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« Pet ownership grows....and pets become a growing part of our families | Main | The science of domesticating foxes -- & what it may tell us about genetics in dogs »

April 09, 2011


Christena McGregor

Congratulations on being humane humans. Thank you for taking the time and effort to save precious creatures. Now if you could spread the word to all other cities and states especially New York and The Bronx. The kill rate in those cities is inhumane.
Sending you positive energy and warm hugs from ontatio, canada

Christena McGregor

sorry that is Ontario, Canada


Brent, that is great news for Chippewa County. As someone who has visited the Upper Penasola a number of times it becomes much easier to get communkity buy in when most of the folks who live in the community were born and raised there. Trying to export that same cooperation bbecomes more complicated in counties outside of lansing, Detroit or even my where I grew up in Wayne County. Involving the commjunity must always be the first step appoach towards raising awareness in the community about pet overpopulation issues.


Since we're on the subject, the issue of ignoring the FACT that there is regional pet overpopualtion issues and budgetary restraints which all but cripple some communities abilty to stay out in front of shleter kill issues can't be overlooked. Putting blinders on and only blaming the poorly performing shelter staffs is ignoring reality.


Randy -- I'll agree that getting community support in an area like Chippewa County is probably easier than in more transient areas. But the reality is, many transient communities (like Charlottesville) have been very successful, while many very tight-nit communities are failing -- primarily because of poorl leadership.

It always comes down to leadership.

I am not certain that budget plays a large role (sure it helps) but have also seen many low-budget areas succeed and many high budget areas that continue to flounder. And any "regional overpopulation issues" are generally because the area has not instituted a targeted low-cost spay/neuter program.

Randy, for all the justifying you do here, can you name a well-run shelter in this country that is also high kill? I certainly can't. Every high kill shelter I know of has very obvious reasons why it is high kill -- and pet overpopulation isn't one of them.


Brent, I agree with you - there are higher population areas where citizen involvement helps pave the way to No Kill success.

The focus really needs to be educating the local citizens about not only conditions in their shelter but more importantly how THEY can help. IF there is a golden lining in our own local battle is the pet owners are much more informed and have started becoming much more involved.

As advocates we have a huge responsibilty in helping with this education process. Stifling conversation, refusing to answer legimate questions about the process do not lead to a more informed community.

Nor does refusing to acknowledge that often times these issues are "responsibilty issues" in other words, government can't be expected to clean up after what is in essence is irresponsible behavior.

For pets, that includes coming to grips and dealing with the irresponsible breeding that takes place, the irresponsible pet ownwership that oftentimes occurs in our neighborhoods. Education and peer pressure are often times the catalyst for communities to have much more structured discussions how how THEY can work together in resolving these issues without resorting to the crutch of bigger government.

There is a discussion going on now about Miami Dade. MDAS takes in thirty five times the number of dogs and cats as this shelter. They killed 20,000 dogs and cats last year - no oned disputes those facts. What is in dispute is the other fact that south Florida killed 80,000 dogs and cats during the same time period and yet there appears to be no moral outrage with the other tow counties which appear to be killing at a higher level.

Both Broward and West Palm have new shelters - Miami Dade does not. MDAS has always taken the blame for the communities refusal to provide an adequate clean environment with which to start the process of lowering the number of dogs and cats dumped in their shelter.

Suggesting that simply performing another change in management when there isn't a foundation for implementing a successful No Kill program is simply putting blinders on both the problems MDAS and the community faces.


In fairness Randy, while Miami Dade takes in 35x the number of animals as Chippewa County, they also have 65x the population. So Dade County actually has about 1/2 the per-capita intake as Chippewa County and significantly more people to adopt to.

Miami Dade has a lot of problems -- including shelter management (and government leadership) content to let the killing continue and an antiquated breed ban that mandates the killing of all dogs that have a particular look.

And if a shelter is unclean- - building a new shelter will not change that -- because a shelter staff that is not adequately cleaning a shelter will have a brand new shelter filthy and disease-ridden within months.


Brent - I'm not sure what your insinuating with a poor choice of words "justifying" - you call it justifying - I'll call it educating.

As for your question (I answer any questions that deal with issues" Gwinnett County pre-2007 was "well run" shelter that was still high kill. There was a volunteer program, the shelter manager was friends with most of the rescuers, they did everything they could to not kill a dog or cat that the county government ALLOWED them to do. We'll put aside the fact that I have called for replacing the new shelter director (post 2007) with the truth that SHE'S not the problem. The problem is her boss - the local police department AND the county commissioners who write the shelters policies on issues like feral cats, code enforcement, pit bulls now, and I won't even incljude the apathetic majority of citizens who don't even vote.

Our now well informed community knows at this poingt that the majority of dogs being killed at our shelter are pit bulls. Yet, after successfully warding off a proposed BSL law a few months ago we have still not been able to get enough volunteers concerned enough about pit bulls to rescue the sweet dogs the shelter is killing. The shelter kills pit bulls NOT because we lack a compassionate director - they kill pit bulls because the county tell too.

This doesn't mean that we have given up - but it does mean we will have a better chance at succeeding if we grow and educate our ranks.

The other major flaw in this thinking that there isn't a pet overpoluation issue. That is just so far from reality. Whether you want to call it overpopulation of pets or a shortage of homes, fosters, volunteers and funding - at the end of the day does it matter? Again going back to Miami dade and a subject dear to your heart - puppy mills. You have to close your eyes NOT to see that pet stores in suth Florida are major contributors to the excessive intake numbers AND disease we've seen for years. Until we start focusing on identifying the causes of intake in these shelters we will never get closer to this No Kill dream.

A few years back I wrote an article about a trucker who was busted twice with a truck full of puppies from Missiouri - none of which had any vaccination records. How does that irresponsible activity not increase both the number of irresponsibly bred dogs but the disease issues as well.

Obviously some of these issues are going to need to be revisited on my blog. I can't rationalize this myth pf a myth of pet overpopulation because all the data doesn't support it.


Brent - here'some food for fodder - Nathan didn't invent the myth of pet overpopulation concept - that was good ole Patti Strand founder of the NAIA. Then you got Karen Strange with Mofed who used to preach that line as well. Of course, we'll put aside the fact that both defend all the puppy millers that are out there. So why would i want to believe that propaganda when my own personal experiences tell me something different?

But let anyone in the Facebook No Kill movement criticise or question the concept and they are repeatedly ridiculed, advised that they are un informed and director to "Redemtion" - why not send them to Patti Strand - after all she invented the concept.


Randy, let me ask -- do you not believe that pet overpopulation is a myth because you have math to prove it? Or because you think Patti Strand and Karen Strange invented the idea?

Because I, for one, am not a huge fan of making decisions on people's ideas based on whehter or not I like that person -- but whether or not the idea has merit.

My experience has been that well-run shelters tend to be at no kill, or very close. And that the majority of animals killed in shelters in this country are killed by high kill shelters with a 1960s view of animal control.

And then, there are some in the middle, that do some things right, but still prefer to not work with volunteers, or do off-site adoptions, or help with TNR programs, or have policies that prohibit the adoption of pit bulls, or whatever that keep them from getting there completely (regardless of who put the policy in place).

I am sure that pet overpopulation was very real 15 years ago. But pet ownership continues to climb, and spay/neuter compliance also is climbing. And in between, we've very much narrowed the gap.

And I know this will not be a popular statement, but I don't believe for a second that puppy mills are the cause of shelter killing. Missouri has a well-reported high number of puppy mills. These dogs are prodominently small breed dogs: Lhapso Aspos, spaniels, toys, etc and then some giant breeds like Mastiffs and Great Danes.

You go across shelters across the country, and these are not the types of dogs that are the ones getting killed in shelters (or at least by any shelter worth a lick). Once they get into the shelter they are highly adoptable.

Regardless of all of the animals relinquished to shelters -- we will never end the impounding of animals. Dogs get loose and don't find their way home. Some people are irresponsible and just give up. Some people move and can't take their dogs with them, and some people come across financial hardship and have to surrender their pet. And we will always need a shelter system to deal with these cases.

Even in your example of a well-run shelter that was fairly high-kill, you acknowledge that there were particular policies put in place by the government that particularly caused these animals to be when do we make the focus on solving THOSE problems vs blaming the 'irresponsible owners" and puppy mills (none of which are responsible for us killing feral cats).

This is what the no kill movement seeks to do...which is why it makes so much sense to so many people.


Brent - you wrote "I am not certain that budget plays a large role (sure it helps) but have also seen many low-budget areas succeed and many high budget areas that continue to flounder. And any "regional overpopulation issues" are generally because the area has not instituted a targeted low-cost spay/neuter program."

Budget was the major area where Gwinnett repeatedly refused to even look at many of the programs we proposed not milited to off site adoptions, promotions, TNR, shelter hours, ect. we're more concerned with cutbacks on both funding and services in 2011.

Atlanta has a number progressive low cost spay/neuter clinics and does south Flodia including the mobile and S/N done at the shelter. Most of the humane societies in Ga are now offering and advertising and promoting these services - yet, there's still a "shortage of fundamental places": to put the 80,000 plus dogs or cats that are still being killed in the Atlanta area. I left off shelters recruiting outside foster homes - that was dead on arrival in our talks.


I have to ask what happens to the "pit bulls" in that shelter. Do they adopt them out, or get few?


Brent, why do you ask questions and then delete my responses? That's not having an honest discussion on the issues - it's censorship. It always raises a red flag when an advoate can't honestly defend a position. I'll answer your questions on my blog.

Robert Garnett

I attempted to post a comment but it wasn't accepted. Why?


Robert -- I didn't see any comments from you on my it must have been a technical thing on typepad's end. Sorry.

Randy, I have unpublished several of your comments. I may republish one or more of them sometime when I get a chance to go through them -- but leaving 7 consecutive comments in a 30 minute period on this blog is not "having a discussion" -- it's one person writing a multiple page rant. Given that, I opted to just unpublish all of them until I got the opportunity to see if any of them had any merit to the original topic of the post.


Emily -- I am not sure on the 'pit bull' part of your question -- Chippewa County is in the Northern penninsula of Michigan and given that short-haired dogs tend to be a bit less popular in very Northern Climates, I doubt they see a lot of them.

Randy, as for your 3:22 comment, if a strong volunteer base is used, most of those things don't take much money. Volunteers can partner with area businesses to hold off-site adoptions. Volunteers can work to keep the shelter open longer hours. Even allowing for TNR shouldn't cost the city anything (and few cities fund it on their own dime).

You say it's a well-run shelter -- and yet none of these things that are proven to work are implemented. I can tell you exactly why this shelter is still high kill...

Robert Garnett

Bent I will give it another try but since I am a one figure typist it will take some time. Thanks.

Scout 'n Freyja

I live in Chippewa County Michigan. I was one of the core group that formed to press our County Commissioners not only to build a new, safer animal shelter but to have it a 'no kill' shelter. After several months of meetings and after several months of NEVER, EVER GIVING UP, the county built the shelter and added to the shelter mandates that it should be 'no kill'.

Yes, we get Pit Bulls and we get big dogs and we get old dogs. All are given a chance to find a home. Our euthanasia rates are low because only aggressive or very sick animals lose their lives. We have a great network of committed volunteers who take home cats who have litters to home raise them for optimal adoption placement - same with our puppies.

If a dog should languish in the shelter what we consider to be too long, we have agreements with counties throughout MI (no kill shelters) to trade animals to give them a 'fresh situation' where adopters can see them with new eyes.

It's a lot of work - but it works and our shelter manager, Holly Henderson is a true gem and hard worker. However, she has an army of dedicated volunteers who train and walk and groom and clean 7 days a week.

DON'T GIVE UP - IT CAN BE DONE! I've seen it happen in a rural, farming community of just 14,000 residents. If we can do it, YOU can do it.

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