoid the pitfalls of quicksand that will swallow not only ourselves but the animals we pledged to help when we decided to “rescue” them.

12 Comments on "rescue is a pit of quicksand as far as moral and ethical issues go."

  • Maggie says

    Amen!

  • Debra says

    Very well said… And so true.

  • Tracey says

    “No Kill”, as I choose to understand it, means that no animal who’s suffering* can be alleviated to the point of good quality of life, loses their life.

    *physical, mental or emotional suffering, or those that are truly dangerous.

    To me, this definition of “No Kill” absolutely IS possible and we all must fight to strive for it. If we dont believe in even its possibility, what hope is there?

  • Carol says

    in my mind that is low kill or limited kill…no kill to me means exactly what it says…we do not not kill for any reason…it doesn’t mean we only kill sometimes depending on whatever. just because someone has a reason to kill does not mean they can still say they are no kill.

    some of the animals i have here are from very vocal “no kill” rescues, but every single one was going to be euth’d because they were in that foggy, grey area of ok to kill for “whatever” (insert aggression, ongoing health issues, incontinence, other disabilities, ie basially poor adoptibilty prospects and “we are not set up to keep him or her forever”..)

    no kill is only possible if we are willing to consign thousands of unadoptable or unwanted animals to living in shelters forever.
    if we are going to do that, the shelters better be damn good and pretty damn big and up to the challenge of housing many animals for their lifetimes.

    it costs almost $200,000 a year to run a place like saints for the unadoptables and we are only capable of helping due to space and finances 200 animals a year.

    we would need 5 places just like us to help even 1000 unadoptable, problem riddled animals per year and there are many more than that 1000 out there.

    it is just not logistically realistic. not unless we can get folks to A. quit breeding and B. not only keep but take good care of their animals for their entire lives…messed up or not.

    the issue is not whether the shelters and rescues are or should be no kill or not..the issue is that there are so many animals floating around that need rescues or shelters…more than any or all of us can currently handle.

    if we fix the folks who breed them and the folks who walk out on them..maybe then we can all be closer to “no kill.”

  • Tracey says

    No Kill does not mean No Euthanasia. Semantics to some, but a very important distinction still.

    However, those of us who are truly No Kill (see definition above as opposed to those who allow animals to suffer just to say they havent “killed” them) dont get to gaze upon others from our ivory towers either. We still contribute to the killing of animals via our inability to take in every single animal we are asked about due to space limitations. We still share in the responsibility for their deaths.

    The road to No Kill (again… not No Euthanasia) is complex and will require a lot of work from every facet of society. However, IMO, one of the first steps down that road must be a belief that the journey itself is possible.

  • Leila says

    “if we fix the folks who breed them and the folks who walk out on them..maybe then we can all be closer to “no kill.”

    Absolutely agree with this statement Carol. I tend to lean towards your way of thinking. I won’t say anymore as the whole topic makes my blood boil and I can’t see straight/reasonably.

  • Carol says

    Euthanasia (from the Greek: ????????? meaning “good death”: ??, eu (well or good) + ???????, thanatos (death)) refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.

    There are different euthanasia laws in each country. The British House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics defines euthanasia as “a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”.[1] In the Netherlands, euthanasia is understood as “termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient”.[2]

    Euthanasia is categorized in different ways, which include voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary. Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries and U.S. states. Non-voluntary euthanasia is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia is usually considered murder.[3

    as animals cannot consent or volunteer to be euthanized it becomes a human judgement call. certainly “euthanizing” a perfectly healthy and hale animal for aggression is questionable. when we impose the death penalty on violently aggressive humans..we do not sugar coat it and call it a humane act..we call it what it is…a death sentence to the individual.

    and varying folks have varying definitions of aggression or of medical issues that will or will not be treated, or disabilities that can or can not be lived with.
    in my beliefs…euthanizing a dog because he bites someone is not a humane act..euthanizing a senior because she is incontinent is not a humane act, euthanizing a puppy because he is a hemophiliac is not a humane act..yet no kill advocates do “euthanize” for some of these same reasons. these same animals come to saints and we don’t euthanize because to us they are not suffering, they are just difficult to live with. i am not saying that sometimes ending these lives is NOT necessary..sometimes it is..but not because we are being humane..it is because we simply can’t or won’t deal with them.

    i have “euthanized” for non end of life issues but i don’t think of those times as euthanizing..i think of them as consciously ending someones life.

    this is a really interesting discussion…thx for being willing to bravely engage!!

  • Leila says

    and varying folks have varying definitions of aggression or of medical issues that will or will not be treated, or disabilities that can or can not be lived with.
    in my beliefs…euthanizing a dog because he bites someone is not a humane act..euthanizing a senior because she is incontinent is not a humane act, euthanizing a puppy because he is a hemophiliac is not a humane act..yet no kill advocates do “euthanize” for some of these same reasons. these same animals come to saints and we don’t euthanize because to us they are not suffering, they are just difficult to live with. i am not saying that sometimes ending these lives is NOT necessary..sometimes it is..but not because we are being humane..it is because we simply can’t or won’t deal with them.

    BINGO

  • Tracey says

    Not brave… glutton for punishment maybe 😉

    From what I know of you and SAINTS, you are No Kill in my understanding of the term.

    And I fully agree that some have perverted the term “No Kill” while others hide behind it and wave its flag but dont actually do the work required.

    What troubles me most is the idea that some believe “No Kill” is impossible, and then use that belief to justify the continued killing of healthy, adoptable animals. The challenge in front of all of us as members of society is to determine what is “No Kill”. Then we must decide if we even want it. And if we want it, we have to work to achieve it. And that work involves real work… volunteering / donating / adopting / lobbying / supporting / educating / uniting and so much more.

    I believe that No Kill* is absolutely possible. I do have faith in humanity (most days 😉 that if we want something bad enough that we can indeed achieve it. I am not suggesting it will happen tomorrow or in our lifetime but I do believe we can get there if we choose to do so. But again, we have to know where we want to be in order to get there. If we dont want it or believe it to be impossible, then we are done before we even begin.

  • Carol says

    i do agree with you on many points..i just think we are barking up the wrong tree. homeless animals wrecked or not but who do still value their lives will continued to be killed because there is not enough space for them all. this is not any shelters or rescues fault..it is the result of irresponsible greed or ignorance in breeding more and more AND irresponsible or fickle minded or utterly ignorant owners who bail at any inconveniences, challanges or difficulties.

    these are the folks who need to be wholeheartedly curtailed from having anything to do with animals by strict licencing, regulations and laws.

    homeless animals being killed in shelters is directly and completely every single joe public’s personal and political problem and responsibilty.

    i just wish that every time a shelter or rescue animal unfairly dies..that we the caregivers have the courage to shout out that we just had to kill someone because of lack of space, lack of funds, lack of available homes or because someone out there wrecked this animal so much that it is too expensive, it is too impractical, too unsafe, too utterly difficult to keep them or find them new homes.
    let the public share in the knowledge that thoughtlessly or carelessly screwing around wanting animals and then getting rid of them can lead directly to unbearable suffering if literally true no kill rescues or new cruel owners or unbalanced hoaders get a hold of them and eventually after much suffering will lead to actual death.
    i don’t believe in perpetuating the problem by letting the public remain happily safe and blind by believing in the current no kill myth. i think they need to see the truth and the reality behind that warm and fuzzy myth.
    i have seen real and literal no kill at work and it is not pretty or nice…it is utterly and completely unkind and downright mean.
    and the public does believe that no kill means no kill…they have no conception that animals die every day “no kill justified deaths” due to poor adoptability, old age, treatable illnesses, managable disabilities, and not all that dangerous or serious previous bite, aggression or behavioral problem histories…they die because no one wants them and there are not enough appropriate sanctuary spaces for them all.

    and saints is not ‘NO KILL”..i have and will put down an animal if i cannot provide them with a reasonably happy life. this includes animals who may be healthy but cannot safely live in this communal environment..i absolutely refuse to isolate and cage any animal for life.
    i killed clyde and i LOVED that dog and he LOVED me…if it was just me and him, he would still be alive.

  • Tracey says

    “i just wish that every time a shelter or rescue animal unfairly dies..that we the caregivers have the courage to shout out that we just had to kill someone because of lack of space, lack of funds, lack of available homes or because someone out there wrecked this animal so much that it is too expensive, it is too impractical, too unsafe, too utterly difficult to keep them or find them new homes.
    let the public share in the knowledge that thoughtlessly or carelessly screwing around wanting animals and then getting rid of them can lead directly to unbearable suffering if literally true no kill rescues or new cruel owners or unbalanced hoaders get a hold of them and eventually after much suffering will lead to actual death.
    i don’t believe in perpetuating the problem by letting the public remain happily safe and blind by believing in the current no kill myth. i think they need to see the truth and the reality behind that warm and fuzzy myth.
    i have seen real and literal no kill at work and it is not pretty or nice…it is utterly and completely unkind and downright mean.
    and the public does believe that no kill means no kill…they have no conception that animals die every day “no kill justified deaths” due to poor adoptability, old age, treatable illnesses, managable disabilities, and not all that dangerous or serious previous bite, aggression or behavioral problem histories…they die because no one wants them and there are not enough appropriate sanctuary spaces for them all.”

    Absolutely agree.

    Again, clear definition of “No Kill” will help clear up some of the confusion. I think everyone should Google “Definition of No Kill” and see what comes up. I just did and checked the first 6 links that came up with my search and found the following. There are definitely differences… and confusion… and controversy, but based on the first 6 that came up, would you not consider SAINTS No Kill?:

    The most widely accepted definition of a no-kill shelter is a place where all adoptable and treatable animals are saved and where only unadoptable or non-rehabilitatable animals are euthanized.

    A no-kill shelter is most widely defined as an animal shelter where 90% of all animals received are not euthanized.[5] Ideally, No Kill would mean all “adoptable” and “treatable” animals are saved and only “unadoptable” or “non-rehabilitatable” animals are euthanized, but 90% is the threshold.

    If you’ve heard the phrase “no kill” but you aren’t sure what it means, you’re not alone. As it relates to companion animals, the phrase has more than one meaning and this has led to some confusion and some disagreement between people who feel strongly about helping animals. Some people have come to equate the phrase as being very literal (meaning that no animals are ever destroyed) and they accuse people who support no kill concepts of advocating institutionalized hoarding. Nothing could be further from the truth. No kill is not a definition; it is a culture in which life-saving is the ultimate goal and in which the only animals destroyed are those which are truly suffering or those dogs which are so aggressive that they cannot be rehabilitated (even by experts) and which present a genuine danger to the public.

    Maddie’s Fund and most in the no-kill movement define a no-kill shelter, a no-kill city, a no-kill community or a no-kill nation as a place where all healthy and treatable animals are saved and where only unhealthy & untreatable animals are euthanized. Maddie’s Fund uses the definitions in the Asilomar Accords to define these terms.

    In broad terms, no kill means an organization will find homes for all adoptable and treatable animals and euthanize only unadoptable animals or creatures too sick to be restored to health. The devil’s in the details.

    Nathan’s definition of “No Kill” is a 90% live release rate in municipal shelters. That means that 90% of the animals that arrive there, leave there alive whether through adoption, rescue and sanctuary transfer or trap-neuter return programs.

  • Carol says

    lol tracey..they all basically say it is acceptable to kill unhealthy and unadoptable animals!

    we don’t kill unhealthy or comparably unadoptable people..unhealthy and comparably unadoptable people can and do value their lives AND we legally don’t have the right.

    we kill those types of animals because it is convenient and we don’t currently have any other viable solutions, not because we are only “easing the passing of a dying animal or ending terminl suffering” or because it is morally right either.

    dogs like halo who would be unadoptable because she is old and leaks bloody urine in gallons everywhere and has an untreatable terminal disease would be by those definitions total dead toast with those guidelines..yet today she is happy and pain free and alive. if i euthanized her today..i would be killing her and stealing her rest of “i am currently really enjoying” life.

    phoebe has bitten and harmed countless people and other animals…she lived with a trainer who tried to rehab her for 2 years..it didn’t work. she is unadoptable and occasionally when the mood strikes, dangerous by anyone’s standards but she likes being alive.

    we kill by necessity or we kill by choice but make no mistake about it..we are killing when we actively end another living creatures life.

    i am definitely NOT no kill by those murdering standards (thank god.) i ain’t killing them because they have big inconvenient and maybe unsolvable problems..i only kill them when they actually no longer enjoy being alive (or just before.. like if i have no choice left but to forever stick them alone in cage to keep everyone safe.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *