Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public in Ohio. Because kittens. (photo by Casey Post)
The Greenville Co pound in SC has implemented two new policies concerning cats:
1. Kittens born at the pound who weigh less than 100 grams will be taken from their mothers and killed immediately. The reason, as stated in an e-mail written by Susan Bufano, the community relations coordinator for the Greenville Co pound, in response to a concerned citizen:
It is not a normal, healthy birth weight and our vet has determined that they will probably not survive.
“Probably not” indicates to me an inherent admission that there is some hope for survival. And I think that hope is very reasonable, considering the following:
- The ASPCA says 100 grams is “an average birth weight for kittens… depending on breed and litter size.” Average means some kittens will weigh a little more than 100 grams, some a little less. Size of the mother cat and number of kittens in the litter must be taken into account when evaluating birth weight of each individual.
- This government study which looked at newborn kitten weights in five different cat breeds found that only two breeds, Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat (both large cats), had kittens which averaged more than 100 grams at birth. The other three breeds studied – Birman, Persian, and Siamese/Oriental Shorthair – all had kittens whose average weight at birth was between 82 and 97 grams.
- A random veterinarian I found via Google wrote: “Kittens have a normal birth weight of 100 ± 10 g (3.5 ± 0.35 oz). Kittens with a birth weight of less than 90 g (3.2 oz) have poor survival rates.”
Given this information, it’s not at all clear to me that the Greenville Co pound policy is based in science. That is, the notion that kittens weighing less than 100 grams at birth “will probably not survive” appears dubious, at best. And to be clear, taking newborn kittens of any weight away from their nursing mothers in order to kill them is something only monsters would do. Kittens have a right to live and their mothers have the right to care for them. No animal “shelter” policy trumps those rights. Any “shelter” staff members who do not recognize that fact should resign immediately, before any additional animals are harmed due to their failures.
The other new policy at the pound:
2. Orphaned kittens under one pound are deemed “rescue only” and must leave the shelter within three hours. The reason, per Ms. Bufano’s e-mail:
We want our fosters to focus on the animals who have the highest likelihood for survival[.]
It was so hard on wonderful, loving fosters to take these neonate kittens home only for them not to thrive (and, the small weight also ended up indicating illness in the mothers) and pass away, regardless of how hard they cared for them. I witnessed the agony of many fosters who blamed themselves, when we all know that some kittens just don’t make it. They will be fine one day and die the next.
So, the decision was made to save the animals that had the most chance at survival. In doing so, we are anticipating more life saving, not less.
Wow, apparently it takes a whole mountain of bullshit to allow monsters to sleep at night.
By branding pets “rescue only”, shelters shut out an enormous pool of potential help: the general public. It’s not a good strategy to increase lifesaving. Also bad: using phony we-care-about-rescuers’-feelings as an excuse for killing kittens. How did someone even think this twisted thing up? Also also bad: requiring rescue groups, typically operated out of people’s homes on shoestring budgets, to somehow get orphaned kittens out of the Greenville Co pound within three hours of arrival.
Rescuers often have day jobs, families, and other pets in need of care and will rarely be in a position to drop everything in order to quickly snatch kittens from the kill room at the pound. That is, assuming the pound has promptly notified rescue contacts by mental telepathy since e-mail or voicemail obviously won’t suffice in these situations. How would you like to be the rescuer who checks her e-mail at lunch or after work and finds out a litter of orphaned kittens you would have been willing to save was killed by Greenville Co because you didn’t check your messages sooner? How is threatening to kill newborn orphaned kittens consistent with the county’s purported concern for rescuers’ emotional well-being?
While those who kill shelter pets instead of doing their jobs often blame the so-called irresponsible public for the killing, it is the shelter staff, following antiquated and inhumane policies designed to kill pets instead of helping them, who are to blame for the killing. In fact, no rescuers, fosters, adopters and no one outside of the Greenville Co pound should blame themselves for the needless killing being done there.
Greenville Co pretends to be interested in lifesaving and pretends to care about the emotional toll taken on the compassionate public willing to help shelter pets, all the while implementing policies so cruel and archaic, no one with a conscience need perform more than a cursory examination to determine how heartless and inconsistent with animal sheltering those policies are. Shame on Greenville Co for pretending to care. There are few worse things in this world. And they do those there, too.
Added, April 19, 2014:
Bringing up from the comments, from spaycritter, for those wanting to know who to contact about the needless killing of kittens at the Greenville Co pound:
Just an FYI– emails/calls to GCACS will be spun into gold.. Seriously , they will be said to “create drama , and take away from the staff’s ability to care for the animals in our facility”… at least , that’s what has been said on past attempts to shine a light. A better tactic is to contact the bosses of the boss..Here is contact info for those interested
Go to the county admin and county council..And since Greenville County contracts with Spartanburg County, contacting the same offices of S’burg county would be good..