Volunteers at the Citrus Co shelter in Florida say they have been instrumental in increasing the save rate and decreasing the length of stay at the facility. This week, the board of county commissioners held a workshop regarding the shelter and there was a packet of information posted online which included various statistics.
Volunteers were stunned to learn during the workshop that the county is considering a change in policy that would almost certainly result in increased killing at the shelter and that county commissioners appear to be in favor of it. I requested a copy of this policy change from Citrus Co Public Information Officer Tobey Phillips but haven’t received any response. However Ms. Phillips appeared on the local news to explain the proposal: Kill animals after 10 days. Since the average length of stay for both dogs and cats at the shelter is currently more than 10 days, the likely result of this change would be a significant rise in pets leaving the shelter in garbage bags.
The packet presented at the workshop looks like it was put together by someone who hates animals. There is support for MSN (a punitive law which has failed to decrease killing everywhere it’s been tried), opposition to TNR (in the form of old articles from cat hating groups), and documentation of a minor incident between a child and a dog at an offsite adoption event (which is the reason the county has suspended the offsite adoption program). Much of the remainder is focused on money.
What the Citrus Co board of commissioners doesn’t seem to be taking into account here is that increased killing goes hand in hand with decreased community support. If the volunteers who have worked so hard to get more animals adopted and rescued start watching their animals go into the dumpster, they aren’t likely to continue raising money and donating their time to the shelter. The public will likewise be turned off, as is commonly found in many communities where the residents know the local shelter is a depressing death house. Compassionate donors don’t like to give money to places that kill animals.
Shelter volunteers are advocating for the animals by speaking out publicly and contacting the board of commissioners with their concerns about the proposed change. Let’s hope it’s enough to force the board to see reason. Citrus Co has some good things going for it at the shelter, no need to flush it all away. And while continued improvements would be the preferred route, even if all the board manages is to do nothing at all, that would be better than implementing this arbitrary kill order.