(SAN BERNARDINO) The New York Animal Rights Alliance America hopes to target at least one kill shelter in each of the 50 states during its protest on November 12, 2011. So far animal welfare workers have volunteered to demonstrate at shelters in at least 26 states, including two high-kill shelters in California.
In Southern California, the demonstration will take place at San Bernardino County’s main shelter in Devore. The Devore Shelter has been the subject of controversy for many years, most recently due to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors refusal to allow animal welfare volunteers to assist in making the animals housed there more comfortable and more adoptable. This policy is in effect despite the fact that a majority of the animals at the shelter are killed rather than adopted into new homes.
Volunteers say there must be something to hide at the shelter because shelter management has fought so hard to keep volunteers out. They county says it is a liability issue. However, shelters around the southland accept volunteers.
Kate Riviello, founder of the New York Animal Rights Alliance of America, says she is dedicating her life for the next five years to a three-prong mission to reduce animal euthanasia in America. According to Riviello, 800 cats and dogs are killed per hour in this country.
The first prong of the campaign is to conduct three nationwide protests per year against kill pounds. She wants to increase awareness so that the average American becomes conscious of the problem. She says the average person cannot imagine the enormity of the situation nor the suffering animals endure at the hands of workers in many shelters.
Riviello envisions a representative in every state who is schooled in state and local laws affecting shelter animals. Additionally, she hopes that local rescues and animal welfare groups will join to ensure those laws are upheld.
The second prong will be to use the legal system to take action against kill pounds that break the law. She expects to seek legal recourse in those situations where shelters refuse to abide by the law. There are three reasons that a lawsuit may be filed against a kill shelter: animal abuse, negligence, and incompetence.
Animal abuse includes shelter staff directly harming animals such as kicking a dog, pulling with a choke collar to the point of harming a dog’s neck, or breaking a cat’s leg. Negligence includes not cleaning cages properly, not providing fresh food and water, and not providing veterinary care to injured animals. Incompetence involves not accounting for animals taken into custody, not adhering to posted hours of operation, and not being open sufficient hours to allow for adequate access by the public.
The third prong will be to enter the political arena. Riviello wants activists to become familiar with local legislators, including their voting records on animal issues. She envisions the group eventually pushing for animal-friendly legislation as well as targeting for removal from office those politicians who vote against animal welfare issues.
The Southern California protest is scheduled for November 12, 2011, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Devore Shelter, 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino, California. You can find more information on the group’s Facebook page.