The Headline was heartwarming: “Oklahoma couple brings its 2,000th stray dog to MN for adoption”. In the accompanying story we learn of a couple who in about one year have loaded up their van and driven dozens of dogs each week from Oklahoma to the Animal Humane Society in Minnesota. Twice weekly the couple has made a 12 hour drive, racking up 440,000 miles on their transport van, to bring dogs to caring hands in Minnesota.
But, there is a big problem with the story. It just doesn’t wash.
In July of 2009, Bob Shaw of the Pioneer Press uncovered another side to this type of story. Animals are often “rescued” from communities in the south and brought to Minnesota by people thinking the animals will be safe. However, the communities from which these animals are rescued often have lower kill rates than the shelter that is supposedly rescuing them.
Each year shelters in the Twin Cities in Minnesota kill, on average, about 20,000 dogs and cats. By most accounts the overwhelming vast majority of those animals are perfectly healthy or are suffering only from minor, treatable medical issues. Others may lack in some training or socialization. However, with a small bit of work, the majority of the companion animals Minnesota shelters are pouring into landfills could be wonderful pets for families.
The combination of these facts caused Lynae Gieseke, director of the Minnesota Valley Humane Society to be quoted saying, “This is compassion run amok.”
Others have used stronger language. Nathan Winograd, founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center has compared the behavior to being akin to Munchausen’s by Proxy, a mental illness that often results in caregivers harming or killing beings they profess to be “rescuing”.
In fact, according to records on the Animal Humane Society’s own web site, the organization consistently kills between 11,000 and 15,000 animals in its care every year, and has one of the highest kill rates for any so-called “animal shelter” in Minnesota. They explain the need for these deaths by blaming “Pet Overpopulation”.
On the AHS web site they write of so-called overpopulation:
This problem exists in part due to indiscriminate breeding practices that result in excess puppies and kittens.
The explanation for their high kill rates leaves many people wondering why Animal Humane Society would not simply implement large-scale spay/neuter programs to reduce the flow of animals into their shelters, instead of importing thousands of more animals from out of state.
Plenty of communities around the United States have achieved save rates of more than 90%. AHS could, too. However, they refuse to do the work necessary to achieve those levels of saving. Instead, they appear to want to play like heroes while being anything but.