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.