Forwarded emails aren’t always the best source of information. But I got one the other day that a knowledgeable source says is true. It originated from someone who had spoken to Ernie Wilkinson, the director of the Johnston County pound and said:
He was happy to share the following news — use of the gas chamber to euthanize was discontinued last week. The chamber is still on site, temporarily, but is no longer in use and all gas canisters have been disposed of. The chamber will be dismantled and removed in the near future. The shelter was waiting for issuance of its drug license, which came, and now all euthanasia will be done by injection.
Wilkinson had announced in December that he was planning to reduce gas chamber use but retain the contraption for use on “vicious”animals.
While getting rid of the gas chamber altogether will represent progress, there is no reason to be killing healthy, treatable and rehabilitatable animals at all in the face of lifesaving alternatives. The next step for Johnston County should be to implement ALL of the proven lifesaving steps of the “No Kill Equation“:
- Feral Cat TNR Program Trap-Neuter Release (TNR) programs allow shelters to reduce death rates of free-living cats. Traditional methods of managing the feral cat populations have involved removing cats from their home territories and euthanizing them. Modern community cat management strategies involve neutering the cats and returning them to their capture site (TNR). As a neutered community cat population ages, the number of cats will decrease by natural attrition and will not be replaced by subsequent generations. Numerous studies have shown that trap/neuter/return is the most effective way to reduce community cat populations over time, and it is the only successful method to keep feral cats from being euthanized.
- High Volume, Low Cost Spay and Neuter Services No-and low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter reduces the number of animals entering the shelter system, allowing more resources to be allocated toward saving lives. These services should be readily available to targeted populations of people unable to afford the surgery at the normal rate and/or specific jurisdictions within a community known for having a large number of unaltered animals. These services have been proven to reduce shelter intake, making spay and neuter incredibly cost effective.
- Rescue Partnerships Rescue groups provide a valuable resource to shelters. An adoption or transfer to a rescue group free up kennel space, reduce expenses, and will improve a community’s rate of lifesaving. Partnerships between shelters and rescue groups are vital, and rare is the circumstance in which a licensed rescue group would be denied an animal.
- Foster Care Volunteer foster care is a low-cost and often no-cost way of increasing a shelter’s capacity, caring for sick and injured or behaviorally challenged animals, and thus saving more lives. Providing temporary foster care to litters of puppies or kittens that are too young for adoption, animals who are shy, those that need some extra TLC, or animals who need special medical attention can dramatically increase the lifesaving capacity.
- Comprehensive Adoption Adoptions are vital to the lifesaving mission. The quantity and quality of shelter adoptions is in shelter management’s hands, making lifesaving a direct function of shelter policies and practice. If shelters better promoted their animals and had adoption programs responsive to community needs, including public access hours for working people, providing a welcoming atmosphere and excellent customer service, offsite adoptions, adoption incentives, and effective marketing, contrary to conventional wisdom, shelters can adopt their way out of killing.
- Pet Retention While some surrender of animals to shelters are unavoidable, others can be prevented-but only if shelters work with people to help them solve their problems. Saving animals requires shelters to develop innovative strategies for keeping people and their companion animals together. And the more a community sees its shelters as a place to turn for advice and assistance, the easier this job will be.
- Medical and Behavioral Programs To meet its commitment to a lifesaving guarantee for all savable animals, shelters need to keep animals happy and healthy and keep animals moving efficiently through the system. To do this, shelters must put in place comprehensive vaccination, handling, cleaning, socialization, and care policies before animals get sick and rehabilitative efforts for those who come in sick, injured, un-weaned, or traumatized.
- Public Relations/Community Involvement Increasing adoptions, maximizing donations, recruiting volunteers and partnering with community agencies comes down to increasing the shelter’s public exposure. And that means consistent marketing and public relations. Public relations and marketing are the foundation of a shelter’s activities and success.
- Volunteers Volunteers are a dedicated “army of compassion” and the backbone of a No Kill effort. There is never enough staff, never enough dollars to hire more staff, and always more needs than paid human resources. That is where volunteers make the difference between success and failure and, for the animals, life and death.
- Proactive Redemptions One of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims. Shifting from a passive to a more proactive approach has allowed shelters to return a large percentage of lost animals to their families.
- Compassionate Director The final element of the No Kill Equation is the most important of all, without which all other elements are thwarted–a hard working, compassionate animal shelter director who is willing to be accountable to results by implementing these programs. Get the right people on the team who bring strong, knowledgeable, flexible, and inspired leadership!