Brother Wolf is a large, non-profit rescue organization in Asheville, North Carolina, that helps the city shelter and is working to make the city No Kill. I reported a few days ago in News Bits about an innovative idea to increase pet retention that has been put forward by Denise Bitz, the founder of Brother Wolf. The idea is for volunteers to go door-to-door and ask people how they are doing with their pets. If someone reports a problem, the volunteers can work with the person to keep the animal in the home.
A recent story from Asheville shows how well this idea can work in practice. Not long ago Asheville animal control cited an Asheville homeowner for keeping his eight dogs in poor conditions. In the great majority of jurisdictions in the United States this would probably have ended up with animal control confiscating the dogs and, since many of them are elderly, killing them. There might even have been a story in the local paper about hoarding or abuse, because the man’s home had an unkempt yard strewn with junk and overgrown with weeds.
But this story has a much happier ending, because Brother Wolf volunteers stepped in to save the day by cleaning up the property and building proper facilities for the dogs. (See the “neighbors helping neighbors” video in this link.) They recruited businesses to help, including trash, construction, and landscaping companies. These people contributed the equivalent of thousands of dollars worth of work and supplies to the effort. A veterinarian volunteered to check out the dogs, and found them to be well fed and in good health. The owner had been taking good care of his dogs, he had just not been able to keep up with the property. Once the property was fixed up it was a nice home for the dogs.
National No Kill organizations that have conferences — if you have not discovered Denise Bitz already, please take note and consider inviting her to your conferences (hint, hint). She seems to be one of those rare people who can not only apply the ideas that others have come up with, but also come up with some pretty good ideas herself. There are many innovative leaders in the No Kill movement who do not get as much recognition as they deserve, including Makena Yarbrough (Lynchburg), Rebecca Guinn (Atlanta), Robin Starr (Richmond), and Cheryl Schneider (Williamson County, TX).