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home : opinions : opinions June 28, 2016

6/24/2014 9:47:00 AM
Letter: Animal shelters need to work together

To the editor:

After reading the article "SAVE - Meant to Rescue plans drawn up, animal shelter in Williams closer to reality" several times I was left with mixed feelings. On one hand, it is beautiful to welcome a new group to our northern Arizona animal care and welfare community. On the other hand, I was disappointed to see the article end with a very strong opinion that can be refuted with fact.

Stating that the shelter in Flagstaff only holds animals a few days before being euthanized is a misrepresentation that could have easily been verified by a simple phone call and would not have directly undermined nearly 60 years of humane services the Coconino Humane Association has provided to Coconino County.

Our overall "Live Release Rate" averaged 70 percent a year for the last five years and the current estimate for shelters nationwide is only 50 percent. Last month 87.5 percent of the animals left our shelter alive and well. The other side of the rates reflects: aggressive animals, severely ill and injured animals that are suffering or contagious, and euthanasia services we provide to the public to ensure that no animal will suffer from illness or injury because their owner cannot afford to pay to have a veterinarian perform the procedure.

For many years we have not been required to euthanize healthy adoptable animals due to overcrowding or lack of space. We do not implement "time limits" as population control and we actively work to adopt or transfer pets for months after intake.

Animal welfare whether for abandoned, stray, unwanted, abused, or neglected animals has historically been an underfunded low priority and underrepresented problem in government and the general public's opinion.

Over the last 10-20 years municipal and contracted animal care and control organizations are starting to see the light after decades of underfunding, low overall public concern for the homeless animals, and the expectation that the shelter will do the dirty work of (and being condemned for) euthanizing animals when they weren't adopted when more animals kept coming in the door. With changes in industry standards, evolving responsible pet ownership guidelines, intensive education advocating "spay, neuter&vaccinate," and more interest in shelter animals as pets is impacting the numbers of animals entering and being euthanized in shelters across the country for both health reasons and lack of space.

When municipal or contracted animal shelters begin partnering with other shelters, rescue groups, animal transfer programs, veterinarians, and dedicated foster networks lives really begin to be saved. Shelters like the Coconino Humane Association rely heavily on the assistance these types of partnerships provide and sincerely appreciate the help with a seemingly unending supply of unwanted pets in our county.

It has been shown in community after community across the United States that when animal welfare groups work together with support, understanding, respect, and a common goal, regardless of "open admission," "low kill," "no kill," "rescue," "sanctuary," or "foster" labels, more lives are saved. Which should be the overall goal of everyone involved in animal welfare - saving lives not condemning another organization.

I am thrilled that Williams will soon have a local option for the pets in their own community! It has been a long time coming. Having a local option is also so much easier on the people in Williams - it is a long drive to Flagstaff. We support SAVE - Meant to Rescue in their mission and sincerely hope that they are successful.

Michelle Ryan

Executive Director

Coconino Humane Association

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Article comment by: Xx Xxx

I like how transparent you say you are but please tell how Danne's dog was euthanized so quickly.. Over the years I would hear stories just like Danne's... So what's your side of the story Michelle?

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014
Article comment by: Michelle Ryan

I gross $42,000 after 11 years of employment and after paying for my medical insurance premiums for my family and my taxes my net wages are about $24,000. I believe in transparency, please feel free to contact me at the Coconino Humane Association 526-1076 if there is any other information I can provide.

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014
Article comment by: Harriet Lockwood

I have been working to save the ferro cats. Some of them die.Some have to be put down because of illness that they catch. This also goes with dogs. There are so many desease out there that the vets do not how to cure. I have ran into that a Lot. I would like to get nutering, spaying, and shots cheeper. But that impossible because the vets can't make a living unless they charge a bigger amount because of the over head and they don't get grants like some places do. Harriet Lockwood

Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Article comment by: Freddy Beaumont

How much money does Michelle Ryan make?

Posted: Monday, July 7, 2014
Article comment by: Carmen Allison

This is perplexing. I hope that after this incident that the CHA has changed their policy on euthanasia. This was a tragic incident and I don't blame Danne for feeling the way she does. I am sure though she loves animals. Through no fault of their own, dogs may end up in the CHA pound. We must support these unfortunate animals no matter where they end up. I purpose that the humans may be inept, the dogs need our help no matter where they are. If his happened at my shelter, someone would be fired.

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014
Article comment by: Jeremiah Sheward

What a well thought out and bureaucratically written letter I for one have seen the output of shelters "transfer" system you can keep your numbers until it can be revealed how many "transfers" get adopted to private homes your numbers are meaningless. I have seen dogs transfer multiple times until they reach facilities not so concerned with live exit statistics.

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Danne Thomas

Frankly, I find Ms Ryan's letter insulting. The efforts put forth by SAVE in the Williams community is in stark contrast to the bureaucratic arrogance displayed by the Coconino Humane Association(CHA). I will NEVER forgive the CHA for killing my dog! You see, in spite of all your statistics and percentages Ms Ryan, your "shelter" in fact received my old dog that had got lost in a winter storm on a Friday and before I could get to your facility at opening Monday morning, the only thing I got to claim was my dog's body from your freezer! You can take your statistics and percentages and spin them however you like but, when you're one of those on the receiving end of your miscare for animals received from Williams, your letter attacking SAVE in our community paper is an act of bureaucratic arrogance that baffles the mind. The fact is, YOU KILLED MY DOG! I will accept no rationalizations or apologies from you whatsoever. I have donated a lot of money to SAVE and will continue to do so. Williams deserves an organization that cares and one that will work for our community. I will continue to be the loud out spoken voice you hear at your public venue setups proclaiming for all to hear.....YOU KILLED MY DOG!

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