As we enter a new year, one can only hope that the animal welfare community in Delaware can get past the games and downright nastiness that 2011 brought us.
Our Example To Other States
While CAPA has been a disaster for Delaware, the one bright spot is that it provided other states an opportunity to see what happened here and realize that it was just the tip of the iceberg of what will happen in on a larger scale in a larger state. The national "no-kill" leaders claim this law is necessary to ensure that rescues have access to animals that will be euthanized, but those states can see from the Kent County SPCA statistics that there was a nice bump up of transfers (375) in the first quarter of 2011 when groups wanted to show what a good thing this law was, but descended rapidly to historic levels by the 3rd quarter (226) as shelters became filled to capacity, or possibly even over capacity. Let's be honest, how many of the animals that ended up on rescue registry were initially turned away from one of the shelters in the first place, so how was this law going to encourage them to take them later on. Once the enthusiasm of the new law waned, nothing was accomplished other than creating more dissension than already existed, and wasting taxpayer dollars for various state agencies to act as the playground referees. Those tax dollars could have been spent on public campaigns to encourage adoption or additional spay neuter resources which would have actually helped the animals of Delaware.
So to start the new year on a positive note, I encourage those of us in Delaware that have seen the results of this law to let your friends in other states know what a disaster a similar law would be for them. Although I'm sure there will be more in the year to come, below are several of the states already considering similar legislation:
Florida Animal Rescue Act - SB 818/HB 597
Minnesota CAPA (Companion Animal Protection Act) - H.F. No. 1735
New York CAARA - Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act - S05363, A07312B
Face of CAPA
Let them know that below is the face of CAPA, CAARA, or any other similar legislation. That mandating dogs or cats go to rescues that a shelter is unfamiliar with is dangerous, and not in the best interest of the animals. You wouldn't turn children over to someone who simply registers as a 501c3, so why would you entrust defenseless animals to a rescue that you are unfamiliar with. As stated before, there are worse fates than death and no one can convince me that this dog's life was better for the additional 40 days of his life that resulted in his emaciated state with multiple bite wounds, and then finally roaming the streets of Wilmington.
2012 in Delaware
The question becomes, what will 2012 bring to animal welfare in Delaware? Will it be more of the divisive politics that has escalated under CAPA, or will shelters overcome the urge to use CAPA as a weapon? Hopefully people will have gained more insight into the fact that no one shelter can lower euthanasia alone. Kent County SPCA is paid for animal control in the 3 counties, but those contracts pay for just that. They are not provided with funding that enables long term housing of ALL animals, nor do those contracts pay for extensive medical services for the many sick or injured animals that are taken in each day. So tough choices have to be made, and until other shelters understand that Kent County SPCA has to live within its means to continue to serve the countless number of animals that will come through their doors in the years ahead, nothing will improve. My hope for 2012 is that all shelters and rescues in Delaware will stop worrying about what they think another shelter is doing wrong, and focus on what their own shelter can do to help more animals.
Happy New Year.