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Companion Animal Protection Act for the City of Dallas

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As the debate of CAPA (Companion Animals Protection Act) continues, there are people from all levels of animal care that are weighing in their opinions. CAPA (HB 3450) was introduced by Jessica Farrar. If this is passed into law, it will require animal shelters to discontinue using the gas chamber, discontinue euthanizing an animal when there are available spaces and when a qualified rescue organization is willing to take on the care of a shelter animal. Several other mandates would ensure humane treatment to animals while they are residing at an animal shelter.

Presenting information from the opponents of CAPA for the city of Dallas, is an article entitled, “Companion Animals Protection Act – Be Careful What You Wish For”, by Dallas Rescue Examiner, Rebecca Poling. This article presents the reasons that CAPA in the city of Dallas would not work. The reasons mentioned are mainly due to the large number of shelter animals (her facts and figures are included in her article). She contends that the intent of CAPA is fabulous, but it’s just not right for Dallas (right now).

Please make note of the fact that the author of this article is a devoted animal lover, has worked tirelessly in animal rescue and has no wish to promote inhumane or unethical treatment of an animal at any time or in any way, nor does she wish to promote euthanization of an animal for pleasure, convenience or profit.

In subsequent comments on this article, Ms Poling directs us to the 2009-2010 Animal Shelter Commissioners Report in which the animal shelter numbers were tallied for the year.

These are indeed large numbers. The most attention of these discussions is focused on the total of animal intake (30,000) and a total of 23,000 animals euthanized during this reporting period. That is an estimated euthanization rate of 75%. Also, at the beginning of this report, contains a message from the Commissioner. This message relays some of the internal problems that belabored the animal shelter during the reporting period.

In all likelihood, the city of Dallas is overwhelmed by the numbers. By numbers, this means, the high number of animals (at any given time) residing at the animal shelter, the low numbers of kennel space, the low numbers of funding, the high numbers of budget cuts, the high number of people who don’t spay/neuter their pets, the low number of residents willing to adopt from this shelter, etc, etc. She contends that it would be difficult to make any changes until the numbers change and the problems are gone.

Anyone in rescue can appreciate how overwhelming these numbers can be. A small rescue group can run out of resources with one sick animal that requires extensive medical care. Any shelter facility (large or small) can run out of space within days.

Presenting the side of the proponents of CAPA were several people commenting on Ms. Poling’s article. No permissions given to publish their names, so this article will just relay some information provided.

One commenter recommended a website, The No Kill Advocacy Center. This advocacy center is based on the program called The No Kill Equation. The No Kill Equation is a set of guidelines to be used by animal shelters that works toward a goal of a more successful animal shelter, including decreasing the number of euthanization for convenience or space.

These procedures include improvements and/or new implementations by the animal shelter, as follows:

Feral Cat TNR Program, High Volume-Low Cost Spay/Neuter Programs, Rescue Groups, Foster Care, Comprehensive Adoption Programs, Pet Retention, Medical and Behavior Rehab, Public Relations/Community Involvement, Volunteers, Proactive Redemptions and a Compassionate Director

One commenter mentions a few of the items presented in HB 3450 that, if implemented, will have a direct result of more humane treatment and changing the numbers. This includes the banning of the gas chamber, instead, requiring lethal injection and also, banning euthanization when a 501(c)(3) rescue organization is willing to take them. This commenter contends that the reason for the city of Dallas’ high number of euthanizations is not a result of 23,000 unwanted animals, but, rather a result of current animal shelter policies and procedures.

One commenter writes, “I would be willing to sit down and come up with a legitimate alternative to euthanizing 23,000 pets”.

According to The No Kill Advocacy Center, the animal shelters that have voluntarily adopted CAPA and using the policies and procedures outlined in The No Kill Equation are currently experiencing a 92% NO KILL average. This includes Austin, Tx (population est 800,000).

The opponents contend that this cannot be implemented in Dallas because Dallas is a bigger city than Austin and the numbers are larger. Dallas is, indeed, a larger city. The current population is 1.2 million. It stands to reason that the numbers are going to be bigger. The problems can be bigger. The question is, is Dallas able to step up and apply big solutions?

In conclusion, it appears that the opponents of CAPA maintain that policy and procedure cannot change until the problems are gone and the numbers change first.

The proponents maintain that the numbers cannot change and problems will not be gone until policy and procedure changes first.

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