Why transport isn’t the answer

Anyone that follows Pets Alive knows that we accept in a lot of animals from transports. We take dogs in from many other locations, all across the United States. So I am sure that when you hear me say that transports are not the answer, it may be a surprise to you.

Transporting animals from the south to the north, from Puerto Rico to NY, from kill shelters to no kill shelters doesn’t solve any problems. It doesn’t fix the crisis shelters are in, it doesn’t form any long term solutions, and it doesn’t stop the killing for long. 

Transport in most situations simply saves the lives of the animals on that specific transport. It doesn’t solve any problems “long term”.

Does it matter to those lives and animals on that transport?
Unequivocally it does, and it is important to that little life to have been saved, and not slaughtered in some shelter by people that don’t care about them.

I will never belittle that effort to save that life. Never.

Those little faces as they peer at us through the truck windows or cages or crates are so precious and so worth saving. Every single one of them.

But transport’s every week from kill shelters to no-kill shelters never fixes any real problems.

When Pets Alive does a transport it is to help specific situations.

  • We may do a transport to take in some, or all, of the animals from a shelter or a rescue that is closing, leaving the animals no place to go.
  • It may be to take in some, or all, of the animals from a hoarding situation where the place was raided and authorities have confiscated the animals.
  • It may be to help some or all of the animals from a natural disaster where people and animals are displaced.
  • We may take in animals from places that are doing good work and striving to be no kill and desperately reaching out to place their animals to help them prevent killing them.
  • Or we may take in animals from kill shelters that want to go no kill and are trying to start off on a good foot, with numbers manageable.

Our goal is to save lives and our goal is to help create no kill communities.
Here in this area, I’m unaware of any shelters that are killing highly adoptable animals (if there are and you know of them, please have them reach out to us for help!).

We do see animals dying locally for aggression or behavior issues, severe medical cases, or the never ending slaughter of pit bulls and cats.

Pets Alive doesn’t take in pit bull type dogs, cats, senior dogs, or behavior issue dogs from anywhere outside our local area (with very rare exceptions). Because there is such a local need to help these animals that are still dying in shelters – even across the northeast – we commit our empty space to help those whenever we can – such as all the dogs dying at the NYC ACC (Animal Care & Control). If you look every night at their kill list, they are almost exclusively pit bull type dogs.

To help end this, we have started to do everything we can to enhance pit bull adoptions and to change the public perception of these dogs. ALL of our Humane Education dogs are pit bull type dogs (note I say “pit bull type dogs”. The “pit bull” is NOT a breed of dog!). We have been working on training our pitties to do tricks to get them more noticed by adopters such as sitting up and waving at adopters that come by, or sitting up and begging, or “praying”. How cute is that? What potential adopter would not stop and take a second glance at that dog?

We also feature our pitties on the front page of our website whenever we have space and we list at least one pittie (of our three allowed dogs) every week in the paper for adoption. We do pitbull play groups, so people that come and visit can see out pits romping and playing together and having fun.We put our pitties in offices as office dogs to not only get them out of the kennel for a while, but to also get them more exposure. Anything we can do, we do, but still they die by the thousands everywhere. Please consider fostering or adopting a pittie. They are GREAT dogs and so in need of help, love and adoptive families!

But we can’t help them all, by ourselves. We help as many as we possibly can. We already have almost 200 pits between our three facilities and to take any more before we adopt some of these out would be irresponsible of us.

Are we doing enough?
Well as long as pits are still dying in our backyard, then no we are not. We are still failing. Every day I struggle with what can we do better to help more pit bulls and behavior issue dogs?

So sometimes when people see we are taking dogs from other locations they want to attack us – BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL THE ONES DYING RIGHT HERE – and my answer is to challenge them to find any that are dying “right here” that aren’t medical cases, behavior issue cases or pit bull type dogs. We will also work with local shelters and rescues if they wind up having to kill for space by taking OTHER dogs from them to help them buy their pits and other dogs some more time – so they can continue to have “space”.

Yet often when we make this offer to shelters or rescues they don’t want to give us any “adoptable” dogs, they want us to take their behavior issue dogs or their pit bulls. We understand this, but we can’t help all those dogs. We can help by giving them some more time to place those though, by taking others.

We understand why shelters want to give us the most difficult dogs, but the fact is that we also can’t fill all our runs and available spaces for behavior issue dogs or have only pitbulls available for adoption. As it is now, over 65% of our available runs are given to pits (who have the biggest need) or behavior issue dogs (who are in training to help them overcome their issues). I wish we had the money to expand, and to hire more trainers, and to keep taking these needy dogs in – but we also have to be practical. So yes we do bring in dogs that are in desperate need to our facility – hoarding cases, dogs about to die in other places, or dogs from shelters closing down, and sometimes NOT take in every request for pitties, or dogs that need behavior modification.

One thing people locally need to understand too is that we are not local animal control.
We do not take many local owner surrenders or many stray animals.
Because if an animal is lost, it needs to go through the government/town “system”. It needs to go to a local animal control shelter where he or she can be documented, recorded and their owner found. That isn’t what we do here, and anyone looking for a stray or lost pet would not come to Pets Alive. The local shelters and humane societies do an excellent job of this already.

Local animal control is not our mission, our goal, or our purpose as we see it. We help where we can, and we almost always step up when asked, but our purpose is much more national and much more focused on helping to support no kill shelters and making this nation a no kill nation. We do have a great deal of local programs though.  We do TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) here, we do low cost spay/neuter and vaccinations (at PAW), we do free training classes, we offer support to the local shelters, we have a pet chow pantry for the people who can’t afford to feed their pets, we work with the Office of the Aging and help seniors and their animals, etc.

All our local humane societies seem to me to already be no kill – meaning that they are killing animals only for behavior/aggression and not for space. I don’t know of any local places killing highly adoptable animals. Those that are killing animals are mostly killing pit bulls unfortunately. It is horrible. This poor beleaguered and misunderstood dog. One of the best family dogs a person can have – and yet there are so many, and so many requests to take them, and so many shelters filled with these type dogs and so many people with terrible misconceptions about them, that this is what we are seeing dying every day.

I so wish our one organization could save them all. Pit bulls hurt my heart – to see how many are dying everywhere. EVERY rescue or shelter killing only pit bulls needs to do more to try to save them. Run more events for them, market them better, do what we are doing as far as exposure and Humane Ed. It isn’t ok to just take them in, keep them for seven days, do nothing to help them get adopted, and then kill them. TOGETHER we CAN save them all! It will take some hard work, but come join us, talk to us, collectively and with the right programs – we CAN save them all!

But back to transport….and taking animals from other organizations, which is what we MAINLY do.

Pets Alive is willing to work with ANY group that wants to stop killing their animals and wants to be no kill. But we also expect something of them.

We expect them to follow the no-kill equation to help them help themselves.

We want to continue to help them, but they MUST be willing to solve and FIX the issues that are causing them to kill animals in the first place. Sending all their dogs north (or east) is not the answer. That is a temporary bandaid and won’t ever really accomplish a thing!

To really make a change in the number of animals coming in and going out of a shelter, the organization MUST accept that there are proven methods to solving these issues, and they must institute these life saving methods. They must be willing to accept and start managing programs that will help them to stop the killing of animals in their care. These proven methods, that have helped to create over 50 OPEN ADMISSION – NO KILL shelters in some of the BIGGEST cities in the United States (including San Francisco, Reno Nevada, Austin Texas) include the following:

  • TNR Program
  • High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter
  • Rescue Groups
  • Foster Care
  • Comprehensive Adoption Programs
  • Pet Retention
  • Medical and Behavior Prevention & Rehabilitation
  • Public Relations/Community Involvement
  • Volunteers
  • Proactive Redemptions
  • A Compassionate Director

This is already proven.

So when you see organizations that just transport animals north, and don’t have any programs in place to help stop the influx and help the out flux – they won’t have our support for long. We MUST see them attempting to change their environment, and change their methods, and adopt these practices and then we will always be support for them, always be help for them and will always work with them to take in overflow of animals, or help them to develop their programs to make them stronger. But if they feel the answer is to just ship all their animals out and send them here, they will quickly lose our support.

Because we already KNOW that isn’t the answer.
We already KNOW that won’t work.
We already know what DOES work and what HAS worked and what IS working.

So why would any group who claim to want to stop the killing of the animals in their care NOT adopt these practices? If they are simply just packing up animals and sending them north they will NEVER solve their problem and they will always slaughter and kill animals that walk through their doors.

Transport is not the answer.
Groups in Puerto Rico that go there and save animals and simply send them here are accomplishing nothing more than helping that ONE animal.
They aren’t helping to solve the problem.
They would have to do this for 250 years before even making a slight dent in the number of animals reproducing.
That is why our plan in Puerto Rico is so different.
Why it is so important to recognize that simple transport accomplishes nothing.

That is why groups that do JUST transport are not seeing kill numbers decrease by much (if at all) in the areas they are transporting from. It may go down slightly, but the numbers will never see any real change until they incorporate the protocols and programs that no kill needs to be successful. They will just burn themselves out and become bitter and discouraged as the years pass and they see nothing really change.

And yes, I recognize of course that it does solve the problem for that specific animal on that specific transport..but to be a true voice of no kill, to truly make a change in the world in which you live, transport does not solve any real problems.

So transporters must be a PART of the solution and a part of trying to help a situation. Shelters should not rely on transport to fix any problems or to lower the number of animals killed annually. The only proven way to do that – tried and true – is to institute the programs of no kill.

Those that don’t, will never achieve the lowering of their kill numbers and never stop slaughtering homeless animals. Animals that did nothing wrong but to have the misfortune of being be born in their county. Homelessness should not mean a death sentence. And in far too many shelters across America, that is exactly what it means.

So yes, we will continue to help organizations that want to go, or stay, no kill, or to take animals from hoarding situations, and from rescues and shelters that are closing down (as these animals truly have no alternatives), but we will only work with groups that have a plan in place and are striving toward accomplishing no kill. Reach out to us, we will reach back. and we will always continue to offer any help and assistance we can to ANY local community or group that wants to NOT kill their animals for space.

We do all that we can to help anyone that asks, including sharing all our contracts, our programs, offering training help for their staff or animals (we have an open class to teach everything we know every Saturday), but please recognize that just sending your animals to another organization doesn’t help you in the long run. If your goal is truly to be no kill, transport will never solve that for you.

– See more at: http://petsalive.com/blog/2012/08/22/why-transport-isnt-the-answer/

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