A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

How to Get a Good New Home: Get Gassed!

Andrea the cat’s story is brimming with ironies

Andrea is enjoying her second 15 minutes of fame. Her first round as a celebrity was in October, when she survived not just one visit to the gas chamber at the West Valley City shelter in Utah, but two.

And now we have the good news that after a month in a foster home, she’s been adopted.

But Andrea’s story is so brimming over with ironies, it’s hard to wrap your head around the whole thing.

Djamila Grossman  |  The Salt Lake Tribune</p> <p>Andrea, a cat who was euthanized twice by a West Valley City shelter but didn't die, looks out the window at at her owner's Syracuse home, on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011.First is the simple fact that this kitty had been unable to find a good new home until the news broke that she’d twice survived the consequences of not being adopted.

In other words, it was never the case that Andrea couldn’t be found a good new home. Rather, that the shelter and its staff, paid and volunteer, simply hadn’t done the work to find her a good home. They’d never given her the promotion and publicity she (and every other shelter cat and dog) needs to be adopted.

Instead, Andrea had to do something dramatic enough by herself to break through the apathy and helplessness that are endemic to so many shelters.

And then there’s the second irony. This one makes your head spin.

Although it’s almost a month since Andrea was adopted, the shelter folks have left it until now to tell the news media the good news. Why? Because they’re about to make their case to the West Valley City Council to shut down the gas chamber. This is an important campaign, from their point of view, and they want it to get all the publicity they can.

So far, so good. No more gassing homeless pets.

But wait! What these well-intentioned folks want to do instead is to replace death by gassing with death by lethal injection.

This would mean that if Andrea had “benefited” from the new reform (i.e. been given a lethal injection rather than put in the gas chamber), she’d be dead for sure. Not adopted. Not in a good home. Just dead.

So what Andrea’s “miracle” of survival is being used to promote is a better way of ensuring that she could never have survived.

How bizarre is that?!

daniel-miracle-beagle600p[1]Frankly, if I were a cat (or a dog like Daniel who also “miraculously” survived the gas chamber at an Alabama “shelter” and got more than 100 applications when people heard about his escape) here’s what I’d be saying:

“If you’re trying to kill me, please put me in the gas chamber. Even if it’s not as nice a way to die, I’d still rather take my chances there and have a shot at coming out alive.

“At least there’s a chance of surviving. And if you survive being killed by the shelter, YOU’RE 100 PERCENT GUARANTEED A NEW HOME!”

And so, West Valley City folks (and others), think about taking your campaign in a different direction. Andrea and Daniel and at least 95 percent of all the cats and dogs you push into the gas chamber or stick with a lethal dose of poison could have been adopted in the first place.

Sure, it takes some work, but there are hundreds of communities, large and small, city and rural, high-income and low-income, who have made the commitment, and made it stick.

Going no-kill starts with a commitment to stop the killing. The answers, the solutions, the new programs all flow from that. No-kill isn’t what happens at the end of the programs. It’s what you do first. You start by saying “Stop the killing.” And when killing is no longer an option, the rest begins to fall into place.

The message from Andrea and Daniel is clear and simple: There were homes waiting for them all along; it was just a question of bring them together with the people who could give them a loving home.