Euthanizing Of Cat At The Arizona Humane Society Could Aid No-Kill Animal Rescues

When Daniel Dockery brought his cat Scruffy to the staff at the Arizona Humane Society’s Campus For Compassion for medical care, he never thought he’d be forced to sign over his cat to get the help Scruffy needed.  Of course, what happens when the cat is ultimately euthanized, not because medically they did all they could to do to save the animal, but because the cat’s human didn’t immediately have the money to pay? The amount here was $400.

According to the news reports, Dockery’s mother offered her credit card to pay for the medical care that Scruffy needed but the AHS said it’s not their policy to accept credit cards over the phone because they’ve had trouble with that in the past. I guess donations to the AHS can’t be made by credit card over the phone either right? Those are readily accepted everyday by the AHS.

The backlash the AHS now faces will now no-doubt help the no-kill animal rescue organizations that have struggled to get donations and of course publicity for their shelters. The no-kill philosophy is simple, these organizations won’t euthanize any animal if they’re healthy or otherwise can be treated medically. In other words an animal brought into a shelter that is no-kill isn’t immediately euthanized and are free to live there or in foster care until they’ve found a new home or until they’re ready to cross over the rainbow bridge.

This incident with Scruffy might just be the wake up call to the public to gravitate their donations to small no-kill animal rescue organizations like Safe Haven For Animals. Many of the cats at their shelter are not only well cared for but also have been patiently waiting for a good and loving forever home. Some them have been waiting for weeks, months or even years for that to happen.  There’s no fear of euthanasia in the no-kill world unless medically the animal’s quality of life has been greatly diminished due to illness and there’s no other choice but to ease the animals pain and suffering. Even $400 doesn’t prevent the no-kills from making sure an animal has a good chance at living.

Take Nala, a special needs cat that has lived at Safe Haven’s shelter since she was a kitten due to a medical condition as a result of the breeding situation she was in. That was 8 years ago and she’s still hoping for a new home. At least she isn’t living with the threat of euthanasia due to money.

This incident with Scruffy isn’t the only time the AHS has been in the hot seat. Other incidents of quick euthanasia has happened and been reported by not only the public but other animal rescue organizations as well. About 11 years ago a cat named Christmas made her way into the AHS’s Sunnyslope facility due to a human turning her in. Of course, Christmas was supposed to be returned to Sun Valley Animal Shelter per an adoption contract signed by the cat’s original human. When the management at Sun Valley called the AHS to get the cat back, they were told she had an upper respiratory infection. Though easily treatable (and despite Sun Valley offering to deal with any medical issues), the cat was euthanized by the AHS. Not a great way to work with your fellow animal rescue organizations.

Fast forward to 2011,  there are now plenty of animal rescue organizations in the no-kill community that are hesitant to deal with the AHS due to their high euthanasia rate. In fact, some have reported that they won’t work with the AHS due to prior incidents like the one Scruffy and Dockery encountered.

The AHS does indeed get a lot of donations from both the public and private sector. No doubt however, this latest incident will convince many to start donating to places like Safe Haven which don’t receive even 1% of the money the AHS receives every year in donations. In fact, almost all of their money goes towards the care and feeding of the cats at the shelter. No volunteer or even Safe Haven’s director takes a salary. Much of the food, medical costs, cat litter and other items needed to care for the cats are from public donations and also paid out of pocket by the volunteers. Heck, Safe Haven even has to pay rent every month for the facility they’re in now. Because of dedicated volunteers they somehow keep their heads above water. While it’s a struggle they continue to work hard to give every cat in their care a chance at a better life. The AHS could learn a thing or two from places like Safe Haven.

If any good comes from the death of Scruffy and other cats that have faced a similar fate at the hands of AHS is that the number of donations to no-kill animal rescue organizations throughout the Phoenix metro area might pick up. While it was a senseless death and Scruffy could’ve been easily saved, the general public now sees that the AHS isn’t the only game in town and may see that helping the no-kill rescues are the way to go.

It’s interesting to note that AHS’s Executive Director Guy Collison according to Charity Navigator pulls in a salary of $118,492 per year. That’s about 1% of the AHS’s 12,619,89 yearly revenue. Surely with all that money they could’ve come up with a plan to save Scruffy and of course help Daniel Dockery who actually had someone willing to pay the $400. It’s also important to note that smaller no-kill rescues (which the AHS isn’t) never see this amount of money being donated to their organizations. If they’re lucky, given the tough economy they’ll pull in possibly $100,000.

Above it all, the smaller no-kill animal shelters and rescues may finally be given their due especially in donations. Already, some members of the public have stated they won’t be giving another dime to the AHS. Could we see a mass exodus of people pulling their support of the AHS? It’s possible. However, the media has to be willing to also support that plan as well. What about pulling Pets On Parade from the airwaves at Channel 3 and giving groups like Safe Haven their own show every week to help get cats adopted? Surely, the TV news media in Phoenix can help make that happen? How about ending the Pet-Telethon to benefit the AHS on Channel 15 and maybe helping to raise funds for a deserving smaller no-kill rescue organization? I’m sure Piggie Poo and others could use the money to feed the animals in their care.

It’s time we realize that the new way of animal rescue is no-kill. Perhaps it’s time the AHS join that community or at least take a crash course in what humane is supposed to really mean. Could they see the light? Only time can tell.




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