No Kill Heroes

Did you know that there was a whole group of people back in the 1980s and 1990s who were the creators of No Kill? These were the people who developed No Kill, proved that it could work, knitted it into a movement, and delivered it to the world. And they did all this without any thought of credit or personal glory.

The best known of the group of people who were active in the 1980s and 1990s is Richard Avanzino. He took over as shelter director at the San Francisco SPCA in the 1970s and kept that position until the end of 1998 (when he was succeeded by Ed Sayres). Avanzino was a creative leader, and on his watch the San Francisco SPCA developed the programs and philosophy of No Kill. Today, of course, he is the head of Maddie’s Fund and still going strong. Rich Avanzino is often called the founder of No Kill. He himself would say that it is the American people who deserve the credit for No Kill, because they are the ones who have opened their hearts to shelter animals.

Avanzino collected extraordinary people around him at San Francisco. Two of the most creative were Lynn Spivak and Pam Rockwell, both of whom are now retired. Spivak was the marketing and public outreach genius at the San Francisco SPCA. She helped to create an atmosphere where everyone, including the volunteers, came up with ideas for lifesaving, and the attitude was “let’s give it a try.” Her department was where the famous San Francisco programs were developed. Due to her efforts there was always something fun happening at the SPCA, and in consequence the shelter was always in the paper and on people’s minds. Rockwell was head of the Ethical Studies division. She was an Ivy League attorney and she redefined what a shelter’s job was in the community, not just for cats and dogs but for all animals. She put the ethical beliefs of the San Francisco crew on a sound legal and philosophical basis and helped work out the proper response for each new complex issue that came up.

Lynda Foro is another person who could be called the founder of No Kill. Before she started her activism, there was no No Kill movement. Starting in the mid-1990s, she held the first No Kill conferences and she issued No Kill directories. She created a network of people where none had existed before. People who wanted to stop shelter killing and who had been working in isolation suddenly discovered that there were other people just like them. Foro is retired, and has never sought any credit for her work. She’s another person who was all about the animals.

Ed Duvin has often been called the founder of the No Kill movement. His 1989 article “In The Name of Mercy” created a firestorm in the animal sheltering world. Duvin analyzed the current state of animal sheltering in light of the animal rights movement that had been underway since 1975. His critique of the animal shelter industry was devastating. He pointed out that we did not even know how many shelters there were in the United States at that time (we still don’t) much less how many animals they were killing (still true), and that sheltering had no effective national guiding body (still true). He tore down the excuse that killing was necessary to prevent suffering, arguing that shelters that did not even use the most basic management techniques had no ground on which to make that claim. He made several practical observations about how shelters could do better. Reading this document today it seems like a blueprint for the No Kill movement. And yet Duvin did not demonize shelter workers — instead, he said “[w]e reach out to our friends in the shelter community with respect . . . .”

All of these people and more were crucial to the origin of No Kill in the 1990s. No Kill is a product of many great leaders, but ultimately, as Rich Avanzino says, No Kill is the work of the American people. Today we have a new generation of younger activists who are carrying on the work. I hope that they will always be as smart, effective, and modest as their progenitors.

No Kill is on an “S” Curve

Here is a bar graph showing the increase in the human population living in No Kill communities in the 10-year period from 2003 through 2012:

Trend in Population Served by No Kill Communities lg

Here is a graph of an “S” curve:

Logistic-curve.svg

As you can see, growth in the population of people living in No Kill communities closely matches the progression of an “S” curve up until about the -1 point. If the growth of the No Kill population continues along the “S” curve, then the next 10 to 15 years should see phenomenal growth of No Kill, to the point where the great majority of people will be living in No Kill communities. Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks go to Chris Anderson for the lovely bar graph. He prepared it for his talk at the recent Michigan No Kill conference, based on data from this blog.

You may be wondering why the graph does not contain 2013 data, and the reason is that I have not yet had time to add that data to my giant spreadsheet of over 100 shelters and coalitions representing No Kill communities. But when the data for 2013 are added, they will show another big jump over 2012. The 2012 numbers do not count Fairfax County, Kansas City, the Portland metro area, or the Seattle metro area, which by themselves would be enough to take the next big leap up the “S” curve. Good times.

Cape May County, NJ

Cape May County is a coastal resort area on the southern tip of New Jersey. It has almost 100,000 permanent residents, but the population increases greatly during vacation season. It has several townships (Lower (population 23,000), Middle (19,000), Upper (12,000), and Dennis (6000)) and the city of Wildwood (5000) as well as several smaller cities and boroughs. The county seat is in Middle Township. Ocean City (population 12,000) is at the county’s northern border.

Animal control and sheltering for the entire county, with the exception of Ocean City, is provided by the municipal Cape May County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center (CMCAS). CMCAS also accepts owner surrenders from county residents, with an appointment and a small fee.

In an interview in January 2011, shelter director Judy Davies reported that CMCAS had euthanized 8 percent of its dogs and 10 percent of its cats in 2010, compared to rates as high as 75% in previous years. The shelter reported a 7.5% euthanasia rate in 2011. The shelter does not post its statistics online, but Davies sent me the shelter’s statistics for 2012, which show a 91% live release rate with intake of 1157 dogs and cats. The statistics do not record any owner-requested euthanasias or animals who died or were lost in shelter care. The 2013 statistics reported by the shelter to the state of New Jersey show a save rate of 92%, with an intake of 1094 animals.

A big part of the county’s success is its trap-neuter-return program for feral cats, which was instituted in 2001 and is reported to have reduced the number of feral cat complaints by 80%. A group called the Animal Alliance of Cape May County holds low-cost TNR clinics. County leaders showed their dedication to the program in 2007 and 2008 when they negotiated compromise wildlife conservation rules that allowed the program to continue.

CMCAS director Judy Davies noted in the 2011 interview that the county’s intake is considerably lower than neighboring counties. The TNR program is certainly a factor in this lower intake, but Davies also attributed it to the shelter’s pet retention programs: “What we’re doing a lot more of is working with the owners of dogs. Someone might want to relinquish the dog to the shelter because it requires vet care they can’t afford or they just can’t afford the animal because of the economy. We intervene and try to help people.”

There are several private organizations that are very active in Cape May County, including the Paws & Claws Society (PACS), Beacon Animal Rescue (BAR),  Animal Outreach of Cape May County, and the Animal Welfare Society of Cape May County. PACS has a suite of programs including pet retention and adoption programs.

The Humane Society of Ocean City (HSOC) provides animal control and sheltering for Ocean City, and it has a high live release rate. I will report on Ocean City in a separate article.

Cape May County was originally listed by this blog on April 26, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Fort Morgan, CO

Fort Morgan is a city of 11,000 people located in the northeastern part of Colorado. It is the county seat of Morgan County, which has a population of 28,000. The area is mostly devoted to farming. The city of Brush, which is located in Morgan County, has 5500 people.

Fort Morgan has an animal control service, but animals are impounded by a private agency, the Fort Morgan Humane Society (FMHS). I spoke to the shelter’s operations manager, Tina Gutierrez, who told me that the shelter has contracts with Fort Morgan, Morgan County, Log Lane and Wiggins for stray intake. She said that the county has a deputy assigned to animal control. The shelter accepts owner surrenders subject to a waiting list. Gutierrez told me that she is generally able to counsel owners to be able to keep their pets or, if that is not possible, to find a rescue placement for them.

Gutierrez told me that transfers from FMHS go to approved rescues. One rescue she mentioned that has been of assistance to the shelter is Furever Friends, which does adoptions and has a lost and found service. FMHS has a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats. They are neutered and given vaccinations and a full examination. The shelter does not offer owner-requested euthanasia.

The state of Colorado collects statistics on animal shelters. According to those statistics, FMHS took in 1302 animals in 2012, which is an intake of 47 animals per 1000 people in the county. The live release rate for 2012 was 92%. If the number of animals who died or were lost in shelter care is counted in with euthanasias, the live release rate was 90%. Gutierrez told me that she instituted new medical protocols since she took over in 2012. In 2013, the shelter took in 895 animals, with a 97% live release rate. The live release rate was 93% if all non-live dispositions are counted as euthanasias.

The city of Brush has its own shelter and an animal control unit run by the police department. The Brush shelter does not accept owner surrenders. FMHS takes in many animals from Brush who are not reclaimed within the 5-day hold period. Brush was not listed as a 90% community in 2012 because the Brush Animal Shelter reported killing 56 of the 111 cats they took in during 2012. In 2013, their intake was 238 animals, with a 91% live release rate. The live release rate is unchanged if all non-live dispositions are counted as euthanasias. I’m adding the city of Brush to the right sidebar based on its reported outcomes in 2013.

Fort Morgan, CO, was originally listed by this blog on November 9, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Summit County, CO

Summit County is west of Denver and is home to about 28,000 people. It is a mountainous area of Colorado and the county was named for the many peaks within it. The Summit County Animal Control and Shelter is run by the county as part of the sheriff’s office, and it takes in strays from the unincorporated area of the county.  I spoke to a shelter representative and was told that the shelter does not have formal contracts with the municipalities within the county, but accepts impounded animals from the municipalities when they are not reclaimed by their owners.

The representative told me that the shelter accepts owner surrenders from anywhere, as long as they are brought in within normal business hours.  There is a $50 fee for residents of Summit County and an $80 fee for non-residents, but the shelter will waive the fee if the owner cannot pay.

The shelter reported a 99% live release rate for 2010, with an intake of 458 animals (scroll down in the link). It reported a 97% live release rate in 2011, with an intake of 388. The live release rate with owner-requested euthanasia and animals who died or were lost in shelter care counted in with euthanasias was 95% in 2011.

Summit County is one of a group of communities in the area west of Denver that report to Maddie’s Fund and the Asilomar Accords as part of the Northwestern Colorado Coalition. Other members of the coalition are Garfield, Pitkin, and Eagle counties and the cities of Aspen, Rifle and Glenwood Springs. The coalition reported an overall 97% live release rate in 2010 and 98% in 2011 (see pages 1-2 in the links).

In 2013 the shelter reported its statistics to the state of Colorado. The shelter had an intake of 562 animals, with a live release rate of 98%. If deaths in shelter care are counted with euthanasias, the live release rate was 97%.

Summit County, CO, was originally listed by this blog on May 9, 2013, based on its statistics in previous years. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Rifle, CO

Rifle is a small town of about 9000 people in Garfield County, Colorado. The Rifle Animal Shelter, which is assisted by the non-profit Friends of the Rifle Animal Shelter, takes in several hundred animals per year. I spoke to a shelter representative who told me that the shelter has contracts with the cities of Rifle and Parachute to take in strays, and accepts owner surrenders with no restrictions except a small fee.

The shelter and the Friends reported a combined 98% live release rate in 2010 and again in 2011 (scroll down in the linked documents). The shelter and Friends reported no owner-requested euthanasia in either year, and the live release rate was not significantly lower with animals who died or were lost in shelter care included in with euthanasias. The Rifle Animal Shelter also reports its statistics to the state of Colorado. In 2012, the shelter took in 769 animals and had a live release rate of 99%.

For 2013, Rifle reported to the state of Colorado that it had an intake of 1200 animals. Of those, 926 were adopted out. The live release rate was 99.4%. If animals who died in shelter care are counted with euthanasias, the live release rate was 97%.

Rifle is one of a group of communities in the area west of Denver that report to Maddie’s Fund and the Asilomar Accords as part of the Northwestern Colorado Coalition. Other members of the coalition are Summit, Garfield, Pitkin, and Eagle counties and the cities of Aspen and Glenwood Springs. The coalition reported an overall 97% live release rate in 2010 and 98% in 2011 (see pages 1-2 in the links).

Rifle, CO, was originally listed by this blog on May 6, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Ouray and San Miguel Counties, CO

San Miguel County, located on the western border of Colorado, has 7600 residents. Ouray County, bordering San Miguel County to the east, has 4400 people. The counties are in a mountainous and sparsely populated area. Ouray County is so mountainous that it’s known as the Switzerland of America. The most populous cities in Ouray County — Ridgway and the City of Ouray — each have about 1000 inhabitants. The largest city in San Miguel County is Telluride, with a population of 2300.

The city of Telluride has its own animal control officers who impound dogs for the city and county. Telluride also has an animal shelter that adopts out dogs. The Second Chance Humane Society (SCHS), located in Ridgway, provides animal sheltering for San Miguel and Ouray counties. SCHS takes in strays and owner surrenders, both cats and dogs. I called SCHS and was told that Ouray county does not have animal control officers, and so stray intake is by citizens bringing in the strays. SCHS has a waiting list for owner surrenders.

The state of Colorado collects statistics on animal shelters in the state. In 2012, the city of Telluride took in 40 dogs (4 strays and 36 confiscated), returned 35 to their owners, transferred 3, and euthanized 1 for a live release rate of 97%. SCHS took in 294 dogs and cats in 2012 and had a 97% live release rate. One animal died in shelter care at SCHS, but that did not change the live release rate.

In 2013, the city of Telluride took in 47 animals and had a 100% live release rate.  SCHS in 2013 had a substantial increase in intake with 380 animals for the year. Their live release rate was 99% as stated in their 2013 annual report.

Ouray and San Miguel Counties were originally listed by this blog on November 12, 2013, based on their 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Cedaredge, CO

Cedaredge (population 2300) and Orchard City (3100) are located in Delta County in western Colorado. Development in the county has been primarily along two river valleys, following the Surface Creek and North Fork rivers. Much of the rest of the county outside the river valleys is mountainous and very sparsely inhabited.

Cedaredge and Orchard City are in the Surface Creek valley, which is served by the Surface Creek Shelter (SCS), located in Cedaredge. Cedaredge has its own animal control, which takes in dogs only. SCS is managed by a non-profit, the Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control (FCAC). I was told by a shelter official that FCAC has a memorandum of understanding to impound the dogs picked up by Cedaredge animal control. In addition to Cedaredge dogs, SCS takes in non-feral stray cats, stray dogs, and owner-surrendered dogs and cats from the residents of Surface Creek valley, including Orchard City. SCS charges a small fee for owner surrenders and usually has a waiting list, but they make exceptions to the waiting list when needed. There are rescues in the county who do TNR for feral cats.

Statistics submitted to the Colorado Department of Agriculture by FCAC for 2012 show that SCS’s intake, including strays and owner surrenders, was 313 cats and dogs. The live release rate was 95% (94% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care were counted in with euthanasias). In 2013, FCAC reported an intake of 314 animals and a live release rate of 99%. The live release rate was 97% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care are included with euthanasias.

The North Fork area of Delta County has also been doing very well at animal sheltering, but their animal shelter system has been unstable. Therefore I’m not listing those communities at this time.

Cedaredge was originally listed by this blog on November 16, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

90% Reported – Mission Viejo, CA

[NOTE: The 90% Reported category lists communities whose animal shelter systems report having been at a 90%+ live release rate for at least one year but who do not qualify for a listing in the right sidebar because they do not make their full statistics easily accessible online.]

Mission Viejo is a large planned community southeast of Los Angeles, with a population of about 93,000 people. The cities of Aliso Viejo (population 48,000) and Laguna Niguel (population 62,000) are just southwest of Mission Viejo.

Mission Viejo Animal Services (MVAS) is a municipal agency that provides animal control and sheltering services for all three cities. A non-profit, the Dedicated Animal Welfare Group (DAWG), provides substantial support to the shelter, especially for animals requiring medical care. DAWG also pays all expenses for animals transferred in from outside the jurisdiction, so that they will not be a burden on city taxpayers. DAWG’s 20-year anniversary is coming up in 2015.

MVAS takes in strays impounded by animal control and accepts owner surrenders. The shelter will take owner surrendered dogs from anywhere as long as they meet health and temperament requirements, but it accepts owner-surrendered cats only from its jurisdiction. The shelter has had a temporary waiting list for cats recently as it completes a new cattery. Once the cattery is opened, MVAS hopes to be able to accept cats from surrounding jurisdictions as well as its own jurisdiction. MVAS will not accept surrenders of aggressive animals or animals who have untreatable medical illnesses. MVAS does not provide owner-requested euthanasia.

Mission Viejo is located in Orange County, California, which has a county shelter. The county shelter received some animals in fiscal year 2013-2014 from Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Niguel. The county shelter provides owner-requested euthanasia, but the shelter director stated that it is limited to animals who are “irremediably suffering” as verified by a veterinarian or have a history of aggression as defined by state law. The county does not break out owner-requested euthanasias separately from other euthanasias.

Sharon Cody, a former city council member for Mission Viejo and the president of DAWG, sent me information and statistics for MVAS and the county shelter for fiscal year 2013-2014. The county shelter report broke out the intake and disposition of animals from the three communities served by MVAS. Therefore, the combined statistics should represent all intake and disposition of domestic pets for the fiscal year for the three jurisdictions.

For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, total intake was 1226 for MVAS plus 170 animals taken in by the county from MVAS jurisdictions. The combined live release rate for the fiscal year was 92%, including owner-requested euthanasia. It is not possible to provide a modified live release rate including animals who died in shelter care because MVAS includes those animals in a “miscellaneous release” category that also includes live releases such as transfers to rescue. Based on the information sent to me by Sharon, however, it appears that 3 to 5 animals may have died in shelter care, which would not be enough to change the live release rate.

MVAS has an exceptionally high return-to-owner rate. Out of 951 strays impounded in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the shelter reported returning 524 to their owners for an overall return-to-owner rate of 55%, including cats. In fiscal year 2013-2014 the number of strays taken in was 1061 and the return-to-owner rate was 47% including cats.

Sharon told me that the MVAS jurisdictions do have some restrictions on the number of animals per household. She is not aware of any breed restrictions, however, either by the MVAS jurisdictions or the homeowner associations in the area. She said that DAWG provided $80,000 in veterinary treatment during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, “saving every animal that could be treated.” A feral cat program has reduced feral cat euthanasia from 35 two years ago to just 3 in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

I have listed the communities served by MVAS as “90% Reported” rather than in the right sidebar as “90% Documented” because I received the statistics from a private party rather than from the directors of MVAS and the county shelter.

Montrose, CO

Montrose is a city of 19,000 people located near the western border of Colorado. It is the county seat of Montrose County, which has a population of 41,000 people.

The city has municipal agencies that provide animal control and sheltering. The animal shelter serves both the city and the county. The shelter takes in strays and owner surrenders, with owner surrenders subject to a waiting list. A shelter representative I spoke with told me that the wait period for owner surrenders currently is about one month. All animals, including cats and dogs under 6 months, are spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter.

In 2011, the shelter’s annual report showed an 87% live release rate (that figure includes owner-requested euthanasia). The 2011 live release rate was 85% if animals who died in shelter care are included. The euthanasias include 116 feral cats. In 2012, the county’s report to the state of Colorado showed that the live release rate improved to 93%, with an intake of 1270 animals. The live release rate including animals who died or were lost in shelter care was 92%.

The shelter’s 2013 report to the state of Colorado showed an intake of 1151 animals. The live release rate was 90%. If animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted with euthanasias, the live release rate was 89%.

Montrose County was originally listed by this blog on November 1, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.