• Susan Houser

Some Very Good Years

It’s too early for 2014 stats to be out, but not too early to look at some No Kill shelters that had very good years in 2014:


Lynchburg is a small city of 76,000 people in rural Virginia. The Lynchburg Humane Society (LHS) has a contract with the city of Lynchburg for animal services. The director, Makena Yarbrough, recently posted a blog talking about events in 2014. (The blog is accompanied by a photo of a 12-year-old adoptee who may be the cutest dog ever). The shelter took in over 800 more animals in 2014 than in 2013, including 368 pets saved from neighboring shelters. The brand-new shelter building, paid for by donations that LHS raised (way to go community!) is almost ready and is slated to open in February. They had a very successful special effort during kitten season in 2014 to get kittens out of the old shelter building quickly so they wouldn’t get sick, and this effort sharply decreased their shelter deaths. What a great 2014 – and they are planning to make 2015 even better.


Jacksonville also reached out to help neighboring communities in 2014. First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP), a Jacksonville non-profit that has been a major part of the city’s success, has been helping neighboring Nassau and Clay counties to sharply reduce their kill rates. Nassau County Animal Services recently announced that they increased their live release rate by 20 points in 2014 and plan to become No Kill in 2015. Rick DuCharme, FCNMHP’s director, wants to expand assistance to additional neighboring counties, including some that are sparsely populated and have few resources.


Kansas City, Missouri, is a city of 464,000 people. A group of pet advocates formed the Kansas City Pet Project (KCPP) in 2011 and took over the city pound on January 1, 2012. Brent Toellner, president of the board of directors, posted a retrospective of the last three years. Their staff has grown from 18 to more than 60 and they have opened two satellite adoptions centers. Fosters, volunteers, adopters, and community support have all grown. The shelter has a tradition of being open on New Years Day, as they were on their first day of business in 2012. They did that to show the community that it was not going to be business as usual with KCPP, and they kept their promise.


Christie Banduch, the director of the tiny Kirby, Texas, No Kill shelter, developed a very ambitious plan in 2014 to make the unincorporated parts of Bexar County, where Kirby is located, No Kill too. She spotted an opportunity when the city of San Antonio, which is also located in Bexar County, decided to stop providing animal control and sheltering for the county. When that happened the county was left with no shelter. Kirby’s shelter is too small for the number of animals they take in, so an agreement for Kirby and Bexar County to partner, hopefully with Banduch in charge of the whole thing, would be serendipity.

And last, but far from least, 2014 may turn out to be the year when the entire state of Colorado went over the 90% live-release-rate mark. The state hit an 89% live release rate for 2013. Unfortunately, if this year is like last year we will be waiting several months on the data. Colorado would be the first No Kill state ever, though, so it will be worth the wait. In addition to saving so many of its own animals, Colorado also saved thousands of animals transferred into the state from kill shelters.


In addition to these stories there were hundreds of other communities whose shelters did great things in 2014. 2014 was the best year yet for No Kill, and all indications are that 2015 will be even better.

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