Transferring is a great way to save lives. Moving homeless pets from an overcrowded shelter to another shelter, foster or rescue that has room is a great way to utilize other resources to save lives until a new adopter can be found. I completely support this.
But I am little concerned about Rescued Pets Movement (RPM) work to wholesale ship homeless pets to Colorado. I don’t have 2013 Statistics for the state yet, but in 2012 we killed more than 25,000 cats and dogs in our shelter system.
One might make the argument that Colorado has done a better job than other states, but this does not provide comfort to the more than 25,000 animals killed.
I have heard that Rescued Pets Movement (RPM) is ramping up its activities to transfer more homeless pets to Colorado. It is said they are getting the city to vote to put $412,000 towards funding these transfers. Wait, what?
RPM have already transferred thousands pets in danger. No one can deny that. What they do is a good thing from Houston’s perspective, but how does this affect Colorado’s homeless pets, and the number of pets killed?
Could that money be better spend in Houston to save lives? If that amount is approved, it should not be approved for transfer, or at least not transfer only.
Recently I was involved in a transfer initiative from Antonito Colorado to No Kill rescues and shelters in the state. More than 100 stray dogs and cats were sent to No Kill shelters and rescues. In parallel, we spayed more than 200 cats and dogs in the community as well. So although we are transferring today to save lives, we are also working to make the community self sufficient and save themselves.
That was patently false. The community came together, led by one energetic and inspired individual. The city, the county, the community and other Colorado organizations stepped up and helped the town. And this will expand and continue until the state is saving every homeless pet. And they have a local rescue now. They have local fosters. Pets were adopted locally.
And Houston needs to do the same. Transferring is not a solution. It is a component to a wider strategy that needs to be implemented to get to a Houston that doesn’t kill pets and does not just send them to other communities to deal with.
If Colorado is killing 25,000 pets, how many are because of homeless pets being transferred into the state? And how many shelters kill to make room for them? How many homeless pets are not pulled by local rescues because they are full with dogs from Houston’s BARC shelter and other out of state organizations?
About 12,000. That’s how many.
Colorado needs to eliminate killing of healthy treatable pets in its shelter system. Once that is done, please let’s help out of state communities if we have adopters to pull dogs from these organizations. But for now, communities need to improve internally. Even Colorado cities and towns should not use transfer to other cities and towns as its only strategy, they need to create the programs and services needed to make themselves a compassionate, humane community that saves every pet and as many as possible without shipping them out of town.
This means doing 11 things:
- TNR Program
- High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter
- Rescue Groups
- Foster Care
- Comprehensive Adoption Programs
- Pet Retention
- Medical and Behavior Prevention & Rehabilitation
- Public Relations/Community Involvement
- Proactive Redemptions
- A Compassionate Shelter director or, when there is no shelter, a leader to make the community a pet friendly place.
$400K can go a long way in getting these programs and services up and running.
Houston, you need to embrace the No Kill Equation and start saving animals at home. The pets you send might go to loving families in Colorado. They may do it at the expense of another pet. Or they may be wind up in an overcrowded shelter and be deemed “unadoptable”. And we know that could mean death depending on the shelter. Your state has one of the safest places in the US for homeless pets – Austin.