This is the article that the statistic comes from. I think Merrick's points are accurate...given the euthanization numbers drop DRAMATICALLY with aggressive spay/neuter efforts. As you work on the numbers...you can also tackle the "reasons" why people abandon their older animals. Stray dogs are often seen during the day...most feral cats are nocturnal...with an estimate of feral cats being soo high (20 million to 60 million)...I think Merrick is saying we cannot simply spay the domesticated cats..we need to actively pursue TNR at a national level. There are not nearly 20 million free roaming dogs...if there are...I'd really like to see the website with that number. Please read the article as I think it explains things much better. Also..No Kill does not equate Never Kill.
Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2003 6:16 pm
Post subject: No-Kill Nation
Cover Story: No-Kill Nation
The movement to find homes for all adoptable dogs and cats is spreading across the country.
By Francy Blackwood
In 1994 San Francisco rocked the world of animal sheltering when the San Francisco SPCA and the San Francisco Animal Care and Control agency became partners in a pact to stop killing adoptable cats and dogs. The move broke ranks with the modus operandi that had prevailed for more than a century, as millions of healthy, well-behaved animals were routinely killed to make room for others needing limited shelter space. By rejecting killing in the name of population control, San Francisco launched a no-kill movement that challenged traditional assumptions about the role and responsibilities of animal shelters. "San Francisco introduced a complete turnabout in thinking," says Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, a Clinton, Washington-based newspaper that reports on animal protection worldwide and has covered the no-kill movement since its inception.
No-kill boosted public interest in saving homeless animals, and Clifton estimates it was instrumental in expanding the pool of shelter donors and adopters by 30 percent. The no-kill movement energized the animal welfare field and sparked debate among shelter professionals over the merits of no-kill programsâ€”a debate that created "an opportunity to look at things in a fresh way," says Julie Morris, senior vice president of National Shelter Outreach at the ASPCA. Meanwhile, no-kill took root around the country as sheltersâ€”from the Humane Society of Austin & Travis County (Texas) and Best Friends Animal Society in Kenab, Utah to Quad City Animal Welfare Center in Milan, Illinois and the Richmond (Virginia) SPCAâ€”began to embrace and promote no-kill practices.
Today, "no-kill has come of age," says Jane Hoffman, president and chair of the Mayorâ€™s Alliance for New York Cityâ€™s Animals, a coalition of New York City shelters and rescue groups. "Thereâ€™s a dawning realization, even among no-kill critics, that killing an animal for overpopulation reasons is not acceptable, and thereâ€™s a humane way to deal with the problem. There are solutions that can reduce the killing."
As the no-kill movement enters its second decade, a growing number of communities across the country are focusing on the nuts and bolts of those solutions: What steps are required to stop killing adoptable cats and dogs? What can communities nationwide learn from those who have implemented no-kill programs?
The San Francisco Model
One place to look for answers is the city where no-kill started. "San Francisco represents the most clearly articulated and successfully applied model of no-kill," says ASPCA president Ed Sayres, who was president of the SFSPCA from 1998 until May 2003. "Itâ€™s the most coherent, sustained and statistically valid example of what no-kill can achieve, and it has national relevance."
Simply put, San Francisco has targeted both sides of the homeless animal problem by reducing intake and improving outcomes. That means reducing the number of animals at risk, so fewer dogs and cats end up in the shelter system, while at the same time allocating more resources to the treatment and adoption programs required to help every adoptable dog and cat find a home. "Weâ€™re basically saying, â€˜Letâ€™s try to have fewer animals in the shelter, and letâ€™s try to kill fewer of them,â€™" observes Carl Friedman, director of SFACC.
To achieve that straightforward objectiveâ€”fewer animals entering the shelter system, more animals leaving aliveâ€”San Francisco took action on several fronts: high-volume spay/neuter surgery to curb pet overpopulation and reduce shelter intake; a collaborative relationship between the SFSPCA and SFACC; and investments in foster care, medical treatment, behavior modification, training and adoption promotion.
The SFSPCA spends between $1 million and $2 million a year to subsidize surgery at its spay/neuter clinic, with free surgery for San Franciscoâ€™s feral cats and animals adopted from the SFSPCA, and public fees that are about 60 percent below the city average. The clinic performs approximately 7,000 surgeries a year and has altered more than 100,000 dogs and cats (including more than 12,000 feral cats) since it began keeping records in 1988. The result: between 1990 and 2002, the number of dogs and cats entering the San Francisco shelter system dropped by 41 percent, from 13,189 to 7,836.
The drive to spay and neuter dogs and cats is hardly new. For decades, spay/neuter surgery has been advanced as a solution to the pet overpopulation problem, and with significant success: The number of shelter animals killed nationwide dropped from 17.8 million in 1980 to 5.7 million in 1992 and 4.2 million in 2002, according to the July/August 2003 issue of Animal People. But the need for spay/neuter continues, especially among shelter animals, pets in low-income households and free-roaming cats. Clifton estimates that the number of spay/neuter surgeries performed each year must increase by 6.8 million (6.4 million cats and 400,000 dogs) if the nation is to achieve no-kill status.
Relationships and Resources
Another key component of the San Francisco model is the relationship between the cityâ€™s SPCA and its animal care and control agency. SFACC is a tax-supported, municipal agency, the cityâ€™s open-door shelter for all animals, whether lost, abandoned,surrendered or rescued. The SFSPCA is a privately-funded, limited-admission shelter that doesnâ€™t take in more animals than it has the resources to save. Each year about 2,000 adoptable cats and dogs who donâ€™t find a home during their stay at ACC are transferred to the SPCA, instead of being killed.
For more than 80 years, the SFSPCA had been under contract to perform the cityâ€™s animal control functions, a common arrangement in communities that donâ€™t have a publicly funded municipal animal control agency. The problem is, private humane societies with animal control contracts are rarely paid enough to cover the costs involved, and they end up subsidizing animal control services. When it relinquished animal control in 1989 to SFACC, a newly created city agency, the SPCA reallocated the money it had been spending on animal control to other programs, starting with spay/neuter surgeries. "The key is the fact that they took the savings and put them into prevention," says animal population analyst Peter Marsh, a director of Solutions to Overpopulation of Pets (STOP), based in Concord, New Hampshire, which operates the stateâ€™s largest private neutering-assistance program and helps others nationwide establish neutering programs.
The arrangement also addresses a concern that no-kill shelters turn away animals in need. "San Francisco didnâ€™t close one door until it had opened another," notes Sayres. "The SPCA didnâ€™t become a limited-admission shelter until Animal Care and Control had been established as an extremely competent, open-door agency with good resources." (SFACC has its own adoption program, as well as free spay/neuter surgeries for adopted animals and a foster care program for underage kittens.)
With SFACC handling the demanding and costly job of animal control, the SFSPCA has been able to focus its resources not only on prevention, but also on treatment and adoption efforts. Among them:
Foster homes for about 1,000 cats and dogs each year, animals who need time or rehabilitation before they are old enough or well enough to be adopted.
A hospital and infirmary to provide medical treatment for sick or injured shelter animals.
Maddieâ€™s Pet Adoption Center, opened in 1998, where animals live in comfortable, spacious dog apartments and kitty loftsâ€”an environment that is conducive to adoption and prepares animals for the transition from shelter to home.
Adoption outreach, with mobile units set up in high-profile locations citywide, so animals can meet more potential adopters.
Extensive behavior and training programs to help animals find homes more quickly by improving their behavior; trainers and behavior specialists also offer public classes and counseling to assist people with pet behavior problemsâ€”an important service, as a growing percentage of the animals entering shelters these days are pets surrendered for behavior reasons.
The SFSPCA is currently raising funds to build the regionâ€™s largest multidisciplinary, specialty veterinary medical center. Named in honor of the late Leanne Roberts, a long ime member of the SFSPCA board of directors, and her husband, George, who made a lead gift to the project, the Roberts Medical Center will combine the SFSPCAâ€™s general hospital with private veterinary practices in such specialties as oncology, radiology, neurology and cardiology. It will provide easy access to specialty care, not only for pets, but also for shelter cats and dogs. The Roberts Center embodies the next step in no-kill, says Sayres, who predicts that nonprofit humane societies will evolve to become treatment centers for homeless animals.
The bottom line in San Francisco: Since 1990, the number of animals killed has plummeted by 73 percent, and San Franciscoâ€™s per-capita euthanasia rate of 2.5 per thousand residents is the nationâ€™s lowest for a major city. San Franciscoâ€™s "save rate" now stands at 78 percent, more than double the average for an urban community. "What weâ€™ve done here," says Friedman of SFACC, "is shown other communities that there are things you can do to reduce the number of animals being killed. People wanted a successful model of how to save more lives."
Exporting the Know-How
But does the San Francisco model work elsewhere? Twenty-five hundred miles away, in Richmond, Virginia, the answer is yes. In January 2002, the Richmond SPCA made the transition to no-kill in what is probably the most concrete example of the San Francisco model applied in another community. "Richmond successfully followed the San Francisco model and proved it can work with different demographics," says Morris at the ASPCA.
To implement no-kill, the Richmond SPCA raised $14 million to boost its endowment and build a $7.5 million shelter and adoption center. The 64,000-square-foot Robins-Starr Humane Center, opened in October 2002, has homelike canine living rooms and feline condos, a training center for shelter animals and public classes, and a spay/neuter clinic that currently operates three days a week. The clinic offers low-cost spay/neuter surgeries at $30 to $40 and free surgery for targeted areas of the community where outreach vehicles transport animals to and from the SPCA.
The SPCA entered into a partnership with Richmond Animal Control and transfers adoptable animals from the Richmond Animal Shelter, which accounts for about 50 percent of the SPCAâ€™s intake. Richmondâ€™s effort to stop killing adoptable animals also includes off-site adoption events, humane education, foster care and resources to help prevent pet relinquishment, such as behavior advice, training classes and information on pet-friendly housing. Results have been immediate and impressive: in 2002 alone, the number of animals killed in Richmond dropped by 41 percent.
"I believe the impact of no-kill in the next 10 years will be huge," says Richmond SPCA executive director Robin Starr. "I think weâ€™ll have many major communities that are no-kill, and eventually weâ€™ll have a nation that believes it isnâ€™t right to kill animals to control overpopulation. What no-kill has done so far is to introduce the idea that there are models other than the traditional approach."
Requirements for Success
What will it take to achieve the widespread application of successful no-kill models? "The biggest weakness of no-kill sheltering," says Clifton at Animal People, "is that many people who try to do it lack the foundation to succeed." Itâ€™s one thing to embrace a commitment to no-kill; itâ€™s another to turn the commitment into a reality. Says Marsh of STOP, "Itâ€™s not just a matter of saying no [to killing]. Itâ€™s not that easy." Experts whoâ€™ve been successful agree on four basic requirements:
Time. "You canâ€™t reverse the fate of homeless animals overnight. You must first put the fundamentals in place," Sayres explains. In San Francisco, the stage was set for no-kill when the SPCA gave up animal control duties, a full five years before it formed a partnership with ACC to guarantee a home for every adoptable cat and dog. Plus, San Francisco had been investing in high-volume spay/neuter for decades. The Richmond SPCA spent more than four years planning its move to no-kill; training and preparing for its partnership with the Richmond Animal Shelter alone took 12 months.
Money. The hard truth is that itâ€™s cheaper to kill animals than it is to save them. Shelter systems with the highest save rates spend at least $5 to $7 per human resident in the community, compared to a national average of about $3. In San Francisco, the shelter system budget tops $10 per capita. Since its transition to no-kill, the Richmond SPCA is spending more than $500,000 a year just on spay/neuter, and its budget has jumped from $1 million to $3 million.
Leadership. Someone has to lead the charge, rally support, build alliances, maintain focus and stay the course through inevitable challenges. "The communities that have been successful with no-kill have had really strong leaders with incredible skills, not the least of which is fund-raising," says Bert Troughton, director of the ASPCAâ€™s Strategic Alliance, a new initiative designed to help communities nationwide stop killing adoptable animals.
Collaboration. In San Francisco and Richmond, the no-kill effort is rooted in partnershipsâ€”not only between the SPCA and the municipal animal control agency, but also with other shelters, rescue groups and volunteers. In other words, as the saying goes, "It takes a village.â€¦"
Thatâ€™s why many no-kill initiatives, like the Mayorâ€™s Alliance for New York Cityâ€™s Animals (see box, "No-Kill in the Big Apple," p.25) involve a coalition of private shelters, government agencies, rescue organizations and veterinarians. "By looking at things more broadly, on a community level, thereâ€™s a real opportunity for sea change in animal sheltering," Morris says.
There is also broader, cross-community collaboration, with successful no-kill organizations providing advice and support to others working to achieve no-kill goals. As Starr of the Richmond SPCA observes, "No-kill can happen in other communities if those of us who have done it and understand it will help them."
No-kill advocates freely acknowledge that there will always be animals who are too sick, too badly injured or too aggressive to be placed in a homeâ€”animals for whom euthanasia is the humane choice. "Weâ€™ll never get out of euthanasia, but we need to get out of killing," says Friedman at SFACC.
According to Marsh, itâ€™s a matter of dedicating to homeless animals the same respect and resources we devote to pets. People who decide to euthanize a cherished family pet clearly donâ€™t do it casually; they think long and hard, and they exhaust every available resource to save their animal companion. Says Marsh, "We have to treat homeless animals the same way we treat the animals that share our homes and lives." AW
Francy Blackwood is a San Francisco-based freelance writer.
It All Starts With Spay/Neuter
How do you stop killing adoptable cats and dogs?
Many people think that the logical first step is to take homeless animals out of overcrowded shelters and place them in permanent, responsible homes. But rescue and adoption donâ€™t attack the root of the problem. Successful no-kill programs are rooted in preventing overpopulation with spay/neuter surgery.
"In a sense, thereâ€™s a need to get back to basics, and that means spay/neuter," says Bert Troughton, director of the ASPCA Strategic Alliance to help communities save more lives and former CEO of the Monadnock Humane Society in New Hampshire, where a statewide spay/neuter initiative was launched in 1994. Funded by a $2 surcharge on dog licenses, the New Hampshire program provides low-cost spay/neuter surgery at $25 for dogs and cats adopted from a shelter and $10 for pets belonging to people on public assistance. From its inception through fiscal year 2002, the New Hampshire program altered 34,265 animals, and the stateâ€™s euthanasia rate dropped by 77 percent.
The Mayorâ€™s Alliance for New York Cityâ€™s Animals plans to invest in a low-cost spay/neuter program for pets of low-income New York City residents. "Despite our best efforts, we wonâ€™t be able to adopt our way out of the homeless animal problem," says Jane Hoffman, president and chair of the alliance. "We have to stem the tide. It will be impossible to achieve our mission unless we dramatically increase spay/neuter."
Adoption is undeniably important, but "people often want to get into rescue and adoption services when they should be getting into prevention," says Peter Marsh of Solutions to Overpopulation of Pets in Concord, New Hampshire. "Spay/neuter is where it all starts. If shelters are going to make progress toward no-kill, they have to spend money on spay/neuter. The dream is within reach, but reaching it will take more emphasis on prevention."
No-Kill in the Big Apple
The ASPCA is a founding member of the Mayorâ€™s Alliance for New York Cityâ€™s Animals, which aims to make New York a no-kill city by 2008. A public-private partnership with the City of New York that was launched in 2002, the alliance brings together more than 40 nonprofit animal care groups, ranging from the ASPCA, the Humane Society of New York and the Center for Animal Care and Control to dozens of smaller rescue organizations, including breed rescue groups.
â€œMost of these organizations are doing great work. They just need more tools and more knowledge to do it even better,â€ says Jane Hoffman, president and chair of the allianceâ€™s board. The alliance plans to provide low-cost spay/neuter surgery for pets of low-income city residents through participating private veterinary practices. On the adoption side, alliance participants will receive training in marketing and fund-raising, free supplies and equipment for adoption outreach events, and incentive bonuses for achieving adoption-increase goals.