Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Jim's Story Can Teach Us About Damage Control and the No Kill Movement

UPDATE (February 21, 2015)
I have been on vacation but I wanted to make sure that I updated this story to give credit where credit was due.  As many of you know, through no fault of his own, Jim was designated a "vicious animal" by Waukesha County.  Due to much public pressure, Elmbrook Humane Society did the right thing and went to bat for Jim.  On February 2 Elmbrook announced that they had reached an agreement with Waukesha County and the vicious animal declaration has been removed. Many other shelters in Wisconsin would have killed Jim without a second thought, so Elmbrook Humane Society really needs to be commended on their actions.

 Here is the rest of the update from the EBHS Facebook page:

"We are very excited to share that we have reached an agreement with Waukesha County regarding Jim – they have removed the vicious animal declaration placed on him! Additionally, there will not be a hearing on February 16.

Jim will remain at EBHS and is currently available for adoption, but not physically on our adoption floor as we remain extra cautious for him. Our established staff and volunteer Jim team will continue to provide him the care and enrichment that has kept him mentally, emotionally, and physically well.

What does Jim’s future home entail? He needs an experienced owner, someone who has owned dogs before, able to manage a strong dog, and savvier than Jim. He needs a home without children or with children above the age of 12 due to his strength and playful nature. He needs a home that can demonstrate that they have homeowner’s insurance that will provide for him. And, finally, he needs a home that will be patient, kind, and love him for the wonderful dog he is!

If you are interested in adopting Jim or considering him for placement into your rescue organization and can ensure the criteria above is met, please contact us or stop in to complete an adoption application and meet the big guy!
Here is Jim enjoying his very own winter coat to help keep him warm when outside."

I'm writing this from the 2014 Best Friends National Conference.  I'm sitting in a coffee shop catching up on emails and watching with interest as the situation regarding Jim, a dog at Elmbrook Humane Society, unfolds back home.  Jim, a 5 month old mixed breed puppy, originally from MADACC, was pulled by Elmbrook Humane Society (EBHS) in late 2013.  Elmbrook, a medium-sized shelter that is saving over 90% of animals, has been considered the golden opportunity in the last few years as a ticket to freedom and a new life. But due to a lack of a robust foster and marketing program, Jim languished in the shelter and has been there almost a year.   Now, a series of unfortunate incidents for which Jim can not be faulted (inappropriate puppy mouthing) has put his life in jeopardy.  So Jim who is a goofy, dopey loving young dog (according to all that know and have worked with him) has a "bite" history and an uncertain future.
But this blog isn't about Jim.  If you want to see Jim's story you can go to the SAVE JIM Facebook page that was hastily put up this week in an attempt to bring exposure to his situation and possibly save his life. The page quickly gained over 400 followers.

This blog is about a new breed of volunteers and animal lovers no longer willing to sit idly by as the shelters they support regress backwards instead of moving forward.  This blog is also about damage control (a topic that I blogged about once before) and the lessons that could be learned. You need only watch what major successful brands do when they are in a pickle (which EBHS is).  EBHS needs to get quickly back on track to saving lives (something they are generally very good at).

Elmbrook gets five brownie points for acknowledging the situation in a Facebook post (pictured above) that they put up on Tuesday in response to the uproar about Jim.  But then they lose five points each for missing the boat on the following items.

1. Thank the public for their input (not admonish them for not getting the facts straight). Admit that they have failed Jim not once, not twice, not three times, but four times by their handling of his situation.

2.  Apologize for their mistakes.

3. Outline their plan for how they will rectify these mistakes.

4. Assure the public that this will never happen again. Then, thank the public for their support and encourage their continued involvement with their brand. 

That's called damage control and it is sadly lacking in Jim's story.

If you read the EBHS statement it reeks strongly of "We'll decide what's best for Jim, and you, Joe General Public, should just go away and mind your own business."

Elmbrook, and all of the shelters that operate with this type of mindset, had better open their minds and eyes to the 21st century.  The public is fed up.  These are THEIR community's animals, supported by THEIR tax dollars and donations.  Social media has made it easier than ever for people to connect, build "tribes" of like-minded participants, and apply public pressure to the institutions which think they hold all the power.

This is social change. And if shelters think they can operate the way they did five or ten years ago, they are in for a nasty surprise.  Thank you to all of you who are speaking out for the Jim's of America.  

I'll leave you today with this quote from one of the conference boards.  Remember, someone also thought the light bulb was going to fail.  Just like the light bulb, the No Kill movement is here to stay.  Embrace it and together we can Save Them All.

1 comment:

  1. You have a nice blog and it is great what you are doing. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada.