The issues faced by Hamilton and their animal control are not unique, not in Ontario, not in Canada, and not in North America - nor are the solutions. Numerous communities around the world have faced the same problems and overcome them by implementing the 11 essential steps of the No Kill Equation*:
Feral Cat TNR Program
High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter
Comprehensive Adoption Programs
Medical and Behavior Rehabilitation
Public Relations/Community Involvement
A Compassionate Director
For example, Washoe County Regional Animal Services and their partner Nevada Humane Society, save in excess of 90% of the 15,000 cats and dogs they take in each year. Calgary Animal Control is also doing an amazing job of educating their residents and returning lost pets. In recent years they returned 88% of the dogs they picked up and 44% of cats. Compare that to the rates in Ontario which are closer to 40% for dogs and 5% for cats.
Animal Ark in Minnesota has a full service TNR program that spays/neuters, vaccinates and treats each cat for fleas, etc... for $35/cat which is less then it would cost their local shelter to kill the cats. Trap-Neuter-Return is the ONLY program that has been successfully documented to save the lives of feral cats, gradually reduce the number of feral cats in colonies to extinction, and ensure the feral cats have the best quality of life. As for the argument that feral cats kill too many birds-humans and their ever encroaching development on bird habitat kill more birds then ferals ever will. Should we "humanely" kill humans? If we could ask feral cats whether they'd rather be killed at animal control or fending for themselves what do you honestly think their response would be? Ideally there would be no feral cat colonies but the reality right now is that there are thousands of ferals and we have been picking them up and killing them at shelters for years and it just isn't working for anyone.
According to Howard Elliott at TheSpec.com, in 2009 Hamilton Animal Control took in 1570 dogs and euthanized 167 (11%). During that period they took in 5,501 cats and "euthanized" 3,098 (56%). Obviously, Hamilton has proven year after year that killing these cats is not the solution and never will be. The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing you have always done and expect different results. Don't believe the nonsense that the OSPCA and other so called animal welfare groups keep spouting that there is an animal overpopulation problem and that it is the fault of the irresponsible public. The fault lies with those who refuse to change how our shelters and animal controls are operating. You can bet your bottom dollar that the public in Hamilton are no more irresponsible and no less caring then those in Washoe County.
I volunteer at an animal control and I volunteered at the OSPCA for 8+ years so don't get the impression that I am anti-staff. I just want to see reform for all types of sheltering in Ontario. Volunteers cost nothing, rescue groups cost nothing, and foster care costs nothing. Volunteers are essential to implementing all components of the No Kill Equation.
Here is a great article about feral cats that addresses the issues: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/pdf/feralcatissue_000.pdf.
and enclosed below are several excellent resources about The No Kill Equation:
*The 11 Essential and Only Proven Steps to saving all healthy/treatable companion animals:
10 Steps To Adopting Your Way Out Of Killing:
Model companion animal legislation (urge your local municipality and the province to adopt) :
Nevada Humane Society partners with Washoe County Animal Services to save in excess of 90% of the companion animals they take in annually. Here is how they did it:
And much, much more re: feral cats and reforming animal control at:
Shelters and animal controls that adopt only parts of the No Kill Equation fail and never reach the goal. The only shelters that have reached the goal of saving all the healthy and/or treatable animals (>90%) embraced all 11 parts of the equation.
("Could Hamilton be the next Washoe County?," a compilation of comments by No Kill York Region's Leanne Tucker)
Last Sound Off Feature, by Jack Clark:
First Sound Off Feature, by Lillian Szilagy:
Next Peaceful Rally Date: Saturday, July 30, 2011
Time: 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Location: Hamilton City Hall, 71 Main St W, Hamilton, ON CANADA