What’s up in Minneapolis?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1994:

MINNEAPOLIS––The Animal
Humane Society of Hennepin County, the
leading shelter in Minneapolis, has
achieved a 50% adoption rate or better
every year since 1990. Broken down,
AHSHC places 97% of the puppies it
receives, 50% of the adult dogs, 60% of
the kittens, and 35% of the adult cats. The
high adoption numbers are not achieved
through selective intake: of the 22,151 ani-
mals AHSHC handled in 1992, 84% were
animal control pickups.

In 1992, AHSHC helped win a
state law that requires the owners of ani-
mals seized in humane investigations to
post a bond for their upkeep, thereby
enabling humane societies to avoid incur-
ring the often crippling long-term care costs
that have nearly bankrupted some as cases
against animal collectors, dogfighters, and
other large-scale offenders drag through
court. The law has yet to withstand court
challenge, but is tentatively considered a
model for the rest of the U.S.
Despite this record, AHSHC was
recently blasted from three different direc-
tions for purported failure to promote adop-
tion and indifference to improving humane
laws. Local dog breeder and dealer Karen
Elvin assailed AHSHC repeatedly on
Compuserve bulletin boards, Joanne
Murphy of the Animal Rights Coalition of
Minnesota dusted off complaints originally
aired several years ago, and The Animal
Hot-Line, a publication of the Wisconsin-
based Animal Lobby Inc., published simi-
lar accusations that editor Cindy Schultz
said she received from an AHSHC staffer
and cross-checked with ARC.
Probing the charges, ANIMAL
PEOPLE requested documentation from
the various critics, interviewed additional
sources familiar with AHSHC, reviewed
financial documents, grilled longtime
executive director Alan Stensrud, and con-
cluded that the complaints mainly reflect
philosophical differences over common
humane society procedures. The leading
issue is the use of carbon monoxide for
euthanasia, no longer recommended by the
American Veterinary Medical Association,
which Stensrud defends as being less
stressful for his staff than lethal injection.
Also controversial is the practice of pur-
chasing 60 house rabbits each Easter sea-
son for temporary loan, all of whom are
subesquently permanently placed. Critics
are additionally concerned that AHSHC
does not neuter all animals prior to place-
ment, instead relying upon rebate redemp-
tions to insure neutering compliance.
According to Stensrud, the redemption rate
runs close to 74%, about 20% more than
the national norm.
Underlying grievances appear to
include the AHSHC’s success at competing
for dog buyers and Stensrud’s frequent
opposition to ARC on legislative matters.
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