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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

What’s New at OTFD

A lot has been happening at Out the Front Door (OTFD) lately. Today I want to introduce a new website for OTFD, a new book to be published on the website, and a new discussion group!

The OTFD website has had a complete makeover. It was done by Don Jennings, a nonprofit management consultant who works with Humane Network. I’m thrilled with the new look and functionality, and hope you will be too. Check it out at OTFD.

The new website will be multi-media, and the first step toward that goal is the August publication on the website of my new book, Prodigal Pets: A History of Animal Sheltering in America and the Origin of the No Kill Movement. This book is the result of 5 years of research and writing, including interviewing dozens of people and reading thousands of pages of documents.

Prodigal Pets tells the story of how animal control and sheltering developed in the U.S. It starts with colonial times, but emphasizes the crucial years from 1970 to 2000 when the No Kill movement was developing and huge changes were happening in cat and dog populations and how people regarded pets. There are chapters discussing community cats, veterinary medicine, the psychology of shelter work, the first animal shelter, the spay-neuter movement, the earliest No Kill shelters, the philosophy of Ed Duvin, the first No Kill conferences, and much more.

I decided to publish Prodigal Pets on the OTFD website instead of in hard copy because I want it to reach the largest possible audience. What I learned in writing this book profoundly changed my own view of sheltering and how to approach shelter lifesaving, and I want everyone to have access to that information. The book has some 90,000 words and 2000 footnotes, and the price of a hard-copy book would have been prohibitive for many people. Please note that the book is copyrighted — a copyright notice will accompany its publication.

Another big change at OTFD is that, due to the upheaval happening in traditional social media, I want to move to a better way of communicating with people who are actively involved in sheltering. I think Maddie’s Pet Forum (MPF) is a great option, so look for OTFD to be active on MPF. Bonney Brown and I have just formed a group on MPF to talk about the future of animal sheltering — an important topic that will also be featured on OTFD. If you have not already joined MPF, check it out. It seems to be growing by leaps and bounds and really filling a need for better communication among shelter people. You can register for MPF at :



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