As of this month, the City of St. Louis is out of the dog-and-cat-storage business. The outdated shelter on Gasconade is no longer accepting drop offs. Animal welfare organizations throughout the region, anchored by Randy Grim's great Stray Rescue, will care for stray animals until they are adopted. City animal control officers and the police will continue to respond to calls for sick, injured, dangerous, or loose animals in City neighborhoods. This was a necessary decision: the Gasconade facility was never designed to be anything other than a kill facility and it housed animals in inhumane conditions. Its operators argued, persuasively, that the building was past the realistic possibility of rehabilitation. And a private effort to replace Gasconade foundered in the tough economy. But, this was also a good decision: quick and reliable response to citizen calls about feral dogs, aggressive spaying and neutering education, consistent support for adoptions, and a focus on animal health and welfare are higher priorities than duplicating the efforts of private groups. I congratulate Pam Walker and her staff for getting this done.