(TL:DR: don't support transport: think globally, but rescue locally.)
Yes, the volunteers advertising these "death row dogs" are doing a good thing.
Yes, the concerned citizens pledging money to save their lives ...are doing a good thing.
Yes, the rescues who pull these dogs, quarantine them, then transport them to another rescue ...are doing a good thing.
Yes, the rescues, shelters, volunteers, and foster homes in Oregon who accept these dogs ....are doing a good thing.
And yet... the whole thing is stinks.
How can so many kind, giving people, doing good things equal a whole of badness?
...Because California has twelve times the GDP that Oregon does, and has has ten times the number of people. The CITY of LA has roughly the same population as the entire STATE of Oregon. More people and more money means more adopters (customers), foster homes, donators, advertisers, volunteers, shoppers, photographers, etc. Why on earth are needy animals going North?! If anything, logic says they should be heading the opposite way!
...Because Oregon has plenty of our own dogs to worry about. I don't mean to say, 'no more California transfers until every shelter in Oregon is no-kill.' But it also doesn't makes sense that the shelters who take in California dogs are turning away local residents and rescuers who need help.
...Because these LA shelters are rotten, set in their ways, and every dog we help keeps them in business doing things the same way they always have. Until they change their operations and policies, we will see many more dogs needlessly killed than we can save.
This Face Book posting of a "death row" dog is just one example (among hundreds) of what's wrong. She came into the shelter with puppies. They became adoptable on Feb. 3, and were all adopted by Feb 9th. Now that the cute, highly adoptable puppies are gone, the shelter is threatening the mother with death, and won't lift a damn finger to help, not even to place a temporary death hold, even when another 501(c)(3) rescue offers to take her, and citizens have pledged at least $125 for her care. I grabbed screencaps:
Here's the way it should work:
Step 1) Shelter advertises a harder-to-adopt dog (no death threats, but simply asking for help).
Step 2) Another non-profit sees the ad and says "we'll take her".
Step 3) Shelter replies, "great, we will take care of the logistics and let you know when your dog will be arriving. We will do this legwork happily because: a) you're doing us a favor; b) we already have all the contact information for local rescues (my god, look how big this list is!) that will handle pulling/quarantine/transport; c) there are lots of people volunteering to help and giving us money; d) helping stray and homeless animals is why our organization exists and what we are PAID to do by tax dollars and/or donations."
It's called a rescue transfer. It's a very common practice. Not rocket science.
You know what else isn't rocket science? Employing other methods to save shelter animal lives, besides simply resorting to threatening the public with killing an animal.
a) They don't have their own website. North Central is one of several facilities that are part of LA's municipal shelter system. Just this one facility houses over 200 animals, and don't even have their own website.
b) If you visit their Petfinder page, it's undeveloped and ugly-looking, with a negative tone (highlighting zoonotic diseases, dogs biting children, and how difficult it is to adopt a dog from them), and almost half the animals listed for adoption don't even have photographs or descriptions, which is strange because they seem to have photos of all their animals elsewhere (though many are terrible). Having good photographs of shelter animals is very important, and easy to do.
c) The calender of events for the entire LA shelter system is empty. There is literally nothing planned for all of 2014. No adoption events, no fundraisers, nothing. They appear to do some fundraising around the holiday time, but they aren't making much of an effort to take advantage of the large population of LA pet lovers.
d) I randomly picked a meeting minutes to read, and lo and behold, it contains complaints from several volunteers that both the public and rescuers aren't treated well by employees at the shelter, and the shelter administration puts roadblocks in the way of rescue transfers.
e) They 'allow' (barely) outside volunteers to do all the marketing work for them (even the facebook page is maintained by volunteers outside the system) (also fundraising for them). Animal-lovers take and post and network photos and descriptions and as a thank you, the management threatens dogs with death, daily, unless these volunteers do all the work to save them.
In other words, they market terribly, put roadblocks to adoption/transfer, then complain that they're "forced" to kill adoptable animals.
This is not something I want to support.
If one of my volunteers comes to me with a California dog they've especially fallen in love with, I will do what I can to help them.
But until these under-performing animal "shelters" in southern California start cleaning up their act, I want no part in supporting them. I will not advertise their dogs, I won't share their stories, I won't 'like' them on facebook, and I will actively discourage other rescues from doing the same.
No, I don't know if there's a fast way to force them to do their jobs correctly. They appear to be making a few steps in the right direction, but not enough, and not fast enough.
I do know it's possible. Simply removing roadblocks to transfer and adoption would probably get them most of the way towards not killing an average of 400 animals per month they are currently. (That's stats for the entire LA shelter system, not just North Central). There are obviously hundreds of people in the LA area willing to volunteer a lot of time and money to help these animals already: if half of the time and money were put towards demanding change at the shelters, it would lead to positive benefits that would help more animals in the long run then these last minute, desperate death row pulls do.
If the we, as a community of private rescues, save 300 dogs from this shelter this month, but they kill another 400 because of their own laziness, have we really helped all that much? If we instead focus on changing the shelter policies for the better, then we would instead have saved all 700... You see what I'm saying?
I can't do much about reforming a shelter hundreds of miles away. I already have my hands full rescuing local animals, and doing my best to reform the under-performing shelter in my own area. Reforming SoCal's shelters is going to have to be up to the caring citizens of SoCal.
Kill the excuses, not the dogs.