Recently, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control sent out an SOS to the public claiming they were out of cat food and soon will run out of dog food. In fact according to one news source they started feeding the cats dry dog food. Of course, when the word went out they needed help the news media responded and people came out in droves to help AC&C. However, many questions question seems to be on the minds of quite a few people in the animal rescue community. Why did AC&C wait until the cat and dog food donation bins were almost empty before they reached out for help? How many animals were truly starving? Are they truly being properly cared for? And how about the biggest question? Where is the money that AC&C receives from the County actually going?
Yes, after a look at their budget which you can find online at http://www.maricopa.gov/Budget/pdf/FY2011AdoptedPacketCounty.PDF (page 19), AC&C receives over $15 million a year from the County. That means the taxpayers help to pay to keep them operating. Surely, somewhere in the budget they have money to feed the animals right? Of course, it’s also been stated in the animal rescue community that AC&C also has a high euthanasia rate which can be rather costly. In fact, if AC&C were to adopt the no-kill philosophy they not only would be saving the taxpayers money, but they also would be saving plenty of animal lives as well.
Also, while the media rushes to save AC&C by getting the word out about their dire need for cat and dog food, where is their support when no-kill animal rescue organizations need help? Recently, when Safe Haven For Animals, a no-kill rescue organization put out the word that they were in dire need of donations to help the cats in their care, only one news station responded (12 News) and maybe a few mentions from radio stations about the situation. Other than that, literally no other media took the story and ran with it. Of course, when County (and also the Arizona Humane Society) puts out word that they need help, it’s on almost every news channel. Could it be that no-kill movement is getting shoved to the background here?
The no-kill movement has become more popular now, and while much of the media is still locked into the idea that AC&C and AHS are where the focus of their stories should be directed, the reality is the no-kill rescue organizations operate on very limited budgets and almost all of their donations come from donations from the public. In fact, many of the groups don’t take a salary. Places like Safe Haven for example don’t have any paid employees and 100% of the money they receive goes towards the cats. Also, many times the volunteers pay for the cat food and litter out of their own pockets. This is exactly the way it should be.
Right now, many of the no-kill rescues in Maricopa County have reported that intakes are up and donations are down. Perhaps the County Board Of Supervisors would care to direct the $15 million dollars they approved for AC&C last year towards them? After all, the no-kill rescue organizations here in the valley (including Safe Haven) rescued many animals from the County euthanasia list so they wouldn’t be killed. It also costs these rescues to money to feed and care for them as well. Has the County offered to donate any money or food to these rescues for helping them save the animals? If they have it hasn’t been much.
The bottom lime is, you have to wonder if AC&C has lost control of its finances here. Shouldn’t $15 million dollars provide enough food for the animals they take in? Also, how much of that money is put towards administrative costs? There are probably many more questions about how this situation of AC&C got so bad that they can’t even find a dime to feed their animals, but this could be the time to either force Animal Control to either become no-kill or shut down entirely. While this may slow things down a bit, one thing’s for sure, more animals will be saved rather than killed. For years AC&C has said they planned to go the no-kill route and even its director Dr. Rodrigo Silva said they would do just that. However, this has never happened and apparently despite the chatter, they still resist.
This latest incident with the AC&C shows only to clear that the public as well as the media need to get behind the no-kill philosophy. Certainly the no-kill rescues could use the boost in donations and the animals in their care could certainly use a new home. I just wonder when this will happen? Surely, the media would love to report stories where a lot of animals found new homes? Well you can’t do that if the animal is euthanized.
This is why the no-kill philosophy is a better choice. No animals at these types of rescues are euthanized due to space. Animals taken in by no-kill rescue organizations are also free to stay at the shelter (or in foster care) until they’re adopted. There is no time limit. Currently, you won’t get that kind of care at AC&C. There is a time limit there, otherwise there would be no euthanasia list. Now ask yourself, which would you rather have? An animal instantly killed or an animal there long enough for you to come and save them so they have a permanent home? If you ask me, no-kill is the route to go.