The small state of New Hampshire has big answers to stop the senseless killing of 2-4 million healthy pets that enter American animal shelters each year. While most states struggle to end pet overpopulation, New Hampshire has successfully reduced their euthanasia rate to zero. A free downloadable book that explains how they achieved this goal is now available. Everyone involved in animal rescue should have a copy.
Getting To Zero: A Roadmap To Ending Animal Shelter Overpopulation In The United States, was written by attorney/activist and director of Shelter Overpopulation Solutions, Peter Marsh. His group has been leading New Hampshire to the day when cats and dogs would no longer die in shelters just to make room for other homeless pets, since 1994.
Shelter Overpopulation Solutions (STOP) grew their plan out of common sense and analyzing the data around them; something few other nonprofits or municipal animal shelters were doing at the time.
Here are some key facts the data revealed:
- Shelters had increased the adoption rate of homeless pets, but euthanasia rates had not gone down.
- Targeted spay and neuter programs for low-income areas decreased euthanasia rates.
- Targeted spay and neuter programs during kitten season decreased euthanasia rates.
- Low-cost spay and neuter clinics decreased euthanasia rates.
- Low-cost spay and neuter clinics had to have legislative backing be publicly well-funded.
- Low-cost spay and neuter clinics had to be well-coordinated with all entities doing them, well-designed and readily available.
- An education and outreach component was essential. A study by Gary Patronek DVM, PhD found households with an income less than $40,000 were at a greater risk of relinquishing a pet.
- A call-in hotline to solve pet behavior issues resulted in fewer surrendered cats and dogs.
STOP knew they had to hit the pet overpopulation problem in two ways: “by reducing the number of pets who entered shelters and increasing the number who left alive.” A toll free information line was set up and brochures and posters widely promoted the program. The entire state worked as one unit to achieve the zero kill rate. The goal was won in 1999.
Since 2000, no cats or dogs have been euthanized in New Hampshire simply to make room for new homeless pets. Each year a small number are destroyed due to illness or aggression.
STOP is not done yet. They would like to launch a national public awareness campaign about shelter overpopulation, establish training and assistance programs for local advocacy groups and secure adequate funding to subsidize spay and neuter programs.
The New Hampshire model has been endorsed by Spay USA and nonprofits around the country are beginning to implement it.