Killing them with kindness

Imagine you have an overcrowded animal shelter. Some media attention and publicity could probably help with that, right?

In a nice twist of fate,  let’s say that your local television station agrees to come down to your shelter to help you publicize the fact that you’re overcrowded.

If you’re that shelter, do you:

a) use the media time to try and show off some of your adoptable pets


b) Kill an animal on live television, and then tell the public it’s ‘their fault’ you had to kill him.

If you picked B, you must work for Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, who just did exactly that live on ABC Affiliate KVIA.

Animal Services Center Director Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, who apparently signed off on the live televised execution, pulls out the tired old “Blame the public” card in the follow up story on KVIA’s web page, saying –

“It is just really, really irresponsible,” Vesco-Mock said. “This is a lifetime commitment of the animal and it’s really not fair to be dumping it at the shelter all the time and expecting the shelter staff to be able to come up with a solution for your animal.”

Shelter worker Curtis Herring is the one who actually killed the dog live on camera, but Curtis says that’s ok – the owners basically tell the shelter they don’t mind if their dogs get killed.

“They bring their dogs in and say they don’t care if we euthanize it, it’s our decision,” Herring said.

More of the same old song and dance here, including footage of the murder. And no, I’m not calling euthanasia, because this was an execution, not a mercy killing.

By the way, in my opinon KVIA is not off the hook here, either – they epitomize the very worst of “if it bleeds, it leads” shock reporting. Heads up, KVIA – you might want to take a close look at how well that worked out for Rupert Murdoch’s “News of the World”.

If you’re leaving a comment on KVIA’s page, feel free to point out to this ABC affiliate just how repugnant you also find their role in all of this.

13 replies
  1. Pai
    Pai says:

    I love how they apparently resent the -gall- of people treating an animal shelter as a place that’s expected to -shelter needy animals-. What nerve! =P

  2. Jay
    Jay says:

    Terrible. But they’re just showing reality. This is what’s going on every day. Maybe seeing it uncensored, unfiltered, will help some people realize just how awful the reality is. The delivery from the shelter is idiotic, but in essence they’re right: For the most part it is the public’s fault. There are exceptions, but the majority of people simply get rid of their animals once they’re bored of them or they become a burden. I’ve been fostering dogs for years, and it’s the same story, over and over.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      No, Jay, they’re not showing reality – they’re showing laziness.

      They could have used that time to try to actually GET SOME ANIMALS ADOPTED, but OMG, no! Don’t do that – let’s just kill one, instead. On live television. This isn’t how you encourage families to come down and adopt more animals, it’s how you portray yourself as a grim animal death camp.

      As for people getting ‘rid of their animals because they’re bored’, what does this – which isn’t actually true, by the way – have to do with a shelter that is too lazy and too hidebound to bother trying to make it easier for the general public to actually ADOPT? Isn’t that what shelters should be for – isn’t that what the term ‘shelter’ actually means?

      Do you want a list of how many shelters in NM have actually managed to become No Kill? Have a look —

      And that list INCLUDES another Las Cruces shelter, Safe haven –

      The public is not the reason why shelters choose to kill instead of working to place – that’s the SHELTER’S decision, not the public’s. Time and again, it has been proven, irrefutably, that when called upon for help, that ‘irresponsible public’ will turn out in DROVES to help homeless animals get homes, and the help they need. That apathy? That’s all on the Kill Shelters, not the public.

      And as for this – “the majority of people simply get rid of their animals once they’re bored of them or they become a burden”. Stats, please. Because I do rescue, too, and I know we’re not alone in seeing that the MAJORITY of people give up pets because of behavioural issues they are not able to address, veterinary issues that they can’t afford to treat, or lifestyle changes such as death, divorce or unemployment.

      So tell me, Jay, is it ok to kill the pet of a senior that was just put into a nursing home, too? Or do they somehow get a ‘get out of jail free card’, for having a more sympathetic backstory? Do we choose which animals to kill, and which to save, based on how much we can relate to the people giving them up?

    • Pai
      Pai says:

      About 160 million cats and dogs are owned in the United States alone, and around 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year. In what world do those numbers add up to ‘the majority of people get rid of their animals when they’re bored of them’? The reality is, most people do NOT ‘dump’ their animals.

  3. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I didn’t watch the video, so I’ll just say that right off the bat.

    I agree with you Carol (frogdogz). Shelters need projects, publicity, outreach to showcase what they’re all about. Euthanizing a dog on television is a disgusting thing. We all know it happens but we don’t need to scar our minds with the image. (I know there are people who have to see this every day and it takes some special kind of courage.)

    Instead I choose to rescue my next dog from a kill shelter. But it’s not just any kill shelter. They do public outreach, projects, and fund raising that all revolves around getting their animals adopted. But it’s not just that, what I think makes them above average as far as kill shelters go is that they won’t euthanize for time nor space. They euthanize for extreme medical issues or extreme aggression. While that’s not the ideal situation, it’s a heck of a lot better than most shelters in my area.

    One day, while at work a lady approached me and we began talking about dogs (my job is in retail) and she was telling me she rescued her current dog from a local no-kill and it was so great because if she ever couldn’t keep the dog anymore she could give it back to the no-kill. Like it was furniture. Those people need shock treatment.

    • frogdogz
      frogdogz says:

      Hi Lisa —

      Actually, what you’ve just described in your shelter (doesn’t kill for space or time, just illness or severe aggression) pretty much defines a ‘no kill’ shelter.

      A friend of mine says that we should adopt the term “low kill”, instead, but I don’t know of ANY shelters who won’t euthanize for kindness (putting a dog who is very ill or suffering a traumatic injury out of its misery) or for reasons of safety and compassion (a true fear biter or untrainably aggressive dog deserves better than a life spent locked in a run with no companionship).

      And yes, there will always be idiots, but isn’t that true in every aspect of life? It’s true in parents of human children, just as much as it is in pet owners. But, we still don’t say “Oh, why bother trying to get those kids adopted? Some other idiot is just going to get knocked up and drop their kid off at a shelter.”

  4. victoria
    victoria says:

    I so agree with you, Carol. But I am also beside myself with the added cruelty of showing this on tv and the detrimental (too kind a word) psychological effect it would have on people, especially children. You cannot see an act like that without being traumatized. Of course, I’ve many times held my dogs and cats lovingly at the end of their lives via a merciful euth. But, I know that if I accidently saw this on tv- I would be wrecked. And I’m no tender flower- I’m a tough old broad. Its just so wrong on every possible level. The people who choose to believe its the public’s fault- well, that is their choice. The people who chose to administer this murder- they have a choice too. But a family at home does not necessarily have that choice with the tv on and the kids running around. Too horrific.

  5. H. Houlahan
    H. Houlahan says:

    So if a puppy-buyer of mine tells you that he went to this breeder who is great because she will always take back a puppy she sells, and the dog will always have this safety net, does that guy need a “shock treatment” too?

    Or is he being smart by choosing to support a breeder that stands by the animals she produces?

    What is the difference?

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      H. Houlahan, I guess it was the way that lady came off to me that makes me think that. She was callous and cold in the way she was speaking. It seemed to me that her dog was in the same category as furniture, not beloved pet.

      However, a breeder that will indeed stand up for the dogs they produce and take them back – that’s an amazing breeder. No less, a no kill shelter that will always accept the dog back is an amazing shelter. I wasn’t speaking on the practice, only on that particular person. 🙂

  6. Bully ResQ
    Bully ResQ says:

    Supporting a responsible breeder is not the same as getting a dog with the expectation that the first thing wrong – the dog can be returned to the shelter. Shelter animals are killed, breeder returns aren’t (for the most part). And murdering a dog because of “fear” or “aggression” that humans have caused is still MURDER. Seek out other resources, there are sanctuaries available to help train & educate. How would you react if locked in a cage scared & alone?

    The video is horrifying but maybe it will make people THINK before they act! I’m just disappointed they didn’t talk more about spaying & neutering.

  7. The Cletus Residence
    The Cletus Residence says:

    The AMVA says there are in excess of 80 million households with a dog or a cat in the United States. If everyone who has ever owned or loved one of those pets made the pledge to do one small thing (or one BIG thing!) every month, or even every year, what a difference that would make. Volunteer for a rescue, clip pet food coupons, bundle up old blankets for the shelter, donate pet related items for a raffle, donate baked goods, mention a needy dog or cat on your Facebook page or blog, or even stuff a dollar out of your wallet into a donation jar. Everyone can help. Can’t we just start with everyone who reads this blog saying, hey, I helped out a homeless pet today?

  8. mikken
    mikken says:

    Nice. Way to deter any caring people looking to adopt. And anyone thinking that the shelter might…you know… “shelter” now has changed their minds and will dump their animals out “in the wild” or wherever for them to die horrible deaths.

    I hope this prompts the immediate replacement of the shelter director (who has clearly lost her way a long time ago).

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