“I Was There”

In 2001/2002, Tompkins County became the nation’s first No Kill community. I chronicled that milestone in my first book, Redemption. Because of Tompkins County’s seminal achievement, No Kill took the country by storm. The success in other communities–such as Charlottesville, Virginia–is a direct result of the success in Tompkins. In fact, the future director of Charlottesville came to visit us in Tompkins to learn about our success so she could implement it back home. But, tragically and unethically, that is not how most directors responded. Most shelter directors sought to denigrate, downplay, ignore, and dismiss the success.

All of their malicious and false attacks were motivated by a desire to avoid accountability—to avoid having to answer the question, “if they can achieve No Kill in Tompkins County, why can’t we do it here?”—here, being in the community where shelter directors were still butchering animals by the hundreds or thousands in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives they simply refused to implement.

But they aren’t making those claims anymore. Not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. It was easier to dismiss and ignore No Kill when Tompkins was the only No Kill community. But I’ve not been in Tompkins since 2004 and they are still saving over 90% of the animals (at least 92% each year for the last eight years). And Tompkins is not alone. There are now No Kill communities all over the U.S., and abroad—in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And our numbers continue to grow. As a result, shelter directors mired in killing are increasingly being seen for who and what they are.

Read a former volunteer’s poignant and powerful account of the Tompkins County transition to No Kill, and the agony she experienced before it happened.

Read “I was there” by clicking here.