The idea that killing animals for institutional reasons would be called “euthanasia” at all is deeply troubling. “Euthanasia,” properly used, refers to a death in one’s best interest …The routine killing of sentient individuals simply to deal with their large numbers would not constitute euthanasia even if there were a painless method of implementing it. Killing is one of those things that the animal advocacy community formed to stop. Lee Hall, “Kill Them With Kindness,” Friends of Animals ActionLine (Winter 2002-03).

In Ahoskie, North Carolina, two employees of a high-profile animal protection organization currently face numerous counts of felony animal cruelty, and several misdemeanor counts of illegally disposing of dead animals. Police relate the charges to an alleged pattern of killing healthy dogs and puppies and tossing their bodies into a refuse bin.

An Associated Press report quoted veterinarian Patrick Proctor of Ahoskie Animal Hospital as further stating that authorities found a female cat and her two “very adoptable” kittens among the dead animals, and that “these were just kittens we were trying to find homes for.”

In the wake of this appalling series of reports, we at Friends of Animals would like to state that the Ahoskie killings described in the recent press reports are not euthanasia, and that they are a serious affront to animal rights.

Animal advocates have no business in the killing of healthy sheltered animals. People who engage in such conduct — regardless of killing or disposal methods — convey the message that they and their supporters have accepted a reprehensible practice.

And the issue is not a choice between killing or doing nothing.

Alternatives to the cycle of breeding and killing do exist. For example, Friends of Animals has successfully co-ordinated a national project responsible for sterilizing over two million dogs and cats since 1957. This Spay and Neuter Project effectively intervenes in the tragic cycle of reproduction, and has spared tens of millions at the very least.

In September of 2002, Friends of Animals’ president Priscilla Feral invited animal protection groups nationwide to join this project. If groups across the country were to accept Feral’s proposal and put resources into such a campaign, the amount of animal suffering would decrease beyond the animal advocacy community’s wildest dreams.

Through a concerted effort to stop the breeding of pets, we stem the tide of animals who wind up in shelters in the first place. Only in that radical way — radical meaning at its root — can the problem be resolved.

Excellent examples are also set by shelters and rehabilitators with no-kill policies. No one in the animal advocacy community should be undermining these shelters. By supporting no-kill zones, we press municipalities to face facts: There’s no room in town for breeders.

Moreover, local and state officials will place a high priority on no-kill when their constituents demand it.

Animal advocates must delve deeper than the level of symptoms, and unearth the root causes of suffering. Victory will not come overnight, but with wide support and a serious understanding of our role, we can interrupt the cycle of breeding and killing domestic animals — a cycle which, after all, we human beings put into motion.

Tell others about low-cost neutering: phone the Friends of Animals certificate hotline at 1-800-321-PETS. If your group can support local and national efforts to prevent breeding and killing of domestic animals, write to and join our shelter action list.