Unfunded Mandates

Our Governor announced his desire for our State to become a “No-Kill State” and maintain that status. On the surface, that sounds swell; but, anytime I hear about a governing body wanting to pass down mandates to lower communities, I think of the Haden Bill in California that passed down such severe mandates that many animal shelters had to close shop. State governing bodies tend to know little to nothing about the dynamics of running local animal shelters. California proved that.

At a time when my State passed laws outlawing DEI in schools and businesses, they enacted their own version of DEI onto insurance companies where they demanded that all animals be treated the same. So insurance companies were forced to raise their rates so that poodles and pit bulls could be treated the same. Since legislators know so little about dog breeds, I worry that our Governor knows little about the dynamics of running an animal shelter.

Thanks to Bidenomics, people are facing harsh inflation. Many of us have to find ways to cut back to just survive. During these troubling times, people are choosing to cut back on their pets so as not to be forced to cut back on the beer. The number of animals being surrendered to animal shelters is high. So, our Governor picks this time to demand animal shelters become no-kill.

The only true solution to no-kill is to bring an end to breeding. If we sterilized every pit bull and pit bull mix in the country, we could solve 70% of the pet overpopulation in animal shelters within a few years. If the Governor wants to help with the situation, instead of making it worse, he could fund low-cost spay/neuter centers around the State.

The good news is that our State has 2 billion dollars left over from last year’s budget. He has the money to help shelters. Is any of that money going to be available to animal shelters? Of course not. That is why we call these things unfunded mandates. But let’s face it, we have a homeless problem and increased crime due to our illegal immigrant invasion. Is any of those funds going to provide more police? Probably not. So where do we decide to put this money in time of our current crisis? A baseball stadium.

Will a baseball stadium help animals? Nope! Will a baseball stadium help the homeless? Nope! Will the baseball stadium decrease crime? Nope! The only thing that a baseball stadium can bring to our community is the entertainment district that will surround the stadium. We just might finally get a nice new restaurant that will serve a good hotdog.

State bodies have to stop making life harder for those who run animal shelters. Their job is to see the big picture. The older that I become, I see our governing bodies becoming more nearsighted.

Maintaining Shelter Standards

When I began in the animal welfare profession euthanasia rates were over 90 percent.  35 years later, we are experiencing placement rates at 90 percent.  We have come a long way and there are plenty of people wanting to claim credit for our success.  Many animal shelters have euthanasia rates under 5 percent.

Ten years ago, Delaware created a law that prohibited a shelter from having any empty kennels; I was opposed to Delaware’s law, it created a crisis every time that an Animal Control Officer brought in a stray animal, because there were no empty cages.  Experience teaches every shelter manager to know the number of cages that must be empty to accommodate intakes.  In addition to the number of animals that are delivered by officers, the public is at your front door delivering animals.  No one is going to ask a person to hold on to the animal until someone can go back and “make space.”

Colorado decided to go further, animal shelters cannot euthanize, even if they lack cage space.  Since no  kill has become a moot issue in our shelters as the reach or exceed 90 percent placement rates, politicians are eager to move shelters to the next evolution of animal sheltering:  for the shelter to become a “socially conscious shelter.”   A shelter that does not concern itself with the practical side of animal sheltering but look only to the needs of the animals.  On the surface, this sounds like a great idea.  A socially conscious shelter doesn’t have to worry about cage space.  Whether or not there is cage space, you find a spot for the animal.  And then, try to provide care.

The concept of “just one more animal,” is the premise that starts every animal hoarding situation.  I had to oversee a seizure of 700 cats in which the organization started with just a few and just kept accept “just one more” cat.

The politicians like to get their faces in the media showing their support for saving the animals.  When they are done, they leave one more unfunded mandate and leave the local jurisdictions responsible for administering the mess that they have created. Every community is difference; they allocate different budgets and enjoy different mores.  Due to the uniqueness of communities, they should be allowed to enact their own laws.

What role will the State of Colorado have when they have to deal with shutting down rural animal shelters for either failing to comply with the new law or that they have become hoarders and have insufficient funds and staffing to care for the newfound burden placed on them by the State.

Animal Shelters have a responsibility to care for the animals that come to them.  Forcing them to start hoarding animals is going to diminish the general care that they can provide.  Under the right circumstances, this new law will have unintended inhumane consequences as animal shelters are force to hold  animals beyond their capacity of space and staffing.