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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Question For My Readers

I’m working on a post about how communities get to No Kill. I went into the research for this post thinking that there were 4 main ways to get to No Kill — (1) a volunteer group or non-profit works with the existing city or county shelter to increase live releases, (2) a non-profit takes over the city or county shelter by contract with the purpose of increasing live release rates, (3) shelter management or city or county officials decide on their own or as a result of education by local advocates to take steps to reduce killing, or (4) grassroots political action creates enough votes or negative publicity to either force unwilling city or county officials to reform their shelter or elect new officials who are willing to reform the shelter.

What I’ve found so far is that lots of the communities I’ve listed got to No Kill by one of the first three methods, but as to the 4th method I’m aware of only one community – Austin – that could be classified as having gotten to No Kill by a political fight. And Austin had one of the best non-profits in the nation, Austin Pets Alive, helping the shelter, so it does not appear to be a case of pure political action making the difference.

You might be wondering why I don’t simply call up all the shelters I have listed where I don’t know the “backstory” and ask them how No Kill was accomplished in their community. The reason is that I have well over 100 shelters on my list and, with a surprising number of them, their 90%+ live release rates go way back. For example, in Colorado in 2000 there were 9 municipal shelters that reported a live release rate of 90% or more, and there were a couple dozen more in the United States by 2005. Cold calling all those shelters and trying to find people who could accurately tell me what was going on 10 or 15 years ago would be a challenge. Not to mention that in the case of a political fight, people at the shelter might not be anxious to talk about it. But my readers have a lot of collective knowledge and I’m hoping you can furnish me with some leads.

So, readers, help me out here. I would like to identify more communities where local activists fought and won a political battle for No Kill that resulted in No Kill happening. I’m looking for cities or counties where officials were not interested in No Kill and rebuffed attempts to educate them, and local activists forced the officials to change their tune and successfully implement No Kill. Even if a political fight was only part of the solution (as in Austin) I’d still like to hear about it. Any suggestions?


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