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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 6 May 2005 Issue

By Judith Marie Gansen
The Winning Argument Against Pound Seizure

The Problem:

In my previous article on pound seizure, We Lost Our Pound Seizure Fight, 9/8/04 (I also did one on 6/24/03 - Let's Torture the Homeless) I spoke about a study on the website of the wonderful Canadian Animal Alliance which shows how things improve when pound seizure is stopped.  This study is very important because it was done by a local government, not an animal rights or animal welfare group.  While I have never found any animal group who lied about research, non-animal people sometimes think if an animal group was behind something, then it must not be the truth or it is an exaggeration.  We animal people of course know this isn't true but it shows the prejudice against us unfortunately.


This chart proves that stopping pound seizure saves money for our county, lowers the risk of dog bites, helps law enforcement and animal control and protects our lost and homeless pets! It’s a win/win situation! Special thanks to the Canadian Animal Alliance.

In AAC’s 10 years of experience with the pound seizure issue, in every case where pound seizure was banned, animal services programs and adoption rates improved, and rates of euthanasia declined. Data from Calgary, Alberta, where Animal Services stopped giving to research in 1993 is indicative and compelling.

Calgary, Alberta Animal Services Statistics 1984-1999

(Source: City of Calgary Animal Services)

















Animals impounded

















Sold to university

















Returned to owner or adopted


































(NOTE: Totals may appear incorrect. A small number of animals identified as "Others" — which include, for example, animals still held at the end of a year — have been omitted for clarity.)

When pound seizure was routinely practiced in Calgary in the mid to late 1980s, only about 50-60% of impounded animals were returned to their families or adopted; 30-40% were euthanized. By 1999, almost 97% of animals were being returned to their families or adopted, and the euthanization rate dropped to around 2%. Another important direct benefit enjoyed by Calgarians because of their Councillors’ decision to implement a progressive animal services program, which included a pound seizure ban, is the decline in dog bite incidents: from 1.03 bites per 1,000 in 1984 to 0.45 bites per 1,000 in 1998 — a 56% decline.

The reason for these improvements is that when communities adopt animal services policies that use "best practices," and serve the best interests of the animals and companion animal owners — rather than the interests of researchers — public support increases, and pride, morale, and job performance improves among animal services staff. This in turn results in lower costs and dramatically improved effectiveness of animal services programs.

The evidence from across North America is unequivocal. By failing to ban pound seizure and implement "best practices" animal services programs, like those in Calgary, Toronto, and other progressive municipalities, Winnipeg City Councillors are failing the voters of Winnipeg who share their homes and families with companion animals.


The Solution--Taking The Focus Off Pets

I spent a lot of time praying and thinking after we lost our fight to stop pound seizure in my community.  You can call it Divine Intervention or a coincidence but the next day I spoke to a friend who said she had spent alot of time talking to another woman about the pound seizure issue.  The woman said "I don't care about pets and I don't care if they are sold to research, WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?"  It was like a bolt of lightening--there was the answer I was looking for!

We can use this study to show EVERYONE how stopping pound seizure benefits just about everyone in a community.  The more people you have on your side, the greater the chance of winning an issue.  Should you still lose the issue when the board votes, it still won't be a waste of your time.  You will have built a base of people in your area who are more educated and realize the entire community benefits and they may then vote those out of office who voted to continue pound seizure.  Pet people will also be more careful about not letting their pets run loose once they realize where they could end up.

People who love animals sometimes look at everything through the eyes of animals and think of their suffering and welfare.  We need to also look at how other people who don't care about animals see us and our causes.  I know some people who are fearful of animals because of a bad experience or they incorrectly believe that the Bible says that animals are here to be our slaves essentially. 

While we can debate and reason with these people, it's unlikely we will change all of their minds.  Instead, we reach them by showing them how they will benefit in other ways.  Try to keep emotion out of this because unless you are lucky enough to get pet lovers on a commission who will do the right thing, you are probably dealing with people who could care less about what happens to pets.

People who rescue strays won't do it if they know they may end up in research.  The Canadian study can be used to show who is helped when pound seizure is stopped:

1.  Children--since a 56% dog bite drop was shown in the study, and kids are outside playing the most, this improves the safety of our children.

2.  Law Enforcement--who often have to "backup" animal control officers on serious animal calls if some animal control officers are on vacation or ill.  This takes away time from their important work--like watching for terrorists, arresting child abusers, and catching murderers.  How would you feel if an officer's response time to your assault is an hour longer because he/she had to take an animal call that ordinarily would have been handled by an animal control officer?  Quicker response time also means a greater chance the perpetrator is caught.  This affects the safety of our communities.

3.  Animal Control--benefits since there are fewer strays.  Volunteers who pickup strays have taken a dog or cat off the street who is probably not altered so this reduces the pet overpopulation problem. 

4.  Financial Benefits--There is less turnover among animal control employees and less sick time taken--that means more money is saved in sick time paid out and retraining new employees.  Why aren't commissioners looking at the cost in officer-hours used when a police officer has to replace an animal control officer on a call?  This may cause a backup of calls that go on all day and maybe overtime needed for those patrol officers.  More unaltered pets caught means more get spay/neutered.  That translates into fewer calls for service too which is even more money saved. 

5. Our elderly and physically challenged--who often can't drive to check animal control for a lost pet.  Maybe they can't afford to microchip their pet.  Some of our elderly have lost their spouses and their pets are all they have.

6.  Our overburdened health care system--a possible 56% reduction in dog bites means if you had 100 dog bites in your community in one year, if pound seizure was stopped you may have had only 44 instead.  If you work for an insurance company, it is in their best interest to see pound seizure stopped too!  That would be 56 fewer medical bills needing to be covered!\

7.  Farmers--dogs running loose sometimes do damage to property and chase their "livestock."  Fewer strays may mean less damage to their property.

8.  Pet People--stopping pound seizure makes a county safer for pets.  Your pet can't be accidentally sold to research if no pets are sold to research.

9.  Hunters--whether they see their hunting dogs as family members or an animal they have put alot of training into, they don't want to lose them either.  Getting more unaltered dogs off the streets and out of the countryside means their dogs are less likely to run off while hunting because of a dog in heat.

10. County Liability Issues--pets have already been accidentally sold to research and killed before their people could get them back.  Some of those distraught pet owners have sued their counties.  Since judges are more and more realizing a pet is not just a piece of property, damage awards are going higher.  If I was an insurance company, I would charge higher liability rates to counties who allow pound seizure for that reason.

In stopping pound seizure, we must focus on politics.  You are dealing with politicians whose main goal is to get re-elected. Getting votes are their number one priority.  Pound seizure must be stopped everywhere since it puts all of our pets at risk.  It must be stopped because it defeats the purpose that the county shelter was set up for--to protect lost and homeless pets.  Shelters were called "dog pounds" in the old days and many are trying to improve their image.  In my opinion, you can't graduate from dog pound to being called an animal shelter until you STOP POUND SEIZURE!!!  And you also can't call yourself a real humane society unless you are AGAINST POUND SEIZURE!!!

While I love all animals, pets are special because we have a history with them and a strong emotional attachment.  They give us unconditional love and are a part of our lives.  They do so much in their service to humans.  We owe it to them to stop this barbaric practice!!  Senator Everett Dirksen in a 1964 speech to the U.S. Senate said:  "There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come."  The time has come to stop pound seizure!

Staff:  Animals in Print 
(free online animal publication)

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