There's a new bill in Florida that was introduced this week by Senator Joe Abruzzo (Democrat, Palm Beach). The bill is SB 872, and would require all animal shelter operators in the state to compile monthly and annual reports of what happens to the dogs and cats that enter the shelter.
Required data would include:
- Number of animals, by species, which were on hand at the beginning of the reporting period
- Number of animals, by species, that were impounded
- By owner surrender
- As strays
- brough in by animal control
-- and number of animals, by species, that were outcomed
- Transferred to another shelter or rescue group
- returned to owners
- died or lost at the shelter
- and number of animals, by species, that were in the shelter at the end of the reporting period
All information is required to be posted in a timely manner both annually and monthly.
I'm a HUGE fan of this bill and hope it is able to move through the legislature. Transparency is extremely important for organizations and for the good of animals that enter shelters. Given that nearly all shelters in this country are either a) funded through taxpayer dollars or b) have tax exempt status by being a 501c3, I believe the public has a right to know how these organizations are doing (I think that many 501c3s in particular hide behind their tax exempt status and don't make the information available).
Many shelters that are succeeding in saving lives tend to make this information readily available. However, many shelters with high euthanasia rates, don't make the information public. It is my belief that in most communities if citizens are aware of the situation at their shelter they will demand better.
The only thing I don't love about this bill is that I think monthly reporting may be over-kill, and that quarterly reporting would be sufficient. Otherwise, I really like this law and I think it could be emulated across the US. By forcing transparency, and making information readily available, I think we can get more public support for forcing shelter changes that are badly needed in many communities across the US.