Animal control, rescue, sheltering, and alternatives to population control killing

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1999:

The fifth year of the San Francisco
Adoption Pact, completed on March 31,
dropped the combined San Francisco Department
of Animal Care and Control and San
Francisco SPCA euthanasia toll to a new low
of 3,688 dogs and cats. The SF/DACC euthanized
2,526 dogs and cats due to irrecoverable
injury, illness, or aggressive behavior, and
1,162 for other reasons, most often that they
were neonatal kittens with possible upper respiratory
disease and––though some might have
recovered with much care, a poor prognosis.
The SF/DACC returned 1,472 dogs and cats
to their owners, adopted out 1,833, and sent
2,482 to the SF/SPCA. “Of these,” said the
SF/SPCA, “1,598 had special impediments,
often requiring medical or behavioral care
prior to adoption,” as did “932 of the 2,643
dogs and cats whom the SF/SPCA accepted
directly from the public.” The SF/SPCA
returned 29 dogs and cats to their owners, and
adopted out 4,971. The San Francisco rate of
shelter killing, already the lowest of any major
U.S. city, dropped to 5.01 per 1,000 residents.

Calgary Animal Services and the
Calgary Humane Society again achieved the
lowest known dog-and-cat killing ratio in
Canada during 1998, at 5.76 per 1.000 residents.
Taking in 16,538 total dogs and cats,
CAS and CHS euthanized just 4,736––about
45% of the cats, and only one dog in 12. CAS
and CHS returned 5,460 dogs to their owners
and adopted out 1,908.
Sydney, Australia, claims the
highest known rate of cat-neutering of any city
in the world: 94%, according to the Petcare
Information and Advisory Service. The
owned cat population across Australia reportedly
fell from 2.9 million in 1994 to 2.6 million
in 1998. The percentage of households
claiming cats plummeted from 31%––about
the same as in the U.S.––to 26%. Much of the
drop is attributed to legislation increasing the
onus on cat owners to keep pet cats indoors.
According to Border Alert, “the
official publication of U.S. Border Control,”
the U.S. Customs Service has begun breeding
sniffing dogs because it cannot afford to buy
trained purebreds. Three litters of yellow
Labrador retrievers have already been born.
U.S. Customs trains about 500 dogs per
year––about half, until now, purchased from
abroad, while the rest come from animal shelters.
Yellow Labs are readily available from
shelters: animal control spokesperson Temma
Martin, of Salt Lake County, Utah, recently
told Scott Noland of the Salt Lake Tribune that
her shelter killed 28% of the yellow Labs it
received in 1998, along with 46% of the black
Labs, due to lack of adoptive homes.
The Humane Society of the U.S.,
in a June mailing urging shelters to buy HSUS
literature for public distribution, reported that
according to a Peter D. Hart Research
Associates poll sponsored by HSUS, “78% of
respondents said that it was definitely or probably
true that animal shelters primarily serve
as a place where stray animals are temporarily
held before they are euthanized”––exactly the
image that HSUS itself has promoted in 45
years of urging humane societies to do animal
control, while discouraging no-kill alternatives.
Added HSUS National Shelter
Appreciation Week campaign coordinator
Cindy Stitely, “We know––and you know––
that most animal shelters do more. We urge
you to promote the programs and services you
provide.” As HSUS has amassed assets of $67
million largely by promoting itself as a national
umbrella for humane societies, while rarely
funding any hands-on animal care, some mailing
recipients wondered why HSUS doesn’t
help local shelters to promote themselves, by
sharing free literature that also bears local
shelters’ imprints, instead of expecting the
often struggling hands-on locals to buy the
handouts while HSUS gets the public credit for
work it isn’t doing and never did.
Conflict between HSUS and the
Michigan Humane Society over what to do
about deer overpopulation at the K e n s i n g t o n
M e t r o p a r k near Detroit erupted into the
media in June. HSUS has recently favored
sharpshooting and hunting to cull deer in
Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but
argues that deer problems in Kensington
Metropark should be handled via sterilization,
relocation, and fencing. MHS president Gary
T i s c o r n i a favors sterilization in the long run,
points out that relocation requires having
somewhere to relocate the deer to, and adds
that fencing will only divert the deer from one
problematic place to another––but favors
sharpshooting to knock deer numbers down
meanwhile. Tiscornia told a recent meeting of
the Huron-Clinton Metropark Authority
wildlife management advisory committee that
sharpshooting appears to be the method that
will most minimize suffering, in an argument
paralleling the HSUS position on population
control killing of dogs and cats.
California animal care-and-control
jurisdictions lining up for help to go nokill
from the $200 million Maddie’s Fund so
far include San Diego County, whose supervisors
on June 15 contributed $2 million toward
the estimated $8 million cost of a new shelter,
matching $2 million donated by San Diego
U n i o n – T r i b u n e publisher Helen K. Copley;
Contra Costa County, whose supervisors the
same day approved building a $6 million shelter
to increase animal holding capacity 34%;
Sacramento, Yolo, and Placer counties,
which on June 18 announced the formation of
the Sacramento Area Animal Coalition, t o
begin planning a 10-year trajectory toward nokill;
and Los Angeles County, whose
Department of Animal Care and Control on
June 22 agreed to locate a pilot no-kill adoption
shelter in El Segundo, El Segundo mayor
Mike Gordon said. But a no-kill animal control
policy was scrapped in June in North
Kingstown, Rhode Island, after a behaviorist
from the Potter League for Animals i n
Middletown said five of the 15 dogs at the
North Kingstown pound were “kennel-crazy,”
following more than a year in custody.
Described by Providence J o u r n a l – B u l l e t i n
staff writer Jennifer Levitz as “small and malodorous,”
the North Kingstown pound is not
considered attractive to potential adoptors.
New Jersey rescue groups including
People for Animals, Orphaned Pets,
The Pet Adoption Network, and St.
Hubert’s Giralda teamed up in June to place
as many as possible of about 80 cats and 40
dogs who otherwise faced death with the June
30 closure of the East Orange Municipal
P o u n d. Bad conditions at the pound were
exposed by the Associated Humane
Societies’ magazine Humane News as far back
as 1987. A nationally distributed expose by
ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton in
March 1989 brought further attention to the
plight of impounded animals who were apparently
neither fed nor ever offered for adoption.
The expose was amplified by Charlotte Gaul,
an ANIMAL PEOPLE subscriber and donor,
in a letter to Cat Fancy. The West Orange
Chronicle editorially called the pound “a virtual
animal Auschwitz” in early 1989, but––
after public officials responded with outrage––
suspended publication of further complaints in
July 1989. The pound was eventually closed,
only to be reopened circa 1993, under assistant
animal control officer Tracy Ross. Local
activists credited Ross with bringing operations
up to par, but she was unable to convice
East Orange officials to fund a new facility.
The dilapidated building will now be closed
permanently, Ross told Sandra Koehler of the
East Brunswick Home News Tribune. Ross
has reportedly taken another job. The animal
control contract is believed likely to go to the
Associated Humane Societies––after an interim
period under Ross’ predecessors.

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