Saturday, July 30, 2011

America’s Animal Shelter System

OCAS collage1
Photo: I spent some time at both our county shelter (kill) and our local humane society (no kill). Our area isn’t nearly as bad as a lot of the stuff I’m reading. These are some pictures of the babies. I won’t say who is from where. I’m sure some of these fur kids may not be there anymore, for one reason or another.
I’ve recently discovered how bad our animal shelter system is; After a horrible stunt by an animal shelter in New Mexico who aired a live euthanasia of a dog on television in order to raise awareness for homeless pets and overcrowding in shelters. While some believe this to be horrifying and other think while crude it was the rude awakening needed. I found myself immediately offended by it as I believe euthanasia is meant to be peaceful and dignified, just like the greek meaning on the word. “Beautiful Death” is the literal greek translation of the word. At times I can see the possible small positive side but why did it have to be done at all?
This act is meant to be performed at end of life, terminal cases, or in pets so sick that it may be kinder to let them go then to pursue treatment. Every now and then you have the case where the owners just can’t afford the treatment—which can be very sad for everyone. I believe it should be done in a quiet location with caring and loving people around.
Anyway, I don’t want to get into it too much. What I discovered as I began to research that unless a shelter is a “No Kill” shelter they most likely do euthanize due to lack of space. These shelters have anywhere from 50%-95% kill rate. Which means ONLY 5%-50% adoption rate. I don’t have the exact stats but this is a summary of several different shelters and sites that I have read about. There is a big movement going on for No Kill Shelters. Meaning pets that with severe behavioral or medical problems are euthanized but no healthy animals. Apparently they believe by working with the community they can achieve much higher adoption rates. Its been done successfully in several shelters. One that went from 85% kill to 90% adoption! That being said many no kill shelters don’t have open admission but Tompkins County SPCA in NY is open admission AND no kill.
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  1. I support pet adoption so much, thank you for this post. It breaks my heart that healthy pets are euthanized just because there is a lack of space. I wish someone would create an organization to move pets from overcrowded shelters to shelters or temporary homes that have the space for them. Doesn't that seem like a good idea? I can't wait until a year or two from now when I will live in a place that allows pets. I cannot wait to adopt one (or five). :)

  2. It is so sad. I've been a lifelong animal lover and it's heartbreaking to see that.

    Our dog came from a shelter in Massachusetts ( where they actually drive once a week to a overcrowded shelter and pick up 40 dogs to bring to their no-kill shelter. I thought it was a great idea and have recommended them many times to others.


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