1. Reforming the Shelters
2. Introducing legislation to protect shelter animals
Reform the Shelters
Things at animal shelters across the country need to change, so where better to start, than right here in Central New York? We have to take care of things in our own backyard, before moving on to others.
This is not about accusations and finger pointing. It is about speaking the truth and making a difference. Animal abuse and neglect happens every day in shelters and so-called rescues and has been well documented for years. Even with proof of neglect and suffering being reported, it continues to be allowed to happen under the cloak of secrecy, behind shelter walls. And it is not against the law.
The bottom line is that, unless and until, every person entrusted with care of animals in shelters, actually cares about the well-being of those animals, nothing will change. Shelters need to be transparent and people need to be aware of what really happens behind the shelter doors.
Shelters need a director who is ready to move in a different direction. The single biggest factor for lifesaving success or failure is often who runs the shelter. Rather than prior experience running a shelter, the job description should list skills which can be transferred to the shelter environment. Too often, prior experience running a shelter means a history of killing. In addition, while communities should provide adequate funding, who runs the shelter has a larger impact on lifesaving than the size of the budget. Moreover, the job description should put saving lives on at least equal footing with public health. They should place as much emphasis on compassion, animal care, reducing killing, and measurable results, as they do on the other responsibilities of animal control.*
Speaking of funding, what are your donations to your local animal shelter used for? Are they making the best use of the money and other items they regularly receive, or are they throwing away perfectly good donations, because they aren't needed at the time? Are they helping to fund proactive education programs and promoting the spaying & neutering of pets? Whether or not you donate directly to the shelter, often times, you are paying for animal sheltering through your town & county or village taxes.
Many shelters contract with government agencies for services. These services are not cheap and the cost is passed on to the public in their tax bills. For more information, or to find out if your town or county contracts with a shelter for animal control, check the shelter website or contact your local officials and ask them. You might be surprised by what you learn about the animal services you pay for. At the very least, they should be making the information about the animals they shelter, public.
Unfortunately, the abuse and neglect of shelter animals is not illegal. The shelters are operating within the current confines of NYS Ag & Markets Law.
Which brings us to the second part of the project.
Introduce & Enact Legislation
Follow the link to the newyorkcapa website on the menu to see the latest updates.
Changing the way things are done at the shelters is one thing. Protecting animals in all of NYS now and in the future, is another. We need to get our elected officials to take action. The laws have got to change.
We need to get the conversation started by meeting with elected officials and helping them to understand how important it is to enact laws to protect animals. We need to write letters and make phone calls. Model legislation exists and can be used and modified as needed for this purpose.
We can afford to save them all!
Follow the "Saving 90" * link at the top of the page, for a list of shelters who are currently saving over 90% of the animals that go through their doors. There are a great number of success stories happening everywhere. We can be the next. Let's do this!
*courtesy of the No Kill Advocacy Center