Saturday, July 5, 2014

Shelters Releasing Animals To Living Hells

This week there was another story about shelter animals in California that were released into a living hell. Whether it be California's Hayden Act or Delaware's CAPA, the scramble to get animals out the door to any and every "rescue" results in animal cruelty far too often and the cost to the welfare of these animals is not acceptable. 

This story was regarding a woman in California who was charged with 90 counts of felony animal cruelty when over 200 cats were found on her property, of which 155 were alive and 64 dead.  23 of the live cats have also euthanized to prevent further suffering. The remaining live cats remain under quarantine for a host of medical issues.
“Unfortunately, the cats are still under quarantine at this time for medical issues," said Maggie Kalar of KCAS. "Those medical issues range from upper respiratory infections to panleukopenia."
Neighbors described Patz as a hoarder and said the many cats she kept would roam the neighborhood on a daily basis. - ABC Bakersfield
While on the surface this just looks like another individual case of hoarding, when I looked further into Ms. Patz's background it was found that she was on the board of directors for a group called Feral Paws Rescue Group.  They are a "rescue" group that pulls cats from shelters like Lancaster Animal Shelter in California that is part of the Los Angeles animal control system, and Liberty Animal Control in Fresno.

The irony is that this group posts on multiple occasions about "high-kill" shelters.  Considering the circumstances that occurred this week, this "rescue" may want to look at it's "high-kill" ways. And it certainly does reflect well on this group that their reaction to the case was to cleanse their website on the pages shown above which I found in Google cache from a week earlier, and has just posted cute pictures on their Facebook since the bust and avoided discussing what role their group may have had in this case. A responsible rescue would have stepped up and said Ms. Patz was part of their group and that they will be taking specific steps to prevent it from happening again.

Had some of these animals been euthanized at the shelter, it would have at least been done in a humane and painless manner.  Instead we know that a high percentage of the cats in this case died anyway, and in many cases it may have been due to the same illnesses that the currently quarantined cats are suffering from.  And with that many cats in one home, I can only imagine the conditions that these cats were living in.  The story also tells us that 23 of the cats were suffering based on an examination by a veterinarian.  This is not more acceptable than humane euthanasia, and that's why Ms. Patz was charged with animal cruelty.

Until the discussion in companion animal welfare starts focusing on prevention and lowering the pet overpopulation that "No-Kill" claims to be a myth, we will continue to see the exponential increases in rescue hoarding that we have seen in recent years.  It's a sad time for animals when communities or states like Delaware and California actually support rescue hoarding with laws that might have been well intentioned, but are eventually shown to be severely flawed and result in animal cruelty. Animals don't care about political photo ops, and they deserve better than state sanctioned cruelty.