Great expectations and humane work

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2001:

ATLANTA, HONOLULU, INDIANAPOLIS, ITHACA, LOS ANGELES, MIAMI, NEW YORK–“No healthy or treatable animal or feral cat has been killed in Tompkins County since June,” former San Francisco SPCA operations director Nathan Winograd announced on New Year’s Eve, after just under a year as head of the Tompkins County SPCA in
Ithaca, New York.

The Tompkins County rate of shelter killing, for all reasons combined, dropped to 3.9 dogs and cats per 1,000 human residents: less than 25% of the U.S. norm. The TC/SPCA had already cut shelter killing in Tompkins County by 50% in 10 years. In 2001 it achieved a further 50% cut, by boosting the percentage of pets sterilized before adoption from 10% to 100%; sterilizing 568 pets for low-income people; starting a feral cat aid program; increasing adoptions; markedly increasing use of volunteers; and expanding partnerships with local veterinarians and the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Captain Mark D. Jeter of the Miami-Dade Police Department is testing the same formula in Miami, Florida–hub of Dade County, once considered an impossible venue. A huge feral cat population gave birth three times a year, pet sterilization outreach to Spanish-speaking residents had barely been tried, and an entrenched old guard drove progressive shelter directors out of town, among them Rick Collord, now noted for reducing shelter killing in Vancouver, Washington, and Karen Medicus, now leading a promising drive to make Austin the first no-kill city in Texas.

Today, feral cat sterilization programs and multilingual outreach have cut the Miami kill rate to 9.3 per 1,000 human
residents–a 75% drop in 10 years. Jeter, put in charge of Miami Animal Services on October 1, 2001, a month later announced partnerships with the Humane Society of Greater Miami and local veterinarians, “and corporate sponsors,” to provide free sterilization for any local dog or cat.

As ever more communities show that the low shelter killing rates in San Francisco (2.6/1,000) and the whole state of New Hampshire (2.2) are not flukes, clamor for change is rising in cities that lag.

Los Angeles mayor James K. Hahn in October 2001 fired city Animal Services chief Dan Knapp, 46. During his 40-month tenure, Knapp introduced one of the highest licensing fees in the U.S. for unaltered dogs, won passage of a $154 million bond issue for shelter improvements, and doubled the city animal control budget, but the L.A. shelter killing rate of 14.4/1,000 remained static. Knapp in December became executive director of the Capital Area Humane Society in Columbus, Ohio, succeeding Jim Cunningham, who retired.

New York Center for Animal Care & Control chief Marilyn Blohm reportedly got a contract extension from former New York City mayor Rudolf Giuliani just before his December 31 exit. Hired in 1997, Blohm has had strained relations with other New York City shelters, and in December 2001 told nonsheltered rescuers that they will now be
charged $25 to $40 per animal they take from the CACC shelter to socialize, groom, train, and place. After 30 years of annually reduced shelter killing, the New York City rate has plateaued circa 5.5/1,000 since 1995, when the CACC took over animal control from the American SPCA.

The Atlanta Humane Society, Hawaii Humane Society, and Indianapolis Humane Society also opened 2002 under growing scrutiny. Led by some of the longest-tenured executive directors in humane work, in Bill Garrett, Pam Burns, and Marcia Spring, each does animal control for an affluent and fast-growing city; has unusually high reserves relative to operating budget; is known for “by-the-book” operation; has clashed with no-kill proponents; and has cut shelter killing less rapidly than the U.S. as a whole, with current per-1,000 killing rates of 21.0, 17.7, and 27.1, respectively.

Allegations of mismanagement by ex-staff of short tenure are also part of the uproar in Atlanta and Honolulu, while the
Indianapolis Humane Society inherited some of its problems after taking over the city pound in April 2001.

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