Leadership meeting at the No More Homeless Pets Conference

The no-kill movement – and indeed it is a movement – includes a growing list of very diverse stakeholders, some of whom have achieved and exceeded the 90 percent threshold save rate and others who are well on their way or are committed to transforming their community to embrace no-kill policies and who have practices and a track record of openly stating that commitment and advocating it to others.

I believe it is in the interest of the movement and of the animals for there to be a coherent framework for sharing ideas and program design, thrashing out issues that may be potentially divisive, and establishing a platform for speaking with one voice on common concerns. Such a framework must be open and inclusive of all types of organizations: municipal shelters, private humane societies and SPCAs, and high-functioning rescue, spay/neuter organizations and national animal welfare organizations, with the only qualification being a commitment to no-kill.

It was with this in mind that I invited a group of no-kill stakeholders to a leadership meeting that Best Friends hosted at last week’s No More Homeless Pets National Conference in Jacksonville.

The leadership meeting included animal control agency general managers from several major cities, leaders of private 501(c)3 organizations with animal control contracts, funding organizations, spay/neuter innovators, and leading rescues that are addressing critical issues, such as high-volume foster and adoption, community cats, and the unique challenges of low-income neighborhoods.

As the first of its kind, this meeting focused on basic first steps related to the goals, purpose and shape of such a forum and whether or not there was even a consensus about whether or not to invest the time and energy to create such a forum. There was a strong consensus.

In the coming months, Best Friends and our friends and colleagues in other agencies, including individuals of a like mind not at last week's meeting, will build on these first small steps with an eye to helping more and more communities to adopt successful no-kill policies and practices. Together, we can Save Them All.

Gregory Castle