Lake County MSN – worst shelter kill stats in California

Of the 58 counties in California, one of them has to have the highest euthanasia rates in their public animal shelters. That dubious honor goes to Lake County. Lake County is also one of the few counties in California that has a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance.

Here’s some comparisons (dogs+cats euthanized in 2007 in public animal shelters per 100,000 population)

  • Lake County, CA: 4560
  • USA national average: 1000-1300
  • California average: 1066
  • Nevada County, CA: 163
  • Calgary, Canada: 44

Lake County’s kill stats are more than 4 times higher than the California state average.  Most jurisdictions in California do not have mandatory spay/neuter.

Lake County’s kill stats are 28 times higher than in Nevada County. Nevada County has made tremendous strides in reducing their shelter kill rates. Nevada County does NOT have mandatory spay/neuter.

Lake County’s kill stats are 104 times higher than Calgary’s, the best animal control program in North America.  Calgary does NOT have mandatory spay/neuter, BSL, an extreme differential license fee for intact animals, or pet limit laws.

One might think that animal lovers and policy makers would take note of Lake County’s dismal track record.

Yet in late 2007, the City of Los Angeles was considering an MSN ordinance. The Los Angeles Times reported:

Smith, the veterinarian [and president of the California Veterinary Medical Association], said he supports mandatory spay/neuter legislation. “It’s worked in our county,” he said, referring to Lake County in Northern California.

“It’s worked” for whom, the purveyors of Euthasol euthanasia solution? Up is down, and right is wrong, if Lake County’s MSN ordinance “worked”.

Los Angeles followed Lake County’s terrible lead, and passed MSN in late 2007. The result? Reversing many years of steady progress, in 2008 dog deaths increased 24%, while cat deaths increased 35% in LAAS shelters. The deteriorating economy no doubt played a role. But the economy deteriorated just as much in tourism-dependent Washoe County (Reno) NV, and their public animal shelter save rates actually improved in 2008.

Sources: 2007 data from California Department of Public Health, Calgary Animal Services, US Census Bureau

16 May, 2009 (15:58) | SB 250, Shelter Population, Track Record

Santa Cruz County – A Disastrous “Model for the State”

For years, California’s supporters of mandatory spay/neuter laws have proclaimed that Santa Cruz County’s 1995 MSN ordinance  is the “model for the state”.  Yet they never compare Santa Cruz County’s shelter stats to neighboring jurisdictions, or to California’s leaders in reducing shelter killing.  That’s because on a per capita basis

  • Santa Cruz County’s euthanasia rates are higher than those in nearby counties such as Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Marin — none of which have mandatory spay/neuter laws
  • Santa Cruz County’s euthanasia rates are 44% higher than San Diego County’s, which does not have mandatory spay/neuter
  • Santa Cruz County’s euthanasia rates are more than 4 times higher than Nevada County’s, which does not have mandatory spay/neuter
  • Santa Cruz County’s euthanasia rates are 16 times higher than Calgary’s, the best animal control program in North America, where they also do not have mandatory spay/neuter

santa-cruz3
Sources: 2007 data from California Department of Public Health, Calgary Animal Services, US Census Bureau

Animal control costs in Santa Cruz County have doubled since they passed mandatory spay/neuter in 1995. More than 10 years after passing their MSN ordinance, “spiraling animal control costs” are causing cities within Santa Cruz County to cancel or threaten to cancel their animal control contracts with Santa Cruz County, according to an investigative report by the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Santa Cruz County Animal Services Annual Budget from 1991 to 2005

Santa Cruz County spends a very high $11.92 per citizen for animal control, 74% higher than for California as a whole. If all of California spent that much, the cost of animal control to the state taxpayers would skyrocket; from $249 million to $433 million. California cannot afford the high cost of mandatory spay/neuter.

5 May, 2009 (01:05) | SB 250, Shelter Population, Track Record

Los Angeles – a mandatory spay/neuter “pet killer bill”

“No Senator, this is not about saving dogs and cats.”

—Ed Boks, General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services, testifying before the California Senate in support of mandatory spay/neuter — admitting it doesn’t save lives

Leaders in the shelter reform movement have been saying for years that mandatory spay/neuter laws backfire. Instead of saving animals lives as advertised, these laws actually increase the killing.

Despite the warnings, the city of Los Angeles passed a draconian mandatory spay/neuter ordinance in early 2008. No Kill movement leader Nathan Winograd explains the tragic result here:

Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) General Manager Ed Boks made headlines in his support last year of Assembly Bill 1634, California’s mandatory spay/neuter bill when he admitted that the legislation was more about expanding the bureaucratic power of animal control than saving animals. During a legislative hearing, a Senator asked Ed Boks, the General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) and one of the bill’s chief proponents: “Mr. Boks, this bill doesn’t even pretend to be about saving animals, does it?” To which Boks responded: “No Senator, this is not about saving dogs and cats.”

Not content to wait for the state (which did not pass the measure), Boks convinced the City of Los Angeles to pass its own version. He also demanded more officers to enforce it. The end result was predictable. Almost immediately, LAAS officers threatened poor people with citations if they did not turn over the pets to be killed at LAAS, and that is exactly what occurred. For the first time in a decade, impounds and killing increased—dog deaths increased 24%, while cat deaths increased 35%.

And here:

Since the Cardenas pet killer bill was passed, Los Angeles City shelters have increased the rate of animal killing, the first such increase in better than a decade. And killing is not only up, it is skyrocketing with 35% more cats and 24% more dogs losing their lives. In effect, Cardenas is asking for something that is not possible to do—there is no “success” to report. Instead, the law has been an abysmal failure, something that was not hard to predict.

Here’s the Los Angeles Animal Services – 2008 Statistical Report with the hard data.

1 April, 2009 (14:54) | SB 250, Shelter Population, Track Record

Facts about California Shelter Statistics

Data from the California Department of Health Services, Veterinary Public Health section shows that intake and euthanasia rates for dogs in California have been falling steadily for decades. Althought there is still a way to go, the state is on the right track. The NAIA Shelter Project has detailed statistics for local jurisdictions and the state as a whole.

The number of dogs euthanized in California is down an amazing 43% in just the last 5 years, and more than 75% since the numbers peaked in the mid 1970s. This happened without widespread mandatory spay/neuter laws, and despite a large increase in the state’s human population. The state is making real progress though voluntary programs.

Line graph showing California state wide numbers of dogs impounded and euthanized from 1973 to 2005. Both lines show a steep consistent downward trend. Approximately 800,000 dogs impounded in 1974 to 350,000 in 2005. Approximately 550,000 dogs euthanized in 1974 to 120,000 in 2005 including a 43% reduction in euthanasias from 2000 to 2005.

The programs that were implemented statewide over this period and are responsible for this success are:

  • dog owner education programs
  • improved enforcement of leash laws and “at large” laws
  • low-cost voluntary spay/neuter outreach programs

These are programs that are proven to work. The state of California should encourage the expansion of these successful programs rather than try to a implement mandatory spay/neuter law which has proven it doesn’t work.

The supporters cite Santa Cruz as a model for the rest of the state, but if you compare Santa Cruz with adjacent counties you can see that Santa Cruz is actually making less progress than its neighbors.

Line graph showing per capita dog impound rates for Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties. All four lines trend generally down. Santa Cruz has the highest rate and the slowest downward trend, especially since their mandatory spay/neuter ordinance passed in 1995. Line graph showing per capita dog euthanasia rates for Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties. All four lines trend generally down. Santa Cruz has shown the least progress of the four since their mandatory spay/neuter ordinance passed in 1995.

Supporters of mandatory spay/neuter claim that it will save taxpayers millions of dollars. Not if Santa Cruz is any indication. The 1994-2000 data is missing, but from 1993, shortly before the ordinance went into effect, to 2005, the Animal Services Annual budget ballooned from $648,000 to $1.4 million dollars, a 216% increase. California state and local government cannot afford such massive cost increases.

Line graph showing the Santa Cruz County Animal Services budget from 1991 to 2005. The line increases sharply over that period from $626,000 in 1991 to $1.4 million in 2005.

28 March, 2009 (21:08) | Shelter Population

Giving Up on Our Best Friends

The evidence is clear. People are not in the know. When it comes to problem solving, some pet owners do not have adequate knowledge to determine solutions. They are unaware what may be contributing to the problems they face. Many are experiencing the results of unrealistic expectations. The bottom line? Animals, who otherwise might remain happily in their homes are relinquished to shelters across the country.
— Exploring the Surplus Cat and Dog Problem

Their results suggested that education and counseling of pet owners before and after they acquire a pet, and providing temporary housing for pets when owners are experiencing a personal crisis may reduce relinquishment of pets.
— Exploring the Surplus Cat and Dog Problem

Exploring the Surplus Cat and Dog Problem by the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy summarizes the results of a large research study on why people relinquish their dogs and cats to shelters. This paper is for a general audience, meaning you and me. The academic papers that came out of the same research are also available on their site.

28 March, 2009 (20:44) | Shelter Population