Being Humane

We went with Nana to the Humane Society the other day. She’s been considering increasing her cat population, and we thought we’d help out.

I always have troubles at the Humane Society. To me, it’s an incredibly sad place.

The kids loved it.

They bonded with the animals, going from cage to cage.

One dog in particular, connected with my youngest son. She couldn’t take her eyes off him, wagging and barking when he came near, and then just staring mournfully at him when he walked away. He went back to her over and over again.

It was too much for me. Our personal animal population is maxed out, and there was just no way I was going to add a pit bull into the mix.

“Come on,” I said. “Let’s go back to Nana.”

The place had three sections: dog, cat, and puppy. I had taken them to the dog section to give Nana a little more space to look at cats by herself.

In the puppy section, of course, my oldest son immediately made a connection with a golden retriever mutt.

It’s weird for the kids and I to have such a disconnect emotionally, and they repeatedly asked me what was wrong. I gave them typical parental empty answers.

As we were leaving, though, Nana mentioned that it was a shame that so many of the animals were going to be put to sleep.

The kids glanced at each other, but didn’t say anything.

Once we were alone, they unloaded with outrage and upset.

“They don’t have the resources to keep all the dogs and cats they collect,” I said. “There are no-kill shelters. They also pick up animals from the regular shelters.”

“They should all be no-kill,” my oldest said. “What’s the point of picking up the animals if they’re just going to kill them?”

I didn’t have an answer for that, at least not a good one. “They help a lot of animals find homes.”

“And they kill the others,” he said.

My wife pointed out that it’s a safety issue, that we can’t have wild dogs and cats running around, but that didn’t stick. It’s tough to argue that we should proactively kill all the animals, instead of just dealing with the ones that cause problems.

In a state like Florida, where we try to protect the bears and gators and snakes, it’s hard to stomach the idea of rounding up cats and dogs.

The population argument didn’t go over too well, either.

“How about if they do everything the same,” my oldest son said, “but instead of killing the ones that don’t get adopted, they just let them go?”

I didn’t have an argument, or at least not one that would work.

“They shouldn’t be called the humane society,” he said.

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