A lot has happened in the No Kill world in 2014, and a lot of progress has been made. In fact, I think 2014 has been one of the most important years for No Kill since the 1990s. To celebrate the year I’m going to have a series of blog posts discussing some of the major events and accomplishments of 2014. Today I’d like to start out by listing some of No Kill’s notable people of the year. In coming days I’ll be looking at organizations and particular innovations in 2014.
1. Drs. Kate Hurley and Julie Levy are in the process of revolutionizing how shelters handle cats. They have developed recommendations that combine managed admission and “shelter-neuter-return” techniques for a roadmap to saving every healthy or treatable cat. This has been the huge news story in the shelter world in 2014, and the good news is that this story will be even bigger in 2015, with the recent rollout of the Million Cat Challenge. I will be discussing the Million Cat Challenge in more detail in a post later this month.
2. Bonney Brown and Diane Blankenburg are teaching a certificate course at the University of the Pacific in “lifesaving-centered” animal shelter management. This is the first university-level series of courses in lifesaving shelter management that has ever been taught by people who have actually succeeded at getting to 90% with a large urban shelter. This certificate is extremely important because it can help people get hired as shelter managers who do not have the traditional qualifications of long years in animal control or shelter operations.
3. Rebecca Guinn, founder of LifeLine Animal Project in Atlanta, has proven the “power of one” by forming a non-profit that took over the animal sheltering contract in 2013 for Fulton and DeKalb counties. LifeLine is not at a 90% save rate yet, but it looks like a lot of progress was made in 2014. Guinn is right in the center of two of the most important trends in No Kill. One is that No Kill advocates are forming non-profits and taking over city shelters rather than waiting for shelters to reform. The other is that big cities are going No Kill these days faster than smaller communities. It used to be thought that No Kill was harder to achieve in big cities, but people like Guinn are proving that idea wrong.
4. Rick DuCharme and Peter Marsh have started an effort — Target Zero — to take No Kill to some tough venues, including places where past No Kill efforts have failed. They have had some success already, but to me the most notable point about what they are doing is that they are not shrinking from any challenge. In fact, their “fellow city” list, which includes Waco, Pensacola, Indianapolis, and Baton Rouge, looks as though they deliberately picked the hardest cities they could find. In the past, people have often carefully selected their venues for No Kill efforts. DuCharme and Marsh have blown that approach out of the water.
5. Dr. Ellen Jefferson is another example of someone who picked a very tough city to reform when she expanded her successful Austin program to San Antonio. In its fiscal year ending in 2014, San Antonio had an 81.3% live release rate. This is an enormous accomplishment. Many people were involved in it, of course, but Dr. Jefferson’s formation of San Antonio Pets Alive! really lit the fire.
There are many other people who did notable things in 2014 to advance the cause of No Kill, and there have been a lot of incremental changes at the city and county level. It’s a positive sign for the movement when there are far too many people with significant accomplishments to fit into any one list.