Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thoughts on Oregon Taking in California Shelter Dogs

I don't like it.

(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 another terrible example from January, where the shelter threatened a mama and five puppies with death. People raised over $600 to save the entire family. Then the shelter suddenly realized how cute and adoptable the pups were, and then said they decided to keep the pups, and were only threatening to kill the mom. In the end, the mom was pulled, and the shelter is selling adopting out the moneymakers puppies.







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.


11 comments:

Jan said...

I live in California but not in LA and what you say about their shelters is unfortunately most accurate. Through the years they have managed to do so many things the wrong way.

Nuvet said...

A agree with your thought that why the needy animals are going north.
This is really very sad to see these pets being killed. I think only we (pet lovers) are responsible for this. We we are really pet lovers then our responsibility is also towards these pets who are loosing their lives for bad reasons.

Unknown said...

Fantastic brilliant article that I will share and share until I am blue in the face. Thank you for writing this!
- Kyra Collins
Adoption & Intake Coordinator for Jack Russell Rescue Oregon Washington & Idaho

mia said...

Agree with the whole oregon and shipping thing .. Dogs shouldnt be sent to a location that is still killing animals due ton over population.
However its not the shelter it self doing the mass transports. Its rescues
Read my article
Transporting Dogs; Not the miracle fix you think

Read my article

mia said...


(Your post)-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.

Me-Puppies must be 8weeks old to legally adopt them from a shelter
All Los Angeles city shelters give the general public 24 hours to adopt the animal before a rescue can use the 501c3 pull rights.
Isn't that the point anyway.. To have the animals adopted.
Shelters can't offer death holds because people dont ' hold ' on surrendering/dumping their pets. What if 20 dogs have people who offer to take them.. But need time for whatever. If half need to raise pledges or coordinate transport that could take up too a few weeks, and the other half , fall through.. The shelters don't have extra kennels if there holding one dog then another will be euthanized .. Not fair.

(Your post) step 1) Shelter advertises a harder-to-adopt dog (no death threats, but simply asking for help).

Me - IN A PERFECT WORLD PEOPLE WOULD TAKE IN A DOG BECAUSE IT NEEDS A HOME. THE REALITY IS THAT PEOPLE WANT PUPPIES, CUTE DOGS ETC. Its also obvious that people have to be guilted into things so letting people know an animal is in danger helps save it. And a fact is that all available shelter animals are in danger if euthanized

mia said...


(Your post) step2) Another non-profit sees the ad and says "we'll take her".

Me-DO U REALLY THINK THAT ANIMAL SHELTER EMPLOYEES SIT ON FACEBOOK WHILE AT THE SHELTER TO READ THREAD COMMENTS? THE SHELTER COMPUTERS ONLY ACCESS SHELTER INFO AND NOT SOCIAL WEBSITES. And really, u think a legit rescue is going to use a Facebook comment to commit to rescuing an animal. They need to contact the shelter or go to the shelter, give the the rescues 501c3 information and I'd number. It can only be submitted by people registered with the rescue.

(Your post)
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."

Me-WOW.. OK SO YOU EXPECT A SHELTER WITH A REVOLVING DOOR OF AROUND 400 DOGS CONTINUALLY to COORDINATE THAT? DO U ALSO EXPECT A RESCUE ORGANIZATION TO MAKE THEMSELVES LIABLE FOR AN ANIMAL THE SHELTER wants shipped THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY TO SOMEONE THEY DONT KNOW? ARE YOU CRAZY?

Me - iF THAT ANIMAL ENDS UP BEING ABUSED OR DUMPED IN ANOTHER shelter MILES AWAY... ITS THE RESCUES FAULT CAUSE THEIR NAMES ON THE RECORDS FOR SENDING THE ANIMAL THERE .. NOT THE SHELTER.. If the dog bites someone, they are held responsible . if the person decided the dog wasnt everything she expected by a photo they saw on Facebook..what happens then?
THEY COULD LOSE ALL PULL RIGHTS ..THEY COULD BE SHUT DOWN, be sued, responsible for costs if something happens. .

mia said...

Me- Why do u think schools cut the arts programs and criminals are released from jail after only serving a quarter of their sentence? why the DMV takes 4 hours to get a new picture taken.. Budget... Everything you want done takes money. Your ideas would literally require the number of employees to be trained and work at the same time to quadrupole maybe more. Ya know what. I can't .. Your comments are so far fetched naive , delusional I can't even type anymore.

Read my articles for better ideas...


Read my article



Read my article


People are the problem not the shelter.
Shelters aren't perfect but people are evil idiots.

If u have questions ask me I'm a east valley Los Angeles animal shelter volunteer and I run a non profit rescue .

Kyra Collins said...

The shelters in southern California are already doing exactly what the author describes and what you are shrieking about as being naive and delusional (capitals, seriously?)with shelters in Oregon and Washington. Large numbers of dogs from southern California are being sent to the Northwest - to shelters from Portland to Seattle. My tiny local county shelter took a load of 28 small breed dogs from LA only last month; this is the same shelter - the ONLY tax-supported shelter in a very large rural county - that refuses to take in any local dogs over the age of 5. The little cuties are more marketable, they fly off the shelf and amp the adoption numbers. The local dogs over the age of 5 - the old, the ugly, the large and the black dogs - get dumped in the hills or possibly shot.
Private rescues are bringing huge numbers of dogs up to the Northwest - agreed - but the public shelters are leading the way and the California shelters are definitely cooperating fully with them. This would indicate that they are fully capable of doing so organizationally.
"Rudimentary", by the way, is spelled "rudimentary". Sentences generally start with a capital letter. Some proof-reading is in order.

Suzanne said...

Mia, if these under-performing shelters in SoCal were any other kind of business, would they still operate the way they are now? The answer is, of course, no. Not if they wanted to stay in business.

California as a whole has plenty of money to support animal shelters that don't kill for space and don't need to beg their poorer neighbors to the north for help.

The problem is not money. The problem is not stray animals. The problem is not the tiny minority of people who are irresponsible with their pets. The problem is, these shelters are not doing their jobs correctly. Period.

Suzanne said...

Mia - "THE REALITY IS THAT PEOPLE WANT PUPPIES, CUTE DOGS ETC."

So what? Animal shelters are trying to sell products (animals), and most of their customers want a certain kind of product (puppies). That's not a problem, it's an opportunity. Smart, top-performing shelters know how to use this to their advantage: get people in the door of your business, give them a positive experience (instead of driving away customers by trying to guilt-trip them or being negative or threatening). Then they may end up falling in love with an adult dog. Or the next time they want a pet, they'll go to your shelter first instead of Craigslist or a breeder. Or maybe they'll tell their friends what a great experience they had and THOSE friends end up adopting a senior dog.

Under-performing shelters like this one aren't trying very hard to market their slightly-harder-to-adopt products. They sell the puppies, then throw up their hands at the rest of the dogs and blame the public for not wanting to come into their house of death.

Suzanne said...

Mia - "DO U REALLY THINK THAT ANIMAL SHELTER EMPLOYEES SIT ON FACEBOOK WHILE AT THE SHELTER"

If they were smart, and really cared about saving the lives of animals in their care, yes they absolutely should monitor social media site. Welcome to 2014.

Mia -"SO YOU EXPECT A SHELTER WITH A REVOLVING DOOR OF AROUND 400 DOGS CONTINUALLY to COORDINATE THAT?"

Yes. That's their job. As I explained above, rescue-to-rescue transfers are not rocket science. They already have a long list of pre-approved pull-rescues. It wouldn't take much time at all to contact them in the case of another rescue showing interest in a dog.