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Do you rescue or help shelter animals in Broward County? If so, you probably heard Broward County Animal Care (BCAC) is saving about 9 out of 10 cats who enter shelter doors. Euthanasia has decreased tremendously during the last 7 months, and since December of 2015 approximately 84% of cats are being saved (up from 47% during the same months the prior year.)

You’d think that as animal lovers, rescuers, donors and volunteers we would all be excited, right? Some of us are in fact thrilled, but some in animal welfare believe that the shelter got to this point because of their Shelter-Neuter-Return (SNR) program – fixing then releasing back to the community cats who enter the shelter. This is a MYTH, and a very dangerous one for cats AND dogs in other Florida shelters who continue to be euthanized in the tens of thousands each year. Let me explain…

Thinking that BCAC is nearing No Kill only because of their community cat program is a gross oversimplification of their efforts. Spreading this message neglects the true scope and speed of their success. By pinning their success on the community cat program, we are writing off a true success story which could be modeled by other shelters which the animals desperately are counting on us to help change for the better. But, as bad as it sounds, we’re instead helping maintain an environment in other Florida shelters where euthanasia continues to be accepted as the only method of dealing with a large percentage of shelter animals.

Although SNR is a lifesaving and necessary program for shelters who take in stray cats, it alone by no means allows a shelter to reach No-Kill in a community as large as Broward County. Just as importantly, shelters who do not take in stray cats are just as able to eliminate unnecessary euthanasia – despite not being able to institute an SNR program.

At BCAC, an SNR program is saving a lot of lives, but when comparing statistics from the last 3 months (December ’15-February ’16) versus the same 3 months of the prior year, a more holistic picture of what’s going on emerges.

Here are the BCAC facts for the timeframe above:

• A whopping 665 less cats were euthanized (865 versus 199)
• The SNR program saved 296 cats from euthanasia
• The cat adoption rate increased by 12%
• 57 more cats were rescued by approved non-profit partners than the prior year
• Intake decreased by 21% due to community wide spay-neuter by a number of surgery providers

And if the facts above aren’t enough to convince you BCAC is doing much more than just returning cats back to the community, how about these ones:

• Dog euthanasia decreased by 10%, increasing the save rate to 80% in the same 3 months
• Dog adoption rate increased by 25%

Fellow animal lovers, brushing aside BCAC’s success as just “community cats” is not good for the animals. I firmly believe it’s up to each industry to educate others in order to improve the industry, and animals are no different… except in our industry we’re talking about life. If we care about the future of animals in other animal shelters, as I am sure we all do, it would benefit the animals tremendously for us to use a consistent message for what’s really going on inside BCAC.

BCAC is led by a Director who the animals are lucky to have and a management team and staff who tries harder and works smarter each and every day. Simply put, the success at BCAC is due to the “People Factor” which has led to a multitude of program successes, including increased adoptions, increased rescue involvement, more fostering, re-releasing community cats and building new partnerships. But this is just the beginning. Let’s back them and help them get even better in order to make South Florida a safer place for cats and dogs.

If this was a stock you would want to get in on the front end. It’s value would be skyrocketing right now. But unfortunately their budget isn’t. It’s one half that of Palm Beach and one third that of Dade (cough cough, come on Broward County Commission, let’s even the playing field a bit more and who knows what would happen next for Broward’s shelter animals.)

Andi Kola – Director, Lumen LS


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