Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"No-Kill" Animal Shelters: Heaven or Hell?

Recently, the commissioners in Brevard County, FL (population: 500,000+) "dictated" to the new, incoming county manager to hire an animal services director who "understands the no-kill shelter management philosophy." And I was amazed...

I still can’t believe how many ignore Brevard’s statistics when it comes to promoting such a policy. Whether the program is phased in or not, this county simply does not have enough space in its "open intake" facilities for such an undertaking, not to mention the fact that the two shelters we do have - 50 miles apart, mind you - are beyond decrepit.

Neither do we have a proactive county government regarding animal issues as it is not willing to fork over the necessary dollars to fund such an endeavor. Nor do we have a proactive Animal Services department in that homeless pets are never "promoted" (as in adoption events); both shelters are closed on Sundays; volunteers & rescue groups have been basically shunned and/or stymied in their efforts; foster homes are few & far between; and, to date, county employees can barely handle the duties they have now, let alone if we become "no kill."

As a former shelter employee, it would be a pipe dream to see this policy implemented. However, under the present circumstances - and learning from past history after living here 45 years - it would be more than "cruel & unusual" to see our homeless animals languishing in filthy cages, suffering anxiety & terror daily, and crammed together like so many pieces of discarded furniture just so we can tout that we're "no kill."

I agree with Commissioner Anderson on this one. Privatize the shelters, thereby allowing those knowledgeable in such operations to take over. And merging animal/code enforcement would likewise increase the amount of officers in the field to do what has been lacking for too long: Enforce the law. Maybe then we’d see some real progress on this most emotional - and very sad - issue.

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