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News and headlines for December 31, 2022 - January 14, 2023
These are some of the stories making headlines in animal protection:
Ohio’s Governor has signed legislation banning the gas chamber. Although no Ohio “shelters” use gas to kill animals, the legislation ensures “that gas chambers will never again be used in the state.”
Webster’s dictionary defines euthanasia as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.” In many animal shelters across the nation, however, animals are not being killed because they are hopelessly sick or injured but out of convenience. In fact, roughly one million animals needlessly lose their lives every year. For some of them, their lives are taken not in a “relatively painless” way, but in one of the most prolonged and excruciating ways: the gas chamber.
But not in Ohio, not anymore.
For those who live in a county or state where the gas chamber is still used, The No Kill Advocacy Center has model legislation to ban it, a step-by-step guide to getting it passed, and stands ready to help.
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 100% of the animals is increasing.
Brookfield and Delafield, WI, reported a 98% placement rate for dogs and 98% for cats.
Refugio, TX, reported a 97% placement rate for dogs and 100% for cats.
Whidbey Island, WA, reported a 98% placement rate for dogs and 93% for cats.
Flathead, MT, also reported a 98% placement rate for dogs and 93% for cats.
While there is room for improvement in even these communities, their achievements and the national data prove that animals are not dying in pounds because there are too many, too few homes, or people don’t want the animals. They are dying because people in those pounds are killing them. Replace those people, implement the No Kill Equation, and we can be a No Kill nation today.
Multnomah County Animal Services in Oregon has closed its doors to all animals, telling people who find lost, abandoned, or stray animals to handle it themselves or leave them on the street. Although temporary, it is the latest meltdown for an agency plagued by years of mismanagement at the hands of managers and elected officials indifferent to animal suffering.
According to a former staff member, “How these dogs are being treated, it’s inhumane, it’s torture… The dogs aren’t getting their needs met, they aren’t in a healthy environment.”
Many of the issues raised by former staff and volunteers mirrored concerns laid out in a 2016 county audit and a follow-up audit two years later that showed few of the most serious issues had been addressed. In both 2016 and 2018, auditors found the division, which currently has an annual budget of about $12.7 million, wasn’t meeting national standards for feeding animals and cleaning kennels most of the time and that staff were failing to provide animals with sufficient social interaction, physical activity and mental stimulation. A lack of daily enrichment can lead to animals becoming more stressed and developing behavior issues, auditors noted.
“Former staff and current volunteers say those issues have only gotten worse.” That includes dogs going weeks without walks for weeks, barren kennels without beds or toys, and filthy algae-covered water bowls. According to another staff member,
I can't handle the killing, the lack of empathy, the poor standards even for the minimum care. In my heart, I cannot support what MCAS is doing. They put forth literally no effort to reunite pets with their people, especially the ones who need it most.
Although MCAS claims its placement rate is near No Kill, a prior audit found more than 1,000 animals had incorrect information, and 700 animals for five years had conflicting outcomes (e.g., listed as escaped in the computer and killed on notes). As to the latter number, the auditor indicated that the number might be higher. In addition, comparing monthly and annual data with weekly tallies finds hundreds of annual disparities.
Moreover, MCAS has historically counted foster animals twice to pad placement rates. For example, if a litter of six kittens came in, they were listed as six intakes. MCAS then sent them to foster care and listed them as “owner reclaimed,” with six positive outcomes. When those same kittens were adopted, they were listed as six adoptions for a total of 12 positive outcomes. They also counted spay/neuter surgeries from sterilization clinics as “owner reclaims,” to further inflate their placement rate.
Despite multiple prior audits of the agency that made recommendations MCAS failed to implement, Multnomah County officials have called for yet another “review of the troubled animal services division.”