Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shandy needs a new home

This beautiful black lab was found wandering and was taken in by a kind family. They managed to find the dog's owner, but the owner didn't want her anymore. They have another dog and apparently this one is a bit of an escape artist. The rescue family loves this dog (Shandy), but already have a big dog and a cat and can't keep her.

She is 3-4 years young, spayed, up-to-date on shots with shiny white teeth. She is a love, but she'll need exercise and probably a fenced yard.

Please spread the word and contact Sherry or Jon at 612-382-0685 or if you interested or need more information.

I need to take this opportunity to comment on this kind of situation. The rescue family had taken Shandy to the one of the Animal Humane Society locations (Golden Valley, Coon Rapids, Buffalo, St. Paul or Woodbury) and they were told pointblank that the dog would be held for five days and then euthanized if the owner did not come to claim her.

They signed the surrender documents giving up all rights to the dog, but continued to look for the owner and to try to find a home. Incredibly, they managed to find the owners, but the owners were willing to let the dog be euthanized. Instead, they agreed to get the dog out of the Humane Society and give her to the rescue family which took Shandy and went to work to find a new home.

I appreciate the candor of AHS in letting these people know that the dog would be euthanized in five days if the owner did not claim her. It is a common misperception that animals brought into the Humane Society will be placed on the adoption floor to find new homes as long as they are healthy and socialized. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Of the thousands of animals that are brought into the five AHS locations each year, about 40-50% are euthanized and many of those are healthy, adoptable animals. The facilities simply don't have room for all the abandoned and surrendered animals. They have an "open door" policy which means that they will take in any animal brought to them, but when the population exceeds their capacity, many pets are euthanized.

The AHS locations here are unusually full of dogs right now because they took in dogs from the areas in the southern United States that had hurricane damage. This is a noble cause, but it results in even more of our local animals being pushed aside. Puppies and young dogs with perfect health and excellent temperaments are the only ones that will ever even make it to the adoption floor. A black dog, especially a lab, is at the greatest disadvantage of all due to color and commonness.

Cats are in an even worse situation, because there are more of them. For at least six months of the year, any cat over one year of age coming into one of the AHS locations will be euthanized without ever making it to the adoption floor. I was sick at heart last week when the AHS was begging for cat adoptions. I know that means they are full to the point of having to euthanize even kittens and nursing moms. I know because I foster kittens and nursing moms for them.

I had a very similar situation to the one with Shandy a few years ago when a friend found a little black kitten and took it to the Humane Society, then called me -- she should have called me first. I told her we had to get it out immediately. I pulled all the strings I could and offered to foster the kitten, but it was too late. They admitted that they had euthanized the kitten within 24 hours of receiving it, probably because she had a little cold.

AHS is not the evil empire, but when all the "no-kill" shelters close their doors because they are full -- which happens for months every summer -- all that is left is the "open-door" and a likely death sentence at AHS. I truly believe that if people understood what really happens, they would make a greater effort to be responsible (spay and neuter your pets!) and demand greater accountability from AHS. It is possible to do so much better.

Just a few examples include
San Francisco which has been a leader in the "no-kill" movement and New York City which is on a ten-year plan to achieve citywide no-kill. Maricopa county in Arizona (which includes Phoenix) is also several years into a ten-year plan.

There is no reason the Twin Cities metropolitan area cannot achieve this goal, too, if AHS would join the effort already begun by the Homes For All Pets group here. Literally millions of dollars are available in grants from Maddie's Fund, but only for a joint effort to achieve "no-kill". The "no-kill" groups in Minnesota are aligned and ready to work together, but we can't move ahead without cooperation from AHS.


Anonymous said...

Very well said.

It is worth pointing out that the 40% "euthanasia" rate includes "adoptions" for wildlife and farm animals that AHS immediately "transfers" to other facilities, like Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

If you look at the "kill" numbers at AHS for dogs and cats, the numbers that best measure so-called "pet overpopulation" the kill rate there is more like 50%.

Denise said...

Thanks, I'll adjust my figure.