Many animal shelters continue to fight their statistics to reach or maintain their status as a no kill shelter. Most shelters that reach a 90% live release rate is considered no kill; but, there is a movement afoot to demand a live release rate of over 90%; many (uninformed) individuals believe a 100% live release rate is possible. To attain higher live release rates shelters would have to adopt critically ill or injured animals as well as vicious animals.
The live release rate is controlled by intakes and dispositions. Intakes are controlled by the number of people delivering animals to the shelter and those animals impounded by animal control officers on the streets of your community. In some communities, animal control officers provide taxis service to people claiming that they have no transportation to take their pets to the shelter; even though a new model automobile is sitting in the drive way (they just don’t want to get the upholstery dirty.
Dispositions are the various outcomes that remove animals from the animal shelter’s inventory. Dispositions include euthanasia, which is the disposition that most people object to. Animal shelters have gotten good at explaining the justification for euthanasia, but shelters face those who armchair quarter back those decisions. The primary way to reduce euthanasia is to control intakes through a mechanism called “managed intakes.”
People have gotten used to being able to dump their pets at the animal shelter for the most ignorant reasons: granny is coming for a visit, the pet doesn’t match the furniture; but mostly, the pet is too much work. In order to maintain the flow of pets into the shelter, people are asked to wait for an opening. I believe pet owners should play a role in the surrendering of their pet; but I do not believe that people finding stray animals should have to be placed in queue to turn in a stray. This is happening fairly frequently at shelters. Pet owners and people finding strays are left with few options in dealing with strays and problem pets.
One of the rules with animal adoption agencies is that an adoption agency will always accept back a failed adoption. In Roanoke Virginia, our local humane society would use a process to force people into long wait times to return a pet that was not working out; they would direct the person to the public shelter to surrender the pet. Once surrendered to the public shelter, at the humane society’s convenience, they would determine if they would “rescue” the pet back. It was a contentious issue because the public shelter was always at capacity and the humane society operated at half capacity. But, I digress…
With the high influx of animals coming into a facility, shelters devived a mechanism to bring the flow to a trickle and called it Managed Intakes. For the first time, pet owners were forced to see the impact of their decisions and were told to wait for a better time. During the waiting period, pet owners would be encouraged to find a different solution, maybe even take their pet to training to solve behavior issues. Mostly, pet owners just called animal control to report their pet as a stray.
There are a few success stories as a result of shelters using this tactic, but due to the nature of people, Managed Intakes just push your intakes on to other organizations. When people make up their minds that they have to get rid of their pet, there is usually no changing their minds.
Communities that are dealing with high euthanasia, the solution may not be an issue of poor shelter management; something else in the community could be impacting the situation. The no kill movement is not concerned as to how your shelter has gotten to the place of high euthanasias, they just want to blame the shelter staff. Shelter staff are now pushing the problem on through new mechanisms to manage their intakes; sometimes exasperbating the problem of stray running loose in your community.