Shelter killing despite empty cages
News and headlines for May 21 - May 26, 2023
These are some of the stories making headlines in animal protection:
Renters, pet owners and animal shelters have praised a long-awaited law that will allow tenants to keep pets in rented accommodation, after the government unveiled legislative changes to the private rented sector earlier this week.
Under the renters’ reform bill, tenants will have the legal right to request a pet in their home, which landlords cannot unreasonably refuse…
The move has been welcomed by pet owners who have struggled to find private accommodation, and charities and shelters which believe the changes will reduce the number of pets being abandoned.
The U.S. should do the same. A Columbia Law Review article noted that landlord-imposed pet restrictions in the United States are widespread:
In a nationwide survey of landlords, approximately 47% of rental housing did not allow pets and only 9% of pet-friendly units allowed pets without limitations on type or size. Large dogs were welcome in only 11% of rental housing. Meanwhile, pet-friendly rentals had a 20 to 30% rent premium, costing on average $222 more per month than rentals that did not allow pets.” In some cities, the situation is worse: more than half of all rental units in Los Angeles did not allow any pets at all. In one survey, “only 212 out of 612 apartment listings allowed dogs.
This negatively impacts adoptions, increases relinquishment, causes homelessness (for people and animals), and results in wasteful expenditures as renters must pay a premium for housing that allows their animal companions.
There’s already precedent for government action. In addition to federal law, which bans housing discrimination for people with children, properties designated for the elderly or disabled persons subsidized or insured by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development cannot prohibit residents from living with a pet.
Moreover, despite concerns about allergies, noise, and the possibility of property damage, a study of landlords who permit companion animals shows that these concerns are overblown and quickly addressed. In fact, landlords who allow pets have longer-term tenants, lower vacancy rates, and higher profits. Moreover, a study found that even tenants who don’t want an animal companion are overwhelmingly in support of allowing animals in the buildings in which they reside.
The No Kill Advocacy Center has model legislation to combat housing discrimination for renters who have animal companions.
National Park Service (NPS) rangers killed a newborn bison calf after a visitor tried to help the calf catch his herd because he was falling behind. NPS claimed the baby’s willingness to approach people constituted a danger. In response to criticism, NPS “defended its policy of not interfering in the natural death of animals on public lands [or proactively killing them], including orphaned offspring.”
The agency says its “focus is on sustaining viable populations of native wildlife species, rather than protecting individual animals. An animal’s survival depends on its own daily decisions and natural selection.”
This view is indefensible. Not only is the notion of nativism as a basis for policy sadistic, unscientific, hypocritical, and unworkable, but “natural” is not synonymous with better; it is objectively and demonstrably worse. There is no compelling reason why individual animal suffering that humans can rectify is preferable to diminished suffering, extended lifespan, or opportunity to pursue happiness when humans help animals who need it.
As the most resourceful species on the planet, with the ability to solve problems unrivaled by any of our fellow Earthlings, we have a duty to diminish the suffering of animals (regardless of whether or not we caused it). “Might” does not make “right,” but it does create affirmative obligations to use those powers for the good of all.
Despite headlines proclaiming that people are surrendering their pandemic pets in large numbers due to inflation and economic uncertainty, that is not happening. As previously reported, not only are intakes significantly down for both dogs and cats from pre-pandemic levels, but a Morgan Stanley report showed that spending on animal companions continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the retail economy, proving to be “inflation-proof”: “Consumers may trade down for themselves in tighter economic times, but not when it comes to their pets.”
In addition, a study, also reported on previously, found that people do not surrender their animals during economic uncertainty and economic downturns. Instead, they adopt more of them:
The researchers found that the proportion of child-free U.S. households with companion animals increased by 13% in response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis… Additionally, they found that U.S. households continued spending more money on companion animals following the crisis.
A new analysis of five years of actual intakes confirms that financial reasons are not a significant or common reason why people surrender animals. Indeed, it consistently ranks as the least cited cause.
A new study finds that coyotes trust humans and move to be near them for food and as protection from larger predators, such as wolves or cougars. That trust is misplaced. Instead of protecting them, humans are killing them, too, and doing so in larger numbers.