I did not wake up one day and say “Pet overpopulation is a myth.” Nor did I think that someday I would champion the fact that it was. I did not even set out to prove it. It unfolded as part of my journey in the humane movement and the facts began to compel further analysis. In fact, at one time, I too drank of the Kool Aid. The dedication of my book, Redemption, says it all:
To my wife, Jennifer. Who believed long before I did.
I once actually argued with her on a date, before we were married, that “There were too many animals and not enough homes” and “What were shelters supposed to do with them?” I am ashamed of having done so, but I did. She correctly argued that even if it were true, killing them was still unethical. She also correctly argued that if we took killing off the table, human ingenuity and human compassion would find a way to make it work. But, more importantly, she asked me how I knew it was true. In other words, she asked me what the demand side of the supply-demand equation was.
How did I know? Because I’ve heard it repeated a thousand times. Because I took the fact of killing in shelters and then rationalized the reason backward. But I was too embarrassed to admit so. Here I was: a Stanford Law student who wore my 4.0 department GPA, my highest honors in Political Science, my Phi Beta Kappa, and my Summa Cum Laude, as a badge of my smarts and I came face to face with my own sloppy logic and slipshod thinking about the issue. “It just is,” I said (lamely).
But therein began a journey that started in San Francisco, then Tompkins County (NY), then then visiting hundreds of shelters across the country, reviewing data from the ASPCA, HSUS, the AVMA, and others, and then the data of over 1,000 shelters nationwide (almost one-third the total), and more research and crunching of numbers, and several national studies. And the conclusion became not just inescapable, but unassailable. And rather than bury it, ignore it or downplay it, I did what anyone who truly loves animals would have done. I celebrated it. Why? Because it meant that we had the power to end the killing, today.
And what kind of person would rather that not be true?
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