It’s been depressing watching these so-called animal shelters and consultants announce they are going to “save more cats” by turning lost, owned cats back out into the street and/or selling lost, owned cats immediately upon impound. Reuniting lost pets with their owners is not only part of the job at any shelter, it’s one of the best parts of the job to my mind. I guess that’s why these groups feel compelled to lie about their reasons for failing at it so egregiously, blaming the “irresponsible” public even as they themselves violate the law and their own ethical responsibilities as temporary caretakers of the community’s pets.
It would be easy enough for any shelter to look at this trend of treating stray cats as second class pets and say “Works for us – let’s join in!” After all, cats are harder to shelter than dogs and if you’re lazy and don’t care about keeping families together to being with, why should you bother coming up with actual solutions to the myriad issues surrounding cat sheltering? But the staff at the donor funded Capital Area Humane Society in Ohio didn’t take the easy way out when it came to revamping their cat protocols. They didn’t blame the public, they embraced the fact that most people who bring cats to a shelter are trying to do the right thing. They didn’t break up families for personal profit, they gave surrendering parties supplies to keep families together, even if just temporarily.
Staff at the Capital Area Humane Society used to spend 3 hours a day killing cats and had a live release rate of just 32% for cats. They knew their cat protocols needed an overhaul. On September 1, staff began implementing new admission protocols for all surrendered animals but cats, including strays, have particularly benefited:
With the new protocol, an animal that is brought in to the Humane Society near Hilliard receives an exam, vaccinations and necessary medications for a nominal fee, which might be waived if the client dropping off the animal can’t pay. The client is then offered supplies, such as food and litter, and the option of fostering or keeping the animal.
The shelter also slashed adoption fees on cats and is now selling kittens for $25 and cats over 6 months of age for $10. And a new partnership with five area rescue groups is allowing the community to step up even more.
By October 23, the kill rate for cats at the shelter had dropped by 58% and the killing of healthy, friendly cats for space dropped by 93%.
An example of how the new system works for stray cats:
Caity Waites of Huber Heights, near Dayton, said she and her roommate received assistance with three stray kittens under the new system, turning to the society when a number of other shelters said they couldn’t help.
After the veterinary exam, the women agreed to foster the animals until the society could take them. They ended up finding homes for two themselves and keeping the third.
“It was just the easiest thing in the world,” Waites said. “They just genuinely wanted the kittens to get homes. The whole experience was completely seamless and friendly and caring from start to finish.”
I’m so glad these people were able to foster and find homes for two of the kittens and decided to give the one kitten a permanent home. These are good people, as are most people who turn to a shelter for assistance with pets. I only hope their kitten never gets lost and if she does, she isn’t picked up by one of the lazy shelters with a policy of either putting the kitten back out on the street or immediately selling her for profit.
Improvements can and should be made in poorly performing shelters. Taking a fresh look at how cats are sheltered is a good idea. Breaking up families, putting owned cats back on the street and blaming the public have no place in any shelter. It’s the opposite of why we have shelters in our society. Good on the Capital Area HS for putting in the hard work to save more cats. Keep going.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)