MN & WI Join the No Kill Club

Today, Animal Ark formally announced the formation of the first No Kill communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This news comes as a result of an agreement signed by Animal Ark and the local agency which provides animal control sheltering services to Hastings and Rosemount, Minnesota and Prescott, Wisconsin. The agreement provides an adoption guarantee for any and all healthy and treatable homeless animals in these communities.

They join other No Kill communities across the country: in California, Virginia, New York, Utah, Indiana, and more. But the good news does not stop there. Duluth, MN is close, with an 88% save rate and climbing…

According to the official announcement,

While the cities of Hastings and Rosemount may be the first official No Kill cities in Minnesota, [Mike] Fry hopes they will not be the last.  “Now, all eyes are on Duluth,” he said.

A few years ago a leadership change occurred at the Animal Allies Humane Society.  Since then the organization has been actively implementing the various programs and services often referred to as “The No Kill Equation”.  During that time, the community-wide save rate has climbed from to 88% of all animals.  With improvements continuing, it is commonly expected that Duluth could exceed a 90% save rate in 2010…

“While the US population has been growing, deaths in shelters have been dropping dramatically because shelter directors across the nation are implementing the programs called The No Kill Equation,” said Fry.  “Programs like comprehensive adoption programs, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter, trap-neuter-release services for feral cats and others are making a huge difference.”

Saving 100% of Baby Kittens

For the last few years, Michael Linke, the head of the RSPCA in the Australian Capital Territory, an open admission animal control shelter, has been implementing the No Kill Equation and has saved 93% of all dogs. Last October, he attended a workshop I did at the national conference in Australia on lifesaving programs for cats, including setting up a foster care program for motherless neonatals kittens. This week, I got an e-mail from Linke which included what may be the understatement of the year: “I did what you said regarding infantile kittens, i.e., saving them.  100% saved this year.” 100% saved! Let me say it for him: “wooooooooooooooooooooooo-hooooooooooooooooo.”

Austin Sees Light at the End of the Tunnel

Congratulations are due for Austin, Texas No Kill advocates at who have overcome a major hurdle in their fight for a No Kill city. The director at the pound responsible for killing animals with ruthless efficiency—over 100,000 animals during her tenure—while saying “No” to the programs and services that make ending the killing possible, has been relieved of her duties.The shelter director routinely ordered animals killed despite state inspection reports that found hundreds of empty cages on any given day. Simple requests—such as an end to convenience killing (killing when space is available)—were rebuffed time and time again.

Their uphill battle for decency and compassion included opposition from the ASPCA, which tried to undermine reform efforts and backed the kill-oriented director; and HSUS, which wrote a letter of support to move the shelter from a centralized location close to where people live, work, and play to a remote “out of sight, out of mind” part of the city so that managers could get bigger office spaces.

In spite of the opposition, they won unanimous passage by the City Council of their No Kill plan. The plan includes what may be the first ever moratorium that makes it illegal to kill savable animals when there are empty cages. And that is just one of the many provisions, which closely track the No Kill Equation. However, the director tried to sabotage that plan by allowing animals to languish without care, and then claiming the moratorium on convenience killing was leading to warehousing.  Now she has been forced out, and Austin is conducting a nationwide search for a progressive director.

Looking to the Future

We are the generation that questioned the killing. We are the generation that discovered how to stop it. And we will be the generation that does. A No Kill nation is within our reach.

And with communities in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada achieving No Kill level save rates, it has become a race to see which will become the first No Kill nation. The future looks very bright indeed.