The truth about animal shelters

Jian Zchicheng Animal Shelter Vet

I was deeply saddened yesterday to read about the shelter vet that was bullied to suicide. Sadly with social media there is a lot of power given to people – however it is how they choose to use it as whilst it can do great good, it can also do great harm.

Animal shelters are never an easy place to work, it is a highly emotional environment and you really want to save every single animal that comes in. I’ve seen some bad shelters, and I’ve seen some good shelters. However the attitude of people working there is always the same – and that is to do the absolute best they can. Many workers will at one point fail to say no and adopt an animal from the shelter themselves as it is so hard to say no to these beautiful animals.

Unfortunately it is something the majority of the public will never see, rows of dogs wanting your attention to play. The hundreds of cats waiting and watching you for cages along the walls. These animals need the best care that can be given. They need their own space, they need to be able to relax, need to have space to play. They need to be protected from infectious diseases which are all too easy to spread in a shelter environment. And the people looking after them need to have the funds to be able to do this.

Now Jian Zchicheng did this every day for up to 500 dogs and 100 cats (can you even imagine what this looks like?!?!) which is the shelter capacity. However under Taiwanese law an animal shelter cannot refuse to take in stray animals – and just because the shelter is full doesn’t mean that animals magically stop arriving.

The limit on the number of animals is not random – it is there to ensure that diseases cannot spread, that animals have space, that animals have staff time, and that it’s possible to maintain cleanliness. Going over this limit puts every single animal in the shelter at risk – reducing an animals space and social interaction can affect behaviour – and this reduces the animals chance of finding a home.

When an animal arrives there are checks done both medical and behavioural – if it is too aggressive then it will be euthanized for safety reasons. If it has a disease or injury that is not easily treatable it will be euthanized. Unfortunately when you have 500 animals in your care spending £1000+ on surgery for a single animal is not realistic – this will feed all 500 animals for 2 – 3 days – and you know that within hours the next animal that does not need £1000+ in surgery is going to arrive.

So Jian Zchicheng did this, saving countless animals every single day, rehoming countless animal every single day. Yet when she appeared in a TV documentary a year ago which she probably hoped would help more animals get adopted all some animal rights people cared about was the euthanasia’s. They called her names like ‘female butcher’ and ‘beautiful executioner’, they made threats against her, and they gave her a torrent of abuse about the animals she could not save.

Every single “animal rights“ person that called Dr Jian names needs to take a look at themselves in the mirror now, you have taken an angel away from the 600 animals that were under her care. You have made other staff at other shelters hesitant about appealing to the public because of fear of your torrent of abuse. And you have driven a vet to death. I hope that every single day you remember this, and that every day going forward you become part of the solution. Encourage people to adopt not shop, volunteer at a local animal shelter, raise funds for local animal shelters, walk dogs from local shelters.

Jian left in her note “A (human) life is no different from a dog’s; I will die from the same drugs that we use to put dogs peacefully to sleep.”

I really hope you are peaceful Jian, and that you know every single animal you saved remembers that.