|Try this experiment: Go to Petfinder.com, enter one of the zipcodes that represents a central part of the Twin Cities Metro and then search for dogs within a 100 mile radius. The result should tell you approximately how many dogs are currently looking for homes in and around the Twin Cities Metro area.|
I just did this. Here is a summary of the results I got back:
I found 2,120 dogs looking for homes on Petfinder in this area. While that sounds like a lot of dogs, compared to the human population, it is relatively small number. Really it is. It is, for example, about half the number of dogs wanting new homes within a 100 mile radius of zip code 73344 (Austin, Texas). At the same time, there are about 3 times as many people living in the Twin Cities as compared to Austin, TX.
Yet, Austin is no kill, with even its open admission animal control centers achieving live-release rates of more than 90%.
Historically, shelters in the Twin Cities metro area have maintained kill rates of around 50%. Though recently the Animal Humane Society - traditionally the agency responsible for killing more healthy or treatable companion animals than any other - has announced it has achieved a save rate of 81% (and that it believes 90% is possible), it is worth noting that these changes are not primarily the result of increased life-saving on the part of the humane society.
AHS has been boasting that new policies are making their 5 shelters "emptier" and "happier". There is certainly no question about the "emptier" part. A search for dogs on the AHS web site shows the number of dogs available for adoption there have fluctuated between a low of 45 and a high of 54 for the past month. That is only on average about 10 dogs at each of their shelters, including those animals being held as "stray".
To state this another way, out of 2,120 homeless dogs in the Twin Cities Metro area, the Animal Humane Society, the largest animal shelter system, composed of 5 facilities and a multi-million-dollar annual budget, is currently caring for only about 2.5% of them. At the same time, AHS is keeping large number of their cages and kennels "empty". Furthermore, other facilities are reporting dramatically increasing numbers of animals. Volunteers that pull animals out of PUPS (the municipal shelter in Maple Grove) are begging rescue groups to help pull animals from that facility. Other shelters and animal control centers in the area are also reporting increased abandonment and relinquishments at their facilities as well.
In spite of the increased stress being placed on other animal agencies in the Twin Cities area, the fact that there is less killing taking place at AHS is good news. Additionally, it is a sign of changes that are guaranteed to come in the future.
Currently, AHS is gobbling up the lion's share of charitable donations to animal organizations in Minnesota, even as they push the bulk of life-saving off to other, small and under-funded shelters and rescue organizations. They, however, will not get away with this for very long, and they have to know that.
It will be hard to sell donors of the need to donate to AHS when they are running animal shelters that are largely empty, even as other shelters in the area are bursting at the seams. In the case of the AHS shelter in St. Paul, the AHS shelter is literally right next door to St. Paul Animal Control. Filling up the kennels and cages at AHS would be as easy as walking across the parking lot. Doing so would help AHS fulfill its mission of saving lives.
If AHS were to begin pulling animals from Animal Control centers in earnest the entire Twin Cities metro area could become no kill virtually overnight, so long as AHS also committed to providing the animals they rescued with required medical care and training.
Currently, Austin, Texas is the largest no kill community in the United States. If AHS were to take on the mission of saving lives from Twin Cities area animal control centers, they could claim credit for creating the largest no kill community in the USA. They would be cheered as heroes if they did so.
Whether or not AHS takes on the challenge will be up to them. But, one thing is certain: as more and more communities all over the nation become no kill, if AHS does not take on that goal with passion and enthusiasm, an ever increasing number of their donors will be asking the obvious question, "why not?"
No Kill Nation
No Kill Advocacy Center
Austin Pets Alive
Animal Wise Radio
No Kill Houston
The Myth of Overpopulation