In a Garden Island article on euthanasia and the no-kill philosophy last weekend, NAIA president Patti Strand weighed in on the consequences of focusing on numbers over real solutions:
If [the Kauai Humane Society] were pressured to “have better numbers,” Strand said it would be impossible to do so without ample funding and effort to fix the symptoms. And that’s something she said can’t be done overnight.
“What happens is the value of saving the life of the dog is valued more highly than the value of protecting an adoptive family from a dangerous dog,” Strand said. “It’s this idea that, ‘’Gee whiz, I’d like to save this dog and he’s only nipped someone once,’ that can have real consequences.”
One of the best examples comes out of New Mexico, where the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department last year permitted more than 100 dangerous dogs to be adopted by families or returned to them after they failed nationally recognized behavioral tests.
The result was tragic: Dozens of these dogs killed or injured other pets, bit children, attacked their owners or displayed otherwise aggressive behavior.
“All across the country, dangerous dogs that should not be adopted out to the public today and wouldn’t have been adopted out 10 years ago are being adopted out,” Strand said. “The reason is this idea that there are numbers every shelter should be hitting, and it’s not that black and white. Not every community is ready to be no-kill. It’s not a switch that can just be flipped.
“I’m absolutely in favor of the wholesome goal that’s attached to the no-kill label, but you have to look below the surface to see how it’s being applied.”
As always, the focus should be striving for the best possible standards of care — in home and in shelters — on cooperation, public education, and outreach; improvements in “the numbers” will flow naturally from those goals and improvements.