Is Pet Overpopulation Really Killing Our Cats and Dogs? Part II
In Part I of this story I shared excerpts from an interview with Nathan Winograd, director of the No Kill Advocacy Center about his equation to end the senseless killing of an estimated 4.4 million cats and dogs in our country’s animal shelters every year. The interview included some simple changes shelters and rescue groups could make to increase adoptions and drop euthanasia rates. Part II of this story will discuss the “mandatory programs” a community must implement to raise adoption rates to 90 percent and higher.
One of the main principles of the No Kill equation is that animal shelters reject “kill-oriented” ways of doing business and implement innovative programs. Too many shelters refuse to try new ideas. They don’t see themselves as a service to re-home pets. They get accustomed to the idea that euthanasia is part of their job and lose sight that every life is precious. Animal shelters are needed to lead the way to get a community excited and energized.
The No Kill website states, “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.”
Currently there are No Kill communities in California, Utah, Virginia, Nevada, Kentucky and Indiana. Each has achieved a 90 percent or higher rate of adopting homeless pets and reuniting lost animals with their owners. These are the two key principles of the No Kill equation.
Here are the mandatory programs and services prescribed by the No Kill Advocacy Center:
Feral Cat TNR Program
A comprehensive trap-neuter-release program is needed to stop feral cat colonies from multiplying.
High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinics
Sterilizing pets is crucial to the program. Spay/neuter clinics must be located in areas that are easy for the public to reach.
Animal rescue groups are needed to take hard to adopt pets from municipal shelters in order to free up space for incoming cats and dogs.
Volunteer foster families are critical to the success of a No Kill city. They rehabilitate pets that are sick, injured, have behavioral challenges or are too young to be in a shelter.
Comprehensive Adoption Program
Animal shelters must meet the needs of the community so the highest number of pets gets placed into new homes. This may mean being open more hours, having offsite adoption centers, offering incentives, making adoption policies more flexible and improving overall marketing of homeless pets.
Shelters must take an active role in keeping animals with their human families. They need to be a resource center that can solve behavior problems, give advice and do whatever it takes to keep companion animals in their homes.
Medical and Behavior Programs
Animal shelters need to implement policies for vaccinating, handling, cleaning, socializing and sterilizing pets. They must also provide for the veterinary care of sick and injured animals.
Public Relations/Community Involvement
This boils down to educating the public through ongoing marketing that there are lots of pets to adopt. Community involvement encourages partnership with local agencies that can assist a shelter meet their goals.
Volunteers are needed in every department of an animal shelter. Their expertise can make the difference between the success and failure of a program.
One of the most overlooked areas for reducing euthanasia rates is reuniting lost animals with their families. Shelters that actively work to return pets have seen the most dramatic change to their lifesaving numbers.
A Compassionate Director
To complete the No Kill equation a humane shelter director is needed. That person must be willing to lead a community and implement new policies and programs in order to save lives.
If your community would like to adopt the No Kill equation, the organization offers seminars to show you how to get started. Currently seminars are planned for: Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and Washington. Click here for details.
To summarize, the No Kill Advocacy Center dispels the myth that pet overpopulation is the cause for the euthanasia of 4.4 million animals in shelters annually. They claim 17 million Americans add a new pet to their family every year, but 80 percent do not adopt from a shelter. If shelters put more effort into marketing the cats and dogs in their care, they could get a larger portion of the public to adopt from them, instead of buying animals from places like retail pet shops. This would dramatically drop the number of animals euthanized.
As a result it would also decrease the demand for puppies and kittens that are purchased from pet shops and ultimately lower the number of animals born in large-scale breeding facilities such as puppy mills.
If you live in a community like mine, the No Kill concept may seem like a fairytale. But there are cities that have achieved this goal and I hope you will be inspired to start the program in your area, as well.
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