Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | November 24, 2010

Relections on Saving Lives

Billie Boy the Silly Boy

Recently there has been a drop in adoptions at Second Chance Humane Society.  Although adoption rates typically tend to rise and fall they have always, by year end, resulted in an increase over the prior year.  This year, likely due to impacts of the economy upon our community members, we are not certain whether this will happen.  It is not of great concern as we believe that 2011 adoptions should resume their normal upward trend. 

But what if they don’t?  It does at least urge critical questions and reflections such as, should Second Chance change its policies?  Although Second Chance still has the luxury of not having to euthanize for time or space, will that always be the case?  (Note: this is not cause for alarm, simply because adoptions have dropped slightly this year does not mean that we will be resorting to euthanizing pets). 

As such, it would be imprudent to not at least review the impact of our policies and philosophies regarding extended animal care within our shelter.  How long is too long?  How many other pets could be rescued while a “less adoptable” pet is filling a kennel space for a year or more?  Logic shows us that we can save one dog requiring 40 days in shelter, or 8 dogs requiring 5 days in our shelter. However, our emotions are not logical, and being faced with a reality of an overcrowded shelter is not something we can easily absorb or comprehend.

So we must inquire – do we focus on the individual or the masses? Do we save one pet no matter how long it takes versus saving as many as possible? Data from the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program points to an increase in lives saved when the masses are the focus.  But this approach does not really fit our organization or the animal-focused region we serve. 

So what course to follow?  Right now we remain committed to not euthanizing adoptable pets for time or space.  Yes, we could likely rescue more pets without this commitment but we choose to make every effort to reflect the values and choices of the community that we serve.  Currently this means being very creative and adaptive and expanding our community outreach and education efforts.

For example, we have 4 senior cats that have been in the shelter for 15 months now.   Since finding them an adoptive family is not working, we are focusing on finding them long-term foster families.  We hope that this will move the cats into loving homes, as it eliminates the financial obligations of adopting an older pet.  By keeping these cats in the foster program Second Chance continues to be responsible for their medical needs while the foster family is responsible for simply giving them a loving home. (Anyone interested please call the number below.)

Another resourceful practice involves increasing mobile adoptions and other outreach opportunities and transferring highly adoptable pets to the Front Range where adoption rates continue to outpace the number of adoptable pets they have.

We recognize that these are not long term solutions and they are available to us because we have the resources to pursue them.  This may not always be the case and it is not for many shelters across the nation where overcrowding and understaffing is a daily reality.  We are grateful to our caring communities who make it possible for us to continue providing second chances to pets in need and we will continue to exert every effort to do so to the greatest extent possible.

Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance, Volunteer & Foster Care, or other Programs.  Visit our shelter pets online: www.secondchancehumanesociety.org.  Direct Pet Column questions to:  kelly@secondchancehumanesociety.orgPhoto by Real Life Photographs.

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