The No-Kill Movement

This is a special section for dogs needing new homes and for inspiring stories of dogs that have found their furever home through Dogster or through the love and energy of rescuers. This is also the place to discuss shelters, rescue organizations, rescue strategies, issues, solutions, etc. and how we can all help in this critical endeavor. Remember that we are all here for the love of dog! If you are posting about a dog that needs a new home, please put your location in the topic of your thread so those close by can find you! Make sure to check out Dogster's dog adoption center!

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I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 9:57am PST 
Duncan: "So I don't know why, for over 20 years, the Northeast has low (per capita) intake rates at their shelters, while the South continues to have high intake rates. But we do both know and acknowledge that this is true. And hopefully you understand the link between intake rate and kill rate."

I will venture that the contrast in spay/neuter rates for pet animals is a huge part of this equation. My vet's office has a speuter rate of above 85% for the pet dogs that they treat in their practice. That's just an example and is in no way meant to imply that in NE that is the speuter rate overall. I'm sure you have access to better statistics than I do regarding regional speuter rates. I would bet real money that speuter rates are much higher here. That has to do with many factors, but it's something that has been done right to a certain extent here regarding decreasing shelter intakes. I am certainly old enough to remember when this was far from being the case, so I can attest that culturally it is an idea that can be changed. It is now considered to be highly unethical here to have a wandering dog of any sex, doubly unethical if the dog is unaltered and wandering. Animal Control depts tend to have more resources here due to budgeting, gov't support etc. and they deal with loose animals promptly in the majority of communities in my area. In many threads, that has been contrasted with either non-existent animal control units or ones that are so underfunded there's not much they can do in many other regions. I'm honestly not trying to level blame, just stating that where more resources are directed there's more ability to work on the problem.

There are reasons why puppies are so rare as intakes here even considering the fact that BYBs certainly do exist and my local paper is also filled with ads for puppies bred for profit. But keep in mind that puppy millers know where their markets are and I've traced ads back to puppy mill fronts on more than one occasion and flagged them. We do need to import puppies for adoption otherwise the choices are pit bull, pit bull mix, or a lab pit mix and all right at that lovely adolescent stage or older past li'l puppy cuteness into the realm of big out of control dogness. Very tough to adopt out, as has been pointed out, even though we're comparatively pit and bully breed friendly here.

I can see a lot of the intitiatives put out there by the no kill movement helping, but I do agree that lowering intake rates for the many reasons dogs/pups are surrendered to be absolutely key.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 11:21am PST 
A lot of people do fear New England will go backwards. And I do see the potential. BYB'ing is enormously heavy here, and I think Duncan can attest when our rescue does its adoption events at Petco, the dominant dog we see is a BYB. In the majority, these are designer breeds, which are HUGE up here, and coincidentally or not has swelled right around the time that rescue started to gain its steam as well. This does not even address internet puppy sales, another new factor which seems to be growing.

I had warned Duncan before she moved here that her New England nirvana bubble was going to burst, for what she assumed is not in evidence. We were told why New England improved, but in my experience those were not the central reasons. I am not sure she has even made this point on Dogster, so I am going to make it for her. There is not much stigma here against breeding your pet. Shelters here do not have reasonable numbers due to shelters hosting adoption events, immense volunteer strength or modern and inviting facilities. People dump their dogs less here. Far fewer oops litters. Those are the two factors one would have expected to see and which is in occurrence.

The dominant rescue here is transport. Transport and breed specific. IMO, the number one reason is that New England has a pretty strong ethic that pets are for life. Something very different than the attitudes in the south. Turning the south into New England on that front has only a long chance, as that is hound dog culture down there, which makes many of the desired attitudes extremely hard to popularize. That and southern culture, which remains very much a fiery response to mettling in one's affairs, which in New England is quite opposite. There is far more social pressure here. Duncan worked at a humane society down south where an employee....humane professional...let her dogs roam and had no issue with that. It is not simply the south "catching up" with us, as this moves beyond a dog culture issue. There are denser issues in the culture, beyond dogs, that affect dogs. The successes in Austin, TX are marvelous, but that has been called the "New England of Texas" and does not surprise me. When I covered San Antonio, the volunteer network was indeed *far* stronger there than what I have been seeing HERE, the high kill there was highly motivated towards trying to become a no kill. They have a lot of the pieces in place, but if you can't stop the intake, you can't stop the problem.

And sadly, things in New England are turning pretty rotten pretty fast. Rescue negative legislation continues to escalate, at rates both alarming and imposing. Whether this is the fault of commercial breeders trying to undo the competition, or a reminder that volunteerism quantity has the potential to bring harm...certainly there have been notorious cases of unhealthy or highly behavioral dogs placed in our community....one does not know for sure, but whatever the case, the numbers will start to drop here as these legislations are hostile and make being a rescue, and in some cases an adopter, far more loaded. And do set precedents should rescue focus its transports on other regions. It is not supported. It is not supported HERE, where it essentially founded itself.

I do feel it is inevitable that rescue will level (and I say is, reminding it is not simply the numbers, but the statements and attitudes), as is true of anything innovative....there is that first rush, and then things find their more realistic placement and level. We here on Dogster see many instances of people who adopted and are now interested in trying a breeder puppy. We have seen hostility targeted towards rescues. We have seen people with bad dog adoption and volunteer experiences alike due to inept volunteerism. Rescue hasn't evolved itself much when it needed to in the meantime, which has led to whole new cast of problems.

And all the while, intake has not been addressed. Which is the problem. One would hope one thing....the sense of life's sanctity and a responsibility to it. Breeders who have a lifetime responsibility to their puppies, owners who have a strong ethic towards their pets in much the same way, either through being a life long home for their pet or investing themselves in careful and ethical placement.

Toto's post said it all to me. And she's a New Englander also.

Edited by author Tue Dec 4, '12 11:45am PST

Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 11:33am PST 
Once routine spay/neuter for any dog not expected to be bred gets established, it's self-reinforcing. People, including your vet, don't ask IF you'll spay/neuter; they ask WHEN.

There really is quite a bit of low-cost spay/neuter available in New England, but not equally in every state, and the details differ. MSPCA has a low-cost clinic. Many vets accept the Friends of Animals certificates. In my city, Animal Control negotiated an even lower rate with MSPCA, and provides two-way transportation in the low-income parts of the city. NH has a state fund. Manchester Animal Shelter periodically offers free spay/neuter for pit bulls. The Catmobile offers low cost spay/neuter for cats. Etc.

When I've adopted from a shelter in MA, the adoption has usually included a Friends of Animals certificate, along with a list of local vets accepting it. They're also sold separately. Addy was actually the first pet I didn't use an FA certificate for, and the vet quietly discounted the surgery by $100 anyway. Many vets do this, because it's the one "optional" surgery they don't want you saying no to.

Buddy Dog started consciousness-raising on the subject of both adoption and spay/neuter in MA over fifty years ago.

It's tougher, not impossible, but tougher to keep your dog outside in New England than in the south, mostly climate but also a change in the culture over the last fifty years, and a dog who is inside is much more a part of the family. Giving birth isn't something that happens where the human family finds out after the fact, with the puppies either being born alive and surviving those first few hours, or not. I think that makes a difference, too. Your kids may witness the Miracle of Birth, which loses its thrill after the first time, or they may witness the Miracle of Dead Puppies, and the late-night rush to the emergency vet.

There was, for many years, a large and successful vet clinic in suburban Boston whose owner/chief vet had previously worked for ASPCA, when they were taking in 20,000 cats a year and finding homes for 2,000 cats a year. He never wanted to kill another healthy animal again, and he was a real proselytizer for the benefits of spay/neuter.

There are a lot of factors, some of which were/are regionally specific, and others that aren't. And making spay/neuter both affordable, with low-cost programs, and accessible, with transportation or mobile clinics, can make a huge difference.

But beyond a certain tipping point, as I said, it becomes self-reinforcing. We are basically very smart chimps, and we want to do what the other chimps around us do. In New England, sometime during my childhood, it became the Done Thing to spay/neuter your pets, and so that's what we do.

And that, combined with the shift to not letting your dogs roam, had a huge impact on shelter intake, yes.

Note that we still have a huge problem with cats; it looks pretty much like the dog situation did years ago. Many shelters that are No Kill, or statistically No Kill, for dogs, are still either Kill or Limited Admission for cats, because while there's been a shift with respect to cats, too, it hasn't been as great. And while cats don't reproduce at the wild, impossible rates often stated in the scare stories, they do reproduce significantly faster than the average for dogs. cry


Because I'm- Duncan, that's- why

Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 12:44pm PST 
Addy, you've made some very good points about the shift in New England!

I think it is true (and I agree with the reasons that you and Lucille stated) that people are more likely to keep their dogs indoors in New England, particularly as opposed to just letting them roam.

And yes, that it is more compelling to consider dogs as family members when they do live indoors WITH the family.

There's just the whole complex of lifestyle and social pressure differences.
Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 3:41pm PST 
One major thing I noticed traveling in the South was the weather factor... there were small dogs ALL OVER, most with puppies following along behind. One of the girls who works with me here and worked with me at the shelter was with me and we both concur that the weather is the major difference...those small dogs would not survive the nine months of bad weather, and would never be producing one litter a year, much less two which is happening down South.
On another topic... the cat issue does make me ill... when I left the shelter (average yearly intake 1200, average yearly adoption 350 -400), I swore I would never kill another healthy cat.
We now do a small scale PRIVATE cat rescue here at our boarding kennel since there was NOTHING available in this area. Being private, we ONLY take what we have room for and we are able to keep ALL cats until they are placed. I do feel badly about those we can't take, but we are adopting out 200+ each year so it sure makes walking into the cat room a more pleasurable experience each morning. Sadly, we lose money DAILY with these cats so they are not helping our bottom line at all in a tough economy, but...I can't really see an answer there until our two local "shelters" stop having fund raisers and fighting amongst themselves and just start taking care of some of these animals...but that is another subject!!!

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 4:49pm PST 
I'd like to see some kind of nationwide "Adopt an Adult" campaign with some organization. But as has been pointed out, people want what they want. I didn't even look at puppies when I adopted. An adult means you have some idea of personality and size, hopefully you can bypass housebreaking. But I suppose people who are set on a puppy aren't going to look at the grown ones.

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 5:39pm PST 
Duncan made the best comment to me, re they "want what they want." The better answer is that they "don't want what they don't want."

I think converting someone from puppy to young adult is doable. Converting someone from one sporting breed (said just generically, for it could be herding, toy and so on) in doable. But talking someone who wants a Collie onto a plain mutt, or a GSD seeker onto a Pit Bull.....very rare.

Pit Bulls are a dominant consideration in the shortcomings of the no kill logic. They are heavily, heavily BYB'd. In droves....I don't think it even matters what area you are in. No offense intended to anyone, but if you dare think of one outside of a titling, established breeder, vs rescuing, you are a moron. And because you are, he'll find his way to the shelter soon enough. I really don't like the speak that Pit Bulls "are a type and not and breed." They are a breed. Can be a type, but they are a breed, and we see huge numbers of purebred Pit Bulls, who has huge demands as puppies and then really fall into the dregs as adults. Until that BYB trend is brought under control, there will be unending sad outcomes. You are talking about a heavily milled breed who it takes a special owner for, just because of the reputation. Many will give people pause, and talking someone ONTO a Pit Bull is incredibly difficult if they've been affected by the negative press or can't deal with the social pressures.

They have such a huge impact on the S/R crisis. Huge numbers in the shelters, a lot of rescues won't touch them as they are hard to move, they are euth'd here in New England....exception to the rule, Pit Bulls come into shelters, populate them and die there. One of my locals, a shelter I know very well, has long had affiliation with a couple of area PB trainers who OB train and put CGCs on their adoptable shelter dogs, they (or more specifically their shelter manager) played a huge role in outlawing the breeding of Pit Bulls in our jurisdiction, she LOVES PBs and is doing what she can, but all anyone has to do is hop over to Providence and get a puppy, and the cycle continues. It is in many roles strictly a BYB problem when it comes to the Pit Bulls, does impact shelters and makes even best made efforts an incredible struggle to avoid euth'ing some highly adoptable dogs. Which of course in terms of actually importing PBs in, to ANY area, a grueling exercise in ethics.
Sarah, CWSR,- CWG1, CGC

Million Dollar- Mutt
Barked: Tue Dec 4, '12 8:28pm PST 
I am wondering where the No-Kill Movement proposes the money come from to fund low-cost vaccine clinics, low cost spay neuters, etc... Most of the "shelters" my rescue pulls from are county-funded animal controls, and they are in very rural, economically depressed areas. Funding is poor due to this, and because people don't have money, they are less likely to be making donations to fund this sort of thing. I think it has merit, but what I have read it seems to be placing all of the blame/responsibility on the rescues & shelters, and none of it on the people that are producing the dogs that are filling the shelters...

I see a lot of what Toto & Tiller have seen. :/

On top of that- there needs to be major legislative reform in many areas. Apparently in Indiana, dogs (and cats) can leave AC and be adopted without being neutered or having a neuter contract. The "dog catcher" routinely will place hound dogs (big hunting country) and toy dogs without having them altered. Give you one guess as to what is happening with those dogs. Intact dogs are also "stolen" or "lost" (ACO suspected here as well). But because of the culture of the area, no one knows or cares except the very few trying desperately to get the dogs into rescue.
Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 6:43am PST 
Yes, there needs to be better legislation. No shelter should be adopting out intact animals without a neuter contract, just for starters.

MA and NH both have state funds to help fund low-cost clinics. We also benefit from the fact that MSPCA is large and well-funded. Poor communities where low-cost spay/neuter services are most needed are the areas least able to afford it themselves. Funding needs to be at least partly, and in some areas maybe wholly, a state-level responsibility.

I live in the MA community that has the lowest per capita income in the state--but we also have a major MSPCA shelter in the next town over. They provide low-cost spay/neuter. Our ACO negotiated an even lower rate for households in the poorest part of our city, where intact dogs are the biggest issue, and provides two-way transportation.

But in MA and NH, at least, AC is usually an ally of rescue and of pet owners, not an enemy, as seems to be the case in some other parts of the country.

We have not achieved nirvana. But it's equally unwise to lose sight of the fact that we've made major progress in my lifetime, or even in the lifetime of someone twenty years younger. Let's not be too quick to assume that progress is at an end merely because it's not a perfect, smooth path straight upward.

Because I'm- Duncan, that's- why

Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 7:33am PST 
No shelter should be adopting out animals without speutering them FIRST. Contracts have a poor rate of follow through and shelters do not have resources to enforce them. Granted the shelter can't be expected to speuter every animal in its care, but as soon as the animal is adopted and the adoption fee paid, they should use that to cover the surgery and get it done before that animal leaves the premises. (It might mean the new owner has to wait a day or two before picking up their new pet.) Shelters that don't do this are hypocrites adding to the problem they are supposedly trying to fix.

I agree, spay/neuter should be funded by the state or the city/town/county. It makes fiscal sense because spay/neuter is cheaper than sheltering animals. So, if effective and reduces intake rates, funding spay/neuter is the way to go.

It isn't often done, though. I know at the low-cost spay/neuter clinic where I worked, the initial investment capital came through private charities. Not a penny of government money. And in their continuing operation they are supported by grants and private nonprofits and are mostly self sufficient due to the high volume model.
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