LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A self-professed animal lover, Michelle Spear of Mulberry, is the proud owner of two dogs and a cat. But if she ever had to surrender one of her beloved pets, she would take only it to a no-kill animal shelter.
"With no kill we might look at a behavior issue and work on it, or if it's sick we'll treat it," said Spear, who also volunteers at a no-kill shelter. "That's why I prefer no-kill shelters."
Spear believes animals should be euthanized only "if there was absolutely no hope and they were suffering," she said. She is not alone in her sentiment. About 71 percent of pet owners believe animal shelters should euthanize animals if they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted, according to a recent Associated Press-Petside.com poll of 1,118 adults who own pets.
About 25 percent of pet owners believed animal shelters should be allowed to euthanize animals as a necessary way of controlling animal populations, according to the poll.
Natalie Moore, founder of Natalie's Second Chance no-kill dog shelter in Lafayette, said she believes people support the idea of a "forever home" -- even if it's in a shelter -- more than the idea of euthanizing.
"It makes people feel better knowing that we give a dog a chance," she said. "I don't judge a dog by its age, breed or if they have a disability. We don't euthanize because of space."
Alan Beck, professor and director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, said the no-kill shelter has been around for a long time.
"In theory it sounds great until you question what happens to animals as the population increases," he said.
Beck said municipal shelters often have to accept all animals brought to their doors whereas no-kill shelters can have limited admission.
"Most "No-kill" (shelters) keep some control by limiting acceptance of animals that are healthy and adoptable. Therefore the term "limited admission" is more honest."
Michelle Warren, executive director of Almost Home Humane Society in Lafayette, said the shelter only euthanizes animals who are too sick to treat or too aggressive to be around other animals or humans.
However, this was not always the case. Prior to 2007, the shelter had to euthanize animals to create space, Warren said.
If overpopulation were to occur again, the shelter might have to do the same as a last resort.
"If our numbers start jumping back up ... it probably would lead back to that but we would make every effort to make sure that it didn't," she said.
Warren said animal control should be a community effort. So she advised pet owners to make sure they are in it for the long haul.
They should also spray and neuter their pets to prevent overpopulation and make sure pets have proper identification so they can be returned home safely, she said.
"It's all on us as citizens of the community to make sure we do our part," she said.
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com