Sunday, October 21, 2012

Spay Neuter Before Adoption - It's The Law !!!

Since 2006, Delaware has had a law on the books that states shelters and rescues are REQUIRED to spay or neuter prior to adoption.
§ 8220. Preadoption spay/neuter mandate.
(a) Effective on June 29, 2006, it shall be mandatory for all cats and/or dogs of reproductive age to be spayed or neutered and inoculated for rabies prior to adoption from any of the following:
(1) A private animal welfare or rescue agency/group or organization;
(2) Any adoption clinic endorsed, operated, managed, or sponsored by an animal welfare or rescue agency, organizations, commercial enterprises or private parties or combination thereof; or
(3) An animal shelter as defined herein.
There are some minor exceptions for underage animals, and animals with health conditions that prevent the surgery from being done before the adoption. In those cases there is a deposit process prescribed within the statute to ensure followup of the cases where the exceptions take place.  If the animal is not done within the established timeline, the adopter loses the $75 deposit, pays the cost for the surgery, and incurs a fine up to $250 plus court costs.  If they still don't get the surgery done, the fine doubles to $500 plus court costs, and will be required to forfeit the dog or cat back to the original adopting agency.

The law also allows for adopting agencies who violate the mandate to be subject to a $500 dollar fine for EACH violation of this law.

Safe Haven Violations

This week it came to light that not only is Safe Haven violating this statute, but they are doing it with the blessing of our Kent County Levy Court Commission.
From Commissioner Sweeney  Oct 9th   6:05 Pm
I have spoken to a couple of families who adopted dogs from Safe Haven during their event this weekend.  Because Safe Haven does not have a vet on staff at this time, they offered to forego the adoption fee if the family would seek other means to alter their adopted pet.  Some have tried to make arrangements at the SPCA event and were refused because the adopted from Safe Haven.  THAT is no way to be!

I understand that you used to work for the SPCA, so I understand your bias toward Safe Haven.  However, we are not in a financial position to dump them for an issue that can be resolved just by talking to them, something the SPCA would never do with us.

Veterinarians are in short supply, and when a student does finish their residency, they can make a lot more money in private practice in place of a shelter.  Safe Haven is working very hard to find a vet for their staff.

She does believe in Spay and Neuter, and I have spoken with her many times about our similar views on this.

As for open hours, they will be open to the public for 3 days a week starting the week of the 26th. - Delaware Newszap Message Board 
It's unbelievable that Commissioner Sweeney implies that it is somehow another shelter's responsibility to spay neuter Safe Haven's animals, when Safe Haven has done nothing but bad mouth KCSCPA. Also, it's not true that KCSPCA is retaliating against them by not doing the Safe Haven adopter surgeries. KCSPCA's capacity is already stretched with doing the adoptable dogs from 2 other counties, the Petsmart grant for cats, and doing surgeries under the state program, so they haven't been doing surgeries outside of those areas due to cutbacks. So it appears he implying KCSPCA should pay for more veterinarian and support staff hours to subsidize Safe Haven and the county with the statement "THAT is no way to be!"  His statement is downright childish in my opinion. And it's equally ridiculous that the county is not only allowing their contractor to violate the law, but making excuses for them. Sadly, the silence of the other commissioners speaks to their complicity in this as well.  Not only are commissioners accepting the fact that Safe Haven is violating the law, the county commission is also complicit in placing adopters,of dogs under their contract in a position where they are also violating the law, and those adopters (resident constituents) could be subject to penalty and the forfeiture of their adopted pet.

I also think Mr. Sweeney's statement below was equally disrespectful of the veterinary community. At a median salary of $66,127, I wouldn't say most vets are raking in the big bucks, and they do have 8 years of schooling to pay for. So it seems once again that KCSPCA had a better handle on what costs are needed to fulfill state law requirements, which is what most of us suspected.
"Veterinarians are in short supply, and when a student does finish their residency, they can make a lot more money in private practice in place of a shelter."
It's unfortunate that state lawmakers are also sitting on their hands while this situation takes place. Senator Blevins was more than willing to go after KCSPCA with a FOIA request, and in that case the FOIA opinion was done twice to ensure no other shelter had to comply, but there hasn't been a word about the spay neuter  law she wrote being violated. I can only surmise that CAPA has become more important in her eyes than her spay neuter legislation.  It seems that this whole fiasco was always about a bunch of politicians, who don't have a clue how to run a business, but think that they can legislate "no-kill" and dictate how to run a shelter.  Obviously it's a failure considering we've stepped back in time to where adopted animals aren't spayed/neutered before being adopted.

It appears our no-kill shelters and our legislators have bought into statements by no-kill leadership that spay neuter should take a back seat to scrambling to get animals out the door, whether that be to an adopter, or whether it be to a private shelter where the animal will not have access to the socialization it needs to be a good adoption candidate.  Safe Haven would rather spend their resources warehousing animals at private kennels, than obeying the law and using those same funds to spay neuter before adoption..
"While spay neuter is important, our goal has never been no more births, even though reducing birth rates might help. Our goal has been and is, and has always been no more killing. And when you focus on the no more killing part, spay neuter actually takes a backseat to all those other programs like foster care, and adoptions, and helping people overcome the challenges they face that cause them to surrender their animals." - Nathan Winograd on AnimalWise Radio 4/22/12
So it seems Delaware will be going down the path of other communities that allowed spay neuter to take a backseat to their no-kill initiatives, and as a result will also incur MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in higher budgets, rather than the fiscally responsible alternative of targeted spay neuter.  By making spay neuter an afterthought, additional costs will be incurred because intake rates will now stagnate or increase, instead of intakes decreasing as occurred in communities with successful spay neuter programs like the State of New Hampshire and Hillsborough County Florida.