While open admission municipal shelters around the country are moving toward the goal of saving 90 percent or more of all animals taken in, there have also been some changes in the outcomes at the Prince George's County Animal Services Facility.
To consider one success story, for example: The Town Lake Animal Center, which serves Austin, Texas, and Travis County, and takes in 23,000 animals per year, has been saving 90 percent or more of all animals for the past six months. During the month of June, 100 TLAC foster families cared for the special needs of more than 900 pets. The TLAC adopted 49 pets at a special adoption event on the Fourth of July, by offering them for $4.
To contrast TLAC with the Prince George's Animal Services Facility, TLAC receives more than twice the number of animals as ASF. Prince George's County does not have a foster program. Prince George's County ASF was closed July 4. It is a common practice at the ASF that before a holiday all animals which have been held for their legal minimum holding period are killed. Over the past 10 years, on average, 60 percent of all animals taken in alive were killed.
Even so, during the past year, there have been significant changes in the outcomes at the Prince George's ASF, as documented by their report for the month of May. Between May 2010 and May 2011, the number of "adoptions" (in-house plus transfers to rescue groups) dropped from 440 to 291, a decrease of 33 percent. Still, approximately two-thirds of these adoptions were done by local nonprofit rescue groups. During the same time, the number of "euthanasias" (more correctly "killings," since few were terminally ill or suffering) rose from 468 to 684, an increase of 46 percent. Two very significant changes — both in the wrong direction.
Now that County Executive [Rushern] Baker's appointment of the director of the Department of Environmental Resources has been confirmed, maybe we can get started on the road to "great" by observing Jim Collins' Rule No. 1 and "get the right people on the bus."
Timothy W. Saffell of Bowie is president of Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA.