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San Diego County Plan Will Lead to Fewer Animals Euthanized

A kitten being sheltered at the San Diego Humane Society is pictured in this undated photo.
San Diego Humane Society
A kitten being sheltered at the San Diego Humane Society is pictured in this undated photo.
San Diego County Plan Will Lead to Fewer Animals Euthanized
San Diego Plan Will Lead to Fewer Animals Euthanized Guests:Gary Weitzman, president, San Diego Human SocietyTeresa Chagrin, animal care and control specialist, PETA

All healthy and treatable animals in San Diego County will find homes under a policy announced by the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition on Wednesday.

The group represents seven organizations and 11 shelters that agreed to work together to transfer homeless pets between organizations and find solutions for each individual animal under the “Getting to Zero” policy. The ultimate goal is to have fewer dogs and cats euthanized at shelters.

“What we’re most proud of is we’re at zero euthanasia because we’ve all come together,” Gary Weitzman, president for San Diego Humane Society, told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. “There are animals that are at risk of euthanasia when they could be saved.”

Weitzman said 45,000 animals come into San Diego shelters every year. The shelters plan to eliminate euthanasia by sharing resources, he said.

He also said it’s important for the region to encourage residents to spay or neuter their pets.

"It takes all of us coming together for the benefit of the animals," Weitzman said.

But some animal activists, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are cautious about the program, which they say resembles a "no-kill" policy adopted by many cities.

Teresa Chagrin, animal care and control specialist for PETA, said the organization has received many calls about shelters using these policies, which have led to overcrowding and animals being turned away.

“It’s always thrilling, exciting and productive when people work together toward a common goal,” Chagrin said. “We’re seeing a lot of problems because of the intense pressure to stop euthanizing animals before putting birth under control.”

The San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition includes Chula Vista Animal Care Facility, El Cajon Animal Shelter, Friends of Cats, Rancho Coastal Humane Society, San Diego County's Department of Animal Services and San Diego Humane Society.

The coalition reported that 83 percent of the animals its 11 shelters received in the fiscal year between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, were released alive. The rate was higher for dogs, 89 percent, and other animals, 88 percent, but lower for cats, 74 percent.

Most were euthanized, some of which had treatable conditions, according to the report, which is available on the county Animal Services website. Some others died by other means or were lost while in the shelter.

Animals with terminal conditions will still be euthanized, the coalition said.

San Diego County Plan Will Lead to Fewer Animals Euthanized

Corrected:
City News Service contributed to this report.