Repeating misinformation does not help shelter pets

Houston, TX – There are now at least 193 communities with Open Admission shelters/pounds who are saving 90% or more of all animals (i.e. No Kill shelters).    These communities represent approximately 500 cities and towns.  This number is growing constantly.  In fact, every time I check the Out The Front Door website, the number has increased.

Yet, I received an email from a woman today claiming that No Kill is not possible.   Among the litany of  misinformation  and flat out lies claimed, she also claimed that there were 11 MILLION homeless dogs roaming the streets in the US (I don’t know how many homeless cats she believes are roaming aorund).  Her claim was made in order to justify her belief in “pet overpopulation”.  However, her claim was not based on any research whatsoever.  Her claim was based on nothing more than a look around her community and she somehow extrapolated that to 11 MILLION homeless dogs in the US.


She also claimed that there are 1.2 million homeless dogs in Houston alone.  I’ve seen or heard  variations of this number, from various people, in the last couple of months.   But, I have very serious doubts about this number.

Yes, Houston is a high kill city.   We have five high kill pounds and shelters in Houston (counting Harris county animal control which is located in Houston).  According to the last reliable records that I’ve gathered, these five pounds/kill shelters were killing around 80,000 animals per year.   Since the “non-profit” kill shelters i.e. Houston SPCA, Houston Humane Society and Citizens for Animals Protection refuse to be honest with the public and produce their intake/outcome records (I’ve asked them twice), we don’t know exactly how many animals they are saving or killing.   However, after speaking with numerous former volunteers and employees, I suspect the number is still in the 80,000 ballpark.

But even if they are still killing 80,000 shelter pets per year, that is far cry from 1.2 MILLION more homeless dogs on the streets on Houston.  Houston is 600 square miles.  1.2 MILLION homeless dogs would mean that there are Two Thousand homeless dogs per every square mile in Houston.   If that were true, we would literally be tripping over homeless dogs.  (And again, I don’t know how many million homeless cats they claim are also roaming in that space.)

I’ve asked the people making these claims how they arrived at this number.  I asked what reliable information was used to calculate this number.

So far, the silence has been deafening.

Folks, it does not help the animals to ignore facts such as there are already more than 190 No Kill communities.  In fact, continuing to claim that No Kill is not possible only gives the kill shelters a free pass to keep on killing thousands of adoptable pets each year because no one will expect them to do any better.   It does not require them to work hard or to copy the successes of the 190+ No Kill communities who already stopped killing healthy and treatable pets.

Repeating this lie only causes more shelter pets to die.

Also, it does not help the animals to just make up numbers, or repeat numbers that have no basis in reality.  We cannot create solutions using faulty data and pure fiction.

What we do know, based on actual studies done by Maddie’s Fund and HSUS, is that about 23.5 million people in the US will get a new pet each year. Some of those people have already decided where they will get that pet i.e. they will adopt from a shelter, go to a breeder or get a pet from free to good home ad etc. However, 17 million of those people have not yet decided where they will get their new pet. So these “undecideds” are the homes that are up for grabs. These 17 million people could be convinced to adopt.
Today, between 3 and 4 million animals are being killed in “shelters”. So it’s pretty clear that the “demand” for pets each year (17 million) far outnumbers the “supply” of animals being killed in shelters (3-4 million). So not only is ending shelter killing entirely doable, it is being done right now.
And the supply of shelter pets needing a new home each year is actually even less because a large portion of that 3-4 million being killed are actually lost pets that should be reunited with their owners.  For example, Washoe Co., NV animal control returns approximately 65% of pets to their owners.  Conversely, most shelters in the US average a return of only about 5% to 7%.   The Return to Owner rate at Houston’s animal control i.e. BARC has been about 7% for years.  If BARC leadership would utilize the same Return to Owner program as Washoe Co. with the same success, this one program alone would save the lives 8,100 more animals every year at BARC.  That is 8,100 animals that BARC would not need to rehome or put in foster care and 8,100 empty kennels for the animals that are truly in need of rehoming.   It is also a savings of $972,000 every year which could then be directed to programs like free spay/neuter or a Help Desk to keep animals from being relinquished by their owners.  
But, BARC leadership has consistently refused to implement this program that would save thousands of lives and tax dollars.  That is not “overpopulation”.  That is a high kill shelter that does not care enough to work hard to save those animals.  It is easier to just kill them, so they do.
In addition, that 3-4 million “supply” could be further reduced if all shelters TNR’d (trap, neuter, released) feral cats instead of killing all of them, as many kill shelters do.
That 3-4 million “supply” could be reduced further still if shelters had pet retention programs that kept many of those animals out of the shelter in the first place. 
The moral of this story is do not repeat misinformation being spread across the net. 
Repeating misinformation and lies does NOT help us save shelter pets.  Learn the real facts proved by  reliable information.  A good place to start your research is here:


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7 responses

  1. Pingback: Houston’s problem is not 1.2 million stray dogs | An Animal Advocate

  2. Pingback: Repeating the Lies from Kill Shelters Harms Shelter Pets | An Animal Advocate

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