Shawn Tsztoo lives in Alameda.
Some Suggestions for Animal Shelter
I’m going to focus on cats for this letter because of the difficulty in locating animal shelter statistics. But, my arguments could be used to argue in favor of the underused space at the Alameda Animal Shelter.
My friend and I have been casually looking to adopt a cat. Whenever we’ve passed an animal shelter, we’ve gone in for a look. We’ve gone to most of the city shelters and shelters from San Francisco to Sacramento.
The staffs have been courteous. They seem dedicated. But, most importantly, their facilities are huge. The space-to-cat ratio is incredibly high. Cats are often kept alone in clear cages with little room to move. They often do not socialize with other cats unless they’re kittens.
In a world where euthanasia and cat homelessness is a rampant problem, we can do better. Cat statistics are difficult to locate. But, my Google search of two animal shelters revealed that there are more than 2,000 cats per year that do not find homes in San Francisco and Alameda counties. That’s a lot of cats and a huge tragedy.
There are, however, two shelters, one in Redwood City, and one in Stockton, that have a unique and effective strategy for accommodating the amount of cats without proper homes. These shelters have large confinement areas for lots of cats to co-habitate. Both of these shelters have managed to house more cats with less space than almost every other of the 11 shelters that I’ve visited.
This includes both the Alameda Animal Shelter’s adoption centers. At these shelters, the cats that primarily sleep, stay to the side of the cat areas, while the more active cats are able to walk around freely on provided cat furniture. Moreover, it allows cats to be social.
You can see anti-social cats tolerating other cats. This allows them to be taken into mult-cat homes, and you can see social cats getting the socialization that they need when you go to these open space shelters. In turn, the Alameda Animal Shelter’s South Shore shelter seems grossly under-utilized. I have seen a shelter half the size accommodate more than twice the number of cats than the South Shore center accommodates.
I highly encourage the Alameda Animal Shelter to give its cats more access to its floor space. The majority of the space in the South Shore adoption center is in between the kitten room and the other visiting rooms.
Partition it into several large, open cat lounge areas, add some cat furniture and save some lives!
An open space setup can fit many more cats than separate cat cages. Old-school detractors may argue that allowing cats to interact with each other will lead to cross contamination of cats. This is a valid concern. But this should be an acceptable risk given how many cats need homes. And if you cannot find a cat in Alameda that needs a home, there are plenty in the surrounding cities.
Several shelters have already reduced the amount of isolated cages used in their shelters with few negative effects. I hope the Alameda Animal Shelter will look into saving more cats by making a better use of its empty floor space and rooms.