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Preserve The Human Animal Bond :

Help Keep Families Together 

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The Human Animal Bond  
Transcends All- Period.

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  • The human-animal bond transcends all, regardless of where one lives, their race, or how much they have in their bank account - pet ownership is for everyone.

  • The relationship a human has with their pet is something that is life-giving and life-affirming.

  • We are leaving the past behind to build a new and better animal welfare system.  A system that is focused on keeping pets and people together.

  • At this pivotal moment, when so many of us rely on the love and companionship of pets to get through the day, we must envision and rapidly realize a new system of human animal support services that aligns with our collective values.  

  • ​The pets many of us live with are family members, not property. Taxpayer-funded animal shelters must be transformed to support families and to keep pets and people together, even in tough times.

  • We must proactively work to build strong and lasting human-animal relationships in our communities and affirm our central role of protecting the bonds between people and animals.  

  • People receive so much joy and happiness from their pets, regardless of zip code, regardless of income and regardless of skin color. 

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The Current Model of Animal Sheltering Isn't Working, and It Never Has.

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  • Animal shelters and rescues should be a resource for our community, not just a depository for unwanted pets. 

  • The focus should not be about bringing animals into the shelter system but how we can keep animals out of the shelter system.

  • We've created an animal sheltering system that is endless.

  • We've got to start engaging our communities if we ever want to see an end to the pet overpopulation epidemic.

  • Our shelter system is separating people from their pets—impounding animals from owners who want to and could keep them, with some support.  Doing this is cruel and unnecessary.

  • Government animal shelters have improved somewhat but they still stand firmly on the foundation they were built upon: rounding up, confining, and ending the lives of our community’s animals.

  • Most shelters permanently remove pets from their homes and communities in order to "help them". The harm to families is obvious, and pets are hurt as well.  Animals are confined in stressful, loud environments where their mental and physical wellbeing quickly deteriorate, putting them at risk for euthanasia.

  • Animal services need to adopt the humane and cost-effective Human Animal Support Services model—prioritizing supportive services that keep families together and pets out of shelters.

  • Our nation is facing a housing crisis. Across the country, cities are sorely lacking affordable, pet inclusive housing, which leads to animals entering shelters.  

  • Asking people to choose between safe housing and keeping their pets is not in line with the value pet owners put on the love between themselves and their animals. 

  • We must embrace and invest in tools that get lost pets home.  When lost pets or stray animals enter the system, they hardly stand a chance of finding their way back home.

  • There is still a role for physical animal shelters. Reimagined as physically smaller and located in multiple neighborhoods, shelters of the future will house only sick or dangerous animals, and those who truly have no place else to go.

  • Shelters can't afford not to do human animal support services right now because they need to decrease the number of animals coming into their system.

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Despite The General Consensus
Pet Owners Don’t Relinquish Their Animals
Because They Want Too

  • Some 6.3 million cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters every year—about a quarter of whom are “owner surrenders." 

  • Pets are given over to shelters by their owners, often because they have lost their housing or their job.

  • In their hardest moments, people are forced to give up the pets who bring them comfort, joy, and companionship.  They are faced with the reality that their beloved animals may not survive.

  • Let's start with the current "no questions asked" method of intake. A person brings an animal into a shelter and asks to surrender their pet. What happens?  The animal is surrendered with little to no questions asked regarding what brought the pet owner into the shelter. The fact that we aren't asking these important questions is a huge problem.

  • The mythology around intake is that it's a place where irresponsible people come and say, "I'm going on vacation. I don't want this animal anymore." That's what people imagine the situation may be.  But usually this scenario is far from true.

  • Government animal shelters are one of the saddest places that one will ever go into. 

  • In the waiting room you'll often see families being separated from their pets. The vast majority of people bringing in animals, don't want to be separated from them, but they have barriers to keeping them. Barriers can range from a hospital stay where a pet owner has no one to take care of their animal, or they're losing their home, or the animal has a medical condition they can't afford to treat.

  • Best Friends Animal Sanctuary looked at owner surrender data from some of the highest intake shelters in the U.S. The number one reason people listed for owner surrender reasons was "general" followed by "unknown".  "General" and "Unknown" were two of the multiple choice options listed on the shelter owner's surrender form.

  • This is the problem.  If the two main reasons listed on an owner surrender form are "General" and "Unknown" the problem is neither one of them mean anything.  This means we're not asking people important questions regarding the surrender of an animal.

  • When we take the time to ask people why they are surrendering an animal there are always reasons and they are often complicated. It's often three or four reasons that have led to a life crisis that is forcing someone give up a beloved pet.

  • If we are going to earnestly say we care about the welfare of animals owned by people facing poverty and homelessness.  We have to care about the people and we can't just take pets from people facing hardship with an almost zero questions asked intake.
     

  • Taking pets from people facing a life crisis isn't always the solution. The solution is animal welfare has to form better connections and partnerships with human service agencies so that we can better help animals and people together.

  • Self-rehoming, opposed to having a rescue re-home an animal or have an animal surrendered to a shelter, is a much better option.  Self re-homing keeps the existing owner connected to the new owner. The original owner can offer support and advice to the new owner. This also builds a safety net under the animal long-term. Maybe one day the previous owner might be able to take the pet back, if it's a safe situation. 

  • In conclusion, many pet owners are lucky to have had someone to teach them about responsible pet ownership.  We must keep in mind that not everyone has had this same education.

  • There are some people that wish they could be more responsible pet owners, but they just don't have the resources or they were never taught. 

  • What may be common knowledge to you or I may not be common knowledge to others.  Next time you feel yourself quick to judge, remember that.

  • Also, let's consider this very important question: If we treat all animals as individuals, then shouldn't we be doing the same for people?

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This Isn't A Pet Problem, This Is A Poverty Problem

  • As we peel back the layers of the pet overpopulation epidemic it's obvious we haven't made an effort to interact with members of the community who are struggling pet owners.  We're starting to understand the impact of our implicit biases.

  • We're learning more about how a punishment-based approach disproportionately impacts pet owners.  Pet owners who are people of color, and those on the low-income side of the socioeconomic scale. 

  • These punishment based consequences often lead to pets being impounded and taken from their families when there are other solutions available to keep those pets where they belong - at home.

  • It's time to stop and take a look at the system. It comes down to a simple question.  Is the animal welfare sector and members of the general public criminalizing poverty? 

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