Tens of thousands of pets are killed each year in Colorado due to the lack of life-saving programs that can be implemented without additional costs—programs that can even add revenue to the current funds provided to municipal shelters.
But the real question is: Is it okay to kill a healthy or treatable animal?
We say no, and we think most people agree.
This idea is not originally a Colorado-only initiative, in fact Colorado may be behind on animal welfare as it pertains to homeless cats and dogs. This is surprising considering the pet-friendly attitude of our citizens. All across the country communities are demanding that municipal and other shelters change their approach to end the needless killing of healthy and treatable animals.
Today, Austin is the largest community in the United States that saves more than 90% of all animals entering its shelter system. The change was executed in less than a year and is in its second year of success.
Communities in red states and blue states, urban and rural, poor and wealthy, have all proved that with an 11 point program, 90% or more of all animals entering shelters can be given a good home. This is changing the number of pets killed in shelters across the country. Recent estimates say that between 3 and 4 million pets are killed in shelters annually, but it doesn’t need to be so.
A man named Henry Bergh started the animal welfare philosophy that is prevalent in modern day America. He started an organization in New York City in the 1800’s to prevent the cruel working conditions of horses in the city. Mr. Bergh started the original ASPCA. But his organization was not beholden to anyone. It did not act as an agent of the city for animal control, which is dedicated to the human welfare aspect of animals in society. His philosophy was based purely on the welfare of the animals.
We’d like to see that philosophy implemented in Colorado.
The solution comes from a shelter strategy called the No Kill Equation. The No Kill Equation is based on an 11 point program built to save the lives of homeless pets. It was created and implemented through the founders of the No Kill Advocacy Center. It has proven itself in dozens of No Kill Communities in the United States, starting with the first in 2001. Five years ago, there were a handful but today there are dozens and the number is rapidly growing.
The No Kill Equation 11 point program includes:
- Trap, Neuter, and Release Programs
- High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter
- Rescue Groups
- Foster Care
- Comprehensive Adoption Programs
- Pet Retention
- Medical and Behavior Prevention & Rehabilitation
- Public Relations/Community Involvement
- Proactive Redemptions
- A Compassionate Director
The value of these programs is in the synergy between them. It is not a pick-and-choose proposition. The only success in the United States to date to save more than 90% of all animals entering a shelter are operations that implemented all 11, fully and with commitment.
And there is a monetary value as well when this is done well. We could go into a complex spreadsheet to show how costs can be reduced and revenue generated. But a simple example will show where the value lies. It costs an average of $104 to take an animal into a shelter, evaluate it, and kill it. Another animal can be taken in, evaluated, and spayed or neutered for about half that. Plus a live animal can be adopted out and generate an average of $75, which can make the saving of a homeless pet’s revenue neutral, or in some cases, revenue generating.
In 2011, the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance records reported that 12,081 animals were killed. This was from a total intake of 59,503. That’s one animal every 43 minutes. And that is just in a MDSA affiliated shelter in the Denver Metro. Every 43 minutes.
We can change this, and we can do it rapidly.
“Sgt. Karl Bailey, a police officer, took over an animal control shelter. He had no formal experience. He was not familiar with the No Kill movement. He started as the new boss of Seagoville Animal Services in January 2011. One minute later, he abolished the gas chamber. His second minute on the job: he ordered the killing to come to an end. Minutes 3 through 525,949 made up his first full year. He spent those saving lives. Fewer animals lost their lives the whole year than they used to be killed in just one week. He finished with a 98% rate of lifesaving. When someone asks you how long it should take to achieve No Kill, tell them about Sgt. Bailey. And then tell them: 120 seconds.” —Keynote 2011 no Kill Conference
What are we prepared to do?
- We are prepared to help Colorado shelters find and/or vet compassionate directors, if they don’t already have one.
- Existing or new directors can look to us to help form their plan to implement programs and services of the No Kill Equation.
- Work with city councils, mayors, and other government officials to garner support for the implementation of the No Kill Equation.
- Educate the community through traditional marketing and PR initiatives, and social networking to promote shelters implementing or successfully practicing the No Kill Equation.
We need your support right now. You can join as a paying member, a volunteer, a sponsoring business or organization, a government official that believes in doing the right thing, or just a person that writes a letter to your local representatives or shelter director and asks them to start saving more than 90% of the animals that come under their care.