Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Worldwide medication shortage threatens YHS's no-kill efforts

Horrific incinerator
removed from YHS
campus after no-kill
Behind the Yavapai Humane Society's Pet Adoption Center at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott was a large incinerator. Abandoned for several years, the incinerator had become emblematic of a bygone era when homeless pets in our community were euthanized and discarded like so much garbage. The removal of this nightmarish relic on Feb. 27 is symbolic of a new day for pets in Yavapai County.

According to data provided by Animal People, the leading independent newspaper providing investigative coverage of animal protection, central and western Yavapai County is now tied with New York City as the second-safest community in the nation for pets.

This ranking is determined by the number of shelter animals killed per 1,000 residents. In the 12 months ending in February, the YHS kill rate fell to an all-time low tied with NYC at 1.0.

Whidbey Island, WA is ranked the safest community at .8 pets killed per 1,000 humans.

In contrast, Mohave County weighs in at 33. The most dangerous community in the U.S. for shelter animals is Amarillo, Texas, at 54.5 pets killed for every 1,000 residents.

In 2009, the YHS kill rate was 10.5, but this rate started declining in July 2010 when the YHS Board of Directors and management team embraced a "no-kill" ethic. This ethic is defined as applying the same criteria to homeless animals that a compassionate veterinarian or loving pet owner would apply to a pet when deciding if or when that pet should be euthanized, meaning only irremediably suffering and dangerously aggressive animals would ever be euthanized.

Today, YHS is a national model for having eliminated killing as a method of pet overpopulation control.

YHS is building new cat hospital
consistent with no-kill ethic.
Reinforcing the symbolic gesture of dismantling the incinerator, YHS is also building an infirmary to care for homeless sick pets. The facility is scheduled to open in May and was made possible thanks to municipal and private funding.

This life-saving transformation in our community is the result of YHS supporters, volunteers and donors and could not have been achieved without you.

Sadly, all this good news comes in the face of YHS's most significant challenge to maintaining its hard earned "no-kill" status.

There is a worldwide doxycycline shortage - with no end in sight. Doxycycline is the most cost effective medication for treating upper respiratory disease in shelter animals. Although these illnesses are easily treated outside a shelter, they are often a death sentence for pets in most animal shelters.

During this crisis, YHS is closely adhering to UC-Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine's recommendations for shelter animals. It is anticipated that a 300 percent increase in medical costs will be incurred just to provide the same level of care provided last year. For example, to treat a 50-pound dog with a doxycyline alternative will cost $3.50 per day compared to 20 cents per day for doxycycline in 2012. This translates into $2,500 more a month just to ensure our community's homeless pets get the care they need.

If we can't provide this medicine, the number of animals euthanized could increase. You can help alleviate this crisis by sending a donation to the YHS STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery) program. Your life-saving donation can be submitted at or by mail to YHS, 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott AZ 86301. Together we can continue to make our community one of the safest for pets in the United States!

Ed Boks can be reached at 445-2666, ext. 21.