A Single Step

April 26, 2012 by  

Take it!

Today’s large, animal welfare organizations have built a dependency model where you write them checks and they “promise” to help animals. That has made them very rich and, too often, the animals no better off. In some cases, they’ve made things worse. They either hoard that money in the bank, use it to thwart lifesaving reform, use it to kill animals, or waste it on whimsy over substance.

In fact, here’s their dirty little secret: when you donate to the large groups, even when you donate to help a specific animal or for a specific campaign, it doesn’t necessarily go there. HSUS will raise millions ostensibly to help a Missouri dog rescued from a dog fighting bust they don’t even have, and when people complain about being misled, they might give ½ of 1% of what they raise to the group really caring for the dog. The ASPCA will take your hard earned dollars—in fact $140,000,000 of your collective dollars every year—hire a service to drive their CEO around, while sick kittens are turned away or taken to the city pound down the street to be killed. And Best Friends asks you to donate to a campaign to end BSL in Miami that another group is spearheading. Other than sending an email alert asking you to write a letter of opposition and then sending another alert asking you to donate to them for their anti-BSL campaign, it is the other groups that are in the trenches fighting BSL in Miami, not Best Friends.

Best Friends, HSUS, and the ASPCA already have enough money to do all the programs they want—if they choose to do them. They are not using the additional money you scrape together and send them to do more. They are just sticking it in the bank, where along with millions of dollars from other donors, it sits and gathers interest. When you send $10 to the large, national organizations, they might tell you it can feed a dog for a week, or allow a stray cat a second chance, but the reality is they can already afford to feed all the dogs and give all the stray cats as many chances as they want. They have more money than they know what to do with. So there is a good chance your money goes straight into their bank accounts, where it sits, year after year, making them richer. No additional dogs are fed. No additional cats are given a second chance. So put away those check books and roll up those sleeves. If you want to help animals, do it yourselves.

I am going to post one small thing you can do to help animals as often as I can. And none will take longer than a couple of minutes. Individually, they may not amount to much, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And while some of these things will not change the world in and of themselves, they might change the world for a single animal. And if you choose to do them, collectively we’ll move mountains. Plus no matter what happens the rest of the day, you’ll feel like you did something productive.

Of course if you choose to do more, you can. And should. You can start your own campaign to reform your community such as this group did. You can help spread the word through a blog. You can take on positions of leadership in local shelters. You can work with local organizations to rescue animals and adopt them out. Every No Kill community in the U.S. started with one person who made the decision to end the killing. The No Kill revolution starts with you. What will you accomplish?

Go to http://nokilladvocacy.tumblr.com for today’s single step for animals. And then check in periodically.

Coward, Thy Name is THLN

April 25, 2012 by  

Tonight, I was supposed to debate Monica Hardy, Executive Director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network on 90.1 FM out of Houston (and nationally, online) about my support and her group’s opposition for Texas legislation that would have abolished the gas chamber, ended convenience and retribution killing, mandated transparency, and ended breed bias in shelters.

Hope’s Law, named after a dog who was denied treatment in a Texas shelter and ultimately died despite a rescue group’s offer to pay for her care and/or take her to their own veterinarian, would have made it illegal to kill animals by gassing; would have made it illegal for shelters to kill animals based on breed, age, color, or other arbitrary criteria; would have made it illegal to kill animals when qualified rescue groups were willing to save them; and would have required shelters to report how many animals they take in, adopt, transfer, reclaim, and kill or have die at their facility. THLN, in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States, the Texas Animal Control Association, and regressive kill shelters statewide opposed the bill and the bill failed to pass. At THLN’s insistence, we were given the questions ahead of time:

  1. During the last Texas Legislative Session, a controversy arose over the introduction of House Bill 3450, known as (CAPA) The Texas Companion Animal Protection Act. Please explain your understanding of the meaning and significance of this bill and what sparked the controversy?
  2. What are your feelings about this bill and legislation similar to it?
  3. Why did CAPA fail to pass in your opinion, and can you offer any suggestions regarding this bill and others which would most help the animals for the next legislative session?
  4. In the interest of benefiting the animals, please offer any constructive suggestions you may wish to share with each other, as well as any ideas regarding animal legislation.

After receiving these questions, THLN withdrew from the debate. Given that the questions were innocuous, softballs even, why would they back out? It isn’t hard to figure out. Even though they were written in a neutral manner, the real questions could not be avoided and the real meaning could not be hidden:

  1. Why did they oppose a bill which would have ended the cruel gas chamber?
  2. Why did they oppose a bill which would have saved tens of thousands of animals who have an immediate place to go?
  3. Why did they oppose a bill which would have given pit bulls, older animals, and other animals killed for arbitrary reasons a new chance at life? And,
  4. Why did they oppose a bill which would have allowed animal lovers and taxpayers to know how and what shelters are doing with their tax and philanthropic dollars?

The answer was equally obvious: when it comes to the lives of animals, they just don’t care. Rather than protect animals, as their name implies, they defend those who kill them. Rather than watchdogs, as their mission would indicate, they have become cheerleaders for regressive shelters. Rather than humane legislation, they protect the inhumane status quo.

Tragically, as No Kill advocates seek to pass progressive shelter reform legislation in communities and states throughout the country, time and again our fiercest opponents are organizations with names that allow them to masquerade as something they are not. Those of us who embrace a brighter future, those of us who seek to finally bring some accountability to a field that has historically lacked it, have found we must work to overcome the false perceptions the public, legislators, and the media have regarding these individuals and the groups they are associated with, simply because they have the names “humane” or “SPCA” or “animal control” in their titles: The Florida Animal Control Association, the Animal Law Coalition, the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals, the New York State Humane Association, and of course, the Texas Humane Legislation Network. All organizations that seek to promote killing in shelters (the animal control associations), defend killing in shelters (THLN and NYSHA), protect those who kill animals (Animal Law Coalition), or allow killing to continue in order to defend narrow interests like their own power (the Mayor’s Alliance).

Unfortunately, legislators believe these organizations speak for the animals, even though they are little more than the equivalent of a corrupt labor union—protecting incompetence and fighting innovation at all costs. Legislators believe they are run by “experts” even if all they have to substantiate their alleged “expertise” is letterhead that looks legitimate, but nothing else—no experience creating No Kill communities and no experience reforming regressive, high-kill shelters. And in the end, these individuals masquerading as legitimate groups, with views so out of touch with the majority of people, succeed in defeating legislation which would mandate reasonable, common-sense provisions that almost every American would be stunned to learn are not being voluntarily implemented in the first place.

And when THLN is asked, Why? They stick their head in the sand, unable or unwilling to defend themselves publicly. Cowards.

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Learn more:

No Hope for Hope’s Law

 

TX Humane Legislation Group Opposes Humane Legislation

 

Pens Before Pets: Amy Paulin Seeks Revenge

April 20, 2012 by  

And she is willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of animals in shelters to get it.

In time, Amy Paulin’s tenure in the New York State legislature will mean very little and will be largely forgotten. That’s because Paulin doesn’t care about issues as much as she cares about tokens. Specifically, she cares about “pen certificates.” A pen certificate is a framed copy of a bill signed by the governor, complete with the actual pen used to sign the bill. Paulin likes the pens and the certificates. Lots of them. She puts them on her wall, a tribute to all her Pyrrhic victories that have done nothing substantive to right some wrong or truly advance good government. According to Paulin’s website, “Since her election to the Assembly, 121 of her bills have been signed into law. In 2011 alone, Paulin authored 16 bills that passed both houses, placing her in the top 3% of members.” But there is a reason for that; actually two reasons:

  1. She is willing to introduce anything and has a reputation of not reading those bills, effectively rubber-stamping the desire of special interests; and,
  2. She is willing to amend the bills to the point that they are largely meaningless (they can’t even be called symbolic).

A few years ago, for example, Paulin introduced legislation: “The Transparency of Shelter Operations Act.” The bill would have required New York State shelters to post how many animals they save and kill online and to do so quarterly. If shelters are transparent, taxpayers and animal lovers will demand accountability—and improvement. At least, that should have been the defining issue. But Paulin doesn’t care about those issues as much as she cares about getting the pen certificate for the bill. So when kill shelters objected that they should not be held accountable and that taxpayers and animal lovers had no right to know that they were slaughtering animals, she amended it so that it only applied to shelters that receive state funding, of which there were only a couple in the entire state. In one stroke of the keyboard, Paulin exempted over 95% of all New York State kill shelters. After more objections, she further amended the bill, eliminating the requirement that the information be posted online. In fact, even state-funded shelters would not have had to affirmatively make the information public. What was left was a bill that did virtually nothing.

Anything to get another pen certificate. It’s quantity for Paulin, not quality. In the race for pen certificates, Paulin is the gold medalist, not that anyone else is competing. When you are the only person in a race you created, of course you’ll win. In fact, as to her Quick Kill/Quiet Kill bill (A05449C), she believes she’ll get it, too. She said so. Specifically, she stated that when the “emotions” of the “ignorant” and “uninformed” New York masses—who happen to pay her salary and whose will she is supposed to represent—die down, the bill will pass because the mighty ASPCA is behind it. And so at the request of Ed Sayres of the ASPCA and Jane Hoffman of the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City animals, her bill (which she re-amended this week):

  • Eviscerates whistleblower protections for rescuers;
  • Allows shelters to turn rescuers away if they question inhumane treatment and continued killing in those shelters;
  • Allows shelters to turn away rescue groups if they are not local (thus preserving Jane Hoffman’s power at the expense of the animals and allowing rural shelters to avoid working with rescue groups in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, and New York City where homes are in greater abundance);
  • Allows shelters to enter foster homes based on an undefined belief that they should (a tactic of intimidation and harassment); and,
  • Only allows rescues “if approved” by the shelter, an approval that can be withheld for questioning their rates of killing.

In short, Amy Paulin is willing to sacrifice thousands of animals for a framed certificate and a pen. She is also willing to subvert the democratic process. She is asking the Speaker of the Assembly to do an end-run around the committee system and bring the bill directly to the floor, where uninformed legislators will think they are helping animals because the (corrupt) ASPCA is behind it. If the ASPCA says it is good for animals, it must be!

It’s dishonest. It’s undemocratic. And it’s reactionary. Why is she willing to go that far? Why will this pen certificate take its coveted place at the center of all the others that adorn her wall? Why will this be the sweetest certificate of them all, regardless of how much animal blood is shed to get it? Why is she digging in her heels, when most legislators would have backed down in deference to the voice of the people? Because this one is personal. This one is driven by revenge.

Thanks to tens of thousands of New Yorkers who spoke out against the bill, 11 cosponsors withdrew their support for it and the Senator who introduced the bill on her behalf withdrew it in the Senate. Moreover, articles and editorials have appeared in the district newspaper against her bill, tens of thousands of emails from New Yorkers have poured into the Assembly in opposition. A half-page ad was published in her hometown newspaper and a postcard mailing paid for by animal lovers reached every household in her hometown. Her Facebook page was flooded with comments in opposition (before she began banning and deleting those who disagreed with her; once again showing her true reactionary and undemocratic colors). But more than that, her desire to become the County Executive of Westchester which, at one point, was considered a done deal is now an open question because of the controversy. And Paulin is committed to making New Yorkers who questioned her pay.

Though her tenure will be largely forgotten, her effort to thwart meaningful shelter reform and to allow shelters to kill animals in the face of a rescue alternative will not be. Paulin’s effort to do so by introducing a competing bill that codifies the status quo (and initially sought to increase the power of shelters to kill animals) will be memorialized in my upcoming fourth book, Friendly Fire. Exploring the historical, psychological and financial motivations behind the unlikely support abusive, kill shelters receive from groups like the ASPCA, Friendly Fire answers the question, Why?

Why did organizations which were supposed to have been founded on the highest ideals of compassion became the biggest defenders of the animal abuse and killing which occurs daily in our nation’s so-called “shelters.” It also discusses the tactics, proxies, and puppets they use to do so. Proxies and puppets like Amy Paulin who are willing to trump true reform in deference to these organizations, even if it means the continued killing of savable animals in shelters who have an immediate place to go. That is what people will remember of her. And the unconscionable and tragic cost-benefit analysis that she employed, when she came to the conclusion that a pen and a pen certificate were worth more than the lives of 25,000 animals a year.

Learn more: www.protectNYpets.org

What You Can Do:

  • If – and ONLY if – you are a New York resident, please contact NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ask him not to allow this bill to reach the Assembly floor. There is text provided for you, but as always adding your own heartfelt and polite message is always more effective: http://bit.ly/AEHufj
  • If – and ONLY if – you are a New York resident, please contact the cosponsors of the bill and ask them to withdraw their support. Once again, text has been provided, but as always adding your own heartfelt and polite message is helpful. These sponsors are not necessarily the enemy; most are merely uninformed as to the true intent of this legislation: http://bit.ly/IEPXGn
  • No matter where you live, let her know how you feel: www.facebook.com/assemblywomanpaulin

Send Amy Paulin a Pen!

When a dog resource-guards something, like toys, we respond by flooding the dog with toys, so he can realize they exist in abundance and that they aren’t so special. Since Amy Paulin is resource guarding pens and pen certificates, we need to flood her with them, so she can realize they aren’t so special, too. Certainly, they aren’t worth the lives of 25,000 animals a year who are being killed in NYS shelters despite rescue groups ready, willing, and able to save them. Send Amy Paulin a pen. Simply stick it in an envelope and mail it to her office. If you send a note with the pen, BE POLITE!

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin
700 White Plains Road Suite 252
Scarsdale, NY 10583

For Further Reading:

Amy Paulin Revives the Quick Kill Bill

A Most Dangerous Precedent

Bill Bad for Animals

Can You Neuter Your Way Out of Killing?

April 19, 2012 by  

The short answer is No.

What is the single, most crucial step to becoming a No Kill community? Over five years ago, I was asked this question by a Chicago magazine. This was my answer:

If you ask 100 animal welfare professionals this question, all 100 would say spay/neuter. But all 100 would be wrong. That is not to say that high volume, low cost sterilization services aren’t important, they are… But that is not why most dogs and cats are currently being killed in shelters. It isn’t “pet overpopulation.” What we are actually suffering from as a nation, what is actually killing a high number of animals, is an overpopulation of shelter directors mired in the failed philosophies of the past and complacent with the status quo. We know how to stop the killing, but many shelter directors refuse to implement the No Kill model. As a result, a widespread, institutionalized culture of lifesaving is not possible without wholesale regime change in shelters and national animal protection groups. Consequently, the most important single act—and the crucial first step—in achieving a No Kill nation is for private citizens to demand the firing of the current leadership of most animal control shelters across the country. And to replace them with compassionate ones who reject killing as a method for achieving results.

The last five years have proved that. There are now dozens of No Kill communities across the country, some of which have ended the killing even before a comprehensive spay/neuter program has been put in place. Despite that, many animal welfare professionals and large organizations continue to sing the mantra that spay/neuter is not just the most important thing, it is the only thing that really matters.* They claim that the only way to achieve a No Kill nation is through a No Birth nation. But that view is factually inaccurate.

Not all people will spay/neuter, regardless of our efforts, so we will never be a No Birth nation, effectively giving organizations that promote such views the excuse to continue killing or to defend killing as a necessary evil, as opposed to what it simply is: evil. Second, while it would make the sustaining of a No Kill nation easier if impound rates were lower, and this is a goal worth pursuing, not every dog and cat lover shares the goal of a No Birth nation (many people promote spay/neuter to prevent killing, not because they are philosophically opposed to puppies and kittens or want to live in a “pet-less” society). More importantly, while spay/neuter may help, it isn’t a prerequisite to No Kill when caring, compassionate, and competent leadership takes over a shelter.

Washoe County, Nevada is saving 91% of all the animals despite a per capita intake rate eight times that of New York City. They did it through regime change and adoptions, not spay/neuter. Similarly, when I arrived in Tompkins County, New York on June 11, 2001, the shelter was full and a spay/neuter initiative would not have helped a single one of those animals already in the shelter. It would not have helped them on June 12. And it wouldn’t have helped them on June 13 either. We needed adoptions (and programs that kept animals alive long enough to get adopted like foster care, medical care, and behavior rehabilitation). But the killing came to stop that day. We created a No Kill community overnight.

Of course, it was hard work to do so. That first summer was very difficult. A peek into my living room would have revealed this. I had a house filled with dozens of neonatal kittens because, having just arrived, I hadn’t yet had time to recruit the foster homes which would make the following summer so much easier. To the extent that spay/neuter can reduce intakes, it can make the job easier over time, the way a comprehensive effort brought intake rates in San Francisco to a fraction of Reno’s (San Francisco takes in less than half the number of animals of Reno, despite twice the population). But, and here’s the crux, Reno is No Kill and San Francisco is not (though it certainly can be if shelter leadership cared enough to end the killing; they do not.) And so while spay/neuter may be helpful to ending the killing, it isn’t a prerequisite to doing so.

Why? Spay/neuter will not save animals in shelters today. It might not even save many animals in shelters in the future: In Austin, Texas, nine years and 60,000 surgeries after the launch of a low-cost spay/neuter program, the city shelter still killed over 14,000 animals, more than it had in a decade. And it topped 14,000 kills two times. In fact, killing went up four of the previous five years. Ellen Jefferson of Austin Pets Alive explains,

I had spent nine years pouring my heart and soul into spay/neuter and while I knew it was helping the community, I had expected a bigger measurable impact at the shelter. It bothered me that we had no real conclusive studies that showed the impact of spay/neuter on [killing] in the shelter and that the labors of all my work were not something I could see an impact from in a decade.

It wasn’t until Austin advocates forced the replacement of their regressive pound director and began focusing on adoptions that killing declined significantly. Meanwhile, Allegany County, Maryland stopped killing because someone ordered them to stop, not because someone implemented a spay/neuter program. Seagoville, Texas killed less animals last year than they used to do in a single week because the new director ordered them to stop killing, not because he implemented a spay/neuter program.  Williamson County, Texas stopped killing when their new director took over and brought the killing to a stop, not because she implemented a spay/neuter program. Marquette, Michigan did the same, as have others. They did it through adoptions, and programs that get animals ready for adoption.

Animal advocates have long advocated for spay/neuter as a means of curbing “pet overpopulation.” But given that the supply-demand imbalance runs in the other direction (there are over 23 million people who will add an animal to their home, and only about three million being killed in shelters but for a home), pet overpopulation is a myth. In other words, shelters could adopt their way out of killing those three million today. Rather than a "pet overpopulation" problem, our challenge is increasing market share—the percentage of animals those people will acquire who come from shelters. That doesn’t mean spay/neuter isn’t a good idea. It is. In fact, spay/neuter is a core program of the No Kill Equation. Even though pet overpopulation is a myth, continued promotion and availability of high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter is a means to reach stasis in shelters where adoptions equals intakes, without the market share challenges we have now. More than that, we want intakes low enough that even a lazy, bureaucratic, uncaring, inept director (in short, your average kill shelter director) can run a No Kill shelter with ease. In other words, we want to eliminate those communities with high intake rates (like Washoe County) needing thoroughly committed and hardworking leadership to succeed. If spay/neuter allows a community to drop intakes significantly enough that they are unable to meet adoption demand, they can begin importing animals from high-kill rate jurisdictions and save those lives, too.  And less animals entering shelters is a good thing, especially when they are under the constant threat of a death sentence; and even when they are not. But the truth is you cannot spay/neuter your way out of killing.

Of course, spay/neuter saves unsocial, free-living cats who are not candidates for adoption, through Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR). But if you consider TNR the functional equivalent of adoption—or consider adoption INR (Impound, Neuter, Rehome)—spay/neuter, while important, isn’t the most important variable in saving those cats. The most important part of the TNR equation is the “R.” Spay/neuter, in other words, has its limits and we need to stop claiming it as the most important of all the programs. The goal of the No Kill movement has never been no more births, although reducing birth rates helps. The goal of the No Kill movement is, and has always been, no more killing. And we do not have to wait until spay/neuter initiatives are launched or even bear fruit before we can stop doing so. In fact, to do so is to wait for results that experience shows never come. It is to delay the lifesaving indefinitely.

This is not going to stop the anti-No Kill zealots from claiming I am against spay/neuter (I am not). When I was in San Francisco, we offered free spay/neuter for all cats of San Francisco residents, regardless of income. We offered free spay/neuter for all "feral" cats. We offered free spay/neuter of many dogs and low-cost spay/neuter of others. We even sterilized animals for the city pound. When I was in Tompkins County, and ran the pound, we offered free spay/neuter for all "feral" cats, free spay/neuter for anyone surrendering litters of kittens or puppies (a program we called “Spay Your Mama”), and free or low-cost spay/neuter for the animals in low-income households. I am an advocate for spay/neuter and have always supported it in order to reduce intakes in shelters. Nor will it stop the naysayers from claiming that I support puppy mills (I do not). I’ve spoken out against puppy mills. I’ve sponsored workshops on how to stop puppy mills. I support legislation to ban the sale of purposely-bred non-shelter/rescue animals in pet stores. But we need to be honest with ourselves.

Our movement has historically deified spay/neuter because we’ve been told to; because every organization is for it—even those regressive shelters which neglect, abuse and kill animals (and hypocritically do not spay/neuter shelter animals themselves); even national animal protection groups like HSUS and PETA that pursue a pro-kill/anti-No Kill agenda and, in the case of the latter, purposely seek out animals to kill themselves. Why have they done so, even when it is clear that they do not care about the animals in shelters or whether those animals live or die?

It is a way for them to avoid accountability and pass the blame for the killing to others. According to these organizations, the people who do not spay/neuter their animals are responsible for pet overpopulation; and pet overpopulation is why shelters are killing animals. In placing blame for shelter killing on the public, HSUS, the ASPCA, and the American Humane Association once claimed that their task was “to educate the public to the fact that irresponsible companion animal owners are at fault rather than the agencies [actually doing the killing].” And so long as there are intakes at shelters, they argue, the killing done there is the fault of the public for failure to spay/neuter. In short, shelters are merely doing the public’s dirty work.

But as surely as pet overpopulation is a myth, the idea that the only way to a No Kill nation is through spay/neuter initiatives is also a myth. It will certainly make it easier to reach and sustain, and that is why we should continue to advocate for it, promote it, offer it, and remove the barriers to people having it done (cost and availability). But no community has spay/neutered their way out of killing. And none ever will. Even if a shelter only takes in 25 animals a year, rather than 25,000, and we should strive for that, those animals are saved through adoption. Spay/neuter offers no immediate lifesaving benefit for the animals already on death row. And while adopting out 25 animals is easier than 25,000, we can do both. In other words, we can adopt our way out of killing, even without a comprehensive spay/neuter initiative. We can do it today. And in more and more communities, that is exactly what we have done.

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* While historically, most animal advocates would have agreed with these organizations, that view is thankfully changing. In an informal survey I did on Facebook, which received over 400 responses, approximately 30% of respondents said spay/neuter was the most important program to save the lives of animals in shelters. The vast majority cited others such as adoptions, foster care, and working with rescue groups. Will the national organizations ever catch up?

The truth is enough: Spay/neuter is very important. Why lie?

Dollars & Sense

April 1, 2012 by  

The are four myths that allow the paradigm of killing to continue. The myth that “open admission” shelters cannot be No Kill because of pet overpopulation. The myth that No Kill is not possible because of the irresponsible public. The myth that No Kill is inconsistent with public health and safety. And the myth that No Kill is too expensive. The first three are addressed in the document No Kill 101: A Primer on No Kill Animal Control Sheltering for Public Officials. You can download it for free by clicking here. Here’s the fourth: “No Kill is too expensive. Our community cannot afford it.”

Today, there are dozens of No Kill communities across the United States; in states as diverse as Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana, California, New York, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and elsewhere. These communities share little in common demographically. What they do share is leadership with a “can do” attitude and a passion for saving lives, as well as the model used to achieve it: the programs and services of the No Kill Equation (See No Kill 101: A Primer on No Kill Animal Control Sheltering for Public Officials). These communities not only prove that No Kill can be achieved at “open admission” municipal shelters in both urban and rural, Northern and Southern, large and small, and both politically liberal and conservative communities, but also that No Kill is consistent with a municipal shelter’s public safety mandate. They also disprove the idea that communities with high intake rates can’t be No Kill because of the antiquated and disproven notions of “pet overpopulation” and the “irresponsible public.”

This is good news because not only do the animals deserve it and alternatives to killing exist, but the public is increasing demanding it. In a national survey, 96% of Americans—almost every single person across the social and political spectrum—said we have a moral obligation to protect animals and that we should have strong laws to do so. Saving lives is not only good public policy; it is also good bipartisan politics. But at a time when economic challenges are being faced in communities across the country, legislators and policy makers are asking if they can afford to embrace a more humane alternative.

Thankfully, many communities have already proven that No Kill animal control is cost-effective, saves municipalities expenses associated with killing, and brings badly needed revenues into public coffers and community businesses. In addition, while some of the communities which have embraced No Kill have also increased funding for animal services, not all of them have. Achieving No Kill does not necessarily require increased expenditures on animal control.

Although costs vary somewhat, impounding, caring for, and ultimately killing an animal and disposing of his/her body costs approximately $106.00 ($66 for impoundment and $40 for killing and disposal). The process is entirely revenue negative to the municipality in contrast to the No Kill approach which transfers costs to private philanthropy, brings in adoption revenue and other user fees, and supports local businesses. In just one community, a No Kill initiative yielded $250,000 in increased revenues at a time the shelter also significantly reduced expenditures. In addition, the positive economic impact to businesses due to subsequent spending by adopters on those animals totaled over $12,000,000 in sales annually. Over the course of the lifetime of those animals and subsequent adoptions, it is estimated that these animals will generate $300 million, bringing in over $20,000,000 in sales tax revenues.

Does it make more economic sense to adopt out animals, transfer animals to private non-profit rescue organizations, and increase the number of stray animals reclaimed by their families, all revenue positive activities that save the costs of killing and bring in fees and other revenues? Of course it does. At a time when dozens of communities across the country have achieved No Kill, including those with per capita intake rates up to eight times higher than New York City, shelters which continue to kill in the face of lifesaving alternatives are not only engaging in morally bankrupt conduct (killing animals who have a place to go), they are bankrupting community coffers. No Kill animal control not only makes good sense.

It makes dollars and cents.

Download Dollars & Sense: The Economic Benefits of No Kill Animal Control by clicking here.