Originally Posted by mlmcats
I'm glad it's "the end of kitten season" somewhere! Here in NW Oregon kitten season runs from May (April this year because we had no super cold last winter) until at least September. It's very sad. All our shelters spay/neuter BEFORE the kittens are adopted, but it doesn't seem to help. Our local OR Humane Society is still receiving over 300 kittens (and adult cats) every WEEK!
Sounds like it's time to attack the 'free to a good home' situation.
How to Address "Free To A Good Home" Ads in Your Community
It is absolutely, without a doubt, imperative that you address the SOURCE of unwanted litters in your community, regardless of how many animals you rescue. Ignoring the source is the fatal error that is a direct cause of animals dying in your community. You will NEVER be able to rescue as many animals as are being bred if you ignore the "Free to a good home" advertisements. NEVER. It is no lie that they can breed far quicker than you can adopt. Period.
If you donâ€™t believe me I want you to do me a favor. Go to the kitchen and take out as many pots, pans, bowls, glasses & cups as you can find. Place them strategically around the kitchen. Put the stopper in the sink drain and turn the faucet on full blast. (Once the faucet is on, you can not turn it off or down.) Now start bailing the water out of the sink. Let me know when you are able to catch up. Each drop of water is a litter. The "FREE" ads are the faucet. The pots, pans, bowls, glasses & cups are all rescue groups, and the sink is the "pound." You are the vessel that is bailing them out.
We canâ€™t work much harder at this folks, so itâ€™s become very apparent that we must work a hell of a lot smarter.
What follows is a series of ideas and attitudes that can help you address the most serious contributing source of unwanted litters. In my personal experience (having made lots of calls) the greatest "trick" is to remember how important it is to focus. If you can control your focus, remain unpretentious (not "holier than thou") and non-confrontational, you will experience great success encouraging people not to let their pets breed.
Make these calls with full intention of helping someone. Believe that you can.
Choose the most non-confrontational person you have within your organization to do this work. Your choice should be a person who does not take rejection or confrontation personally. Most people will be receptive about your attempt to help them, but the telecommunications marketers have made our job very difficult for even the kindest of people. They simply do not like being "bothered" by anyone "selling" anything. And we are. We are selling the concept that it is WRONG to breed unwanted pets. To serve our purpose, we must be very delicate to win support from as many of the people we contact as possible.
If those you are calling are not responding to you well, give it up for the day. Some days we just arenâ€™t able to muster the resources to do this work. It requires erasing your resentments and negative feelings towards people who are, intentionally or not, making your life miserable, and ending the lives of millions of creatures you seek to help. Hang it up. Mellow out and try it again later. Meanwhile, give yourself a GIANT HUG!
Better yet, get as many as you can from the rest of us doing this work.
Try not to have pre-conceived expectations. If you think the person you are calling is not going to be receptive to hearing what you have to say before you even call them, they probably wonâ€™t. If you call with the hopes of helping someone, and that they will really appreciate your help and support, you will be much more successful in your approach because your genuine concern and desire to help will show in your telephone voice. More importantly, you will be less pumped to vent all your frustrations at the first sign of resistance.
A large majority of these advertisers are people who have pets of their own that are neutered. Many times advertised litters are from strays. For every one of these people we have the potential to win an ally for our rescue efforts. Many a good volunteer is won from these kind-hearted souls who are just trying to do the right thing. Given the offer of help from you and access to your resources they will be grateful. Donâ€™t forget to thank them for their efforts on behalf of the litters themselves. Suggest that they liaison with you to adopt (and possibly to foster in the future) so the breeding of the litter mates wonâ€™t add yet more unwanted animals in the hands of the adopters. Also caution them to the dangers faced by pets offered free to a good home. (copyright free fliers available from Ahimsa)
To change a â€˜mind-setâ€™ we need to learn what the triggers, or buttons are for this person we are on the phone with. Each person who owns an unaltered animal has a belief system that tells him or her itâ€™s ok. We need to find out what it is before we can convince them to change their minds. If we offend or anger them weâ€™ve lost the opportunity to stop that source of unwanted litters. It behooves us, and the animals we serve, to maintain a non-confrontational attitude while doing this important work.
ALWAYS make suggestions in a positive way. You wonâ€™t get any chance to convince these people if you offend them or make them angry. This is most difficult. Iâ€™m as guilty as anyone for feeling a rush of anger when, after asking if they have considered getting this cat fixed, they say that they donâ€™t want to get the cat fixed because they love having the litters. I give them the statistics and they say "I DONâ€™T CARE!" BINGO! Thatâ€™s the mistake right there. But it is MY mistake not theirs! By giving this person the statistics I was setting the stage to play a guilt trip on them. They told me it wasnâ€™t going to work by saying they didnâ€™t care! At this point the "argument" is on, and the conversation is not about the litter itâ€™s about the guild trip. We canâ€™t approach a negative situation with a negative frame of mind. All the responses you give must be as positive as possible. What if, instead of giving statistics I had said: "Itâ€™s wonderful that you care enough about these litters to lovingly raise them and find them good homes. Would you consider volunteering for us to do the same thing?" It is imperative, and extremely difficult not to let your buttons be pushed. We canâ€™t win them all, but we should not slam the door on the way out of the ones we lose. If we leave our doors open we may have another opportunity. The ONLY thing that is important here is stopping the litters.
Be prepared to have a convincing appeal for any negative response you may get. Donâ€™t argue the point. Use the opportunity to establish a repore' with the person by saying something like: "You know, I used to think the same thing until I learned..." This should create an atmosphere of "we" between this person you are talking to and yourself. It starts to pull them into the "responsibility" of what they are doing without attacking them. Strive, sincerely, not to preach. By admitting, "I used to think" you are admitting that you too were once ignorant to this problem you are trying to address. If you are one of the unfortunate people responsible for killing animals every day, perhaps you can tell them what it is doing to you. How much you hate it. Even if you arenâ€™t the person responsible for killing the animals, you can still say; "but, Iâ€™m so sick at having to kill these healthy animals every day." Plea from your heart, not from your hate of having to kill. Violence begets violence negativity begets negativity. Remember the goal. Controlling the litters at all costs. Try to keep that door open!
Work up scenarios and/all POSITIVE responses you can have to it. Memorize them rehearse them! Make a response that will offer them something (the chance to keep having litters without people calling them to complain if nothing else) and make it something that helps you too. Draw them into doing the work. If they love litters at least there is hope. Itâ€™s the ones who drown, burn, bag and dump litters that we have to worry about. These people care enough to call the paper & run an advertisement.
When they respond: "I love having litters and finding them homes" respond POSITIVELY! Something like: "I am SO glad I found you! We have a reward program for folks like you! If you will foster litters for us and help us adopt them out, we will..." The buttons for these people is usually fostering the litter. Push the button by offering them litters and a reward too! Making a few bucks doing what they like to do rather than being chastised for having the litters doesnâ€™t sound so bad to them after all. The pre-requisite for the program is, of course, that they can not have intact animals in the household.
Donâ€™t lose sight of the goal, which is at best to stop the litters, and at worse to CONTROL the litters. Work up a program where you can reward people who wonâ€™t stop breeding by getting them to work with you. Ask them about fostering pregnant mothers & adopting the litters through your organization. If you canâ€™t stop the breeding you must control the sources by any means possible. If it costs you money, remember the money you are saving in unborn litters and the animals that are still living because there are fewer litters!
When they respond: "I find GOOD homes for all my litters!" respond POSITIVELY!
"I know, but good homes are so difficult to find. Would you consider helping us to find homes for our litters? It would be such a tremendous help if you could foster just one of our many pregnant cats." Even if they refuse to help, they are going to hear that they are needed to help and that there is a problem with pregnant cats. Of course, they think itâ€™s YOUR problem, but you can work your way around to "THATâ€™S THE REASON I CALLED!" said with utmost patience and gently, of course.
When they respond: "I donâ€™t care!" to the statistics. Ask them if they realize their tax dollars are spent to catch/care/kill impounded animals and how much it cost a day. You can offer them your job. Offer to pay them. They wonâ€™t accept but at the very least youâ€™ve made them think. Someday maybe the thinking will pay off. Meanwhile, get your legislation in place to cover those breeders you canâ€™t find any other buttons for.
Present yourself as an individual who is compassionate and helpful. As an individual you are not as threatening, nor as easily discredited as "one of those radical animal rights people." Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with belonging to an organization that works for the animals but remember your objective is to approach people who are the source of unwanted animals. They will pull from what ever belief system they have and discrediting you is the easiest. Attempt to not give them additional ammunition or a reason to tune you out.
Entice them to listen to you any way you can. Even if you have to buy them out. On the other hand, I frequently say "Iâ€™m a humane volunteer" and that works just fine.
Establish a "reward" program for the stubborn ones. Perhaps a contest where all individuals neutering during a certain period of time will be put in for a drawing of $250.00 or $500.00. Incentive is the name of the button for some folks. If that reward encourages just two or three stubborn people to neuter, youâ€™ve made money on the deal. Find the button and gently press it. Patiently.
If you arenâ€™t the only rescue group in town contact the other ones. Ask them to implement similar programs. The more calls being made to individuals who run "Free" to a good home ads, the more they will realize there really IS a problem. If no one ever calls to tell him or her why should they think there is a problem?
Other helpful hints:
Donate a bulletin board to your local vetâ€™s office. Make a permanent, and professional sign that says: Donated by: Your Group. And a smaller permanent and professional sign that says: "Please, do NOT post free to a good home litters unless the mother of the litter has been neutered." "Call us if we can help!"
If your vets do not have anything visible in their office to promote Spay/Neuter, please encourage them to do so. A poster or simply the words "Please spay/neuter, it saves lives!" will do. This is the least a vet who supports a humane group can do. It cost him/her nothing, and itâ€™s badly needed to educate the public. (Iâ€™m working on "Itâ€™s Neuter Time!" clocks for vet offices. Your group could purchase one for your vetâ€™s office for under $10.00. These are cute & educational.)
If you arenâ€™t making a visible statement, then DO IT! Get something on your car that promotes spay/neuter. Yes, bumper stickers are considered tacky by many but Ahimsa offers free spay/neuter professional decals to humane and rescue folks who will display them. Applied to the back window of your car, it can be easily removed with a razor blade. Please donâ€™t let your vanity be more important to you than the lives of the animals you work so hard otherwise to save. Thereâ€™s no excuse. Please visit http://www.ahimsatx.org/
for spay/neuter promotional items.
Let us know about any ideas you may have!
Post spay/neuter posters at laundry mats, at work, any the grocery store, at the local bar, ANYPLACE but post them. The national humane organizations are NOT advertising spay/neuter so it is up to us "little guys" to do it. We should be seeing a LOT of advertising for spay/neuter on TV with the size of the budgets of nationals like American Humane and Humane Society of the US. Try to alert your membership to donate to organizations that ARE promoting spay/neuter.
There are many excellent spay/neuter Public Service Announcements (PSAs) available. Push to get them on the air. If we are ever to wake the public from their idiotic bliss, we must open the euthanasia doors and show them why we are so obsessed with this work.
Network, network, network, and then network some more. With us, with them, with everyone. With individuals you meet on the street. Carry something with you that is an instant icebreaker. Iâ€™m 55 years old and I carry a childâ€™s black panther backpack as my purse. Yes, I do feel like a fool sometimes, but then I also have "WE BE NEUTERED" on the windshield of my car and a 5â€™ black & white Sylvester in the passenger seat of my 1996 Alterma. (He has sworn an Oath of Silence until every pet in America is FIXED! Just try to make him talk!) Use your imagination to educate the public. Use your sense of humor. We all know there is nothing humorous about the mass euthanasia of animals or the plight of homeless animals, but do what ever it takes to make people listen and HEAR what you are saying. Make such an impact that when they see a Sylvester doll they think SPAY/NEUTER!!! I make more animal contacts with that silly purse than you can shake a stick at. Put a Band-Aid on your T-shirt. When someone asks, tell him or her itâ€™s to remind him or her to neuter. I have Band-Aids on my mouse pad, my mouse, my terminal, my tape dispenser, and on my telephone at work. A photo of mom holding a chicken has a Band-Aid prominently displayed on both of them. All these silly things make an impact on people. Jokes are things to be shared with friends, so their friends hear about what Iâ€™m doing too. Your sense of humor is your greatest asset in this business. USE IT! People will remember it!
My heartfelt thanks to each of you for the long days, and sleepless nights you spend trying to stop the nonsense of killing healthy animals. Not only the animals we are killing haunt me but Iâ€™m haunted also by what that horrid task does to each of you that must kill them.
So, letâ€™s DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT for a neuter cause!