Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gwinnett's Policy of Killing Owner Surrender's

Killing Owner Surrender’s

Current policy at animal control is to immediately kill owner surrenders that do not include documented vaccination records when surrendered. It is unacceptable under any humane context to kill a pet simply because the surrendering owner did not or could not provide proof if such vaccinations.

The current management excuse for this abusive abhorrent policy is that unvaccinated pets pose a "disease" issue for the shelter. Fact is stray pets picked up in the field do not come with vaccination records either.

This issue of senselessly killing "undocumented" owner surrenders has been discussed numerous animal advisory meetings and yet the policy is still in effect. How we adopted such a foolish excuse for killing owner surrenders has never been clear.
One reason given for killing owner surrenders who were not current on vaccinations was "this (owner’s surrendering unvaccinated pets) is not allowed because the public started using this service as a "sick" pet drop off to avoid veterinary care"

So, in other words, our shelter is punishing irresponsible "dead beat" pet owners who are too cheap to vet their dogs by killing the dog? 

I first became aware of shelter’s policy on killing owner surrenders a few years ago when a citizen shared a story of an old beagle that had been dropped off at the shelter by her owner. This poor old girl was dragged back to the euthanasia room howling in fear only minutes after her owner left.

I can only imagine how frightened she was. Sentencing a dog to death for the actions of an irresponsible owner solves nothing, the dog is now dead and the owner is still irresponsible. The only difference is OUR SHELTER is irresponsible for participating in that killing.

If the issue in our community is pet owners who can’t afford to take their dogs to the vet then shouldn’t that issue be addressed rather than implementing a program that kills the dog who is already victimized?

Since the county doesn’t want or need to accept the responsibility of placing these pets we must establish a policy of making ALL owner surrender’s available to rescue partners as a first option rather than simply taking them into the shelter. All owner surrenders need to be transferred to licensed rescue partners groups for fostering and placement OR the shelter must vaccinate these pets while providing the same vigilance in seeking new homes as the strays are afforded.

Through an outsourcing partnership with the rescue community pet owners could work closely in finding these pets new homes without costing taxpayers in the process. In practice, rescue groups are better prepared to conduct home inspections, hold off site adoptions, evaluate application options and match up pets to new owners then public shelters.

A progressive animal services unit should be able to offer pet retention alternatives to help aid owners surrendering their pets at the shelter. A trained volunteer staff with strong people and customer service skills is needed to answer calls and counsel pet owners surrendering pets at the shelter on resources and rescue partner options that might be available instead.

The road to "no kill" should always include making the necessary changes in policy that stops the senseless killing "one dog" at a time.  

To read more on the issues facing advocates as we revitalizing our animal welfare policies;

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