A STRAY PAGE
Within the first day of any animal’s arrival, it is photographed and posted on the “stray page,” the location of which is advertised in all local papers under Pets. This expedites the reunion of stray pets with owners, easing animal stress, facility overcrowding, and use of tax dollars for extra days of housing. Visit these two examples of stray pet pages:
one website based
and one on Facebook
STATE-OF-THE ART TRACKING AND IDENTIFICATION SYSTEMS
Shelter specific software exists to track, identify, photograph, and record all details for surrendered or stray animals. Inaccurate statistics affect funding and application for major grants that require prescribed recording standards. Shelters that use standards known as the Asilomar Accords can easily apply for major no-kill program grants. Learn about the Asilomar Accords: http://www.asilomaraccords.org/
TRANSFER AGREEMENTS WITH SPECIALTY RESCUES
Allow nonprofit rescue organizations direct access to stray and surrendered animals, which will greatly lessen shelter stress and potential overcrowding, and save tax dollars. Several states have passed laws requiring shelters to work with rescues, so animals don’t have to stay in cages long-term, or wind up being killed when alternatives exist. Learn how rescues can help shelters and about reforms nationwide: http://www.rescue50.org/
Good customer service skills are key. When a potential surrender arrives, the intake specialist sits down to see if there is any way to avoid a surrender through fencing assistance, training, housing or insurance help, or other referrals. The person holding this position, which can be volunteer, is skilled at networking with community resources and other nonprofits. The object is always to avoid surrenders if possible. Also it helps prevent killing of healthy unwanted pets by shelters that have no room to accept them, or don’t want to accept them due to age, type, or other issues. Visit one pet retention program: http://www.richmondspca.org/safetynet
RETURN HOME POLICY
Any licensed pet is automatically returned home, and not entered into the shelter system at all. This encourages licensing, saves taxpayers’ sheltering costs, and is in the best interest of both owners and animals. It improves public image. Customer-service licensing, rather than heavy-handed law enforcement licensing, is becoming the norm. Visit this program in Seattle:
ALL RECORDS ARE TRANSPARENT AND PUBLIC
If the public isn’t informed about animals being killed, it can’t help. Intake/disposition records are public records, and Public Records Act requests are honored. Regular meetings are held to get public input and ideas. All state and federal mandated records are properly maintained and made available for public inspection. Transparency is essential for major grants and the public’s trust. Read why transparency is vital: http://www.pawschicago.org/animal-advocacy/why-transparency/
EXTEND BUSINESS HOURS
Shelters are open to accommodate people who work or cannot get to the shelters during the day to come find their animals or adopt. No-kill shelters aren’t necessarily open more hours, just different hours, when people are most available to visit. Shelters accommodate the public with flexible hours and responsive services.
ANSWER THE PHONES AND RETURN CALLS WITHIN TWO HOURS
Prompt return of phone calls is a matter of life and death for animals that are lost. Employee or volunteers must be on duty to answer phone calls, and a lost pet line should be established specifically to reunite owners as quickly as possible with lost pets. Pets can be reclaimed EVERY day.
EXTEND MANDATORY HOLD PERIODS; OR KEEP ANIMALS IN THE "PUBLIC TRUST"
Don't give pets away to contractors or other private parties after mandatory hold periods expire. Currently, a lost family pet could be killed after just a week. If an owner is out of town and a pet escapes its caregiver, it could be dead before the owner returns from vacation.
CREATE CITIZENS OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
Establish feedback forms in relation to customer service and operations. These forms are reviewed by a citizens oversight committee, including shelter board members, who in turn can suggest improvements and provide praise for effective business practices by any animal control or care employee or contractor.
SET UP A VIABLE FOSTER PROGRAM
There are many people here willing to foster young, old, hard to place, special needs, even ill animals. But they haven’t been asked to help! Foster programs help animals, ease shelter overcrowding, and involve the community in solutions. Here is how to set up real foster programs: http://www.petsmartcharities.org/resources/feline-foster-care-program.html
LET YOUR VOLUNTEERS DO MORE THAN WALK DOGS AND CLEAN LITTER BOXES
Marketing of animals for adoption is a major part of what volunteers do at no-kill shelters. Taking dogs for walks with Adopt Me vests on, holding adoptathons, creating and posting flyers, developing relationships with local pets stores for adoption outreach – these are just some of the activities volunteers with no-kill shelters undertake. Enlist volunteers with computer skills to help get out the word. Remember, every time an animal gets adopted, you renew your volunteers’ dedication, enthusiasm, and most of all, hope. See what shelters are doing for yourself: http://www.nokillnetwork.org/
A SUCCESSFUL SHELTER IS AN EMPTY SHELTER
(AND NOT BECAUSE OF NEEDLES)
___________________________________________________________________________________ What is the difference between traditional shelters, No Kill, and animal control agencies?
“Specifically, an animal control agency is a sheltering agency that takes in all dogs and cats in a particular community and also enforces laws relating to companion animals. Historically, they were known as ‘dog pounds.’ They can be public or private. In other words, they may be part of the government or operate under contract with government. An animal control agency can still be No Kill, but few are. A traditional shelter is one that is private but kills savable animals. And finally a No Kill shelter is one that is saving all healthy dogs and cats, sick and injured but treatable animals, and healthy and treatable feral cats. No Kill shelters can be public or private and even include animal control. More generally, it is probably safe to say that No Kill shelters don’t kill savable animals, while traditional shelters do.”
from Nathan Winograd, author of the nationally praised Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart and Soul of America’s Animal Shelters and Redemption.
The Whidbey Animal Guild (WAG) hosted a free seminar with Mr. Winograd in 2010 on Whidbey Island, WA. WAG sells his books for $10 plus shipping costs (all proceeds benefit rescues). Just email WAG.
Read more about no-kill sheltering: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/
…because whatever we’re doing, we can always do better.