Monday, September 13, 2010

So... why isn't the whole of England and Wales a no-kill community?

The ten "No-Kill Equation" recommendations     MAWS
1. Feral Cat TNR Program 
2. High Volume/Low-Cost Spay/Neuter                3. Welfare Neutering
3. Rescue Groups 
4. Foster Care 
5. Comprehensive Adoption Program                    2. Rehoming
6. Pet Retention                                                 4.  Assistance with Veterinary Treatment 
7. Medical and Behavioral Rehabilitation              1. Animals accepted into branch care
8. Public Relations/Community Involvement 
9. Volunteers

Compare these with the Minimum Animal Welfare Standards and you'll recognise that their core principles are identical. (MAWS doesn't specifically mention neutering feral cats, but this is RSPCA policy). Items 3, 4, and 9 are already inherent in the voluntary nature of RSPCA branches.

To an extent the answer is that England and Wales do manage to save a higher proportion of stray and unwanted animals than some other similar countries. In the 1990s we were enthusiastic that this proportion could be increased quite fast, but over the two decades since then we have been barely holding on to the gains made then.

Item 8 is perhaps the key. 

We've not succeeded in attracting the amount of sustained community support needed to maintain ongoing services at the necessary high level of activity. So long as people and companion animals live together there will always be situations where animals need to be rehomed—just as there will never be a situation where we all have such perfect health that the NHS isn't needed. It's probably inevitable that this work is less immediately attractive than crusades aimed at abuses that can apparently be ended once and for all and we have to solve the problem of "selling ourselves" to gain more support from a wider active community. 

I wonder whether there's not also a degree of difficulty caused by the fact that this is a campaign that doesn't really have any "enemy" most of the time. Some of the animals we rehome have been intentionally abused, but the majority have come to grief because of accidents, poverty or inadequacy, not deliberate cruelty.

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