Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sorry my blog has gotten off-track

I want to apologize to the readers of this blog; I think I have been talking too much about philosophy and No Kill and putting the cart before the horse. I understand how confusing these two words are, and it is hard to grasp the difference between killing for population control and euthanasia, and we all use the words interchagably. I know, too, that as a community we are stuck in a mindset of punishing and stopping irresponsible people from what they do. Believe me, if I could wave a magic wand and change people, I would! I honestly think some people can change, as I have seen in my own life and personal relationships, but I also think others will never do so, and the best thing they can do is just not have any pets!!

However, my initial intent for this blog was to first talk about all of the No Kill Equation in detail, offering advice and ideas and examples from around the nation of how--when you fully and vigorously implement all of these programs which I'm sure most of us support (save for those not in favor of TNR)--you can work toward replacing killing for population control with saving more and more lives and work hard to send euthanasia and its application back to its dictionary definition.

The research myself and the Las Cruces No Kill Study Group are doing right now will give us even more information from which to draw, but there are ideas that the best in the business also share readily. I only wish I was in Las Vegas this coming week, for example, for the Best Friends Animal Society's No More Homeless Pets Conference, where the motto is that in this case, what you learn in Vegas you should not leave in Vegas!

And, next May, I plan to attend THE conference where all my heroes and sheroes will be in one place ... the No Kill Advocacy Center's conference in Washington, D.C. Some of my animal-welfare colleagues and I are going to attend, and I'm sure we'll be chock-full of ideas and momentum after hearing from the likes of progressive sheltering partiarch and Maddie's Fund president Richard Avanzino, no kill's tireless leader Nathan Winograd, 2007 Shelter Director of the Year Bonney Brown, and others.

My next blog postings promise to talk about each of the items on the No Kill Equation list with ideas of how we can work on these programs here with what we have available (even at our funding levels) and what it will look like when each is fully implemented, and then I'll be hoping that all of the people in this community--who want to reduce the intake at our shelter and increase live exits to second chances/good homes and enrich shelter animals' lives when in our care--can get together and brainstorm about how we can work together to make this a reality. Let's fundraise and launch programs and find ways to get our shelter to partner with us instead of all the distrust and friction that exists now. Surely, we can get past this and find a better way.

I think we all want the same things, but we word it differently or come at it differently or misconstrue what we are each saying and read our own judgements in between the lines. After all, if we love animals, we want to save as many of their lives as possible. We'd like to enrich their lives with their current owners or rescue them from bad owners. We'd love to get to a day when we decrease the shelter's intake enough to give those that are medically or behaviorally challenged an opportunity to rehabilitate and get a second chance in a new home, fight against prejudices that hurt some kinds of animals more than others, and work toward individual, equitable assessment of each cat and dog.

When you look at these programs and services, that's what they are about. At the same time, we all agree that animals should be free of neglect and suffering at the hands of bad owners, and we try our best to help those that we see suffering and hope that our law enforces do their jobs from a perspective of animal care and control, which do not have to be mutually excusive. We can be in favor of all of it--punishing and deterring the bad people AND partnering with the good to save more lives.

I'm going to start some of my own efforts in helping people and their animals by launching a pet help line under the Humane Society of Southern New Mexico by the end of November/beginning of December. I am working on a comprehensive resource booklet, I am working on a help line caseworker handbook so that volunteers can help me answer calls and e-mails from people, and I will post helpful behavior tips and other pet retention information via the HSSNM website. We will be trying our best to help people deal with their legitimate pet guardian issues. After all, dogs and cats don't come with manuals, and there are times when people are at their wit's end and truly don't know what to do, and we want to try to help them keep their animals instead of give up on them. We will also be looking into dog and cat food banks for those in our community that are struggling in these harsh economic times to feed their animals on top of the high expenses for themselves and their children.

So, it's time to start talking programs and exploring ideas and ways to implement them. No Kill will just happen as a result one day, or at least lower and lower kill until we get there, and it will surprise us all and inspire us to keep working in that forward direction. Just as negativity begets negativity, so do good things and good experiences and success stories beget more of the same.

Next posting: How do we work toward high-volume spay and neuter in our community? I think that is the most important place for us to start. Right now, we can fully support our local no- and low-cost programs--SNAP and FSNP. By the way, SNAP is having their big gala this Sat. night; I hope to see many of you there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


No apology needed. THe work of the community seems to have gotten off, then back on track in many areas related to "quality of life" in Las Cruces. Of most importance is public discussion and involvement.

It seems that some folks are able to reconcile themselves to the current reality of killing 10000 plus pets a year, while others are not able to accept this as part of their community. Public discussion and repeated articles, advertising and other ways to connect our daily lives to this reality can only improve citizen awareness.

I guess an election referendum could also be used to guage overall community acceptance of the current situation.

In the meantime....keep on with information in an unbiased "just the facts, maam" approach.