SPCA makes the hard choices

Tara McGovern, SPCA communications and resource development

We dream of the day when the SPCA can close their doors for good because that would mean that only responsible individuals own animals; that all companion animals are sterilised and can’t breed indiscriminately; that everyone has adopted a pet as opposed to supporting a breeder and that there are enough good homes to go around; that all puppy mills have been shut down; that all our efforts to educate, to influence animal welfare policy and all our mass animal sterilisation campaigns have paid off.

We dream of that day, but until it becomes a reality, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA will continue to be there for every animal that needs us, and we will continue to act with compassion and shoulder the full responsibility for every animal admitted into our care.

We are often publicly criticised for our euthanasia policy, and we have been labelled unfairly as a “kill shelter” when what we really are is a pro-quality of life facility. A facility that won’t shy away from the responsibility of the decisions that must be made in the best interest of an animal’s welfare – even when those decisions are heart breaking for us. We never turn any animal away, and we never have the luxury of being able to say “We’re full.”

Our admissions policy is non-discriminatory and accepting of all animals in need, even those too sick, old or aggressive to find homes.

We don’t charge “surrender fees,” we don’t have long waiting lists and we don’t limit our intake hours. We do this because we know what happens to the animals who are turned away, and it is a much worse fate than compassionate euthanasia.

They are dumped along the side of the road — left at the mercy of others, left to starve slowly, left to breed indiscriminately, left to be run over by cars or their lives are cruelly ended by their owners themselves.

For many individuals “pro-life” sounds good and feels good, but we choose to do what is right. Animals are recognised by the SPCA as sentient beings, our policies are founded on the five animal freedoms that are embraced internationally and accepted by reputable animal welfare bodies.

In recognising sentience, one cannot ignore the psychological suffering experienced by companion animals living out their lives in confinement.

Kennel stress manifests physically, but it is a result of psychological stressors, and it is unavoidable.

We will not allow suffering, we will always do right by an animal that has no quality of life even if humane euthanasia is all we can offer.

“Pro-life” sounds good, it feels good, but it is disingenuous. The choice between what is good and what is right is the hardest choice of all. It’s paid for with pain and heartache and tears and rewarded with healthy, well-adjusted animals of even temperament who bring joy to the families that they share their lives with. We have a dream, until then we will always do what’s right, no matter how hard it is.