DEBATE: No-kill rescues - good or bad?

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » January 5th, 2011, 10:01 pm

Is a "no-kill nation" really a feasible option? Is it more humane to euthanize animals after a certain period of time, or hang onto them until they're adopted, possibly years later?
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Postby LMM » January 5th, 2011, 10:33 pm

I think it depends on the rescue/shelter environment the animals are in. If they are in a enriching environment where they continue to thrive, I think it's a better option than death.

If they are stuck in a kennel 24/7 or as in the case of some sanctuaries stuck in an environment where they get little human or canine interaction, it's a cruel way to live. For instance, I've seen some people advocate for human and dog aggressive dogs to go live in a "sanctuary". I'm sorry but sending a dog to live in an environment where there are way more animals than people to adequately take care of them doesn't seem much like a sanctuary at all. It sounds more like keeping animals alive just for the sake of saying they are alive.

We have a dog right now that has been at the same crappy boarding facility for 3 years. And I mean CRAPPY. Disgusting. We just found out about her. So we are trying to give her a chance to live a good life. We took Max to meet her and it's the first time in a long time that I've seen such a truly dog aggressive dog. She tried to take Max's face off, a dog that I've never seen ANY other dog even growl at, in less than 3 seconds flat. No growl, no posturing, no theatrics, just in it to win it. So she clearly cannot be placed in a home with other animals. We are going to try and give her a chance but in the absence of a proper placement and even though she is super sweet with people, I don't see the point of keeping her alive to live what she's lived for 3 years. I had someone suggest a rescue in Texas. My initial reaction was that I didn't want to send her to Texas period. Too far away, I can't be there in case I need to get her back. Then they said "Oh, she's just like Tia, she has about 200 dogs too. She has about 6 people helping her full-time". Um, what? You do the math. What kind of interaction can 200 dogs with only 7 people get daily?

A bit different example would be Mama, she has been with me going on 3 years. At this point I should probably just call her mine but I'm too stubborn. BUT she isn't stuck in a kennel, she lives in a home, she gets exercise, interaction, training, and a warm bed to sleep in every night. There would be no reason to euthanize her simply because the right home hasn't come along.

So I typed all that I guess to say, it depends.
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Postby airwalk » January 5th, 2011, 10:35 pm

LMM wrote:I think it depends on the rescue/shelter environment the animals are in. If they are in a enriching environment where they continue to thrive, I think it's a better option than death.

If they are stuck in a kennel 24/7 or as in the case of some sanctuaries stuck in an environment where they get little human or canine interaction, it's a cruel way to live. For instance, I've seen some people advocate for human and dog aggressive dogs to go live in a "sanctuary". I'm sorry but sending a dog to live in an environment where there are way more animals than people to adequately take care of them doesn't seem much like a sanctuary at all. It sounds more like keeping animals alive just for the sake of saying they are alive.

We have a dog right now that has been at the same crappy boarding facility for 3 years. And I mean CRAPPY. Disgusting. We just found out about her. So we are trying to give her a chance to live a good life. We took Max to meet her and it's the first time in a long time that I've seen such a truly dog aggressive dog. She tried to take Max's face off, a dog that I've never seen ANY other dog even growl at, in less than 3 seconds flat. No growl, no posturing, no theatrics, just in it to win it. So she clearly cannot be placed in a home with other animals. We are going to try and give her a chance but in the absence of a proper placement and even though she is super sweet with people, I don't see the point of keeping her alive to live what she's lived for 3 years. I had someone suggest a rescue in Texas. My initial reaction was that I didn't want to send her to Texas period. Too far away, I can't be there in case I need to get her back. Then they said "Oh, she's just like Tia, she has about 200 dogs too. She has about 6 people helping her full-time". Um, what? You do the math. What kind of interaction can 200 dogs with only 7 people get daily?

A bit different example would be Mama, she has been with me going on 3 years. At this point I should probably just call her mine but I'm too stubborn. BUT she isn't stuck in a kennel, she lives in a home, she gets exercise, interaction, training, and a warm bed to sleep in every night. There would be no reason to euthanize her simply because the right home hasn't come along.

So I typed all that I guess to say, it depends.


Couldn't have said it better myself.
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Postby mnp13 » January 5th, 2011, 10:45 pm

By and large, I'd say bad. Are there exceptions? Yes, of course.

My parent's dog is an example that can easily be used for sanctuaries. He lived in one from 6 months to 7 years, then my parents adopted him. So, sure it can happen. Does it happen often? I seriously doubt it.

When it's a dog that is "easy" and a home just hasn't been found yet, ok. However, with a dog like Jenn is describing? That can't be near any other dog, that gets in it right off the bat with no warning? What are the odds of finding that family? Little to none. But I don't own or fund her rescue, so what they do is their business... but I think she's realistic about things in that regard.

And I agree, 7 people with 200 dogs? Even if all they do is take care of dogs, there are not enough hours in a day to give every dog time. Even if every person works 12 hours a day, every day, that's still only 84 "man hours" a day. In groups of 2-3 every dog would get an hour of time a day... but that leaves no time for feeding, cleaning or anything else. So realistically? Those dogs are probably getting 10 minutes of attention a day, I'd be floored if it was more than 15.
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Postby LMM » January 5th, 2011, 10:52 pm

Well trust me Michelle, there is also the thought of who can handle a dog like that. She isn't a dog I'd want to crate and rotate, that's for sure. One mistake, and we're human it's bound to happen, and it will be a bloodbath. Guaranteed.

Two positives about her is she is amazing with people and she isn't reactive at all when walking closely by the kennels or in her own kennel but she can never be around another animal free. I don't hold high hopes we will find a proper placement for her and it makes me sad and angry. There are also 2 huskies that have been there for over 6 years. SIX. A couple rescues have offered to take them over the years and the lady refused. I felt so awful when I left that place I seriously wanted to cave someone's face in.

I was seriously trying to do the math on 7 people and 200 dogs and I just said ef it, it's just not a good situation. Then the woman guaranteed that each dog gets 2 15 minute play sessions and at least one 15 minute training session a day. Bullshyt. Not possible.
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Postby mnp13 » January 5th, 2011, 10:58 pm

LMM wrote:I was seriously trying to do the math on 7 people and 200 dogs and I just said ef it, it's just not a good situation. Then the woman guaranteed that each dog gets 2 15 minute play sessions and at least one 15 minute training session a day. Bullshyt. Not possible.


Well, I did the math... and it's a lie. Unless they are doing giant group play sessions, and likely group training as well though how one person trains multiple dogs at the same time is beyond me.
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Postby plebayo » January 5th, 2011, 11:00 pm

I think the shelter needs to be mindful of their resources.

If the dog is not easily placed they need to consider the fact that they could pour hundreds to thousands of dollars into one dog for behavior modification/health care/housing, or they could take that money and put it into a couple of dogs that are easier to place/have less issues and basically do more good with the things they have.

It's very cliche, but you really can't save them all, it isn't possible, there are too many and there isn't enough room. I think it's more important to save the ones you can, and TRULY save them - find them permanent good homes. We work with a rescue that thinks it's more important to get numbers than good homes, yeah, they placed 2,000 animals last year - but they don't know where half of them are. I think it's more important to find 10 dogs homes, and KNOW that they are still there and being cared for.

Unfortunately euthanasia is a necessary evil.

I also agree with the whole Tia thing - if you watch any of the show, half of the dogs when brought out for adoption are out of control/have no manners which does say to me that the dogs aren't getting the attention they need, the training time, nor the play time. 200 head... they probably spend all of their time feeding the dogs and cleaning runs, I can't imagine having time to actually play and work with the dogs.
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Postby BigDogBuford » January 5th, 2011, 11:13 pm

I used to think no kill was great, then I started doing research and got some practical experience and saw the light.

There's *no way* that's enough man hours to do all the dog work. Unless they also have a lot of volunteer hours each day there's just no way it can be done. Unless of course you're Batman and have a handy utility belt.
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Postby iluvk9 » January 6th, 2011, 7:05 am

The privately owned, non-profit shelter I worked/volunteered at was no-kill. They only took in as many dogs/cats as they could handle, and could adopt out within a reasonable amt. of time. There were a few cats that were there for years. Volunteers often adopted them.

As for the dogs, they had a great set up for a kennel. Walked, taken to volunteers homes, large runs, etc. I remember a handful that were there for over a year. The only ones I remember who were PTS were the few who either became extremely aggressive/non-adoptable and our trainers couldn't handle anymore, or the ones that outright bit.

I like the idea of no-kill, but realistically, unless the shelter has unlimited space and cash, I think it is impossible.

What bothers me is that some of the nicer, older dogs get PTS at some places because "everyone wants a puppy" or young dog.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 6th, 2011, 10:42 am

I've never thought that anyone can truly call themselves "no-kill".

If you have to turn dogs/cats/rabbits/etc away due to space constraints, and they head to the kill shelter with that animal...then how is it "no-kill"?

If you only take in really adoptable animals, and leave the non-adoptables for the regular shelter to euthanize...then how is it "no-kill"?

I mean, you might be no-kill, but you're just sending others to a certain death...but making yourself look good. I don't think it's a good term...and I wish there was another way of saying it.

And no, I don't think warehousing animals is a good idea...especially for years at a time. I personally wouldn't want to live like that and I don't think we should do it to animals under our care either.
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Postby LMM » January 6th, 2011, 10:49 am

Erin, I agree. I wish there was a better term for it. Maybe low kill? Or add the addendum no killing healthy, adoptable animals? Seriously, I've thought over this quite a few times and I really can't think of anything that fits right.

Having said that, I think the movement, even if impossible to achieve, has served a good purpose. It has gotten shelters to think outside the box with regard to adoptions, implement healthy enrichment programs, coordinate more effectively with rescues and other shelters, etc. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of shelters out there that need some serious enlightenment but this movement at least has people thinking of solutions where they never may have before.
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Postby FAB dogs » January 6th, 2011, 6:51 pm

Like a Utopian society, it works on paper but in the real world is virtually impossible. Unless you have unlimited funds and staff. I work at a rural shelter, the only one in the entire county, that has a staff of five full time and two part time employees. Some days we're lucky to get everything cleaned, animals fed, and animal control calls attended to. There's no time to exercise 40 dogs and 30 cats. So they end up getting cage crazy if they're there too long. And a cage crazy dog does not get adopted. Hence my bringing home Fenway and joining this forum. :)

Being the only shelter in the county, we don't turn anyone away. But we only have 24 dog runs and 40 cat cages. Today I drove 8 dogs 200 miles to rescue and when I came back all of their kennels had been refilled. So when someone calls and asks if we're no kill (or my personal favorite "Do y'all kill animals there?") we tell them we're low kill. We have to make room for the incoming animals and there's only a few ways to do that.

I also don't think anybody can claim to be no kill. What happens if an animal comes in that is sick or injured? It may need to be euthanized. Not very many shelters have unlimited funds and foster homes for these animals. What about aggressive animals? They're going to house an aggressive dog for the rest of its natural life rather than humanely euthanizing it? That's got to be a liability.

Maybe in a perfect world, and the perfect setting, a no kill shelter can work. But the harsh reality is for the majority of shelters out there it just isn't feasible.
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Postby mnp13 » January 7th, 2011, 12:08 am

LMM wrote:Erin, I agree. I wish there was a better term for it. Maybe low kill? Or add the addendum no killing healthy, adoptable animals? Seriously, I've thought over this quite a few times and I really can't think of anything that fits right.

Having said that, I think the movement, even if impossible to achieve, has served a good purpose. It has gotten shelters to think outside the box with regard to adoptions, implement healthy enrichment programs, coordinate more effectively with rescues and other shelters, etc. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of shelters out there that need some serious enlightenment but this movement at least has people thinking of solutions where they never may have before.


Or they go the "Lollipop Route" and label them unadoptable and kill them. Or transfer them to the HIGH kill (as in twice a week, every week) shelters in the area to clear space. Because "unadoptable" and "transferred" dogs do not contribute to the "kill percentage." THAT is the numbers game that most of the places play.
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Postby airwalk » January 7th, 2011, 12:11 am

This weekend when I have a bit more time I'll respond more thoroughly, but unless we become a no-kill nation (liklihood???) then there is no such thing as a no-kill shelter or rescue. Those that claim to be so only redirect the dogs/cats/rabbits/horses whatever that they won't or can't place to a shelter that will accept them and euthanize.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 9th, 2011, 11:23 am

This just showed up on my FB newsfeed today...thought it something to add to this discussion.

65 percent of animals are euthanized at Animal Control
County removes sign outside facility boasting 93-percent 'adoption rate'
By SCOTT DAUGHERTY, Staff Writer
Published 01/08/11
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It's a little off.

Less than 38 percent of the 8,514 animals taken to Animal Control last year were adopted, returned to their owners, or otherwise allowed to survive, according to statistics released to the Maryland Gazette following a request under the state's Public Information Act. The county was on track Dec. 9 to euthanize about 65 percent of the dogs, cats, and wildlife brought in last year.

"That is horrible, horrible, horrible," said Wendy Cozzone, an outspoken critic of Animal Control who was replaced last month as chair of the county's Animal Welfare Council. She blasted the county for killing too many animals and lying to the public.

"It is very misleading to the citizens. I wonder how many people took their animal there in hope of it finding a new home because of the 90 percent plus adoption rate advertised," she said.

Lt. Glenn Shanahan, the county police officer who oversees Animal Control, acknowledged last month the sign was not accurate and had it removed. He said it was posted years ago by another administrator.

"It wasn't an intentional deception," Shanahan said.

At the same time, Shanahan and a spokesman for County Executive John R. Leopold defended the euthanasia numbers. They said it was not fair to compare the "adoption rate" referenced in the sign to the overall euthanasia rate because the aggregate statistics included wildlife and animals brought in by owners to be put to sleep.

Spokesman David Abrams said yesterday the county found homes for 88 percent of the "adoptable animals" received in 2010.

Shanahan added last month that most of the animals that were euthanized were sick, injured, feral or aggressive.

"No one wants to put down animals," Shanahan said.

Euthanasia statistics differ greatly in the region.

The Animal Control Division of the Baltimore County Department of Health euthanized about 58 percent of the 7,304 animals it received between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010. The Animal Management Group of Prince George's County had euthanized about 48 percent of the 5,124 animals it received though October of the current fiscal year.

Though Maryland does not track aggregate numbers, about half of the nearly 108,000 animals received by county Animal Control facilities in Virginia in 2009 were euthanized.

Experts contacted by The Capital, sister paper of the Maryland Gazette, said while Anne Arundel county appears to euthanize more animals than other jurisdictions in the area, the stats are not out of line.

"When you compare nationwide, they are probably average," said Mark Kumpf, a past president of the National Animal Control Association and current director of the Animal Resource Center in Dayton, Ohio.

John Mays, the association's executive director, added that all Animal Control facilities are not the same.

"Some agencies respond to nuisance wildlife complaints, while others do not. Some agencies impound and adopt stray/unwanted cats, while others do not," he said.

For Anne Arundel County, the biggest problem is stray cats - especially in the summer when families can drop off dozens of different litters a month.

Yvonne Hall, county kennel control officer, said her staff works with 147 rescues on a regular basis, but only about seven of those take cats.

"I can get almost any dog out of here. Some (rescues) will even take the dogs that are on their last legs," said Hall.

"Cat rescues are notorious for saying no, though," Shanahan added.

Cozzone acknowledged it can be difficult to find families and rescues to take cats, but argued the county would have better luck if it allowed more volunteers into its kennels.

Shanahan said he lets a few people volunteer at Animal Control, but that he is reluctant to allow any more because he can't trust them to follow the rules. He said the county has had problems in the past with volunteers who became disruptive.

To limit how many animals they put down, Hall said she and other staff members will foster kittens and puppies. Hall estimated she has fostered hundreds of kittens during her 16 years with the county.

Animal council
County Executive John R. Leopold plans to shake up the membership of the county's Animal Welfare Council, which was created in August 2009 "to advocate for domestic, farm and wild animals in Anne Arundel County."

David Abrams, a county spokesman, said the terms of the initial 16 members expired Dec. 1 and that the final makeup of the new commission had not been determined.

What is clear, however, is that Cozzone - who has used her position over the past year to complain about Animal Control - will not be on the council. Abrams said Sue Beatty, executive director of the SPCA of Anne Arundel County, will replace her as chairwoman.

"The county executive went with the people he felt were going to do the best job," said Abrams, who declined to explain why Cozzone was not asked to return to the council. "You can read between the lines however you want."

Cozzone said she did not want to return to the council. She tried several times over the past five months to arrange a meeting with Leopold's staff about Animal Control and was rebuffed at every turn, she said.

"There was no way I could continue with the Animal Welfare Council knowing Animal Control can do whatever it wants," Cozzone said. "I've devoted my life to animals. I cannot support killing like that."

1.5-pound rule
One of the chief complaints Cozzone voiced about Animal Control over the past year involved a 2009 memo ordering officers to euthanize impounded kittens, puppies and other wildlife weighing less than 1.5 pounds whenever a veterinary technician was not available.

Cozzone and several experts said the policy - which was outlined June 23, 2009, in a partially handwritten memo and primarily affected kittens less than six weeks old - was counterintuitive and poorly designed. Rather than an animal's weight, the officers should focus on the creature's behavior, health and ability to eat solid food, they said.

Abrams said the policy - the subject of an November article in the Maryland Gazette - was no longer in effect; that Leopold directed Animal Control last month to make sure officers were allowed to use their "discretion."

Shanahan confirmed he had nixed the policy.

"I don't know when. I can't give you an exact month or date," he said, explaining he informed his officers verbally that they no longer needed to follow the so-called "1.5-pound rule." No new memos have been issued on the topic, he added.

Shanahan called the policy "necessary" in October because he could not trust his officers to exercise good discretion. He noted they had previously left underage kittens in cages with no means to eat or drink.

Now, he says he can trust them.

"I think they are on the same page now," he said.

Cozzone blasted the supposed change in policy, arguing that Shanahan was a liar.

"They are so full of it. If the policy was changed, let's see it in writing," Cozzone said.

Kumpf agreed.

"Either rescind the policy in writing or modify it in writing. You don't do it verbally," said Kumpf, arguing it is not hard to write a memo directing officers to immediately euthanize unweaned animals. "They had a bad policy and the way they have addressed it is just as bad."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

sdaugherty@capitalgazette.com

Copyright © 2011 The Maryland Gazette and Capital Gazette Communications, Inc.
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Postby mnp13 » January 9th, 2011, 11:44 am

Ha. Nice to see they got caught.
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Postby TheRedQueen » January 9th, 2011, 12:00 pm

Yup, it shows one of my biggest issues with these high adoption numbers...the ones that say "percentage of *adoptable* animals"...which all depends on what that shelter/AC/etc considers adoptable.
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Postby airwalk » January 9th, 2011, 8:25 pm

I always love the "adoptable animals" clause..what a cheap out. I count one in one out..period. While, because I know nothing about their area and operation, all I can say is we saved about 83% last year in 2010.

We did that with only four staff on the kennel floor, one shelter supervisor and me.

As for not trusting their Officers...you either have the wrong Officers (so fix it), they are not appropriately trained (so fix it), you are not communicating clearly (so fix it), the Officers are flipping you the bird (so fix it), or they are so overwhelmed that they don't slow down to really think (so fix it).
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Postby SisMorphine » January 10th, 2011, 9:22 am

TheRedQueen wrote:I've never thought that anyone can truly call themselves "no-kill".

If you have to turn dogs/cats/rabbits/etc away due to space constraints, and they head to the kill shelter with that animal...then how is it "no-kill"?

If you only take in really adoptable animals, and leave the non-adoptables for the regular shelter to euthanize...then how is it "no-kill"?

I mean, you might be no-kill, but you're just sending others to a certain death...but making yourself look good. I don't think it's a good term...and I wish there was another way of saying it.

And no, I don't think warehousing animals is a good idea...especially for years at a time. I personally wouldn't want to live like that and I don't think we should do it to animals under our care either.

So then it's not just my local no kill that does this?

Importing puppies and kittens from the south. Having a wait list for local animals who need help, rarely ever taking dogs or cats from that list since so many "highly adoptable" ones are being brought up. Sending the "difficult" cases to a kill shelter so that they can do the deed. Ridiculous.
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Postby LMM » January 10th, 2011, 11:41 am

mnp13 wrote:
Or they go the "Lollipop Route" and label them unadoptable and kill them. Or transfer them to the HIGH kill (as in twice a week, every week) shelters in the area to clear space. Because "unadoptable" and "transferred" dogs do not contribute to the "kill percentage." THAT is the numbers game that most of the places play.


I know there are shelters out there that do this, especially locally, but there are some great shelters out there that have gotten more innovative/progressive in their thinking and planning. I know, I've had and continue to have great experiences with them.

And I ask this question not of you specifically Michelle but of everyone, when did we get so skeptical and negative about everything? The whole tone whenever there is a no-kill discussion (not just here) is so negative and almost condescending, which I don't really understand because most of us have never had a walk a mile in any of these shoes. Many people have no true real experience from which to draw from.

I think the no-kill movement is certainly epic in it's ambition but it almost seems as if most are sneering when they even say the words.
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