The national No Kill Conference in Washington, D.C. brought together over 800 attendees from 44 states and 10 countries. The most successful shelter directors, animal lawyers, shelter veterinarians and shelter reformers nationwide shared insights and strategies to end the systematic killing of animals in our nations pounds and shelters. The attendees heard from directors of open admission shelters with save rates of better than 98%. They heard from lawyers who have passed laws making it illegal for shelters to kill animals in a wide variety of contexts and who have successfully saved the lives of animals who shelters were determined to kill. They heard from shelter veterinarians who are saving animals who would have been deemed non-rehabilitatable just a few short years ago. And they heard from reformers who have succeeded in ending the needless killing of animals in their community.

There were a lot of important lessons from No Kill Conference 2012. It was a lesson on how far our movement has come. In 2005, when the No Kill Advocacy Center held its first conference, less than two dozen people attended. In 2012, the event sold out at 860. In 2005, there was one No Kill community. In 2012, upwards of 50 shelters representing about 200 cities and towns across America have save rates better than 90%. In 2005, I talked about the goal of saving at least 90%. In 2012, we weren’t satisfied with 98% as we explored what’s possible when we reach higher.

There was also an important lesson for groups like the Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA that see their role as defending poorly performing kill shelters. Almost half of all attendees at the No Kill Conference (46%) came from shelters, including many municipal facilities subject to public acrimony over high rates of killing. They are increasingly looking to the No Kill movement, not them, because while we offer condemnation when it is deserved, we also offer solutions and assistance. By contrast, they offer sycophants and “yes men” who rush to the defense of those who neglect, abuse and kill animals, but fight reformers who want to protect those animals. If shelters want to save lives, they do not want antiquated dogmas which represent the past. And that can only mean good things as we collectively move toward our inevitable No Kill future.

If you did not attend the No Kill Conference this year, you can:

In addition, there are three more conferences occurring around the country this year in which I will be speaking:

I’m also speaking in Bloomington, IL on October 16

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