Readers respond to "Rescue Me!"
I am seriously disgusted and shocked by the euthanasia rates at the Animal Humane Society ("Rescue Me!" 8/20/08). This does not sound at all humane to me. I have adopted many animals from there, donated money on a regular basis, and even held parties to collect supplies for donation. I will no longer give my money to an organization that kills half of the animals it takes in. I will go to one of the no-kill shelters that needs the money to keep these animals until they are rightfully adopted.
Oh, but I can't solely blame the AHS. I must say that I am completely alarmed to hear that people are giving up animals in record numbers because of the economy. So I must ask: Do they give up cell phones, family vacations, cable TV, and all of their other creature comforts, too? Shame on you people who commit yourselves to animals, gain their trust, and dump them off at a shelter that kills them. At what point did we, as a society, decide that animals have such little value?
Stacy Saathoff Minneapolis
As CEO of the Animal Humane Society (AHS) I was disheartened by the inaccurate portrayal of our work. Contrary to what was presented, we care a great deal about the animals. We are not content with the number that are euthanized and are always working to reduce euthanasia.
City Pages did not take on the challenge of a complex issue. There was a clear bias in the story that did a great disservice to AHS staff and volunteers who work so hard to help animals. We've made no secret of our euthanasia rate—it is heartbreaking for us all and, unfortunately, one of the harsh realities of animal welfare work. So much was left out of the story. Some things include, in 2007:
• Of the animals euthanized, 19 percent were at owner request, 30 percent for significant health issues, and 43 percent for behavioral/aggression issues. None were euthanized because of breed, which was incorrectly reported in the article.
• AHS spayed and neutered 14,744 animals
• Our wildlife program supported rehabilitative services to more than 2,700 animals
• 4,528 animals received special care in foster homes
• 14,833 medical treatments were provided to animals in addition to vaccinations, microchipping, and sterilizations
• AHS provides humane investigation coverage for the entire state of Minnesota
• More than 40 socialization and training programs are offered each week at our facilities
• Our education program presented 685 programs to thousands of kids
• More than 1,500 dedicated people gave 107,402 volunteer hours
AHS is an open admission facility that cares for any animal in need. We do not pick and choose which ones are worthy of our services or easiest to place. We are proud of our staff and volunteers. We believe that euthanasia is a community issue that requires trust, respect, and an open and honest dialogue to move forward. Please go online for a full version of my response.
Janelle Dixon, Animal Humane Society CEO Minneapolis
Try holding the kill needle
Hats off to open-admission shelters like the Animal Humane Society for making the right and compassionate decision to accept every needy animal that comes through their doors and for refusing to give animals away to just anyone, such as animal hoarders posing as rescue organizations. So-called "no-kill" shelters make their euthanasia numbers look good by accepting easily adoptable animals and turning the rest away, leaving shelters like the Animal Humane Society to make difficult decisions.
No one hates the ugly reality of euthanasia more than the brave people who hold the syringe, but until spay/neuter efforts bring companion animal births under control, there will always be a need for shelters that accept every animal and provide a dignified, painless release when necessary. Pointing the finger at those forced to do society's dirty work is easy; having your heart break every day when you must euthanize animals whom you've fed, walked, cared for, and loved is not.
Daphna Nachminovitch, vice president, Cruelty Investigations Department, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Norfolk, Virginia
Board member defends euthanasia rates
Recently, I joined the Animal Humane Society (AHS) Board of Directors and am proud to have done so. I have a long history working with animal groups, including "no-kill" facilities, foster groups, trap/neuter/release, and the ASPCA. I have been in the trenches of animal welfare and it's challenging, whatever your personal belief is about euthanasia.
Moving to Minnesota in 2004 I searched for a group where I could commit my time and resources. When I heard of the AHS merger and their ability to place so many animals in loving homes, I knew that was where I wanted to be.
AHS was my choice because I strongly believe in an open-admission policy that turns no person or animal away and truly serves the community and has the best interests of the animals in mind.
We at AHS recognize that the euthanasia number is terribly sad. Reducing this number is on everyone's agenda. There is not one person at AHS that wants something different. The goal of never having to euthanize an animal is a wonderful ideal but the reality is there are times when this is a necessary event for the humane treatment of the animal.
AHS has always been forthright in releasing euthanasia rates. It is important to shed light on the problem in the hope that we all can gain a better understanding of the issues affecting unwanted animals and ways we can enact solutions.
My fear is that as long as animal welfare groups in our area keep pointing fingers at one another instead of working together to solve the issues, we will never get there.
The City Pages article was biased and did not tell the complete story. I hope you do your own investigating and support the work that all of us in animal rescue do. Please look online for a full version of my response.
Kerry D'Amato, AHS board member St. Paul
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