What’s In A Word?

by Gwendolyn Lee

15,833 lives.

In the July 2011 – June 2012 Annual Report, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC) director, Rodrigo Silva, proudly cites:

“Over 90% of all adoptable animals were released from our shelters with a chance for a happy life.” (Emphasis added)

Emphasis is added because in that one word, adoptable, lie 15,833 lives.  To you and me, an adoptable animal is most animals brought in the shelters, anything short of a very sickly cat or a wildly ferocious dog would probably be unadoptable. To MCACC, unadoptable includes a wide range of animals.  For example:

  • Puppies and kittens younger than 8 weeks — not adoptable!
  • Dogs that are scared or fearful – not adoptable!
  • Cats with easily treatable ear mites — not adoptable!
  • Cats with ringworm – not adoptable!
  • Dogs with kennel cough – not adoptable!
  • Emaciated dogs who guards it food – not adoptable!
  • Momma’s who growl to protect their babies – not adoptable!

Simply put, “adoptable” is a word to make horrifically bad numbers sound good using smoke-and-mirrors phrasing.

There are over 110 open-admission municipal No Kill shelters across the United States that have taken killing off the table and are proving that roughly 95% of all animals entering shelters are savable.

MCACC expects a lot from a homeless animal to hold the precious title of “Adoptable.”  And those who fail to meet their high standards pay with their lives. Last year, 15,833 animals failed the word test.  That is what is in a word.

15,833 lives.


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