05 March 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

The euthanasia of more than 1,000 dogs and cats at the main animal shelter in Las Vegas is surely a major tragedy in the sheltering field (news article, Feb. 16), and the rapid spread of diseases at a facility packed with 1,800 animals required swift action to prevent even more suffering and loss of life.

The Humane Society of the United States’ recommendation to euthanize animals after 72 hours at the shelter was specific to this situation and does not apply universally, as your article might suggest.

Shelters across the country are required to hold animals to let owners reclaim lost pets. For the Lied Animal Shelter, 72 hours is the standard hold period.

Our recommendation is that shelters determine which animals are adoptable during those hold periods, with those animals made available for adoption or placed in foster care or with rescue organizations.

The best though regrettable option for unadoptable (ill or aggressive) animals is to euthanize them to avoid prolonged suffering and confinement.

In Las Vegas, housing unadoptable animals for too long contributed to the overcrowding and allowed parvo, distemper and other diseases to incubate and rapidly spread through the shelter’s animal population.

Wayne Pacelle
President and Chief Executive
Humane Society of the U.S.
Washington, Feb. 20, 2007

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