It has long been the position of this blog that numbers alone do not tell the complete story of any shelter. Individual lives matter. As shelter pet advocates, it is up to us to advocate for the right to live of every healthy/treatable shelter animal – not just the ones who fall within an arbitrary statistical analysis. There is no save rate percentage that is “good enough” at any shelter if it means even one healthy/treatable animal was killed there or that any animal needlessly suffered while being euthanized.
I am glad to see advocates in Irvine, CA taking action on behalf of shelter pets there. Mind you, there hasn’t been any reported increase in killing at the Irvine Animal Care Center, which has a reputation for being a “low kill” facility. But advocates are speaking out regarding the reasons and methods used to kill shelter animals.
For example, records show a 2 year old Chihuahua named Tate was fed a half can of food and taken for a walk one morning in July. He ate all his food and would have gladly eaten more according to an employee. Instead, he was killed just minutes later for “not eating” and “orthopedic conditions”.
That same month, a cat named Cody was brought in by his owner for euthanasia but was left to suffer for 2 hours while he was injected with Fatal Plus IV, then IP and finally IC before finally dying.
The Irvine shelter sent x-rays on a rabbit with a dislocated hip to a private vet for an opinion. The vet recommended repair but Irvine killed the pet instead.
Advocates also cite killing while cages sit empty, reduction of volunteer hours and scaling back lifesaving programs at the Irvine facility. Rita Gatto has volunteered at the shelter for 10 years:
Euthanasia numbers have been kept low, she said, because volunteers and staff have taken in animals that were slated to be killed. But those homes are now full and some staff have quit because of what she terms an oppressive work environment.
The euthanasia numbers in Irvine, Gatto added, will rise going forward when they reflect what she views as the shelter’s new policies.
“Right now, Irvine is not euthanizing for humane reasons, but killing animals for convenience,” Gatto said.
Last week, advocates spoke before the city council to request an independent investigation of the Irvine shelter, claiming management has bullied individuals who have questioned the killing:
In a 50-page report presented to council members, advocates described a progressively hostile work environment toward staff and volunteers in the past 18 months. The report cites several incidents of careless treatment leading to animals being destroyed.
“I saw, and assisted, in the euthanasia of animals that had not even been diagnosed [with an illness or a disability] or seen by a veterinarian,” former center staff member Ava Crittenden told the council. She resigned her position last week.
“Sadly, I realized the shelter developed a culture that did not center on animal welfare.”
Another speaker painted an even darker picture:
“Today, animals are being euthanized carelessly, barbarically, for space and just out of laziness for not wanting to care for them any further,” said one speaker, who said she had volunteered at the center for 11 years.
Several speakers said they have been expressing their concerns and requesting action for months, to no avail. Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway was all *shrug*:
“I got a few emails, maybe some letters, this summer,” Lalloway said. “I remember specifically asking the city manager to look into it.”
I asked someone to look into whatever might have been said in maybe some letters but I guess they didn’t because I don’t know.
I hope the advocates in Irvine aren’t putting all their hopes in the mayor’s basket. Because the bottom fell out of that basket some time back and nobody noticed.
If anyone has a copy of that 50 page report, I’d like to read it. E-mail me.
(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)