Best of Bad Options

I got criticized over on the avian forums for suggesting that there are some birds that just shouldn’t be rescued.  Someone took exception to this, as if I’m being overly harsh with regard to pet birds, she said I wouldn’t say the same thing about dogs or cats or kids.

She’s wrong.

Sure, in a perfect world, every animal, and every child, would be wanted and no one would ever mistreat another living creature, people would follow the best, most practical, most humane breeding practices, etc.  However, this isn’t a perfect world and we can’t pretend that it is.  Being hyper-emotional, to the point that you can’t take a few steps back and rationally evaluate the reality of the situation, is harmful.  For example, we might like everyone to have enough food to eat, but the reality is, when population growth outpaces food production, that cannot be the case.  Either we need to increase food production or we need to limit reproduction.  There is a balance and when one side of the see-saw is out of balance, the equation suffers.  People are going to starve to death.  In this particular situation, let us assume that, due to technical or logistical problems, we simply cannot increase the amount of food produced in an area.  Therefore, we must limit the number of new offspring produced, but more often than not, religion gets in the way of telling people not to breed like rabbits.  Thus, people starve.  The balance of reality isn’t going to be undone with wishful thinking.  Reality always wins.  Whether we like the situation or not has nothing to do with the fact that the situation exists.

I do think that there are cases where animals are so mutilated, physically, emotionally or mentally that the best thing we can do as animal lovers is put them down.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about dogs, cats, hamsters, ferrets, fish or birds, there comes a point, IMO, where we’re simply doing more to harm an animal by keeping it alive than we would be to grant it a merciful death.  I’ve posted examples of this in the past, cases where animals have been damaged to the point that they can never hope to live anything resembling a normal life.  If we can reasonably rehabilitate the animal, great.  If it’s going to just prolong the torture, forget it.

I even think that humans may be benefited by the same thing, on some scale or another.  I’m all in favor of voluntary abortion of malformed fetuses.  Just because something is alive doesn’t mean it automatically deserves to be saved.  Being human doesn’t change the position, I’m consistent across the board.

The problem is, there are far too many people who never rationally evaluate their positions, they just “feel”, they never think.  That’s where crazy cat ladies come from, people who think they have to save every animal they can, no matter how damaged those animals might be, but in the process, end up being so overwhelmed that they do nothing good for any of them.

As a pet owner, I want the best, most healthy, happy and well-adjusted animals I can get.  I take steps to insure they all stay that way, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my animals, but if one of them got sick or injured, to the point that it was in pain and nothing I could do could stop the pain, I wouldn’t hesitate to put the animal down.  I’m sympathetic, I’m not stupid.  I’ve yet to own a single animal that didn’t have the full financial resources I can muster to get better, I’ve even had one or two where I knew the fight was going to be difficult and the chances of recovery not all that great, but I fought the fight anyhow and won in each case.  But you know something?  If I was told by my vet that there’s no way to win, that the fight is already lost and the situation will never improve, would I keep fighting?  No, probably not.  I’d decide, based on quality of life, whether or not the eventual outcome, a happy, healthy, well-adjusted animal, would ever come about and if not, then I’d rather see the animal be humanely put down than live a lifetime badly.

I think a lot of people get emotionally attached to the idea of being emotionally attached, they just want to save things.  They put up with untenable situations, simply because they don’t want to admit that they can’t save the world.  I’m not that crazy.  I know when to say enough is enough.

It’s sad that so many do not.

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