MYTH VS. FACT

MYTH:

Building a new, centrally located facility will improve Multnomah County Animal Services’ efficiency and performance.

FACT:

Without comprehensive change, a new building, no matter how modern and well-located, will not fix the chronic problems plaguing MCAS.

Improving MCAS efficiency and performance does not require a new building – it requires dynamic leadership, a bold resolution and the rigorous implementation of a strategic plan.

Moreover, an agency which does not have the confidence, trust and respect of the community it serves will find it impossible to gain public support for a new facility. Multnomah County officials seeking donations to a multi-million dollar capital campaign, will be up against this cold, hard fact: confidence, trust and respect must be earned.

MYTH:

MCAS does not kill any savable animals.

FACT:

By its own admission, MCAS does kill savable animals. Agency statistics published on its website state that in 2011, MCAS killed 822 savable animals – 188 savable dogs and 634 savable cats.

These animals may have required some degree of medical treatment, socialization training or behavior modification.

That same year, MCAS also killed an additional 1,308 animals – 224 dogs and 1084 cats it deemed unhealthy and untreatable.

MYTH:

Pet overpopulation makes killing a necessary evil.

FACT:

Pet overpopulation is an excuse used to justify killing by many agency directors.

The overpopulation argument is political cover for the traditional animal control agency which endorses killing as an acceptable program.

The “killing our way out of killing” strategy has not worked in 150 years of animal control history.

Agency directors kill in lieu of choosing to put aggressive and effective adoption, spay/neuter, pet retention, foster, medical and behavioral rehabilitation, TNR programs into place.

In short, they fail to do what is necessary to stop the killing.

The overpopulation excuse can be challenged by the following numbers which are proven daily at shelters which refuse to perpetuate the overpopulation myth:

Approximately 4 million dogs and cats are killed in U.S. shelters yearly.

Widely accepted data proves that only 10% of these animals are irremediably suffering or exhibiting behaviors which make them unrehabilitatable.

Thus, 90% or roughly 3.6 million of all shelter animals are “savable”.

If only 3% of the approximately 17 million people looking to bring a dog or cat into their homes could be convinced to adopt a shelter animal, all killing could be eliminated.

Even the Humane Society of the United States (which has no affiliation with the Oregon Humane Society) conceded in late 2008 that by “increasing the percentage of people who obtain their pets through adoption – by just a few percentage points – we can solve the problem of euthanasia of dogs and cats. Along with Maddie’s Fund and the Ad Council, they created The Shelter Pet Project (TheShelterPetProject.org) to do just that.

MYTH:

You can’t adopt your way out of killing.

FACT:

You can adopt your way out of killing if and when a compassionate, dedicated and committed animal services director employs an aggressive adoption program as part of a comprehensive strategy which includes Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) for feral cats, proactive redemption or Return to Owner (RTO) services, high volume spay / neuter programs, the effective use of rescue groups, foster care, pet retention programs, medical and behavior rehabilitation, public relations and community involvement.

No single strategy alone will bring about significant change, however, the rigorous implementation of the entire plan has proven to dramatically reduce killing.

MYTH:

Spay / neuter education and mandatory laws are the only way.

FACT:

Spay / neuter is key but is alone insufficient. Mandatory spay/neuter laws have never worked anywhere and often lead to increased intake and killing.

MYTH:

It’s the public’s fault.

FACT:

“Blame the public” is an excuse, not a strategy.

The public may be responsible for animals entering animal control agencies but not for what happens after they arrive.

MYTH:

MCAS employees, who do their best to save animals, are being blamed.

FACT:

Shelter employees are not to blame for MCAS problems.

They cannot be expected to overcome the absence of strong leadership, a comprehensive plan, clearly defined strategies and goals, oversight and accountability.

MYTH:

Animal rescue / welfare groups should do more to help.

FACT:

Heroic individuals, groups and organizations are working tirelessly to rescue, house, feed, foster, spay / neuter, provide medical and behavioral care, and conduct TNR programs for feral cats. In most cases, they are taking on the responsibilities that MCAS is either unable or unwilling to do.

MYTH:

No kill won’t work in OUR community.

FACT:

No kill will work in our community.

No kill programs are working in public animal service agencies in every region of this country – affluent and disadvantaged, rural and urban.

Achieving no kill is not easy. It requires total adherence, dedication and commitment to a program of comprehensive strategies and programs, however, even if we assume that we can never achieve no kill success, we still will save thousands of lives just by trying.