It’s all about commitment. Without commitment senior managers at some cat shelters will find almost any excuse to kill a cat because in their eyes they have good reason to. They often lack sufficient space and sometimes they lack sufficient facilities to deal with the high number of cats that come into their care. Yes, there are some good reasons and there are some pressures which can drive managers to making the decision to euthanise a cat but with commitment there will be resistance to euthanasia and there will be schemes and plans to maximise the opportunities for adopters to adopt unwanted cats at that shelter. Sometimes fresh management can bring fresh eyes to an entrenched way of dealing with things at a shelter which has a high kill rate.
Is said that many cats have been unnecessarily “put down” at shelters run by the San Diego County Department of Animal Services at Carlsbad, central San Diego and Bonita. I don’t like the phrase “put down” in this context as it hides the truth behind a euphemism. Let’s just call it what it is: killing.
Volunteers have come forward to say that they believe that the Animal Services Director Dawn Danielson is not doing enough to save the lives of cats in her care. Some of the rules which govern whether a cat lives or dies are drafted in a very open-ended or lax manner which allows uncommitted people to interpret those rules in a way which leads to unnecessary euthanasia. For example, these shelters should not euthanize “treatable” animals but the word “treatable” and the phrase “non-treatable” can be construed in a wide range of ways which allows unnecessary killings to take place sometimes.
For example, one of the cats putdown was a tiny black kitten called Ember. Ember had tapeworms and a possible upper respiratory infection. Both are highly treatable. They’re quite easy to treat, in fact. Ember was treated but declined by two different rescue groups perhaps because she was black. Black is a bad colour for a cat, we all know that. Ember was “put to sleep” seven days after arriving at the San Diego shelter.
In another case, a cat called Isadora was abandoned at the shelter because the owner was moving. This is a classic reason for abandoning a cat and is often a lie. Isadora was euthanized five days after arriving because she had severe dental disease and a possible upper respiratory infection coupled with behavioural issues. A file note says that Isadora meowed and approached the staff worker and then head-butted and purred. It appears that, in truth, Isadora did not have behavioural issues but it is quite easy to state that the cat has if the objective is to euthanize. It’s a bit like working backwards. If the mentality is to euthanize an animal a reason to do it can be found quite easily if the rules are written in a sloppy manner.
Almost one third of all animals taken in by the shelters mentioned above are euthanized. Volunteers say that many hundreds of the animals are incorrectly listed as non-treatable because of a lack of space.
The County Chief Administrative Officer has appointed her chief of staff to become the assistant director of animal services to add a new pair of eyes to the situation and to try and decrease kill rates. People can get into a rut with high kill rates because, as mentioned, there are pressures to kill shelter animals but it does not always have to be like that it seems to me.