Rescuing and adopting cats in Hamilton

What we need to know about
"The killing of cats at HAS"


Karen Edwards, Animal Services Advisor at HAS earlier this week provided a summary of how HAS staff are making them:

"I have been hearing that people still feel our euthanasia numbers are high.  I think that the public is not aware of some of the factors involved and the hard decisions made with the euthanasia of animals here.

There are several reasons why an animal is euthanized:

  • Animal is picked up injured and is taken directly a Vet Clinic and a Vet and staff together make the decision to treat or euthanize an animal.  Unfortunately many pets are picked up on the road and are injured beyond a point where there is any hope for the animal to recover.  The best decision in those cases is to have the animal humanely euthanized to end its suffering.  This is one of the reasons the by-law doesn’t allow pets to roam free.  There are too many opportunities for the pet to become injured (traffic, dangerous animals, conflict with wildlife, contract diseases, etc.).

  • ‘Vet Checks’ are when a Vet assesses the animal for questionable health so staff can treat it accordingly. Vet checks can happen by sending the animal to a clinic and they also happen in the shelter by our contracted Vet when he visits on Vet Days.

  • Some animals are brought to the shelter and their health declines.  At this time staff send the animals to a Vet clinic for a ‘Vet Check’.  Based on the expertise and education of a Vet, they advise us of the best course of action and humanely ending an animal’s suffering may be required.

  • An animal is held in the shelter for the redemption period (3 days) to allow an owner to claim their animal.  Whenever possible, the animal is held longer for the owner to come forward or for the SPCA or a rescue organization to choose it for an adoption program.  If the animal is in pain or seriously ill, it may be chosen for euthanasia due to its poor health.

  • Some pet owners surrender their pets to Animal Services for euthanasia only, for poor health reasons.  This is a public service we offer as opposed to taking their animal to a Vet Clinic as not all animals die peacefully in their sleep.  Not all pet owners have a relationship with a Vet to turn to in their time of need and for some we are a more affordable option.

  • Hard decisions are made to euthanize an animal for aggressive temperament.  Our passionate staff work hard to encourage scared and mildly aggressive animals to trust people.  If the animal’s temperament changes for the better, our team works hard to find rescue/adoption placements.  If the animal’s temperament worsens it may be euthanized.  These decisions are hard and are not made easily.  We work with many rescues that are capable of taking these animals and working with them to continue the good work by our team.

  • The last reason for euthanasia is for Time/Space.  This means the shelter is at or over capacity and we need to make space for incoming cats.  We do stop accepting cats at the counter, however at times, we need to make space and there aren’t any reasons for the euthanasia.  Fortunately, we have only had to do this for 3 cats this year and it is greatly reduced from past years.

We only have so much space/cages in the shelter and we always need to keep space for incoming animals, for emergencies, etc…  The decisions become very difficult when the shelter is at capacity.  We have been able to keep our euthanasia number lower than previous years thanks to all the hard work of the HBSPCA and the rescue organizations we work with.  We couldn’t do it without them and we appreciate it all.  We’re heading in the right direction!

I hope this helps explain the reasons for euthanasia in our statistics. 

Karen Edwards, HAS