Thursday, November 14, 2013

Safe Haven Is History - Will Delaware Heal?

Today the last load of dogs were transported out of Safe Haven, and the doors locked for the final time.  It's the end of a difficult and tenuous period that showed us that even Safe Haven and several other "No-Kill" shelters working together could not overcome the very pet overpopulation that the "No-Kill" movement denies exists.

"The shelter posted a four-paragraph statement to its Facebook page at about 7 p.m. saying “remaining dogs on-site were transported to shelters and rescue groups where they can be made available for adoption.”
“Some dogs, due to severe behavior issues, were such a threat to other animals or humans, that they were unsuitable for adoption,” the statement said. “Some dogs were humanely euthanized.” - DelawareOnline 

It's always unfortunate when an animal needs to be euthanized due to behavior issues, but people also need to keep in perspective that many of these dogs had already lingered for some time at Safe Haven, or even worse being warehoused in boarding kennels where they lacked the same volunteer resources to give these dogs the proper social interaction.  In fact, there's even been comments about bites to staff in the past, both on Facebook, and at the public hearing.

What Would Have Happen If ASPCA Hadn't Come In?

Consider the fact that if ASPCA hadn't stepped in, Safe Haven would have had to stop operations when they no longer had funds to pay employees to operate the shelter several weeks ago, and the dogs would have had to be euthanized right then and there.  ASPCA bought time for so many more dogs to be adopted out, and an opportunity for the dogs that left today to go to shelters up north to get another chance as well.

I realize that many people became attached to this group of dogs and that this is a difficult situation, but there will be many more dogs in need of placement in the coming months now that our shelters are filled to the hilt with Safe Haven dogs. So everyone has a choice - to rant, rumble and continue down the divisive path we've seen since CAPA was enacted, or continue the momentum that people had in trying to save the Safe Haven dogs, and use that momentum to save other dogs & cats across the state.

I hope that people continue to advocate and assist ALL shelter dogs, rather than continuing the divisive environment where dogs are ignored because they do not come from a shelter that calls themselves "No-Kill". The dogs don't see a difference, and they shouldn't be treated any differently because people have an agenda.

So ultimately it's up to all of us.  While we all want to see a good outcome for all shelter animals, we also need to stop ignoring public safety issues.  Ignoring aggressive behaviors, or other issues such as undisclosed illnesses, won't gain the public's trust in shelter dogs.  There are far too many great shelter dogs that need homes for us to risk compromising the public trust that brings adopters to shelter doors.

I wish the dogs being transported north the best homes possible, especially after being subject to the cruelty and chaos that Safe Haven represented with their warehousing of dogs and allowing dogs to suffer with illness merely to advance the "No-Kill" agenda.  Note that they are going to a part of the country in the North East that understood that prevention was the key to ending pet overpopulation, not to "No-Kill" communities like Austin or Reno.  Unfortunately, the room theat shelters in the North East have in their shelters won't happen in Delaware until our state stops following a dogma that doesn't believe pet overpopulation is real, despite the fact that 4 shelters couldn't keep up with only 800 animals over the course of a year.

Let's hope that Delaware will grow wiser from the mistakes made, and realize that pet overpopulation isn't the myth that Nathan Winograd claims as his marketing ploy.  If you don't recognize the problem, you can't fix it. And if pet overpopulation continues to be ignored in Delaware, there will never be a solution to the chaos in the Delaware animal welfare world, and pets will continue to die.  Again, it's up to us to not only champion for adoption of shelter pets, but to also watch the upcoming legislative season to ensure that we don't get more of the same nonsense that started us down this dark path the last several years.

Godspeed to the dogs on their journey to a new life.