Dog Fancy Magazine just voted Bend The Nation’s Dog Friendliest City 2012. It’s a title that we should be proud of, but is it accurate? We certainly love our dogs (and cats) we have great off-leash areas, trails and canine friendly businesses. We use their images to advertise our products and sell our newspapers. Yet, our great city still kills dogs (and cats) at our animal shelters every single week.
You probably did not know that.
We do not need to. It is wrong to do so. Over 200 cities and towns across the US have shelters that have stopped killing and now save over 90% of their cats and dogs. Many of these places have far fewer resources than we do.
If you had been struggling to achieve your goal and someone offered you a plan that works, wouldn’t you do it?
The No-Kill Equation asks the shelters to invite the public to help them with a series of programs, such as comprehensive adoption programs, foster care programs, low cost high-volume spaying and neutering. There are also trap, neuter and release programs for feral cats, pet retention programs, and collaborations with rescue groups, medical and behavior retention and rehabilitation, public relations and community involvement and proactive redemption. Or simply put, safety net programs that work with the community to save lives.\
The only time that euthanasia is appropriate is when the animal’s behavior cannot be rehabilitated and he/she is a danger to society, or they are hopelessly sick and no medical intervention can help them. Feral (non-socialized) cats should never even enter a shelter; TNR is the solution for these animals.
Bend is rich in resources. Communities less equipped than ours have done this and stopped the killing. For example, Washoe Animal County Services, Nevada, which also provides animal control, decided to stop killing, asked their community for help and rearranged their programs and priorities. Now they save 92 percent of their dogs, a 51 percent change in the kill rate from 2006 to 2007. They had 30 volunteers in 2006, by 2007 they had 1300.
We can look the other way, accept false accolades and pretend the animals are not being killed, or we can offer to help our shelters and Bend can be proud to join the No Kill Movement. We will be told that they are “doing their best.” Well that is like saying Bend is okay with the bronze medal. Why can’t our city have gold? Why should healthy and treatable animals be given a lethal injection instead of a foster care placement, or medical help? It would be very wrong of us to ignore a solution if it exists and is proven to work over and over.