I guess there's a new cat woman in town. I don't mean the acrobatic, crime-fighting type, but the kind who likes cats, and cares about their fate. That would be our staff writer and government reporter, Vikki Kratz, whose devotion to the domesticated (for the most part) feline species has led her to the report that is our cover story this week, "Better Off Dead?"
I must admit I was surprised to learn from reading the story that animal euthanasia has been on the rise at the Dane County Humane Society. I recall, as will many readers, the coup staged a few years ago at the DCHS by an insurgent group dissatisfied with the incumbent management's animal-killing policy. The new folks in charge vowed to make Dane County into one of the "no kill" animal shelters that were popping up around the country then.
Six years later those same folks are still killing animals at the shelter, and, as always, there are reasons. There always are. The various advocates put forth their arguments in Kratz's article, and I leave it to you to weigh their merit.
Personally, I would prefer that animals not be destroyed in shelters, but I also know that the "no kill" ideal is mighty hard to achieve. Everyone would be better off if all dogs and cats were neutered or spayed - it would keep the numbers down and make a "no kill" future more possible.
But the continued existence of hordes of feral animals, mainly cats, and the incorrigibility of pet owners who take no responsibility for their wards' reproductive activity, make achieving the ideal highly dubious at present. One would hope that progress is being made in reducing the uncared-for animal population, but the situation is hard to assess through the fur flying between warring animal advocates.
Further complicating matters is the wide variety of attitudes and relationships that humans have with the animal population. They range from people who would be happy to never encounter a fur-, feather- or scale-bearing animal except as reduced to the next meal, to those who would endow their animal companion with the status of revered deity.
I, a dog guy, am somewhere in the middle. I like my canine friends to be able to fully develop their individual personalities, as my buddies through the years - Shep, Pal, Ricketts, Cork, Clare, Tyrone and Jada - would attest. But I also know that left to their own devices they can be destructive and in some cases dangerous. So I manage them with as much care and compassion as I can muster without losing sight of practicality. That's what I'd like to see out of those who work with animals on behalf of the rest of us.