You may have seen recent local news stories about the euthanasia rates at the local municipal, tax-funded shelters.
Naturally, The SPCA cares about all homeless animals in our community, and not just those that come into our care. That said, it wasn’t clear from the headlines that the statistics given focused entirely on Salinas Animal Services (SAS) andMonterey County Animal Services (MCAS), our county’s government-funded, municipal shelters.
The SPCA’s statistics and our lifesaving work are drastically different from the municipal shelters. Our overall save rate (also called our Live Release Rate) for cats and kittens this calendar year is 89%. Our save rate for cats this past month was 96%! For cats and dogs who arrive in our care with no medical or behavioral issues, we have rehomed 100% and have accomplished this for several consecutive years.
It’s equally important to understand that The SPCA is an open-admission shelter, meaning we accept all animals regardless of their age, medical condition or temperament. This includes animals seriously injured after being hit by cars, animals that have shown aggression to people or other animals, feral cats, animals that have endured lives of neglect and abuse, and geriatric animals failing in health. Despite our best efforts, not all animals can be saved.
We have a remarkable record, made possible by many programs. We prevent unwanted and accidental litters through low-cost spay/neuter services (including a targeted initiative for Salinas residents which began in April of 2017). Our Veterinary staff, Behavior team and volunteers (who provide exercise and socialization) keep animals healthy once they are in our care. Through our Treatment, Learning and Compassion (TLC) Program, we make medically or behaviorally treatable animals better so they can be adopted into loving homes; through this program, we made well and rehomed more than 1,000 animals in the last year. We’ve had great success rehoming unsocial or feral (and traditionally unadoptable) cats as “barn cat” adoptions. We’ve added a Kitten Nursery, expanded our Ruff Start inmate training program and made our Foster Program more robust (right now we have 60 animals in foster homes, but the need changes daily). Naturally, this work requires financial support which we are receiving because our programs are resonating with people like you and we are truly grateful.
In related news, Monterey County’s proposed operating budget (again, completely separate from the SPCA’s funding which is private) calls for deep cuts across the board, including Monterey County Animal Services, the municipal animal shelter on Hitchcock Road in Salinas. This is alarming; we believe Monterey County Animal Services has been underfunded for years, and if this budget is passed, cuts will significantly challenge them even further. We urge local residents who care about animals to let the Board of Supervisors know, by June 4, that we should not have a municipal shelter with such low standards.
What is The SPCA doing to help the municipal shelters?
Part of that answer includes what we’ve done to help them for the past several years, even decades in some cases. We willingly and at our expense accept all owner-surrendered animals which relieves the municipal shelters of this responsibility and reduces the number of animals in their care by a few thousand each year. In many communities, municipal shelters — while only legally are required to accept strays — feel an ethical obligation to also accept owner-surrendered animals. Our local municipal shelters do not accept owner-surrendered animals.
In addition to our already low-cost spay and neuter services for the whole county, since April of 2017, we’ve been offering $25 spay/neuter surgeries(and Saturday appointments) to Salinas residents – this service is reducing the number of unwanted litters that might otherwise arrive at Salinas Animal Services as strays. We’ve offered to have our staff spend time at Monterey County Animal Services to help their staff evaluate policies and procedures and, at times, we are able to transfer in animals from both municipal shelters, as we did last week when we took in 15 of their cats and kittens. We just took in five additional feral cats from them today.
What else are we doing to help? We’ve operated our area’s only public low-cost spay/neuter clinic for decades, we’ve provided the only consistent option for low-cost vaccinations and have provided education programs, countywide, for schoolchildren. We rescue, shelter, and rehabilitate wildlife, exotic pets and barn animals, respond to every call related to animal cruelty and provide free animal behavior advice. In many communities, municipal shelters include a number of these programs and services as part of their mission. Because our scope is so wide — because The SPCA chooses to do so much at our own expense — our county’s two municipal shelters can operate with a very narrow scope, which reduces their overall expenses and should allow them to provide the very best services for animals they must shelter. Naturally, their ability to provide this care is dependent on how much government funding they receive and we’ve consistently felt the funding they receive is not adequate to do the work well. And now, the proposed budget calls for drastic cuts, when increases are needed.
There is something consistent in communities that have great success creating positive outcomes for unwanted or stray animals: adequately funded municipal shelter/s, progressive private shelter/s and responsible, active rescue groups. Residents do their part by getting their pets fixed, by volunteering at shelters (or, in their own homes as foster parents) and donating resources. It indeed takes a village.
You enable The SPCA to be doing our part and more, and for that, we cannot thank you enough.