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How are our local shelters doing?
The chart below shows the progress of Erie County SPCA from 2007 (baseline) to 2013. After several million dollars in Maddie's Foundation grant money, there has been virtually NO improvement in the dog save rate (red line). In the best-performing shelters, the single most important innovation was the implementation of dog playgroups, largely modeled after the Dogs Playing for Life Program of trainer Aimee Sadler. Even after Sadler gave a 2-day hands-on training workshop to Erie County SPCA staff, the innovation was rejected and the needless killing of dogs continues.
Cats fared better (green line), but largely due to a single change in policy: refusal to take feral cats, whose fate was almost certain death. Even so, Erie County SPCA has not implemented a strong Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) program in lieu of taking in the cats. As a result, the needs of Community Cats have largely been abdicated, where they continue to reproduce and live at-large in the community.
* Excluding Owner-Requested-Euthanasia cases is irrelevant. The percentage of such cases has remained stable at the shelter over the entire period under review, in spite of veterinary advances and the advent of hospice/comfort care for pets. Yet, Erie County SPCA's "owner-requested euthanasia" percentage FAR exceeds that of nearly every other shelter in the country, with a whopping 22% of all dog intakes "owner-requested euthanasia." Are all those dogs truly "unhealthy/untreatable?" Or is Erie County SPCA looking the other way when those dogs could be saved? Of the 4,088 requests to put down dogs in 2013, only 4 were refused.
Even excluding "owner-requested euthanasia" cases, Erie County SPCA falls far below the accomplishments of the best-performing shelters in the country. Bottom line: Erie County SPCA is the LEADING cause of death to dogs and cats in our region. And they have hardly implemented life-saving innovations that are allowing other shelters nationwide to save upwards of 95-99% of all the animals in their care.