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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Important New Study Published

Boston University has just published the results from its 21st-Century Mayor’s Leadership Survey. The purpose of this survey is to improve how cities function, and the methodology included interviewing over 70 mayors from representative cities both large and small.

One of the questions asked during the interviews was: “Which three cities (either domestic or foreign) do you most often look to for policy and/or management ideas?” The report lists the 18 cities most commonly mentioned by the mayors (see page 29 of the report) and the percentage of mayors who mentioned each city. The results are stunning. Of the top 10 cities cited for policy and management ideas, five of them are No Kill (#3 Austin, #4 Denver, #5 Portland, #7 Salt Lake City, and #9 Seattle), one is in the 80-90% live release range (#10 San Francisco), three have active efforts in place to get to No Kill (#1 New York City, #6 Philadelphia, and #8 Los Angeles), and the remaining one, (#2 Boston), is probably doing better or much better than average but we do not have numbers to verify it.

On page 34 of the study is a list of the mayors’ responses to the question: “What is the most recent idea you have learned about from another city (domestic or foreign) and then brought to your own?” Of the 48 ideas listed, one is “No Kill animal shelter.”

This study shows pretty conclusively that the most admired cities in the United States, the ones that other cities look to for leadership, have a commitment to No Kill. It seems obvious from this survey that the best mayors in the United States are keenly interested in No Kill sheltering, realize that it is an innovative and progressive idea, and look at it as a strong positive for their cities.

One encouraging fact is that the No Kill movement is already doing many things to help mayors achieve their No Kill goals. In numerous cities advocates have formed large non-profits that are assisting the cities with fundraising for medical treatments, fostering neonatal kittens, TNR, shelter-neuter-return programs, adoption events, volunteer management, publicity, and more. In some cities, like Austin, Reno, Atlanta, Kansas City, and New York, the non-profits partner with the city shelter or have contracted to run the shelter.

In addition to the proliferation of No Kill non-profits, the No Kill movement has stepped up to provide resources for city leaders who want to create a No Kill shelter. Bonney Brown and Diane Blankenburg teach a certificate program at the University of the Pacific for lifesaving shelter management. Maddie’s Fund has created a free online library getting into the nuts and bolts of management of a successful No Kill shelter. We have “how to” workshops taught each year by American Pets Alive in Austin. There are several national conferences, including those put on by Best Friends, the No Kill Advocacy Center, the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance, and New Mexico Pets Alive, among others.

This is an exciting new era for No Kill.  With mayors on board, the only obstacle left is the actual implementation. That’s a daunting challenge, but there are lots of knowledgeable No Kill advocates and leaders who are willing to partner with cities to make No Kill a reality.

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