Showing posts with label no kill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label no kill. Show all posts

Sunday, February 28, 2010

You can keep pretending you're working as you listen to this

Some excellent podcasts from Chat Month at PetHobbyist.

Nathan Winograd is one of the most passionate and controversial voices in animal welfare today. As part of this year's Chat Month focus on "Ending Pet Homelessness," he'll be speaking about the role the law can play in saving animal lives, and how legislation and litigation can help create a No Kill nation. I'm not sure how much the legal talk will apply to us up here in Canada but there's some good history of the no-kill movement from Winograd in the segment.

Last fall, the Ad Council launched the first animal welfare campaign of its more than 60 year history, the Shelter Pet Project. Based on new information developed during the one-year period leading up to the three-year, multi-media campaign, the Shelter Pet Project uses humor and a positive approach to get its message across.

Find out how the Shelter Pet Project came to be, the research behind its television, radio and print public service ads, how it is designed to end the killing of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in the nation's shelters, and why that's not a fantasy but a very achievable goal. Joining us will be representatives from the sponsors of the campaign: Ad Council campaign manager Cece Wedel, Maddie's Fund president Rich Avanzino and Betsy McFarland, senior director, companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States.

An interview with Bonney Brown, director of the Nevada Humane Society. Christie Keith will be asking her to answer a simple question: With shelter intakes in excess of 15,000 in the Reno area that you serve, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and sky-high foreclosure rates, how come you're smiling?

If you're an animal lover, shelter or rescue volunteer, or work in the shelter industry and are struggling with feelings of being overwhelmed, underfunded, and burnt out, come join one of America's most successful shelter directors and learn how Washoe County saved 90 percent of its homeless animals last year, and how your community can do the same, without bitterness, burnout or bankruptcy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No-kill: it can't be impossible if someone's already doing it

While we're still arguing up here in Toronto about whether or not no-kill is a fairy tale, some American cities are already doing it and now an article on MSNBC talks about the possibility of achieving a no-kill nation in 5 years.

Okay, I think that might be a bit of a stretch but, hey, I hope they prove me wrong. However, the article does bring up pertinent points about some of the steps needed to make no-kill possible. First and foremost is the concept that no-kill can really only be achieved as a community. It doesn't count if one shelter calls itself no-kill and stops its open admissions policy forcing all the other shelters and rescues to take in, and possibly euthanize, the remaining homeless animals. The killing still goes on. It's just being done by someone else. It may be good bragging rights for the self-labeled "no-kill" shelter but animals are still dying in equal numbers in the community so nothing's really been accomplished from the animals' perspective.

That doesn't mean no-kill isn't possible. It means no-kill must be done right and that means working with the community at large. This concept is discussed in a post on KC Blog, No Kill Communities vs No Kill Shelters -- and why confusing the two endangers the movement. If you go and read his post and the comments on his post, the rest of this post will hopefully make more sense.

While having some informal discussions recently about a vision for the Toronto Humane Society, it's come up a few time that some people are against the idea of no-kill - except I get the feeling they're not really and that maybe it's just misunderstandings about what no-kill really means.

I would urge anyone who thinks the no-kill philosophy is naive or idealistic or unattainable in our community to go read about it first. Read about what it really is and about where it has been achieved and what communities are successfully transitioning into it. Then, if there is still doubt or argument, at least we can all discuss it from the same page.

Some people would still prefer the term "low-kill". That's fine. Whether it's called no-kill or low-kill or no more homeless pets or silly chubby pets in every lap, as long as we can agree to work towards the goal of not euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals then we can all work together at creating a better Toronto Humane Society. However, if that isn't the goal, then I have to ask: why bother? It will be too much effort and work just to recreate another mediocre animal shelter whose long term vision is to pick off the low hanging fruit.

On the flip side, no-kill is not a switch that can just be turned on, no more than someone can just declare himself a brain surgeon and start cutting heads open. It's going to take more than waving placards and joining facebook groups. It's going to take much planning, work and commitment. In the end, that's what gets an animal saved: a lot of hard work and commitment, and you can call that whatever you want.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Approaching no-kill

Adopting a philosophy of no-kill at a shelter is no simple task. Done wrong, it can lead to institutional hoarding and some might suggest that we have seen an example of that at the Toronto Humane Society. Done right, it can lead to dramatic if not almost miraculous reductions in animal killings by shelters.

The Humane Society of Utah, for example (h/t KC Dog Blog), is the latest shelter in the United States to reach a goal of no-kill for their dogs.

For the first time in the 50 year history of the Humane Society of Utah, the non-profit animal shelter did not have to euthanize a single adoptable dog.

According to HSU Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt, “This is a great achievement, one we’ve been striving for over the past five decades. Ten years ago one of our goals was to end the need to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals. And last year’s record for canine adoptions bring us much closer to reaching that goal.”

In 2009, the Humane Society of Utah was successful in finding homes for 3,917 dogs.
Compared to 3,763 dog adoptions in 2008, the HSU experienced a 4.1% increase despite the economic downturn.

And ...

Mr. Baierschmidt credits a proactive approach for the high adoption rate. The HSU’s Outreach (off-site) adoptions, pet foster program and the Transfer Initiative all contributed to a successful year. More than 100 families in our community are fostering animals, taking special-needs or hard-to-place animals into their own homes and working with them until they are ready to go to new families in permanent homes.

The HSU’s transfer program, established in 2008, works with more than 140 shelters and rescue groups (i.e. Katherine Heigls╩╝ Hounds of Hope) taking different types of animals to areas where there is greater demand for them. And the Outreach effort expanded in 2009 from 3 adoption sites to 7 different locations, including local Petco and Petsmart stores. 350 volunteers work closely with all three programs, helping socialize and groom animals while assisting the full time staff with various other duties.

In addition to these programs, the Humane Society of Utah Clinic spayed or neutered more than 11,000 cats and dogs during the past calendar year, addressing the root cause of the pet over-population issue and helping the HSU achieve its goal.

I'm thinking that what they've done in Utah, we can do here. Specifically, in reference to the reformation of the THS, here are some points to consider:

No kill does not mean never kill. It refers to the saving of all healthy and behaviourally sound animals. Humane - truly humane - euthanasias are still performed on those animals which suffer and will likely see no end to their suffering. Included in that are those animals which would be forced to live out the rest of their lives in institutional cages because they are too aggressive, with little or no hope of changing that behaviour, to be adopted out.

No kill is a goal. It is not a commandment that is to be thrust upon an organization which is not ready for it. Every aspect of the organization must be committed and ready in order for no-kill to be successful, from intake to adoptions, from every animal care worker to every board member.

No kill is a community goal. It cannot be reached without communal involvement and that includes networking with rescues, foster homes, businesses, vets, government agencies and the public at large.

No kill means having a truly open admissions policy. It's not no-kill if an agency refuses entry to some animals so that others have to deal with them or they end up on the street.

The online, no-kill website is here - as if you didn't know already - but first check out these excellent videos recorded in Australia at the 2009 National Summit to End Companion Animal Overpopulation.

NOTE: Oops, the following videos have been taken offline until permission to post is given by the presenters. Hopefully, they'll be okay with them.

The first is Mike Arms who is the president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center. He gives a spellbinding talk and you might want to keep some hankies close at hand, just in case:

Summit - Mike Arms Large from John Bishop on Vimeo.

This next one is from Nathan Winograd and he talks about his experiences in the no-kill movement:

Summit - Nathan Winograd Large from John Bishop on Vimeo.

Well, until this vid link comes back up, there's always this older one:

I wonder if either of these two guys would consider a relocation to Toronto.

And here are two more from the conference, first with Joy Verrinder who talks about her shelter's experience with moving towards no-kill.

Summit - Joy Verrinder Large from John Bishop on Vimeo.

This last one is of Michelle Williamson, who is the chief of PetRescue, Austalia's equivalent (or arguably better) to Petfinder, an online search engine for finding shelter dogs.

Michelle Williamson - 2009 NDN Summit from John Bishop on Vimeo.