Heading towards Reality, I think. At least in my country, the Netherlands. Let me tell you a little bit about how it works over here. It’s mainly about cats. I’d like to add that I’ve written this with the information I received from the Animal Protection alliance and info from shelter workers. This is what *I* know & think, it’s not an official statement. Please respond if your opinion differs!
The main animal protection authority is called Dierenbescherming (just means animals’ protection) and most of the official shelters (about 53) carry their trademark. That means they have a very strict policy towards euthanasia: it’s only allowed when an animal is suffering so bad from medical conditions that there’s no quality of life anymore. Just like you would do for your own pet, as the very last and ultimate option.
These shelters put lots of effort and money in keeping the animals healthy and happy.
These shelters, and also the shelters that don’t have the trademark (often has to do with lack of money to build better facilities, not because those are bad shelters), are connected to local authorities. There’s a budget in every town (sometimes high, sometimes lower) to provide for a certain amount of shelter animals. When the shelters are overcrowded (unwanted kittens, animals dumped when people go on vacation), they try to find another shelter that can take those. And often they take in more animals than they should, temporarily. Which makes the chance of diseases spreading worse, I must say.
Although there is a budget, it’s not sufficient. Shelters and Dierenbescherming depend on donations. Lots of donations, because the funds the local authorities have to give are only enough to supply a 2-week stay per animal. Some authorities stick to that minimum, others do lots more. Really varies.
Another way to get funds is the money people both have to pay when they have their animals placed in a shelter and when they want to adopt. Adult animals that get adopted are all neutered, kittens come with a voucher to have them neutered at 6 months. It’s still a discussion in this country what the earliest age is to spay or neuter. Might change to a lower age, that’s a much better guarantee to prevent unwanted pregnancies – in my humble opinion.
When I adopted my Munchkin from a shelter, he came with a voucher. The voucher wasn’t accepted at my local vet, so plenty of room to improve that system!
Still there are too many homeless animals in the Netherlands, just as in other countries. One of the initiatives that tries to help, is the Trap, Neuter, Release programme. Mostly done by private persons and activists and there isn’t much funding available. These cats stay feral and not in the best conditions (sometimes people are asked to have one of those placed in their area, so they can feed them and take an eye on health issues), but at least the population won’t grow as fast anymore.
Just like in the USA, there are foster homes (also private persons) that take care of the very young kittens, to bottle feed them and to get them used to people. The same families also take care of litters including the mother cat, to socialize both kittens and moms.
Last but not least: there are several shelters for cats that are left over in shelters. Old cats, cats with behavior problems, with handicaps, with chronic diseases or other challenges. They’re taken care of very well and of course this type of shelter is strictly no-kill as well.
“My” cause/charity is a shelter like that. My next blog entry will be about it.
Conclusion? The shelters over here do have a no-kill policy, it’s the standard. But our country isn’t Paradise for cats. There might be more problems in the future and yes, we’re worried about that.
At least, now you know a little bit more about shelter policies in this tiny corner of the world.