The Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) mandates shelters to make the killing of healthy/treatable pets a last resort. I’m not talking about saying the words “We only kill as a last resort”, I’m saying shelters would literally have to exhaust all reasonable alternatives to save a healthy/treatable pet before killing.
One of my (many) favorite parts of CAPA: If a shelter intends to kill a healthy/treatable pet, they must notify rescuers and the general public at least 2 business days in advance. I like that. A lot. It gives pets who are currently being killed behind closed shelter doors a chance.
Specifically, kill shelters must maintain a registry of rescues and the types of pets each is willing to take. When a pet is placed on the kill list, the shelter must contact by e-mail and phone every rescue on the list that indicated they accept this type of pet at least 2 business days in advance. If any rescue is willing to take the pet within those next 2 business days, the shelter can not kill the pet.
In addition, the shelter must let the public know which pets are on the kill list at least 2 business days in advance by stating plainly on the cage card what day each pet is slated to be killed and indicating the same on the shelter’s website listings for pets.
There are provisions for exceptions (such as for pets who are medically hopeless and suffering) and safeguards to protect pets (including requirement of the rescue to neuter the pet before adoption unless medically contraindicated).
Imagine how many more shelter pets could be saved if we only knew they were in immediate danger of being killed by their caregivers. Imagine a legally mandated end to the practice of rescuer abuse by those shelters who currently send out solitary e-mail notices saying “If you don’t rescue this dog in the next 4 hours, we’re killing him.” Imagine being able to share online photos and information about every pet on every kill list in the country and having 2 business days to do so.
If you live in Delaware, you are lucky enough to already have CAPA on the books. If you live in any other state and would like to learn more about getting involved with the national movement to reform our shelters, visit Rescue50.org.