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: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>, “Marcy J.
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.
West Fargo Police – Office Supervisor
800 4 Avenue East, Suite 2
West Fargo, ND 58078
701-433-5590 (office phone)
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.
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.