Saturday, October 29, 2011

MN CAPA - Complicated Regulations Harm Pet Care

The question to Minnesota legislators should be - “If you were a person working in a shelter, could you determine in what case a stray animal would need to be released to a rescue immediately (364.62e), or 2 days (364.62c), or 3 days (364.62d) ??

• Keep in mind that most shelter personnel are a combination of low pay paid positions and volunteers, so most do not have a law degree.

• Also taking into consideration the large volume of animals, that his convoluted decision would need to be made for in each case.

Tax Code is Less Complicated than MN CAPA (HF1735)
Most tax code is less complicated than HF1735 (MN CAPA) .  Hopefully each legislator fully reads the bill to see if they could make these decisions in a high volume quick paced animal shelter that provides such a necessary service to your communities.

If the legislator’s answer is “No, but you still want to support it because you don’t want to see animals euthanized”, then the legislator should also be asked - “What cost will you be placing on the taxpayers of Minnesota to have an army of personnel to administer the requirements in this legislation, to have a department to investigate allegations of violations, and costs to other departments if cases also go to state attorney general office and court system?”

If Minnesota’s open access animal shelters are forced to abandon their service to your communities and begin to limit what animals they will accepted, your animal control agencies will face the burden of more animals surrendered to them.  Animal control agencies will need to not only hire additional personnel to handle the increased volume, but they will also have to hire additional personnel to contend with the various complicated requirements established under MN CAPA.  Legislators need to decide whether it's fiscally responsible to place that cost on taxpayers to appease a vocal minority that regularly encourages it's followers to be "the squeaky wheel".  No one wants animals to be euthanized, but the answer is not using taxpayer dollars to complicate the processes.  If you want to provide more funding to animal welfare, the answer is in proactive funding of spay neuter and adoption public service announcements.

How could this affect pet owners in Minnesota?
MN CAPA would require animal shelters to release stray animals to unregulated rescue groups before they can euthanize an animal. Sounds simple, but this is what it means to you.  If the shelter is full and there are unadoptable animals that have been held for some time when your cute and cuddly pet goes stray, the shelter can’t euthanize those unadoptable animals before they would need to let a rescue take your more adoptable pet since that rescue won't want the unadoptable one.  Section 364.62(e) states - (e) Stray animals may be transferred to a private sheltering agency or rescue group immediately after impound, subject to the same rights of redemption by the owner

Below are just some of the issues that your pet could face if he gets loose and your local animal shelter is forced by MN CAPA to release your pet to an unregulated animal rescue group:

• Your pet could be transferred to a small rescue group that does not properly track their placements and may lose track of your beloved pet in their exuberance to transfer animals out of animal shelters.

• The rescue group may be not be accessible to get your animal back. Many small rescues are part time endeavors. Their jobs, vacations and other parts of their life may severely limit how accessible they are.

• An out of state rescue could take your pet to another state where the 5 day redemption requirement of this statute would not apply, and you would be at that rescue’s whim if they decided to not return your animal.

• The law does not state that the rescue group would be required to transport your pet back to you, so you may have to go get your animal out of state.

• Considering the ease of setting up a non-profit, you should be especially concerned that your animal could be transferred to an unscrupulous dealer who is using the law to get free animals that could be sold on Craiglist or laboratories, or something even more ominous like dog fighting. This law opens the states door to animal flippers and dog fighters, jeopardizing the safety of your pets.

Above are just some of the issues that you could face as a pet owner if your animal escapes if MN CAPA is passed. 

MN CAPA - Impact on Animal Care
In addition to the transfer issues listed above, consider the fact that the requirements under this legislation are so complicated and convoluted, chances are that this law would increase mistakes that occur in the handling of your pet. We all know too well, from any workplace, that when there are alot of hoops to jump through, you will eventually trip on one of them.  The shelter will be so busy focusing on the various requirements of this law, that there’s an increased chance that some aspect of your pet's basic care will get overlooked by an overwhelmed shelter staff.  Don't just take my word about it, read MN CAPA and ask yourself if you could  follow these regulations while you are caring for animals, servicing pet owners, and trying to adopt out animals.  Do you really want your local shelter or animal control to be concerned and distracted by nonsensical regulations and legal ramifications, or would you rather have the shelter focus on the care of your pet until you can pick up your precious stray?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Letter To Minnesota Citizens & Legislators About CAPA

I've read recently that your state is also considering passing CAPA (Companion Animal Protection Act) legislation. I hope that you look beyond the nice photo opportunities that were presented when it was passed in Delaware and see the issues that began almost immediately.

Forces will say that it's needed so that animals can be transferred from "high kill" shelters, but the same groups that make this claim turn away owners surrendering animals on a regular basis. If a no-kill shelter is turning people away, why would they want animals transferred to them?

Investigations Cost Taxpayers

These groups merely want to use CAPA as a weapon to continually harass open access shelters.  Delaware provides the perfect example of that. One merely needs to go to No-Kill Delaware to see the amount of time, energy and wasted taxpayer money that has been spent on investigations concerning one dog.  Legislators in Minnesota need to consider that this feel good bill is not free and should do an extensive fiscal impact to set aside the funding that will be needed.  Looking at the one case in Delaware, clearly the cost would have been better spent funding another life saving adoption event, or more importantly the amount of spay neuters that could have been funding with those same resources.  I wonder if the Delaware's Governor and legislature really intended for tax payers money to be wasted on the political games that have taken place.

Coincidence??? - Almost Identical Stories in 2 different Counties
Various press also show the ridiculous level that the games have gone too.  First there is a story in a Delaware State News message board by a woman from Dover (Kent County) who also mentioned it on the No-Kill Delaware Facebook page
How is the new Animal Shelter Standards law in this state enforced? I found a tiny kitten abandoned and crying near the highway in Dover. I kept him for over a day in my house where he ate, drank water and played. He was friendly towards both me and my kids but I did not keep him because of my grown cat who is very hostile towards other animals. The day after I found him I took him to the KCSPCA where I naively thought for sure that he would be cared for and put up for adoption. Instead, they euthanized him the very next day after I dropped him off, not even 24 hours later. I found this out a couple of days after I had dropped him off when I went to the shelter to check on him, along with my animal loving 10 year old child who was devastated. They say it was because of a upper respiratory illness but I am not satisfied with that response. They are always treating cats in the adoption room for upper respiratory and it is rarely fatal,especially when treated. No way was that kitten fatally ill-I had him longer than they did and this was not a cat that was dying. Furthermore the KCSPCA took my information-they could have notified me of their intent and I would have dropped everything to intervene and would have paid for any medications he may have needed, as I was obviously concerned about the welfare of this animal. I truly feel they have violated the new law but I have no idea how it can be enforced. I think the organization needs a new director. Something is very wrong.
Now here is an editorial story from another woman from Newark (New Castle County) on DelawareOnline .
I wonder whatever happened to the new Delaware Shelter Standards Law. I found an adorable male kitten crying by the highway. I wanted to keep him but my cat does not like other animals.

So I kept him at my house for a day where he ate and played and seemed very happy, then I brought him to the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where they euthanized him within a day, which I found out a couple of days later when my devastated 10-year-old daughter went there to check on him.

This is something that I know will bother me the rest of my life. They took my information, so why did they not contact me to let me know they would not save him?

I would have taken him back.

They need better standards and procedures, and I think they violated the new law.

Kathy Conner, Newark
I've color coded some of the similarities for your reference.  Maybe they're both true, but seems a little too Twilight Zone deja vu for me.

Animal Health

Delaware has had outbreaks referenced on the websites of a couple shelters in the state already.  If you look at the shelter statistics on our various shelters, you will note that the amount of animals being housed has gone up significantly based on requirements within CAPA.  The law mandates that an animal cannot be euthanized unless The animal cannot share a cage or kennel with appropriately-sized primary living space with another animal;.  Unfortunately this may have already resulted in additional disease within our shelters.  Most recently there has been a feline distemper outbreak . As noted in the story, this is the first such closure in the many years they have been operating.
The two-week closure is the first such epidemic shutdown in the history of the nonprofit founded in 1962, D'Amato said.
Legislators and animal welfare groups need to keep in mind that these outbreaks are not only life threatening to the shelter animals, but can also harm adoption opportunities in the future if citizens become fearful of taking a sick animal home.  Legislators that support legislation like CAPA need to take responsibility for the damage they may also cause.

Other States

Whether it be the CAPA that is being proposed in Minnesota, or CAARA in New York, legislators in other states need to put more thought into whether you want funds for animals to be used on never ending investigations.  Remember that this is the first year for CAPA in Delaware and the writing is on the wall.  I'm willing to bet it will only escalate in the coming years.  MN & NYC need to consider whether that money would be better spent providing real life saving programs like spay neuter or additional adoption opportunities.  Keep in mind that New Hampshire has one of the lowest euthanasia rates in the country.  New Hampshire accomplished that with a strong spay neuter program and collaboration, not with divisive legislation like CAPA and CAARA.