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Animal Shelters & Animal Rescue Mired in Failing Template

March 3rd, 2010

Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”    Albert Einstein

I like animals—ALL animals.  But where I seem to be able to make a difference is in the instruction of owners of dogs, and by extension, the lives of dogs.  Therefore, my concern about what is happening is focused, primarily, upon dogs.

I wish to continue the discussion begun in the last post about the Cut Bank Shelter.

As we discussed, the Cut Bank Animal Shelter has stepped outside of the animal shelter template of dog handling and is, with unprecedented success, and on a very limited budget, permanently re-homing adopted dogs.

How?  By not following the failing template used by animal shelters and rescues around the United States, but by concentrating on improving the behavior of the dogs and instructing owners on how to maintain that good behavior once the dog is adopted.

I don’t believe that the majority of animal shelters or rescues WANT to fail in helping animals.  But, they do.  They all follow the same template and it isn’t working.  It’s time to demand they change how they handle animals. 

But, in order to do that, one needs to know what is failing and not continue to use a training method, disbursement of funds, or listen to entities expounding the same old cliches, to name just a few of the parts of the failing template.  For to adopt any part of the failure is to ensure continued failure.

Here are some disconcerting facts:

  • U.S. charitable giving is estimated to be $307.65 BILLION (in 2008)
  • The average American earning under $50,000 gave 6.1 percent of income to charities
  • The average American earning under $10,000 gave $991 to charities
  • The average American gave 3.4 % of their income to charity
  • There are (listed) 12,732 Animal Shelters & Rescues in the United States (PetFinder  shelters by state added for total)
  • Of that total, 834 are No-Kill
  • HSUS says there are about 3,000 shelters  (it helps them to have skewed numbers for soliciting funds)
  • 3-5 million animals are euthanized yearly (2008 figures)
  • The current rate of euthanasia is about 32%  (this low number is due, in a large part, to Rescues taking animals out of shelters in order to save them from euthanasia)
  • HSUS says there are about 3-4 million animals ADOPTED annually from shelters
  • Current recidivism rates of adopted animals can reach 50% by shelter

Let’s take some of those numbers and do some math.  (Please feel free to double-check my math.  Even if I’m wrong, and there’s a good chance of that, the numbers will still be huge.)

Using an arbitrary amount of .025%  (of percentage of income given annually to charities) divided into $307 billion we come up with a total of approx. $7.6 BILLION given to shelters and rescues in 2008.  Not wildlife or animals around the world—simply shelters and rescues.

If we use the $7.6 Billion divided by the listed shelters/rescues, that comes out to be approx. $602 MILLION per shelter/rescue annually.  (This number does NOT INCLUDE monies in City budgets for Animal Control.)

The Seattle PI (David Martosko, July 15, 2008) has this to say about two of the largest Animal Fund Vampires (my own name for them):

“Look at how PETA has spent the money it already has:  The group raised more than $30 million last year, and found adoptive homes for 17 animals. Just 17. Meanwhile, it killed 1,815 dogs and cats — slightly more than the number of naked interns it sent out to “save” cows, chickens, and minks.

And although much of the public (and press) consider HSUS to be an actual “humane society,” its record isn’t any better. The group’s name hides its lack of affiliation with any hands-on pet shelter anywhere in America. Of the $85-plus million HSUS spent in 2006, it gave only 4.2 percent to pet shelters.”  (Ed. note: it is estimated that HSUS has taken in over $95 million in U.S. donations, the $85 million above is what it spent in lobbying,  salaries,  etc.)

So let’s do more math:

$602 million, take away PETA and HSUS (less what it says it gave to shelters) amounts, leaves $491 million PER SHELTER OR RESCUE.

So where is all the money?????

The majority of it is going into everything BUT the animals.  It goes for bigger, flashier buildings, architect fees, salaries, taxes (on employees, etc), advertising, fund-raising, membership fees for administrators, utilities, and the list goes on.

One of the big expenditures (other than fund raising) is “Public Education” or “Humane Education”.  Shelter employees take animals out into public or into classrooms to meet children in order to “teach” humane attitudes.  However, “…no shelter director—not a single one—can point to any results…Over thirty years of humane education has yet to produce a single study showing it has had any impact, while millions of dollars are diverted to the effort nationwide.” (Redemption:  The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America, Nathan J. Winograd, 2009, Almaden Books)

Let’s stop scrabbling for wasted dollars.  Let’s stop pleading for more money.  Let’s stop blaming owners.  Let’s stop blaming breeders.  Let’s stop blaming pet overpopulation.  Let’s stop blaming animals.  Let’s not waste time.

We need to hold up the Cut Bank success as a new template.  Let’s attract the donated dollars of caring people by holding up successes—NOT FAILURES.

Cut Bank has proven they can find homes for dogs.  Homes that are permanent.  They have proven they can do it without killing the majority of the dogs that come through the door.  If their success is spread, they will see an increase in donations and that will have a positive result for ALL the animals in the Cut Bank Animal Shelter.

If you are involved in a rescue or shelter operation, I suggest you learn how Cut Bank achieved this success and duplicate it.  If you are an owner or potential owner, I suggest you donate to, or adopt from, a shelter or rescue that is using the Cut Bank template.

If your local shelters or rescues aren’t using this template, tell them about it.  It may simply be they don’t know there is a better way.  If they can’t or won’t change, find a group willing to do it the right way, the successful way.  The way that truly benefits the animals.

God knows there’s more than enough money out there for each shelter or rescue, but not if it is going to be thrown down the drain on the useless, failure-ridden system currently in place. Current shelters and rescues cannot show success.  Cut Bank can and has.  Simple.

You can help without even leaving your computer.  Simply send this blog on to others you know.  Leave your opinion in the comments section.  The more hits it gets, the higher ranked and easier it will be for the average person to stumble upon and learn there is a better way for the dogs.

Ultimately you are helping to save animals’ lives by spreading a new, successful template.

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