Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's all Katrina's fault! ... (really?)

Debating bills that affect people's pets is NO FUN. The issues and arguments are the kind that can turn a stomach in knots. As the CA Healthy Pets Act gains momentum, some of the opposition is throwing off its gloves. We don't expect this 'fun' to fade anytime soon. For those of us who deal with shelter realities, tapping into the drama requires an extra layer of emotional armor. Here's a shelter stat myth that started circulating today:

AB 1634 does not address the very real problem of pet animals being imported into the state from other states, and other nations by animal rights, animal rescue, and animal shelter groups. The hurricanes Katrina, and Rita displaced many animals that ended up in California’s animal shelter system. These animals inflate shelter intake, and euthanasia figures. - From the position statement of a group called "Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States"

YOWCH. That's some Myth!

Disaster pets: A 'problem'?...Responsible for inflated euthanasia numbers?

For the record, the rescues and shelters that took on flood victims did so with the goal of reuniting them with their displaced families. Like this dog Jake, who came to CA with BR and then returned to Texas to join his very relieved family. They celebrated their reunion by getting busy with dogs shows and winning ribbons. (Yay Bill!)

The many orgs that participated in rescue efforts took pets on in addition to their regular intake of local pets. To do this, they burned the candle at both ends, shouldering the burden of extra work and extra animals and employing the help of foster homes willing to over-extend themselves for a few weeks or months. These are the times when disasters bring out the very best in animal people. Even the AKC got involved to collect money for displaced pets.

True enough, unclaimed pit bulls represented the bulk of the Katrina pets that did not leave CA shelters alive. This number was small though, as cargo planes that shipped dogs from gulf cities were reluctant to bring the breed in. We know ... We were watching closely.

The Katrina experience was a good reminder why spay/neuter programs are so incredibly important. Hundreds of puppies were born during and after the storms, the by-products of a region known for its pet overpopulation problems. (Above: Pearl came to us way overbred, malnourished and pregnant. Her pups were stillborn.)

We can only hope that western states pets will be fortunate enough to have the help of out-of-state rescues and shelters when the "Big One" hits our coast.

Who knows? Maybe a celebrated CA show dog, displaced by a monster-sized earthquake, will find his salvation with a kind and willing foster home in Louisiana. Don't be surprised.

More AB1634 Myth De-bunking here.

NOTE:: While BAD RAP rejects the notion of blaming Katrina pets for shelter deaths, we DO believe that AB1634 needs work so working dogs are not negatively affected, and are currently working towards this goal. Read BAD RAP's AB 1634 link for more info.

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