Sunday, January 8, 2012

Shelter Standards - Really???

My hopes for a more positive animal welfare atmosphere were quickly dashed on the second day of 2012 with the publication of the DelawareOnline article about the new director for Kent County SPCA.  I continue to be amazed that our state's main source of information so readily includes rumor and inuendo in their stories.  To include insinuations that a recent inspection of Kent County was not a surprise visit, despite the fact that no one offered any backup or proof of such allegations, is just irresponsible and in my opinion not showing any better judgment than similar inferences on No-Kill Delaware's website and their Facebook page

I wasn't as shocked when No-Kill Delaware posted a letter from a woman, whose family's dog was running at-large and ended up reclaimed by his previous owner when a concerned citizen checked the dogs expired rabies tag and returned the dog to the previous owner, and then she was mad that Kent County SPCA could not return the dog to her since it was a custody issue that needed to be settled by a court of law.  In that letter she made insinuations about the previous directors wife owning a carriage business and stated "Seems to me the liability insurance alone would cost a fortune, not to mention those pretty carriages."  While I realize that some of No-Kill Delaware's followers aren't the brightest bulbs on the block, most people understand that liability insurance is based on the volume of business, and if the business is a part time venture then the cost of liabilty insurance would correspond.  I've also had horses in the past and can state that the liability insurance even in a full time operation is not "a fortune".  Regarding the cost of carriages, I quickly found a white carriage example that cost $5,000, and I can't even tell you whether that is a good deal.  What a windfall the director's wife must have had to spend an amount similar to what I've seen many people spend on their home entertainment setups (eyeroll).   Here's the REAL conspiracy, kids cost more than a horse to raise, maybe we should get the attorney general to investigate the finances of everyone in Delaware that has children. 

Shelter Standards

The fact that the politicians and no-kill advocates so often refer to Delaware CAPA as "shelter standards" is just irritating. 
“Up until now, we have had no state standards of operation for animal shelters.  Today, that changes, “ said Governor Markell.  “These standards put Delaware shelter regulations among the most comprehensive in the country, a legislative accomplishment we should all be proud of – we did this together.  This new law protects our shelters, our pets and the people who love them, pet owners.” - Governor Markell
So often people think southern states have lower standards for animal welfare than our own states, but that's untrue.  While there are some southern states that obviously have issues with their standards of care, there are also states like North Carolina that have far more comprehensive animal shelter laws and real inspections of animal shelters on a regular basis. The inspections are backed by laws and regulation that ensure proper sanitation, feeding, watering, minimum enclosure sizes, proper drainage, etc.  Delaware's CAPA does none of this.  North Carolina has real "shelter standards" and Governor Markell's statements that Delaware's CAPA is "shelter regulation" or "the most comprehensive in the county" is just ludicrous, especially when you look at states like North Carolina that really are ensuring that animals in shelters are being housed in a healthy environment.  Those statements are almost as ridiculous as Mr. Winograd's statement that:
"the Governor of Delaware signed into law the most sweeping, progressive companion animal protection legislation in the United States."
So instead of ensuring that animals were enclosed with a proper amount of space, with adequate ventilation, are fed and watered properly, the State of Delaware instead chose to mandate certain steps prior to euthanasia like mandating that animals share cages.  Many of us know dogs that wouldn't do well being placed into a cage with an unfamiliar dog, and it also increases the chances that animals will pass on illness.  So would I prefer to have a law that mandates cage sharing, or would I rather know that my animal is being kept in a well maintained sanitary environment that is inspected to ensure his welfare?  No doubt, the safe clean environment that is inspected to ensure my animals health and well being would be my choice. 

Why Would Shelters Want To Be Regulated?

I understand why our politicians chose this route of least resistance.  They thought they were going to be able to pass a feel good bill that wouldn't cost them a ,and thought any added cost would be passed onto the counties.  As stated before, that hasn't been the case with the cost of never ending investigations.  But this also makes one wonder - what possessed the animal welfare community to back legislation that lacked the very standards like enclosure size and sanitation standards that they have tried in the past to legislate in regard to commercial kennels.  The fact is that the no-kill community wants to be able to warehouse animals and don't want to be restricted from doing that.  It's that simple. 

This is why laws should not be written by special interest groups.  Wall Street would have never written "truth in securities" laws that ensure investors receive financial information that does not misrepresent the true financial condition of a company.  So why would anyone believe that laws which should govern the safety and sanitary conditions for our animals in an animal shelter would be comprehensive when it was written by the shelters?  Maybe we should let the bankers write the laws for those mortage backed securities and credit default swaps.  They've done so well with self regulation the last 10 years, haven't they?

More of The Same To Come

The scary part is that I'm sure there will be more of the same going forward.  When I saw the Delaware Votes for Animals site shows an upcoming presentation in "Influencing Real Change for Animals" , I just had to cringe.  I don't even want to think about what could be next after watching how harmful Delaware CAPA has been for our state. 

Considering this group thought it had a right to demand input into the choosing of a director for the Kent County SPCA, and their heavy handed tactic of placing an action alert out on their Facebook page, and from what I've heard in a large scale email alert encouraging people to bombard the board with emails regarding their demands for input, I can only wonder who their next victim will be.  Whether it be No-Kill Delaware or Delaware Votes for Animals, they should both understand that it is the boards prerogative who is/was chosen as the Executive Director, and they're obligation is to the shelters membership, not outside interests.   The State and it's taxpayers don't get a say in Office Depot or Staples CEO just because they buy supplies from them, so their inference that because Kent County SPCA gets taxpayer funds as payment for their contracts with the counties is insane.  With that logic, I would have the right to influence positions on every vendor that does work with the state, county, and city.  The guy down the street from me does some plowing for the state, so according to their logic I guess I can go tell him how to run his business. Final eyeroll.