SPCA: what the general public should know about animal euthanasia

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The issue of euthanasia of healthy animals is a very sensitive and controversial topic. The Nelspruit SPCA Management Committee believes in transparency. We do not sugar-coat anything. It is our opinion that the general public should know about the realities in animal welfare.

The SPCA and NSPCA are not pro-euthanasia. We strongly oppose the euthanasia of healthy animals, but because of the overbreeding , neglect, irresponsible pet ownership and general lack of ethics it is a reality we have to face. We are called ‘murderers’ by members of the public. Our organization gets all the blame. We are compared with pro-life organizations. We are also pro-life but there are conditions for this. We believe in quality of life determined by 5 freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom from discomfort, freedom from fear and distress and freedom to express normal behaviour. If all these freedoms are not adhered to, quality of life is compromised and animal cruelty steps in. We are not allowed to refuse any animal admission. Why? Because people may then take the fate of the animal in their own hands in an inhumane way. Our adoption rate is low and our admissions extremely high. So how do we make space? People ask us often about fostering. We do not allow fostering, firstly because fostering is not included in the law as rightful ownership, and secondly because it is a temporary solution for a permanent problem.

To euthanase animals, especially healthy animals, is extremely challenging. Your heart breaks a million times when you look into the innocent eyes, or when they wag their tail, or give you head bumps, or start purring. Sometimes the dogs will roll on their backs for you to play with them. The most heartbreaking is when you know your hands were the only kindness many of these animals have ever experienced. Most of the time you find the courage from somewhere to continue, but sometimes you just can’t. The people that are being called “murderers” by the ignorant masses, are the true hero’s. They have to compile ‘the list’, finish the job, clean up. They have to cope with permanent feelings of loss, of guilt, of complete exhaustion. It is probably one of the most devastating jobs on earth.

Next time you see a person in SPCA uniform, please give it some thought that that person most probably had a horrible day, and refrain from name-calling. We have enough to deal with. It is difficult enough. We feel guilty enough. We are broken enough. We already cry enough.

A little bit of comfort comes from knowing that to cross the rainbow bridge in your loving arms is much kinder than being alive in an unkind and cruel world.

As published by The Nelspruit SPCA

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