American Humane Association brings the drama:
The numbers are sobering: Every year, some 7-8 million animals end up in our nation’s shelters, which struggle valiantly to provide life-saving services to them. Nearly 4 million are euthanized. Now, new research published by American Humane Association indicates that hundreds of thousands of animals who manage to get adopted from the nation’s shelters are no longer in their homes six months later. These staggering statistics do not even factor in the number of homeless pets abandoned by their former owners to the streets, who wander aimlessly without a roof over their heads, unsure of when their next meal will be. What can be done to get these animals in to loving, forever homes?
Oh noes! This sounds terrible. Hundreds of thousands of shelter pets being jettisoned from their homes in addition to the untold hordes of pets already turned out into the streets. It’s little wonder any of us can make it out to the mailbox without wading through a sea of homeless pets. Adoption is pointless. There’s no way out. I see that now. Oh! This is the big one! I’m coming, Elizabeth!
Before I depart this mortal coil though, let’s take a look at the AHA study. The survey included 572 recent adopters from 3 cities – Charlotte, Ft. Worth and Denver. In each city, adopters were selected from one municipal facility and one private shelter. Results determined that roughly 90% of the adopters still had their pets after 6 months. Approximately 5% had returned the pets to the shelter and the remaining pets had been rehomed, gotten lost or died.
Gee, when I type it all out, it doesn’t sound so TerribleHorribleReallyQuiteBad anymore.
Let’s go back to that dreadful news on the AHA website:
New study: 1 in 10 adopted pets gone within six months
“Gone” sounds so, I don’t know – final. Like they were sold for use in the slave trade in some faraway land. Or they were fitted with cement shoes and tossed into the river because they couldn’t repay their gambling debts. But really, what the AHA study found was that 90% of adopters kept their pets. Isn’t that kinda yay? And 5% returned the pets to the shelter – the safe haven, if you will – presumably because the pet wasn’t a good fit for their family. Isn’t that kind of expected? And the remaining 5% either had a pet get lost or die or gave them to someone else. Again, this falls under the expected category to me, not the Hair on Fire Emergency that AHA seems to think it is. Things happen. Pets get lost. Pets die. People die. Pets need to be rehomed. No need to deploy the National Guard.
I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t read most of the rest of the study. You might like to read it in full. In the main, I don’t trust AHA since they kill dogs and cats. But with this study specifically, they seem to be making a mountain – a fiery, ash-spewing type of mountain – out of a molehill. I am concerned though that AHA may attempt to use the findings to encourage shelters to restrict adoptions even further. Better dead than taking a chance on anything else, right?
Overall, my take on this study is this:
- 90% pet retention 6 months post adoption=pretty good.
- 5% return rate=about what I’d expect.
- 5% other life stuff happens rate=about what I’d expect.
Stand down. Unbunch your panties. Keep calm and keep adopting.
May 17, 2013
Free for all (except those who want to hurt pets or defend those who do). Post any animal related links, comments, questions or anything else that fits into a blog comment.
May 16, 2013
• Campbell Co Mayor William Baird on the Campbell Co pound in TN:
(Thank you Karen for the link.)
• Lake Co Manager David Heath on a recent audit of the Lake Co pound in FL which revealed that roughly 12% of intake remains unaccounted for:
(Thanks Clarice for the above and below links.)
• Cyndi Nason, the new Lake Co pound director and a former ASPCA consultant, on her goals for the facility:
Wonderful for the dogs and cats who make it out alive, less-than-wonderful for the ones tossed into the dumpster. And I take it “as low kill as possible” will be determined by the failing performances of other pet killing facilities in the area. When a director talks in terms such as this, she is leaving killing on the table as an option and indeed, letting the public know they should not only expect killing but accept it – because the shelter is “doing the best they can”, as we so often hear.
Typical, favorable, wonderful – this is how enablers describe the needless killing of dogs and cats in animal shelters.
Dogs and cats have a right to live. Shelters can not attempt to justify infringing upon that right simply because their neighboring shelters are also killing animals. Didn’t everyone’s Mom give them that “If everybody jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” speech when they were 6?
May 16, 2013
The biggest animal welfare myth in the south rears its ugly head again (where is my Whack-A-Mole mallet?), this time courtesy of Surry Co rescuer Rachel Hiatt after a dog shipped to MA from NC was adopted by a celebrity:
“Up north they have laws where you have to have your pet spayed and neutered so there is a shortage of puppies.”
Portland reporter investigates suspicious fundraising activities from a purported animal advocate who claims she is the “Oprah of the Dog World,” among other things. (Thanks Clarice for the link.)
The photo at the beginning of this article on Muskegon Co AC in MI features a dog being restrained with two chokepoles held by two officers.
TN Governor vetoed the state’s “ag-gag” bill. (Thanks Devry for the link.)
Photos of Jon Stewart walking his 3 legged dog Champ around NYC.
Maricopa Co ACC in AZ impounded this obviously pregnant dog as a stray on April 22, 2013. Records obtained via FOIA request indicate that four days later the pound’s vet cut out her uterus which contained 10 full term puppies, old enough to survive outside the womb. These pups had a right to live. Medical records contain no mention of how the uterus containing the puppies was disposed of nor is there any notation of Fatal Plus being administered to the pups. They were presumably thrown into the trash can to suffocate and die.
Although this poor dog was cruelly subjected to a behavioral evaluation just 3 days after the killing of her pups, she passed. The day after, Maricopa Co noted she was “not kenneling well” and put her on the kill list. This dog had a right to live. Mercifully the so-called irresponsible public came through to save this dog from additional harm at the pound and she was taken in by a rescue group.
Remind me again how the mistreatment and killing of pets in animal shelters is the public’s fault?
May 15, 2013
This search term, which appeared in my WordPress stats this morning, says it all:
where can i take a stray dog and not have it put down
Directors, staff and apologists for pet killing facilities often blame the public for the killing, claiming you and I are guilty of myriad transgressions which “force” them to kill dogs and cats. The truth: The so-called irresponsible public does not want pets killed in “shelters”. We want shelter directors and staff to do their jobs and provide true shelter to pets in need until they are reclaimed, rehomed, rescued or fostered. We want no kill.
May 14, 2013
On my worst days as a blogger, it seems like most commenters don’t bother showing up unless they want to disagree with me on something. And I wonder why I am not in with the In Crowd, despite my numerous appealing qualities, which my Mom reassures me I possess.
On my best days, I remember that the overwhelming majority of readers never comment and since I am lucky enough to have readers, at least according to WordPress stats, I feel grateful. There are plenty of places to find reading material on the web and the fact that anyone drops by this little cranny regularly is both humbling and happying. Welcome to My Pretty Secluded Location. There are clean towels.
In between the worst and best days are all the other days. And on those days I think about plants and birds and rocks and things but also that I believe. I really do. I believe that the killing of shelter pets could end today, as untidy and challenging as it may prove in the short term, and that it could be maintained long term. I believe that shelter dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of whether they are being carried in their mother’s womb or have lived on the streets for 10 years. I believe that no kill is possible and have resolved to live in accordance with its most basic tenet – that the life of every pet (and I use that as a general description meant to include feral cats and dogs) must be granted individual consideration and respect. Sometimes it’s inconvenient and requires I make personal sacrifices. I make them. Because even if I didn’t want to, there are no reasonable alternatives.
So if there are days when you feel isolated, alienated, or helpless, or perhaps just find yourself wondering whether anyone in the no kill movement would actually stand by you and the homeless pets in your community if push came to shove, know that I will and I am. This blog is a testament to that promise. If you are fighting for the right of every dog and cat to live, go ahead and put me down as your +1. And thank you for reading, which I should say more often.
May 14, 2013
Rebecca Coleman, the shelter vet at the Memphis pound on whose watch numerous dogs have starved to death, including a puppy who was forced to eat his own littermate to survive, and who scrubbed a degloved cat’s wounds without providing pain medication and left him to suffer in a cage for 5 days has again been implicated in an animal cruelty incident at the pound. This time the victim was a mixed breed puppy who was impounded with a collar embedded in her neck:
According to city records, for days MAS Medical Director Rebecca Coleman did nothing, leaving the dog in its cage with an embedded collar.
According to shelter records, Coleman was the only veterinarian on duty the week the dog arrived. Four days after the dog arrived, it finally received medical attention for what was described as a “severe collar injury.” It was ingrown into the neck with a foul odor. It was so bad that not all of it could be removed; the clasp was left inside the dog because tissue had grown in.
Two days after treatment the dog was euthanized to ease its suffering.
That’s one way of putting it. Killed to hide the evidence of Rebecca Coleman’s negligence also comes to mind.
The cruelty occurred last fall but no charges have been filed. Someone did write a note in Rebecca Coleman’s personnel file about the incident.
In related news, there are fresh victims awaiting Dr. Coleman since the city seized two allegedly starving dogs with embedded collars from a Memphis firefighter this week:
According to neighbors and the police, the dogs had chains dug into their necks so deep the dogs were cut and bleeding. Police found bowls filled with dirt and out of reach from where the dogs were chained.
The dogs were taken to the Memphis Animal Shelter, where both are listed at a substantial risk of death.
You don’t say?
Fire. Them. All.
(Thank you Karen and Clarice for the links.)
From an article in the Las Cruces Sun-News titled “Report: Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley kill rate drops in 2012“:
The center took in more than 13,000 animals last year and just over half were euthanized.
The number is a 17 percent decrease from 2011.
Although the title of the piece specifically references a drop in the shelter’s kill rate, the “17 percent decrease” cited is reflective of actual numbers, irrespective of intake, which is misleading. In fact, the actual kill rate at this facility decreased a mere 5% from 2011 to 2012. (See page 13 of the shelter’s annual report for 2012.) The stunningly minor decrease in killing makes the director’s enthusiasm all the more confusing:
“Finally the programs that were implemented in 2008 are starting to bear fruit,” said center director Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, who took the helm in 2008. “You can see the euthanasia numbers are really, really dropping. It’s finally coming together.”
I was unable to locate any 2008 stats for this facility but on page 10 of the 2010 annual report, it says the 2009 kill rate was 60% and the 2010 kill rate was 56%. In 2011, the kill rate was 57% and in 2012 it was 52%. So taking into account the publicly available information for the kill rates in the years 2009 through 2012, there is an 8% decrease. The suggested 17% decrease in kill rates does not exist anywhere. The main thing happening at this facility is dog and cat killing – same as it ever was. It’s been 5 years. How many more years are needed before the staff start doing their jobs and stop killing pets?
In 2012, Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley killed more than 3100 animals for being feral or timid. Over 1200 animals were killed for space with the vast majority of them being Pitbulls. A greater number were killed for treatable medical conditions such as coughs, colds, ringworm, and tragically – pregnancy. (See page 11 of the 2012 annual report.)
“It’s finally coming together” would probably be the last words that spring to mind in describing this pet killing facility. More like, it’s continuing to come apart. I guess I see why the director attempted to spin the numbers to fool taxpayers and donors. It’s not like telling the truth would be a good option if all you had to show for your years of work was a landfill bursting with tens of thousands of dead dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. Assuming you wanted to keep your job killing animals, that is.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)
(Note: “Sample Animal Shelter” as referenced in this post, is a fictitious name for a facility. The name and numbers are merely being used as an example and are not representative of any actual facility of which I am aware.)
A brief overview, The Maths edition:
If Sample Animal Shelter took in 100 pets in 2011 and killed 90 of them, that would be a 90% kill rate. If Sample Animal Shelter took in 60 pets in 2012 and killed all 60 of them, that would be a 100% kill rate. It is misleading to look at the actual numbers of pets killed and compare them by year while excluding the intake numbers. That’s why I so often refer to kill rates since those figures take into account both intake and outcome figures.
Sadly, there are some pet killing facilities that tout their actual kill numbers, exclusive of total intake, to the media in an attempt to mislead the public. If Sample Animal Shelter’s director wanted to conceal the dismal comparison between the 2011 and 2012 kill rates – going from 90% to 100%, he would tell the media that the number of actual animals killed in 2012 decreased by 33% compared to 2011 (90 pets killed in 2011 and 60 killed in 2012). The announcement of this significant decrease fools many people, who don’t know how shelters spin numbers, into believing the people at Sample Animal Shelter worked harder to save animals in 2012 than 2011. In reality, the facility merely took in fewer animals in 2012 and staff killed every single one of them.
None of this is to say that actual numbers have no value. Indeed they do. But when a shelter director publicly claims a decrease in killing over a period of time, it is important to compare kill rates, not actual numbers, since the former tells the complete story and does not require a calculator to draw a relevant comparison. Most shelter directors either know or should know this. So too, they either know or should know that the general public, including most of the media, is unaware of the ways shelter kill numbers can be spun to trick donors and taxpayers.
As I often say, if you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.