Shelters shift focus to pet adoption
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Cages filled with stray cats and dogs line six small, noisy rooms at the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society -- and while some of the animals will end up in homes, others will be euthanized.
That practice will end this fall.
In November, the society will begin shipping its strays to city shelters, which will take over euthanizing the unadoptable pets. After a five-day waiting period, in case the animal is a lost pet, healthy strays will return to the society, where they will be put up for adoption.
Shelters across the nation are increasingly shunning the common practice of euthanizing animals to make space for more. Supporters say such "no-kill shelters" are the only humane way to treat homeless cats and dogs.
But others in the field say the policy is impractical and serves only to shift the burden of euthanizing animals to other shelters. They argue there will always be more animals than homes that want them.
In Chicago, Anti-Cruelty Society officials say their policy change will allow the shelter to focus on treating sick animals and finding owners for healthy ones.
Peggy Froh Asseo, a vice president at the society, said the group now finds homes for about 6,000 animals a year. She said the new policy could boost that number to as high as 8,000.
The city says the society's new policy only means animals at its own shelters will suffer.
"We're going to get an additional 4,000 to 5,000 animals and we're already at capacity all the time," said Melanie Sobel, a director for Chicago's Animal Care and Control department. "It's not going to be good. We're probably going to have to euthanize more animals at a faster rate."
No-kill attracts donors
Most no-kill shelters house unwanted animals for weeks, months or even years by turning away other homeless animals. They usually only euthanize very sick and vicious animals.
Traditional shelters take in all animals then run out room, and have to euthanize the ones no one will adopt.
Sobel and others in the animal control field said no-kill shelters attract donations and volunteers away from the facilities that euthanize animals, compounding their difficulties.
Rich Avanzino, president of Maddie's Fund, an Alameda, California-based nonprofit that promotes not euthanizing healthy animals, said critics of no-kill are pessimists who refuse to try for something better than the current system.
"Our family members deserve more than just a painless death," Avanzino said. "These are family members who deserve a second chance."
Jody Huckaby, executive director of the Humane Society in Washington, D.C., approves of the movement toward no-kill, but said traditional shelters still are necessary.
"If one organization is no-kill and our organization is no-kill, what's going to happen to those other animals?" Huckaby said. "They're going to end up on the street biting people."
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Unfornately this is a no win situation. Too many pets and not enough owners. I really wish people would neuter or spay their animals. Its pretty sad that some animals stay at a shelter for months with little hope of being adopted. Its just awful.
No-kill shelters are a myth. It looks good on the paperwork that they send out raising money and such, but other then that, I am not impressed.
Sorry, while their adoption numbers may go up, and that is still to be seen, they are having someone else do their "dirty work" for them. Doesn't seem like a fair deal to the city shelter. I am sure they would love to pass the buck and have their adoption numbers go up too. Instead, their euthanasia # will go up because they have more dogs with mandatory waiting periods waiting for someone to show up and claim them, leaving less room for dogs that are available for adoption.