Masters Thesis

Transforming Kern's relationship with unwanted animals: are programs operated by county animal control effective in reducing the rate of animals euthanized?

A 2004 article in the Bakersfield Californian detailed the relationship the community of Kern County had with what the writer calls “throw away” animals. A subsequent series of articles revealed approximately 25,000 animals were being killed in the local shelter annually. This number was considered by many in the community to be too high. Many of these 25, 000 unwanted animals were healthy and adoptable, yet they were still being euthanized by Kern County Animal Control every year (Burger, 2004). The facts presented in these articles brought the high euthanasia rate to the public’s attention. Now that the problem was highlighted, it inspired many community members to volunteer at the shelter, donate money to animal welfare organizations, and prompted them to do whatever was necessary to alleviate this. The Kern County Animal Control Department also added additional programs to address this problem. Despite the raised awareness and all of the efforts and progress that have been made by the County shelter and the community, the numbers of animals euthanized today remains relatively the same. The numbers of animals killed are still 15,000 to 20,000 annually (2004). This program evaluation will attempt to answer why Kern’s euthanasia rates are still high, and will also examine the Political and Institutional theories that supported the implementation of the programs. The methods used to gauge the effectiveness of shelter programs will use a non-experimental Comparative Cross Program design to show if the outcome numbers have changed during a five year time frame, and will attempt to evaluate whether the shelter programs affected these numbers. Lastly, the evaluation will determine if maintaining the status quo, of keeping many of the programs in place, is an appropriate response to the shelter problems. The evaluation will suggest new strategies for lowering the killing rates, and will also propose new ideas for funding a permanent no/low cost spay/neuter program.

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