10/22/2011: I saw an article (http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=340827) which referred to the Humane Society of Berks County as a “no kill” shelter. Is that true?
While HSBC is fortunate that it has not had to euthanize any healthy and happy animals in over three years, we still face the euthanasia of animals which are sick, injured, aggressive, or have behavioral problems which can’t be solved in our shelters. Therefore, this statement is FALSE.
The “No Kill” term is one which generally means shelter animals are only euthanized due to catastrophic injury or illness. It is also usually synonymous with shelters which only accept animals selectively or are “limited access”. Neither of these is the case at HSBC.
We have staff veterinarians and in house veterinary services which allow us to care for animals which in the past would have faced euthanasia. However, not all animals can be made well within the scope of services we can provide, the financial resources we have (hint, hint, donations save lives), or the time we have to treat them. When healthy, happy animals require space and adoption services, we face the same hard life and death decisions which all other open access shelters do.
Like the “no kill” term, “open access” is a term which is defined by various agencies in various ways (usually the definition is that whatever someone else’s shelter does is “open access” and whatever anyone else does is not). HSBC is an open access shelter and accepts any animal presented to us for surrender or as a stray.
However, that does not mean that we do not make every effort to help an owner keep a beloved pet by offering needed veterinary services at a reduced cost, referring to behaviorists and trainers to address behavior problems, referring to breed specific rescues which handle specific breeds, or referring those with confined strays to the agency which is contracted and paid your tax dollars to take Berks strays in.
HSBC also requires that those wishing to surrender their pet to make a $25 donation or perform three hours of community service at any non-profit charity within 30 days. If the pet owner does not have the funds, HSBC accepts the animal and gives the owner 30 days to pay the fee or volunteer. HSBC feels that this small amount to offset the cost of caring for the person’s pet and the non-cash volunteer option is a perfectly reasonable and fair way for the owner to take at least some responsibility for their choice to leave an animal with us.
HSBC also accepts strays for a $25 fee. This fee is charged because HSBC does not receive a penny of the approximately $200,000+ paid annually for stray intake services in Berks. Therefore, HSBC and our donors assume the entire cost of taking the pet in. While 90% of finders opt to take the stray to the agency which is being paid to provide the intake service for free, about 10% of finders choose to leave the animal with us. Of those, approximately 2/3 sign a 30 promissory note agreeing to pay the fee or volunteer at a charity and then renege on their promise, leaving HSBC with the entire cost of care.
Like all animal welfare organizations, we strive to reach a day when we are functionally no kill. The unfortunate reality is that we are not there yet. The article was incorrect in applying that label to HSBC.
1801 N. 11th Street, Reading, PA 19604 - phone 610-921-2348 - fax 610-921-5833
copyright 2013 Humane Society of Berks County