Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cat Fatalities and Secrecy in U.S. Pounds and Shelters

“Euthanasia” in animal control pounds and shelters is the number one documented cause of death of all cats in the U.S. The most comprehensive study to date indicates that 72% of all cats entering these facilities are killed. Just 23% are adopted, and only 2% are reunited with their owners.

These statistics are from the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy Shelter Statistics Survey, 1994-97. It surveyed roughly 5,000 shelters annually for four years, receiving responses from about 1,000. Although dated, it remains the most comprehensive and rigorous study that exists. More recent, less complete studies reflect the same trends—for instance, the 2006 National Animal Control Association Statistical Survey showed that 66% of cats were killed.
Feral Cats

For feral cats, the kill rate in pounds and shelters rises to virtually 100%.

Cats entering traditional animal pounds and shelters have only three possible outcomes: being adopted, reunited with an owner, or killed. Yet feral cats are unsocialized to humans and can’t adjust to life in a human home, and they have no traditional “owners” to claim them. For them, the only possible outcome is death.

Although the exact number of feral cats in this country is not known, some scientists estimate it is same as the house cat population, that is, 82 million. These animals are one of the most significant populations facing animal control pounds and shelters today.

Yet feral cats are also the animals whom facilities are usually least equipped to handle. Indeed, many pounds and shelters classify healthy feral cats as “unhealthy” or “untreatable,” which excludes them from “healthy animal” kill rates. These cats continue to be funneled into a system in which all of them are killed.


Animal nonprofits, research veterinarians, and other experts agree: killing in pounds and shelters is the leading cause of death of all cats in the United States. All are in agreement that too many cats are killed. Yet data collection and analysis on this critical issue are sparse.

Only a handful of states require pounds and shelters to report the fates of the animals they take into custody. The reasons for requiring reporting vary, as do the thoroughness and accuracy of the reports.

Even states that require reporting typically don’t make those reports accessible to the public; citizens must file Freedom of Information Act requests to view them. And very few pounds and shelters publicly reveal the number of animals they kill. Instead, these facilities’ websites and annual reports focus on adoption efforts. If they mention killing at all, they call it “euthanasia.”

Millions of cats are killed every year, but no one knows exactly how many. And the killing is done behind closed doors, away from the public eye.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I have to admit it's getting harder. It's getting harder all the time........

Some days in rescue you just get dog tired of hitting your head against the wall.  Pun intended.  Seriously though, today is one of those days.  Twice a week like clockwork, I am the unfortunate recipient of my least favorite piece of email correspondence.  Twice a week, like clockwork, I get the so called "put down list" from Coweta Animal Control.  Rescue doesn't call this the "put down list".  Most rescuers call it what it is, either the euthanasia list, or those who are closer to the brink of fury call it the kill list.  Most often, this list, which is distributed to all humane society and rescue agencies in our county, causes a flurry of activity among the rescue community.  Almost immediately, internet postings via email, message boards, FaceBook and MySpace start flying through cyberspace.  And the rescuers are working against the clock since all animals being rescued must be out by 4:30pm the day before they are scheduled to be "put down".  Presumably this is to keep the animal control staff from being rushed on the morning of "put down".  "Put down" occurs at 0830, so a rush must be avoided.  Now I must admit, that there are times when special dispensations may be granted and a rescuer may be afforded the opportunity to come later if necessary, but that is a rare opportunity.

So here I am, the recipient of a list of dogs and cats now on death row - they have until next Tuesday at 4:30pm to be rescued or next Wednesday at 8:30am to be adopted (yes you read that right...the public may adopt at the last minute, but rescue may not rescue at the last minute).  So here goes, the first of many emails, blogs, posts and pleas this weekend for the dogs and cats of Coweta Animal Control.  Here is the "put down list" of 16 dogs and 3 cats.  The list is complete with the Cage #, ID# and reason for being on the list.  If no reason is noted, it is presumed that the animal has been there too long and/or they need to make room for more coming in since not enough have been adopted.  But to talk about increasing adoptions is a topic for another day.  Let's just focus on these 19 souls on death row.  Pictures and descriptions of these animals can be seen at  NCHS is just one of the agencies committed to trying to save them.  Thank goodness for rescue angels.

A05 A015970
A12 A015962
A15 A015927
B06 A016103
B12 A015996
B16 A016069
B20 A016030
IC01 A014916 WILD
IC03 A016007 WILD
IC12 A016167 WILD

I05 A016150 BREED
I06 A016162 BREED
I08 A016163 BREED
I09 A016058
I09 A016116 BITE CASE
I10 A016079 BITE CASE
I13 A016175 BREED

Networking via Blogging Saves Pets' Lives! Liz Marshall at Helps Rescuers and Encourages More People to Do the Same (
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No Kill Webinars to Help USA Become a No Kill Nation

The No Kill Advocacy Center is recognized as the nation's leading authority on the No Kill Movement. Read on and become educated on how to effectively challenge the status quo. Learn how together we can create No Kill Communities - it's been accomplished in many communities across the nation and we can do it here too!

No Kill Webinars to Help USA Become a No Kill Nation

Monday, September 13, 2010

NCHS makes good on a promise....there are surely great things to come!

The Newnan-Coweta Humane Society has made good on their promise of a year ago. At last year’s “Furr Ball” Dinner Dance/Silent Auction, LouAnn Jones, President of NCHS announced the kick off of their fundraising efforts and pledged to open a low cost spay neuter clinic by the end of 2010. Efforts actually began about two years ago when the Board of Directors of NCHS voted to pursue acceptance into the Humane Alliance’s National Spay Neuter Response Team mentoring program. Jones says, “I can’t be more proud of our board and our volunteers. We have a wonderfully diverse group of caring and passionate individuals who have all worked very, very hard to make this happen.” The H.E.L.P. Spay Neuter Clinic will open for business at 12 The Crescent, Newnan, GA 30263 on September 27, 2010. They will offer low cost, high quality spay neuter surgeries for cats and dogs employing the clinic model developed by the Humane Alliance of Asheville, NC. Julie Morris, Senior VP of ASPCA Community Outreach says Humane Alliance is THE model to follow in terms of high-quality spay/neuter that is cheap (in terms of price – NOT quality) yet seamlessly performed with perfection and ease. “Humane Alliance is the gold standard when it comes to successful high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter,” “Replicating their model program in cities across the country will help us to make real, measurable progress in the fight against pet homelessness and overpopulation.” NCHS was awarded an $85,000 equipment grant from PetSmart Charities. Additionally, they have received generous grants from the Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation and The Marianne Halle Animal Foundation. “We are grateful to not only these wonderful foundations who support our vision and pursuit of ending euthanasia of homeless pets, but also to the Coweta County community for their incredible support of our group” says Jones. “We look forward to serving the community in this new capacity.” The clinic will operate Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 6:00pm The clinic’s telephone number is 770-304-7911 and their website is

Friday, July 9, 2010

Goodbye to a little friend

The word "euthanasia" comes from the Greek term eu (good) thanatos (death).  The literal translation means to give a good death.  In modern terms, it is used (or is supposed to be used) to describe the act of euthanizing an animal for humane reasons, especially one who is suffering greatly or experiencing a poor quality of life. 

This is the problem I have with the term being used so loosely to describe what happens at animal control facilities across the country. Lack of space at an animal control facility with severely limited adoption hours, or one that refuses to work with legitimate, licensed rescues is NOT a humane reason to "euthanize".  The animal in this case would not be suffering, nor would it be experiencing a poor quality of life due to a medically untreatable or manageable condition.  The animal in this case would be experiencing a reality caused by humans, and only a truly short sighted individual could rationalize that ending a life due to lack of space is humane.

Why can't animal control facilities apply for animal welfare grants to improve the conditions?  Why can't they offer extended adoption hours one or two nights a week to allow working individuals to actually get there and adopt?  Why can't they employ someone, even on a volunteer basis, to act as a rescue/adoption coordinator to increase public adoptions? 

I want to give a shout out to the Rockdale Animal Control right now.  I don't know much about them, don't know about their euthanasia rates, but we were at an animal adoption fair in Alpharetta a few weeks ago and Rockdale Animal Control showed up with all of the animals who had been there too long and were coming up on time to be euthanized.  They adopted out 18 dogs that day.  AND they micro chipped them as they were being adopted!  This is the same animal control staff that actually attended a Creating No Kill Communities seminar in Douglasville a couple months back.  This is a facility that is really trying to go against the way it has always been done and is trying to save some lives.  Sure is harder to do this, than make up a "list", but it has to feel a lot better to save lives than to end them.  Of course....I've always said, the speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack.  Maybe it's time to shake up some leadership.

Critics of the No-Kill Movement ridicule those of us who embrace it.  They say, and I quote "How can you criticize us when you put down animals too?"  Well, it's easy.  I and my colleagues do not euthanize animals for convenience, or "lack of room".  I and my colleagues do not arbitrarily wake up on Wednesday and Friday and put down animals who have been around too long, or euthanize cats because they are black and it is October, or euthanize cats who are freaked out and stressed in a tiny cage when they have never been in a cage in their lives.  We do not label animals "wild",or  "aggressive" without having them evaluated by a trained animal behaviorist to ensure that they aren't perhaps just scared, or injured,  or poorly socialized.

So, you may wonder why I titled this post "Goodbye to a little friend".  Well, it's because yesterday I met a little guy at Coweta Animal Control who touched my heart.  I named him "Peanut" because he was so little.  Peanut had been at that facility for his mandatory 7 day hold period.  There was a flurry of activity, and postings to save him and offers came flooding in, but no one showed up to get him.  I was at the shelter to pick up two puppies - two little misidentified pitbull mixes - who were on the "list" for this morning.  As I was signing out the puppies, the clerk asked me if I was getting the dog I've named Peanut.  I said I had no plans to, but believed he was getting out the next day.  They told me he was on the "list" for this morning, so having no idea what I was going to do with him, I signed him out. 

They told me that Peanut "wasn't much on walking" and asked if I had a towel to wrap him in.  They carried Peanut out wrapped in a towel and he didn't so much as lift his head.  I placed Peanut on the front seat beside me and tried to prop him up in an upright manner, but he just fell over.  He laid like that the whole way to the vet's office.  I prayed the whole way he wouldn't die before I could get there.  I parked the car, left it running with AC full blast and went and checked in.  I went back out to get him and he had not moved an inch...still laying on his side with his head hanging off the seat.  I bundled him up and walked in with him.  The people in the waiting room were aghast at his condition.  First of all, this dog smelled worse than words can possibly describe.  His eyes were completely matted shut with gooey discharge because he suffered from a horrible condition referred to as "dry eye".  He was blind.  He had no teeth.  He had growths all over his little body.  He had a horrible honking cough and his heart murmur was so significant, you could feel it vibrating by placing your hand on his breastbone.  Needless to say, people moved out of my way when I walked in with him.  A short time later, after consulting with the veterinarian, we euthanized Peanut.  He was given something he may never have known in his life - compassion and people who put his needs ahead of their  own feelings and needs.  Did I enjoy it?  Absolutely not.  Did the vet?  Of course not.  So why would we have chosen this option for him?  It's really quite simple.  We were advocates for Peanut.  We gave Peanut a "good death" and ended his horrible suffering.  This, gentle reader, is euthanasia.

Goodbye my little friend.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tomorrow's euthanasia list at Coweta County Animal Control

A lot of people may wonder what good it will do to have a No-Kill Shelter. I don't want to say "if" we get a shelter, I prefer to say "when" we get one. Right now at Coweta County and over a hundred other government run facilities across Georgia, there are literally thousands of animals waiting. Waiting for owners who will never come back, waiting for the right adopter to come along, waiting for a rescue group to take pity on them and save them, die.

Tomorrow in our little county facility, there are TWELVE hearts that are scheduled to stop beating. You can call it euthanasia, or whatever you want, but the bottom line is TWELVE lives will end tomorrow. Then more on Friday, then more next Wednesday, next Friday and so on, ad nauseum.

Of those twelve lives - they have been classified this way: 5 are sick (therefore they must be euthanized), 4 are on the list due to their breed identification (pitbulls or pit mixes...therefore they must be euthanized), 1 has been classified as Aggressive (and must therefore be euthanized), and 1 has been classified as wild (and therefore must be euthanized). Only one little cat has been classified as healthy, adoptable, but there too long.....and must therefore be euthanized. Does it bother anyone else that 91% of the animals on this "list" are classified as unhealthy, untreatable or unadoptable? Doesn't that seem like an extraordinarily high percentage? I've lived in this county since 1994, and have worked in the veterinary field since 2001 and can literally count on two hands the number of truly vicious, aggressive animals I have encountered - including those at animal control facilities.

I have a cat named Cameo. Cammie came to me after she was abandoned at a boarding facility. She was so mean that the staff had to wear leather welding gloves to change her litter box and food. She bit me the first day I met her. Yet there was something about her that just broke my heart. Maybe it was so sad to me that her owner had ditched her after 11 years, or maybe it was just that look of utter fear and confusion in her eyes. Either way...I just couldn't let her die. I brought her home and here I am ten years later with a 21 year old cat who is sweet, affectionate and brings joy to me every day as she greets me when I get home. This was a so called "wild" cat, an "aggressive" cat who couldn't be handled and was literally plucked from the brink of death.

I once rescued a dog classified as a "bite case". She came into the shelter VERY fact she was in labor. Apparently, in labor and in distress, she had bitten someone who tried to move her. Thus, she became a "rescue only" bite case. We rescued her and her EIGHT beautiful 6 day old puppies. If we had not taken her, she would have been euthanized along with those precious little newborns.

So I guess this is what bothers me most by these classifications. How many of them are truly vicious, aggressive, or wild? How many of them are really just confused, scared, hurt? Animals don't have words to tell us, "Stop! I don't like that, or I'm scared!" Animals only have snarls, hisses, growls and barks to warn us away when they are frightened or injured. They rely on us, as the "superior beings" to exercise good judgment in interpreting these natural reactions.

So this my friends is why we WILL have a No-Kill Shelter in Newnan. This is why we must fight for them and create a no-kill community. They didn't ask to be born, and they don't deserve to die simply because they end up on a "list".

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chase Community Giving - you can support us without spending a dime!

NCHS is participating in a new challenge called Chase Community Giving. This one is based on Facebook and doesn't cost a dime! All you need to do is sign into Facebook, navigate to Chase Community Giving's fanpage where you can search for your favorite charity - of course Newnan Coweta Humane Society! You can vote for as many charities as you want
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The really cool thing about this one is that TWO HUNDRED charities will be awarded a grant by inspiring supporters to click and vote. No donations, no hoops to jump through, just point, click and vote. Please consider helping NCHS win at least $25,000 by putting us in the top 200 charities. $25,000 will go a long way to help us open our No Kill Shelter!