Codifying Euphemisms

Shelter (verb): to protect or shield from something harmful.

Shelter (noun): a refuge; a place giving temporary protection from danger.

A healthy dog on intake, after getting sick at the pound, and then dying on a cold, concrete floor from “marked emaciation” and pneumonia. She was not treated by the pound and the poundmaster claimed her staff did not notice she had stopped eating. Over a decade and several scandals later, the pound still kills and mistreats animals and those on the payroll continue to shirk their responsibilities. But the poundmaster is one of many who succeeded in getting legislation passed to call their pound a “shelter.”

The heads of some of the most regressive pounds and do-nothing SPCAs in California — including those where animals cannibalized other animals because they weren’t fed, where animals have died of starvation and untreated illnesses, where pound staff have slammed animals into cages or kicked them while holding them down, or in cities where the pound doesn’t even adopt out animals — have successfully passed a new law.

The group of which they are part is the primary supporter — indeed the only named supporter — of SB 787. SB 787 replaces the term “pound” in California law with the word “shelter” and the word “poundmaster” with “director.” The group argues that the terms “pound” and “poundmaster” have a “negative stigma.”

SB 787 will not save a single life or improve conditions one iota. What it will do is codify euphemisms, just like a prior bill they promoted which changed the word “kill” to “euthanize.” But here’s the rub: they can call it “euthanasia” instead of killing, but kill a healthy or treatable animal and it is still killing.

They can call themselves a “shelter,” but when they act like a pound, they are a pound.

They can call themselves a “shelter director,” but act like a dogcatcher and they are a dogcatcher.

And there isn’t a euphemism they can think of to enshrine into law that will apply a thick enough gloss to cover up the unvarnished, ugly, and violent truth.

Our government has more important things to do than make these poundmasters feel better about the killing that they do, like forcing them to stop killing.

Codify the No Kill Equation into law and end the needless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of non-human Californians every year. Do that and we don’t have to worry about what to call it.


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