One of the most interesting sessions we attended at the 2009 Washington No Kill Conference was the session conducted by Bonney Brown, the Director of the Nevada Humane Society who described in detail the strategies they have used to dramatically increase the rehoming rate at Washoe County, Nevada. There were many simple and practical lessons to learn. Read on….
“In early 2007, Nevada Humane Society committed to making Washoe County, Nevada into one of the safest communities for homeless dogs and cats in the nation. The results have been dramatic. Many people have asked how we have made such remarkable improvements in the county-wide save rate for dogs and cats over the past year. So we have put together the game plan we used in hopes that it will help others produce similar results in their communities”. Bonney Brown, Executive Director
The number of dogs and cats killed in Washoe County 2007 animal shelters has declined by 51% for dogs and 52% for cats (compared to 2006). The save rate for dogs was 92% and 78% for cats and trending upward, despite a per capita intake rate that was over twice the national average and over three times that of many communities. We found new homes for 7,452 homeless dogs and cats and 578 other animals. The adoption rate increased 53% for dogs and over 84% for cats (compared to 2006).
The volunteer ranks increased from 30 to over 1,300 local citizens since expanding the volunteer program in March of 2007………..
To access this exciting article – click here:
“The power of words…
All of us are subtly influenced by labels, so we made changes to ensure function names and job titles reflected our mission.
The Intake Room became Admissions, Kennel Attendants became Animal Caregivers, and Office Assistants became Adoption Counsellors. On the other side, we didn’t want to hide behind euphemisms and we never want to forget the gravity of ending an animal’s life, so we stopped using the word euthanasia and began calling it killing.”
We spoke with Bonney after her session and were surprised to learn that the Nevada Humane Society has nothing at all to do with the Humane Society of the US, as you might logically think. We were told that in the US, any organisation can set them themselves up as a charity and use the name “Humane Society” or “SPCA – Society for Prevention of Cruelty”. They have no affiliation or relation whatsoever to the National HSUS or ASPCA. There are hundreds of them across the nation! Similarly in Australia each State RSPCA and AWL are separate organisations – loosely affiliated under a national organisation. Each has different strategies, philosophies, leadership and outcomes. Whilst the RSPCA and increasingly the AWL, present themselves as “one body” the reality on the ground is different. As someone said to us once, “forget the names – they are different bodies”. For this reason, it’s important to specify which State RSPCA and which AWL we refer to when speaking about them.
DRP Comment: if you know of any Australian Shelter or Pound that has made dramatic progress in reducing the kill rate and increasing the rehoming rate, please let us know. We need to recognise those champions. Top of our list are the AWl in Queensland at the Gold Coast City Pound and the RSPCA ACT in Canberra. Who are the others – let us know!
Actions you can take:
Please distribute the Nevada County “How we did it” article far and wide, especially to Pound and Shelter staff you may know.