If this doesn’t get motorists’ attention, nothing will. Displayed high above a stretch of road on U.S. Highway 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a billboard that features an adorable Golden Retriever puppy. Next to the picture is the shocking URL KillThisDog.com.
Those who visit the website will be asked, “Should we kill this dog?” Visitors are given the option to click on the “KILL” or “SAVE” button.
The “SAVE” button brings them to a page that says, “Thank you, you’re awesome” and explains how, with the public’s support, shelters can move from one that kills animals to one that is a no-kill community.
The sick individuals who click on the “KILL” button are taken to a page with sobering statistics about the number of shelter animals who are killed each year in Broward County.
Purchased by Broward County group Pets’ Broward, the in-your-face campaign as a way of driving traffic (both kinds) and raising awareness about the pet overpopulation crisis in South Florida.
“Most people don’t have any idea that thousands of animals are being euthanized every year,” says founder Meredith Bruder.
In April 2012, Broward County passed a resolution that stated the intention was to adopt a no-kill policy at the local animal shelters. Around the same time, a resolution was passed that required county animal shelters to share euthanasia rates with people who send in a written request and a self-addressed stamped envelope.
The unfortunate reality? Killings at Broward County Animal Care have increased.
“It was a feel-good, hollow resolution they put out, and they have people believing they are no-kill,” Bruder says. “But now people can obtain the stats and find out it’s so far from no-kill it’s scary.”
The data shows she’s correct. While the percentage rate of animals killed at the shelter has declined since 2010, the total number of animals killed has increased. Between October 2010 and April 2012, 799 pets were euthanized on average per month. In the months since the resolution passed — from May 2012 to the end of 2013 — the monthly average of pets killed jumped to 889.
Pets’ Broward advocates that all shelters become no kill and suggests they do so by bringing in more money; offering high-volume, low cost spay and neuter clinics; providing trap-neuter-release programs for feral cats; strengthening adoption campaigns and community outreach, education, and marketing campaign; and strengthening surrender-prevention program.
“The idea was not to offend people, though a few were [offended], but to raise awareness about the truly offensive thing happening every day in Broward County, killing innocent and healthy shelter pets,” Bruder says. “In order for this to stop, we needed to raise awareness and get people’s attention. That is what the board is about and that is why it was created.”
The feedback has been 95 percent positive, Bruder says. She reports that most people she has talked to get it, and a few people have emailed complaints.
“The billboard is doing its job, and we hope that it leads to Broward County commissioners fulfilling their 2012 no kill resolution, where they promised us to work towards a no-kill community.”
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