It sucks being a cat at the Hillsborough Co pound in Florida. Way.
Although the pound’s TNR program was officially sanctioned by local politicians on May 1, not one action has been taken to implement the program:
“I’m not [a] patient person,” said Sherry Silk, director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “Come on; it’s been six months and we haven’t saved a single cat.”
Not only has Hillsborough Co failed to save a single cat via its TNR-INO (In Name Only) program while citing colony caregivers for feeding TNR’d cats, its cat killing machine continues to mow down nearly every feline in its path. In fiscal year 2012, the live release rate for cats was 18.9%. The pound is currently killing 600 adult cats and kittens every month.
In August, the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program issued a report detailing recommendations for the Hillsborough Co pound. Some of the findings:
- Nursing mama cats who are impounded as strays are automatically sent to the kill room after their mandated holding period expires.
- Some kittens designated as available for adoption are housed in rooms which are off limits to the public.
- Animals’ records – both computer and paper – regularly contain incorrect age, sex and holding period data.
- Cats are often housed in tiny holding cages with the access door to the other side of the cage kept closed, even when the other side is empty, leading to “compromised feline welfare”.
- Cats are left in uncovered traps and carriers in a high traffic hallway while awaiting cage placement, putting them at increased risk for illness due to stress.
One of the recommendations from the Maddie’s Fund consultants is to designate a feline advocate at the facility:
This person should assure individual cats are housed in the appropriate ward, have no unnecessary holds, and are tracked appropriately for foster, transfer, or adoption.
And by “unecessary holds”, Maddie’s Fund includes any holding period for stray cats who lack identification. A key recommendation from the report:
Eliminate the required hold period for stray cats. Stray cats lacking identification are extremely unlikely to be reclaimed by owners and are at high risk for shelter – acquired disease and euthanasia. Eliminating even a few days in the shelter may be the difference between life and death for them. The shelter can simultaneously have an option for immediate live release paired with a required hold period of 3 days prior to euthanasia.
So lost cats with their sex/age/holding period information data possibly entered wrongly by Hillsborough Co staff, possibly housed in rooms which are off limits to the public and possibly designated in advance as Straight to Kill Room are unlikely to be reclaimed by their owners? And the recommendation is to eliminate the unidentified stray holding period entirely because they might get sick at this “compromised feline welfare” facility? Snaaaaaap.
The No Kill Advocacy Center weighed in on the elimination of stray holding periods when HSUS suggested it in its recent white paper on California shelters:
[I]f a dog or cat comes in as a stray, and he does not have identification, he can be adopted to someone else immediately without giving his family any time to reclaim him. This is unfair to families who deeply love their animal companions. [...] Accidents happen; animals get lost and end up at shelters. Since the choice presented — immediate adoption or sickness/death — is a false one, breaking up families by having them lose all rights in their animal with no reclaim period of any kind appears draconian.
If Hillsborough Co accepts the Maddie’s Fund recommendation to eliminate the state mandated 5 day holding period for unidentified stray cats, it will not only cause undue harm to owners of lost cats trying to find them, it will fast track cats to the kill room – the most likely outcome for cats at Hillsborough Co. What Hillsborough Co needs is someone to run into the cat ward and yell, “Iceberg – dead ahead!” Instead, Maddie’s Fund is busy re-arranging the deck chairs.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)