This morning I met with my county administrator regarding the local pound. The county contracts with a non-profit group to run the pound. That group is warehousing and killing roughly 3 out of every 4 pets in its care. I went to advocate for no kill and get a sense of the county administrator’s stance.
Using the No Kill Advocacy Center’s guide for advocates, I put together 3 brief pages for the meeting. It was hard to leave out the other 877 pages of things I wanted to cover but the guide says not to bombard officials with info so I didn’t. It was a good call since the administrator said, ‘I’m a bullet point guy” when I handed him the folder. The three pages included information on the No Kill Equation, questions I’ve been unable to get answered regarding the pound’s annual stats and the following:
Comparison: Marquette Co, MI/Kershaw Co, SC
Population: 61, 694/61,697
Median income, household: $35,548/$38,804
Percent of families below poverty line: 6/9.7
In 2011, percent of pets returned to owner: 14/3
In 2011, number of pets adopted/transferred per 1000 people: 22/18
Note: Marquette Co adopted 1342 animals and transferred 36 to other shelters/rescues. Kershaw Co adopted 688 and transferred 452 to other shelters/rescues.
In 2011, number of pets adopted (excluding transfers) per 1000 people: 22/11
In 2011, Kershaw Co killed 73% of the dogs and cats that entered the shelter and returned only 3% to their owners. By comparison, Marquette Co, a rural county in MI with similar demographics to Kershaw Co, has an open admission shelter which euthanized 5% of its pets in 2011 and returned 14% to their owners. Where Kershaw Co adopted/transferred 26% of it pets, Marquette Co adopted/transferred 74% and it did so at half the cost of what an average shelter spends. Warehousing and killing pets is unpopular, unethical and expensive. We can do better.
Thanks to the No Kill Advocacy Center’s guide, I was prepared for the administrator’s likely responses. And, almost as if he’d read the guide too, he brought them all, including:
- Kershaw Co isn’t progressive like the other communities you mentioned. We don’t have MSN laws like they do. People here drown kittens in the creek.
- The non-profit group does a good job. Nobody there wants to kill animals.
- There are many places in SC doing worse who would love to have Kershaw Co’s kill rate.
- The county is doing its part – we gave them more money.
- We have to follow the law. State law requires us to hold animals for 5 days and that’s what we do.
I explained that the programs of the No Kill Equation operate within existing state laws, that none of the 50 open admission no kill shelters in the U.S. serve communities which have MSN, and that SC law doesn’t require that pets be killed after 5 days, just that they be held for that period so their owners can reclaim them.
I also touched upon increasing community involvement by putting an end to pet killing, opening the shelter when people can get there to adopt (currently it’s only open for 3 hours on the weekend), participating in offsite adoption events, and I stressed the 100% failure rate of MSN everywhere it’s been enacted.
So although there were some negatives, I would call the meeting overall positive. For one thing, he didn’t throw me out and kindly let me talk for 40 minutes. For another, while the administrator doesn’t believe no kill is possible here, I didn’t go into the meeting expecting to immediately win hearts and minds and in fact, he did state he was open to saving more animals. And he recommended a county councilman I should meet with so I’ve got a foot in the door there.
I will be following up with the administrator, sending him a bullet point list of 10 things the pound could implement today to save more pets. My hope is that if I can start the ball rolling, other local advocates will pick it up and run with it. Watch this space.