Best Friends Blog

For shelter pets, a Hurricane Katrina-scale disaster happens every week

My second post for the Huffington Post is now live. To make sure you never miss a post, you can click here to subscribe to the blog and receive every post right in your inbox.

The U.S. is a nation of animal lovers. More than 82 million households (68 percent of the population) have at least one pet. The care that we provide for our animal companions parallels the care that we provide for our families and ourselves, whether it’s the quality of the food we buy for our dogs and cats, or the medical care that we give to them. In fact, this year we will spend around $15 billion on veterinary care alone out of a total of about $58 billion that we will invest in the care of the animals we have invited into our homes.

And yet, the tax dollars of these same animal lovers are being used to pay for the sanctioned killing of three to four million healthy pets every year in our nation’s shelters. That’s more than 9,000 healthy, adoptable dogs and cats every day; 9,000 lives, in the fullest sense of the word, are wasted every day. Caging and killing homeless pets is not only abusive and cruel to these animals who we value as a society, killing healthy, friendly pets is a soul-destroying activity that has a corrosive effect on our communities. This situation need not exist at all. No-kill is not only possible, it is the right thing to do and it has already been achieved in communities around the country.

Click to continue reading at the Huffington Post.

Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Tess328

    It’s heartbreaking and totally unacceptable to kill healthy animals just for the crime of being homeless.

    In my view, the problem of the pet overpopulation has to be seriously addressed, and that would include passing laws to shut down the puppy mills, and also the “back yard breeders”, people that continue to breed their animals to “make and extra buck”, that greatly add to the problem. If the puppy mills are allowed to continue to operate, millions more animals will be created and there will be no place to put them.

    • Megan

      I once spoke with a senior staff member of the Humane Society of the United Sates. She told me that the over population of dogs is in direct proportion the the numbers the puppy mills pump out every year. Shutting down puppy mills alone may solve the problem altogether. But that is a mammoth task. That is one of the major goals of Best Friends, the HSUS, and other national NGO’s. There will be no no-kill movement success until puppy mills are eradicated. It’s a matter of educating the public – all those families out there who get an idea in their heads about the kind of dog they want, then go to the internet to find them. I’m a dog walker, and so shocked each time I get a new client who says they didn’t know about puppy mills. I have a policy in my business to give a free weekend of boarding to any clients who adopt from a rescue or shelter. And if they want to foster a dog, I include their foster dog in my pack for free. Step by step, person by person, we can all contribute to the education of the public, and work to solve the horror happening every day in shelters everywhere.

    • TheTimeToStopPostingIsNow

      I like puppies, let’s breed our dogs and make some more!

      It’s hard to change this stupid mindset. Then they sell the puppies to randos for profit.

  • Pamela Myers-Lewis

    The world was indeed shocked by the images of stranded animals after Katrina—as attested to by the huge number of volunteers who showed up to help them. I am so very glad that Best Friends is behind no kill. I’ve been waiting to see a large, nationally recognized animal welfare organization step up to the plate for no kill. I would love to see you forge an alliance with Nathan Winograd of the No Kill Advocacy Center.
    I am involved with pledging and networking “euth”-listed dogs online. The number of healthy, happy, young and old, adoptable dogs that are killed for no reason staggers me. The callousness that allows it sickens me. The support of unnecessary killing on the part of ASPCA and HSUS has caused me to withdraw my support from them.
    Societies evolve. I agree that we’re at the point in our moral evolution where we must address the issue of “shelter” killing.
    Thank you for being a voice for no kill.

  • suki

    When one does not see the relationship in our we treat our defenseless creatures with the bigger picture of humanity, that is YOUR failure.

  • Mohammed

    The world wasn’t shocked by images of animals suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was shocked by the images of human bodies floating past abandoned neighborhoods. There are logical health and sanitation reasons why emergency shelters cannot and should not accept pets. If you actually remembered anything about the terrible toll on HUMAN life that Hurricane Katrina took, look at the case of the LA Superdome. There was no system for purifying water, no way to dispose of bodily waste, not enough food for the people in the shelter, allegations of violent crime, gang activity and sexual assault.

    Your article is frankly racist and sick. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Megan

      Mohammed, take a breather, dude. No one suggested that there wasn’t horror at what happened to the human population during Hurricane Kartrina. But still, the critters had it even worse. This isn’t a war between humans and pets. It’s a need to work for betterment for ALL of us. There’s nothing racist in the article, and certainly nothing sick in striving for better evacuation plans for people AND their non-human family members. The point is to make this place, every place, a better place for all of us, to not over-breed (hopefully both humans and pets), and to care for everyone, whether they have two legs or four. For most of us, pets ARE family members. If this is not your experience, you are missing out, and I hope that one day your own life will be blessed with the companionship and love that dogs and cats give in abundance.

      I am in awe of the work Best Friends does. They have nothing to be ashamed of.

      • Tomassina

        I admire your restraint,Megan.
        I’m so sick of the ignorant “Humans are more important” preaching!
        My reply is “Well, animals are MY thing. I help THEM. They cannot speak for themselves”. I’m tempted to add that the mess we’re in today is because of humans ,more & more & MORE humans all the time. Willfully blind humans…..
        The world’s going to see a whole lot more of Katrina-like messes if humans don’t wake up NOW . Humans CAN speak for themselves yet we choose to remain blind to the damage we cause to the Earth,to other people & to other species!
        Terrible, willful turning away from any other species than our own. As a species,we’re hopelssly, ,probably fatally ,self-centred .

      • Not Mohammad

        Gotta say, Megan, I agree with Tomassina — cool calm and collected SMART answer to Mohammad — Please M wake up and smell . . . anything. Racist. . . What???

  • johnbachman

    I posted the following in the Huntington Post:

    I agree with all those who see that the real solution lies
    in S/N. Yes we want to stop the killing
    but the obsession on the term “no
    kill” has brought about actions
    having to do with numbers rather than lives.
    The live release rate has become the only measure cities publicize and
    praise is heaped on them as that number rises and approaches the magic number
    of 90% defined by most as, NO KILL”.
    The problems with this are that is only applies to that one shelter not
    the whole community and it only applies to the animals that are taken into
    their shelter not all the homeless and unwanted
    animals. Therefore that number is
    directly effected by how it is calculated and very importantly on the number of
    the animals impounded.

    For the example asked for I will give you numbers for San
    Antonio comparing fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
    The FY2012 live release rate was 61% and for FY 2013 77%. This is used as proof that the city is well
    on it’s way to No Kill. There was an
    increase in adoptions from about 6,000 to 7,000 but the number of rescues decreased from about 12,600 to 11,900, the
    return to owner remained about the same at 2,000 and TNR did also at about
    1,000. The number of impounded animals
    decreased from 35,000 to 29,000. This
    decrease cannot be attributed to a decrease in the problems of homeless and
    unwanted animals. The number of calls
    for service increased from about 85,000 to 92,000 and the number of dead
    animals picked up off of the street increased from about 34,000 to over 35,500. About 70% of those are dogs and cats. These numbers would indicate an equal or
    increasing problem. The city has never
    tried to actually obtain a valid estimate of the number of homeless animals but
    they have stated to the city council and press that there are 153,000 strays.

    The city also has not determined the number of intact dogs
    and cats in the city. The number of city
    funded S/n has stayed steady at about 9,000 for a few years. The number of in house S/N increased from
    about 11,000 to 17,000 but all of these are done on animals adopted or released
    to rescues which is required by law. In
    the entire city there were about 58,000 S/N performed in 2013 by all shelters
    and S/N organizations but only about 25% of these were done on publically owned

    So, the question, “Is San Antonio really on the way to
    no kill?”. I say the Animal Control
    Shelter may be but that does not mean the city will have no more homeless
    animals which is or was the Best friends goal in past times. I believe San Antonio may become and stay no
    kill by their own standards but there will remain many many homeless animals
    that continue to breed, be unwanted, abandoned and die on the streets or die in
    or be euthanized by other shelters or Vets.