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No-kill shelter nation? Maybe in 5 years

Discussion in 'Rescue Chat' started by davemize, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. davemize

    davemize Forums Enthusiast

    May 1, 2009
    Pickerington, Ohio
    Adoptions rise as cities, shelters form partnerships to reduce euthanasia
    By Kim Campbell Thornton
    msnbc.com contributor
    updated 8:59 a.m. ET, Thurs., July 9, 2009

    When the Richmond SPCA in Virginia announced plans to become a no-kill animal shelter beginning in 2002, there was one thing that CEO Robin Starr didn’t expect: vocal opposition from local rescue groups.

    Opponents argued that the change would mean a disproportionate amount of unadoptable animals would end up at the city’s animal control shelter — possibly leading to more animal deaths.

    “It was sort of like we did a really good job of euthanizing animals, and it was our job, and we needed to see it as our place,” Starr said. “I just didn’t accept the notion that we were derelict in our duty if we didn’t kill animals.”
    So the Richmond SPCA, a private organization, entered into a partnership with Richmond Animal Care and Control, the city’s shelter, with the joint goal of ending the killing of healthy, homeless animals in the community.

    The Richmond SPCA began limiting the animals it accepted, opened a spay/neuter clinic, implemented a foster care network and instituted new programs emphasizing adoption and responsible pet ownership. Richmond SPCA also created programs to help pets remain with their owners, including a pet food bank and animal behavior-training classes. Richmond Animal Care and Control, in turn, pledged to focus on public safety issues.

    By 2006, two years ahead of schedule, the partners had achieved their goal: an adoption rate of 75 percent or more, with no more healthy but homeless animal dying in the city. That’s up from a save rate of 56 percent in 2001.
    “We’re no-kill within the organization,” Starr said. “And last year, our citywide euthanasia rate, including all animals taken in anywhere as homeless, was 19 percent, which I think puts us within the top few in the country.”

    In contrast, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that approximately 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats entering shelters are euthanized each year, mostly due to a lack of space or resources to care for them.

    Animals still may be euthanized when they are highly aggressive, severely injured or have an untreatable medical condition, says Jody Jones, operations manager for Richmond Animal Care and Control. However, she adds, “we have not euthanized a healthy adoptable animal since 2006.”

    A no-kill nation?
    While no hard statistics are kept on the number of no-kill animal shelters in the U.S., the number does appear to be growing — and the number of animal adoptions rising in those cities.

    Many cities, animal control agencies and private shelters in the U.S. are forming alliances that they hope will lead to a no-kill nation in half a decade.

    The Nevada Humane Society based in Reno, Nev., adopted a no-kill policy in 2006. In less than a year, cat adoptions nearly doubled, from 2,100 in 2006 to 3,745 in 2007. Dog adoptions increased 51 percent, from 2,439 to 3,707.

    Executive Director Bonney Brown credits the improved numbers to a focus on saving the lives of animals as well as a good relationship with Washoe County Regional Animal Services, which has one of the highest returned-to-owner rates in the nation — 65 percent of dogs and nearly 7 percent of cats.

    “We’ve been blessed with the rescue groups in the community,” Brown said. “They take animals that need a lot of extra care or behavioral rehabilitation.”

    Heavy reliance on volunteers, convenient shelter hours and fun community fundraising events — such as trick-or-treating for pets at Halloween and furry speed dating on Valentine’s Day — have made a difference in Washoe County. Brown, who has a background in retail, runs the organization like a business.

    “You look at what needs to be achieved and figure out how to do that. Maybe it means letting go of some programs that don’t have a lifesaving impact or shifting the hours that the shelter is open,” she said. “We’ve actually reduced our budget during the same time that we were achieving no-kill success.”

    At the Nevada Humane Society, the average length of stay for a dog is about 16 days; for cats, about 23 days. The organization also has improved its adoption screening and matching process.

    “Animals that have been in the shelter longer are moved into the most prominent adoption places, and we make a push to get them out,” she said.
    However, not every community has the resources to form such partnerships that make no-kill shelters successful, says Misha Goodman, president of the National Animal Control Association and director of animal services for Iowa City, Iowa.

    “Some locations in the country may have a very small shelter or animal control agency and not have the resources of local rescues or other shelters or humane societies,” she says. “I’m in the Midwest, and I can tell you that it is hugely lacking agencies to deal with animal-related problems. There are a whole lot of rural areas that don’t have accessibility to even the minimal amount of services.”

    'Every animal moves out of here'
    Critics charge that no-kill shelters accept only the most adoptable animals, but Richmond SPCA's Starr refutes that. Unless animals are too sick or injured to recover to a quality life or are so aggressive that they are dangerous, “every animal moves out of here,” she said.

    And many shelters are coming up with innovative programs to facilitate adoptions of hard-to-place pets, such as older animals, pit bulls, and pets with disabilities or health problems.

    “With older cats, we always do a reduced adoption fee,” says Ken White, president of Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo, Calif. “And we work with a lot of senior advocacy groups. Older animals are sometimes a really excellent choice for older people.”

    Some organizations also tap donor-supported funds to help with medical bills even after adoption. Many share the animals' names and stories in an effort to make them more adoptable.

    White firmly believes in giving every animal a chance at a home. “We’re diving deeper into our own local dogs and cats that have medical and behavioral problems and trying to make ready for adoption dogs and cats who in past years would have been euthanized immediately,” he said.

    Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning author who has written many articles and more than 20 books about dogs and cats. She belongs to the Dog Writers Association of America and is vice president of the Cat Writers Association. She shares her home in California with three Cavalier King Charles spaniels and one African ringneck parakeet.
    © 2009 msnbc.com. Reprints
    URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31555018/ns/us_news/
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    © 2009 MSNBC.com
  2. Ania

    Ania Forums Enthusiast

    Oct 28, 2008
    I wish that was the case in a smaller town here in Manitoba called Steinbach. Two weeks ago a story broke out as to how they deal with their stray animals. The city has hired an animal control man for years. He rounds up these animals, brings them to his farm. Puts them in kennels and after ONE week, if he cannot find the owner, he SHOOTS them in the head infront of all the other animals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yah, this is 2009 and not 1809!!!!!!! One person called into the radio show and said that she tried getting a hold of this man when her dog went missing and she couldn't, he would not return her calls. He does not have a scanner to read microchips and does not take them to a vet who does. So, exactly what kind of an effort is he making to find the owners????? And A WEEK! What if the dog got loose and you are on vacation and have someone looking after the dog? I mean come on. This story got a lot of people mad here, yet I was surprised as to how many people called in and said that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing and how he was doing it!!!!!!!! One dog trainer called in and said that we cannot be putting human emotions on dogs, dogs don't feel like we do, so it is OK to kill a dog infront of another and that it will not affect the second dog!!!!!!!!! I am not sure what kind of a trainer he is, but I would love to know his name so I know never to refer anyone to such an idiot! Has he not seen what happens to a dog that is left when its life long friend dies? It does get depressed!!! And that is a human emotion. The dog many not now to call it depression or grief, but it still FEELS it! Peole make me so mad!!
  3. Smudge

    Smudge Forums Sage

    Jun 2, 2009
    I remember reading in my local paper a few weeks ago that the number of people adopting from the animal shelter was down 50%. They are so crowded that they are having to kill every animal that comes through the front door, because they just don't have the room. They feature a cat and dog of the week every week in the paper, but I think they do that everywhere.

    That's why I think I am going to apply something I read on a shelter website. "Why buy when thousands of others die?". Buying a dog has its place, but I think from now on I'm going to be a rescue/shelter dog person. :yes:
  4. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    My local RSPCA is a no-kill shelter. They are also very active in promoting rescue dogs. The problem often is they run out of room and when they have no space some dogs must go to the pound - where they have 14 days. Where my mum lives the RSPCA puts down a large amount of dogs and coincidently, they also have a big puppy-mill problem and most dogs are brought in petshops. See the link.
  5. romeosangiovese

    romeosangiovese Forums Enthusiast

    Sep 29, 2008
    Our only SPCA here euthanises about 80+% of the animals that go in. Most people in the know would approach other shelters instead (no kill ones run by volunteers and on donations and on really amazingly generous individuals who devote their life to animals) but most don't know of the existence of these other shelters. Any dog that is old or a mongrel or has some illness or other would likely not make it to the weekend if brought to the SPCA during the week (they give the dog a couple of days only) - they need to make space for the young healthy pedigree ones which are more adoptable. Their principles, not mine.

    Because space and cost is a big issue here, there is one shelter that has moved all its animals (700 free roaming dogs!) just across the border to a Malaysia where the land is bigger and the rent is cheaper.

    I think really it will be impossible to keep up with the number of animals brought into shelters. I am against euthanising but if we don't solve the problem at the root, we can only pray and hope more no-kill shelters pop up.

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