San Jose Councilman Proposes No-Kill Animal Shelter

San Jose Councilman Ash Kalra wants to turn the San Jose Animal Care Center into a no-kill shelter. The District 2 councilman unveiled the plan at a press conference earlier this week accompanied by a 5-month-old paraplegic pit bull named Peekaboo—one of many special needs animals in the shelter.

The plan comes as a budget proposal, which asks the city to put up enough cash to curb its kill rate by offering more free-to-low-cost spaying and neutering.

Kalra said he got the idea from the city of Los Angeles, which has several no-kill shelters in the area. San Jose’s live release rate, which refers to the percentage of animals that get adopted every year, has reached 87 percent this past year. That’s a historic high and well over the national average of 46 percent.

If the shelter reaches a live release rate of 90 percent, it would technically qualify as a no-kill facility, something Kalra hopes to achieve with more funding.

"I want to commend our hard-working city staff at the San Jose Animal Care Center for achieving an extraordinary high live release rate of 87 percent over the past year,” Kalra said.

He said he’s confident that, given the right tools and resources, the shelter can save more lives. “I really hope that by putting more resources into spaying and neutering, people take it more seriously,” Kalra said.

As part of the proposal, he wants to create a mobile spay and neuter clinic. That way the shelter can go out into the community and be more available to the public, he said.

“One of the most significant contributors to our high save rate has been preventing animals from being born through low cost and free spay-neuter services,” Assistant Director of Public Works Jon Cicirelli said. “We have learned that this is one of the best ways to invest in our community and achieve our goal of reducing the number of stray animals.”

Though he doesn’t have any pets of his own, Kalra said his district office is full of animal lovers. Several of his staffers have adopted dogs and cats from the local pound. He encourages people who want a pet to visit the local shelter first before going to a pet store.

For more information about the San Jose Animal Care Center, check out their website.

24 Comments

  1. Councilmember Kalra’s political death-bed conversion to protect animals should be vetted for sincerity with reference to his many years in office without doing much, if anything, for the well-being of God’s little creatures.

    Most people do not realize that Councilmember Kalra is a good and decent person. True, some of his political decisions are as out-to-lunch as most of his Council colleagues but, this is no surprise.

    My only criticism of this photo-opportunity is that Councilmember Kalra should be lifting the tail and kissing the rear-end of this adorable little pit-dog. Such a photo would be more reflective of his political career to date-promising the world to the Voters via kissing our rumps.

    David S. Wall

    • Thank you David for saying “most people do not realize that Councilmember Kalra is a good and decent person.” I can attest to this as well. He is more than decent, he’s not afraid to speak the truth in front of Mayor Liccardo and Carl Guardino! That takes courage too. Correct me if I’m wrong David (I know you know…you are my default researcher), Kalra has spoken up many times against some of the Liccardo inspired garbage.

      I am grateful to Kalra for speaking truth to some of the major concerns that I have around the potential loss of my home due to our cities current path of land use decisions affecting senior citizens and vulnerable people that currently live around transit lines. He has made it clear that if we as a city decide to kick out seniors and families out of their current homes in order to build high density one and two bedroom units for the wealthy only, then we need to say it out loud instead of hiding behind some “regional” greenhouse gas emissions policy that demands it of us.

      He believes there can be development without mass displacement if we think long and hard about what we are losing and what we are gaining. In other words, Liccardo = corporations running the show, and Kalra = thinking and speaking for real people that already live here!

      If Kalra has to kiss a dog to get some voters to pay attention, it speaks to the electorate as well as to Kalra in my opinion. People care more about dogs than people now. In any case, yes, Kalra is a good man.

    • David S. Wall- I find your commentary about Council Member Kalra both uncalled for, and ignorant. I have worked with Council Member Kalra for almost 8 years now. He has done a lot for our community, victims of violent crime, and families of homicide. He works with Veteran’s groups, youth, law enforcement, business, renters, homeowners, Fire Fighters, the list is endless.

      I know he cares about animals because I have worked with him on that issue too. If his advocacy for spay/neuter can save the thousands of animals that die in our shelters and in the streets MONTHLY, then I say GOOD for him because killing healthy adoptable animals, and housing them in shelters are costing not only animals their lives, but Joe Q. public millions a year~.

    • David, how can you talk like that? What do you do for the community that allows for such sarcastic, back-handed comments? In what way are you helping San Jose?

      Ash does not simply promise the world to whomever he meets. This guy is out there supporting the successes in our community and guiding our leaders in ways that reflect a shifting, growing city. San Jose is a city that is growing more and more into the public eye around the world and there is so much progress to be made.

      I’d like to hear more about his “out-to-lunch” ideas. He wants San Jose to lead in solar energy, give tools to its small businesses and startups, restore a wounded police force, and be progressively minded on issues regarding health and yes, no-kill shelters.

      I find your comments highly shortsighted and disregarding of the hard work of an INDIVIDUAL who is helping his community.

      • Are you a “Council Assistant” on the staff of his Honor, Councilmember Kalra? If so, you should disclose this fact to the reading public.

        David S. Wall

        • Yes, David. I use my real name when I comment and you can find that information on the web as I am sure you did. I am still waiting to hear what influences you to write such things.

    • There’s no such thing as 100% no-kill for a shelter: animals who come in too sick or injured to survive should be euthanized humanely, and those cases are part of the statistical model. 90% is an achievable goal, and getting there through expanding low-cost spay/neuter programs is a smart strategy.

      Thanks to Councilmember Kalra for his leadership on this issue.

    • This is clearly a comment by someone who is not familiar with how a shelter operates. There is no way to be 100% no-kill as — in addition to healthy, adoptable animals, this shelter takes in animals that should be humanely euthanized due to medical or behavioral reasons that are beyond anyone’s ability to cure. They are not picking and choosing the animals that come in like other shelters. The animals most likely to be euthanized are bottle-baby kittens and adult cats. I foster dogs for a local rescue. If you’d like to be part of the solution, please let us know.

  2. Cats are a non-native species and unadoptable feral cats are a major environmental problem. Kitten dumping in the Guadalupe river area has contributed to adverse impacts on native birds and animals. The Audubon Society and others are staunchly opposed to No Kill policies.

    I’m in favor of a No Kill policy funded by voluntary payments and a bounty for those apprehended feeding cats on public property. The shelter could run ad campaigns like: “Unless we receive $5,000 by the end of our pledge period, 500 kittens will die”. If sufficiently sober, Sally Struthers could reprise her role in Christian Children’s Fund and International Correspondence Schools promotions.

    Enterprising taxidermists and select restaurants might help defray the cost too. I recall kitty coasters and insulated beverage holders for sale by one craftsman. Somewhat rare – Etsy refuses to advertise them. Grinding up carcasses for organic fertilizer (Cat’s Meow brand?) is another.

      • Why further burden the public to support a harmful and invasive species? Or maintain procedures that encourage scofflaws and drive up costs for responsible pet owners?

        Area vets no longer issue tags identifying animals as vaccinated, neutered, or licensed. There is virtually no enforcement or easy means (like colored tags) to detect unregistered animals. Animal Care burdens seniors to visit Animal Care to obtain a fee waiver instead of by online or by mail.

        The Humaine Society’s former Santa Clara facility operated a small retail store to help fund their operation. Pet food and supplies were priced below other retailers. Now that San Jose has gotten into the pet care and adoption business, the public burden has gone from zero to millions per year.

        On the plus side, credit cards are accepted, the operation is clean, animals appear well cared for, and some cost is offset by caring and dedicated volunteers.

        • TAXPAYER: Your comments sound familiar, ” “‘If they would rather die, . . . they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'” From the movie Scrooge.

  3. SJACC is a remarkable facility staffed by caring people who love animals. I’d love to see them get more support so they can continue helping our city’s animals. The mobile spay/neuter clinic would be a great help in controlling the feral cat population. I have fostered kittens from SJACC since last year and can attest to how busy and overwhelmed they get during kitten season. They definitely could use the extra budget.

  4. That is wonderful news, because it really sucks for all those poor animals whose owners can’t afford their rent anymore here in San Jose or to try and find any decent housing that will rent to someone with a pet.

  5. The San Jose shelter has high-intake, low-adoption rate (most animals leave the shelter via a rescue organization) – located in Silicon Valley’s most densely populated, low-income, and underserved neighborhood. The goal should not to be “no-kill,” but to change both the lives of animals and the people who care for them. Services provided to the community: free or reduced price spay/neuter, funded vaccinations, paid for medical care ranging from treatment of mange to orthopedic surgery for broken bones, covered costs for humane euthanasia for pets who are terminally ill and suffering, home improvements (putting up secure fences, installing dog runs), and rehoming. The average cost to keep an animal out of the shelter is only $50. Tax dollars we now spend on housing, feeding, and euthanizing shelter populations could instead go to providing low-income communities with the resources they need to care for their animals at home. If we are serious about improving conditions for pets, we must help people, and if we mean to make lasting improvements in animal sheltering, we must factor poor people’s pets into the equation. The enormous # of pets still coming into the shelter system, many of which will die there, is not a pet problem — it’s not a people problem — it’s a poverty problem.

    • Thank you, Deb, for saying something that we seldom hear. Taking care of animals costs money. I can attest to people spending thousands of dollars every year to take care of dogs from “cradle to grave”. Since most can’t afford this, society should help the owners of animals who are keeping animals off the streets. (Of course, animals are more popular than humans right now, so it is easier to talk about helping animals than helping the poor humans). I wish we did live in an Utopian world.

    • Deb — even in a letter to the editor, it is NOT OKAY to simply take sentences from someone else’s work and pass them off as your own. The end of your letter, beginning with “If we are serious about improving” is taken, verbatim, from the book First Home, Forever Home by Lori Weise. If you are going to quote her, you should give her credit.

  6. Tons of credit needs to go to the rescue groups who are pulling at risk animals from the San Jose shelter, and the fabulous San Jose Animal Advocates (SJAnimalAdvocates.org and on Facebook), a volunteer group instrumental in the process. So many more animals could be saved if people only adopted OR fostered (temporarily housing animals for rescue groups until a forever home can be found) OR volunteered OR networked/shared on social media animals at risk (again see SJAnimalAdvocates.org) OR donated…or any combination of these!

  7. All shelters have to put animals down due to illness, aggression, and the lack of homes whether they want to or not.

    Spay/neuter IS the answer to animal overpopulation. A mobile spay/neuter clinic will save thousands of animal’s lives by preventing procreation.

    And BTW- The staff at this shelter, and the Animal Control Officers are wonderful people. They have come up with many ways to reduce the kill rate at the shelter and to place unwanted animals in forever homes. BRAVO to them!

    Now if we could only get more landlords to accept pets without huge deposits, pet rents, or kicking renters with pets out of their homes, less animals would have to die. Team Work People!

  8. If harsh reality compels us to expect no better than a 90% live release rate from our animal shelters then why resist the same when it comes to our jails and prisons, which deal with a much higher rate of the mentally and behaviorally incurable?

  9. I live in Toronto, Canada. I have two dogs from high kill shelters in California. This looks like a giant leap in the right direction. Healthy animals should never be put-down.