Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 29 Aug 2009 Issue
by Nathan Winograd
The following was written by Nathan Winograd, author of "Redemption", the best book ever written about animal shelters. (www.nathanwinograd.com). Winograd is also director of the No Kill Advocacy Center (www.nokilladvocacycenter.org).
Please, send this info (or donate a copy of the book) to your local animal shelter, animal control facility, library, Mayor, etc., anyone who you think will learn from it and implement it to make YOUR community a no-kill community. Please also share with family and friends. Thank you very much!
One community at a time, we will make America (or whichever country you live in...the same guidelines apply in every country) a No Kill America. But we need YOUR help to spread the word.
Declaration of the No Kill Movement
This year, some five million dogs and cats will be killed in shelters. The vast majority can and should be placed into loving homes or should never enter shelters in the first place. But there is hope.
No Kill sheltering models, based on innovative, non-lethal programs and services, have already saved the lives of tens of thousands of animals. But instead of embracing No Kill, many shelters—and their national agency allies—cling to their failed models of the past, models that result in the killing of millions of dogs and cats in US shelters every year.
No Kill is a revolution. And behind every revolution is a declaration—a statement of grievances, and a listing of rights and principles that underscore our great hope for the future. We assert that a No Kill nation is within our reach—that the killing can and should be brought to an end. Join us in endorsing The Declaration of the No Kill Movement in the United States.
It is open to every individual, every group, and every agency that wants to bring about an end to the killing by implementing the programs and services that will establish a No Kill nation. Programs like ensuring public access to affordable spay/neuter services, allowing rescue groups to save animals on death row, and community wide Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for feral cats. These are not radical concepts, but in the current sheltering world, one can be ostracized for daring to proclaim the simple truths that population control killing is not an act of kindness and that feral cats have a right to live.
Join us in speaking for those who cant. In the length of time it will take you to read the Declaration, nearly one hundred dogs and cats will be needlessly killed.
One hundred and fifty years ago, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals and other humane organizations were founded to establish standards for humane treatment of animals, to promote their rights, and to protect them from harm. This marked the formal beginning of the humane movement in the United States.
The scope and influence of these early humane organizations were testament to the publics concern for animals. It did not take long for them to set their sights on the abuse of homeless animals and cruel methods of killing by public pounds. It was common practice at the time for city and town dogcatchers to beat, drown, or shoot homeless animals.
Many humane agencies responded by entering into animal control contracts with towns and cities to ensure that the killing was done more humanely. But in taking on municipal animal control duties, these agencies abandoned their lifesaving and life-enhancing platforms when those beliefs conflicted with their contractual responsibilities. In the current era, where laws require killing by even more “humane” methods, these contradictions have become starker.
Increasingly, the practices of both humane societies and municipal animal control agencies are out of step with public sentiment. Today, most Americans hold the humane treatment of animals as a personal value, which is reflected in our laws, cultural practices, the proliferation of organizations founded for animal protection, increased per capita spending on animal care, and great advancements in veterinary medicine. But the agencies that the public expects to protect animals are instead killing more than five million animals annually.
Lifesaving alternatives to the mass killing of animals in shelters have existed for decades. These lifesaving methods are based on innovative, humane, nonlethal programs and services that have proven that the killing can be brought to an end. Too many of these agencies, however, remain mired in the kill philosophies of the past, unwilling to or hampered from exploring and adopting methods that save lives. This is a breach of their public trust, a gross deviation from their responsibility to protect animals, and a point of view that we, as caring people and a humane community, can no longer accept or tolerate.
We assert that a No Kill nation is within our reach—that the killing can and must be brought to an end. It is up to each of us working individually and together to implement sheltering models that have already saved tens of thousands of animals in progressive communities. If we work together—with certainty of purpose, assured of our own success, with the commitment that “what must be done, will be done”—the attainment of our goals will not be far off.
II. No Kill Resolution
Whereas, the right to live is every animal's most basic and fundamental right;
Whereas, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals and other humane organizations were founded to establish standards for humane treatment of animals, to promote their rights, and to protect them from harm;
Whereas, traditional sheltering practices allow the mass killing of sheltered animals;
Whereas, every year shelters in the United States are killing millions of healthy and treatable animals who could be placed in homes, and are also killing millions of feral cats who do not belong in shelters;
Whereas, life always takes precedence over expediency;
Whereas, the No Kill movement in the United States has successfully implemented new and innovative programs that provide alternatives to mass killing;
Whereas, lifesaving change will come about only if No Kill programs are embraced and further developed;
Whereas, failure to implement No Kill programs constitutes a breach of the public's trust in the sheltering community;
Now, therefore, be it resolved that No Kill policies and procedures are the only legitimate foundation for animal sheltering; and,
It is incumbent upon all shelters and animal groups to embrace the philosophy of No Kill, to immediately begin implementing programs and services that will end the mass killing of sheltered animals, and to reject the failed kill-oriented practices of the past.
III. Statement of Rights
We acknowledge the following:
• Sheltered animals have a right to live;
• Feral cats have a right to their lives and their habitats;
• Animals, rescuers, and the public have a right to expect animal protection organizations and animal shelters to do everything in their power to promote, protect, and advocate for the lives of animals;
• Animal protection groups, rescue groups, and No Kill shelters have a right to take into their custody animals who would otherwise be killed by animal shelters;
• Taxpayers and community members have a right to have their government spend tax monies on programs and services whose purpose is to save and enhance the lives of all animals;
• Taxpayers and community members have a right to full and complete disclosure about how animal shelters operate.
IV. Guiding Principles
No Kill is achieved only by guaranteeing the following:
• Life to all healthy animals, and to all sick, injured, or vicious animals where medical or behavioral intervention would alter a poor or grave prognosis;
• The right of feral cats to live in their habitats.
• These conditions can be achieved only through adherence to the following:
• Shelters and humane groups end the killing of healthy and treatable animals, including feral cats;
• Every animal in a shelter receives individual consideration, regardless of how many animals a shelter takes in, or whether such animals are healthy, underaged, elderly, sick, injured, traumatized, or feral;
• Shelters and humane organizations discontinue the use of language that misleads the public and glosses over the nature of their actions, such as “euthanasia,” “unadoptable,” “fractious,” “putting them to sleep,” and other euphemisms that downplay the gravity of ending life and make the task of killing easier;
• Shelters are open to the public during hours that permit working people to reclaim or adopt animals during nonworking hours;
• Shelters and other government agencies promote spay/neuter programs and mandate that animals be spayed or neutered before adoption;
• Public shelters work with humane animal adoption organizations to the fullest extent to promote the adoption of animals and to reduce the rate of killing;
• Shelters provide care and treatment for all animals in shelters to the extent necessary, including prompt veterinary care, adequate nutrition, shelter, exercise, and socialization;
• Shelters are held accountable for and make information publicly available about all the animals in their care.
V. No Kill Standards
The implementation of these lifesaving procedures, policies, and programs must be the immediate goal of every shelter, and animal control and animal welfare agency:
• Formal, active commitment by shelter directors, management, and staff to lifesaving programs and policies, and dedication to promptly ending mass killing of shelter animals;
• Immediate implementation of the following programs by all publicly funded or subsidized animal shelters:
• High-volume, low- and no-cost spay/neuter services;
• A foster care network for underaged, traumatized, sick, injured, or other animals needing refuge before any sheltered animal is killed, unless the prognosis for rehabilitation of that individual animal is poor or grave;
• Comprehensive adoption programs that operate during weekend and evening hours and include offsite adoption venues;
• Medical and behavioral rehabilitation programs;
• Pet retention programs to solve medical, environmental, or behavioral problems and keep animals with their caring and responsible caregivers;
• Trap-Neuter-Return or Release (TNR) programs;
• Rescue group access to shelter animals;
• Volunteer programs to socialize animals, promote adoptions, and help in the operations of the shelter;
• Documentation before any animal is killed that all efforts to save the animal have been considered, including medical and behavioral rehabilitation, foster care, rescue groups, neuter and release, and adoption.
• An end to the policy of accepting trapped feral cats to be destroyed as unadoptable, and implementation of TNR as the accepted method of feral cat control by educating the public about TNR and offering TNR program services;
• An end to the use of temperament testing that results in killing animals who are not truly vicious (e.g., shy/timid cats and frightened dogs) but who can be placed in homes, or are feral cats who can be returned or released;
• Abolishment of trapping, lending traps to the public to capture animals, and support of trapping by shelters, governments, and pest control companies for the purposes of removing animals to be killed;
• An end to owner-requested killing of animals unless the shelter has made an independent determination that the animal is irremediably suffering or cannot be rehabilitated;
• The repeal of unenforceable and counterproductive animal control ordinances such as cat licensing and leash laws, pet limit laws, bans on feeding stray animals, and bans on specific breeds.
A No Kill Blueprint For Animal Shelters:
If implemented with rigor, any community can and will achieve No-Kill, regardless of outside funding or the existence of a broad-based coalition. To the extent a shelter isn't implementing this model, animals are needlessly being killed. For No Kill advocates to represent the interests of the animals, they must first demand these programs, and then fight for them. The first step to success is often the hardest one of all: finding a hard working, compassionate animal control or shelter director not content to regurgitate tired cliches or hide the behind of "too many animals, not enough homes".
Unfortunately, this individual is often the hardest to demand and find, but find him or her we must. The public wants No Kill, the animals deserve it, and if it requires regime change to get it, we must fight for that, too.
Closely following a commitment to No Kill is the need for accountability. Accountability means having clear definitions, a lifesaving plan, and charting successes and failures. Clear protocols should be established, and staff should be properly trained to ensure that each and every animal is given a fair evaluation and a chance for placement or treatment.
Accountability also allows, indeed requires, flexibility. Too many shelters lose sight of this principle, rigidly retaining shelter protocols, believing they are engraved in stone. Protocols are important because they ensure accountability from staff, but protocols without flexibility can have the opposite effect: stifling innovation, causing lives to be lost needlessly, and allowing shelter employees who fail to hide behind a paper trail. The decision to end an animal's life is an extremely serious one, and should always be treated as such. No matter how many animals a shelter kills, each and every animal is an individual and each deserves individual consideration.
Finally, to meet the challenge that No Kill entails, shelter leadership needs to get the community excited, to energize people for the task at hand. By working with people, implementing lifesaving programs, and treating each life as precious, a shelter can transform a community.
The mandatory programs and services include:
I. Feral Cat TNR Program
Many communities throughout the United States are embracing Trap, Neuter, Release programs (TNR) to improve animal welfare, reduce death rates, and meet obligations to public welfare.
II. High-Volume, Low-cost Spay/Neuter
Low cost, high volume spay/neuter will quickly lead to fewer animals entering the shelter system, allowing more resources to be allocated toward saving lives. Research shows that investment in programs balancing animal “care” and “control” can provide not only immediate public health and public relations benefits but also long-term financial savings to a jurisdiction.
III. Rescue Groups
An adoption or transfer to a rescue group frees up scarce cage and kennel space, reduces expenses for feeding, cleaning, killing, and improves a community's rate of lifesaving. In an environment of millions of dogs and cats killed in shelters annually, rare is the circumstance in which a rescue group should be denied an animal.
IV. Foster Care
Foster care is crucial to No Kill. Without it, saving lives is compromised. It is a low cost, and often no cost, way of increasing a shelters capacity, improving public relations, increasing a shelters public image, rehabilitating sick and injured or behaviorally challenged animals, and saving lives.
V. Comprehensive Adoption Programs
Adoptions are vital to an agency's lifesaving mission. The quantity and quality of shelter adoptions is in shelter management's hands, making lifesaving a direct function of shelter policies and practice. In fact, studies show people get their dogs from shelters only 20% of the time. If shelters better promoted their animals and had adoption programs responsive to the needs of the community, they could increase the number of homes available and replace killing with adoptions. Contrary to conventional wisdom, shelters can adopt their way out of killing.
VI. Pet Retention
While some of the reasons animals are surrendered to shelters are unavoidable, others can be prevented—but only if shelters are willing to work with people to help them solve their problems. Saving animals requires communities to develop innovative strategies for keeping people and their companion animals together. And the more a community sees its shelters as a place to turn for advice and assistance, the easier this job will be.
VII. Medical and Behavior Programs
In order to meet its commitment to a lifesaving guarantee for all savable animals, shelters need to keep animals happy and healthy and keep animals moving through the system. To do this, shelters must put in place comprehensive vaccination, handling, cleaning, socialization, and care policies before animals get sick and rehabilitative efforts for those who come in sick, injured, unweaned, or traumatized.
VIII. Public Relations/Community Involvement
Increasing adoptions, maximizing donations, recruiting volunteers and partnering with community agencies comes down to one thing: increasing the shelters exposure. And that means consistent marketing and public relations. Public relations and marketing are the foundation of all a shelters activities and their success. To do all these things well, the shelter must be in the public eye.
Volunteers are a dedicated “army of compassion” and the backbone of a successful No Kill effort. There is never enough staff, never enough dollars to hire more staff, and always more needs than paid human resources. That is where volunteers come in and make the difference between success and failure and, for the animals, life and death.
X. Proactive Redemptions
One of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims. Sadly, besides having pet owners fill out a lost pet report, very little effort is made in this area of shelter operations. This is unfortunate because doing so—primarily shifting from passive to a more proactive approach—would have a significant impact on lifesaving and allow shelters to return a large percentage of lost animals to their families.
XI. A Compassionate Director
The final element of the No Kill equation is the most important of all, without which all other elements are thwarted—a hard working, compassionate animal control or shelter director not content to regurgitate tired cliches or hide behind the myth of “too many animals, not enough homes.” Unfortunately, this one is also oftentimes the hardest one to demand and find.
But it is clear that No Kill is simply not achievable without rigorous implementation of each and every one of these programs and services. It is up to us in the humane movement to demand them of our local shelters, and no longer to settle for illusory excuses and smokescreens shelters often put up in order to avoid implementing them.
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