Hastings, Minnesota – Animal Ark, an animal shelter recognized as a model for the no kill movement in the United States, is announcing the formation of the first no kill communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This news comes as a result of an agreement signed by Ark and Shamrock Animal Hospital, which provides impound services to Hastings and Rosemount, Minnesota and Prescott, Wisconsin. The agreement provides an adoption guarantee for any homeless pet in these communities, so long as the pets are not terminally ill or dangerous to people.
The agreement adds these communities to the growing list of municipalities across the country that have ended the killing of healthy, adoptable animals in shelters, and that also guarantee care for animals with treatable medical or behavioral issues. Areas like Tompkins County, NY, Washoe County, NV and Charlottesville, VA have led the way to achieving community-wide save rates in excess of 90%.
“Animal Ark has long been considered a leader in the no kill movement,” said Marlene Foote, President and Founder of Animal Ark. “We are, therefore, very pleased to be able to formally declare that our communities are some of the safest in the nation for companion animals.”
Under the agreement, any animals impounded by these municipalities are guaranteed a safe place to go, even if their families do not reclaim them.
“This agreement is made possible, in part, because of Shamrock Animal Hospital’s strong commitment to helping animals,” said Mike Fry, Executive Director of Animal Ark. “Shamrock sets an outstanding example for other impound centers to follow, by providing excellent care for the animals they impound. Additionally, they have strong relationships with other rescue organizations – not just Animal Ark. They work very hard to ensure that the animals for which they are responsible are safe and cared for.”
Fry added that he believes that Ark and Shamrock have been achieving save rates in excess of 90% for many years. The written adoption agreement is simply formally documenting their collective commitment to community-wide life-saving.
For many years, debates have been raging regarding the efficacy of no kill shelters, according to Nathan Winograd, Founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center. Such debates, he says, have entirely missed the point that the no kill movement is about making entire communities safe for companion animals. No kill is not just about making shelters no kill, it is about transforming whole communities.
“An animal shelter cannot really be counted on to make their community safe for animals if they themselves are killing a large percentage of the animals they receive,” said Winograd.
While the cities of Hastings and Rosemount may be the first official no kill cities in Minnesota, Fry hopes they will not be the last. “Now, all eyes are on Duluth,” he said.
A few years ago a leadership change occurred at the Animal Allies Humane Society. Since then the organization has been actively implementing the various programs and services often referred to as “The No Kill Equation”. During that time, the community-wide save rate has climbed to 88% in 2009. With improvements continuing, it is commonly expected that Duluth could exceed a 90% save rate in 2010.
This news comes at a time when a growing number of animal welfare advocates believe it is possible for the United States to become a no kill nation by 2015. Since the 1970’s steady progress has been made improving save-rates in animals shelters. In the 1970’s approximately 15 million dogs and cats were killed annually in America’s animal shelters. By 2010, that number has fallen to about 3 million.
“While the US population has been growing, deaths in shelters have been dropping dramatically because shelter directors across the nation are implementing the programs called The No Kill Equation,” said Fry. “Programs like high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter services for owned pets, trap-neuter-release services for feral cats and others are making a huge difference.”
According to Windograd and other advocates, the only barrier to the USA becoming a no kill nation is the number of shelter directors that have yet to fully embrace the programs and services that bring about no kill. “Without implementing these programs, they continue to unnecessarily kill large numbers of companion animals,” said Fry.
“Unfortunately, there are still some animal shelters clinging to the past, killing large numbers of animals, and refusing to step into the inevitable future that awaits the nation’s animal-loving populace,” he added.
Here's a big CHEER for Hastings, Rosemount, (MN) and Prescott WI for formally agreeing to be a no kill community! Here's another cheer for the work and progress in Duluth, MN! Woohooo!
Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to get to this point in these communities. Thanks for being leaders.
Here's hoping that others will embrace this movement in full, and will follow!