In Animal Services, making the euthanasia decision is one of the most difficult things we do. The decisions are not taken lightly. The process includes an individual assessment of each animal prior to a euthanasia decision and Care and Evaluation meetings with volunteers and staff where there is consideration of each animal and the animal’s history.
The goals of the Care and Evaluation meetings are:
1. To maintain a healthy animal population that does not overstress or overflow the animal housing areas of the shelter.
2. To support the re-homing of temperamentally, behaviorally, and medically sound animals to the public.
3. To ensure that Animal Services does not place potentially dangerous animals into new homes.
4. To ensure that the health and well being of adoptable animals is not compromised by holding animals with identified health or behavior issues for prolonged holding periods.
Euthanasia is recommended for animals that are:
• Irremediably suffering
• Vicious or behaviorally unsuitable for adoption
• Bite history or propensity for aggression
• Kenneling extremely poorly — signs of stress
• Failed behavioral evaluation
In the case of Einstein, he had a behavioral history of multiple bites and was considered a public safety risk and potentially dangerous. The dog was determined to be un-adoptable, after three bites, including two face bites. It was determined that it would not be safe to put the dog out in the community.
It is the policy of the state and Santa Barbara County (Hayden Act, Section 31108 of the Food and Agriculture Code) that no adoptable animal should be euthanized if it can be adopted into a suitable home. However, Animal Services may not release a dog with a bite history at the request of a nonprofit rescue organization in the interest of public safety. Animal Services is committed to finding the best solution for community safety and for the dog involved. Euthanasia is an unfortunate decision that sometimes must be made to protect public safety.