The Castaic Animal Care Center saw a drop in euthanasia for cats and dogs in fiscal year 2020-2021 compared to previous years.
According to county data from 2018 to 2020, the average number of cats and dogs euthanized at Castaic Animal Care Center was 238 cats and 108 dogs per year.
However, the 2020-2021 fiscal year ended with 51 euthanized cats and 46 euthanized dogs, a significant drop from the average of the previous three years.
According to Raul Rodriguez, deputy director of the North County Public Safety and Operations Division for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, the primary reason for the decline in dog euthanasia and chats on Castaic’s site was ‘managed support’. operating model that was implemented in the county’s seven animal shelters at the start of the pandemic.
Rodriguez said managed admission is the process by which the care center will determine whether to admit an animal based on its current condition. If the animal is sick, injured or aggressive, it will be admitted to the shelter.
If the animal is healthy and in good condition, the shelter will find other ways to help outside of fostering. Rodriguez said the idea revolves around community assistance.
“For example, if they find a stray animal, [the community] can help us locate the owner before the animal has to enter the care center,” Rodriguez said. “The thing is that some animals don’t need to enter the system because we can find other ways to locate owners, for example, that’s something that’s been very successful. This has helped to reduce the number of admissions to health centres.
Despite the decline in the use of euthanasia last year, the Castaic shelter has already euthanized more dogs and almost as many cats over the last six months than for the entire 2020-2021 financial year.
The data shows an increase of approximately 41% in cat euthanasia and approximately 117% increase in dog euthanasia over the past six months.
Rodriguez said the rise is the result of sick, injured and aggressive animals being brought to the shelter. He also mentioned that aggressive animals are “harder to place” due to their level of aggression.
“For some of them, we’re able to do a behavioral assessment because they just need a little bit of behavior modification,” Rodriguez said. “But there are others who are not placeable because they may pose a danger to the community. So these are the kind of animals that we are now facing at the care centre.
Rodriguez said if they are too dangerous to release, “the only alternative is to euthanize them.”
Stacie Contreras, a volunteer at the Castaic Animal Care Center, argues that the managed intake approach is not effective.
“I think what we’re doing is we’re forgetting what the shelters are for and it’s to help the animals,” Contreras said. “They don’t have a voice and they can’t speak for themselves.”
While he acknowledges it’s a community issue, Contreras said not everyone in the community can pick up a stray pet and care for it at home.
Now that the shelter won’t immediately admit healthy animals, Contreras believes it creates a dangerous environment for lost animals and a stressful situation for pet owners trying to find them.
“Owners know to go to the shelter because they know that’s where someone is going to take their animal,” Contreras said. “Now no one knows where their animals are going to show up because the shelter doesn’t take them in.”
Contreras said she believes a possible solution to the managed admissions system is the “sterilization and release” method or working closely with outreach programs in the community.
“Maybe you can bring them in, spay them, adopt the babies, and if you have to, send mom back to the area she’s used to,” Contreras said. “You’re going to reduce this population.”
Rodriguez said the community can help get involved by helping when they find stray animals by helping the care center find the owners of the animals by “posting fliers or advertising on social media platforms.”
County animal shelters also help owners travel by providing vouchers for medical treatment or resources for a training regimen, according to Rodriguez.
“The community needs to look at different ways to help people without having to bring them into the care center system,” Rodriguez said of how the community can help prevent euthanasia.