Animal Foundation focuses on becoming no kill shelter

By Denise Valdez , Kyle Zuelke | kzuelke@8newsnow.com

Published 02/09 2016 10:36PM

Updated 02/09 2016 10:36PM

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The last time the Animal Foundation attempted to become "no kill" it became so overcrowded there was a disease outbreak and around 1,000 had to be put down. That was in 2007.

Now nearly a decade later it's trying it again. But this time, it promises the outcome will be much different.
The foundation plans to become no kill in the next five years.

What will it take to save thousands of healthy, treatable animals in a town where pets are often considered disposable?

To become a no kill community, it's all about the numbers.

"We have spay and neutered 113,000 cats and dogs," said Harold Vosko, who co-founded Heaven Can Wait Animal Society.

The group targets neighborhoods for unaltered animals. The stray cats will be trapped, spayed, neutered and then released.

The low cost -- often free -- clinic is busy seven days a week. It focuses on animals that suffer the highest kill rate.

"So what is being euthanized in the shelter? Cats, pit bulls, Chihuahuas," Vosko said. "Guess what we do here? We're doing cats, pit bulls and Chihuahuas."

Walk through the shelter and that's exactly what you see. Row after row. Cage after cage.

The odds are against every cat that enters the Animal Foundation. Chances are 50-50 they will alive.

That is the daily dilemma for the foundation.

Last year, it accepted 28,271 cats and dogs. Its euthanasia rate for dogs was nearly 20 percent. For cats, it was worse at 54 percent.

"There's somewhere between 800 to 1,000 animals on site on any given day," said Christine Robinson, executive director of the Animal Foundation.

Under pressure from groups like Bryce Henderson's No Kill Las Vegas.

"They're still killing 26 animals every day," Henderson said.

Robinson rolled out an ambitious plan to become a no kill shelter by the end of 2020.

"We need to fully implement the eight programs that we have identified that will be key to making this happen.

Beyond spay and neuter, it's increasing foster homes, offering adoption discounts, doing stronger marketing and transferring more pets to rescue groups.

Nearly 70 rescues work with the foundation, but many like Diana England's A Home for Spot are already stretched pretty thin.

"It's not slowing down at all. This Christmas was the worst Christmas in the seven years that I've been doing this. The worst," she said.

Sending adoptable dogs to rescue could save 3,000 a year and having community cats could save 4,000.

"It's a trend that's really sweeping the country," Robinson said. "It's been really, really successful."

The road map is laid out -- now they just need to get there -- but critics say it's not happening fast enough.

"Were certainly watching. We're going to make sure we hold them to it, Henderson said.

"I believe we will get there. I know we will get there because I've seen other cities do it. It's doable, Robinson said.

It should be pointed out that a shelter is considered "no kill" as long as 90 percent of the animals leave the shelter alive.

The Animal Foundation provided 8 News NOW with data that shows it's already saving 80 percent of its dogs. 

 

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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