• Susan Houser

News of the Week 07-05-15

The San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition rolled out a big announcement this past week that they have reached zero euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals and that, starting with their new fiscal year on July 1st and going forward, they are committed to no healthy or treatable shelter animals in the county being killed. In the most recent fiscal year for which stats are available (2013 to 2014), the 11 shelters that make up the coalition had an 83% live release rate, with intake of over 40,000 animals. Much of what I’m reading about the coalition sounds really good – they work well together, they pool resources, they have a centralized unit for behavior rehabilitation for dogs, and they transfer animals among themselves so that the animals can get the most appropriate treatment. One thing bothers me though, and that is that owner-requested euthanasia has been much higher than I see with most No Kill shelters – in fiscal year 2013-2014, if owner-requested euthanasias are counted with other euthanasias, the live release rate drops from 83% to 72%. In some places (like northern Virginia) there is a tradition of local shelters offering euthanasia services to the public for old and sick pets. Perhaps that is what is going on here, but the problem is that we have no way to tell without detailed medical records on every ORE.


The Louisiana Transport Program saved 779 animals last year. This article about their program has some interesting comments from Dr. Elizabeth Berliner, the director of shelter medicine at Cornell. She says that transport programs are lifesavers, but that following best practices, including veterinary involvement at both the sending and receiving shelters, is very important. She refers readers to the best practices recommendations from the National Federation of Humane Societies.


Here’s another article about the Chester County SPCA in Pennsylvania and its recent turnaround.


Delaware’s First State Animal Center and SPCA (formerly the Kent County SPCA) has held animal control contracts for Delaware’s three counties and the city of Wilmington for a while now. If I am interpreting the shelter’s posted statistics correctly, they had a live release rate of about 75% in 2014, with an actual intake of over 6,000. Things may change in Delaware soon, as it appears that the state is moving to take over dog control duties.


Voice for the Animals has received some nice publicity for its Working Cats program, most recently with an article in the LA Times.


In a bizarre twist to the case of a Texas veterinarian who allegedly shot a cat in the head with a bow and arrow, it appears that the local DA may have misapplied the American Veterinary Medical Association’s euthanasia guidelines in finding that there was not sufficient evidence that the cat was killed by a cruel method. The DA appears to have interpreted the AVMA euthanasia guidelines as supporting the idea that an arrow to the head from a distance is equivalent to the controlled use of a captive bolt or gunshot at close range. The AVMA says that the DA reached this conclusion without asking their opinion on the issue. In related news, Alley Cat Allies had great turnout and support for their workshops and vigils in Texas in response to the case.


It’s not too soon to start thinking about what you will do for National Feral Cat Day, which is on October 16th this year.


Another great post from Christie Keith, who is a national treasure for the No Kill movement. This one discusses why adoption promotions should be upbeat – and the exceptions to that rule. One thing I like about Keith’s posts is that she not only explains what works, but why it works.


Tawny Hammond has hit the ground running in Austin in her new job as director of the city shelter. That’s by necessity, as Austin shelters have had increased intake due to the recent floods. Hammond wants to raise the shelter’s profile in the community, and she also wants to address concerns expressed by some volunteers that dogs are not getting enough exercise.

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