DALLAS – When a lost, stray or abandoned pet walked into an animal shelter in an American city Since 10 yearsThere was a good chance he wouldn’t leave.
But in Quiet shiftPet euthanasia rates have fallen in major cities in recent years. drop more than 75 percent since 2009. a SEscape, adoption or return to an owner or community is now a much more likely outcome, a shift experts say has occurred nationwide.
New York times The data was collected from municipal shelters in the 20 largest cities in the country, including two in the Los Angeles metro area. Many shelters do not track results uniformly or make historical data readily available online. Until recently, there is It was not a concerted national effort To consolidate and compile shelter records.
One reason data is scarce: what it represents is sensitive. Even in the best-run shelters, workers face criticism, even death threats, for euthanizing animals.
“We all agree that euthanasia is one too many,” said Inga Frick, the newest director of euthanasia for the Humane Society of the United States. She supports more data transparency, but in her view, many shelters face impossible expectations. They also operate with varying levels of political and societal support.
Shelters should not be condemned for the numbers they have if they are doing what they do honestlyIt can,” she said.
Part of the difficulty is that most city-run shelters are “open entry,” meaning they have to take in any animal, regardless of health or behavior (many private shelters and rescue groups Only animals likely to be adopted will be accepted.)
In 2015, for example, the New York City shelter system found itself with 176 sick and injured rabbits that were kept by a woman on a vacant lot in Gowanus in Brooklyn. “We’ve brought in all these rabbits, and then we have to start figuring out — where do these rabbits go?” said Resa Weinstock, chief executive of the shelter. (Most of them were rescued and adopted.)
How we used to treat stray animals
For most of their history, city animal services swept stray dogs off the streets, delivered them to the pound, And they kill them. (It wasn’t necessarily cruel; there was a justified fear of rabies.)
In the mid-nineteenth century, New York City adopted a policy of dumping unclaimed stray dogs. A report from Philadelphia described a notorious dog catcher engaged in the “savage slaughter of captured animals by clubbing” before setting up a sanctuary to put out the animals using gas chambers.
Today, the vast majority of shelters in the United States perform injection euthanasia.
By the 1970s, the Humane Society estimated that 25 percent of the nation’s dogs were on the streets and that 13.5 million animals were euthanized in shelters each year (some argue that number was much higher). In 1971, the Los Angeles shelter alone killed more than 110,000 animals, or an average of 300 animals per day.
Since then, widespread activism, professionalization of the industry, and changing cultural attitudes have helped reduce euthanasia to fewer than 2 million shelter animals.general p. In 2018, the Los Angeles City Shelter euthanized an average of 10 animals per day, less than 10 percent of its intake.
“They are family members on four legs,” said Richard Avanzino, a longtime activist known as the father of the No Kill movement. “Society is no longer willing to say, ‘Well, there are too many animals and not enough homes. “
behind the changes
Animal welfare experts tend to agree that since the 1970s, the number of stray animals entering U.S. shelters has fallen precipitously—a result of the successful push to encourage spaying and neutering pets (remember Bob Barker’s signature?).
A recent research paper in the Journal of Animals found that until about 2010, declines in shelter euthanasia tracked closely with decreases in intake. Subsequently, the authors write, adoption appears to have helped lower euthanasia rates.
Almost all of the shelters in the Times analysis increased adoptions over the 10-year period surveyed.
“Saving an animal has become a badge of honor,” said Matt Berschecker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “People proudly go to dog parks, walk around their neighborhoods, and talk about the animal they rescued from a shelter.”
Many rescued animals are transported north from southern states with higher euthanasia rates. The ASPCA alone transported 40,000 animals in 2018.
Most of the shelters in this analysis also continue to reduce the number of animals they take in. Community cat spay/neuter and release programmes 1 worker. There has also been a rise in programs that help people resolve problems — such as landlord disputes and unaffordable veterinary care — that may force them to give up their pets.
These trends reflect the professionalism of the shelter industry. Its members attend conferences and have their own journal and veterinary specialties. Shelters are increasingly using data to guide their resources, and are collaborating with a growing network of rescue groups and volunteers to fill in the gaps.
Many shelters have been pushed by no-kill advocates, who oppose the euthanasia of any healthy or treatable animal, often with the 90 percent using the “live release” standard. (The live release rate is basically the opposite of the euthanasia rate, although not every shelter calculates it the same way.)
This is due in part to the success of the no-kill movement, and the many shelters in the country’s largest cities Euthanasia is only for the sickest or most aggressive animals.
Critics of the movement agree that it has helped reduce euthanasia, but point to examples of no-kill shelters in which animals suffered in poor conditions or were released to families despite their dangerous behavior.
The challenge is to find a middle ground between euthanizing the fewest number of animals possible, and ensuring that those in shelters will not tolerate overcrowding or the spread of disease, and Provide animal control for public safety.
The municipal shelter in Austin, Texas, which boasted a 98 percent live release rate in 2018, reported sheltering more than 800 animals at the end of June, more than twice the number of available kennels. A shelter representative told a local ABC affiliate that while the shelter is “doing a job no one else has done” in terms of live release rate, it has “reached a breaking point.”
The Dallas Animal Shelter puts more emphasis on not being overrun, which can sometimes mean euthanizing some of its adoptable animals. But there is still far less euthanasia than there used to be (65 percent rate in 2012).
Transformation at the Dallas Shelter
Of all the city shelters surveyed, Dallas Animal Services had one of the largest decreases in homicide rates in the past ten years. A decade ago, the Dallas Animal Company was euthanized Approximately 28,000 dogs and cats per year, 75 per day in the middle.
The municipal shelter also suffered from mismanagement. A 2010 assessment by the Humane Society identified inadequate record-keeping, a “moral crisis” and “disturbing” care of sick or injured animals. To reduce euthanasia ratesAnd the Administration discourages field personnel from seizing electrolytes.
Then, in May 2016, veteran Antoinette Brown was mauled to death by a pack of dogs in South Dallas.
The city’s public outcry brought in counselors, who determined that there were about 8,700 loose dogs roaming the city’s streets, contributing to more than 1,600 dog bites in the city that year. The dogs are found almost exclusively in low-income South Dallas neighborhoods, where only 15 percent of them have been spayed or neutered.
But in just three years – after the shelter was repaired by the Dallas Police Department; Adopt a compulsory electronic chip law; a renewed batch of spaying and neutering; And hire a new manager – Dallas has been able to reduce euthanasia while increasing the number of dogs it removes from the streets.
“You can do both, and you can do it responsibly,” said Ann Barnes, who runs the shelter’s field office. “I don’t think a municipal shelter should risk public safety” to increase the live release rate. “This is not what we are for,” she added.
Loose dog bites in Dallas are down 12 percent from last year. More stray animals are being returned to their owners, and more adoptions are happening within the shelter. Rescue groups continue to transport the animals to high-demand areas, but the city now keeps some smaller, more cuddly dogs (think Yorkies) for people coming through the front door.
As a result, Dallas hovered About 85 percent to 90 percent live firing rate this year.
On a recent weekday in August, a 10-day-old little girl named Chevy was snuggled in the shelter’s kitten nursery. It’s hard to care for a newborn pup without a mother, but if all goes well, the shelter will be a brief stopover between where he was found—inside the engine of a Chevy—and a permanent home.