Ask Jack: No-Kill Shelters, Preparing for a Career with Animals

By Beacon Staff

It’s been great hearing from some of our Montana readers. Keep those questions coming to [email protected]!

I live just outside Kalispell in the “pet dumping ground.” Each year I must care for kittens and grown cats that are left to fend for themselves. I am currently caring for a small kitten, too frightened to leave the safety of the chicken coop. Apparently the companion animal overpopulation has caused the county to kill several animals last year. We also endured a case of starved-to-death horses where the perpetrator only got probation. Could you please address this situation? What can be done? – Ted

As I’ve mentioned in a previous column, you can take these animals to the Charlotte Edkins Animal Adoption center, which is a no-kill humane society. That said, one of the best ways to prevent overpopulation is having cats and dogs spayed or neutered.

Recently Barbara Palmer, a volunteer at the Flathead Spay & Neuter Task Force, wrote in to talk about this very issue. She writes, “The Flathead Spay & Neuter Task Force has a cat adoption center where anywhere from 30 to 50 rescued cats needing permanent homes are cared for by volunteers. Although the main focus of the task force is spaying and neutering, the volunteers have expanded their efforts and, for the past five years, have found homes each year for over 120 hard-to-place cats and kittens … I’ve come to understand that the only way to prevent the killing of healthy, adoptable animals is an aggressive sterilization program. On a tiny budget the task force alters over 2,000 animals each year for individuals and families whose income does not enable them to pay a veterinary practice for more than basic care for their dogs and cats. One result of the efforts has been that the euthanasia rate has decreased every year at Animal Control, but we have a long way to go because the number of dogs and cats euthanized is still unacceptable.”

You can find out more information about the task force at www.fsntf.org; I’m sure they could always use more volunteers. Thanks to Barbara for making us aware of the program.

As far as people who abuse animals, I do think there needs to be a stiffer penalty in Montana, especially when it comes to equines. Contact your local government officials and ask them to pursue stiffer penalties. One other thing you can do is take pictures of the animals that are being abused, and then when the case goes to trial, you can bring the photos to the courtroom and show people what the animals look like. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to the abuse of animals. Or, see about bringing the actual animals into the courtroom and let everyone see just how cruel animal abuse really is.

When I grow up I want to work with animals. What can I do now to prepare for an animal career? – Allison

You can do what I did – go out and volunteer at a veterinary clinic or clean cages at a humane society. Or, you can work at a farm, or a pet shop. Lots of zoos also have summer camps you can attend, as do Sea World and Busch Gardens. There are so many things you can do to get started in an animal-related career. Education is obviously the number-one priority, but when I look at a resume, I want to see not just a person’s education, but the experiences someone has had – what this person has done.