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"Kill" or "No-Kill" - There is No Good Answer

As the owner of The Pet Post I am passionate about animals. There are times when issues affecting the wellbeing of animals cause me to stand up and take a strong position to either endorse or oppose such matters. As of recent, one of those occurrences has come to my consideration; there is a controversial issue being presented by a group of individuals to implement a "no-kill" ordinance within the operating platform of Long Beach, CA, Animal Care Services (ACS). Surprisingly to me, I find this movement to be reckless in nature, and a "no-kill" mandate will bring great harm to thousands upon thousands of displaced animals deserving of a second chance for a quality life.


Open admission animal control centers similar to ACS provide accommodations for animals that are displaced from their homes, providing them the opportunity to be housed until they are rescued by individuals or families. It is true that not all the animals entering a shelter (primarily dogs and cats) are adoptable pets. Some of the displaced animals come from the streets and are deemed uncontrollable; some come from homes of severe neglect and animal cruelty, and some are too despondent to save. Then there are those animals that come to the animal shelter and face their demise simply because they come from an overbred species that no one wants to adopt such as the Pit Bull and the Chihuahua. In any event, most of the animals entering a shelter "do have" a chance to be rescued and live a flourishing life.

Like many individuals, thinking of the phrase "no-kill" has such an inviting connotation, which anyone with the love for animals would want to happen. I personally get sick to my stomach by knowing that thousands of animals are put to death on a frequent basis in animal shelters across our nation as the result of pet overpopulation. Making matters worse, the majority of these senseless deaths are the cause of human mistake, ignorance, and the lack of judgment, and not the fault of an animal. So the question at hand – why would I so strongly oppose a "no-kill" ordinance?

Let's take a step back and visualize a "no-kill" animal shelter and what that means to a displaced animal. Animals "accepted" into a no-kill animal shelter will be spared from their demise and live in solitary confinement, "the cage", until they are adopted therefore; an animal can live in a cage for an indefinite amount of time. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) provides a write up on their website conferring such a situation: "One PETA staffer who used to manage a "no-kill" shelter had a change of heart after seeing a pit bull that had lived in a cage for 12 years. He had gone mad from confinement and would spend the day slamming his body against the sides of his cage, becoming so enraged that the workers were afraid to handle him. After witnessing this miserable life, she realized that some fates truly are worse than death" (PETA).

Let us look at another view. A person is surrendering his pet to a "no-kill" shelter do to circumstances out of his control. When he arrives he learns there is no room at the shelter and he is turned away. Chances are unless the person with the intention to surrender his pet to a shelter changes his mind, more than likely the pet will be abandoned to the streets; destined to live in a hostile environment with no shelter, and no food, eventually dying from starvation and disease. Point and case, as the result of a "no-kill" mandate, thousands upon thousands of animals are abandoned to the streets to live out their lives in complete hopelessness.
Now, two new questions arise. Is it more humane to surrender an animal to an open admission animal shelter where he has the opportunity to be rescued? Or is it more humane to protect an animal from his possible demise, abandoning him to the streets to live out his life with complete hopelessness because the "no-kill" shelter couldn't accept him?

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Reality! Not all animal control centers operate in the same manner. Some animal control centers have an operating platform that is responsible when considering the life of displaced animals; creating opportunities and maximizing resources to save as many displaced lives as possible. Some animal control centers have an operating platform that is less desirable and does not consider the lives of animals; does not create opportunities or makes use of available resources to save the lives of displaced animals.
I am satisfied to say that Animal Care Services (ACS) is a responsible animal care center. Could the city make improvements within the operating platform of the control center? Absolutely! Taking the lives of animals is ruthless. Be that as it may, ACS has made noteworthy strides over the years; reducing the shelters euthanasia percentage, while increasing the live release percentage for displaced animals both, domesticated and wild. Let us take a look at some of the accomplishments completed by ACS for the fiscal year 2013:

  • For the fiscal year 2013 nearly $55,000 was allocated to the city's Spay and Neuter voucher program and the Fix Long Beach program.
  • ACS management team, city officials, and planners have reviewed the prospects to establish an onsite spay and neuter/vet clinic for the ACS.
  • ACS launched a mobile "application" for Long Beach residents to download, which lists and promotes displaced pets for adoption; provides residents the ability to view and recover lost pets, allows pet owners to locate emergency veterinarian care hospitals, find low cost animal clinics, and dog parks. http://longbeach.gov/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=6750&TargetID=63 
  • ACS has increased animals available for adoption and awareness by utilizing concentrated social network programs with Facebook, Twitter, and as previously mentioned the ACS mobile app.
  • ACS continues to maintain and improve a unique and positive relationship with Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles; transferring adoptable animals from ACS to the care and the adoption program of spcaLA.
  • ACS has formed over 80 relationships with local non-profit animal rescue groups; homing hundreds of displaced cats and dogs on a yearly basis; providing them the opportunity for a second chance.
  • The adoption teams is working with local adoption locations, reassigning displaced dogs and cats to their care, and too participate in their adoption programs.
  • ACS employs a canine behavioral specialist to work with dogs to assess their temperament, working with many dogs to alter their questionable behaviors into positive qualities; improving their chances to become adoptable pets.
  • ACS has worked with The Pet Post to offer the community three pet adoption and pet fair events that have assisted to save the lives of nearly 300 displaced dogs and cats. The Pet Post will be collaborating with ACS to discuss 2014 pet adoption events.
  • ACS in partnership with Long Beach City Prosecutor, Doug Haubert will host the 3rd Annual Animal Cruelty Prevention & Care Conference 2014.

Although these accomplishments are noteworthy, this does not mean that ACS is not accountable for a weak volunteer program, absence of staffing, insufficient operating hours, costly release fees associated with reuniting a lost pets with their rightful owners, and deficient animal awareness/community educational programs throughout the city. These are areas of great concern for many citizens, non-profit animal rescue/humane organizations, and prominent animal advocates within the city, which must be addressed. With that being said, that leads me back to my beginning question.... why would I so strongly oppose a "no-kill" ordinance?

A "no-kill" mandate for ACS does not make sense when the organization understands the meaning of "saving as many lives of displaced animals as possible", while making strong efforts to reduce pet overpopulation through spay and neuter programs; reducing pet overpopulation in the city's shelter through their commitment to work with local animal rescue organizations.

Yes it is true and I have addressed some concerns ACS must agree upon. They must continue to listen to the members of our community and make some vital enhancements to their operating platform. ACS must continue to build upon their resources to save the lives of displaced animals, and then change some of their policies making it easier for separated pet owners to reunite with their separated pets. They have a duty to improve upon the organization's pet adoption program, and launch a series of animal awareness/community educational program for the residents of Long Beach.

As far as the group seeking to implement a "no-kill" ordinance into the operational platform of ACS, "shame on you." A "no-kill" mandate is a reckless initiative and the program would cost the lives of thousands upon thousands of displaced animals. Would you not be better to abandon your irresponsible mission and join a city of winners striving to save the lives of displaced pets opposed to working against ACS? Or maybe you should apply your efforts to a city with a failing animal services program?

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