Georgia shelter wants to Save A Pet… but just one.

His photo was on the Columbus Animal Care & Control website as ADOPTED, but this beautiful pit bull mix is not living happily in his new home. Instead, his body has been taken to the landfill, along with countless others.

“This adorable and highly adoptable dog was adopted from Columbus Animal Control yesterday, and then owner surrendered back to the shelter today. He was immediately killed without ever making it to the website or adoption floor… sad thing is, I had an adopter from North GA lined up for this guy, but he was adopted yesterday before I could get down there” – Happy Homes

According to a CACC volunteer, the dog was surrendered the following day, because the adopter claimed he “attacked” their dog. Then without putting his photo back on the website, without contacting any rescues or any of the many animal advocates that are constantly trying to save them, and who will often intercept owner surrendered dogs if temporary placement can be found, he was taken straight back to the “euthanasia” room, and this healthy dog was killed.

I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about the city of Columbus’ Save A Pet Program. Columbus Mayor, Teresa Tomlinson, will be quick to tell people that it is modeled after the No Kill Equation, which was submitted to her by the local nonprofit organization, No Kill Columbus GA. She rejected the No Kill Equation because, let’s face it, she’s way too smart for that…

“Instead of jumping into something that sounded very good, we decided to take a more thorough approach and develop the save a pet program, that we’re quite proud of,” said Mayor Tomlinson in this “investigative” report.

She adds that in a perfect world, Columbus Animal Care and Control would not put any animals down, but stresses not only is it virtually impossible, but has also been proven to actually be harmful to animals.”

From Nathan Winograd’s No Kill Equation: Adoptions are vital to an agency’s lifesaving mission. The quantity and quality of shelter adoptions is in shelter management’s hands, making lifesaving a direct function of shelter policies and practice. If shelters better promoted their animals and had adoption programs responsive to the needs of the community, including public access hours for working people, offsite adoptions, adoption incentives, and effective marketing, they could increase the number of homes available and replace killing with adoptions. Contrary to conventional wisdom, shelters can adopt their way out of killing.

A TRUE comprehensive adoption program would include, among other things, great photographs to catch an adopters attention, a great adoption profile so potential adopters can get an idea of their personality and temperament, and the shelter should have a staff person or volunteer available to talk to adopters so they have a realistic idea of what they’re in for, including an adjustment period for a new pet to acclimate to their home and other resident pets.

Columbus’ Save A Pet Program includes what they call a Comprehensive Adoption Program. However, CACC can’t find the time to upload the photos that volunteers are taking of the shelter pets, they provide no notes about the animals available for adoption on their website or on PetFinder.com, and there is no screening process whatsoever for adopters. The city promised cage/kennel cards, listing the date adoptable, and notes about the pets. Cage card placards were ordered, but cage cards are rarely, if ever, displayed (as evidenced below). There have never been any cage cards on any of the cat cages.

The white dog above was adopted for one day, ONE DAY, before being returned to the shelter. Because he was then considered an owner surrender, he did not need to be held for the 5-day legal hold period, and he was walked straight to the kill room. They didn’t bother looking into the fact that there were others originally interested in this dog, somebody would have happilly given this dog a home for the rest of his life.

From Nathan Winograd’s No Kill Equation:
While some of the reasons animals are surrendered to shelters are unavoidable, others can be prevented—but only if shelters are willing to work with people to help them solve their problems. Saving animals requires communities to develop innovative strategies for keeping people and their companion animals together. And the more a community sees its shelters as a place to turn for advice and assistance, the easier this job will be.

The Save A Pet Program also include a Pet Retention. A TRUE pet retention program would include sitting down with somebody that has come in to surrender their pet, and discussing their options, the issues they’re having, be it health or behavior or welcoming a new baby into the home, and working with them to keep their pet out of the often deadly “shelter”, thus reducing intake and cutting down on the number of animals that would then need to find new homes. It means helping pet owners KEEP their pets. They should offer advice for pet owners BEFORE their pet’s behavior issues progress to the point where they consider giving them up. CACC does not do any of these things.

It’s time for Columbus’ Mayor to admit defeat. The Save-A-Pet Program DOES NOT WORK. Not only was it never even a good idea in theory (the No Kill Equation is the only method that has proven to increase open admission municipal facilities save rate to 90% and better), but it isn’t even being implemented in it’s entirety, and it’s been almost six months since it’s official launch. It has failed this dog, a dog that had somebody ready to adopt him, a dog that didn’t need to die, he didn’t deserve to die. When you have staff that don’t value life, that don’t care about saving these animals, this is what happens. They kill them. Instead of doing what needed to be done to find this dog a home, they killed him.

Other parts of the Save A Pet Program that do not exist include a Foster Care Network, Feral Cat TNR Program, Medical/Behavior Programs, and High Volume, Low Cost Spay/Neuter (CACC releases unaltered pets to adopters). Six of the nine parts to the Save A Pet Program currently do not exist.

3 Responses to “Georgia shelter wants to Save A Pet… but just one.

  • The mayor is a contradiction to herself – she says her shelter is modeled after the no kill equation but quotes peta, who is her biggest supporter. Everyone knows Peta’s mission is to kill all the shelter animals. We need to get temperment testing done on these animals. I read alot of crossposting from other shelters that give specific details of the dogs personality. If they had tested this dog they could have requested this dog be an only dog in a home. Some shelters even do home checks for pits to make sure they are not going into a bad environment. There is so much more we could be doing I dont understand why our shelter has to do LESS than the minimum. Its just sad.

  • Wanted to give an example of other shelters – this one from NY – that tests dogs to give people an idea of how the dog behaves. SO people can see the length other shelters to so their dogs can be adopted.

    This was about a cute pit bull=) in a NY Shelter. Copied from a post.
    04/12/2012 BEHAVIOR EVALUATION – AVERAGE
    Exam Type BEHAVIOR
    Evaluator: Jeremy Handler: Cari Anne Helper Dog: A0928736 Bossy pulls on the leash and was sociable toward the handler during the assessment – soft body, low wag. He was excited during some of the handling items, but had soft body language and engages in play, loose body, mouth open, wags tail, mouth open. He was not interested in food, but was easy to handle when chewing on toys and rawhides. Bossy rushed in quickly during the dog-dog test, but showed no aggression. Look: 1. Dog’s eyes are averted, with tail wagging and ears back. He allows head to be held loosely in Assessor’s cupped hands. Sensitivity: 1. Dog leans into the Assessor, eyes soft or squinty, soft and loose body, open mouth. Tag: 1. Dog assumes play position and joins the game. Or dog indicates play with huffing, soft ‘popping’ of the body, etc. Dog might jump on Assessor once play begins. Squeeze 1/2: 1. Dog gently pulls back his paw. Food: Inconclusive, dog is not eating. Reassess at future date. Toy: 1. Dog settles down close to chew, will relinquish toy to you. Rawhide: 1. Minimal interest in rawhide, dog may smell or lick, then turns away. Dog-dog: 2. Dog approaches helper dog with tail at spine level, body not stiff, ears relaxed, lip long or neutral.

    They need to do more for these pets!!

  • http://nokillga.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/save-a-pet-program-the-real-story-and-it-aint-pretty/

    Please see this blog which breaks down the save a pet program step by step, what is really happening as opposed to what should be happening and where this city is falling short and burying it’s head in the sand!
    Great blog Stef!

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