Long Beach want to improve their animal shelter. They want to save more lives and have devised a new model which they call Compassion Saves. The city council voted 8-0 on Tuesday in favour of this model. It is intended to give the city’s animal care services a new direction which includes greater transparency on data and more support for spay and neuter programs.
As expected, there has been a lot of discussion and disagreement. Some have said that the Compassion Saves model is simply going to continue the status quo. A member of the task force which the mayor appointed to look at ways to improve animal services, Anna Wong, said that the policy doesn’t spell out what a “treatable animal” means in respect of saving the lives of treatable animals. It’s an interesting topic.
“2 to 3 years ago our shelter was killing kittens and cats with mange on 3 to 5% of their body. Thank God were not doing that anymore, but where are we going to cut this off? What does it mean to be a treatable animal?”
I wonder whether she is over complicating things. Surely a veterinarian would be able to decide what is and what isn’t a treatable animal. But perhaps not. Theoretically every illness is treatable. It is the prognosis that is important. Will the treatment produce a satisfactory prognosis? This is where you enter some very subtle arguments. I am not sure you can write up a policy which clearly defines what a ‘treatable animal’ is. What do you think?
I am sure that this is a big issue in animal shelters across America. It’s similar to the elasticity of assessments on cat and dog behaviour. You decide whether a dog is unsuited to be a domestic animal companion because his behaviour is too poor and so you euthanise that animal. Sometimes these assessments are excuses to euthanise animals and the same will go for treatable and un-treatable illnesses.
Another faction within this discussion are those who favour improving the adoption process. Clearly more adoptions means less killing and as I understand it Long Beach’s animal shelter outsources adoption to another organisation.
The organisers want people who wish to relinquish their companion animal not to be fearful that their pet will be euthanised. They argue that a true open admission shelter can provide a service to these people. Despite people pulling in different directions there one objective which is to save the lives of animals passing through their shelter.