Shelter bashing wasn’t planned

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1992:

A late summer wave of shelter-bashing by
animal rights groups took humane workers by
surprise, including some of the most outspo-
ken critics of shelter administrations. Protests
outside numerous shelters on Homeless
Animals Day, August 22, coincided with
campaigns against the management of the
Primarily Primates shelter in San Antonio,
Texas, and the Defenders of Animal Rights
shelter in Phoenix, Maryland. (See separate

Ironically, the International Society for
Animal Rights declared Homeless Animals
Day to support shelter work by helping to raise
awareness about pet overpopulation, a life-
long concern of founder Helen Jones.
However, ISAR asked activists to demon-
strate concern via candlelight vigils outside of
animal shelters, in memory of the estimated
eight million homeless animals the shelters
euthanize each year. Mass media and the pub-
lic generally understood the vigils as protests
against the shelters themselves—as in some
cases, they were. Media coverage tended to
focus on euthanasia rather than on preventing
dog and cat births.
No organization has criticized the American
SPCA shelter in New York City more vigor-
ously over the years than New Yorkers for
Companion Animals, but in this case,
cofounder Elizabeth Forel told ANIMAL
PEOPLE, some fellow critics were out of line.
Although she said she supported the intent of
the vigil, “the fact is, few of the participants
have anything to do with the companion ani-
mal crisis in New York, and some do not even
work on this issue.”
In Cleveland, Liz Bujack of the Network
for Ohio Animal Action was careful to explain
that the vigil was not intended as an attack on
shelters or shelter workers, who “do the dirty
work for a society that treats dogs and cats as
disposable items.”
But longtime animal rescuer Donna Robb
was not impressed by “activists lighting can-
dles while hordes of stray cats and dogs slink
through the city streets around them.”
Homeless Animals Day “smacks of sentimen-
tality and sensationalism,” she continued. “I
would like the idea better if it included a drive
to collect food and blankets for the shelters,
lobbying for mandatory neuter laws, and
fundraising for low-cost spay/neuter. And
why not invite the media out for an evening of
setting humane traps and pulling kittens out of
dumpsters, ending with a trip to the shelter for
eyewitnessed euthanasia?”
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