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I just posted the following as a comment to the post, “Scruffy’s Law: Making Animal Organizations Tell the Truth,” on Christie Keith’s Dec 28 Dogged blog.

For the record, I DO think we need to make animal organizations (and trainers, too!) “tell the truth” about what they do, how they do it, and how they operate. But I don’t think the solution proposed in the blog is headed in the right direction, nor will it prevent the thing that outraged Keith. Read Keith’s blog, read my reply, and then let me know what you think.

Hmm. When I first opened this link, I thought (hoped) it might be a piece about the identity crisis created by the ASPCA of NYC and all of the smaller local SPCAs in the US. Or perhaps it would be a piece about HSUS‘s mis-use of the word “Humane” in its own name.

But no. So…after reading…

No, I’m not so sure I’m on board with “Scruffy’s Law.” And yeah, it would be micromanagement, dependent on someone’s personal perceptions of what constitutes “humane,” “shelter,” and/or “prevention of cruelty.” How would that improve the situation we’re in right now? I can’t see a way.

Are the actions of the Arizona Humane Society, as described here, humane? ethical? Heck, are they even responsible? No, no, and no. But a mandated name change ain’t gonna fix that, folks.

The kitten was hurt. I have to ask why her owner took her to a shelter rather than to a vet, and why the shelter personnel didn’t re-direct the owner to a vet clinic? Something is missing in the details here…

Meanwhile, I don’t think it’s necessarily inhumane to responsibly euthanize animals for which a shelter organization cannot provide shelter, or care. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong for a group that euthanizes a portion of the creatures in its care for health or behavior reasons to continue to call itself a shelter. I do think that “prevention of cruelty” includes those groups who don’t maintain unplaceable animals in kennels in perpetuity, just to let them live out their lives – because I don’t think living 24/7 in a kennel is any kind of dog or cat’s life.

Anyone who has been working with animals and shelters for any length of time knows that there isn’t – can’t – always be room for every creature when they come knocking at the inn door. In fact, careful use of resources to serve the greatest number of animals is now job #1 in most rescue and shelter organizations. I don’t think it’s wrong, inhumane, unsheltering (overall) or cruel when a shelter or rescue organization recognizes the limits of its funds, staff and facilities. I don’t think it’s wrong when a shelter or rescue sets up some boundaries about the number of animals it can accept, the length of time they can stay, the qualifications for placement with families, and under what conditions it will accept an animal.

So – Scruffy’s Law? Not sure it’s the right approach. But if you want to write a piece about the unhumane actions of HSUS, you’ll have my full attention.

There’s plenty of misrepresentation out there among animal care organizations and animal trainers. But delimiting criteria for who can call himself “humane,” or a “shelter,” or who can claim to be practicing “prevention of cruelty to animals” isn’t going to solve misrepresentation.

Creating a society of better pet and animal consumers will solve misrepresentation a heckuva lot faster.

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