I cannot begin to tell you what a good boy Boomer is, but I will leave that for later. He is even better than my prior e-mail.
I have always been bothered by the AH euthanization policy, but just thinking that a dog as good as Boomer was only a few hours from being put down for no reason after having been in the shelter for only a few days has really got me to thinking.
I fully understand that you cannot have an open intake policy and also have a no-kill policy. But that does not mean that there cannot be middle ground. I have been thinking that the middle ground should or could be a Fair Chance Policy. Here are some of my thoughts on what a Fair Chance Policy might be and some suggestions as to how it might be implemented:
1. What is a Fair Chance ? - I believe a Fair Chance to an animal is that it should be available for adoption for at least 90 days before it can be euthanized for any reason other than health. The 90 day period would be as follows:
A. Initial 30 to 45 days in the shelter. If the animal is not adopted it then goes to the In-House Evaluation Phase.
B. In-House Evaluation Period to Take Place for One to Two Weeks in the second 15 to 30 day period - Any animal that has been in the shelter for 30 or more days should then get a thorough in-home evaluation via short term (one to two week) fostering. One of the problems I see as a volunteer is that it may be hard to get animals adopted because there is really so little info on them. Even the most basic questions of "Are they house trained ?" or "Are they destructive ?" are unknown. Some animals, such as Boomer may not do well in shelters, but would do great in a home if given a chance. The short term fostering would be accompanied by a detailed behavioral questionnaire/analysis so that once the animal is returned to the shelter a prospective adopter would have very detailed info available to him or her, which should greatly improve the animal's chances for adoption as compared to the skimpy sheets that prospective adopters now see. I know that if such a program was in place that Gail & I would be willing participants. I believe that many other volunteers would also be willing to participate as well.
C. A final 30 day period when the animal is in the shelter, but fully profiled. If the animal is still then not adopted, it would have at least been given it's Fair Chance.
2. Intake Policy Modifications - The 100% intake policy would have to be adjusted to allow for Fair Chances. This can be done by creating an Intake Wait List at times when the shelter is full. I believe that many owners who turn in their pets would be willing to delay the turn in if they knew with 100% certainty that their pet would receive a Fair Chance to be re-homed and that it would not be euthanized for a minimum of 90 days. If the reason for turn in is simply financial, then AH could provide free food & vet care to any wait listed owner until such time as the pet could be accepted into the shelter. This would not cost any more than if AH took the animal immediately.
I think Animal Humane needs to live up to it's name. Euthanasia for a healthy adoptable animal who has not been given a Fair Chance is not humane in my eyes.
If AH wanted to implement a Fair Chance program and needed staffing, I would be willing to volunteer as a Fair Chance Co-ordinator on a part-time basis to help make it so.
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