When I first found Nathan Winograd’s first book Redemption, I read the first chapter or two with skepticism. I believed what was pounded into my head for years: Shelters kill because they have to not because they choose to. Slowly I went through a range of emotions from anger, helplessness, sadness, and then resolve.
By the end of the book I became a No Kill advocate for one simple reason made clear: Killing is simply not a valid choice for healthy/treatable homeless pets. So thanks Nathan for the gift of knowledge. You got the ball rolling for me in No Kill.
When I was done and convinced I had to do something, I came against my first obstacle. Where to start? I was pretty lost on how to go about facilitating change.
As I did more research and ran into other No Kill advocates I started to find my way. I watched Ryan Clinton’s first presentation to the Austin city council. He stood up as a citizen and stated simply that that killing was not a valid choice for the homeless pets of Austin. So thanks for that gift of your fearlessness Ryan, it made me stand up and present No Kill to both friendly and hostile groups. I will continue to use this in 2014.
I found Mike Fry from AnimlaWise radio show and heard the simple message that killing is not inevitable for the number of homeless pets entering shelters. Mike Fry’s Animal Ark Shelter saved 98.55% in 2012. Mike’s Just One Day idea showed me the simplest project could save lives, educated people and if you just talk to people about homeless pets, they will rise to the occasion to help. So thanks Mike, successful examples of doing, great gift.
When I met Mike Kitkoski Director of Rockwall Pets at a No Kill conference I immediately liked him and heard about how resolve and compassion was the prime requisite to lifesaving, not following the failed practices that continued to be sued in many shelter. As the weekend was ending I said something about “hoping Colorado would improve this year”. He looked at me and said, “Don’t hope it will, make it happen.” Nothing like a good swift kick in the ass for a gift Mike. Thanks. I mean it. I now tell everyone I meet to “do something” when they use the word hope without talking about the action they are going to take to make something happen.
So these gifts have helped me a lot and I hope in some small way I have moved the ball forward in Colorado. And I know these leaders helped a lot more people as I witnessed at No Kill Conferences and kept in touch with people that are making gains around the U.S. and abroad.
I was lucky enough to find some like-minded people locally and joined them as we launched No Kill Colorado (NKC) in earnest at the beginning of 2013. NKC has raised awareness in a state that should have been a leader in the movement but happily is catching up fast.
Our first initiative was Just One Day Colorado 2013 (an invention of Mike Fry) that brought dozens of life saving organizations to the Denver’s central park to increase adoptions and awareness. More than 70 Colorado organizations signed up to promise not to kill a healthy treatable animal on that day, and the majority signed to never do it. And they participated that day whether at our central location or across the state in their own communities.
Ironically, one of the reason Just One Day turned out to be a major success was the opposition of status quo shelters. The major shelters outright refused to join us. But our event made them act. They created a week long adoption campaign around our one day event. They refused to acknowledge what we were doing, but we felt they gave us the greatest compliment and proved our charter. By competing with us, they increased awareness of the plight of homeless pets, and we know more than 600 homeless pets were saved because of it. They did it in spite of us. And homeless pets won.
For this holiday season we created the 100 Dogs Campaign. We are raising resources and awareness to save 100 dogs roaming the streets of a small Colorado community (Antonito) and get them to safe homes. Four Paws Colorado is placing a low cost spay neuter program in the town to eliminate the annual surge of unplanned pet births. And we will make this town a place where all homeless pets are safe. The first transfer of 21 dogs was a success with every dog going to No Kill rescues and shelters. We sadly lost one pup, Shilo, to parvo and we are working to remediate this in the future. All others are safe or forever home. We hope to create a model that can be repeated in other communities in Colorado and beyond.
Over the past several months we have helped expose a regressive shelter near in Canon City, the Fremont County Humane Society by backing a courageous group of volunteers that were banned by the management shelter for standing up for the homeless pets they saw killed every day and mistreated at the shelter. The Colorado regulatory agency over shelters inspected them and found 10 violations which have been remediated.
This never would have happened without good people of Fremont County standing up to the regressive incumbent shelter management. Recently, the city government has continued a contract with the shelter, but with controls and inspections to insure the animals are being treated properly. This fight is not over, but we have put this shelter in the public eye, forced significant changes, and are fighting for more until this shelter is saving every healthy/treatable homeless pet.
We are continuing to talk to every shelter that will let us in the door to see if they will make saving every healthy treatable pet the primary goal of their strategy.
I was a minor part in making all these wonderful things happen this year in our state. There is still hard work to make Colorado a No Kill state, but the momentum is accelerating in just 12 months to make it a place where people are talking about No Kill and participating in a myriad of ways and saving more lives. And more people are stepping up every day. I believe much of this was due to the gifts received from these four leaders.
I would not have had the knowledge, the gumption, the examples, or the resolve to do something without meeting people like Nathan, Ryan, Mike and Mike.
So thanks for the gifts @NathanWinograd @RyanClinton @MikeFry and @m_kitkoski,
And I do plan on regifting.