Monday, December 14, 2009

Report on GA Shelters Reveals High Kill Ratios

Thank you to reader Valerie for pointing me to the Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare (GVAW) Survey of Animal Services in Georgia. The purpose of the survey was to obtain statistics from shelters and make the results available to the public. Valerie has posted the report in full on her blog. I will post some excerpts.

The main challenge to the collection of data was apparent apathy or refusal to participate on the part of animal control organizations and shelters in GA:

The primary limitation of this study is that, despite the enormous amount of time, energy and expense invested, GVAW is unable to produce a complete data set, a testament to the need for state-mandated collection of and public access to comprehensive shelter data. For example:

· 45 counties (28%) of the total 159 surveyed did not respond;
· 63 animal control units and/or shelters (32%) did not respond;
· 5 animal control units and/or shelters refused to complete the questionnaire citing
O.C.G.A. 50-18-70(e); and,
· 19 animal control units and/or shelters did not provide intake and/or euthanasia numbers.

In all, 84 animal control units and shelters either didn’t respond at all or didn’t provide intake and exit numbers as requested.

They did receive responses from 162 GA animal control units and shelters. Based upon those responses:
· 50 counties (31%) have no form of animal control;
· Total number of 2007 shelter admissions reported was 245,034;
· Total number of 2007 euthanasias reported was 152,297, representing an overall 62% kill rate;
· Based on the average number of animals killed per shelter, GVAW estimates there were at least an additional 105,000 animals killed in the non-reporting shelters, for an estimated total of 260,000 animals killed in Georgia shelters in 2007

The report loses focus on the need for mandated shelter statistics reporting by veering into the "pet overpopulation" myth and anti-tethering issues but the conclusions regarding the relevant shelter pet numbers are interesting:
Georgia is killing more than its share of companion animals in “shelters” that are funded by taxpayers. National figures on shelter kill rates are reported as low as 4 million and as high as 11 million per year. Using 2008 Census Bureau statistics, Georgia’s human population represents 3.2% of the national population. Factoring Georgia’s estimated annual kill rate of 260,000 shelter animals into a nationwide per person equation, Georgia’s pro rata share is 128,000 animals. Using this formula, Georgia is killing twice the national average.

Just to be clear, from where I'm sitting, even if GA was able to halve its kill rate of shelter pets, that would still suck for 130,000 animals a year. But it would be better than where the state, and much of the South, is at now. I hope GA shelters can get the ball rolling and start saving more of the pets they are charged with sheltering.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Thanks so much for posting this. When I first saw this, the numbers really blew me away, partly for being bleak, partly for being utterly outrageous, partly for being surreal, and partly for being so within reach. I'd like to highlight a few more things:
1. First the bleak--obviously the overall kill numbers across the state. I believe that there are still 11 or so gas chambers in use in GA. One of them is in Cobb county, which includes part of Atlanta: Cobb County: 13,820 intakes, 6058 euthanized (44%). Who actually thinks that gassing pets is 'euthanasia'? The kill rate varies widely from county to county, as does the intake rate, though the two are not necessarily correlated--I haven't crunched those numbers yet.
2. The outrageous: I counted 11 shelters who reported kill rates of 90% or higher, 7 with kill rates of 95% or higher, and two members of the Kill 'Em All Club. Yes, you read that correctly. Two 'shelters' where no animal gets out alive--they are in Jenkins and Peach counties. To my mind, these aren't even animal shelters, they are Ingrid Newkirk's wet dream.

3. Surreal: "Dooly County: stated it doesn’t have an animal shelter
City of Unadilla: stated all animals transferred to “Dooly County Animal Shelter”
City of Vienna Animal Shelter: no response"
"Elbert County: questionnaire not completed due to volunteer’s inability to pay requested amount of $31.79
City of Elberton Police Department: no response"
"Gordon County: 4399 intakes, 3376 euthanized (77%)
City of Calhoun: questionnaire not completed due to volunteer’s inability to pay $150.00"

What would they do with that money, anyway?

4. Within reach: Nathan has spoken of "low-hanging fruit". Could it get much lower than this?

"Bleckley County – City of Cochran Animal Shelter: 90 intakes, 75 euthanized (83%)"

"Burke County: no animal control
City of Sardis: no records of euthanasia in 2007
City of Waynesboro Animal Shelter: 23 intakes, 20 euthanized (87%)"

Hmmm..."Waynesboro". Wonder why they call it that?

"Chattahoochee County: no response, no animal control
City of Cusseta: 238 intakes, 231 euthanized (97%)"

"Cook County: no response, no animal control
City of Adel: intake numbers not provided, 363 euthanized
City of Sparks Animal Shelter: 102 intakes, 99 euthanized (97%)"

"Early County: no animal control
City of Blakely Animal Control: 175 intakes, 173 euthanized (99%)"

"Evans County: 94 intakes, 81 euthanized (86%)"

"Jenkins County - City of Millen Animal Shelter: 252 intakes, 252 euthanized (100%)"

"Miller County: no response, no animal control
City of Colquitt: 70 intakes, 62 euthanized (89%)"

"Peach County: no animal control
City of Byron Animal Shelter: intake and euthanasia numbers not provided
Fort Valley Police Department: 281 intakes, 281 euthanized (100%)"

"Schley County: no animal control
City of Ellaville: 100 intakes, 95 euthanized (95%)"

"Turner County: no animal control
City of Ashburn: 240 intakes, 200 euthanized (83%)"

At the Tompkins County SPCA, there was a volunteer who fostered 100 cats a year. She was extraordinarily dedicated. How extraordinarily @#!$% do you need to be to kill 20 out of only 23 animals taken in in a year? I mean, seriously? With such low intake numbers, even if the area is poor and sparsely populated, and the animals arrive sick or injured, surely you can do better than that. Why bother calling it a shelter?

Clearly, the "sheltering" system of Georgia is failing both the animals and the people of Georgia.