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

Supes endorse motion for ‘socially conscious’ alternatives for shelters

County supervisors endorsed a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to adopt socially conscious animal sheltering operating practices as an alternative.

The decision was welcomed by Los Angeles County’s shelters run by the Animal Care and Control Department, including the Castaic Animal Shelter.

“The Department of Animal Care and Control is proud to stand with these forward-thinking, responsible and compassionate organizations, and will continue to provide innovative solutions to make our communities safer and more humane for animals and residents,” according to Marcia Mayeda, director of the department, in a news release issued Tuesday after the decision.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a directive for the Department of Animal Care and Control to report back in 90 days with updates on its adoption of socially conscious animal sheltering operating practices.

Euthanize

All county shelters, including the Castaic Animal Shelter, euthanize, meaning they humanely kill, some of the animals in their care.

“DACC does not use the term ‘no-kill,’” Mayeda stated in an email Monday. “However, our live release rate for dogs is 88%, and cats is now 53%. We have made great inroads in cat live release through our foster kitten program and other programs.

“We do euthanize animals as necessary,” she said in her email.

“This includes dangerous dogs, feral cats, animals that are irremediably suffering or with illnesses with poor prognosis, etc.,” she wrote. “We make every effort to find live outcomes for our animals. 

“Our Pee Wee foster kitten program, our transportation programs to send animals to shelters where there are shortages of shelter pets, partnerships with rescue groups, and more all contribute to our success,” she said.

Barger told supervisors Tuesday that Animal Care and Control has been practicing socially conscious animal sheltering as a responsible and humane philosophy in response to the negative consequences of no-kill operating practices that have been reported across the country. 

No-kill consequences

During Tuesday’s discussion, Barger noted some of the “unintended consequences” of a “no-kill” policy include: selective admission policies; surrender fees; overcrowding; grossly extended lengths of stay for animals; failure to provide basic necessities of life; unsafe adoption decisions; and a failure to respond to calls about animals in need in the field.

These lesser-known, unintended consequences have created support for the county’s policies in a nationally known animal-welfare organization, Barger said. 

PETA-backed

The culmination of these factors have led PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as one of many animal welfare organizations to have expressed deep concern over the negative results of no-kill practices, Barger said.

Animal Care and Control reports that to meet an artificially established live release rate of animals, many no-kill practices require agencies to refuse admission to animals they cannot offer for adoption, which denies animals a safe haven and puts them in overcrowded animal shelters. 

The no-kill policy, county officials said Tuesday, results in disease outbreaks and dangerous animals being adopted into the community to meet the statistical live release goals.

L.A. County has made it a top goal to ensure every unwanted or homeless pet has a safe place to go for shelter and care. Animal care centers will not turn away animals in need of assistance, Barger noted in her news release announcing the county’s decision.

The mission of the no-kill alternative is to maximize live outcomes for animals, according to animal care officials, while also balancing animal well-being and public safety. 

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