Yesterday a story circulated via Channel 3000 on the internet. It solicited quite a few comments, then was deleted and reposted again later. I'm not sure what changes they made to the story for the "updated" version but I had concerns with both versions.
The story singled out one shelter director, from one Wisconsin shelter who was forecasting doom and gloom for animal shelters. There wasn't any mention of the dozens and dozens of shelters that are saving upwards of 90% of the animals in their care around the nation. There wasn't any mention of life-saving methods that are working elsewhere.
I just got back from the No More Homeless Pets Conference in Las Vegas. As always, it was educational and inspiring. I loved the printed conference schedule that featured seven case studies from open-admission communities that are already at or are close to achieving No Kill status.
So to all the naysayers out there - here's a quick wrap up. I have addressed each of your reasons why No Kill won't work where you are.
No Kill can't happen in a large metropolitan city: Austin, Texas (population 790, 390) 2011 live release to date: 91% for cats, 90% for dogs.
No Kill can't happen in a poor, rural county: Brown County, Indiana with a median household income of only $47,763; 2011 live release to date: 95.6%.
No Kill can't be maintained long term: Albermarle County, Virginia 2010 live release rate: 92% for cats, 92% for dogs. This community has maintained it's No Kill status for the past five years.
No Kill can't be achieved in a cold climate: Calgary, Alberta, Canada has a population of 1,070,295 and covers a vast amount of land. 2010 live release rate 82% for cats, 95.5% for dogs.
No Kill can't happen in a bad economy because people are giving up their pets: Washoe County, Nevada has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. 2011 live release rate to date 92%.
No Kill can't happen because animal issues need liberal political support: Salt Lake County, Utah (a mostly conservative state); has started to implement No Kill programs and is achieving great success. 2011 live release rate: 77% for cats, 89% for dogs. This is up from 83% for dogs and 37% for cats since 2008.
No Kill can't be maintained for an entire state: New Hampshire killed 1.9 pets per 1000 people in 2009, down from 10 pets per 1000 pre-1993.
Still not convinced? Here is a website chock full of even more examples and information on No Kill communities.
So, in conclusion, maybe the Chicken Little naysayers are wrong. Maybe the sky isn't falling. Maybe the lame excuses they churn out day after day: the irresponsible public, the economy, demographics, location, geography, weather, education, politics and/or the "mentality of the folks around here" just doesn't cut it any more. Maybe they're just that - lame excuses. It's time to give them up and get on with saving lives.
Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others who are doing it. - James Baldwin