Many pet lovers are shocked to learn that most municipal facilities that call themselves animal shelters do not actually shelter animals. In fact, these so-called shelters kill pets rescuers are willing to save, because they can. More still are astonished when they learn that some of the private non-profits calling themselves humane societies or societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals are guilty of the same crimes against pets as the municipal facilities that kill pets who are wanted.
In the case of public facilities, pet advocates can and should petition their government for a redress of grievances. But historically this has been a mixed bag of results with far too many elected officials blatantly thumbing their noses at taxpayers who call upon them to force animal shelter staff to do their jobs. Our public servants delete animal advocacy comments from their Facebook pages, ignore e-mails and petitions, and refuse to meet with advocates in person. When they do address the issue publicly, it’s usually to give the pet killing facility a pat on the back while wagging their fingers at the “irresponsible public”.
When it comes to the private HS/SPCA organizations, well-meaning advocates sometimes believe they should report the needless killing of pets there to the “national” HS/SPCA, meaning the Humane Society of the U.S. and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The sad truth is that neither of these organizations is affiliated with your local shelter, even if the names are similar. Furthermore, HSUS and ASPCA are primarily fundraising organizations and will likely not intervene to prevent wanted pets from being killed by your local non-profit organization.
But there is a solution that addresses the needless killing of wanted pets, and offers numerous other protections for shelter animals, at both public and private shelters. It’s called the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA). CAPA has already been passed in DE and has been introduced by legislators in MN, RI and WV. Modified versions have been introduced in NY, TX, IL and FL. More states will be announcing modified versions of CAPA on their legislative agendas soon.
CAPA lays out a number of important requirements for public and private shelters that include lifesaving, transparency and community participation. Specifically, neither public nor private shelter directors would have the discretion to kill pets under CAPA without giving public notice nor would they be allowed to kill pets that a rescue is willing to take.
Too often on this blog, we hear from pet advocates who have been shafted by shelter directors committed to killing for arbitrary reasons and, in some cases, in retaliation for shining a light on their dark secrets. Here is a way to do something about that. Augment your existing animal advocacy (fostering, rescue, networking, etc.) with some political advocacy that will not only save pets’ lives, but help the people who love them too.
Do you want accountability, transparency and legal access to the animals in your shelter’s care? If so, you want CAPA. Talk to your state or local legislators about getting CAPA introduced to protect your community’s pets from those who are needlessly killing them, because they can. CAPA would make needless and secretive shelter pet killing illegal, regardless of whether the shelter is public or private. Under CAPA, we would not only protect the lives of shelter pets but the hearts and minds of pet advocates who currently suffer at the whims of directors, standing by their cabinets of Fatal Plus and scoffing at the so-called irresponsible public’s attempts to actually shelter animals.