Here are some tidbits from the notes I took at two of the workshops I attended on day one of the conference. Both Mitch Schneider and Bonney Brown are no kill leaders in Washoe Co, Nevada.
No Kill Animal Control – Mitch Schneider
Before Washoe Co Animal Control went no kill, there were two staff members who killed pets daily. There was a lot of staff burnout. Hiring and training of new staff is expensive. There was no cost increase to go from killing pets to saving pets in Washoe Co. Mr. Schneider’s business model: Return to Owner! RTO reduces costs by reducing facility needs, staff, food, treatment and utilities. There is also decreased risk because fewer pets are being handled. A little more effort by ACOs in the field reduces the work load for everyone at the shelter. First ride home for stray dogs is free. They return chronic offenders’ dogs too but will issue citation.
It is the responsibility of the ACO in the field to call ALL phone numbers on the dog’s ID tag, scan for chip, check lost pet reports and check with area residents to try and find owner. If appropriate, ACO can secure dog in the owner’s yard or leave with a friend. If not successful finding the owner, must post notice at residence suspected of owning the dog with the cell number of the ACO. If possible, photograph the dog and upload the information to PetHarbor in case the owner checks online before the ACO returns to the shelter.
Once impounded, re-scan for chip, vet check, vaccinate and, if not done in the field, photograph and upload dog’s info to PetHarbor. If the owner comes to redeem but can’t afford fees, offer a billing option.
Most communities have no legal right to impound free living cats as they are not included in either the leash or licensing laws.
Turbocharging Pet Adoptions – Bonney Brown
Reno is home to the highest per capita rate of felons in the country, it was voted the second drunkest city in the U.S., 14% unemployment, housing crisis. [Nathan Winograd characterized Reno in a separate talk by saying something like, “This is a city made up of criminals who have no job, no place to live – and they’re drunk. And they went no kill.”]
Make the shelter a welcoming, comfortable environment. Engage visitors in conversation. Staff wears colored t-shirts instead of scrubs because people have an aversion to clinical attire. Encourage interaction between pets and people because touch is key to forming a bond. “Make it easy to fall in love.” Not only does this increase adoptions, it boosts pets’ immune systems. Keep hand sanitizer available in multiple locations. Nevada Humane Society is open 11am to 6:30pm every day. Adoption counselors help visitors find pets who will be a good match. Offsite adoptions. Impulse adoptions are not necessarily negative. Humans have good impulses sometimes. “People save lives on impulse.” (e.g. running into a burning building) The adoption counselor helps to ensure there is a good outcome.
Fractious cats do better in a colony, less stress, healthier and area is easier to clean. Barncats.org is a good resource.
Free/low cost adoptions – money doesn’t ensure love.
Streamline the adoption process. Good screening eliminates need for waiting period. Follow-up calls to adopters using a script designed to uncover any possible problems. (People will try to gloss over at first.)
Individuals don’t adopt a pet every month or every year so it’s important to continually market your shelter and your pets with aggressive promotions. That way, when it is time for someone to adopt, they will think of you. Get the word out and people in.