Sick dogs may act aggressively, but shelters don't test for a medical origin
News and headlines for September 23 - 29, 2023
These are some of the stories making headlines in animal protection:
A new single-dose parvovirus treatment has been conditionally approved for use and is available now through veterinarians. It shows great promise:
In clinical trials, zero dogs treated with the Elanco's Monoclonal Antibody died... The treatment has also been found to shorten the course of the disease, resolving some of the worst symptoms more quickly, limiting hospitalizations and increasing survivability.
It could not come soon enough. Although the prognosis for treating puppies with parvovirus is good to excellent, until now, it has involved more extensive therapy, which many shelters will not do. Moreover, a recent study found that most Americans are skeptical of canine vaccinations, including those that prevent parvovirus, which will lead to more cases if people stop vaccinating.
The word “game changer” gets thrown around too often, but when it comes to saving sick puppies in animal shelters, the single-dose parvovirus treatment might be it.
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. The auditor has called on the City Council to reassess its commitment to No Kill, arguing that a 95% mandated placement rate is inconsistent with humane care. That conclusion is wrong.
In my letter to the City Council, written on behalf of The No Kill Advocacy Center, I explain that prior to the current leadership, placement rates of 98% were standard despite significantly higher intakes. Blaming the shelter’s currently troubled performance on unreasonable expectations as mandated in the 2009 No Kill Plan obscures that Austin’s increasingly poor performance results from a willful abandonment of former protocols by current management.
Instead of repealing the No Kill initiative, I call on the City to replace current leadership, require Austin Animal Center to recommit to a 95% placement rate, and hold Austin Pets Alive more accountable to the animals of the city shelter, which it has increasingly turned its back on.
In light of the recent decision by the California Court of Appeal clarifying California law on the obligations of municipal shelters to release dogs to animal rescue organizations, I want to apprise the rescue community of their rights.
California shelters have a mandatory duty to release any dog upon request to a qualifying non-profit rescue organization except in three specific circumstances:
The dog is irremediably suffering from severe illness or severe physical injury;
The dog is a newborn, needs maternal care, and has been impounded without his mother;
The dog has a documented history of “vicious” or dangerous behavior recorded by the agency charged with enforcing state and local animal laws before the animal was impounded.
In other words, the Court of Appeal decision explicitly prohibits California shelters from refusing to release dogs based on temperament testing or that they classify as having “behavior” issues or as being “unadoptable” or “untreatable.”
Once your organization is qualified as a rescue partner, the shelter can no longer refuse to release dogs to you unless they fall within one of the three specific exceptions listed above.
The case is Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center, Inc. & Lucky Pup Dog Rescue v. County of Los Angeles, Case No. B318954 (Sept. 18, 2023). The decision will become final on October 18, and barring California Supreme Court review, all California shelters will have to comply.