Last year an animal advocate friend awakened me to what she considered to be a regular nightmare occurring at the then named Hamilton Animal Control. The organization has since changed its name to Hamilton Animal Services (HAS), though from what I've read there should have been no such re-branding, as currently there appears to be just as much focus as ever on controlling the pet population in Hamilton rather than serving it.
All one needs to do is look at the following chart to see the high euthanasia rate at HAS
Now why on earth is there such a high kill rate at HAS? The reason is simple. The organization, empowered by the local municipality, serves not as a shelter or rescue, rather as a good old fashion pound. There are no adoptions, no volunteers, no vets. There is a vet technician on site and a veterinarian who weekly comes in to perform euthanasia and see to medical needs. The only way animals make it out of HAS alive is at the hands of local rescue groups who remove them and place them in loving homes. The rescue organizations have to be pre-approved by HAS, and they must also assume all costs for the care of the animals once in their care.
Here are the wonderful rescues that save Hamilton's animals from being killed at the hands of the municipality :
All Heart Pet Rescue
Alliston & District Humane Society
Friends Of Forsaken Animals
Forever Home Cat Rescue
Ladybird Animal Sanctuary
Mississauga Humane Society
The Pride Rescue
Special Ones Cat Rescue
Toronto Cat Rescue
Urban Wildlife Care
Neveah's Charity Of West Lincoln
Ninth Life Cat Rescue
So basically, be it not for these rescues HAS kill rate would be closer to 100%. Congratulations to the municipality of Hamilton for setting a shining example for all municipalities. Turns out if you can't handle your own problems, the easiest thing to do is get others to fix your mess. How anyone at HAS does not see this as a temporary solution that is sure to continue to fail is beyond me.
In 2008 this report was commissioned by the municipality in an effort to improve the situation at HAS, yet here we are five years later and in looking upon the statistics it seems clear HAS has chosen to adopt very few of the recommendations outlined. I guess it's easier to kill a couple thousand animals a year than even attempting to be proactive.
Other regular folks have offered up recommendations as well. My friend who alerted me to this mess wrote to Hamilton councilors with just a few recommendations :
- Increase the hold period from 72 hours so more lost pets can be reclaimed before being killed
- Increase the household pet limit from the current limit of two pets (***This number has since been increase to 4)
- Introduce a low cost spay/neuter program
These exact initiatives have worked wonders in Calgary, resulting in a 90% rate increase of animals saved. Why can't HAS make the slightest effort to adopt any or all of them? Needles are cheaper than even the most moderate of reform.
Here is just one example of a cat named Yoshi who entered the facility on in October 25, and then left on December 4. The downturn in health is shocking, though not surprising to the many advocates who share concern of the facility's poor ventilation and lack of adequate air conditioning.
|Yoshi upon entering HAS|
|Yoshi upon leaving HAS|
For years citizens have done their best to keep the pressure on the Mayor of Hamilton and the councilors. They have written and they have rallied. They have rescued as many of these needy animals as they possibly can. At the same time they have had to sit back and feel helpless as thousands of animals have been needlessly killed. They have all stood up while the city of Hamilton has sat back. There is only so much they can do. It's time for us to show these amazing souls, and the animals, that we will stand alongside them.
Here is how to help :
Write, email, or call Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina to voice your outrage at his government's failure to improve the situation at HAS
Sign the petition!
For further information I'll direct you to two wonderful resources :
Rescue Hamilton Cats
Hamilton Animal Control - Stop The Killings Facebook Open Group
Hopefully in the new year I'll be able to provide an update detailing how HAS is preparing to implement changes that will severely decrease its kill rate. In the meantime every day I'll be sadly imagining the faces of at least five animals a day who are being killed because a city can't take accountability.