Houston, TX – I first learned that pet overpopulation is a myth about 8 years ago after reading Nathan Winograd’s book, Redemption. Pet “overpopulation” means too many pets and not enough homes. But, No Kill shelters across the country have found that pet overpopulation does not exist because they are saving all healthy and treatable pets. If “overpopulation” was real, they would not be able to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets. It would be impossible. But, these shelters have done just that. Just because some “shelters” are still killing pets does not mean that there aren’t enough homes.
Other myths/excuses for killing pets such as “shelters can’t adopt their way out of killing” have been proven to be false as No Kill shelters continue to do exactly that.
I recently uncovered that yet another excuse used by kill shelters, and their defenders, is a myth as well. This is an excuse frequently made by kill shelters in the south. I was as astounded when I uncovered this myth as I was when I learned that pet overpopulation is a myth.
A lot of people in the south say that kill shelters, like Houston’s pound (BARC), cannot stop killing shelter pets because their intakes are so much higher than other shelters, particularly those shelters in the north. Honestly, even I assumed that southern shelters probably had higher intakes per capita than northern shelters because of the near year round warm temperatures, which would lead to near year round breeding. I did NOT believe those kill shelters’ excuses that they could not stop killing pets though. I just assumed it would be more work to do so.
But, as I researched this topic, and as I calculated “intakes per capita” (IPC) for various shelters around the country, what I found is that temperature/climate has absolutely nothing to do with per capita intake rates. And climate has absolutely nothing to do with whether a shelter can, or will, end the killing of shelter pets. There is no correlation whatsoever.
I compared BARC’s IPC to Open Admission shelters with Save Rates of 90%+ or more listed on the Saving 90 website. (Note: A lot of the shelters listed on this site are No Kill shelters. However, some may not be “No Kill” if they are not saving ALL healthy and treatable pets yet. But, all of the shelters that I researched are saving at least 90% of all animals. I’ll call them the “90% Club” here).
A lot of people assume that BARC’s IPC would be much higher than any of the shelters in the 90% Club. But, it turns out that this assumption is completely wrong. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
I calculated BARC’s IPC to be 11.35 in 2014 (i.e. 11.35 pets taken in by BARC for every 1,000 Houstonians). I have been told that national average is 14.5 IPC and some say it is as high as 30 IPC. Either way, BARC’s IPC in 2014 was well below the national average.
For the eleven 90% Club shelters that I researched, all but one, (Austin’s animal control with 9 IPC) had HIGHER intakes per capita than BARC. Higher intakes per capita would, of course, mean that those shelters have to work harder to get all healthy and treatable pets out alive. But the 90% Club still saved 90% and more, while BARC saved only 60%*.
Below are examples of what I found. Reminder: BARC; 11.35 IPC in 2014; 60%* Save Rate
90% Club shelters
1) Williamson County, TX animal control. This shelter provides animal control services for all of Williamson County and all its cities, except for Georgetown and Taylor.
15.83 intakes per capita. Their current save rate is 95%. This shelter has been saving over 90% of all shelter pets since 2010.
2) Nevada Humane Society; works in conjunction with Washoe County animal services.
19.48 IPC; 94.7% Save Rate in 2014.
3) Allegany County Animal Shelter.
22.3 IPC; 98% Save Rate for dogs and 90% Save Rate for cats.
4) Duluth, MN animal control. They also contract with Superior, Hermantown, Proctor & St. Louis County.
24.8 IPC in 2013. 95% Save Rate.
5) Los Alamos County, New Mexico.
25 IPC; 98% Save Rate for cats and 99% Save Rate for dogs.
6) Barry County, MI;
30.7 IPC; 97% Save Rate
7) Humane Society of Fremont, CO which provides animal control for Fremont County, CO as well as the cities of Canon City, Florence, Williamsburg, Rockvale & Westcliff.
34 IPC; This facility used to save only approximately 50% of shelter pets. But, within 3 months of the new director coming on board, this facility saved up to 100% of all animals entering its doors. The new director has not completed an entire year at this facility yet, but I have no doubt the year end Save Rate will be impressive.
8) Rockwall, TX animal control.
40 IPC in 2014. 96% Save Rate.
9) Brown County, IN;
41 IPC; 98% Save Rate
10) McIntosh, GA.
57.92 IPC; 91% Save Rate.
11) Kirby, Texas animal control. This shelter had the most astonishing IPC rate that I found.
130 intakes per capita! Yet, they saved 93% in 2013.
Kirby, TX is a remarkable example of an extraordinary job by a shelter director who faces incredible odds. This facility had intakes of 1,040 in 2013. One might think that 1,000+ intakes in a year is small when compared to BARC’s 24,989 cat and dog intakes.
However, when you consider that Kirby has a population of only 8,000 people, that means their animal intakes to human population was 1 pet intake to every 8 people. That is astronomically high intakes per capita compared to any other shelter that I found.
For example, if BARC had the same proportional intakes, i.e. 1 pet intake for every 8 Houstonians, BARC would have taken in 275,000 dogs and cats last year. BARC’s intakes per capita were only a tiny fraction (9%) of that of Kirby animal control. Yet Kirby’s animal control saved 93% while Houston’s BARC saved only 60%*.
The excuse that so many people have made i.e. “BARC can’t stop killing shelter pets because their intakes are higher than other shelters because Houston is “warm” or “tropical” is just that; and excuse. That excuse has no basis in fact.
Whether a shelter stops killing shelter pets has nothing to do with climate and it has nothing to do with whether a shelter has larger intakes per capita than another.
Whether a shelter stops killing depends entirely on the director of that “shelter”. Again and again, we have seen that when a shelter hires a director who is hard working, compassionate and dedicated to implementing all of the programs and services of the No Kill model of sheltering, the killing of shelter pets will end.
If you are sick and tired of the mass killing of pets in Houston and if you are sick and tired of excuses, then please contact the candidates running for mayor and city council. These are the people who can choose life or death for thousands of shelter pets because they determine who runs BARC.
I can’t stress enough to animal lovers how important that it is that EVERY ONE OF YOU talk to the candidates and ask them if they plan to ensure that the No Kill model of sheltering is implemented in Houston, if they are elected. Your vote is powerful. Before you give a candidate your vote, make sure that he/she represents your values. It will only takes a few minutes of your time but could mean life or death for thousands of shelter pets in Houston.
I recently wrote a blog saying that the most important thing you could do to help shelter pets was to contact the candidates about their plans to end shelter killing. I’ll say it again because it is SO important. Contact them. Let them know that this issue is important to you.
I have made it really easy for you to contact all of them at once because, I have collected all of their email addresses to make it really easy to copy and paste into an email at once. See below.
Make sure that YOUR vote helps end the killing of shelter pets.
Houston Voters For Companion Animals has sent Candidate Surveys regarding shelter issues to all of the candidates running for mayor and city council. You can see their responses, as they are returned, by clicking here.
A Candidate Forum on sheltering issues will be held on September 29th. Please attend and let the candidates know just how many people care about this issue. You can register for the Candidate Forum by clicking here.
Email Addresses of the candidates are below. You can also find links to their Facebook and Twitter pages by click here:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Larry@larryblackmoncampaign.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Steve@CostelloForMayor.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Klm@klmenterprise.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Michael@KuboshForCouncil.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Info@LaneLewis.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, info@MattMurphyForHouston.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, ChrisOliverforCityCouncil@gmail.com, email@example.com, Laurie4Houston@mail.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, info@GregTravisCampaign.com, Info@SylvesterTurner.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Sandie@SandieForDistrictG.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Info@votedavila.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, LccTrebor@gmail.com, MichaelKubosh@gmail.com, email@example.com, info@VoteRobertGallegos.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
*This Save Rate does not reflect the litters of puppies and kittens that BARC killed but did not count. (i.e. when BARC kills a mother dog or cat and her 5 babies, they count it as 1 killed instead of 6. This artificially increases their Save Rate, but it is a lie).
This Save Rate also does not reflect the animals shipped to other communities that are still killing shelter pets too. I do not consider it a “save” when shipping thousands of animals to other communities causes animals in those kill shelters to be killed. It just exchanges one life for another.