San Francisco SPCA Wants "Shelters" to Kill More Dogs
News and headlines for November 25 - December 1, 2023
These are some of the stories making headlines in animal protection:
A recent audit of the Austin, TX, city shelter found that despite lower intakes, killing has increased, adoptions have declined, volunteers are being retaliated against, animal care has become substandard, and staff-management and rescuer-management relationships have soured. Austin is no longer No Kill and hasn’t been for some time.
Now comes the news that Austin managers are forcing staff to kill healthy animals and firing them if they refuse. On behalf of The No Kill Advocacy Center, I once again wrote the Mayor, City Council, and Animal Welfare Advisory Commission, asking them to step up:
Dear Mayor and Members of the City Council,
We have become aware that Austin Animal Center (AAC) management is requiring Austin animal control officers to complete a “euthanasia” certification course that involves killing dogs and cats. The specific training does not guarantee that the animals killed will be irremediably suffering. Even though AAC management confirmed that the officers would not be required to kill animals as part of their job duties — given that staff veterinarians do so during the day and contracted emergency veterinarians do so at night — the officers have been told they will be fired if they do not complete the course. We understand that one officer has already been terminated.
When I ran No Kill animal control shelters, I refused to send employees to workshops like the one forced upon the Austin officers precisely because they used healthy and treatable animals. Instead, the officers were trained on the job by staff veterinarians with animals who were irremediably suffering, the way those who learn about human medicine are taught various procedures at teaching hospitals. We hired them for their love of animals, and because of that, it simply would not have occurred to them that it should be any other way. Moreover, we would never have trained someone to use that knowledge to kill healthy and treatable animals.
When the Austin officers approached management for an alternative using irremediably suffering animals, the request was denied, and they were told this was the only workshop that would be accepted. Adding insult to injury, the assistant manager in charge of the training appears to have a personal relationship with the workshop vendor. If this is true, it suggests self-dealing at the expense of the animals and the officers.
We, therefore, request that AAC managers allow staff to be trained “on the job” or take other Texas Department of State Health Services-approved courses where healthy and treatable animals are not killed. We also ask that managers who have personal relationships with vendors be removed from selecting those vendors to avoid the appearance of impropriety. Finally, we ask that AAC managers not retaliate against staff concerned about the ethics of killing healthy and treatable animals. That is, after all, supposed to be the mission of AAC.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Very truly yours,
No Kill Advocacy Center
The San Francisco SPCA wants “shelters” in California to kill more dogs, despite non-profit organizations and No Kill shelters ready, willing, and able to save them — dogs like Bowie. The same day rescuers expressed interest in Bowie, Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control — labeling him “behavior” and “unadoptable” — killed him. Instead of a new beginning, the little 10-pound terrier who should have had his whole life ahead of him, who never tried to bite, who posed no threat to anyone, was injected with an overdose of poison and turned to ash. He was barely 15 weeks old.
To prevent these kinds of killings, rescuers sued Los Angeles County under the Hayden Law, which makes it illegal for “shelters” to kill dogs rescuers are willing to save. And in a significant victory for rescuers, the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that under that law, California shelters cannot kill dogs “based upon its determination that the animal has a behavioral problem or is not adoptable or treatable.” But Los Angeles County has petitioned the California Supreme Court for review.
It is asking the state’s highest court to overturn that ruling by fear-mongering that unless it does so, dangerous dogs will “threaten [the] life, health, and safety of humans and fellow animals.” Despite such fear-mongering, there are no studies or other evidence to support their assertions of danger to public safety, and there is ample evidence to the contrary. Moreover, as I explained to the Justices, shelters are not competent — and ought not to be trusted — to determine that a dog is “unadoptable.”
Tragically, L.A. County has a powerful new ally — and the animals a powerful new enemy. The San Francisco SPCA, once in the vanguard of the No Kill movement and a leading supporter of the Hayden Law, has hired one of the largest law firms in the world and filed an amicus brief to amplify L.A. County’s fear-mongering.
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