National Animal Shelter Reform Week: Why NC Needs CAPA
November 8, 2011
In 2010, Surry Co Animal Control in NC took in 3933 pets and killed 3548 of them. That’s a kill rate of 90%. The cost to taxpayers per animal handled was $119. Surry Co charges $100 for dogs and $90 for cats (vaccines and neuter surgery included). The median household income in Surry Co in 2008 was $37k. Surry Co does not adopt out Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Chows, mixes of any of those breeds, or any dog who has either bitten or “shown aggression”.
Also during 2010, Robeson Co AC took in 4515 pets and killed 2073 of them – a kill rate of 46%. The cost to taxpayers was $43.57 per animal handled. Robeson pets are adopted out at $25 each and the fee includes rabies vaccination and neuter surgery. The median household income in Robeson Co in 2008 was $31k.
In September of this year, a concerned resident went before the Surry County Board of Commissioners to ask them to consider working toward no kill. In response, a county spokesman described the county’s relationship with local rescues as “good”, noted that the kill rate has decreased in recent years (!) and blamed the public for failing to neuter their pets. The spokesman also mentioned that the county had looked into the possibility of working toward no kill in the past:
“There were large costs associated with a no kill shelter, and it was just not feasible for Surry County.”
From the stats above, we can see that Robeson Co is saving far more pets than Surry Co at a lower cost to taxpayers and in a poorer county. Both pounds kill “for space” and neither has put into place the lifesaving programs of the No Kill Equation. One notable difference: the Robeson pound very actively networks its pets online, including on Facebook. When approached with the idea of using Facebook to network Surry Co’s pets, the Board Chairman declined, referring to “problems” which exist with the social networking site.
Granted, Facebook has ongoing privacy issues and I’m not a huge fan personally. But I am impressed with how it can be used to save the lives of pets in kill shelters. Robeson is a good example. The pound there has a particularly shady past and a local advocate even brought a lawsuit against the pound to get them to stop killing pets who had rescue holds placed on them (the lawsuit was later dropped). Nevertheless in 2010, the pound brought its kill rate down from 90% to 46%. It’s a significant improvement and seems to be attributable largely to online networking of pets by the manager and staff.
At least one person is Surry Co was concerned enough about the 90% kill rate at the county pound to speak to the county commissioners about no kill. Their excuses, that things are going well and no kill is too expensive, are easily challenged: You’re killing 90% of your pets (things are not going well!) and no kill is cost effective (it’s not too expensive!). Oh and: The Irresponsible Public! (A member of which came before you to offer suggestions on how to save pets lives.) For the sake of argument, let’s agree with the county commissioners for a moment that a 90% kill rate represents an improvement and we’re good with that, no kill is too expensive and the people in Surry Co suck. What about networking pets online? Sure there might be “problems” associated with any social networking site but gee, has anyone checked with the pets in the Surry Co pound whether they consider death to be a “problem”? Networking pets online saves lives. And it’s free. What is the real reason Surry Co is so resistant to making even a small change like this?
Protecting the status quo. Surry Co commissioners want to keep doing what they’ve always done with the pound, despite ample evidence that change could be beneficial to the county. It’s the same reason why, even with leadership in place to network its pets online, Robeson Co had to be taken to court in an effort to prevent them from killing pets rescue groups wanted to save. At the Robeson pound, it’s the shelter manager who does the killing, which rather puts a damper on how excited anyone can get over the online networking.
The homeless pets in Surry Co and Robeson Co can’t wait for their leaders to embrace sweeping reform. They are being needlessly killed by the thousands every year. If NC had CAPA in place, neither Surry nor Robeson would have the discretion to resist change. It would be their legal mandate to save pets lives, along with every other animal shelter in the state.
If you are a NC resident concerned with saving pets from needless killing at your shelters, here is a 4 step guide on how to get CAPA passed. (If you are in another state which lacks a rescue access law, this guide works for you too!) Please take the time to read through the guide and share it with anyone you think might make use of it. Let us know if you have comments, questions or thoughts on getting CAPA passed in your state. And especially let us know if we can count on you to try.
North Carolina’s pets can’t wait any longer while well-intentioned advocates ask nicely for change on the local level and get patted on the head and told to sit back down. They need you to step up and get CAPA introduced in NC as a state law so that every shelter is legally required to actually shelter pets.