Commentary: To kill or not to kill? There is no question

When I heard that one of the issues of the mayoral debate was to potentially make San Antonio a “no kill” zone, I about fell out of my chair. While not killing innocent animals sounds like a reasonable idea, the effects could be devastating. Just ask the Italians living in Naples, Italy. Italy does not believe in euthanizing animals. Wild dogs run in angry, hungry packs and are often disease-ridden. My husband and I lived in Naples for three years. In my neighborhood, there were so many wild dogs that I couldn’t take a walk down the street for fear one of them would bite me.

This may surprise you: even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) does not believe in “no kill” zones. PETA recognizes what certain mayoral candidates have not, that packs of animals running wild because there is no room in shelters is not healthy for humans or animals.

I should know.

While we lived in Italy, my husband nearly died from a parasite called Leishmaniasis. The parasite was transmitted by a sand fly that bit an infected dog. The sand fly, which is only one quarter of the size of a mosquito, then bit my husband and transmitted the parasite to him.

Leishmaniasis can be deadly. It attacks and immobilizes the host’s immune system and eventually destroys the inner organs, including the liver and the spleen. To kill the Leishmaniasis, my husband had to undergo treatments similar to chemotherapy. He also had to go through months of physical therapy to rebuild muscles that atrophied while he was bedridden. He lost a total of 45 pounds and was out of work for six months. At one point during the illness, he was so weak that he couldn’t stand up long enough to shower.

Unfortunately, the climate in Southern Texas is similar to the climate in Southern Italy, which means that Leishmaniasis could just as easily thrive in our area.

I think PETA has the right idea. It is more inhumane to allow animals to catch diseases, starve to death and run the streets, than it is to put them out of their misery.

The real solution to the problem plaguing animal control shelters is for pet owners to be responsible. Spay or neuter your pet, and never ever abandon an animal. It’s not only unethical; it’s inhumane.