I am not at all comfortable with that statement. I feel it gives us permission to not try as hard as we might. It gives our heart an “excuse” when things don’t work out. And for some, it gives reason to not even get involved in the first place because “we can’t save ’em all.”
With that logic in mind, who CAN we save? Which animal will we wave our magic wand over and rescue?
Do we pick the one that just needs to be brushed off and will likely be easy to place, say a healthy, cute one…. or do we pick the one with immediate and perhaps long-term needs? The one that may never look quite “normal;” the one whose life may not be as long because of it’s physical maladies?
In a kill-shelter where animals are routinely culled, the animal with serious injuries is often the first to be eliminated. Her life is deemed not worthy of the chance. She is too much bother, so put her on the kill list. And within hours of coming through the front door as living, breathing, feeling sentient beings, animals like this go out the back door dead — they are waste to be disposed of as you would trash, often to be sent to landfills.
But what if the answer doesn’t seem so obvious? What if from the outside both candidates look like they have good potential to be selected by a loving family?
In this case, the dog on the right, Jerome, is dead. A seven month old dog originally adopted from the ASPCA, the richest humane society in the US, was euthanized by a New York city pound who claimed that Jerome guarded his food, a condition which should never result in a dog being killed because the prognosis for rehabilitation is always good.
Who are the people making these life and death decisions? Are they even trained behaviorists/veterinarians?
I looked at the stats for a Canadian SPCA. The number of cats and dogs in the “euthanized for space” column seemed low with regards to their overall numbers, but the numbers for animals killed because they were sick/behavioral (yes, the two were lumped into one column) seemed high. They certainly seem to have a lot of very sick and/or very ill-mannered cats: 1844 killed in 2009 alone! And of the 316 dogs killed that year, 311 had medical/behavioral problems.
Wow! Maybe they need to re-evaluate the way they assess animals in their “care.”
I think we need to take a closer look at the statement, “We can’t save ’em all.” We should change the word “can’t” to “won’t” — because that is what the original statement actually implies.
Then maybe we can add a few words at the end of the sentence so it reads something like —
We won’t save ’em all — if we don’t try.
I am much more comfortable with that statement. It leaves me infinitely more positive that we WILL affect change.
With regards to the animals used in this post today:
Top left: Mika — found on the street with a broken leg. Adopted.
Top right: Gülümser (one who always smiles) — a four week old kitten almost completely devoured by worms. The vets treating her decided that if she wanted to fight back, she would be given all chances to survive. Adopted.
Bottom left: Kent — about 1 year old; available for foster/adoption. If interested, contact email@example.com.
Bottom right: Jerome — dead because the ASPCA refused to pick Jerome up from the pound even though his microchip was registered to them..