The Business of Saving Lives

How does a city bring hundreds of high paying jobs, raise millions in sales taxes, and revitalize small business? It stops killing animals at the pound.

This month, the Ozark, AL, city council passed an ordinance prohibiting the shelter from killing healthy animals, repealing a law allowing healthy animals to be killed after 48 hours and requiring them to be killed after 30 days, and providing exceptions for “critically ill or injured” animals after evaluation by a veterinarian.

Ozark’s Mayor notes he “has had many dogs throughout his life. He said changing to a ‘no kill’ shelter is something he’s wanted to do for a while now.” When asked about the costs, he replied that, “We’re not in the business to make money, we’re in the business to save beautiful animals.”

On this issue, that’s my kind of mayor. We are ethically duty bound to do it, regardless of the costs. Might does not make right, but it does create affirmative obligations. But here’s the rub: when your community saves animals, it also makes money. Lots and lots of money.

Why did Google lease a 29-story building in downtown Austin, creating hundreds of high paying, tech jobs? According to Google, the city’s “animal-welfare policies were part of the community brand that drew the company there.” Austin’s No Kill policy—and its 98% live release rate—”was attractive to company executives because it is attractive to a young, vibrant, pet-loving workforce.”

How did a Florida community realize a $71 million financial impact, including $5.7 million yearly on veterinary care, pet supplies, and other local shopping, as well as one additional employee at each of the areas 179 for-profit veterinarians? Local lifesaving at the SPCA.

How did a Nevada community increase its sales tax revenue by tens of millions annually? It cut killing in half and doubled adoptions.

Why did a Virginia community build a new shelter? To attract business. According to a local editorial,

The economic vitality of the Fredericksburg region rests on more than jobs and roads and developable acreage—the obvious factors.

It also depends on quality-of-life concerns. When major employers consider a job-creating move to an area, they size up all sorts of factors, including amenities such as parks, schools and public services. Those things matter as far as getting and retaining a quality workforce.

Which is a long-winded way of suggesting that how Stafford and Spotsylvania care for stray and abandoned critters matters to the counties’ current well-being and future prospects.

The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors was more direct: “Enhancing the lives of all our citizens—human and animal alike—benefits everyone. The new shelter will make Stafford County an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family—along with a few pets.”

I’ll be even more direct than that: No Kill is good for animals, good for people, good for the community, and very, very good for the bottom line.


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