Why are animals killed at night, if not to conceal the numbers being killed?
LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK CITY–Why do animal control shelters claim they lack space to hold dogs and cats longer before killing them, yet have empty kennels and cages when rescuers visit?
Why are animals killed at night, if not to conceal the numbers being killed?
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control and the New York City Center for Animal Care & Control are each killing fewer dogs and cats per 1,000 human residents than ever before in their histories–under 5.0 in Los Angeles, under 1.0 in New York, on average over the three years 2013-2015. Each city is well below the current national average of 8.6.
Yet both agencies, and many others, are perpetually under exponentially more activist scrutiny now than 40 years ago, when U.S. shelters killed six times more animals–and even as they rehome more animals through partnerships with rescuers than ever before.
Forty-odd years ago, many shelters concealed their statistics, from fear of adverse public response. Indeed, most animal advocates, and certainly most of the public, 40-odd years ago had little or no idea what shelters did, or why, or how.
Shelter statistics are now rarely a secret: most shelters publish their data on their web sites. And more rescuers and volunteers visit shelters or work in shelters now than ever before.
But many advocates and volunteers still have very little idea why shelters do things the way they do. Many jump to wildly erroneous conclusions whetted by Facebook scuttlebutt, instead of simply asking shelter personnel for procedural explanations.
Then, all too often, advocates and rescuers publicize allegations which cause shelter staff to become defensive, building mistrust which leads to information actually being withheld, shelter personnel dismissing volunteers and rescuers, and misunderstandings becoming public meltdowns, leading to more animals rather than fewer losing their lives.
This was brought into focus for me by rescuer complaints reaching me from Los Angeles and New York in February 2008, only days apart. The complainants detailed issues which may have included instances of animal control personnel failing to observe good shelter practice. The complaints focused, however, like many others received from other cities in recent years, on finding empty cages and kennels on morning visits, after animals were killed the night before.
The common element may be simply that agencies have insufficiently explained to rescuers how shelter space is allocated.
An animal control shelter, by definition of the job it exists to do, must maintain open kennels at all times for immediate impoundment of dogs arriving due to emergency, including situations in which multiple dogs arrive at once. Examples include cases in which a person or animal has been attacked by a pack; a suspected rabies case that may have exposed other animals to infection; the discovery of starving animals in a home where someone living alone has died; traffic accidents involving people traveling with multiple pets; and unexpectedly finding aggressive dogs at the scene of an arrest.
The trick, for animal control shelter management, is to have adequate capacity to handle whatever crisis comes. This is often complicated because many animal control shelters are too small for their communities––even with more nonprofit humane societies, no-kill sanctuaries, and shelterless rescues helping to house impounded animals than ever before. The total capacity of every dog and cat shelter and rescue in the U.S. today is under 500,000. Total shelter arrivals run close to eight million, 16 times the available cage and run space.
Older shelters not built for cats
Even if an animal control shelter today serves exactly the same human population that it did 30, 40, or 50 years ago, which is rare, shelters of that vintage and older were often built for agencies that did not yet handle cats. Impounded cats today, like dogs, usually must be held somehow for several days to allow for possible reclaim by their people, if any, before they can be rehomed, transferred to adoption shelters, or released into neuter/return programs.
Shelters built before 1966 predate the five-day holding period recommended by federal Animal Welfare Act. Though not binding on shelters that do not sell animals to laboratories, the five-day hold has been the U.S. norm since 1966.
Shelters built as recently as the 1990s were often built without isolation and quarantine areas, because prevailing belief–now known to be incorrect–was that most animals would be killed before they could infect others with any diseases they carried.
Calculating space allocation
Even shelters built since the advent of no-kill advocacy are often just half the size that would today be considered ideal, now that animals who are believed to have good adoption prospects are typically kept for 10 days to two weeks, or even longer.
If an animal control shelter serves a city of one million people, who keep 200,000 dogs, with an impoundment rate of about one dog in 20 per year, all close to the current U.S. norms, the shelter would take in about 10,000 dogs each year, or 27.4 per day, normally fluctuating from about nine on a slow day up to as many as 80 on days when multiple or really big emergencies occur.
Having emergency capacity at all times equal to the slow day intake is usually considered minimal. At the start of each day it is also necessary to have space available equal to the anticipated normal intake.
Animal control directors usually estimate “normal” traffic from a crude average of comparable dates. “Normal” traffic in summer is often twice the average volume in mid-winter. Usually more dogs arrive early in the week, because more dogs are lost or dumped on weekends. “Normal” for a shelter with average daily dog intake of 27.4 might be 40 on Monday, but only 20 on Thursday.
Cat intake tends to be heaviest on weekends, when more people surrender cats to shelters or deliver trapped feral cats.
Shelter space is usually allocated based on “cage days.” A “cage day” is a day on which a cage or kennel is occupied. If a shelter impounds 10,000 dogs per year, who are held an average of five days before disposition, the agency needs kennel space enough to provide 50,000 cage days. This would require about 150 kennels, including minimal excess capacity for emergencies.
The same ratios would apply to average annual impoundment of 10,000 cats.
Opening enough space each night to house the anticipated intake the next day is standard procedure for two reasons. One is that if a shelter is obliged to kill animals, the job tends to be less stressful for both the animals and the staff if done during the quiet hours. The other is that killing animals at the same time as processing new arrivals is practically a prescription for confusion, escalating the chance that cage cards will be mxed up and the wrong animals will be killed by mistake.
Shelter staff typically hope to partner with angelic rescuers who each evening will take out whatever the necessary number of dogs and cats for fostering and adoption, so that no animals need be killed.
Reality is that animal control agencies today kill an average of about 26 dogs and 30 cats per day per million human residents of their service areas–and this is the lowest rate of killing recorded since the first shelter data was collected in 1950.
About 60% of the dogs killed will be pit bulls and close mixes who have bitten someone or have flunked temperament screening. Nearly 40% of the dogs arriving at animal control shelters in the second decade of the 21st century have been pit bulls and their close mixes.
Triage procedures have changed immensely since the beginning of no-kill advocacy circa 1995, when most shelters did little more than checking the dates on cage cards. Suspected dangerous dogs back then were killed on receipt, unless quarantined for observation of possible rabies symptoms after biting someone. Shelters usually did triage just once per day.
Now most shelters do formal temperament assessment of dogs, usually a day after the dogs arrive, to give them “settling down” time, and in effect have multiple triages. First comes the preliminary temperament screening. Then, after the requisite holding time expires, rescuers take the dogs and cats they want. After that, the shelter staff may do further triage as anticipated space need indicates.
Preparing for weekends is especially difficult. Shelters often try to have the largest possible abundance of adoptable animals on hand to adopt out over the weekend. But weekends also bring heavy drop-off traffic, and then comes the Monday influx of animals found at large. Therefore, to go into a weekend with full kennels and cages is to gamble that adoptions will be high.
Dog breed balance
In 1993, when I first surveyed the U.S. shelter dog population, about 25% were purebreds. The balance were mixed breeds, with large dark dogs predominant. If an animal control agency offered 140 dogs for adoption on a Saturday morning, among them would have been 35 purebreds and 105 mixed breeds. In a city of one million people, these 140 dogs would have been approximately equal to three days’ intake.
The typical breakdown today still includes 25% purebreds or deliberately bred “designer” mixes, plus 60% pit bulls. Large dark dogs are still predominant among the mixed breed remainder.
Of 140 dogs on hand on a Friday night, 35 are purebreds or “designer” mixes, 95 are pit bulls, and 10 are mixed breeds, equal to about five or six days’ intake at the present intake rate.
If the most dangerous two dozen pit bulls are culled before the shelter opens to the public, only 116 dogs may be offered for adoption–but because shelters are receiving just a fraction as many animals, and are rehoming far more, with much rescuer help, the total number of dogs killed is much less than back when all of the cages were always full.
Vicky Crosetti says
Great article< Merritt. At some point, I hope you will do a similar article explaining why when a rescue commits to picking up an animal on a specific day and then calls to say it "will just be 1-2-3" more days, it can create a situation where some other animal dies for lack of space. Then they go online with "The shelter would not wait JUST ONE MORE DAY."
Priscilla Feral says
Agreed. When no-kill proponents wrap their heads around these stats, we’ll stop hearing that spay-neuter hardly matters, or the public’s equipped to adopt all animals unfortunate enough to have ended up homeless in a pound or shelter. Animal shelters are not breeding the animals they house; dogs and cats are abandoned by owners when inconvenient.
Leora Briggs Hansa says
This is nothing more than 40 year old thinking being justified. Shelters that kill to make space are lazy, uninformed outdated and hopefully on their way to extinction. Animal activists do not misunderstand the way these shelters function. We understand completely, hence the outrage. I believe that it’s probable that these antiquated shelters believe they are doing the best job they can. But those who know better, do better and I can only hope that this tragic trend of convenience killing in shelters is well on it’s way out.
Merritt Clifton says
Reality, as pointed out in “Why do shelters with empty cages kill animals at night?”, is that total U.S. sheltering, fostering, and shelterless rescue capacity, including all the capacity of no-kill organizations, is sufficient to house about 500,000 dogs and cats at a time. Shelter intakes run close to 8 million per year. Shelter admissions must be reduced to the volume that can be accommodated by adoption demand before shelters and rescuers have a prayer of adopting their way out of the problem. Most of the U.S. right now is in the range of 15 to 18 shelter admissions per 1,000 humans, with about 9.5 animals killed per 1,000, and adoption demand of barely half that number. Total adoptions have been flatlined in the U.S. for more than 30 years, despite enormous & ever-increasing investment in adoption promotion. Demographics suggest that the U.S. rate of pet keeping peaked about 10 years ago, & will be declining as the human population ages. Details: Why we cannot adopt our way out of shelter killing. Meanwhile, trying to get to no-kill animal control prematurely, before the incoming numbers have been sufficiently reduced, has had the hideously cruel effect of exponentially increasing mass neglect in the name of “rescue.” See Casualties of the “save rate”: 40,000 animals at failed no-kill shelters & rescues.
Jackie Phillips says
Great article! Agreed completely! All types of shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with the intake of animals. Those numbers don’t equal what is being adopted or reclaimed or rescued. Too many owner surrenders and under age kittens and puppies and pregnant females and strays. Other programs do help on the outside, but the intake numbers are far beyond the capacity of the majority of shelters.
Anne Streeter says
One thing that has changed over the past 50 years is that the animal “industry” has grown in leaps and bounds – breeding, vet services, equipment, food, pet shops etc. This is big business. No more Mom & Pop pet shops, no more vets offering simple inexpensive services. Animals are not always considered members of the family for life. Pounds and shelters are treated as disposable dumps. New shelters open & are filled immediately. Animals in, animals out. Until the pet overpopulation is dealt with seriously (starting with breed regulations) the sheer numbers allow for de-evaluation of individual animal lives. The situation reminds me of an overflowing sink. Instead of turning off the taps we continue to dumbly mop up the floor!
Jamaka Petzak says
Thanking you for this and sharing it on my s/n sites. As someone who advocates for incarcerated cats via sharing online, I am continually confronted and confounded by anger and what I can only call irrationality on the part of fellow advocates, whose hearts are definitely in the right place, but who are defeating our goals by engaging in endless polemic with those whom they should consider fellow workers in our cause. It is the uncaring, ignorant, callous, careless members of the PUBLIC who are at fault, not the ACC and shelter workers who do their dirty work and in essence keep the unbearable hidden from their eyes. People would do well to read Jackson Galaxy’s book, CAT DADDY, that being the memoirs of one who has been there and who cares very deeply about those whose lives he was forced to end due to public irresponsibility.
Susan Houser says
Your article presupposes that the only way to make more cage space is to kill animals. You set out a situation where night comes and the shelter has to have cages open for the next day’s intake, so gee whiz, what is there to do other than kill some to make space. The answer is that you have to set up a system where the shelter director actually thinks ahead (I know, what a concept) and puts in programs to get animals out alive. It’s been done in Richmond, Kansas City, Austin, Denver, Portland, and on and on. The proof is out there and growing every day that killing for cage space means something is wrong with shelter management. Yes, it’s hard to raise the live release rate. It’s a lot of work and that’s why so many shelter directors prefer the old way of just killing animals instead of creating community engagement that gets them out alive.
Merritt Clifton says
The “system” that Susan Houser is talking about, whether she recognizes it or not, is low-cost, high-volume dog & cat sterilization programs in the community sufficient to reduce shelter intakes to less than the combined adoption, fostering, and housing capacity of the community sheltering system. This, for most communities, is around 5.0 dogs & cats received per 1,000 human residents, but may be much lower where shelters are older and lack isolation and quarantine facilities to safely house sickly animals. Each of the communities that Houser mentioned has had high-volume, low-cost dog & cat sterilization for decades. Denver, home of Jeff Young’s globally renowned Planned Pethood Plus clinic, also has prohibited pit bulls for all but about 15 months of the time since 1989. This has resulted in Denver having had fewer shelter admissions and euthanasias of pit bulls than any other U.S. city, along with fewer fatal and disfiguring dog attacks. Kansas City has gone the opposite way since repealing pit bull regulation. A city with the rapid rise in dog attacks and dogfighting, along with gross shelter overcrowding, that Kansas City has experienced is not an animal care-and-control success story. Austin is comparably experiencing a rapid raise in dog attacks and shelter overcrowding; that is not really a success story, either. Also, shelters are not succeeding in anything if they lower cat intakes and killing by simply refusing to accept cats, and then nuisance wildlife trappers kill the cats, without any supervision or accountability. Most of the so-called progress that shelters have made in reducing cat intakes over the past five years has been offset by rapid expansion of the nuisance wildlife control industry, which now appears to be killing as many as a million cats per year who formerly would have been coming to animal control shelters. These are not lives saved or deaths prevented; these are just cats killed by people who don’t have to answer for it to the public or public officials.
Susan Houser says
All right, if you’re not happy about the cities I named, how about Jacksonville, Seattle, Fairfax County VA (a suburb of DC with over 1 million population), Williamson County (Texas), Reno, and the entire state of New Hampshire. Are you going to find some way to dismiss all of them too? And in the 80%+ club we have Washington DC, San Francisco, NYC, and the entire state of Colorado. As for spaying and neutering, about 85 to 90% of owned cats and dogs are already spayed and neutered. The public has gotten the spay-neuter message. There is still important work that needs to be done on spay-neuter, mostly in the southeast and some inner cities, but we’re actually doing very well on spay-neuter. As for your claim that shelters have to kill cats because otherwise private trappers will, that’s really beside the point, because there’s a third way, which is TNR. Take a look at Jacksonville.
Merritt Clifton says
Jacksonville has since 2002 had SpayJax, one of the largest low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter programs in the U.S., founded & directed by Rick DuCharme. Seattle has been served by many high-volume s/n programs over the past 30 years, perhaps most notably the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, begun in 1997 by Christine Willard, DVM. Located in Lynnwood, just north of the Seattle city limits, this was perhaps the first fulltime feral cat s/n clinic in the world, and expects to reach 100,000 cats sterilized in early 2016. Also of note, serving Seattle and suburbs, is the Peninsula Spay-Neuter Project, founded in 2001, focusing on pit bulls. Williamson County is part of the Austin statistical area; Austin outreach s/n programs go back into the 1980s, as do those serving Reno. Major s/n programs serving Fairfax County, Washington D.C., and San Francisco began even earlier, in the mid-1970s, with significant expansions several times since. The current New Hampshire statewide subsidized s/n program, initiated by Peter Marsh, began in 1992. Indeed, the s/n rate nationally among pet cats and dogs is now upward of 90% for cats and approaching 80% for dogs, but it appears to be less than 25% among feral cats (probably about 15%) and barely 20% among pit bulls, who account for the majority of shelter cat and dog admissions. In any event, neuter/return in no way prevents people who don’t want feral cats on their private property, including in gated communities, from calling nuisance wildlife trappers to kill the cats. Florida probably has more of this going on than any other state, including in the Jacksonville area. While in Florida for the 2014 Humane Society of the U.S. Expo and to do shelter visits, and again twice in 2015, I observed approximately the same number of nuisance wildlife control trappers’ trucks on the road in Tampa, Orlando, and Daytona as vehicles from humane societies and animal control agencies, with silhouettes of cats among those of other animals on the sides of the nuisance wildlife control vehicles. This is especially remarkable considering that my routes included the very roads most traveled by humane society and animal control vehicles. I was later informed that nuisance wildlife trappers have annihilated most of the feral cat colonies that formerly existed in the Orlando theme park districts.
Jenny Ro says
hotdamn Merritt! (pardon my language) You are a human goldmine of information on animal issues. It never ceases to amaze me how you cover so many different animals with all their individual nuances, complexities, and issues. People come at you with emotion, anger, noise, confusion, blind assertion, ad hominem…. and you always come back, level headed, with facts. information. reason. I admire your stability of temperament and level-headedness. Thank you for all you do.
So instead of killing animals for space, no kills answer is for every man women and child to own, 50 cats and dogs each.
But the simple answer is STOP breeding the damn things.
Look, the fact of the matter is that there are too many strays and unwanted animals. Many of them are dangerous dog breeds or have been given up because they “don’t get along with other animals”. Who is going to take these dogs in and have the time and patience needed? Or, worse, left alone and caged all day with no training, magnifying the problems. The only sensible solution is humane euthanization. Yes this is very sad but the reality. And, no, I do not hate dogs. We have a shelter rescue dog.
Debra Young says
Excellent article Mr. Clifton. We need many more like it. Although long retired I’ve worked at 4 different shelters in many different capacities and the information you’ve provided is “right on” with what I experienced. Another thing I’d like to ;point out is that different communities place different values on animals and this can make a huge difference in how shelters have to work. I went from Marin County Humane Society to working at Michigan H.S. in Pontiac and boy was I in for a shock. After working there for 3 years, I had to take a break from shelter work. Again, thank you and will send a donation soon.
Branwyn Finch says
There is no such thing as “No Kill” shelters…only limited admission shelters, and hoarding situations. Resources are finite, and “no kill” facilities simply turn away many animals, most of whom will end up abandoned or in an open admission shelter. No shelter can take in every homeless animal that comes through it’s doors regardless of health or temperament, and commit to keeping it for it’s natural life until (and unless) it finds a home. That would require unlimited money, staffing, and facilities.
What the “No Kill” movement has done is to create an ever growing public safety hazard by promoting the adoption of dangerous and aggressive dogs. Here in Massachusetts, we have no dog overpopulation problem…. in fact, we have a shortage of adoptable dogs, especially puppies, and most shelters are importing dogs from high kill shelters down south. Since spay and neuter education and leash laws worked on every subset of dog owners except for the largely criminal element that breeds pit bulls, we still have plenty of pit bulls flooding our shelters. That doesn’t stop the no kill shelters from importing even more from the south, labeling them “lab mixes” or “hound mixes”.
The no kill movement has attracted many advocates who are misanthropes, and many who are attracted to violent dogs which they feel can be “rehabilitated”. . Since pit bulls constitute the majority of dogs entering shelter systems across the country, and are also the most common type of dog involved in serious attacks on both people and pets, the logical solution would be to pass mandatory spay and neuter laws for pit bulls, and reduce their numbers to a point where their shelter intakes were more in line with the number of homes available for them. If intake of pit bulls alone were reduced across the country to about 10 % of all dogs coming in, you would double the available resources for homeless dogs in need of adoption. You could reduce the number of pit bulls euthanized, and use the huge amount of savings to make sure that no healthy and behaviorally adoptable dog is euthanized for lack of space.
Instead, no kill advocacy supports the adoption of aggressive and dangerous dogs into our communities, and operates much like the Catholic Church did, when shuttling around pedophile priests . Aggressive dog at a no kill shelter just seem to “disappear”. They resist temperament testing and evaluating dogs honestly, and place little value on human life. They also seem to show no sympathy for the many animal victims of dangerous dogs, and resist common sense solutions like BSL in the form of s/n laws. They then vilify the open admission shelter staff, who are left to do the heavy lifting of the communities humane work.
Doug Arch says
I enjoyed reading your answers to comments. We have no-kill shelters around here so what I have seen is that other equally deserving animals of care are turned away.
My hope is to see no animals suffer & therefore, would rather see more animals killed painlessly under controlled situations than see them run over by cars, abandoned in the woods, killed by trappers, etc.
Again, since in my experience, ‘no-kill’ simply means limited care, I would rather see an animal brought in & put to sleep than to suffer possible abuse, or be abandoned.
If there are only so many that can be cared for, I do not believe it is unloving to euthanize an animal under controlled conditions, painlessly. I do believe it is unloving to turn it away.
– Doug Arch
Tony Porcaro says
Lots of interesting dialogue from a variety of perspectives; quite simply, and I’m sure many would agree and excuse my bias for being a TNR advocate, shelters don’t have to kill animals they don’t acquire in the first place. In the case of stray and feral cats TNR advocates hardly get the recognition they deserve in their efforts to address the overpopulation crisis. While there continue to be no ideal solutions, but significant progress nonetheless, we must realize that many so-called stakeholders claiming to be on the side of the animals for many decades, have contributed very little and only added to the problems outlined here. I am referring not only to regressive shelters and municipalities, but to the veterinary community itself which, for the most part, has been absent in showing any leadership and too often quick to blame an “irresponsible public,” while denying a large segment of that very same public access to affordable fees for even the most basic services.
Jackie Phillips says
“shelters don’t have to kill animals they don’t acquire in the first place” What? So the shelter is at fault for accepting animals? People, that is their job as an open admission shelter: to take in all animals, no matter what. That is was taxes pay for: them doing their job and following the laws of their jurisdiction. Where is the real question?
Anyone griping about animal overpopulation should put the blame squarely where it belongs-irresponsible people who don’t spay and neuter, who want to make a quick few bucks with a littler, who let their animals run loose, and who treat animals as disposable. Spay and neuter for all PET animals should have been the law decades ago. The cost of spay/neuter is very small compared to the cost of keeping the animal over its lifetime. If you can’t afford spay/neuter, you can’t afford the animal.
Merritt Clifton says
No U.S. civilian jurisdiction can make spay/neuter completely mandatory without running afoul of the Ninth Amendment. The courts have recognized many times that the right to breed animals was a “right of the people” when the Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1789, so there always has to be some provision made for regulated breeding. That means that “differential licensing,” or charging higher fees for intact animals, is the closest an ordinance can get to “mandating” spay/neuter for all dogs and cats.
Mandating breed-specific spay/neuter of pit bulls does, however, have a strong constitutional precedent, in that long before 1789 in many jurisdictions adult male bovines kept within city limits had to be castrated, rendering bulls into steers.
Also of note, the enforcement mechanism for differential licensing is enforcing the licensing law. But no city in the U.S. has ever verifiably achieved licensing compliance of more than 40%, despite nearly two centuries of enforcement efforts in cities with licensing requirements. Average hovers around 20%. Meanwhile, more than 70% of the dogs and 80% of the cats in the U.S. are already fixed.
Accordingly, in order to use a licensing ordinance to boost the sterilization rate, it is necessary to double, triple, or even quadruple the rate of pet licensing — and that is practically impossible.
Jackie Phillips says
You are talking about at least half, if not much more, of the population of the US. Do you really think that is a controllable and enforceable amount? Plus, what you are referring to is laws and regulations, and those must first be proposed and then passed and then enforced, and with what money? Animal control agencies are by far the least funded government agencies in the system. They are last to be funded and first to be cut.
Plus, no one is going to go ahead with all pets being spayed/neutered. That would wipe out the dog in a short time and no one wants that. Look at the results of China’s one child policy and all the issues with that and why they recently changed that law.
Up front, my proposal has always been regulations on people who breed their dogs with permits and fees and enforceable laws and then easy access to spay/neuter for people who want and need it and education for people who don’t understand. Remember this is a multi-cultural country with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. But, I do believe that is someone breeds their dogs, whether intentionally or not, they should have a permit system and laws to follow.
Jean Gilchrist says
I think you visited us in Kenya many years ago. We run a minimum kill shelter in a developing country and we do manage. I agree that no kill is unrealistic and is not kind to dogs and cats that will never get a home because of temperament, age or ill health. However having worked with animals for many years, I respect the fact that they value their lives as we value ours. So we do not kill healthy dogs and cats with a good temperament. We do manage to rehome them over time. We feel there is a moral and ethical problem with disposing of animals rather as if they are garbage. Of course we do not so far have the pressures that you seem to have in America. Sadly until there is more control over breeding you are going to have these problems, and of course “human rights” get in the way. Somebody remarked that legislation changes human behaviour and maybe it is time to tighten up on breeding and puppy farms.? Is a Constitution have to be set in stone? After all, it was drawn up by humans and they are not infallible.
Merritt Clifton says
I have visited the Kenya SPCA twice, in 2000 and 2010. Concerning legislation, the U.S. Constitution was last successfully amended in 1992, but that amendment, concerning Congressional salaries, had been awaiting ratification since 1798. The last amendments passed before that were in 1971, 1967, and 1964.