Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Working for change

There's a growing movement in the US and Australia to press animal shelters to adopt the principles of "no-kill": basically a rejection of the idea that the majority of "unwanted" pets will have to be killed because there are far more strays than potential homes. 

One element of the strategy is to encourage voluntary animal welfare organisations to relinquish what we in this country would refer to as "the stray dogs contract" unless they can realistically aim to place all, or nearly all, animals capable of being adopted. In other words, animal welfare organisations ought not to spend funds doing society's dirty work by killing unwanted pets and so diverting money from saving animals.

This became RSPCA policy in the UK some two decades ago, and is the default position for all its branches. It was possible because of our peculiar organisation structure which means that animal welfare policy decided by the national governing council can be imposed on the branches countrywide.

It hasn't meant that no healthy animals are ever killed because they are unwanted, but the evidence suggests that a much higher percentage of animals are successfully rehomed than in the US. The 2007 Animal Welfare Indicators report collating statistics on a range of animal issues records that the RSPCA (overall) rehomed just over 70,000 animals and put down just under 4,000 for non-medical reasons (the lowest figure for five years). [Pet animal welfare indicators]

Working at arms length from the local authority pounds and shelters has its critics and means that some people will be very unhappy because there is a group of very visible animals in need and the RSPCA is not taking all of them. 

Unfortunately this can result in a vicious circle in which the branch limits its intake of animals because it has limited resources but has difficulty recruiting helpers to increase its resources so it can take more animals because people are angry about the animals who weren't taken in. Two members of the Sheffield forum say:
Q. "Looking at this thread and the earlier one about the RSPCA do I assume that we the people of Sheffield, who support the local RSPCA branch have no say in its running, or how they spend the money that we donate, does this place not have a committie that leads/gives direction to the staff ?. could we not as either a group or as individuals, contact this committie and ask them to change their direction, does the overall RSPCA headquaters at Horsham direct the local branch to this course of action ?.

How does one get onto the local committie, to try and change things, or is it a closed shop like most of these societies seem to be, anyone know ?"
A. "I wish i did know Shytalk. All i know is that people should become aware of the things the RSPCA do and DON'T do before supporting instead of just what they DO do. I am not saying they shouldn't support the RSPCA but theres many small rescue centres out there that save 100s of dogs each year from being put to sleep when they have been in pounds for a long period of time on very low funds due to people not knowing about them as most of the time the rescues are only small and arent pleading for support on television, they make do with what they have and ask around for help, they get it and make the most of it.
I would love to know how to persuade them to help pounds and rescue centres. There's been no luck so far."
Ultimately if you don't like the way your local branch is being run, you can join the RSPCA and stand for election against us. Or you can join and stand for election to work with us. We're not a closed shop and no-one will object to newcomers who want to work to increase the number of animals we can help. What can be a problem is if new recruits have a very limited agenda and want to close down existing services to release funds for their particular pet projects. There isn't much point increasing rehoming if you abandon animals who already have owners but will have to be put to sleep if there is no available veterinary help.

No comments:

Post a Comment