Preserving an Animal’s Golden Years (by Taylor Reynolds)


taylor.reynolds1-145853820-animal-sanctuaries-632x475-2This term was very eye-opening. I learned a lot about a topic that I already thought I knew a lot about. Animal welfare is a theme that is very close to my heart, and throughout this term I was able to educate my classmates as well as my teacher about the different ways that a person could get involved to help animals. A great place to get involved with animals is of course animal shelters, but there is more than just the traditional volunteering in-shelter. As a lot of people know, there are many kill-shelters that exist today. Adoption is a great way to save the animals, but can seem permanent and a lot to take on. What a lot of people forget is that fostering dogs still saves them from being killed in an overcrowded shelter, and still gives them hope for a permanent home in the future. I participated in fostering this term, and it got me thinking about how adoption is so much more common. I wondered if more people chose to foster dogs, whether is be permanently or not, if there would be as many animals killed in shelters.

A large player in the animal welfare community is PETA, which stand for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is well known for their in-your-face style tactics to get their message out. What a lot of people do not know about PETA is that their shelter in Virginia kills thousands of animals every year. Now, this doesn’t necessarily make PETA a bad organization, but there are some questions to be asked. I wanted to reach out to the president Ingrid E. Newkirk, and ask her about their adoption and foster programs.

 The Research

Research Question: How can people reduce the amount of euthanized dogs in kill-shelters?

There are massive amounts of dogs that are put to sleep in animal shelters. My goal is to emphasize foster care to be a solution to the problem. I went out to look for statistics to get a better idea of actually how many animals are brought into shelters, and how many make it out alive. I found a lot of that type of information, but my results narrowed as I tried to find actual foster programs. However, I ended up finding some pretty legitimate sources.

-Mohan-Gibbons H, Weiss E, Garrison L, Allison M (2014) Evaluation of a Novel Dog Adoption Program in Two US Communities. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91959. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091959

This was an experiment conducted in New Orleans, Louisiana that tested two types of adoption programs, and how responsive they made potential adopters. Since this is an academic article, it is an authoritative source.

This article provides a lot of good statistics that measure the benefits of these certain programs. It also talks about the types of programs that seem to reach out to the community more, resulting in more adoption and fostering, which then finally results in less animals being killed in shelters. This was the most relevant academic article that I could find with actual specifics on different types of adoption programs.

-Huegel, Kelly. “LA Stories.” Animal Sheltering. 1 July 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

This article talks about how the people of Los Angeles have worked together to keep dogs out of shelters. It stresses the importance to keep them out in the first place, since so many end up getting euthanized. I know that it is reliable since it is published by an accredited, well-known organization, The Humane Society.

This is a great article to reference because it talks about programs started by the community and The Humane Society that were designed to keeps dogs alive. It agrees with my other academic sources, since it talks about how the majority of dogs brought into animal shelters are put down. But, unlike the academic sources, it gives very nice real-world insight as to what can be done to stop the slaughter of the poor animals who cannot find homes. (Usually within certain deadlines.) This article shows that over-crowded shelters are a huge problem in communities in the United States.

-“PETA Kills Animals | Evidence.” PETA Kills Animals. Center for Consumer Freedom, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <;.

This is a website is a product of The Center for Consumer freedom, which is an established non-profit organization dedicated to informing consumers about what they are consuming. It criticizes PETA’s practice of euthanasia on dogs, especially since they are in such high numbers.

This article will be an interesting piece since it takes a well-known player in the animal welfare community, and openly criticizes it. PETA is known for their gruesome images of animal brutality, but seems to hide the photos of their own committed brutality. This article shows that the lack of space in shelters is so extreme, that even animal rights “activists” are starting to slaughter dogs off all ages, breeds, and colors. Another reason this article is relevant to my project is my choice for my public writing. I want to write to the president of PETA, Ingrid E. Newkirk, and ask her about these practices.

The Public Writing


This last term I took a writing class where we had the opportunity to choose and explore a community theme of our interest, and find volunteer work that was included in the theme. I chose animal welfare, and backed it up by permanently fostering two older dogs that were going to be sent to a kill shelter. Exploring this theme, I realized how many shelters actually are kill-shelters. I didn’t really understand why so many places that would act as relief to animals, actually cause the death of some. I read the article you had on why no-kill shelters aren’t always pretty-but to be honest I think it is in defense of recent claims about your shelter in Virginia. Facts show that you have killed over 31,000 animals, which is almost 90 percent of the animals you actually take in. I understand why it has to happen, but I do have some questions on your methods of preventing it. I’ve been interested in the comparison of using foster versus adoption programs in shelters. There have been studies that have shown the success of linking community outreach and foster programs that surpass the success of walk-in adoption rates.

There has been a large emphasis on adoption of animals in your organization, and I don’t think enough attention is given to foster programs. Before people or families commit to adopting or owning a dog, it’s good preparation to foster one first. Fostering also solves the immediate problem of the lack of resources in shelters. Although it seems like a short-term solution, fostering would save lives in the long run.

Your article about how no-kill shelters may be worse than most people think is very accurate. It stresses dogs out to be in an unstable environment, which is why fostering a dog in a safe, reliable home is a great alternative to sheltering and eventually killing a dog. My focusing on more fostering programs instead of full-on adoption, you might be able to kill less animals and regain your name as a humane organization.




One comment

  1. Lee Hill

    Hi Taylor!

    I have to say i really enjoyed your public writing, and thank you for fostering two dogs! I am a dog lover myself, and i used to work as a critical care nurse in a veterinary hospital in Florida. During my time at the hospital we had more than our fair share of run ins with PETA. Largely due to the fact that we provided veterinary care to a local big cat sanctuary. Free care i might add. I found your piece very informative, especially about PETA and their kill shelters. Your idea about fostering dogs versus full on adoption in order to alleviate the shelters, is a great one, and one i would like to see PETA adopt. I’m sure that fostering will also lead to a greater number of adoptions also.

    As for your writing, i think it was clear, concise and perhaps most importantly persuasive. You used your resources well, and the statistics you provided strengthened your overall argument. I enjoyed the tone of your piece, and you end the piece strongly with a well thought out conclusion that stated your argument strongly.

    All the best


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