Dallas Animal Services functions primarily as a pet killing facility, killing more than half of the animals taken in last year. You don’t earn the moniker “pet killing facility” without putting forth some effort – specifically, killing most of the animals in your care. There is not going to be a whole lot in the way of justifications for killing. It’s just the thing you mainly do to your animals.
So hardly a surprise to read that on January 1, the Dallas pound killed 4 dogs who were slated for rescue. The dogs were reportedly part of a larger group whom local rescuers were getting into foster homes after the owner reached out for help. Rescuers say they in turn reached out to Dallas Animal Services for temporary assistance with 4 of the dogs in order to buy time to secure more fosters. There was reportedly an agreement between rescuers and Dallas Animal Services that the dogs would be listed under “protective custody” which indicates a 10 day hold. But at the pound, the dogs were listed as “owner surrenders” which indicates they are eligible for immediate killing, at the discretion of pound workers. The pound housed the dogs for 2 days, then killed all 4, citing “health and behavior”. When rescuers tried to visit the dogs a few days later, they learned of the killings.
Dallas Animal Services released this statement:
On Tuesday, Dec. 30, Dallas Animal Services officers picked up four dogs. The owner gave the dogs to DAS in hopes of finding them a new home. They ranged in age from about one to eight-years old. The officers took the animals to the City shelter, where they were entered into the system as “owner surrenders.” Two days later, on Jan. 1, all four dogs were euthanized by DAS staff based on their health and behavior.
On Monday, Jan. 5, community members said potential homes had been found for the dogs. DAS is now conducting a complete investigation to determine if system failures and/or performance issues may have contributed to the incident. Once the investigation is complete, we will share our findings and potential next steps.
Euthanasia of animals is tough enough for employees. To know that four dogs may have been euthanized in error has devastated staff, and they are also eager to look for ways to prevent incidents like this in the future. We mourn the loss of homeless animals that can be saved. DAS prides itself on caring for thousands of animals that staff members come into contact with each year. The City, DAS and community remain committed to our life-saving efforts and continued progress in this area.
Oh gee, I hope no one was swigging coffee when reading that part about being “committed to life-saving efforts and continued progress”. If so, I hope your keyboard doesn’t stay sticky for too long.
Here’s the problem: While advocating for the right that these 4 dogs had to live is a worthy effort, it does nothing to change the fact that Dallas taxpayers are paying for a “shelter” which primarily kills animals. It does not alter the pound’s policy that owner surrenders are eligible for immediate killing, if workers so choose, without so much as a phone call, email or internet posting notifying anyone of the intention to kill. This policy is entirely inconsistent with the “lifesaving efforts” the pound claims it is committed to and effectively dooms any animal listed, correctly or incorrectly, as “owner surrender” to the whim of whomever is making up the kill list for the day. Pets whom the public is willing to save will continue to be killed under this system, as should be obvious. And many more owner surrendered pets whom the public might be able to save if only they knew the animals needed help, will also continue to be killed.
Dallas Animal Services needs to immediately dispense with its killing for convenience policies and at the very least, adopt a slightly more progressive approach. All animals, except those few deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian, should be guaranteed at least a chance to survive the pound. Killing animals without a minimum of 2 business days notice to the public should be summarily abandoned. Advance notification to all interested parties, including rescuers and potential adopters, should be made in addition to the public notices posted online for each individual animal.
It is human nature to hide those things of which we are ashamed and thus we see so much secrecy in the kill rooms of our animal shelters. But that doesn’t make it any less objectionable. As taxpayers, we must demand our shelters do their jobs and actually shelter animals. Those who refuse must be held accountable through transparent government policies and actions. If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.
(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)