A recent opinion in the Baltimore Sun, In a Perfect World, highlights the ongoing battle for lives between the Humane Society of Harford County and H.O.P.E in Harford County, a group of citizens pushing to enact No Kill policies at HSHC due to the numbers of animals being killed. According to the Sun, in 2010 the open admission shelter, serving as the pound for Harford County, received a total of 4,246 dogs and cats, and over a dozen other animals. Of the 2,896 cats that went through intake, 1,829 (approximately 63%) were killed for medical issues, owner requests, temperament, space, or because they were feral. 1,350 dogs came through the doors of HCHS, and 1,000 of them left alive. The 350 that did not (about 26%) were also killed for reasons listed above.
The article lists all the standard reasons why No Kill is not possible, stating ” it’s a proposal that is almost childlike in its naivete.” Anyone that has met and talked to Susanne Kogut, of the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, Mitch Schneider and Bonney Brown of the Nevada Humane Society, Amy Sadler of the Longmont Humane Society, Mike Fry of Animal Ark in Minnesota, or any other person that is responsible for running successful No Kill shelters, and they will tell you the only thing childlike is the ability to dream of what’s possible and set those programs in action.
The overpopulation claim is a myth. Nevada Humane Society had every reason in the world to claim overpopulation as a reason to kill with their 15,000 intakes per year, but that isn’t stopping them from saving 91% of the animals that come to their shelter. Approximately 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters every year, with approximately 90% or 7 million of them being savable. 4 million will be saved from these shelters, and 3 million die. Now, this is where it gets interesting. There are people who are looking to bring a companion animal into their home, and aren’t sure yet where they are going to get their new companion, and with a little effort, outreach, and by embracing the community, many of these people could or would adopt from their shelter. The number of people who are looking to adopt a new companion animal? 17 million per year.
Unfortunately, compassion may be a mask that the HSHC may wear publicly, but reading an article in The Dagger, “Would Your Pet Make It Out Of The Humane Society of Harford County Alive?“, a former volunteer’s experience, exposes the face behind the mask. Take note, FunWy2Die1 and FunWy2Die2 were names given to two cats killed by the “humane” society. The list showing lack of leadership, responsibility, and compassion goes on.
It’s hard to have HOPE in situations like this, but when an eager group of people are willing to step up to the plate and save lives as has been done in numerous communities diverse in demographics and socio-economic status, I would say to them, Never Give Up and Never Back Down! In the end, love always wins!