When we attended the No Kill Conference in Washington in May, we heard about an exciting strategy to put animal welfare at the forefront of local government strategy.
We were told that:
- There is a major difference between “Animal Control” and “Animal Welfare”. The former protects people from animals (eg roaming, biting, nuisance) and in the main Animal Control is what Pounds and Animal Control (Rangers) are set up to do. Animal Welfare is completely different to Animal Control. The 2 don’t go together. (And when our governments speak of “animal welfare” what they often really mean is ‘Animal Control”. We need to recognise the difference.)
- No Kill recognises that developing and maintaining a No Kill journey currently relies on the vision and commitment of a compassionate leader. The problem is that this is “person dependent”. If the leader leaves, then the Pound/Shelter can regress. It’s too dependent on the (right) individual (being at the controls). Winograd says that there is a clear need therefore for new legislation that enshrines the rights of the animals – “we must move past the personalities and give animals the rights afforded by law “– ie legal protection for animals in the Pound/Shelter.
- Winograd is talking about the need to introduce animal welfare laws – not more animal control legislation that does not have saving lives at its centre.
As a consequence, the No Kill Centre has created a legislative imperative: the Companion Animal Protection Act. The legislation is part of the successful strategy to end State sanctioned killing of healthy animals in pounds and shelter. It has been known for a number of years that there are practical and economical ways to end the killing in pounds. There are increasing numbers of shelters that are taking the journey and showing that it can be done.
The strategies used, collectively called “the No Kill Equation” include:
- Shelter accountability
- Affordable spay/neuter
- Rescue Group access to pound animals
- Comprehensive adoption programs, including accessible pound hours and offsite venues
- Medical and behaviour rehabilitation
- PR and marketing of re-homeable animals
- Use of volunteers and foster families
- Socialisation programs and
- A compassionate, hard working Pound Director who is not content to hide behind the “too many animals – too few homes” myth
Nonetheless, too many shelters are not voluntarily implementing these programs. As a result, animals are being needlessly killed. In response the No Kill Advocacy Centre has developed model legislation to help animal lovers and animal advocates achieve their goal of a no kill community. It is called the Companion Animal Protection Act of 2007.
We badly need the same initiative here in Australia. Too many of our “Animal Welare Acts” are based on legacy animal control philosophies. Are there any Government Ministers or Lawyers out there who can take this on? Write and tell us what you think!
How long will be it be before we get our Act together?