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The will of the people

In case you haven't noticed all the politicians and pundits cramming the airwaves, 2012 is an election year. The top-line issues are clear: jobs and the economy. It's pretty hard to argue that moving the country out of the economic doldrums should not be the top priority for whomever gets elected in the fall. It is one of the few things that the majority of Americans agree upon. Once we get beyond that top rank of concerns, however, we find that we are a nation divided on social issues and the best way to allocate resources to build the brightest future for the country.

There is something else that the majority of Americans agree upon, and that is No More Homeless Pets. Best Friends has maintained for some time that the debate between the no-kill and the traditional sheltering worlds was over long ago with no-kill as the clear winner, and now it is clear that the broader public agrees as well.

A recent AP-Petside.com national poll revealed 71 percent of Americans believe "animal shelters should only be allowed to euthanize animals when they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted." That is a mandate by any measure, and we hope that the old-line shelters and national organizations that are dithering or are on the wrong side of the fence will listen to the public and step over to no-kill.

Since the late 1980s, we have seen the number of animals killed annually in shelters around the country decrease from a high of around 17 million to the current level of about 4 million. We are in the home stretch, and more communities are taking concrete steps to achieve no-kill status all the time. And not just small, prosperous towns and progressive communities. Salt Lake City is on the cusp of no-kill; Reno, Nevada, has achieved it, as has Austin, Texas. Likewise, New York City is well on its way to achieving its no-kill goal under the leadership of Maddie’s Fund and the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals. This year in Los Angeles, Best Friends is launching a citywide campaign to achieve no-kill that includes a coalition of local rescue organizations and L.A. Animal Services. I am also proud to say that Best Friends is supporting exciting no-kill efforts in San Antonio, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida.

What is most exciting is that in places like Los Angeles and San Antonio, the city administrations are full partners in the effort rather than naysayers who are resisting or taking a wait-and-see attitude. It is no longer a small group of activists and rescuers tugging on coat tails or waving protest signs. As reflected in the AP-Petside poll, no-kill is what the public wants and expects, and savvy politicians recognize that and are getting out in front of the no-kill wave. It is the will of the people.

2012 will be a banner year for animals and the no-kill movement. From all of the animals and staff at Best Friends, I wish you, our members and friends, who make all that we do possible, all the very best for the New Year.
Gregory Castle, CEO emeritus, Best Friends Animal Society Gregory Castle
CEO emeritus
Best Friends Animal Society