Friends, this is one of those stories that I wish I didn’t have to repeat. But, to make the larger point, I will.
There is an animal shelter in a small city here on the west coast that has been taking horrible care of their dogs and cats. It’s essentially one large room, run like an overpopulated, overwhelmed ma and pa operation, somewhere in the midst of the town’s “city hall.” There are virtually no beds or meds available for the animals, and some even die a slow death of starvation, because they are too sick to eat. This is the kind of place your darkest nightmares are made of.
I understand there are several reasons why things are run so poorly there but, for now, the bottom line is that this shelter is a lost cause. So, a proactive LA rescuer recently posted a message online to her fellow rescuers about the place, telling them of the conditions and encouraging help in the form of donations for temporary boarding and medical care, fostering opportunities or even final placement for any of the animals. All good, right?
Unfortunately, many of these rescuers got pissed and actually called the shelter to raise hell about the shitty job they were doing. The shelter tripped out and – either in an attempt to “destroy the evidence” of their incompetence, or because they somehow became convinced that many of these animals would be better off euthanized – they decided to kill every animal who had been there over five days (as that is the legal limit they have to wait before they can euthanize). And based on their current population, this meant that their killing spree would include every animal there except for two.
Well – and here’s the toughest part – this past Friday was their mass killing day. Hell, many of us didn’t even find out about this situation until late Thursday night. A good friend of mine was able to raise some donations while the original rescuer drove down there early Friday morning to try and pull as many animals as they would allow her to take…even though she didn’t know exactly what to do with them all or how this operation would even be funded. And, of course, the other fucked up thing about this is that, from a purely logistical perspective, she had to choose those dogs or cats who she considered “most adoptable.” Meanwhile, because it was all going down in one room, each of the animals she could not take had to stand around and watch each of their fellow beings get injected and discarded into a pile before it was their turn to die.
Miraculously, the rescuer somehow managed to pull a total of 25 animals – eleven puppies, nine kittens, four adult dogs and one adult cat – and had to literally step over dead bodies in the process. We will probably never know how many were executed that day.
So…the reason I felt inspired to convey this godforsaken story is for the bigger lesson. And that is this: in any level of activism that you may choose, always think beyond your emotions and consider exactly what the “effect” might be to your “cause.” Yes, we all get infuriated over so much that we see and hear, whether it’s an animal rights, human rights or environmental issue. And that anger can serve you because it gets your ass off the couch and into action. BUT – at the same time – we have to take a deep breath and think very strategically about the result we’re looking for and how our direct action can best facilitate that result. We have to always be mindful of the intricacies, the politics, and the volatility in each situation. And I can tell you that the hardcore, get-in-someone’s-face approach seldom serves the greater good…especially if an animal’s well-being remains directly in their safekeeping.
In fact, I understand that in this situation, the rescuer has had to become somewhat of a trusted ally to the folks at this shelter, just so they would cooperate at all. Otherwise, there might have been 25 more piled up in there last weekend.
(And yes, “The 25” are doing fine at the moment, and I do have some fantastic pictures to share soon. But everyone’s been asked to be as discreet and “strategic” as possible right now, for obvious reasons.)
More soon –