Guest Editorial by M.A. Porter
Emulate the Dogs, Please
“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”~Agnes Sligh Turnbull
Three dogs frolic in front of my house – a filthy terrier mix, a half-blind Labrador and a handsome Heinz 57. They chase after cars, sniff the hind-ends of passersby and enjoy the camaraderie of the day.
It seems that these canines are more enlightened creatures than are we humans. I mean, they all get along. Ironically, some of the Lakeside people who are charged with improving the lives of homeless dogs are unwilling to behave this way.
I’ve seen the signs posted on the bulletin boards and have suffered through the rumors. I want no part of that as it is a waste of energy. And, I do not mean to impugn the leadership of the Animal Shelter in Riberas or the Lakeside Spay and Neuter organization and its adjunct facility, the Dog Ranch.
No, the two people whose personal vision has led these efforts are my heroes. Who dare criticize the management precision of Geoffrey Kaye or the sacrificial passion of Gudrun Jones? I don’t know many in the area who would have so troubled themselves for unwanted domesticated critters. Oh, I’ve heard it all – some people don’t like Mr. Kaye because he’s not one to roll over and allow you to scratch his tummy; some believe Mrs. Jones to live in an alternate universe ruled by King Dog and his subject humans.
Among their constituents are found dedicated volunteers who deserve our respect and gratitude. There are a few, though, who need someone to roll up a newspaper and whack them in the butt when they poop all over the place.
There’s a difference of opinion on how to best care for homeless dogs. (I’ll leave the cats out of it for now because, being cats, they’ve managed to train their local staff.) One side believes that we can better provide services to the whole of them if we, once in awhile, swallow hard and euthanize an unwanted dog – one that has lingered too long in the shelter, or suffers from an incurable ailment. The other side believes a dog to hold sacred life inside its breast, and that life deserves to survive its allotted days in a semblance of peace, regardless of cost.
This same difference of opinion is found up north in cities with competing shelters – generally, public shelters humanely euthanize as dictated by municipal law; shelters that enjoy the support of private citizens hold forth a policy of “no kill”. The latter claims that the costs of care, euthanizing and disposal of an unwanted dog is about the same as keeping it around forever. The former agrees, in part, but points to the responsible management of public resources and an effective fiscal policy to provide services to a broader number of animals.
Down here, the municipal budget does not include money for a public shelter and so our private ones are dependent upon donations and profits, which might therefore be considered as ‘public funding’ for animal welfare. But the differences that cause all the snapping and snarling are not wholly financial – they’re ideological. There’s room enough in the region to honor them both– why do we humans always need to be right, rather than productive?
Let’s ask the leaders and volunteers to make peace with their respective operational differences, plan together for the feeding and care of homeless dogs while they are alive, work alongside each other to ensure adequate space and comfort in all locations, and to renew a community-wide effort for spay and neuter.
Working together is how we can best serve our canine friends. To choose anything else is beastly.