Establishing a no-kill policy at Edmonton's animal control facility would not be viable, according to a new city report that was compiled at the request of some city councillors.
"No-kill is an impossibility, because the numbers of animals that are being brought [in] daily is staggering," said David Leeb, director of animal services.
Last year, 3,348 cats and about 1,051 dogs were euthanized at both the animal services facility and the Edmonton Humane Society.
"It's a shame to have to euthanize an animal that could bring joy into a home," said Coun. Karen Leibovici, who owns one cat.
"I hate to see any animal put down. This no-kill policy should be looked at. In this day and age, I don't see any reason why not," said Coun. Tony Caterina, who owns three cats, and recently had his 22-year-old dog put down.
The city's animal services facility handles stray and abandoned animals. The humane society takes in animals that are surrendered by their owners, and only euthanizes animals that are too aggressive or too sick to be adopted.
Leeb said the city's facility is not large enough to handle all the animals.
"The animals would be living in hugely overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, which is not acceptable," he said. "The only solution is to reduce the number of pets that are stray and increase the number of pets that are being recovered by their owners."
The city's best strategy would be to create a subsidy to help people pay to have their pets spayed or neutered, Leeb said.
The definition of a "no-kill" policy varies from facility to facility, the city report notes, and some facilities need to rely on other organizations to help them maintain that policy.
"A true no-kill facility relies on other organizations in its community or city to euthanize unwanted and unclaimed pets it doesn't accept," it says.
Shelters that use these types of policies are questionable, said humane society spokeswoman Shawna Randolph. "[In] some cases they will only bring in animals that they feel are adoptable," she said. "So what happens to the other animals that are turned away?"
The city's community services committee will discuss the report on Monday.