El Paso terminates contract with Best Friends over their advocacy for pet abandonment
News and headlines for August 5 - August 11, 2023
These are some of the stories making headlines in animal protection:
The City of El Paso has terminated its contract with Best Friends Animal Society to assist in running the city shelter because of public complaints about animals abandoned on the streets. Best Friends promotes Human Animal Support Services (HASS). HASS — created by Austin Pets Alive and which Best Friends euphemistically calls “community sheltering” — is a sheltering protocol that turns away healthy animals.
People who find animals are told to keep them until the owner is located or to leave them on the street. Although shelters that turn these animals away justify the policy by claiming that most animals are close to their homes and can be reunited with their families through neighbors or on their own, the evidence does not bear their claims out.
The average distance away from their homes where dogs are found is roughly two miles (1.96 miles), with one shelter’s average being 3.2 miles. And while many dogs were within one mile of their home (which is still very far for a dog), others were four to five miles away.
Shelters cannot assume lost animals will find their way home without human intervention. While data shows where people picked up dogs, it does not reveal where they were going. The data shows that the longer dogs are missing, the further away from their homes they tend to be found. Moreover, more than half of dogs are not reclaimed, as many do not have homes to return to. These dogs may stay homeless without a shelter to rehome them.
In addition, regardless of how far away from home, lost animals face risks. There are many factors, for example, that might impact how likely a free-roaming dog is to be struck by a vehicle: time of day and traffic level, whether a dog is roaming in an open space or a busy road, in an urban area or a rural one, or the level of anxiety and fear a dog is exhibiting that might result in poor judgment. These are not necessarily related to how far the dog is from their home or if they even have one. Nonetheless, under HASS, shelters are directed to treat all free-roaming dogs the same and leave them to whatever fate might befall them.
While closing one’s doors to animals in need may not undermine an animal’s right to live — although it doesn’t count animals who get hit by cars or otherwise die from environmental hazards — it ignores an animal’s right of rescue. It also breaks up families by simply releasing animals back on the streets without trying to find their existing home, an action at odds with a shelter’s mission. In addition, the No Kill Equation’s success at eliminating the killing of healthy and treatable animals means the choice need not be to leave them on the street where they face a myriad of potential harms or to bring them into the shelter where they risk being killed.
Before its termination, Best Friends defended its action by claiming that it is a “consultant” and does not dictate policy. Even if that were true, by advising El Paso to turn animals away, it is responsible for the consequences of the policy if El Paso defers to them, which it did. Moreover, it does not appear to be true. Its contract with El Paso states that Best Friends “will have direct oversight responsibilities over the management and employees of Agency in cooperation with the Agency’s Director. Agency will need to provide this Consultant with the true power and authority of a Consultant, including the ability to make program, policy and personnel decisions in partnership with the Agency.”
Similarly, in Las Vegas,
A couple who attempted to relinquish three dogs at the Animal Foundation in July but were turned away, abandoned the dogs in the shelter’s parking lot and ran over one as it chased after them…
“The shelter people were telling the couple they’re full right now and can’t possibly take the dogs. The lady started arguing, saying, ‘I have a 2-month-old baby. I can’t have these stray dogs”...
Critics argue that “the incident likely would have been avoided if not for the shelter’s… policy, which requires appointments months in advance to relinquish a pet or stray animal. The earliest appointment to relinquish an owned animal is in December.”
Adding insult to injury, an audit found that The Animal Foundation is not honest about how many animals it cares for, inflating the animal population by 22% to claim it is full when it isn’t and turn animals away. In fact, “intake has fallen below pre-pandemic levels while euthanization [killing] has increased. Last year, TAF euthanized [killed] more dogs and cats than in 2019, although it took in 3,700 fewer animals.”
After years on the lamb, Hank the Tank has been caught, along with her three cubs.
The 500-pound female black bear, one of multiple bears identified by the public as “Hank the Tank,” is responsible for breaking into 21 South Lake Tahoe homes. According to residents, Hank is not aggressive or interested in people. Hank is only interested in what is in their refrigerators and pantries.
Some residents wanted Hank killed, consistent with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) policy, but the Bear League and other homeowners protested. In response, CDFW announced it would spare all four bears.
Hank will be relocated to a Colorado wildlife sanctuary. Her cubs will be released back into the wild after one of the cubs recovers from injuries “likely sustained after being hit by a car.”
As more people turn to rescue and adoption and more shelters embrace progressive policies, the number of communities placing over 95% and as high as 99% of the animals is increasing: