When our coalition first formed in January of 2012, we had one goal in mind: to speak with one voice toward making ours a no kill community - a place where healthy and treatable shelter animals are not at risk and are not destroyed using our tax dollars. We developed a Facebook presence in April of 2012 in order to reach more people in the community and share our vision of Huntsville as a no kill community. We have always sought to become irrelevant not because of lack of interest, but because we simply are no longer needed in this particular advocacy role.
The City of Huntsville is nearing the end of the most successful year of animal sheltering in the history of the city. The numbers for the entire year have yet to be calculated; we presume that the live release rate will be near 90% and may even exceed that percentage. The city has openly stated that it hopes to do even better in the coming year and city leaders are clearly energized about the public’s response to calls for community involvement in saving shelter pets. As we begin the new year, we have moved away from Facebook and reverted to our primary means of communication which is our fully developed website. We will be blogging from our website periodically in order to keep supporters posted on news of interest and the latest local developments.
We remain hopeful that the progress achieved by city officials to date can be sustained. We look forward to a time when the city makes a public declaration that it plans to become a genuine no kill community and that healthy and treatable shelter animals are no longer at risk in our municipal shelter under any circumstances. We still have some concerns about program development, but we can envision no circumstances under which the city would revert back to the old ways of functioning.
We hope you will stay tuned as we begin a new and exciting chapter in the history of Huntsville and Madison County and as this community demonstrates to the entire region what can happen when we have faith in the compassion of the animal-loving public. The next logical step following a public declaration of intent is for the city to codify the manner in which the municipal shelter operates so that progress can be sustained not just for the short-term, but for years to come by enacting a Companion Animal Protection Act. More information on this and other programs that sustain the progress and can better serve the animals and the public can be found on our website.
Will 2016 be "the" year we become a no kill community? We have faith in those who lead us and in our community to do just that.
When city officials were first introduced to the no kill programs we promote in equation form in late 2008, the live release rate at our municipal shelter was 25%. Three out of every 4 animals were destroyed regardless of health or disposition. When we formed our coalition in early 2012, the live release rate had risen to 34%. We consider this a dismal number and are truly glad it is now just part of the past
The live release rate at the municipal shelter was over 96% in the month of October and we suspect the November numbers will be similar, This is a stellar achievement and one which should be a great source of pride for local elected and appointed officials, city employees, rescuers, volunteers and the animal-loving public. Just a few short years ago, many in our community felt we just could not do better for whatever reason. Time has proven that position to be wrong. As has been the case in many communities brave enough to try something new, time has proven that we are, in fact, capable of change and that our community is, in fact, compassionate enough to make better choices. More than 100 shelter animals were adopted out in a single day on November 30th. When a bed drive was launched to help shelter dogs, the goal of 80 beds was met in less than 4 business days. Those facts alone say a lot about our community and the capacity for greatness.
The road to change is never easy. It comes with conflict, lost sleep, hurt feelings and in the case of the no kill movement, it often results in a great deal of opposition. This may seem illogical to many of you. As we were asked at our no kill workshop in the summer of 2013 at the downtown library, "who could possibly object to saving the lives of homeless pets?" Exactly.
If someone had told the members of our group in January of 2012 that Huntsville would achieve live release rates above 95% but that it would take us being made out to be the bad guys in the process, each and every one of us would have signed on for those terms. Because, you see, this has never, ever been about us as individuals and has always been about pushing for better for our homeless pets and our community. Whether you think our coalition has had anything to do with change here or not, the reality is that we are now a much different community than we were four years ago in terms of how many shelter pets are saved.
As we near the end of 2015, we remain hopeful the shelter progress achieved to date can be sustained. We challenge city officials not only to keep the live release rates close to those achieved in recent months, but also to make that final push and commitment to make ours a no kill community by publicly declaring that healthy and treatable shelter pets are no longer at risk under any circumstances.
We invite all of you to learn more about what is taking place in our community related to the municipal animal shelter, about your your own behavior affects what happens in the community and about what you can do personally to be part of making ours the no kill community we know we can be.
No Kill Huntsville
Keep up with our updates and latest news regarding Huntsville becoming a no kill community.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson