If you follow me on Twitter you're probably aware that I'm kind of an animal person. I've got dogs and cats, I swerve to avoid pretty much anything (including field mice and frogs) and I've even been known to pick up worms off the sidewalk once the rains have gone away and they're getting close to crispy.
People are aware of this, and I can't tell you how many unwanted kittens, puppies, cats dogs, and dormice have been offered to me. Pretty much constantly. One enterprising neighbor actually caught me on the road, literally put the cat through my window when I rolled it down, along with a bag of cat food and just kind of... well that was that. I had a new cat.
But of course I can't say yes to everyone, and I recently had a student ask me if I wanted some kittens.
Me: "No. I'm chock full on the cat level."
Student: "I keep trying to find somebody but I think we're just doing to dump them."
Me: "NO! Don't do that! Take them to the Humane Society!"
Student: "Why? They'll just kill them."
No. No. No. No. NO!
First of all I have to say that I don't think anyone who harbors this initial thought about Humane Societies and shelters is stupid. I really, really don't. They're just reiterating what movies have taught them since they were small. If you can name one cartoon or kids film that features a kind, friendly dog catcher / pound keeper, I'll buy you ice cream. Also the dog shelter scene from Lady & The Tramp has, I think, scarred everyone who has ever seen it for life and damned all shelters from ever having a good reputation -- unless we know better.
So I'm here to help make you know better. And other nicely formulated sentences.
When you take an animal to the Humane Society it receives veterinary treatment, vaccinations, feline leukemia testing, flea and tick prevention, and is also spayed or neutered. Some societies even micro-chip their animals upon taking them in. I guarantee you that no kitten, cat, puppy or dog gets free health care when they're dumped alongside a country road. What they get is a hawk, a coyote -- or even worse -- a very cruel human.
Workers and volunteers also spend time with the animals in the shelters - dogs are walked and played with, cats and kittens are petted. Petfinder even has a remote play option where you can activate toys remotely in cat shelters across the US to play with the cats there.
When I adopted my cat recently I went to a shelter that I'd been at about two weeks previously. I specifically went because of a cat I'd spotted on Petfinder, but I thought I'd scratch the ears of a few of the buddies I'd made from the visit before - but most of them were gone. Their "furr-ever home" placement at that shelter is that high. The volunteer in the cat room at the time told me I better grab up my new cat on that visit, right then. She knew if I waited, he'd be gone.
At this same shelter they monitor their "long term residents" (cats who have been at the shelter for a long time) for attitude changes. Sure, these cats have shelter and food, and people who pet them... but they seem to know they're at a shelter. True depression can set in and these cats slowly degrade. Once this happens the staff at this shelter offers the cats for free. No adoption fees. Just prove you can provide a good home and the cat is yours.
So no -- they don't "just kill them."
And kittens? Good luck finding one - that's pretty much what ever shelter I've visited has said. They can hardly get the kittens brought to them vaccinated and spayed / neutered before someone comes to take them home.
So please, cats, dogs, puppies, parakeets, bunny-rabbits... anything. Don't think for one second that you're doing them a favor by dumping them instead of taking them to the Humane Society.