Two years ago the six main shelters in the Portland Metropolitan area joined together to create the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP), also included in the coalition are the Feral Cat Coalition and the Portland Veterinary Medical Association (www.portlandvma.org). These organizations take in 90% of the abandoned animals in our area. That translates to almost 40,000 in 2009.
Unfortunately, 12,500 of those animals were euthanized.
It is a terrible number, translating to 6.1 animals euthanized per 1000 people in the greater Portland area. Nationwide that number is 13.8 animals euthanized per 1000 people.
Roughly one third of the animals euthanized in our area are euthanized at Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS, www.co.multnomah.or.us/dbcs/pets). Before people jump to any conclusions about how horrible MCAS must be, we need to take into account several mitigating circumstances.
First, MCAS takes any and all animals brought to them – period. They do not have waiting lists for people wanting to turn their animals in as most other shelters in our area do.
They also take cats, again without waiting lists or questions – almost 30 cats per day currently. Clackamas County does not take any cats.
MCAS accepts pitbulls and other bully breeds, placing no quota on how many they take in. All you have to do is visit their website to see picture after picture of pitbulls up for adoption. According to the Oregon Humane Society (OHS, www.oregonhumane.org) they adopt out dogs after an average of 9 days – except for pitbulls. For pitbulls, the average stay at OHS is 9 months, so they only accept a handful at a time. MCAS takes all of them.
They also end up with the majority of animals deemed dangerous, who usually end up being euthanized as there is little money in the County budget for rehabilitating dogs who may never be adopted.
Instead of blaming an organization who has to pick up the mess that irresponsible people make, we should be looking at. All one has to do is cruise on page of the Portland Craigslist Pet area to see the number of people “getting rid of” unwanted pets. And you also see ad after ad for pitbull puppies or young pitbulls. Why anyone would consider breeding any pet, but especially pitbulls when the shelters are full of them, boggles the mind.
How we go about addressing the number of “accidental” litters and litters born to backyard breeders and pet flippers needs to change from what has been in place for the last 50 year. Maybe we need to be more direct and forceful about people who choose not to alter their pets. Currently, unaltered animals only cost a few dollars more to license then the altered animals. Why not charge substantially more for unaltered pets – not just $3 or $4, but $300 or $400 more than those animals that are altered? And let’s fine those people who have “accidental” litters, and charge for a license to breed. Only those who have exceptional dogs and who are true breeders bettering their chosen breed will be interested in paying the additional fees to breed.
12,500 animals died in Portland area shelters. 40,000 animals ended up in shelters. All of us should be seeking to lower these numbers each year. What are your ideas for cutting back on the stray animal population?