Manatee County's No-Kill Efforts Are Already Influencing Others

It took just a day for the County Commissioners actions to draw attention in other communities.

On Tuesday County Commissioners voted to adopt a no-kill policy that is designed to save more animals at the Manatee County animal shelter. The goal is that by December 2012 the county will adopt or foster 90 percent of the animals that come into animal services, while increasing the spay and neuter rate across the county.

The no-kill policy was adopted without an increase in the county's animal services budget. Advocates and Manatee County Animal Services worked on this for more than three years and hoped that eventually the county could serve as an example to other communities around the country.

It took one day. See the following letter sent via e-mail to Carol Whitmore, chairwoman of the Manatee County Commission:


Hi Ms. Whitmore,
My name is Karen Lawson and I volunteer at our animal shelter in Douglas County, Georgia. I've been working with a group of people at our Humane Society in an effort to improve the conditions at our shelter.  We are also trying to formulate a plan to someday make our shelter a no-kill facility.
I was very impressed when I read the article about your county striving to become no-kill eventually while gradually reducing the euthanasia's that take place in the meantime.
The portion of the article that really caught my eye was the fact that the plan can lower costs to the county and possibly increase revenue while not requiring additional funding.
Although we have rescues that pull from our shelter each Monday (Tues are euthanasia days), most of them can only take 4-5 animals and our facility holds probably 100 + animals at a time.  They are euthanizing about 10-15 dogs a week. I'm not sure of the number of cats.  At one point a few months ago, they euthanized 60 animals on one Tuesday alone.

We have volunteers that work furiously to beat the clock, photographing and posting on FB, email blasts, etc, begging people to come forward and adopt, foster, or otherwise rescue.  One Friday I photographed about 11 dogs with wonderful personalities only to discover that on Tuesday several of the sweetest ones were euthanized.  
Our biggest obstacles to any suggestions we have made for improved conditions and lower euthanasia rates have been the cost to the county, the mindsets of most of our commissioners that it is cheaper and easier to euthanize rather than take steps to make improvements to the facility, along with citizens who aren't interested in the welfare of animals complaining about any costs involved.
If we could present our case in a way that is beneficial to our county and community by saving money, I believe we could bring  our commissioners on board with our plan and really make a difference in the lives of so many animals
languishing in our shelter.
Would you be willing to share a portion of your plan with us?  It seems that you have some great ideas that are coming to fruition.
Thank you so much,
Karen Lawson 

Proofisinthepudding October 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM
It does not solve the real problem, does it? Go after mandatory spaying. Besides, if you had enough people to adopt these animals you would not need a no-kill. So if they are never adopted they will live in a cage for the rest of their lives? When you have thousands, then what? Is that better?
Lisa Williams October 13, 2011 at 10:50 AM
Mandatory spay/neuter programs have been proven not to work as a single solution. The entire no-kill equation is as follows: I. Feral Cat TNR Program II. High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter III. Rescue Groups IV. Foster Care V. Comprehensive Adoption Programs VI. Pet Retention VII. Medical and Behavior Rehabilitation VIII. Public Relations/Community Involvement IX. Volunteers X. Proactive Redemptions XI. A Compassionate Director
Proofisinthepudding October 13, 2011 at 10:56 AM
I repeat, what are you going to do with all the animals you cannot adopt out? They will live the rest of their lives in cages? Then when you have thousands, the cages will get smaller and smaller. This is not compassion, it is cruel and inhumane.
Lisa Williams October 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM
You can read the book Redemption by Nathan Winograd or request a copy of Manatee County's no kill plan. There are not going to be thousands of animals warehoused in tiny cages. It is all about compassion and quality of life for our animals. It is going to take a huge effort and we are going to succeed. Come to the meeting Oct. 19 to find out more if you would like.
Proofisinthepudding October 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM
I hear you, but the proof is in the pudding. My point is this. How many animals do you put away each year because they have not been adopted? Lets say for the past 10 years? A dog depending on breed lives 10 to 15 years on an average.
Lisa Williams October 13, 2011 at 11:53 AM
We really need support - the plan is to hold many, many more adoption events and to give these wonderful cats and dogs a chance ... a chance to be seen, to be known ...to find loving homes. They need to be out there - in real life, in pictures ... everywhere we can show them. The past numbers are not going to be future numbers of animals not adopted. They want to live - they deserve every chance we can offer them. It is a new day for our county animals and we are ready to work hard for them.
KC October 13, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Good job Lisa!
Proofisinthepudding October 13, 2011 at 12:06 PM
Your still not looking at the future. Your willing to allow animals to be caged for the rest of their lives, believing you are doing them a favor. Like I said before, it is cruel and inhumane to put domesticated animals in cages for eternity. I understand the love of animals first hand, but I also am realistic in that attacking the problem will cure the desease. If you want to do the animals a favor, go after unlicensed breeders, go after unspayed and un neutered animal owners. They are the problem!!!!!! A responsible owner takes care of that business.
Lisa Williams October 13, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Nobody at anytime is going to have animals locked in cages for eternity. The entire plan is to move them along. Please read up on it. It is a change of attitude for everyone - our animals matter very much.
Proofisinthepudding October 13, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Lisa, you have not answered my question's , how long, how many, going after the problem in the first place? But, you know what, it does not matter right now. The proof will be in the future of these animals and the people that made this up should take full responibility to what they proposed. I see/seen what has happened to horses because of the same attitude. They are suffering an agonizing slow death from starvation.
Sam October 13, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Pat, animals will not be caged for the rest of their lives. They will be rescued, fostered, adopted, etc. This is a community problem and when you get the community support, everything comes together. This has worked in shelters all of the country. You should read Redemption and see where this is all coming from. It does work..."the proof IS in the pudding!"
Janine Wertalik Gregor October 13, 2011 at 06:42 PM
I read through this interesting thread. It is difficult for people to understand that there won't be animals left 'in the system' who won't be adopted out. It will take time to get people to think differently. The idea is to not make killing the solution to overpopulation.
Proofisinthepudding October 13, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Exactly the point!
Janine Wertalik Gregor October 14, 2011 at 12:32 AM
It will take time for some people to understand the no-kill solution. Others will understand the concept immediately. See Lisa's list above as to how the non-kill solution will mean that there will be no leftover animals to die in the shelters. That was my point.
Janine Wertalik Gregor October 14, 2011 at 12:34 AM
Pat, I was agreeing with Lisa and Sam.
Lisa Williams October 14, 2011 at 12:45 AM
It will take time - the belief that killing is the only way out of overpopulation of pets has been perpetuated for a very long time.
Proofisinthepudding October 14, 2011 at 10:51 AM
This can go on for eternity, but the proof will be in the figures, which none has been offered to my question's. How many animals are put down every year in shelters because they are unadoptable? How will you maintain a home like environment for the ones that are not adopted? Who will pay for all this? And why are you not going after the problem? This is the same deal as allowing exotics come into this country. Now we have a problem with invasion of species endangering the ecosystem here. The solution is to first attack the problem.
Lisa Williams October 14, 2011 at 11:06 AM
Good morning! There are not that many that are 'unadoptable' -truly vicious or extremely sick. Those would comprise the 10% left when we achieve the 90% save rate. The huge foster program we are building will provide the home-like environment. Fosters are extremely important to achieving a no kill status. We are going after the problem, which is killing our animals. If you read the book, visit some of the no kill web sites, you will see that it is a comprehensive solution - there is not just one thing that has to be done. This is about our shelter animals and not exotic animals.
Proofisinthepudding October 14, 2011 at 11:17 AM
Good morning Lisa. I guess I have a question for county commissioner's. How did they vote yes without figures? It is irresponsible for them to make this kind of decision without documentation or looking into future cost. Which I guess does not matter if the cost is not put on the tax payer. Lets take emotion out of it and get down to reality.
Vicci Springer October 22, 2011 at 06:50 AM
There are figures! You just haven't looked at them. You can find facts and figures in the NoKillPrimer online. Just type it in google and it comes right up. Read it! And since killing has been the solution for so long, of course the kill figures are high. We are not interested in Kill figures, we are interested in a save rate. YOU have to take the emotion out of it, defending the status quo that the only solution is killing, and open your eyes to the possibilities of a different and better plan. They looked at the documentation. I know because I have read it and I know Lisa has read it because she quotes from it. The irresponsible decision is to continue the senseless killing for convenience sake. Read the NoKillPrimer and you will see what the commissioners voted for and what the nokill advocates support. And while you are reading, look for things in the material that you can do! Get creative. It doesn't cost one individual a whole lot if we all do it together. Everyone contributing in a small way equals huge results. The commissioners and the nokill advocates have made the responsible choice. I congratulate you again, Manatee County.
Vicci Springer October 22, 2011 at 07:06 AM
http://www.furkids.org/about-us/history-mission/ humble beginnings to awesome! an inspiring web-site. not just no-kill, but cage-free! That has always been my vision but I didn't know someone had actually achieved it! All it takes is vision, puddin'.
Proofisinthepudding October 22, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Really? So the solution is to avoid the problem? It is ridiculous to think your solving anything. And the only facts that are on google is what it cost to put animals to sleep? You cannot tell me that keeping animals in cages, feeding them, keeping them healthy, housing, vet bills is less expensive. A prime example of bleeding hearts is the no slaughter for horses. Look what has been done with that. Long term horribly cruel death await these poor animals instead of humanely putting them out of their misery. Visit some of the horse rescue's and see what was created by stopping the slaughter. So here is the solution for it all. Whom ever wants to save all the animals, then you foot the bill totally. It is not a responsibility of all, when a few don't seek to solve the problem. It is the same deal with exotics invading Florida, stop importing them. PERIOD!
Lisa Williams October 22, 2011 at 12:38 PM
There are plenty of figures - of how no-kill saves money. It is absolutely our responsibility as citizens of this planet to all take care of each other. Killing perfectly healthy, loving, happy pets because they have no home is, in every way wrong. The no kill movement IS attacking the problems in every way possible. This is not just a Manatee County idea - it is a movement across the nation and the world to end the killing. Education and following the no-kill equation will end this terrible cycle. It is happening ... the community is rising to the occasion, there are EIGHTEEN professional photographers volunteering this week to take great pictures of our homeless pets to get them out there to be seen and adopted. Many people attended the meeting last week to secure more foster homes ... Manatee County cares!
Proofisinthepudding October 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Look, say what you want. It is not the solution to the problem. I am saying is "ADDRESS THE PROBLEM" ! You say it is my responsiblity. How? If you murder someone, is that my responsiblity too? I hope you prove me wrong about the policy you imposed on everyone, in that it is more cost effective to keeping these animals alive and well. All, I say is those same people who wanted to take this action be held responsible for the aftermath. For your information, I have always had animals and have taken care to have them fixed, current on shots, health care and so on. My animals are my responsibility and I take that to heart. I took them to my home and thus treat them as part of the family. So do not make any assumption that I do not care or have a love for animals.
Lisa Williams October 22, 2011 at 01:02 PM
I never made that assumption - you obviously care for horses, as well as your own pets. What we are saying is that this is a community effort ... there is no "I' or 'mine'. These are our community pets - they need our help, they are going to get it now. Foster homes are the greatest need and those are through registered rescue groups- who pay for the food, vet care, etc. The more awareness -the more aid is generated.
Proofisinthepudding October 22, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Lisa, this should not be the burden of the entire community. The entire community did not cause this problem. The only solution is to to stop the problem in the first place. If that was done, you would not have to have a no kill policy.
Lisa Williams October 22, 2011 at 01:34 PM
Well, it is a community problem that must be addressed. If you do not want to help or understand how it works - so be it. A community is made up of everyone, including animals. If we all close up and stay in our little boxes taking care of only ourselves - that is not a community. I am seeing an outpouring of concern and people starting to take action - and action is what it takes to correct the problems of the past.
Proofisinthepudding October 22, 2011 at 01:49 PM
I understand the problem and like I said before, I hope you prove me wrong. I have my doubts that unless you correct the problem you will never be able to handle the solution of no kill. Then it really will be a burden that no one will claim responsiblity for. We will see the results..... I do not believe you are doing any justice to these animals as proof with starving horses.
Vicci Springer October 24, 2011 at 01:32 AM
There is plenty out there, PLENTY, as in plenty of help, plenty of care, plenty of food. You just have to tap into the right sources. You just have to want to be a part of the solution. If all you want to do is be responsible for you and your animals, good for you for being kind to your pets. But did that not open up your heart for all pets? It certainly did mine! You cannot say no one will claim responsibility. This county as a whole has stepped up to claim it. No one can convince you, obviously, but still you should read the material. It will give you ideas how you can help. Wouldn't this be something you would LIKE to SEE happen? Or had you rather just keep saying, show me, prove it? It is about a SAVE RATE. Do you know what that means? Many of the nokill sites are down right now, under construction, but I’m sure they’ll be back up soon, in the meantime here are a couple of links: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=4412 www.rescue50.org/ one link is of an animal control director who doubted it would work, he gave it a try and now he is a believer. He followed the plan in which Lisa gave you the short version. When the sites are up again I will post them. As for the starving horses, is that current or are you beating a dead horse? It's easy to sit on the sidelines and say it won't work. During this very post, I was called away to foster a kitten. We network and leave animal control out of the picture because we don't have the awesome commissioners like in Manatee Co.!
Proofisinthepudding October 24, 2011 at 09:51 AM
For your information on the horses. It is absolutely current! Like, I said before and will say it again, "Go for it", but do not put the burden on everyone else that does the right thing and takes care of their animals. The people that want to put a bandaid on keeping animals until they die naturally instead of getting to the heart of the problem should also be responible to find funds to do just that. My whole problem with this, is the issue of not going to the law makers and trying to get mandatory neutering, stopping exotic animals from coming into the country. If this were to happen, then I could see an end to a existiing problem.


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