Tag Archives: TNR

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) & Shelter [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

10 Aug

How much does the HSUS contribute to your local animal shelter?  

Before that question can be answered, we need to define what the HSUS is, what its goals are, and how much money HSUS has.  On the HSUS website, they give the following mission statement:

The mission of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is to create a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We seek to forge a lasting and comprehensive change in human consciousness of and behavior toward all animals in order to prevent animal cruelty, exploitation and neglect and to protect wild habitats and the entire community of life.

The HSUS seeks to achieve our goals through education, advocacy, public policy reform and the empowerment of our supporters and partners. We do not engage in or support actions that are illegal or violent or that run counter to the basic principles of compassion and respect for others.

The HSUS strives for integrity, fairness and professionalism in pursuit of our mission. We will seek to be inclusive and to develop partnerships with a broad array of society’s institutions to further our goals.

                  26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

So what exactly does that mean?  Who is the HSUS and what are they trying to do?

There is a misconception of who The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is and what their function is nationally.  According to a national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation (CNN’s pollster) on November 23rd to the 25th, 2011, 71 percent of Americans think the Humane Society of the United States is a pet shelter “umbrella group” (27) that filters its donations to state branches, helping support local animal shelters (24).  

Despite the words “humane society” in its name, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is not formally affiliated with any humane societies that operate at a city, county or regional level. HSUS does not run a single pet shelter (27).  The words “humane society” may appear on its letterhead and omnipresent dogs and cats are in its fundraising materials and television commercials, but the HSUS is not an organization that runs spay/neuter programs or takes in stray, neglected, and abused pets (25).  According to HumaneWatch.org, “HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter, nor does it serve as a national headquarters for humane societies that serve cities, towns, counties or states” (24).

A Feb. 2010 poll by Opinion Research Corporation determined that 63 percent of Americans believe their local humane society is affiliated with HSUS and 48 percent believe their local shelter receives financial support from HSUS (27). Furthermore, according to that November 2011 national poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, 68 percent [of Americans] believe HSUS contributes most of its money to local hands-on pet-shelter groups (27). Probably due to the commercials that show sad dogs and cats and strongly imply that giving $19 per month will alleviate their suffering (24).  

All of these statements are false (27).

Very little money given to HSUS will ever reach a pet shelter (24).  And quite unlike the common image of animal protection agencies as cash-strapped organizations dedicated to animal welfare, HSUS has become the wealthiest animal rights organization on earth (25).  HSUS has an annual budget of more than $100 million, and its affiliated groups have more than $191 million in assets, $160 million of which HSUS itself holds 24).

The HSUS disseminates merely one percent of its budget to pet shelters in the form of grants (27). More specifically, according to HSUS’s 2008 tax return, less than half of one percent (0.5%) of HSUS budget consisted of grants to hands-on pet shelters. And in 2009, again according to HSUS’s tax returns, less than one percent of HSUS’s budget (0.8%, to be exact) consisted of grants to shelters (24).

Most Americans aren’t aware of these facts, because the organization perpetuates the misconception the HSUS is directly affiliated with your local animal shelter, and the donations sent to HSUS will help shelter animals.

Even animal shelters believe that HSUS has helped perpetuate Americans’ misperception of what they do. In fact, 71 percent of animal shelters think HSUS “misleads people into thinking it is associated with local animal shelters.” The animals featured in HSUS’s TV ads are almost always cats and dogs. Additionally, their fundraising letters often give the misleading impression about what HSUS does.

One recent letter claimed that “the only way we can make these critical life-saving programs work and help save the lives of puppies and kittens in peril is with the continued support of our very best members such as you.” Another letter asked, “How can we save these innocent puppies and kittens and find them good, loving homes?”

The most likely explanation for this is that donors respond with open checkbooks to dogs and cats more than, say, pigs and chickens. But while HSUS’s advertising plays on people’s love for pets, it uses much of the money in completely different ways.

               27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

The vast majority of HSUS funds are kept for its own agenda, and next time we’ll discuss what that agenda entails.

Sources:

24). https://humanewatch.org/the_humane_society_of_the_united_states

_and_pet_shelter_giving/

25). https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/hsus

-humane-society-of-the-united-states/ 

26). https://www.humanesociety.org/our-policies

27). https://humaneforpets.com/the-problem/

Funding Sources of Animal Shelters [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

9 Aug

In the last few posts we talked about how TNR is not all it’s cracked up to be, there are many downsides.  We went into how TNR started in the United States, and how Alley Cat Allies (ACA), which was integral to that process, seems biased, and according to employee reviews, is sketchy.  Last time we went over some horrible statistics about the number of animals that are abandoned and require shelter services, and the astronomical costs associated with running a shelter.  It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s not a simple problem to resolve. This time I’m going to share how animal shelters get the money to operate.

In trying to convey how animal shelters are funded, I found that two words are apt:  Inconsistent and incompletely.  Before I try to explain how animal shelters are funded, we have to look at semantics.  The term “animal shelter” is a generic term usually used to refer to an animal rescue organization that has a physical facility where you can go and adopt an animal.  To confused things further, some organizations even use the moniker “animal shelter” in their title.  Referring to an organization as an “animal shelter” or “animal rescue” has become common in the industry as a simple way to understand whether the organization has a physical facility where they house the animals.  So they’re catch-all terms, and may or may not be accurate to that particular animal shelter’s business model.

 

Despite the similar names, there are different types of animal shelters, and those classifications can help us decipher funding source–not always.  The majority of animal shelters are operated as rescues. They’re classified as charities and have 501c3 (non-profit) status.  Most animal rescue organizations are foster based and rely on volunteers to take care of the animals in their homes since they cannot afford a building, staff and all of the costs associated with running it.  

 

The second classification is animal shelter organization.  Neither animal rescue organizations or animal shelter organizations are funded by the federal government directly.  Though in some larger municipalities, local government does often provide funding to provide a public service of animal control.  Some cities even have organizations that are designated as animal control like in Milwaukee where MADACC (Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Care and Control) receives public funding for their operations.  

 

The third type are animal control organizationsWhile there are variations and exceptions, generally when you see the term “animal control,” the organization is funded by the local government to provide animal control services.  What this generally means is that the animal control organization is therefore required to take in strays or owner surrenders and they often have a “dog catcher” that is dispatched for animal complaints. Though the USDA does play a part in enforcing animal welfare laws, congress is not pouring money directly into your local shelter (though the USDA does offer some grants to shelters).  The shelters that do get some tax money, do not get nearly enough to sustain operations.

                  23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                   /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

As you can see the funding is different depending on type of shelter, but also depends on the state, county, city, municipality, etc… There is not a consistent standard I can tell you about.  Everyone would have to look into their specific area to know the answer to that.  And the only way to truly understand the funding model of an organization is to dig a little deeper into their 990 form (if they are an IRS public charity) or hunt around on the internet to find more local or state information if they are not.

 

Bottom line:   

Recognize that your local animal rescue and animal shelter does not receive a big, fat check every month from the government to run their operations.  Most shelters get most of their funding from any grants (they can qualify for), fundraisers and events, and primarily:  Donations.  The vast majority of them rely on your donations and volunteerism to support their great work.

                 23). https://www.animalrescueprofessionals.org/myth-vs-fact

                 /animal-shelters-funded-by-the-government/

 

 This brings me to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  Next time I will share my research on the mission of the HSUS, and how it helps your local animal shelter.  

Concept Discussion [Trap Neuter Re-abandon]

28 Jul

Words such as ethical and humane are difficult to define because (very divergent) personal belief-systems and personal experience color both terms.  Welfare is a provable condition, by design.  It uses quantitative parameters to ensure animal health and freedom from suffering and cruelty.

Speaking of personal experience, my 15 years of employment in veterinary hospitals (and prior to that over 1,000 volunteer hours in animal settings) influences my judgments in the following vocabulary terms.  Intentionally for propaganda, and unintentionally out of ignorance, these words are being used to persuade.  But they might not be the most accurate way to describe the reality of the situation.

Here’s what I mean. The term “feral” is overused, as is “wild” in the context of abandoned pets being left to fend for themselves.  Feral implies the cat is unapproachable (and will probably remain that way long-term).  Using wild to describe un-homed cats suggests these cats belong outside, are proficient in meeting their own needs without intervention, and cannot be tamed (and would not like it).

I would argue very few cats in colonies (or shelters, or homes) are truly feral.  Do they get amped up and scared, especially with unfamiliar people doing unfamiliar things to them, or in strange places-absolutely!  Most cats get stressed and hate travel/change.  But given time to calm down, and with some patience, would they make a good pet? Yes!  I have a big problem with the notion that some cats are “unadoptable” and must be feral forever.

I can’t tell you how many times a client was in the exam room with a growling cat in the carrier, and they told me said cat was “feral.” If I had to guess I would say at least once a week.  And I can’t tell you how many times that growling cat in a box could be taken out, handled to get vitals, and ended up tolerating the appointment–most of them.  In 15 years, out of all the cats that came into the veterinary hospital being called feral, probably 12% were actually feral, and probably just 5% of those had to be sedated to proceed with their appointment.  So the perception of feral and the incidence were drastically different.

I think feral is a loaded term that justifies abandoning healthy, potentially-adoptable cats in urban streets.  And don’t get me started on wild.  These cats are not independent for the most part.  They do require human intervention, because even actual wild cats were not living in population-dense, urban landscapes.  And genetically they differ from their wild ancestors–ever see an F1 Bengal vs. a domestic shorthair?  You can see that genetic difference in their behavior!  And most of the cats that are dumped were once pets, or they are genetic offspring of pets.

Bottom line: Roaming or stray are more accurate terms for this situation. 

Furthermore, I disagree that some cats are outside cats, and can’t be taken indoors.  Habituation and localization are real.  The feeding part of the TNR process uses these concepts to train cats to gather in a certain area at a certain time, with other cats and humans present.  The cats are trained to get in the traps.  Why not use habituation to get cats more comfortable with people and train cats to stay inside?  The cat may hate it at first.  There are strategies, products, and medications that can assist in the process.  Patience, persistence, and calm can go a long way in getting (and keeping) a cat inside.  Spend the time and effort, and in most cases it can happen.  If you don’t believe me, just look at YouTube and you’ll see about a thousand success stories.  And indoor cats are exponentially safer than the ones outside!  People who say some cats are just outdoor, and can’t be taken inside don’t have a wild cat problem, they have a priorities problem.

Throughout my research paper, I will argue there is little difference between the initial dumping of cats by irresponsible people, and the “release” part of TNR.  Just because the TNR has good intentions doesn’t make throwing cats outside the right thing to do.  The cats are neglected in both scenarios, dumping or release.  TNR is also not sustainable, and my research will show how TNR colonies maintain their original numbers or increase their numbers without death (either euthanisia or most times, hazards outside) and adoption.  Neither euthanasia or adoption are mandated in TNR.

After being involved in animal hospitals for 20 years, seeing what patients come in, I believe there are some things worse than death, and euthanasia is often a kindness.  I have seen horrible things, and was sometimes even relieved to see an animal ‘put out of its misery’ (there are reasons, that I will not describe here, that this is a common phrase).  And the procedure itself is compassionate, done by a veterinarian who loves animals so much that they completed 5-8+ years of college education, and took a job that is both time-consuming and relatively low-paid.  The process of euthanasia is also (for lack of better word) clean, meaning no messy hit-by-car, dog-mauling, human abuse, and no undue suffering like heat stroke, slow starvation, or disease process kills the animal.  It’s the poke of an IV or needle, and an injection which acts quickly on the brain and stops the heart. I believe euthanasia is much less cruel than trapping, neutering, and putting an animal back outside in the elements with all the hazards.  Before you think death is the worst thing, check out some of the 85% morbidities faced by outside cats.  Like I said before, there are worse things than death.  Why are we choosing that fate for these cats we’re trying to help?  After neuter the job isn’t complete–let’s work on adoption, education, and prevention.

Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is actually Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon an Intro

26 Jul

I feel very passionate that Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is inhumane/cruel and ineffective. It is very popular where I live in (hot) Arizona, and I just hate it for many reasons. Which I will specify in detail in these posts. I spent a disproportionate time arguing against it with neighbors on the Nextdoor app, but have decided a better use of my time would be to write a research paper on the matter. Using facts and legitimate sources, not just feelings and experiences. In this blog series, I’ll be posting some of my (yet to be edited) findings. I hope you will read with an open mind and really think about this information rationally, as I am attempting to do.

Why is there an Outside Cat Problem:

Cats are either born outside, or they had been owned and that (irresponsible, heartless) person left them outside to fend for themselves.

The cats are living in substandard conditions on the street.

In the elements, all weather (sometimes 120F here in AZ, 140 triple digit days last May-Oct), and natural phenomenon such as hurricanes or drought.

Breeding, fighting, spraying, scratching, digging in plants,

Being preyed upon, getting hit by cars, 

Eating wildlife, exchanging diseases with each other, 

Using the urban setting as a litterbox, which spreads disease and parasites.

A rescuer begins feeding.  This habituates these outdoor cats to people, gathers them in one place at a certain time, and nourishes the cats.

A live trap is set and (hopefully) all the breeding cats are collected and taken to the shelter.  Whether females are included, depends on funding. Being inside a trap is stressful to the cats, as is going in a car, being taken to an unfamilar place, being around loud, unfamilar animals and people, and getting a shot in order to be able to castrate.  It’s all very traumatic and stressful to these outdoor cats, just as it is to ANY cat.  

The toms are neutered, and it takes only minutes of a veterinarian’s time.  They do not even need to be fully anesthetized and put on gas to sustain the unconsciousness.  The sedation is much lighter, and the vet dexterously neuters each cat relatively quickly.

Spaying is a bigger job.  The queen has to go under full anesthesia, sustain unconsciousness with gas inhalant, have supplemental oxygen, and more monitoring equipment for vitals, and usually always (I sincerely hope!) a 2nd person in the room to monitor, help, and in case of emergencies.  Going fully under is a higher risk, longer procedure, and more costly as a result.  TNR programs may have the funds (and motivation) to spay, or they may not.

Honestly, all cats should have an FIV/FeLV test, a rabies, FVRCP, and the optional FIV vaccines since they are outside, and get dewormed.  At least.  These items are highly dependent on funds, and as such are usually neglected for the TNR cats.

After the castration, sometimes cats are allowed to recover in the shelter, sometimes there’s no space or time.  So the cats are dumped back outside, sometimes while still a bit groggy and disoriented.

Then the cats are outside fending for themselves in the elements.

(this repetition is not a mistake, or copy & paste error. As you can see, the cat lives are much the same post-neuter)

Fighting, spraying, scratching, digging in plants,

Being preyed upon, getting hit by cars, 

Eating wildlife, exchanging diseases with each other, 

Using the urban setting as a litterbox, which spreads disease and parasites.

Neutering will not change ingrained behavior patterns.

Cats can still spray, fight each other, and be a nuisance in neighborhoods.

Neutering cats does not change their health outcome living in a high-risk urban outdoor environment.  They can still get preyed upon, hit by cars, and the other bad ends.

Neutering does not change a cat’s diet.  They may still eat birds and wildlife depending on availability of food, food-competition, and hunting drive/instinct.  

Zoonotic disease can be passed on in this way:  A cat hunts a vole or bat.  That vole/bat was carrying rabies.  Or a raccoon is attracted to the cat food, and the territorial cats get in a scuffle with it. The cat shows signs of rabies, but it lives outside so either nobody notices or the cost is prohibitive to seek medical treatment for a cat that isn’t owned.  A dog comes by and the furiously rabid cat aggresses, or a child tries to pet the cat, or a well-meaning person tries to trap the cat to take it to the vet.  The cat bites in any of these scenarios.  You have a dog with rabies, that can spread it to other dogs, cats, and people.  You have a child bitten by a rabid cat.  You get an adult bitten and scratched and having to do lengthy and costly rabies prevention measures.  That’s just three examples.  There are countless diseases and parasites that can travel from cats to other species.

Neutering is not whole-animal health.  The cats will no longer breed, but neutering does not protect from disease or parasites. Or other health concerns.

So what has been accomplished?

An outdoor cat with a high-risk life was neutered, and now is an outdoor cat…With a high-risk life. It doesn’t breed. But people don’t stop dumping pets outside either.  The root cause of the problem has not been resolved.  So even though the TNR cats aren’t reproducing, they can still add more and more to the colony.  Without adoption and death, the colony size either remains the same, or actually grows in size.

This is just a raw outline of the procedure and problem. Stay tuned for more specific details.