Long Overdue Transformation For Animal Shelter

(ANIMAL NEWS) CALIFORNIA — The Animal Legal Defense Fund and nearby residents recently sued a Palm Springs shelter for failure to abide by state laws protecting animals, and their case has been heard. Homeless dogs and cats in the surrounding area will now have a much better chance of being adopted into loving homes and treated the right way. The case sheds light on the standards of animal shelters, bringing a fair warning to others who might be violating similar regulations. Read on to learn more about the constructive changes to come for this particular animal shelter. — Global Animal
Photo Credit: Animal Rescue Society

Animal Legal Defense Fund

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – In a big step forward for Palm Springs’ homeless dogs and cats, a settlement is being entered in California Superior Court resolving a lawsuit against the city, police and animal control officials, and the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter that alleged systematic abuses at the city’s shelter and improper use of the term “no kill.” In a lawsuit filed in April 2011, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Riverside County residents had argued that the Palm Springs Animal Shelter failed to follow state and local laws protecting animals, resulting in the extremely high euthanasia rates of adoptable animals, despite the shelter’s publicizing itself as a “no-kill” facility. The lawsuit also alleged that the shelter failed to provide routine veterinary care to Palm Springs’ sick and injured homeless animals. Troutman Sanders LLP provided pro bono assistance with the lawsuit and the settlement agreement. ALDF is still awaiting signatures on the final settlement agreement. 

Why does the Palm Springs settlement agreement have tails wagging? The settlement will improve the lives of animals who are lost or abandoned in Palm Springs by making sure they receive all the protections of the law, including the requirements for veterinary care and accurate shelter reporting required by California’s Hayden Law. The settlement will also prohibit the shelter from using the term “no kill.” According to last year’s lawsuit, despite claims that it was a “no-kill” facility, a substantial proportion of the cats and dogs impounded at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter were in fact euthanized—more than 50% for live unclaimed dogs and over 80% for live unclaimed cats during certain periods for which requested records were made available.

Thanks to the settlement, the Palm Springs shelter will now fully comply with all state and local standards. The terms of the settlement include:

Establishing holding periods for lost and stray animals that are longer than the minimum holding periods mandated by state laws;

Providing prompt veterinary care to ill or injured animals;

Keeping detailed records of all animals entering the shelter, including the numbers adopted, redeemed by their owners, euthanized, or deceased each month;

Increasing homeless animals’ chances of adoption through foster and off-site adoption programs

No longer advertising itself to be a “no-kill” shelter and providing information about euthanasia rates upon request

Inviting public comments, which will be shared with ALDF every three months.

“We’re delighted that life will now be a little kinder for Palm Springs’ homeless animals,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Thanks to the settlement, lost dogs and cats will have a better chance of being reunited with their families, and strays will have a fighting chance of finding loving new homes.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. Copies of the settlement agreement and of the original lawsuit are available upon request.

More Animal Legal Defense Fund: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2093