Fort Worth Animal Care & Control has been ignoring the recommendations of no kill advocates for years and instead, pioneering its own way to process animals at the pound. The city’s protocol has been to categorize animals based upon tiers:
Tier 1 — Healthy and ready to adopt;
Tier 2 — Injured, ill or with temperament issues that are potentially manageable with sufficient time and resources;
Tier 3 — Critically ill or injured or highly aggressive.
The city claims that for more than 2 years, no shelter animal categorized as tier 1 has been killed. Critics say the shelter’s sub-standard cleaning protocols result in many pets who enter the shelter healthy becoming sick. This moves them from tier 1 to tier 2. Further, cats and dogs who behave normally in a shelter environment – that is, exhibiting fear or anxiety – are labeled tier 2 when in fact they are friendly, healthy animals who just need an opportunity to live in a normal home environment. The city does not have a TNR program in place so impounded feral cats have no chance of qualifying as tier 1 even if they are healthy and behaving normally for a feral cat.
So how is the city’s plan working out? Not so hot. In fiscal year 2011, Fort Worth AC & C killed 58% of the animals in its care. And now, the city is threatening to begin killing tier 1 animals due to the usual population increase which occurs each spring:
“We do not want to euthanize healthy dogs and cats,” said Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett said. “It would be heartbreaking.”
To avoid that scenario, adoptions must take place this week. If not, animals will be euthanized to create more space at the shelter.
While I can understand how the plan probably came about – Hey, maybe we can at least try to avoid killing completely healthy and friendly pets – it is a deeply flawed plan because it is based on killing animals, not saving them. It targets a group to kill and a group to save. And obviously it doesn’t allow for such easily anticipated occurrences as spring population increase, impounding of feral cats, upper respiratory disease or pets who are frightened at the shelter.
The No Kill Equation on the other hand, is based upon respecting the right of every shelter pet to live while allowing for euthanasia of medically/behaviorally hopeless animals who are suffering. Every healthy/treatable animal deserves to live – not just tier 1 animals.
I have several pets who, if they were impounded at Fort Worth, would probably be tier 2 (unless it was a bad day, in which case one or more might be classified as tier 3). But they are great pets, even if they don’t show it to strangers. Somebody should be advocating for every healthy/treatable animal at Fort Worth AC & C. Somebody, somebody… Who should it be?
There is a petition asking Fort Worth AC & C to implement the programs of the No Kill Equation.
The shelter is offering half-price adoptions for the rest of the month.