West Fargo is Not a No Kill City

After reading a claim that West Fargo, ND was a “no kill city”, I checked online for information on the shelter.  It appears the West Fargo police department impounds animals and brings them to the West Fargo Animal Hospital.  I filed a FOIA request for shelter statistics for 2013 and received this response:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: FW: pound animals
From: “Chris Y. Seidel” <Chris.Seidel@westfargond.gov>
Date: Wed, January 15, 2014 8:07 am
To: “eiderdown@yesbiscuit.com” <eiderdown@yesbiscuit.com>, “Marcy J.
Overby” <Marcy.Overby@westfargond.gov>

Good morning Shirley,

1/15/2014 9:07 AM

Sorry to inform you but our agency does not keep track of what you are requesting and we are unable to create a report for you.

Thank you
Chris

Chris Seidel
West Fargo Police – Office Supervisor
800 4 Avenue East, Suite 2
West Fargo, ND 58078
701-433-5590 (office phone)
701-433-5508 (fax)

I then requested detailed impound and outcome records for every individual animal impounded by the city in 2013.  After exchanging escalating pleasantries via e-mail, it was determined that the West Fargo PD could in fact produce some records. The records I received are here. Please look them over and see if you can shed any light on this jumble o’ heap.

Based on the records provided by the West Fargo PD, here are the 2013 intake and outcome totals for the pound:

  • Intake:  203  (You will notice the numbers start at 1 and end at 216 but there are only 203 animals listed.  Explanation to follow.)
  • Transferred to rescue:  90  (Three groups identified as Cat’s Cradle, 4 Luv of Dog and FMHS)
  • Adopted:  1
  • RTO:  1
  • Killed:  17 (mostly cats listed as feral)
  • Died in cage:  1
  • On hand at year’s end:  1
  • O rate:  91

I inquired as to the meaning of the outcome type listed as “O rate” since it is entirely unfamiliar to me.  I was told only that it indicates the city was not charged for that animal.  I specifically requested outcome records for each of the animals on this report but did not receive any.  I tried to press the issue in order to at least determine whether the “O rate” animals were live-released but the police department declined to answer my questions or provide the requested records.  I also do not know what type of outcome is indicate by the letters NPC (one animal in June is listed as outcome type “NPC”).  The city consistently worked with the same 3 rescue groups all year long according to the records.  If NPC is a rescue group, the city transferred only one animal to the group in 2013 which seems unlikely.  It could mean anything.

Astute readers will also notice a major discrepancy in the records between pages 9 and 10.  The sequential animal numbers skip from 84 to 98 and clearly 2 of the dogs listed as “held over from June” are among the missing.  Assuming there were actual animals attached to the missing numbers, their outcomes are unknown.

Not actually.

Not actually.

In summary, the West Fargo pound, such as it is, does not appear to do adoptions (the one for the year is indicative of an anomaly) and kills all feral cats.  Furthermore, there appear to be some serious transparency issues with the pound, including record keeping and the refusal to reveal what happened to nearly half the animals impounded last year.

West Fargo is definitively not a no kill city based on the fact that it kills all feral cats. Even if the city stopped killing feral cats as a matter of policy today, there is still insufficient information to substantiate any claim of it being a no kill city. There are not only missing animals but also numerous animals whose outcomes the city refuses to reveal. This goes against the transparency tenet of operating a no kill shelter.

No kill continues to grow in popularity among members of the public. With increased demand from compassionate people, there will be some who attempt to co-opt the term no kill without actually doing the work of saving lives. This type of deception is harmful to the movement as naysayers point out the killing and secrecy of these fraudulent “no kill” groups and claim they are representative of no kill as a whole. They are not. There are hundreds of open admission shelters across this country putting in the hard work to save the lives of their animals and doing it in a transparent manner. In order to keep the movement honest and in defense of those actually walking the walk, it is important to verify claims of no kill before celebrating them. In this case, the claim fell far short of the mark.

If there is anyone in West Fargo interested in working to reform the city pound, visit the No Kill Advocacy Center for a toolkit to get started. And let us know if you need help.

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13 Comments

  1. db

     /  January 17, 2014

    The PR you linked certainly sounds glowing. Perhaps it might be possible to contact those rescue groups who have helped this place become “no kill” . . . just a thought. Something smells very fishy here.

    Reply
    • The municipal entity charged with operating the pound is the official custodian of records. I didn’t contact the rescue groups because they are not paid by taxpayers to run the pound. Even if they knew and were willing to reveal what happened to all the “O rate” animals, the information would merely be hearsay.

      Reply
  2. mikken

     /  January 17, 2014

    Why are the charges a secret? Do we have an accounting issue that needs the local Auditor?

    Reply
  3. From this article, it looks like they are playing the “adoptable” card. Yes, we saved all the animals which we deemed “adoptable”, but we all know what that means (especially for feral cats).

    “If animals are left at a pound for longer than a couple days they are euthanized, but the rescues in town took in every single adoptable cat and dog.”

    http://www.valleynewslive.com/story/24429296/area-animal-shelters-break-record-named-no-kill-cities

    Reply
  4. I lived in Fargo for about 10 years and was very involved with the rescue groups and shelters there. Happy to answer any questions anyone might have. I wrote a detailed post on the 2012 stats, but did not cover 2013 in as much detail since I now live in California. The people in Fargo and West Fargo are doing great work but there is some serious work that needs to be done to save the feral cats.

    Hope you don’t mind me sharing my link to the 2012 pound stats I compiled from Fargo, N.D., West Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn. Interested in hearing your thoughts.

    http://www.thatmutt.com/2013/01/18/2012-pound-statistics-fargo-moorhead-west-fargo/

    Reply
  5. Eucritta

     /  January 17, 2014

    At the bottom of pg. 4, there’s a notation ‘Officer released to O – N/C’ which I interpret as meaning that the officer released the dog in question to the owner at the site, and so there was no charge. On pg. 20 middle, there are two entries with the notation ‘O Rate – [x] days (n/c to owner).’ Based on these, the spare statement given to inquiry and the nature of the records given – with ‘Charges’ of unspecified type redacted, but clearly linked to the number of days the pet is held – I suspect that it’s not Capital Letter O Rate, but Zero Rate. Thus, [Zero] Rate – 5 days (n/c to owner)’ may mean that the cat in question was held at wherever the police department boards for 5 days, which were not charged to the city, with no charge to the owner.

    So. Based on that, I’m going to speculate that [Zero] Rate – [x] days ordinarily means that the pet was held for [x] number of days without charge to the city, but as they’re neither listed as ‘Euth’ or adoptions or as transfers to rescue, I think these may represent return-to-owner with the owner paying the fees.

    Based on an entry at the 4 Luv of Dog Rescue in Fargo, it would appear that ‘NPC’ means the Natural Pet Center, a pet supply shop which also does grooming and adoptions:

    http://www.naturalpetcenter-nd.com/

    Reply
    • That all sounds plausible to me.

      Reply
      • Eucritta

         /  January 18, 2014

        It’s a bit tricky because it’s a financial document in which data on the pets is given primarily just to account for the charges. Data on the pets is sketchy and pretty much incidental.

  6. Kittypurr

     /  January 26, 2014

    NPC- nuisance pet complaint
    Just a thought -

    Reply

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