Much has been written about "no kill" versus "kill" animal shelters (note: The agonizing-but needed ongoing discussions about what these terms mean at both the philosophical and practical level- is a topic for another article).
For now, I will simply note that having worked with shelters across the spectrum, there is typically an urgency that permeates the work of shelters which are euthanizing animals due to space. If you're reading this blog, you're probably the type of person whose Facebook news feed assaults you daily with this type of message. "Urgent: Dog Will Be Euthanized Tomorrow", etc.. And indeed, these type of posts are effective at saving the lives of many animals at the last minute. I think there must be some sort of yet unknown specific reward center in our brain that feels the urgency of such requests and then the sweet flood of relief when we find out that the dog or cat has been successfully pulled from the jaws of death.
Other shelters, such as limited admission shelters, (I dislike the word "no kill" shelters), are not euthanizing animals and while this may be a worthy goal, the challenge for these shelters is how to convey the URGENT message that an animal needs to be pulled from the shelter. Again and again, I've seen the pleas for help from limited admission shelters for help with a dog go unheeded. It's not that people don't care. They do. It just seems that there is often a sense that the dog in a limited admission shelter can wait one more day. And they are right. The dog does wait. And sometimes days turn into weeks and weeks into months. And yes, months into years. I live with a dog who waited for close to 5 years in a shelter to be adopted. While the dog, Goose, has come to be fantastic pet (behavior problems notwithstanding), I am sometimes sickened by the myriad ways he was institutionalized during his agonizingly long stay at the shelter. And, honestly, I am as much to blame as the next person. You see I told myself that the time wasn't right, etc. and all manner of other things. In the end, the thing that moved me to action was that Goose was severely attacked by another dog and as a result Goose was in URGENT need of a medical foster when he was released from the animal hospital.
So, now there is another dog, Rookie, at a local limited admission animal shelter whose days have stretched into weeks and months into years. Recently, I've been involved with an initiative to "pull out all the stops" for getting the word out about Rookie. The video below is just one of the tools being used. We need to get the message out that because the life of one dog is depending on it.