I had so much hope once that my home state would be the first no-kill state in our nation. But it seems the largest nonprofit shelter and largest municipal shelter of Wisconsin are going to fight that tooth and nail until the bitter end. Both the Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) and Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) are currently trying to change the state’s stray hold period from 7 days to 4 days (through AB487). This will adversely affect the thousands of animals that rely on shelter intelligence and compassion to ensure they are safe and find their loving homes again.
WHS and MADACC try to make the argument that strays just aren’t claimed (3% of cats and 27% of dogs were claimed by an owner at MADACC in 2014) and that it is more beneficial to just adopt them out or, as can very well be the case, kill them to make more room. Reporting that only 3% of stray cats and only a quarter of stray dogs are reclaimed by owners doesn’t speak to stray holds needing to be shortened. It most definitely speaks to the Shelter’s severely lack practices and procedures in helping owners find their lost pets.
These Wisconsin shelters should be focusing on how to reach owners and connect them to their lost pets, not trying to shorten how long an animal is safe while an owner tries to find them. Trying to claim that no-kill communities are successful because of shortened stray holds is completely false. The no-kill equation does not include in any way shorter hold periods. It does, however, include focusing efforts on pet retention and proactive pet redemptions. It is MUCH easier to reunite pets with their families than it is to find that pet a new home. And why waste resources on finding new homes, when these pets obviously already have one?
Wisconsin Humane Society and Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission: don’t try to shorten your stray holds. That won’t have ANY positive effect on saving lives. Instead, focus on how you can better help reunite your lost pets with their owners. THAT will help keep your shelters from overflowing. And THAT will be true to the no-kill movement.