• Susan Houser

News of the Week 05-10-2015

The Asheville Humane Society (AHS), which handles animal sheltering for the city of Asheville and Buncombe County in North Carolina, has hired a new director, Tracy Elliott. Like many shelter directors these days, Elliott comes from a non-traditional background, having never worked in animal welfare. Instead, his career has been in non-profit management and business. AHS did a nationwide search and selected Elliott from more than 140 applicants. AHS reports that in November and December of last year it had a live release rate of over 90%.


The city of Evanston, Illinois, is moving closer to formalizing its relationship with Saving Animals for Evanston (SAFE), a group that has been working with the police department to save 96% of animals, not including returns-to-owner, in the past year. If SAFE is appointed to run the city shelter it will replace the previous operator, which the city terminated due to citizen complaints about its high kill rate.


The executive director and the director of operations at the Greenhill Humane Society, which holds the animal sheltering contract for Eugene, Oregon, have graduated from the animal shelter management program taught by Bonney Brown and Diane Blankenburg at the University of the Pacific.


The Tri-County Humane Society in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which takes in about 3750 animals per year, is reporting a 97% live release rate so far this year. The director credits their improvement to a new approach to feral cats including barn cat and return-to-field initiatives, low-cost and free adoptions, social media, fosters, and veterinary care.


The Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina, which handles more than 90% of the community’s homeless pets, is reportedly running at a 92% live release rate. The Society has a 10-point program, including reducing animal cruelty, a medical fund for treating sick and injured animals, an aggressive lost-and-found program, return-to-field for community cats, vaccination clinics, and humane education.

The Elmbrook Humane Society in Brookfield, Wisconsin, is reaching out to help its neighbor, the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha (HAWS), increase its live release rate for cats. Elmbrook will take adoptable cats to its own adoption facility, and HAWS is offering a return-to-field program for community cats.


Waco’s mayor looks back on Waco’s three-year effort to go No Kill in this article. The efforts have included ordinance changes, spay-neuter, fundraising for a new shelter, hiring a full-time veterinarian, and consulting with Target Zero. The shelter and its regional partners report being at a 90%+ live release rate so far this year.


The Flathead County Animal Shelter, a No Kill municipal shelter in Kalispell, Montana, recently held an open-house adoption event to showcase a renovation of its facility. The new rooms allow the dogs and cats to be more relaxed, which helps them get adopted more quickly. The director said that animals are getting adopted much more quickly than they were a few years ago. Intake at the shelter is down, which the director attributes to spay-neuter programs and the public becoming better at caring for their pets.

The Best Friends super adoption event in Los Angeles last weekend was a big success, with 522 pets finding homes. The adopted pets included one bunny and one pig.


The Nevada Humane Society (NHS), which provides No Kill animal sheltering for Washoe County and Reno, took over animal sheltering last year for Carson City. In spite of an old shelter building, the NHS director is reporting a 97% live release rate for Carson City in recent months. The director credits adoption marketing, microchipping, and aggressive return-to-owner efforts, while warning that the save rate may fall some as kitten season sets in.


Los Angeles is home to pup-up cafes.


The Chester County SPCA, which serves two counties in Pennsylvania and has been reporting live release rates of over 90% for the last 6 months, has received a $60,000 grant from the Petco Foundation. The grant will be used for programs including targeted spay-neuter, free vaccinations, and wellness care.


Prince George’s County in Maryland has a draconian pit bull ban and a live release rate of only 64%, much lower than other DC-metro-area shelters. The director of the shelter, Rodney Taylor, wants the ban repealed. In the meantime he is sending pit bulls to other organizations such as the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in northern Virginia, a No Kill municipal shelter. He has also invited Aimee Sadler to teach the staff how to run dog play groups. He wants to get the live release rate to 90%.


The long-running concern about whether organizations that do TNR for feral cats in Virginia could be criminally prosecuted has finally been put to rest. Robin Starr of the Richmond SPCA reports that Virginia’s Attorney General has retracted a 2013 opinion letter that interpreted the “return” part of TNR as illegal. Starr and her board had continued with their TNR program in spite of the threat of prosecution, and have now been vindicated.


The ASPCA has provided this summary of the recommended capacity for communal cat rooms.

Here is a nice article from Arin Greenwood of the Huffington Post about the rapid progress that No Kill sheltering is making. She touches on some of the most important trends, including the growing number of people who are willing to adopt from a shelter, the use of transports to take advantage of the shortage of shelter dogs in some areas, great marketing, and outreach efforts.

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