Preserve The Human Animal Bond :
Help Keep Families Together
The Human Animal Bond
Transcends All- Period.
The human-animal bond transcends all, regardless of where someone lives, their race, or how much they have in their bank account - pet ownership is for everyone.
It’s a concept that is gaining more and more acceptance across animal welfare, and it has brought new approaches of keeping people and pets together to the forefront.
The relationship a human has with their pet is something that is life-giving and life-affirming for somebody,
We are leaving the past behind to build a new, better animal welfare system focused on keeping pets and people together. At this pivotal moment, when so many of us rely on the love and companionship of pets to get through the day, we must envision and rapidly realize a new system of human animal support services that aligns with our collective values.
The pets so many of us live with are family members, not property. Taxpayer-funded animal shelters must be transformed to support families and to keep pets and people together, even in tough times.
We must proactively work to build strong and lasting human-animal relationships in our communities and affirm our central role of protecting the bonds between people and animals.
We have to count the good things that happen because they always outweigh the bad.
People can get so much joy and happiness from their pets, regardless of zip code, regardless of income and regardless of color of skin. We get so much happiness and joy from animals in our lives that it far outweighs the sad things that we've seen.
The Current Model of Animal Sheltering Isn't Working, and It Never Has.
Animal shelters and rescues should be a resource for our community, not just a depository for unwanted pets. It shouldn't be about how we can bring more animals in but how can we keep more animals out of the shelter system?
We've created an animal sheltering system that is endless. If we're going to solve this problem, we've got to start engaging more people. Our shelter system that separates people from their pets—impounding animals from owners who want to and could keep them, with some support—is as cruel as it is wasteful and unnecessary.
Though they’ve improved, today’s animal shelters still stand firmly on the foundation they were built upon: rounding up, confining, and ending the lives of a community’s animals. Even now, most shelters permanently and completely remove pets from their homes and communities in order to help them. The harm to families is obvious. Pets are hurt as well, confined in stressful, loud environments where their mental and physical wellbeing quickly deteriorate, putting them at risk of euthanasia.
First, animal services should instead adopt the humane and cost-effective Human Animal Support Services model—prioritizing supportive services that keep human-animal families together and pets out of shelters.
Second, we need to collectively address the housing issues that lead to animals entering shelters. Our nation is facing a housing crisis. Across the country, cities are sorely lacking affordable, pet inclusive housing, which leads to animals entering shelters. Asking people to choose between safe housing and keeping their pets is not in line with the value pet owners put on the love between them and their animals.
Finally, we must embrace and invest in tools that get lost pets home. When lost pets or stray animals enter the system, they hardly stand a chance of finding their way back home.
There is still a role for physical animal shelters. Reimagined as physically smaller and located in multiple neighborhoods, shelters of the future will house only sick or dangerous animals, and those who truly have no place else to go.
That is not most pets entering shelters today. Shelters can't afford not to do human animal support services right now because they need to decrease the number of animals coming into their system.
Despite The General Consensus
Pet Owners Don’t Relinquish Their Animals
Because They Want Too
Some 6.3 million cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters every year—about a quarter of whom are “owner surrenders.
Pets are given over to shelters by their owners, often because of the loss of housing or a job.
In their hardest moments, people are forced to give up the pets who bring them comfort, joy, and companionship—and do it knowing the risk their animals may not survive.
Let's start with the current "no questions asked" method of intake. A person brings an animal into a shelter and asks to surrender their pet.
The mythology around intake is that it's a place where irresponsible people come and say, I'm going on vacation. I don't want this animal anymore. That's what people imagine it's like, but it's more equivalent to a hospital ICU, with family members waiting outside.
It's one of the saddest places that you'll ever go into because it is people being separated from their families. The vast majority of people bringing in animals, don't want to be separated from them, but they have barriers to keeping them. Barriers can range from, a hospital stay and they have no one to take care of their animal or they're losing their home, or the animal has a medical condition they can't afford to treat.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary looked at owner surrender data from some of the highest intake shelters in the U.S. The number one reason checked off for owner surrender was "general" followed second by "unknown". "General" and "Unknown" were two of the multiple choice options listed on the shelters' owner surrender form.
This is the problem. If the two main reasons animals are listed as being surrendered are "General" and "Unknown" by their owners, on a surrender form, and neither of them mean anything- that means that we're not asking people.
Every time we take the time to ask people, there are reasons and they are often complicated. It's often three or four reasons together that have led to a life crisis that is forcing someone to surrender an animal.
If we are going to earnestly say we care about the welfare of animals owned by people facing poverty and homelessness, we have to care about the people and we can't just take pets from these people.
That Isn't a solution. The solution is animal welfare has to form better connections and partnerships with human services agencies so that we can better help animals and people together.
Self-rehoming, opposed to having a rescue re-home an animal or have an animal surrendered to a shelter, is a much better option because it keeps the existing owner connected to the new owner. It also builds a safety net under the animal long-term. Maybe one day the previous owner might be able to take the pet back, if it's a need and the original owner can certainly help and offer support and advice to the new owner.
In conclusion, many pet owners are lucky to have had someone to teach them about responsible pet ownership and they possess the knowledge of how to take care of a pet.
Then there are some people that wish that they could do better, but they just don't have the resources or they were never taught. What may be common knowledge to you or I may not be common knowledge to others. Next time you feel yourself quick to judge, remember that.
Also, let's consider this very important question: If we treat all animals as individuals, then shouldn't we be doing the same for people?
This Isn't A Pet Problem, This Is A Poverty Problem
As we peel back the layers of the work and the way all of us interact with the public, we're starting to understand the impacts of our implicit biases.
We're learning more about how a punishment-based approach disproportionately impacts pet owners, who are people of color, and those on the low-income side of the socioeconomic scale. These punishment based consequences often lead to pets being impounded, taken from their families when there are other solutions available to keep those pets where they belong - at home.
So how should the animal welfare sector move forward and continue to grow and really change?
It's time to really stop and take a look at the system. It comes down to a simple idea. Is the animal welfare sector and members of the general public criminalizing poverty?