They Did It; So Can You


In 2010, operating under the old adage that if you want something done right, do it yourself, a group of Alameda, CA, shelter volunteers banded together and told the City that they could not only run the shelter better (i.e., save more lives), they could save the City money in the process. They submitted a bid to run the shelter and got the contract. After 126 years of running the shelter, the City turned it over to the volunteers. In 2014, the shelter saved 92% of cats and 98% of dogs. You can read the inspiring story by clicking here. In Palm Springs, CA, under similar circumstances, the shelter now saves 95% of the animals. And in Petaluma, CA, a similar group saved 94% in 2013 and claims an even higher save rate in 2014 (See

“We figured out how to save over 97% of ALL our animals in an open admission city pound. By doing so, we have tons of donations, tons of volunteers, and tons of happy adopters. We run out of animals! In my experience, animal advocates arguing that we ‘have to kill’ animals (followed by the usual excuses:) is false: Kill shelters are on the way out. Modern, high achieving shelters are going to make sure of that.”

They are part of a growing number of shelters—run by newly formed groups—that wanted the shelter run right and decided to do it themselves. They have rejected the excuses of why ending the killing of animals is impossible, of why things have to be done the same way year after year, of why there is no choice but to accept the deadly results. And they are not alone. Similar examples exist in other states.

You can do it, too. Here are sample copies of their bids to take over the shelter for you to use and modify:

Other approaches to saving lives in the local shelter include waging a political campaign for reform, passing a law that requires shelters to save more lives, or making sure that the person running the shelter is compassionate, effective, and hard working.


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