Monday, March 18, 2013

Stopping Breeders is Not the Way to End Shelter Overpopulation

Let's try explaining one more time in a different way why eliminating breeders is not the way to solve the "shelter overpopulation problem."

First, a quick look at some animal population statistics. No two sources seem to agree completely, so these are rough--consider them for illustration purposes here. They are largely drawn from various shelter and rescue websites such as the ASPCA, as well as from several published surveys and research papers.

Approximately 57% of American households will obtain a dog or cat, for a pool of 17 million available homes. Of that 17 million, approximately 20% will adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue. Another 15% or so will get animals from breeders or pet stores, while the remaining 65% obtain their cats or dogs from other sources, mostly cheap or free such as finding a stray, having a friend or aquaintance give them one, having a litter of babies, etc.

Somewhere between 5 and 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters, with about half being owner surrenders and half coming in through animal control as strays, confiscated animals, etc. Approximately 10% of those are unadoptable, with some being animals that were brought in by their owners to be euthanized for health/age/behavior issues. Another 10% or so are lost animals that are reunited with their owners. About 20% of them are actually animals that previously came from a shelter and are being returned to the shelter system. At most 25% are estimated to possibly be purebreds, based on their appearance--but this number is probably overinflated, since many animals that look like a given breed are not actually purebred. Even of the ones that are, not all of them will come from actual breeders and intentional breedings. The vast majority of animals that enter the rescue and shelter system are feral animals and/or the result of unplanned breedings.

About half of animals that enter shelters are euthanized, for a total of 3 to 4 million that leave alive and 3 to 4 million that are euthanized. That 3 to 4 million, minus the unadoptable ones, are what is generally referred to as shelter overpopulation.

OK, now for our illustration.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Updates on WA Animal Legislation

A few quick updates on several items of WA animal-related legislation:

There is a hearing on HB 5102, the veterinarian immunity law, scheduled on Wednesday, March 13th at 8am in the House Committee on Judiciary in Olympia.

You may see the previous WA Animal Watch post about veterinary immunity laws here:

HB 1202, "Animal Cruelty Prevention," has been placed on the House floor calendar, which makes it eligible for a vote by all members of the State House of Representatives. If it passes that, the next step would be the Senate.

SB 5202, the spay/neuter assistance bill, was moved on March 8th from the Senate Rules Committee to the Senate floor calendar. The next step would be a vote by all members of the Washington State Senate. An amendment and the substitute bill change the funding mechanism to donations rather than a tax on pet food or pet licensing.

Two new animal-related laws were introduced in the WA state legislature on Feb. 8th:

HB 1786 would require registration of animal abusers (defined as anyone convicted of 1st or 2nd degree cruelty, animal fighting, or poisoning animals).

See our previous post about animal abuser registry bills here:

HB 1787 would ban the tail docking of dairy cows, outlawing both the act of docking and also essentially banning ownership of already-docked cows, in addition to forbidding bringing them into the state.

Rep. Derek Stanford is the prime sponsor of HB 1786 and 1787.

A few more animal-related pieces of legislation in WA:

HB 1830 would change the crime of causing harm to a service animal or search and rescue animal from a gross misdemeanor to a Class C felony if done "with reckless disregard". In previously existing law, a Class C felony under this statute required intent to harm the animal. As of today, it has received a first reading and been referred to the Judiciary committee.
HB 1024 and SB 5645 revise the language in WA statutes regarding service animals to more closely align with federal law.

HB 1024:

HB 1886 adds data entry and processing expenses to the costs that can be recovered by the Dept. of Agriculture in disease control and traceability actions. 

SHB 1010 expands the requirement to add an aversive agent to antifreeze/coolant to include wholesale containers of 55 gallons or more, and exempts spent antifreeze/coolant being stored/transported for disposal.