The Deadliest Animal in Each State

I came across an article, The Deadliest Animal in Each State by Michelle Ranken that I found interesting.  Twelve States report insects as the deadliest, eight States report dogs as the deadliest.  I’ll let you read the article to go down the list.

So, according to Ms. Ranken, if you live in Alabama, Arizona, Michigan,  New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, dogs are the biggest danger that you will face.  So, if you are out looking for a new job, these States probably need as many Animal Control Officers as they can get.

If you are a business person in any of these States, there could be money in selling pepper spray.

 

So, What is the Deal with Pit Bulls?

Some would say that there are two things about pit bulls:
1. They are the most maligned breed of dog.
2. What is a pit bull? It is the most frequently misidentified breed of dog.

I claim that pit bulls get into so much trouble because their owners do not recognize their potential to do harm.

The problem that faces the pit bull is that anytime a person is maliciously attacked or killed, the pit bull is frequently blamed. Maybe the media finds that a pit bull attack creates more “clicks.” I dispute this claim because if a Chihuahua had caused the death of a person, that would be real news.

Many years ago, pit bull owners were breeding dogs for increased aggression; whether their intent was for dog fighting or just “having the meanest dog on the block.” Communities saw the effect of this selective breeding and when deaths by pit bulls were on the rise, they started banning the breed.

The pit bull has been so frequently bred with other breeds that it is nearly impossible to identify them. Due to this overbreeding, animal shelters usually have 70% of their dog population with a wide forehead that appears to be a bulldog breed. You see kennel after kennel full of a generic pit bull-type dog.

As such, it is easy to blame the pit bull for every altercation that comes along because they have become the most common breed. For a long time, animal welfare organizations pitched the saying: “punish the deed, not the breed.” Many national organizations created position statements that pit bulls are just like any other breed (so ignore all of those news reports to the contrary).

In our woke* society, people come out of the woodwork when their local newspaper reports on a “pit bull-related death.” Those folks want everyone to believe that the pit bull is a friendly dog, even if it goes on a rampage once in a while. It is comments like I just made that convince them that pit bulls are maligned. I’ll admit it, I am one of the first people to malign the breed because I have investigated a large number of dog bites. The pit bull is most known for the fatalities that they cause.

So in keeping with the philosophy that everything should be equal and treated the same, communities that previously banned the pit bull started rescinding their laws. Many communities passed laws that ban anything breed-related. The new anti-breed laws even impacted insurance companies that charged a high premium on people who owned, what they believed to be dangerous dogs. The new laws added to the high inflation that we were facing due to insurance companies having to spread the cost of dog bite incidents over all of their policyholders.

The casual pet owner should not own pit bulls. Most people are too lazy to be pet owners, so owning a pit bull becomes very troubling. Most of the other breeds don’t impact the community with an irresponsible pet owner. But, pit bull ownership requires a close watch on their dog.

Some folks will dispute that claim because they have children who constantly abuse their pit bull; most other breeds would not tolerate such abuse. I have to agree; but, when a pit bull ever gets to the point of being fed up, there likely will be a funeral.

The bottom line is that pit bulls are goal-oriented dogs. Most breeds will bite once or twice and then move on; unless they are in a pack. Pit bulls seem to create a pack of one; they continue to attack beyond what is necessary. There have been so many cases of victim dogs showing submission to a pit bull and the pit bull just continues on with the attack until the other dog is dead. That is the reason that people claim that pit bulls have animal-aggressive tendencies. Even when used in dog fighting, the owners have to carry break sticks to force their dog from continuing the attack; few pit bulls will discontinue an attack with simple voice commands.

Pit bull’s violation of the “doggie code” is why I have such an issue with the breed.  Nearly every breed will honor the code to back off when the other dog shows submission.  Pit bulls do not even honor the code towards people; they will continue to extract the greatest damage until someone stops them.  It is for this reason that pit bulls demand to have the most responsible of owners.

I get tired of people going on and on about the malignment of pit bulls. They fail to consider the fact that maybe the pit bull has in some way contributed to its bad reputation. The pit bull is one of the few breeds that become extremely dangerous in the hands of a bad owner. Having worked a lifetime in the Animal Control profession, the fact is that most people are bad pet owners. Although most people get away with being a bad pet owner; the pit bull owner doesn’t have as much leeway.

There are so many good pit bulls out there. Most of them will never harm a child. They are not a ticking time bomb; but, you should still treat them as if they were. Despite all of the policy statements that pit bulls are no different than any other breed; you should closely watch them. A little extra vigilance might be necessary to prevent a family member from being killed.

The “experts” are not always right. Pit bulls are different from other breeds.

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* I use the term “woke” to describe the diversity, equity, and inclusion philosophy running rampant in our society and how it is the same notion used to protect pit bulls: everyone and everything is treated the same without regard to the obvious dissimilarities. Example: honor students being forced to work at the level of the least productive students, thus normalizing academic achievement (and creating a generation of nonachievers).

Deep in the Trenches

In previous posts, I mentioned the risks involved in working in the field of animal welfare. Those risks included getting fired. I have been fired. Multiple times. I hold them as trophies for doing the right thing or for just being pigheaded. You decide.

I was the animal control officer for a neighboring town while completing my degree. With a diploma in hand, I began my job hunt.

Lane County, Oregon: I was hired as the Field Supervisor. The job required that I work 11 or 12-hour days and then handle all of the emergency calls at night. It is amazing how quickly a new job can wear you down. Animal Control fell under the Finance Director. You can imagine that the only interest he had was numbers. And so it was. He placed a citation quota on all of the animal control officers and only those who met his quota of 40 citations a month would see promotions or offered the new trucks or equipment. I was opposed to this. I think we should use more than one tool in dealing with pet owners. My boss disagreed. I lasted three months. I remember the sense of joy that overwhelmed me when I realized that I didn’t have to go back to working there.

Lesson learned: sometimes it is better to be fired when you are not smart enough to leave.

In my next job, I was hired as the Chief Field Supervisor serving Portland Oregon and the gal who hired me claimed that having been fired from Lane County was a very big mark in my favor in getting the job.

Jacksonville Florida: Jacksonville Florida was in the middle of major layoffs. Animal Control was under the Environmental Services Department. We shared that Department with Sanitation Services. The Sanitation folks were undergoing the greatest number of layoffs, so our boss decided to lay off the entire administrative staff of Animal Services to make room for his buddies in Sanitation. If it is any consolation, the Sanitation folks discovered they were unprepared for working in Animal Control and I got to watch my old organization tank in the media. Working in the South forces you to face the dynamics of the “Good-Ole-Boy” system. Although located in Florida, Jacksonville is the southern end of the old South. Coming from the North, sometimes the old South is a hard pill to swallow when you believe that the laws should be distributed evenly for everyone.

Lesson learned: You’re either a good old boy or you are not. Stay away from working in the South. And as I once was told, “maintain a firm grip on your Northern ethics.”

Milwaukee Wisconsin: At some point in my career I wanted to take on a challenge. I had spent years enjoying our adoption successes in Gainesville Florida and wanted to turn a high-kill shelter around. Milwaukee claimed that they wanted to experience an evolution in their policies and wanted to become more progressive. I started bringing in rescues and volunteers into the shelter only to have been met with resistance by a couple of employees. One of the employees had worked there for 30 years and he fought every effort to improve the place. Clearly, I could not get around this obstacle and found myself unemployed. Again!

Lesson learned: Sometimes your ego prevents you from seeing a bad situation. Don’t be fooled by organizations that claim to want to evolve when they are impaired by immovable forces within their organization.

Roanoke Virginia: I call this “out of the pan and into the fire”. One of the local private animal shelters in Roanoke was trying to get me fired before I set foot in the county. I remember an early meeting that this group called to discuss the animal shelter; when I arrived they would not let me attend the meeting. I think the only time I was ever invited to their shelter was when they wanted to lynch me. In the previous post, I talked about turning this shelter around from having a 10% live release rate to over 90%. We were adopting out all of our adoptable animals, but that wasn’t enough for our volunteers. They were demanding that we release dangerous dogs out for adoption. Not on my watch! The people that I worked for were all peacemakers; I had to go. Let them deal with damage control. I came to meet some of the nastiest people working in the animal rescue field here. But, despite their behavior towards humans, they made up for it, in their efforts towards animals. Even dangerous animals.

Lesson learned: I am old-school animal control; where I believe my primary obligation is to protect the community that I serve. There is no place for us old guys because the profession is evolving in which the animals come before the community. I’d rather be fired than have to work in a place that considers placing potentially dangerous animals out for adoption. Didn’t I warn myself about working in the South?

So there you have it. The whole purpose of my blog is to prepare people who want to get into the animal welfare profession. It isn’t all about playing with kittens all day. But, those kittens come in handy on a stressful day.

I enjoyed my career and I count my terminations as trophies. I have to live with myself and I feel like I did my part in keeping each community that I worked for safe. And to think that I studied Wildlife Resources in College so that I could man a fire watch tower and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Either way, in both professions I would have had to deal with ticks.

The Evolution of the Animal Shelter Profession

I was once called “old school.” I guess they meant that I am stuck to the old ways of the profession when the responsibility of being an Animal Control Officer was to serve and protect the public. Our profession has evolved, and to be honest, I am glad that I am now retired because I can’t stop being old school..

The No Kill Movement started the evolution. Our professional focus turned to the plight of the animals in our care. I have to admit, it was very fulfilling to see euthanasia rates decline. Shelters with a live release rate of 10% started seeing more animals getting adopted and eventually many shelters saw live release rates over 90%.

The problem was that many claimed that a 90% live release rate was still too low and that decisions had to be made to place animals that were not considered adoptable. Pit bulls became the poster breed for this cause. Organizations were attempting to convince the public that pit bulls were the breed to own. Even ones that had a history of aggression.

Recently, in my community, a woman was killed by a pair of pit bulls. The Newspaper, along with the local Animal Control organization wrote an article assuring the public that pit bulls are a maligned breed and that you should ignore the deaths caused by the breed. After all, “all breeds are the same.” Don’t let another pit bull related death interfere with the adoption of these animals from the animal shelter.

The problem with this evolution is that it is making people stupid. Animal Shelters are so focused on adopting every animal that they fail to warn people about the genetic characteristics that control an animal’s behavior. Let’s face it, when shelters have a population of 70% pit bulls, they have quite a sales job to make. After all, their mission is no longer to protect people, but to have the highest possible adoption rate…. no matter what the cost.

Since this evolution has sucked so many animal shelters in, it might become necessary to outlaw the adoption of potentially dangerous animals. The Commonwealth of Virginia outlaws the holding back of information about a dog’s previous behavior problems to potential adopters. I used to think that keeping adopters in the dark was a Southern thing, but it appears that it has spilled over into the rest of the Country. Maybe communities should reenact some old school philosophies.

I’m not suggesting that some breeds should be banned; I just think that animal shelters should get back to the days of full disclosure when adopting animals. An era of integrity and respecting the mission that people must come first.

Pack Behavior

The best way to cement your next budget is to have a pack of dogs running loose in your community. There is an interesting dynamic that exists where two or more dogs begin hanging out together on a regular basis. As the pack grows, the pack takes on more confidence. As the confidence in a pack grows, it risks becoming more aggressive. It only takes one dog to turn aggressive in any situation to trigger the remaining dogs to become vicious.

It takes a few incidents of vicious dogs running loose for a community to gain an appreciation for their local Animal Control department. Add in a few fatalities and you can even gain new equipment, like tranquilizer guns and traps, for your Animal Control Officers.

Down through the years, we have witnessed humans taking on pack behavior. We see it in looting, protests, and in our youth. Given the increase in human hostility, you can be thankful for the Police Officers who protect us. Oops, didn’t we go through a period of defunding our Police? Boy was that stupid.

Just a few minutes into our nightly news programming to see that humanity has lost its ability of self-control. With fewer people being held accountable, more people are manifesting their rage in public.

If you have read any of my earlier blogs, you know that I think social media is going to be our downfall. Social media tends to wind us up and then is used to direct people to locations to let loose their rage. It seems that the intelligence of any crowd is determined by the dumbest person in the crowd. That is the person who acts out and triggers the rest of the crowd to become a mass of stupidity.

You can always predict one of these pending acts of stupidity when you see people wearing face masks. No longer are the face masks needed for COVID, but are now needed to protect the identity of someone preparing to do something majorly stupid. Why else would that gather with other like-minded people?

You can witness the parenting of children when you see flash mobs robbing stores or attacking people by our youth. A recent incident of ten children, between 13 and 17 years of age, killing a schoolmate over some stupid thing. Parents have given up their parenting responsibility to the schools that are really doing a poor job. In fact, the schools are exacerbating the problem. Instead of teaching our children life skills, they are taught to become outraged over preferred pronouns.

Animal Control officers have vast experience in handling dog packs. The trick is to break up the pack and drive the animals home where they can deal with their owners. The Police could learn from Animal Control when humans are the plague of our communities.

Dealing with pack behavior

I’ve always felt that using paintball guns using a mixture of pepper, skunk oil, and dye-pack ink would ensure that the pepper would stop their activity, the skunk oil would make them rethink their pack behavior, and the dye would evidence the animal’s involvement of being caught “in the act.”  If this method became effective for Animal Control Officers, Police could later adopt it for their own use.

Shortcuts to No-Kill

Disclaimer: Although this blog is intended to be a joke, it doesn’t mean that animal shelters have not used these techniques.

Never announce your plan to become no-kill. The City of Austin is a good example of being too eager to announce to the world that they’ve become no-kill. When the word got out, pet owners from surrounding counties began delivering their pets to them. Austin had to throw tremendous resources out to maintain their no-kill status and eventually had to build a new animal shelter to meet the new demand.

I’ve seem incidents in which the announcement of having an adoption event created the problem of pet owners seeing your adoption efforts and decides that this is the best time to surrender their pet to their animal shelter. The best way to keep your animal shelter free of guilt-ridden pet owners is to constantly remind them that you are “a kill shelter.”

The formula for becoming a no-kill animal shelter is that your live outcomes have to equal or exceed your live intakes. Obviously, dead intakes don’t count. If you are one of the few remaining animal shelters that do not sterilize your animals before adoption, you might as well give up on becoming a no-kill shelter. The spaying and neutering of animals is the primary tool towards no-kill. Of course, if you don’t spay or neuter before adoption, you probably are not so progressive to be thinking no-kill anyway. Sure sterilization costs money; but you cannot trust adopters to shoulder the responsibility to perform this task on their own. Sending a shelter pet out to reproduce more animals is just insane.

Years ago, we were going to put a State initiative out to require animal shelters to sterilize pets prior to adoption. The jurisdictions with the greatest populations were all for it. The smaller jurisdictions claimed that it would require higher adoption fees and thus reduce adoptions. We passed the law based on the “class of the city.” It was a worthless law because the larger jurisdictions were already sterilizing their animals and it appeared that the smaller jurisdictions would not. They were blinded by the fact that they were just adding to the problem in their communities.

Create a policy that you’ll only allow intakes when you have an open cage. Of course this means that your animal control officers will be unable to pickup stray dogs. I remember reading about the outcry of citizens in a large Texas city that complained about packs of dogs were running their streets because their animal control officers were ignoring them. Fortunately, Texans are not opposed to carrying guns for their own protection.

Delaware was one of the first States to ban euthanasia for space. The reasoning was that as long as cage space was available, euthanasia was unnecessary. The didn’t have the foresight to realize that banks of open cages would be necessary for animal control officer to drop off animals. It didn’t make sense that animals would have to remain out in the trucks until space was made for the animals. This is the mistake that politicians make listen to animal rescue groups who don’t have a clear picture as to what the real world is really like.

Forgive me, I am now going to go off on a tangent. It’s my blog, so? Politicians in Utah were convinced that pet liability insurance should be the same for all animals. They were convinced that the cost of Pit Bull insurance should be the same as Poodles. They turned a blind eye to the fact that one breed was outweighing the insurance costs of other breeds. So, if you live in Utah, you will have to pay more for pet insurance to cover the cost that result from Pit Bull ownership. I guess you could liken it to the cost of groceries in which we have to pay more as a result of those who cater to thief. Okay, I got that out of my system…. let’s move on…..

Delay responding to dogs hit by car (HBC). The animal will either die or possibly picked up by a good Samaritan. Although there is a risk that the good Samaritan might think to bring the animal to the animal shelter. Put up the Closed Sign and hope for the best.

Destroy your night drop off cages. Night drop off cages are a great way to increase your intakes; you don’t want that. I worked at a location that we placed a camera to record the nightly drop offs. We witnessed an animal control truck, from another jurisdiction, dropping off animals. I have no idea as to how they report that in their monthly statistics. We once pulled out a homeless man from the same cages; which were protected from the weather. Fortunately for us, the guy walked off; I have no idea how we would have reported him on our statistics.

Require appointments for animal surrenders. This was one of the first “go to” policies when no-kill became a thing. The policy stopped last minute notions of people wanting to get rid of their pets; but saw an increase in the number of people turning in “a stray” animals. Policies frequently backfire.

So…. require an appointment to turn in a stray dog! Of course, that causes an increase in the number of dogs abandoned in the community or tied to the front door of your building. But, as I suggested earlier, don’t patrol for stray dogs.

Let’s not forget about cats. Cats make up one of the largest groups that lead to euthanasia. Many shelters started limiting their intakes to “domestic dogs.” I guess they were worried about some non-domestic dogs showing up.

I think you are now catching the drift: stop any process that takes in live animals that will render them dead. You can start with stopping the euthanasia service you offer to pet owners. Veterinarians provide this service as well and don’t have to report it as a statistic. Due to the notion that pets are personal property, many pet owners believe that they can have their pet killed on a whim. I always had a policy that pet owners could surrender their pet to the animal shelter, but could not demand the euthanasia of the animal. I would explain that in order for my shelter to kill an animal we had to own the animal. As the new owner of the animal we would decide the animal’s fate. This stops the notion that a person can demand that they pet be killed so that no one else could have it. I know, this sounds crazy, but it has happened many times. I am not going to kill a puppy because the owner doesn’t want anyone else to own it. Now, if the puppy has eaten a couple family members, I might reconsider.

Keep in mind; I am not suggesting that you do any or all of these things; I am just reporting options that are available to you. After all, we have a reason that we call this dark humor.

One of the problems that I’ve faced with animal control officers is that many of them prefer to impound an animal rather that return the animal back to the owner with a ticket. I hate to say that I’ve had these officer working for me and I did everything that I could do to get rid of them. The problem is worse when the animal control officers are not employed by the animal shelter, but are employed by the local police department. This is quite common and poses quite a problem. One of the last places that I worked, the animal control officer intentionally over stressed the animal shelter by identifying colonies of sick cats and delivering them to the animal shelter. Obviously, it hurts your statistics when you have to euthanize the animals as well as it impacts other healthy animals in your facility. I only bring this up to show that not everything is under your control. Outside forces will influence shelter statistics. As well as inside forces.

When I first started in the business, City Council members started noticing that I was listing animals available for adoption in the local newspaper. One of those members reported to the Chief of Police that I had listed the same animal multiple times. I got called into the Chief’s office and was told to euthanize any animal that was over its stray hold time even though space was not an issue. The lesson to learn is that if you work for a bunch of buttheads, give your animals new names when they are listed in the newspaper.

Probably the most effect way to move animals out of your shelter is to give rescue groups sufficient motivation to take your animals. The first step is to prepare the animal for adoption. Give the animal all of its vaccinations and perform the sterilization of the animal. If that isn’t enough to stimulate rescues to take your animals…. pay them.

Maddie’s Fund offered community grants in which they allowed us to pay our rescues to take our animals. Oddly, we may have been Maddie’s Fund’s only success story. Because Maddie discovered how difficult it is to get animal shelters to work with one another. It seems, for them, anything you got two shelters together, all they did is fight. Our group in central Florida was a different story. We overcame our issues to work together to get animals adopted. It was a noble cause and money flowed. Maddie’s Fund extended our grant numerous times because, I think, they liked to have a project that they could point their finger at that was successful.

It is too bad that more shelters couldn’t get along. One success story failed to keep that funding going. Maddie went off in other directions. Humane groups cannot seem to get along with one another even when money is at stake and animal’s lives are at stake.

Some of the national humane organizations provide funding for animal transport services. The notion is that if you can’t adopt animals in your community, maybe they would be welcome somewhere else. Unfortunately, Pit Bulls have pretty much saturated the country.

This is when I dust off my harebrained ideal of forcing pet owners to sterilize their pets. I think that anywhere an animal shelter is overcrowded with 50% or more of a specific breed that the community should force the owners who have that breed to sterilize their pet. People who are selling the breed should be forced to sterilize the dogs that they sell.

Let’s face it. Pit Bull owners are still some of the most irresponsible pet owners around; otherwise, why are they still being bred when our animal shelters are overwhelmed with them?

So? You have a shelter full of Pit Bull dogs and they are hindering your efforts to maintaining your No-Kill status. You begin paying a rescue from another State to come rescue your dogs. Let’s say that the rescue that you are using has a very poor live release rate. So in fact you are paying a rescue to come in and euthanize your dogs. In hind sight, I always looked at the live release rate of rescuers that I worked with; but that doesn’t mean that others do as well. The whole point of being No-Kill is that of your own statistics. No one really looks at the statistics of the rescues that you use. Well, until the news finds out about it.

Let’s face it. There is so much pressure on shelters becoming No-Kill that it is easy to see the shelter’s administration making stupid decisions. Many of those decisions become obstacles to the primary mission of the public animal shelter to protect the people of their community.

One of the risks that you face is that even when you meet the status of being a No-Kill shelter, volunteers will cause an uprising when you refuse to adopt animals that clearly would put the public at risk. The people who determine your employment might hold the volunteers in higher esteem than protecting the public. I’ve always said that doing the right thing frequently puts your job at risk, but keeping your community’s children safe is a higher goal than keeping your job.

Sorry, that must have hit a nerve with me.

Every shelter should do whatever it takes to find homes for the animals in their care, but you should not take that goal so far as to put the community at risk. Currently, animal shelters are full of unadoptable animals that remain in cages because the shelter is worried about its statistics. At some point, someone must point out that keeping an animal in a cage for the rest of its life is inhumane.

No Kill Defined

I was recently reading an article in the local newspaper where one of our resident rescue organizations was enlightening the media and local residents that the term “no kill” was used incorrectly. It dawned on me that the term no-kill has been around so long that few of us remember when the term was first drafted. So let us go back more than a few years when the term didn’t exist.

Euthanasia used to be the end-all solution to animal shelter problems with keeping communities safe from dangerous dogs and surplus pets. Most animal shelters reported that they euthanized 70% of their animals. Even back then, it was a dismal statistic. For those who don’t remember kindergarten math, that is a 30% live release rate.

Someone suggested that shelters should stop killing animals. As much as that had a good sound to it; the question was raised as to how do you deal with dangerous, sick, injured, or aged animals? It was obvious that a 100% live release rate was impractical. So after many years of discussion, it was decided that a 90% live release rate was a wonderful number to strive for. It is the number that still exists today. So? Is no kill practical? Or better yet, is no kill the correct term to use? The answer is: It depends.

Through the years animal shelters’ mission got lost to the no-kill movement. We stopped caring about keeping our communities safe or providing a humane shelter environment; we cared only for our no-kill status. Above all else, we had to stop killing animals. We performed that duty by adopting aggressive animals into homes with children and introducing overcrowding into our shelters. Our mission was to keep animals alive at any cost.

Today, the 90% live release rate is more commonly reported in shelters. We reached that goal through poor adoption practices, shutting our doors to intakes, and pet sterilization programs. We successfully stopped providing a service to our communities and focused solely on our statistics; a noble cause to be able to call ourselves a “no-kill shelter.”

The people who object to 90% are the private rescues who don’t take in animals from the public. They don’t have to deal with the people who surrender their pets because medical costs are too high to save their pets. They don’t take in pets who have been hit by cars and are in pain. They don’t live in the reality of what it is like to be a public animal shelter.

I’ve always thought that we should have done away with the no-kill term and stop providing for pets as individuals and go back to our original mandate to serve our communities by providing safe streets and humane TEMPORARY sheltering.

There is a reason that I make a point of saying that shelters should provide temporary shelter. Looking at the size of cages and kennels, it is clear that animal shelters were not designed for the long-term holding of one animal, let alone three or four. And yet, we began stockpiling animals in inhumane cages.

We should celebrate the no-kill status of our shelter, but we need to look at the cost to the health and well-being of our communities and the animals themselves. Every time I hear about someone lambasting no-kill as being a lie, I want to ask them what they are doing to keep the lie alive.

The truth of the matter is that animal rescue groups find advantages in having a public animal shelter killing animals in their community. They have someone to point at with the notion of claiming that they are better than that shelter; you just need to donate to us. It is not uncommon for a rescue group to bring their sick and injured animals to the public animal shelter so that they can claim that they were not the ones that euthanized that animal. All the while still pointing that finger of disgust at them. It didn’t take long for the no-kill movement to make ugly monsters of animal rescue groups. The fact is that someone has to kill animals and the public animal shelter takes on that task so that the rescue groups in their community don’t have to. And yes, taking on that task hurts our statistics.

So, the next time someone starts pointing a finger at the public shelter’s no-kill rate, it is that way because the shelter takes in injured animals from their owners and the public. They decide that a dead dangerous animal is better than an adopted dangerous animal. They decide that the kennel space is too small for one animal, let alone three or four. They do it because it is still the humane thing to do.

To compound the issue, rescue groups like to “rescue” the most adoptable animals in public animal shelters, leaving the marginal ones behind. When I left the profession, I was directing an animal shelter in which 70% of our dog population were pit bulls. More than any other breed, pit bulls are one of the hardest to get adopted. Our neighborhood humane society felt it was necessary to bring in dogs from out of State because we didn’t offer an acceptable variety of adoptable breeds. I can’t blame them; they too were worried about their statistics and couldn’t care less for the pit bulls that remained in the public shelter.

So, one of the most contentious issues was about that 10%. Questions arose as to whether they were “adoptable animals.” It became necessary to “grade” the animals. That grading came about as the Asilomar Accords. I decided to cheat and asked an AI to explain what the Accords were:

“The Asilomar Accords are a set of guidelines and principles that were developed in 2004 by a group of animal welfare leaders in the United States. The purpose of the Asilomar Accords is to promote collaboration and transparency among different animal organizations and to reduce the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in shelters.
1. The Asilomar Accords provide standard definitions for categorizing the health and behavior of shelter animals, as well as a common format for reporting shelter statistics and calculating live release rates.
2. The Asilomar Accords are voluntary and not legally binding, but many animal shelters across the country have adopted them as a way to measure their progress and impact on saving animal lives.”

So, the notion was to keep healthy and treatable animals off of the euthanasia list. The Asilomar Accords were an important part of record keeping and were used widely by organizations dishing out financial grants.

Responsible Parents (Pet Owners)

The news is full of accounts of young children running amuck.   Our first cry is, “Where are their parents.”  Does this sound familiar?  Animal Control is constantly picking up stray animals that have gone amuck and we often cry, “Where are their owners?”   It appears that the same people who don’t control their pets are the same ones raising children.

Unless you are the President’s pet (or child), eventually there will be a reconning.  Tragically many pets are destroyed due to the owner always looking the other way.  Children are facing the same threat that parents are leaving it to the “system” to correct their children’s behavior.

For those who haven’t figured out how the President got thrown into this blog post:  his dog has bitten eleven Secret Service personnel.  He is another example of how our political leaders fail to provide a good example of human behavior.  Any other person in this country would have been held accountable.  Those of you who have been responsible for taking dog bite reports know that the number of actual bites is usually two or three times higher than the number of reported bites.

Okay, you’re right.  I spend too much time watching the news.

Budgetary Constraints

More than at any time in history, governmental animal control organizations and animal shelters are going to face the harshest competition for funding.  We have entered an era in which the need for human services is going to outstrip the need for animal services.  City/County funding is facing a crisis in meeting the needs of the homeless and illegal migrants.  Animal shelters are likely to see budget reductions; all the while communities will be demanding increased adoptions.  We always looked to donations to fund budgetary deficits, but inflation is reducing the amount that people are able to donate.  More than ever, you will need to use your funding wisely.

No Speak English

We are seeing an increase in the number of people who are non-English speaking in the United States.  More and more companies give priority to hiring bilingual applicants because of this problem.  It is difficult to carry out our jobs when the problem dog owner is claiming to be a non-English speaking person.

We are living in an era in which technology can come to our rescue.   There are cellphone apps that provide translational services.  You might opt for an app that translates text, but you run the risk that the person might not be able to read in his/her own language.  If you search for an app, look for one that can translate conversations.  If the person has children, you might have greater success in using the children as translators; frequently, children might speak English when their parents can’t

Keep a list of translation services when you are trying to bridge the gap of understanding.