What is socially conscious sheltering?

Socially conscious sheltering 101

Animal welfare is changing at an unbelievable pace. While change creates opportunity by allowing for thoughtful, collaborative and effective methods of ensuring all animals are respected, it also provides opportunities for groups to promote their agendas, which despite good intentions, often results in increased suffering of animals.

Our society is at a critical point in shaping the future of animal welfare. While the no-kill movement has created positive change in some communities that don’t have progressive animal welfare organizations, the policies often promoted by these groups are increasingly leading to unintended consequences that cause animals to suffer greatly. We all must be informed regarding the unacceptable impact on animals created by legislation being proposed by some no-kill groups. We must educate colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors and policy makers so animals receive the care and respect they deserve.

For decades, thoughtful leadership, animal advocates, veterinarians and shelter and rescue groups have worked tirelessly in Colorado to champion animal welfare. This work has led to statewide outcomes that were unimaginable only 30 years ago. It is through “socially conscious sheltering” that these accomplishments have occurred.

Socially conscious sheltering’s fundamental goal is to create the best outcomes for all animals. (See the related infographic for the ways this is achieved through socially conscious sheltering.) The noted best outcomes are reached by striving for the “Five Freedoms,” which were developed in the United Kingdom in 1965. These are:

  1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health
  2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  4. Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering (this is very difficult to achieve in a sheltering environment, but each shelter should work toward this goal)

Contrary to these ideals, some no-kill organizations are causing animals to suffer by sheltering homeless animals with the intention of keeping them alive indefinitely irrespective to the pet’s level of suffering. To rally the public to promote their agenda, no-kill proponents often spread misleading and inaccurate information, which, unfortunately, is believed by many people.

The Dumb Friends League’s message is and shall remain that we will always be in support of the respectful treatment of animals, and we will always be an open admission shelter. The League does not make euthanasia decisions based on time and space. All decisions are about the pet’s quality of life and our community’s safety.

We must work together to create the best outcomes for all animals, promote safe communities and nurture the human-animal bond. We continue to work together with other Colorado shelters and the compassionate communities they serve with the belief that collaboration is much more successful than divisiveness.

Socially conscious sheltering FAQ