Ending the Killing of Shelter Pets TODAY

Pregnant dog at DeKalb Co pound in Decatur, GA, as pictured on Facebook.

There are some animal welfare advocates who find shelter pet killing acceptable as long as it meets some arbitrary criteria such as, “the shelter is killing less than they used to” or “the shelter is transitioning to no kill/low kill/a new director” etc.  The most common excuse offered is “these things take time”.  While I agree that putting all the programs of the No Kill Equation into place takes time for any shelter, I don’t agree that killing shelter pets is OK.

I know of no reason why every shelter in the country could not stop killing pets today.  Yes, it would take them some time to fully develop the programs that will ensure sustainability.  And many would be plunged into crisis mode due to a larger than usual number of animals in the short term.  But this is no different than when a shelter takes in a large number of pets displaced by natural disaster or seized from a cruelty related case.  The same programs which will sustain the lifesaving can be called upon for crisis response, even before they have been fully developed and implemented.

One program in particular is uniquely positioned to help save lives during an immediate population expansion:  Public Relations/Community Involvement.  Shelters unexpectedly taking in large numbers of animals know this and that’s why you see them on the news and in the paper when these events happen.  They know that the public will step up when called upon to help save pets.

It would be no different in the case of putting an immediate end to the killing except that the shelter would be in the unique position of going to the media with the outstanding, once in a lifetime announcement that pets are no longer being killed at the shelter.  The community can be called upon to help save lives both in the short term and in the long term.

It is astounding to me that many advocates are willing to accept the misery and chaos of desperately working to save animals from kill rooms at shelters every day yet reject the idea that shelters could simply stop the killing.  I understand that change can be daunting but really, how bad could it possibly be?  The bar has already been set for many rescuers at misery and chaos, anything above that should be a welcome change.

Even if the worst case scenario came true and animal advocates had to scramble, beg, and borrow in order to get pets out of the shelter during the short term population crisis, wouldn’t it be worth it to endure that temporary misery and chaos, knowing the future would be much brighter for shelter pets?  Rescuers are already operating this way 365 days a year with no foreseeable end in sight.  Is there anything to lose by trying a different way – that is, ending the killing of shelter pets?

35 thoughts on “Ending the Killing of Shelter Pets TODAY

  1. I couldn’t find her on petfinder. Do you know what her cage number is or ID number from the facebook posting?

    1. No Tammy, there was no identifying info. Some pounds don’t list pregnant animals on Petfinder for adoption and will deem them “rescue only” which is perhaps the case with this dog.

      1. I took this picture, and it was on my personal Facebook page, so I find it ironic that the person that wrote this article could take it without even messaging me, which would have been very easy to do. In case anyone was still wondering, this Mama was rescued, by a licensed rescue group, the reason for “rescue only” for pregnant animals is order to be “adopted” animals must be spayed/neutered. A personal friend of mine fostered and still has this mom.

      1. Is there a way to post a link to this dog’s photo from that pound’s Facebook page? (If you view a shareable photo & hit your refresh page button or option, you will get a web address you can copy and paste to provide a direct link to this dog’s photo).

        Then anyone interested in knowing more about her can inquire on that page.

      2. I’m sorry Cee, I don’t have the original link anymore but it’s recent and may still be somewhere on FB, I just don’t know where. I tried searching via Google image but came up empty.

      3. Confusing photo because DeKalb usually takes the pictures of dogs outside, not in the shelter. But maybe she’s in iso because she’s about to whelp and it might be quieter there. Rescue/adoption coordinator is jamie martinez at jsmartinez@dekalbcountyga.gov–maybe someone could send her the photo and ask for more info?

      4. Okay–just emailed Jamie at DeKalb to ask about this girl and will post here if I get any info.

      5. She was pulled by a rescue and is in a foster home with her 10 puppies

      6. That is good news! She looks so sad in the picture-almost looks like she is crying.

      7. Yes like Carol says above–rescued. Just had that confirmed by the rescue coordinator at DeKalb.

      1. It’s pretty amazing what a good meal and TLC can do for a mama and pups. The “after” photo is simply wonderful. Her name is Dreamer and if anyone can donate a bit, I’m sure it will help. They think that Dreamer may have some mange so that will need to be treated. But she had 11 pups, 10 surviving and a new beginning.
        Bless all those who made this happen.

  2. You all may be interested in this on Care2 called The Shelter Revolution… There is also a video attached… and thankfully this will eventually, wish sooner, put an end to Shelter Killing altogether. It seems our shelter system is very broken, cannot be repaired, but needs to be ended and reconstructed for the end of euthanasia…

    Please read the following and, hopefully link shows up, to go over to the video/article on Care2 that has access worldwide reaching readers…

    Shelter Revolution: Homeless Pets Never Have To Be Euthanized (Video)

    Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/shelter-revolution-homeless-pets-never-have-to-be-euthanized-video.html#ixzz1yvl64FwU

    Animal activist Randy, known only by his first name for the safety of himself and his family, and a handful of others are in the middle of a battle to save every homeless cat and dog in the U.S. Their fight is unique because they are saving pets from the U.S. animal shelter system which they say is broken beyond repair. Randy is calling for a Shelter Revolution.

    The Shelter Revolution movement says, “Current municipal animal shelters are prisons that breed anxiety, depression and aggression in homeless pets.” Dogs are forced to live in isolation or in crowded conditions in cages where they smell the scent of death every day. Animals are warehoused until they are euthanized. The purpose of the current system is to control strays from roaming on the streets. It is not a system that can be reformed; it must be completely restructured.

    Shelter Revolution sees a clear solution in a model that is based on human day care centers and dog day care centers. The Adoption Center concept allows animals to live in a natural communal setting.

    Randy said, “Research shows these settings promote calm, balanced pets that are more easily adopted.”

    Separated by size and personality, animals live in a dorm-like setting with an outside play area for socializing and exercise. Randy said, “Killing is not an option. Rehab and rehoming animals is the goal.”

    If you think this sounds like a pipedream, Shelter Revolution offers more than a dozen privately owned shelters and sanctuaries where the concept is already working.

    The Cat House on the Kings is a sanctuary outside of Los Angeles, run by Lynea Lattanzio. It is a no-kill, cage free facility for more than 70 felines. Lynea’s philosophy about the rescued cats that wander on her property is, “If they don’t have a home, at least they have a life.”

    Make no mistake, Shelter Revolution does not promote animal hoarding. Their plan includes a medical center for sick animals, a quarantine area for new arrivals, spay and neuter, and rehabilitation. The model relies heavily on volunteers to socialize and train the pets so they can be adopted. Randy believes animal rescue groups that spend much of their time now rescuing strays, will flock to Adoption Centers to help rehabilitate homeless pets.

    Cost to start an Adoption Center is estimated at $1.3 million. Shelter Revolution says current animal shelters are far more expensive. Their website gives many details about starting a Shelter Revolution in a community.

    A Note To Shelter Leaders from Shelter Revolution founder Thomas Cole:

    “For 100 years the shelter industry has imprisoned social animals in prison cages. It’s time shelter directors realize that the facility itself can play a central role in promoting adoptions. It is time to move beyond this plateau and create a new model.

    Dogs and cats have committed no crimes.

    Shelter directors, boards of directors and municipal officers, you have the power to enact these changes.”

    Animal Sanctuaries With Communal Living:

    Spirit Animal Sanctuary -New York

    Cat House on the Kings- California

    Heart and Soul Sanctuary- New Mexico

    Spindletop Rescue

    Baja Animal Sanctuary

    Olympic Animal Sanctuary -Washington

    Second Chance At Love Humane Society

    FOUND -Chicago

    Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/shelter-revolution-homeless-pets-never-have-to-be-euthanized-video.html#ixzz1yvlWt3Lt

    1. Thank You very much, Trisha. This concept is working well in Rescues and Sanctuaries all over the world but not in one county shelter. The videos on http://www.ShelterRevolution.Org are real. They are happening now. Cat House is over 800 cats and 50 dogs, living in harmony . There was just another article about a rescue called Kings Ranch. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/north_bay&id=8711534 Money is the only reason the big 4 do not want to see these drastic changes. People need to speak up and put an end to the killing and the cages. Shelters are terrible places for the humans and the furbabies waiting for execution. Keep sharing Trisha and keep learning about a new , humane way to treat these homeless animals. Private “Living Centers” is part of the answer. We can not wait for our Government to change.

      1. How is this comment anything but spam? Seriously, I’ve been very patient with this over a long period of time but it’s got to stop somewhere. Apparently anyone exercising discretion is out of the question so consider this the hammer coming down.

  3. I agree with you completely Shirley. Thanks for this post, among your many others that I read daily. I must say that recently I have seen the Shelter Revolution followers and supporters posting here in the comments. While I must confess, I have read some about this proposal they are trying to push I in no way profess to know everything about it. I am wondering Shirley what your take on it is. I think eventually you should say so its not pimped out daily in the comments. I for one can only endorse anything proven to actually work–the No Kill equation. If Shelter revolution proves that “adoption centers” will work I may be able to get on board. I am open minded and up for intelligent debate. There may be more than one way to save shelter pets. Please someone prove it to me. And as listed here is the Olympic Animal Sanctuary actually communal living? What is the definition? Thoughts?

    1. Many shelters already offer group housing for pets.

      What Shelter Revolution is selling does not seem feasible to me as it does not purport to work within the existing govt structure. It’s one thing to say we need better roads but quite another to say we need better roads in the sky.

      It is also unproven. Although all new ideas are unproven at their inception, the subject here is life and death so I obviously give preference to the thing I know for certain will save lives. Someone stricken with a dread disease is going to opt for the known and available cure rather than signing up to be the first to try a new treatment.

      All that said, if this or any other set of programs or path to no kill were to prove itself equally as successful and sustainable as the No Kill Equation, I would love to hear it. Always better to have more tools in the toolbox.

      1. I agree here. I think that in dealing particularly with municipal operations, trying to change the overall way of housing animals is likely not the first step. Having said that, I would fully embrace any and all methods which have been shown to work and I’m not aware of the Shelter Revolution model being successful in multiple locations as is the case with the no kill equation.

  4. im in upstate ny but i can foster her and her pups…can someone tell me if she is still there
    i cant sleep over this….i want to bring her home

    1. Oh my goodness!! That is so sweet!! Thank you for sharing that. I’m so glad to see a pic of her happy, being a mother, rather than that depressing picture up above that’s going to haunt me LOL

      Anyway, agree with this post, as usual. As for Shelter Revolution, the idea sounds good, just like they have “daycares” at Petsmart for dogs to be around each other all day rather than locked in their little cages. My issue then becomes what about at night or whatever when there is no one around to watch over the dogs, dont they worry about fights breaking out and stuff? I just don’t know and I would like to know about that..

  5. As was seen with Just One Day, when “you” tell the people what you’re doing, what you want to do and how they can help, they step up and act. People want to be part of doing the right thing and bringing about change in their communities. I’ve been meeting with some rescuers and advocates in the city where I work to try to bring no kill programs to the table in spite of the stability of the status quo.

    I’m sure my eyes kinda glazed over in one meeting when I talked about how it could be…close your eyes and imagine this: the mayor calls a news conference and invites all the local media (TV and print). He stands at a podium with his deputy, his shelter director, the chairman of the county commission and the county animal control director, surrounded by rescuers and advocates. He announces that the killing will stop not next week or five years from now but today. He says that we need the help of the entire community in order to change our culture and in order to stop the senseless killing of healthy and treatable animals using tax dollars. He assures the audience that animal control functions are still in place, but are part of a no kill philosophy which works to keep animals out of the shelter at all and if they do end up in the shelter, to get them out quickly. He announces a week long Adopt-a-thon during which shelter animals will be available for adoption from the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 5 different locations in the city. He tells the public that while adopters will be screened in order to make sure each person or family finds a good fit, the adoption fee is being waived in order to start this new chapter in the history of the area. “We’re literally cleaning house in order to become a no kill community now,” he says. People watching at home look at each other, look at their homes, give it some thought and decide, “yes. I want to be part of this. Yes. I value the lives of those homeless animals and no longer want my city spending money to simply hold them and destroy them.” As the mayor concludes the press conference, he announces that major changes will be taking place in order to keep the new culture viable and that the city and county will jointly be sponsoring a series of free workshops at the local library to educate citizens on no kill concepts and no kill programs. Anyone is welcome to attend and there will future workshops in different areas of the city and county to bring the information to more people. The first workshop is in two days at the public library and will cover fostering and volunteer opportunities. The second workshop will be in four days and will cover the subject of pet retention to help people work through issues which may preclude them from keeping their pet. Beginning next week, there will be an off-site adoption three times a week at locations to be announced using a mobile adoption van. The mayor ends the press conference by saying how proud he is to lead such a progressive city in which so many animal-loving people live and work. It is truly his honor to be the mayor and to help turn the page on the past, beginning a new way of functioning which is consistent with our values.

    Okay. So that’s all in my head. But is it really so unrealistic? I think it is entirely possible and I think it is what people deserve and want of their municipal leadership.

    1. That sounds wonderful, bamabrie, and I’d love to see that become a reality. One mayor I can kind of see doing that is Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, NJ. He helped with putting up that shelter in “Patrick’s” name in NJ and he’s just a politician that I get a strong sense of community from, and not just in it for the power/money, unlike a lot of other politicians. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t live anywhere close to Newark so I don’t know as much about him as others maybe, but he’s the only one that comes to mind..

  6. I am limited with time like everyone but I did manage to read Shelter Revolution’s referral to Olympic Animal Sactuary (OAS) – Forks Washington – Great blog and OAS rescued Mario from MAS…it was educational (and exciting) to read the details on the rescue.

  7. Why not stop all the killing today? Shirley’s assertion and bamabrie’s dream both sound so very possible. But, they are not happening (or very rarely so).

    Theoretically, the No-Kill Equation is good, and Shelter Revolution (which includes it) is even better (IMHO). I don’t see any issue with either being good, and I’ll debate anybody who thinks there are issues of lack-of-proof on Shelter Revolution as being good and effective for the animals. On my last visit to Heart & Soul Sanctuary in NM, a horse came over to welcome me. Right behind him was a pack of over 30 dogs coming to say hello. Except for the mothers with young pups, they live together in the Giant Doghouse. Like to go walk a dog? Don’t bother looking for a leash, they aren’t used. Just make an announcement and we had a crowd of dozens of dogs as I walked along with the sanctuary manager.

    But, on the practical side, both approaches have issues. Being revolutionary, Shelter Revolution is far more difficult to bring about. Even for No-Kill, even once obtained, there are serious issues with maintaining it, and Winograd has written well on the issues of what is needed there.

    One such item is the volunteers, both in number and quality. At the Albuquerque city shelters the volunteers do a great deal of work with the dogs, and also run many adoption events. Yet, with an intake of about 25,000 animals each year, many end up being killed. At one of their shelters they have about 30 volunteers who come each month, and about 10 or so who come more regularly. Yes, they do have a good volunteer manager who’s good at informing and attracting people and large numbers who come to the orientation. But, let’s compare this to elsewhere. In speaking with Aimee Sadler about her great success at Longmont, I asked how many regular volunteers she had, and that came out to about 240 people, each coming regularly enough for them to have a dozen or more volunteers in a group, each one doing the same work with a dog, so all the training and socialization is consistent. Just guess how much of a difference that would make here.

    Why there and not here? Why there and not at many other places? Try addressing that question Shirley, before you simply claim there are all those volunteers ready and waiting. Consider also, that every shelter I’ve been to agrees that no matter how many people they attract for their volunteer orientation, only a fraction remain at the end of the month, and even less after a few months. Be it a large municipal like Albuquerque, or a smaller and fully no-kill like Watermelon Mountain Ranch, the volunteer yield is about the same. To help some very difficult hoarder dogs at one shelter, I managed somehow to collect about a half-dozen volunteers and gave them some training. For awhile, the dogs made good progress. But, I started loosing volunteers and couldn’t find new ones, so progress has stopped. Yes, this can be done better, but it’s a difficult and time consuming job. Some places (like in bamabrie’s dream) have an initial publicity splash that attracts many people, but over time you lose people, and it becomes harder and harder to replace them, since you’ve already taken the most willing people. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but just that it is far more difficult than you seem to imply.

    And what about the Highway issue? Not just municipal but many private shelters that have their own approaches and rules, and it’s strictly Their Way or the Highway. It’s not a question of what’s better, but only their rules. In some case, these people have fought for their very existence for many years, and have become rather locked into what worked for them. In another case, with a very large shelter, they became locked into revenue with the dogs relegated to second place.

    More could be said about this, but there are other areas of issues. What about foster care training and support? Almost nobody trains fosters, and very few even support them on issues. Even when the resource is available. I’ve only had one shelter and one rescue here contact me to support some foster issues. Shelter Revolution emphasizes training and supporting fosters, making this a priority. No-Kill speaks about this for behaviourally challenged animals (among other issues), but without enough support few fosters will get very far in helping the dogs.

    As to why this happens, as to what can be done to improve this, I’ll leave that for now to you and your readers. My point here is that these issues and others are real and widespread, in addition to the municipal leadership/government issues, and you also need to deal with them before that dream can come true.

  8. Sorry. I just read above. What a hoot!!! All those little pups! What a happy picture!!! Thank you all you earth angels!!

  9. I set up trade shows and when we have a pet show, thousands of dollars of merchandise are donated to various animal shelters. Where does it all go? Why isn’t this used to help dogs and cats? I know the people picking up help themselves to whatever they want. I’d like to see it investigated. .

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