On Thursday, Mayor Don Kyle of Decatur, AL ordered the city pound to reduce its population from roughly 300 to 45 according to reporting by WAFF. Although the piece does not provide the amount of time being allotted for this population reduction, a statement from the mayor describes it as “an aggressive time frame”. The statement cites the reason for the order as “significant filth, odor and disease” due to the number of animals within the facility. The number of cages at Decatur Animal Services is not mentioned. The mayor’s statement stresses the fact that he has not ordered a mass killing to reduce population and that he has “suggested that staffers use all their contacts to move animals out.”
I would interpret this as an all-hands-on-deck crisis. In order to humanely reduce the pound’s population quickly and dramatically, Decatur Animal Services should be using every tool in the toolbox.
This morning, Decatur Animal Services has just 117 pets listed on Petfinder. The pound’s website states it sells dogs for $110 and cats for $95. I looked through several pages on the site but saw no pleas to help save animals during the current crisis nor any specials such as waived adoption fees. I’m not at all certain the shelter is pulling out all the stops during this crisis or even doing their jobs at a most basic level.
Overnight, a new article was published on DecaturDaily.com with much more information including a number on that “aggressive time frame” – 30 days. The piece indicates the pound’s manager, Carol Wicks, had responded to the mayor’s order with a threat to kill animals:
Wicks said she could only comply with the directive by euthanizing more than 100 animals.
The director determined this need for mass killing within 1 day of the order. She never even tried listing all the pets online, running a promotion or using social media to reach out to the public for assistance. The mayor reiterated his opposition to a mass killing in order to reduce the population:
“I never wanted that,” Kyle said.
The mayor’s order has been put on hold.
Misinformation and miscommunication are apparently the words of the day:
Shelter Advisory Board members said Friday they did not know how Kyle had arrived at the limit of 20 cats and 25 dogs.
“I’m not sure where those numbers came from,” [board secretary Carla] Swinnee said. “There has to be an analysis done as to how many dogs and cats the shelter is equipped to handle. Nobody ever said, ‘This is the number.’ ”
The shelter has 106 cages and kennels for dogs and 121 for cats.
“There’s no such thing as a maximum capacity,” Wicks said.
Let’s play Identify the Problem. Or in this case, Problems.
- No one has ever analyzed the shelter’s capacity.
- The mayor thinks 45 is a good number – leaving 182 cages empty.
- The director thinks the shelter’s capacity is Anything Goes.
- The mayor specifically said he didn’t want killing used as a tool to reduce the population.
- The director immediately threatened to kill more than 100 animals in response.
- Decatur Animal Services is not offering any adoption specials, running any promotions or even listing all its pets online in order to increase live outcomes.
And in the Wait, There’s More Frightening Stuff Department, we have this:
Kyle said wants to hear ideas for reducing the numbers.
“For example, I heard a recommendation that when a pregnant cat comes into the facility it should be spayed, rather than holding it until it has the litter of kittens,” Kyle said. “That’s not been done.”
Wicks said she and her staff are aggressive in trying to reduce shelter numbers. In the past three days, she said, the shelter adopted out 11 dogs and four cats. It also euthanized 20 animals.
“That’s the normal euthanasia, not an accelerated rate,” Wicks said.
She said the shelter euthanizes animals that are aggressive or diseased, and others that would use up shelter space for adoptable animals.
“If an animal is here for a long time and nobody is showing an interest or is not doing well in this environment, they are pulled and euthanized,” Wicks said.
Killing unborn kittens is unconscionable. Killing animals who take up space because “nobody is showing an interest” when the shelter doesn’t even list all its pets online or whip up an adoption promotion during a crisis is sickening. It seems as if killing is the answer to all questions at Decatur Animal Services. I hope there are some shelter pet advocates in the area who will stand up for the defenseless animals being needlessly killed at the pound. Without such voices, there appears to be little hope for these pets.
(Thanks Thom for alerting me to this story.)