Tomorrow, the Tally Pets group is holding a Candlelight Vigil on International Homeless Animals’ Day. That’s nice, isn’t it? Well no, and here’s why. Tally Pets states on their Facebook promo for the event that:
“local animal advocates are inviting Tallahassee citizens to gather at Kleman Plaza to bring attention to the pet overpopulation crisis. The event will take place on Saturday, 18 August 6-8pm with the candle lighting happening at 7:45pm.”
What’s wrong with this? It is easy to trace all the information by reading special literature and thematic thesis for dummies if you are completely unaware of details. Simply that there is no pet overpopulation crisis. This myth has been debunked so thoroughly that it’s not even funny — read here, and here. It has been debunked by Maddie’s Fund, which is the recognized leader in shelter statistics in the United States. Maddie’s Fund collects statistics from over 400 shelters and has an enormous database. The people who are trying to contradict Maddie’s Funds statistics have — nothing. So why is Tally Pets perpetuating this myth?
The Tally Pets announcement goes on to say:
“The message of the candlelight vigil is to honor those pets whose lives were lost, and to prevent the cycle of pet overpopulation and euthanasia by encouraging people in the community to spay and neuter their cats and dogs.”
Again, this is wrong, wrong, wrong. The solution to the problem of the Tallahassee shelter killing pets is not spay/neuter, which was tried in Austin and other places for years and never made much of a difference — the solution is the No Kill Equation, which has already created over 50 no-kill communities in the Unites States alone. If you don’t believe me, read this detailed post by Dr. Ellen Jefferson about the exhaustive spay-neuter campaign in Austin for 10 years that was a complete failure at reducing shelter intake, and her explanation of what finally did work (the No Kill Equation). Again, with Dr. Jefferson we have statistics that debunk spay-neuter as the solution to the problem, and on the other side we have — nothing. And yet we continue to hear “spay-neuter” as the solution to the problem.
The problem with events like this candlelight vigil is that they teach people to be helpless in the face of the fact that the Tallahassee shelter is killing thousands of pets each year. The message of this vigil is “we’re all going to stand around and hold candles and shed a tear or two and hope that people spay and neuter because there’s nothing more we can do.” The message of this candlelight vigil is insidious and bad because it teaches people that the public is to blame for the pet killings, not shelter management. That’s wrong because the killings could stop right away if the city and county simply hired a competent shelter director who was dedicated to no-kill.
So, instead of standing around tomorrow waving candles and singing Kumbaya, do something that will actually make a difference. Read Nathan Winograd’s books Redemption and Irreconcilable Differences. Read Ryan Clinton’s account of how a small group of people transformed Austin into a no-kill city (hint: it did not depend on spay/neuter). Then write your city and county representatives and ask them to get some competent no-kill leadership at the shelter — someone who will implement the No Kill Equation — and to pass a no-kill resolution. Write the media and ask them why they are buying the shelter’s excuses when so many other communities are saving 90% and more of the pets they take in.
Don’t waste your time waving candles — write those letters instead.