A recent AP-Petside.com poll found seven in 10 pet owners say they believe animal shelters should not be allowed to euthanize animals unless they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted.
That sounds like overwhelming support for no-kill shelters. Which, if true, is fine. The purpose here isn't to argue in favor of euthanizing strays.
The point is to urge readers carefully to consider what any poll includes and, just as important, excludes.
The poll in question offers a lesson in both aspects.
First, the poll questioned pet owners, a specific subset of the general public. What is the likelihood that group is predisposed to distain the killing of animals? That would be a good question for a reader to consider.
Also, consider what wasn't asked by the pollsters. In this case - and this is all too common with polls concerning what other groups or people should do - there is no mention of costs involved.
Key poll question:
Which comes closest to your view?
* Animal shelters should only be allowed to euthanize animals when they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted
Sometimes animal shelters should be allowed to euthanize animals as a necessary way of controlling the population of animals
It's easier to say animal shelters should not put down strays that aren't adopted than it is to offer a home to animals being sheltered, or offer financial support to shelters such as the fine examples in our area.
Again, the purpose here isn't to discourage people from supporting those shelters; indeed, quite the opposite. Just be aware of how often polls ask whether something should be done ... without mentioning who would be doing the work or paying the bills.