Humane Society Draws Controversy by Sending Cats Back to the Streets

Usually, animal organizations receive nothing but praise from the media and the public. Their efforts to help animals are applauded and they generally receive a lot of support. However, there are sometimes decisions made that cause controversy and people begin to question whether the actions of animal organizations are truly helping in the long-term. That has been the case with the San Diego Humane Society recently. According to KPBS, the San Diego Humane Society took over the animal control services in San Diego and several nearby cities last year. Since then, the organization has released over 1,200 stray cats back onto the streets, an action that has caused controversy.

The animal organization is running a program called SNR, which stands for shelter, neuter, return. This involves the society rescuing cats from the streets, taking them to a shelter, having them neutered by a veterinarian, and then releasing them back onto the streets. This program aims to reduce the number of cats living on the streets by neutering strays to prevent them from having more litters of kittens. The reason the cats are released back onto the streets is that the organization does not have the funds to care for them all at their shelters or to rehome them. It is the belief of the San Diego Humane Society that this is a more effective and humane process than having the cats euthanized.

While the Humane Society defend their decision to run this program, there are many that are against it. In fact, it has caused a divide amongst cat lovers. While some are in agreement that this is the best option, there are others that believe that putting the cats back on the streets to live their life outdoors and hungry is a cruel practice. There are also those who oppose this practice because of the impact that stray cats have on the environment. According to an article in the Washington Post, a study has shown that feral cats are the biggest human-caused threat to wildlife. This has led to some people believing that euthanasia is a better option than the SNR program and that it is the only environmentally responsible solution.

It is worth noting that this is a new practice as it was not something that happened when animal control was run by the Department of Animal Services. However, nobody has come forward form this department to say whether they support the program or disagree with the process. Speaking about the SNR program, the president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society, Gary Weitzman, has described the cats that they release back onto the streets as unsocialized feral cats. In support of the program, Weitzman says that the organization is completely against the euthanasia of healthy or treatable cats.

However, he notes that the cats are feral and do not know anything other than living in the wild. People are making assumptions that they would prefer being domesticated, but that is not necessarily the case. Another point to note is that because the cats are unsocialized, rehoming them is problematic. Someone who takes a different view of the SNR program is Elizabeth Tracey, who runs the Cat Adoption Service. In her view, outdoor cats live a very harsh life. There are many predators that can cause them harm, including foxes, birds of prey, wild dogs, domesticated dogs, and coyotes. There is also the threat of cars on busy roads, and cats living on the streets are more susceptible to illness.

Hunger is also a big issue, says Tracey, as stray cats never know when their next meal is coming or where they will get it from. Many strays starve to death and others scavenge food from unsanitary places, thus increasing the likelihood of contracting diseases. Furthermore, Tracey argues that not all the cats returned to the streets by the Humane Society are unsocialized feral cats. She says that many are friendly, domesticated cats that are socialized and adoptable. In her opinion, the Humane Society simply doesn’t care and just return the cats to the streets regardless.

In response to Tracey’s claims, Weitzman vehemently denies that this is the case. He insists that any domesticated and socialized cats they come across are put up for adoption rather than being released back onto the streets. He promises that they never send cats back into the wild unless they are unsocialized feral cats. However, multiple records suggest otherwise. There is documented evidence from the records of the San Diego Humane Society that show that many of the cats in the program were friendly and easy to handle, yet they were released back onto the streets. This supports Tracey’s claims.

While Tracey argued that living on the streets is unhealthy for cats, the Humane Society believes that this is not always the case, Their argument is that if the feral cats are thriving and staying healthy in the outdoor environment, then it is likely they will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. They backed up this argument with evidence from research. In Tracey’s opinion, the real reason that the Humane Society is releasing the cats back onto the streets is so that they can keep their euthanasia numbers to a minimum. They want the figures to show the number of cats that left their care alive, regardless of what happens to them afterward.

A spokesperson for the San Diego Humane Society defended their practices saying that statistics play no part in their decision-making. The spokesperson explained that each decision was made to achieve the best outcome for each individual cat. While the controversy is ongoing, the San Diego Humane Society is now refusing to provide further comments on the subjects until after a December vote to decide if they will retain the contract to run animal services for the next five years.

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