Petition asks shelters to disclose kill rate to pet surrenderers

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A Pinellas County man is on a mission to cut down on the number of animals being euthanized. He wants animal control facilities to give full disclosure of how likely surrendered animals are to be euthanized.

Surrendering an animal is one of the most painful things a pet owner has to do. But if you knew ahead of time your family pet had a better chance of being killed than adopted, would it change your mind?

Eric Theis is posing that question through an online petition asking animal controls to disclose their "kill rate" to anyone turning in their pet. It has gotten nearly 15,000 signatures.

"I just want something to be out there stated, saying you understand that if you drop your animal off at our facility, there's a chance, whatever that percentage is, your animal's life may be ended because we are too crowded," Theis said.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that about 7.6 million pets are brought to shelters each year, nationwide. Approximately 2.7 million are euthanized.

"I get phone calls from facilities in other states," Theis said. "Dallas for example, on certain days, they'll get 130 to 150 dogs every day, turned in. And 30 will go back out."

Pinellas County Animal Services is fortunate enough not to have overcrowding problems, but it has already enacted a similar disclosure policy.

"If the animal is coming in and it's very aggressive, then, we know it's not adoptable because of aggressive reasons," said Animal Services Director Doug Brightwell. "Or, if there are significant health issues that are not able to be resolved, then, we have that honest conversation with them upfront that due to this medical issue or this severe aggressive behavior, your pet can not be adopted and we would have to euthanize that pet. We are doing it already because it's the right thing to do."

Knowledge is power, and Theis hopes some extra knowledge will breed more responsible pet owners.

"Let's see what the community thinks and let's take the burden off these facilities. It's not their fault," Theis said.

Theis wants to get his petition up to 100,000 signatures so he can take it to Governor Rick Scott and hopefully spark some new legislation. He doesn't want to stop with Florida. Eric hopes to go state-by-state with this awareness campaign.

To view the petition, visit: