File photo. Dogs at the Castaic Animal Care Center await to find new owners on "Clear the Shelter" day on Saturday, August 19, 2017. Christian Monterrosa/ The Signal

Barger seeks review of Animal Care policy at shelters

L.A. County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger wants more to be done for cats and dogs ending up at county animal shelters and a review of policies currently in place.

Barger wants the county to take a closer look at “best practices” when it comes to animal welfare.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a motion that would direct the Department of Animal Care and Control to report back to the board in 90 days with updates on efforts toward embracing the socially conscious animal sheltering model — an alternative to the no-kill policy.

The Animal Care officials would also come back with recommendations for informing the community of sheltering updates, including the increased canvassing for licensing of animals and the use of vouchers for subsidized spay and neuter services.

“Socially conscious animal sheltering best practices relating to animal welfare continue to change as we gain a better understanding of prior sheltering tactics,” Barger wrote in a memo to supervisors explaining her motion.

“Some ‘no-kill’ policies have shed light on the unintended consequences of these practices,” she points out to her fellow supervisors.

According to Barger, some of the “unintended consequences” of a ‘no-kill” policy include: 

  • selective admission policies and surrender fees
  • overcrowding
  • grossly extended lengths of stay for animals
  • failure to provide basic necessities of life
  • unsafe adoption decisions
  • failure to respond to calls about animals in need in the field.

“Examples of these failed operational practices have caused many to move away from the ‘no-kill’ philosophy and toward humane policies that best prioritize animal welfare and public safety,” she wrote in documents that serve as briefs for supervisors considering the motion.

One animal control agency characterized the consequences of “no-kill” as “euthanasia by proxy,” she wrote, saying it causes tens of thousands of animals to suffer and die on the streets after being abandoned and in many cases getting hit by cars.

In the 2018-19 Fiscal Year, the County Department of Animal Care and Control took in over 60,000 animals, according to Barger.

Animal Care and Control is now adopting new philosophies to ensure safe and humane results for animals and people.

This philosophy of “socially conscious animal sheltering,” Barger wrote, strives to create the best outcomes for all animals and is being adopted by many other animal welfare organizations across the nation.

The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, she pointed out, recently stated, “CVMA believes a socially conscious sheltering approach provides greater benefits for animals and for the community; as such, we strongly support socially conscious sheltering and oppose the no-kill movement.”

Advocates say incorporation of the socially conscious sheltering philosophy ensures that communities have access to appropriate information to demand that animals receive the care, consideration and respect they deserve.

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