Stray animal review begins London Canada
Stray animal review begins
London Free Press, Canada - July 17, 2006
The goal is to reduce the number of stray animals put to death in London each year.
By JOE BELANGER, FREE PRESS CITY HALL REPORTER
Animal lovers and number-crunchers alike should be happy with a new report on dealing with stray animals in London, one of its authors says.
If London focuses on spay-neuter programs, public education and support for volunteer groups, the lives of hundreds of stray animals will be saved each year.
Coun. Susan Eagle, co-chair person, with Mary Shepherd, of the companion-animal welfare task force, said a "comprehensive" report containing 22 recommendations is to be submitted tonight to city council's environment and transportation committee.
It makes a wide range of recommendations to reduce euthanization of stray animals and improve their quality of life while reducing their numbers.
"This report highlights what the city can do, what our (animal control) contractor can do and what the various volunteer groups in the city can do to improve animal welfare," Eagle said.
"If the whole thing is followed -- and most of the recommendations are inter-dependent -- we would, in the long-run, reduce our costs and the number of animals being put to death."
The companion-animal welfare task force was formed last year after complaints about the number of euthanized stray cats and dogs here and concerns about their care.
About 10,000 London dogs and cats have been euthanized during the last five years, more than 1,400 last year.
Taskforce co-chairperson Mary Shepherd, of Animal Outreach, said she hopes city council acts quickly on the recommendations.
"We want the solutions to be working toward zero euthanasia, a much higher rate of adoption and just changing the culture in the city toward these animals," she said.
"Too many healthy animals are being euthanized."
The committee is expected to refer the report to staff for input on costs and implementation.
Jay Stanford, city manager of environmental programs, who worked with the task force, said several recommendations can be done without significant cost.
"A lot of the things they're recommending that have to do with spaying and neutering are excellent to control and reduce the population of stray animals," Stanford said.
"They won't have an immediate impact, but you'll see a difference in five to 10 years."
Stanford also likes the focus on a co-ordinated, citywide effort by all groups and the city to increase adoptions.
"I think the reality is we've got to do a couple of initiatives each year to build a strong and stronger animal welfare program," he said.
Stanford said there's no question the city's private contractor, London Animal Care Centre, is living up to its contract and even providing extra service.
Any changes to how strays are handled by LACC must be included in the contract when it's up for renewal in 2010.
The contract was extended five years in December, but both sides have agreed to negotiate some changes.
The city spends about $1.5 million a year, including just less than $900,000 from licence fees, on the care of stray pets.
ANIMAL CARE TASK FORCE
The task force's recommendations fall into four categories:
- Increasing the claim rate of strays, adoptions, and the spaying and neutering of domestic and feral animals.
- Increasing public education about responsible pet ownership.
- Co-ordinating efforts by the city, its animal control contractor and various animal rescue groups through a new advisory committee, hired co-ordinator, seed funding for groups and the use of volunteers at the pound.
- Changing licensing to promote spaying and neutering, microchipping, developing partnerships and sponsors to fund programs and improving reporting requirements for the city contractor.