Thursday, September 18, 2008

Politics Closer To Home: KCAS Witch Hunt

You may recall that I've talked about no-kill shelters before, and how that feel-good label actually works to many animals' disadvantage. See my no-kill summary at the bottom of this post for a refresher. It's relevant to my larger point.

Anyhow, there seems to be a witch-hunt in King County to close down the King County Animal Care and Control shelter. It is one of the remaining open admission shelters in the area now that the Humane Society in Bellevue has been perverted to "no-kill." And, the King County shelter is vulnerable because of past poor management.

Leading the charge on this poorly thought-out mission is apparently one Claire Davis of the Coalition for a No Kill King County. Recently, one of Davis' stalking horses, a Dr. Brad Crauer, blasted the King County shelter in a Seattle Times article for a variety of lapses, apparently in an effort to get the place shut-down or taken over (perhaps by the aforementioned Humane Society?).

However, it turns out Brad Crauer may have been a poor choice for the the Coalition because... well, Crauer isn't the most credible of people. For instance, you might think twice about listening to the recommendations of a vet who "prescribed pain and muscle relaxant medications for himself, using his deceased dog's name."

Ho boy.

And that, my friends, is not even the least of it. Heart worm is potentially in Washington state thanks to Dr. Crauer. For a full list of Crauer's many credibility issues, check out this post from the KCAS CREATURES blog.

It's true that the King County Animal Shelter has had issues and still has them--several people have been brought on board to put the shelter on the right track, including Nancy McKenney, former CEO of the Humane Society. In any case, turning the place into a no-kill shelter is not the solution, because it will ill-serve thousands of animals every year (see below).

And even more to the point, lying and smearing to get your way says a lot about the validity of your goal.

No-Kill: "No-kill" is nice spin term that gets folks riled up for its emotional content; politicians find it easy to get behind because most people don't know what no-kill really means. If a shelter bills itself as no-kill, it is purposefully ignoring the realities of the animal welfare world, where there are (sadly) many many sick, aggressive, terminally ill, or otherwise non-adoptable animals who deserve a more humane end than death by starvation or exposure.

There is certainly a place for no-kill shelters, especially for a group that has limited funds. But no-kill shelters pass the buck by not taking in animals they see as having poor adoption probability. They get to keep their 'no-kill' status by sending animals to open admission shelters. (Actually, the truth is, no shelter is no-kill; a whole other layer of prevaricating going on with that.) If there are no open admission shelters in an area, what do you suppose happens to the stray dog you found on the road? Well, you might take it home... or, you take it to an open admission shelter. What happens when Claire Davis makes the whole county no-kill? A lot of suffering animals, that's what.


HonestyHelps said...

Nicely said, Bruce. Passing the buck can easily be substituted for the term "no kill". What path you take to stop euthanizing in the shelters determine how much suffering the animals have to endure along the way. My experience shows that crowding and warehousing creates unspeakable suffering. And this is what happens when you have too many and not enough room. There are better ways to combat the problem but they don't happen overnight. And neither do they create unnecessary suffering. What is so difficult to understand about stopping the influx and it will stop the euthanasia? Can't kill what is not there.

Anonymous said...

Your blog entry about the problems with no kill shelters is one of the most concise, on target pieces I've ever read on the subject.

I've worked at several no kill shelters.

You are 100 percent right.