It’s easy for a shelter to save every adoptable animal if it has very low standards for what it considers “adoptable.”
In most areas, there is no legal definition of “adoptable,” and shelters are basically free to do as they please.
For example, the shelter might kill all pitbulls because it considers pitbulls to be “unadoptable.” It could kill all senior dogs or all black dogs or all puppies under 8 weeks old because it considers them “unadoptable.”
A sad example is the City of Odessa, Texas.
The Odessa Animal Control killed 5,442 impounded animals in the first 10 months of 2013, according to the Odessa American newspaper. The City’s animal control considered just 353 of those animals adoptable, about 6 percent. Meaning, the remaining 94 percent of the animals killed were “unadoptable.”
Obviously this is unacceptable, and heartbreaking. I hope Odessa can find a way to make some major improvements.
But this is why we need to be skeptical of pounds and shelters if they say they are saving “every adoptable animal.” It’s why we need to ask for the numbers to back up such claims.
Last week I wrote about the community of Fargo, N.D., and how Fargo saved every adoptable, impounded pet in 2013, according to the Humane Society Fargo-Moorhead.
Some bloggers were skeptical, and understandably so.
Saving “every adoptable animal” isn’t good enough. What matters is the percentage of impounded animals that walked out the front door alive.
In Fargo’s case, the three local pounds had a live release rate of 91 percent for dogs and cats combined in 2013, according to the statistics compiled by the humane society. (1,810 impounded and 1,655 released alive.)
Sure, Fargo is far from perfect. I’m careful not to call it a no-kill city because it’s still killing nearly all impounded feral cats, for example. My heart goes out to those cats.
But you know what? I’d say saving 91 percent of all impounded dogs and cats would be a success for any community no matter what your definition of adoptable is.
And how can you be sure about your own local shelter or your own community’s claims?
Ask for the numbers.
How are your local pounds and shelters doing?
These two cuties were pulled from a Fargo-area pound in 2012. They were fostered by me and adopted by friends of mine.
Lindsay Stordahl is the blogger behind ThatMutt.com and writes a column here every Wednesday. She supports the movement to end the killing of impounded, adoptable animals in worldwide shelters. If you have a topic suggestion for Lindsay, you can reach her at Lindsay@ThatMutt.com.
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