Advocacy at Home: Remarks to County Council

For the first time, I addressed the Kershaw Co council tonight during the public comments portion of the meeting.  I was limited to 5 minutes so I had to keep my remarks brief.  I share them here in hopes that someone else may find them useful in coming up with a plan to address his/her own county (or city) council regarding the local shelter.  Anyone is free to copy and modify these remarks.

My name is Shirley Thistlethwaite and I have lived in Kershaw Co for 11 years. For much of that time, I believed that our animal shelter had no choice but to kill pets because there weren’t enough homes for them all. But a few years ago, I learned the truth: there are enough homes for every shelter pet in Kershaw Co. In fact, there are enough homes for every shelter pet in America.

Research tells us that of the people who will add a pet to the family within the next year, approximately 17 million of them have not yet decided on a source for that pet.  We have approximately 3 million friendly, healthy pets – or friendly pets with treatable medical conditions such as colds – being killed every year in U.S. shelters.  So we have 3 million pets to market to 17 million people each year.  This is an achievable goal.  It also completely disproves the notion that there aren’t enough homes for shelter pets.

Last year, our shelter in Kershaw Co killed 73% of the animals in its care.  We can do better.

All across the country, there are open admission animal shelters saving every healthy/treatable pet in their care.  Some are in urban areas, others are in rural counties, just like us.  Some have generous budgets, others have very limited resources.  But they all have comprehensively implemented the programs of the No Kill Equation.  These 11 essential programs work within existing law and many of them are budget neutral or cost saving.  The open admission shelters currently saving more than 90% of their pets used to kill animals for population control, just like Kershaw Co does.  When they made the change to no kill, it was based upon a commitment to save lives and partner with the community.  We could do the same here.  We don’t need to create new laws, win the lottery or wait until we get into a new building to stop killing animals.  The programs of the No Kill Equation are designed to make most any shelter successful, provided there is a commitment from the director to save pets’ lives.  We could do it today.

Killing healthy/treatable pets in shelters is not only unethical, it’s unpopular.  A recent poll published by the Associated Press showed that only 1 out of 4 Americans believe that shelters should be allowed to kill pets as a means of population control.  The overwhelming majority believes that shelters should only euthanize pets when they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted.  From the dozens of open admission no kill shelters operating today, we know that the total number of animals who fall into that category is typically less than 10% of pets.  And yet here in Kershaw Co, we are killing 73%.  We can do better.

I understand from Mr. Carpenter that Kershaw Co has increased funding to the shelter.  But the shelter is currently spending its money to kill 3 out of 4 animals.  I don’t want my taxes used to fund a pet killing operation.  I’m glad we have an animal shelter here in Kershaw Co but I want it to do its job by truly sheltering pets in need and acting as a safe haven.  I want our community to be no kill.

We know it can be done because it is being done in open admission shelters and communities throughout our nation.  We know it’s the popular thing to do and the right thing to do.  The only question is, why aren’t we doing it?  How many more friendly pets at the Kershaw Co shelter must be held down, injected with lethal drugs, and thrown into the dumpster before we commit to what everyone knows is right and what so many other shelters have shown is achievable?  We could end the killing today.  It’s a matter of choice.  We can do better.

Thank you for the opportunity to address the council and please let me know if I can provide any additional information about no kill sheltering.


I left copies of No Kill 101 from the No Kill Advocacy Center for the council members after I finished speaking.

25 thoughts on “Advocacy at Home: Remarks to County Council

  1. Thanks for sharing .. I’m going to bookmark this and share it with a couple advocates that do want my local shelter to go no kill. I had been under the impression that my shelter was privately owned.. not so. Maybe I can do something,

  2. wooo hooo huge greatness to you.. we should all keep a copy of this and plug in our numbers.. and name.. it is difficult to speak to a bunch of strangers.. and this helps .. thanks

  3. “I don’t want my taxes used to fund a pet killing operation.”

    This is my very favorite line!

    Bravo! Should be interesting to see what kind of reaction you get.

  4. Thank you Shirley! Great job. Did any of the Commissers respond in anyway? Can’t wait to see how this goes as we start work here in Tennessee. It’s a long hard road here – but we’ll do it one step at a time!

    1. The public comments portion of the meeting has some rules, one of which being that the speaker is not allowed to engage the council in discussion. The council is supposed to listen only. I have the Dollars and Sense booklet to hand out at the next meeting. I thought it unwise to leave more than one booklet at a time.

      1. Dollars and sense and their constituents opinion is all they care about. You may want to do a follow up email to each individually with a thank you and link to the movie trailer and brochure. We are on the verge of announcing the first open admission No Kill shelter in GA. As an attorney I am strategic in accepting pleas for pro bono assistance and I have accepted the non profit group’s offer for CFO to create this reality. I would like to think it’s my legal knowledge and business acumen as having been a Fortune 500 sales senior level manager influencing the county. It’s not. Well my experience is helping to showcase our position a little. But it is the buy in from other extraordinary individuals and. more importantly the constitients that the.
        county has heard from demanding this chan The no kill movement is supersaturated with
        brilliant attorneys that don’t embrace or
        understand how to drive a sales organization nor
        how to simplify the political steps. I recommend
        reading my friend Julie Lewin’s book and
        attending her seminars

  5. I apologize for the typos and formatting. Am in the gym plus on android. I wanted to add that I am in awe of the attorneys that began this movement and consider them heros and friends. Reading Redemption is critical to gaining necessary insights. We do need to consider and embrace more tactics and to build a front and back end sales component. We need to embrace the few celebrities that believe in No Kill and not Pets instead of haughtily spurning them because “they might cheapen or thoroughly grasp the movement “. Otherwise our efforts become preaching to the choir. HSUS, ASPCA and Pets get this. It’s not about ideology to them and are only successful because they have built a superlative front end sales machine and in the case of HSUS sold the shelters a cradle to grave (literally ) back end monumental support system. The shelters are more neutral than evil and if they are sold on keeping the pets alive because we will hold their hands and provide the constant courses, mechanisms, materials, people and yes merchandise, all of which is self reinforcing in an expert sales organization we might just get some where. Yes I will be on it very soon!

  6. Awesome! Thanks Shirley! Sometimes all it takes is to reach that one person who may help in making a difference. It was a very educational and professional speech. Thank you!!

  7. Yes Shirley- excellent!!! Bravo

    And for all you lawyers and humane individuals,
    My personal thanks for carrying this message and programs whereever you may be.

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