Denver CO


Gabriella was on death row.  Jay Kelley ran across her photo from Facebook.

It read:

**DIES TUESDAY** Must have commitment by MONDAY- Gabriella is a HAPPY girl!!!!!! So happy that when she sees you her tail doesn’t only wag her entire back end does! Unless we can find a miracle for her by Tuesday morning she will probably walk to the euth room “Wiggling” all the way thinking she is going out for a walk :*( Please do NOT let that happen to this happy soul- She deserves so much more! ”

This was posted by Urgent Ohio Dogs, “a Community Project To Network Dogs on Death Row OR in Need- AND serve our community with various programs we will be launching this year!”

Sounds like a good group and they were the first to make it possible Gabriella could be saved.  But it was not in their power to make it easy, which was up to Cleveland.  And that’s not how they roll.

Gabriella was located at Cleveland Animal Control. They are not open to the public and only rescues can pull.  Even if a dog is on death row?  I will never understand this.

Through all this volunteers seemed to have worked hard to help Jay, but without a rescue, their hands were tied.  Policies in Cleveland do not seem to be built around saving lives, just built around arbitrary rules that need some serious reconsideration.  So it was pointed out by the people involved in this, it was volunteers that move the ball in the Cleveland shelter system, the status quo bureaucracy plodded along while a life could be saved.

Jay tried to get the dog, but was hitting road blocks because she was “just a person”.  On September 2 Jay posted a plea for help on the Nathan Winograd Facebook page in a comment.

Jay Kelley saw “Gabriella”.  Something resonated.  There is a connection the average American has with homeless pets.  People in all walks of life have this compassion.  And tapping into it is what No Kill is all about.  When the average person recognizes they have the power to save a life, they step up.  It’s the age old story of the ordinary person becoming a hero.  People across the nation, when they see animals in a cage, with hope or no hope, it instills something inside us that makes us want to help.  And this is where ordinary Jay became a No Kill hero, with a little help from friends she did not know she had.

So Jay ignored the obstacles and took the first step to save the life of Gabriella.  She called the Cleveland shelter to see if she could get her.  They would not release her to an individual; they would only release her to a rescue.  A shelter had a dog on a kill list and were willing to let that dog stay there to die, even though someone offered to drive a 1000 miles from Colorado to Ohio to pick her up and get her out of there.  Jay was willing to do everything or anything, but the answer from Cleveland representatives was simply she needed an approved rescue or Gabriella would die.

The story could have ended there.  With bureaucrats on one side putting up a definitive roadblock, one might think there was nothing that could be done.  But Jay searched for help.  She happened upon Nathan Winograd’s post from September 2 welcoming newbies that joined his page that was getting new joiners after the No Kill Conference in Washington.    And she asked for his help.

When I saw it, I posted I might be able to help.  Some other people probably did too, but Jay contacted me.  And I contacted my friend and rescuer, Emily.  What happened over the next two days felt like a year of stress, but to those of us involved, there was a clock ticking to the end of the world for Gabriella.  And none of us wanted to know we did nothing while a healthy dog was being killed when Jay was willing and able to save her life and give her a life worth living.

Emily runs Mountain Dog Rescue.  Mountain Dog Rescue does not care about breed, they simply are dedicated to stop the killing of all healthy or treatable animals.  It’s mostly Emily; she’s a one woman army of compassion.  I asked Emily if she could help with her network outside of Colorado to pull Gabriella.  She went to work.

Emily connected Jay with Marcia, who runs another rescue, Tinker’s Dreams.

The “application was a book”.  Besides just filling it out (we were under the gun by now), it was a holiday weekend and Gabriella was slated to die on Tuesday.  Questions asked of the staff of her condition and if they would hold her were not answered.  Marcia had been considering moving out of the state, and one of the references mentioned this.  This almost stopped the whole process.

But everyone, Gabriella, Emily, Marcia kept moving forward, kept checking the boxes necessary to stop Cleveland from killing.  And they plowed through the bureaucracy and a culture of killing to save a life.  Somehow, the application was completed, the references called and the rescue approved to save lives (why is this so difficult for an organization to save a life?).  To give Cleveland some credit, they held Gabriella past Tuesday.

Jay did not sleep on September 4.

Marcia was approved on September 5.

Jay packed her bags.  She and her husband got in the car, not completely sure of what would happen when they got to the shelter.  But they decided, before they even got there, they were taking one more.  Jerald.  When Jay emailed me, she simply said, “Why get one when you can save two? :)”  Jerald was heartworm positive and not the kind of pet unenlightened shelters market as “adoptable”.  Jay was taking him.

Damn the torpedoes Jay!

When Jay got to the facility to pick her up, “There were literally drains in the middle of the floor and urine was running down the concrete. Every single one was in the same sized cage.” Sounds like a horrible facility.

5 other dogs died that day in the shelter.  There wasn’t a rescue that could pull them that day, and the public can’t.

CORRECTION: I originally posted about a live release rate, but was mistaken.  I had published a very bad live release rate, but apparently ahd the wrong Cleveland Animal Control.  This facility apparently doesn’t publish one.  According to one volunteer they averaged 3 killed each day, and have brought that down to 2.  I cannot find intake numbers, so all I know is how many they kill for various resaons including room.  But I assume there are a handful euthanized in addition to those killed for room, health and temperament.


On September 7, two dogs got in Jay’s car.  Gabriella and Jerald.





Star (Gabriella)
Star (Gabriella)



They drove back to Colorado and are home and safe.  Jerald will be fostered through his heartworm treatment.  Gabriella got in the car with one name, and out with another, Star.  Star is already forever home.

As No Kill advocates, we have to network.  We have to speak out, we have to organize.  It’s not about standing in front of the capital waving signs and chanting slogans.  It’s about educating everyday people, politicians, shelter workers and anyone that will listen to the reasonable argument that homeless pets should not be killed.  It’s about the life saving possibilities made possible through the No Kill Equation and ordinary folks.  When given the chance people stand up and say, “I will save a life”.  Jay didn’t know that was going to happen at the beginning of the week, but by the end she saved 2 lives.




Star went on her first hike.

Bark Away!