By Kae Norman
“When I spoke with Nathan Winograd, Founder of the No Kill Solutions that pounds and shelters can implement more to save more animals in facilities, I asked him “How far behind do you think Australia is?” He replied, “You’re in 1976.” When I asked Mike Arms, CEO of the Helen Woodward Centre, a no Kill Centre, in the US the same question he said, “About 30 years.”
Two experts. Same answer. So the best thing was to have a look at what was actually out there. And indeed there are ‘best practice’ Charities, supported by the people. The Dogs Trust UK and the Battersea Dogs Home both in the UK are remarkable.
Please check the link for The Battersea Dogs Home http://www.battersea.org.uk/
You will see foster care programs and all sorts of proactive measures taken to help rehome animals.
The Dogs Trust UK has a fantastic Virtual Tour of one of their facilities. Please check it out. It will make you jump for joy there are such places! http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/rehoming/
Not only do they have outreach programs and foster programs, they also aid animals internationally. They are transparent in all facets, including their focus on rehoming animals. Their mission statement says it all:
“We believe no healthy dog should ever be destroyed”
You have to be happy with that! So what else is out there? Ah yes, Best Friends in the USA. Some of you might have heard of “Dogtown” on Pay TV? Yes, that is Best Friends. When Cyclone Katrina hit, Best Friends galvanized thousands to retrieve SIX THOUSAND animals from ravaged New Orleans. Months later, they reunited pets with their owners, rehomed others who were not reclaimed, and were left with 13 dogs out of all the animals saved. What did they do? They built them their own home at Best Friends where they will live out their days happily. If you have a spare hour or two, have a look at the amazing Best Friends Website http://www.bestfriends.org/
Let’s go back to the USA and have a look at the San Francisco SPCA like our RSPCA which started this whole journey nearly 25 years ago. They have the most amazing work with outreach programs, open late hours, everything is geared towards rehoming an animal. http://www.sfspca.org/
And what about in the mid west? Yes you have those turning towards the no kill style of sheltering and what do we find? The Animal Ark no kill Shelter. http://www.animalarkshelter.org/
So where is Victoria in all of this and how do we compare?
Roughly 22 of the 29 councils contract with either the RSPCA in Burwood or the Lost Dogs Home in Nth. Melbourne. The Lost Dogs Home is the LARGEST animal Pound in Australia, taking in more than 20,000 every year.
After sitting at the AWL Conference to End Pet Overpopulation, Lost Dogs Home Shelter Manager and staff sat in the front row and listened to Nathan Winograd.
One has to ask: did they find anything useful to take back to their facility which has no outreach program, no foster care program, no off site adoption days, closes early on weekdays and stays open for only 1/2 a day on busy adoption days (Sat & Sun), not to mention their supposed Kill rate of 33%?
The RSPCA ACT under Michael Linke now boasts a kill rate of 8%. Yes a 92% rehoming rate. With fostering, 6 full time employed trainers for dogs, and not using the excuse they are full and therefore must kill, their ACT facility is now thriving. When Michael entered the RSPCA ACT it was weeks away from bankruptcy. Now, it is making healthy profits AND saving more lives than ever.
So WHAT is the Lost Dogs Home doing?
According to the article from Sean Trinner, Co-Founder and Director, Pareto Works, The Lost Dogs Home have a massive 12 million dollars surplus. (article below) Meanwhile they have a 33% kill rate, no foster carer program, no volunteers (read unpaid labour), no outreach programs, no off site adoption days, no lengthening of hours to help the turnover of animals in their facility.
Yet plans are being made, according to their site for a sick & injured facility, when they already have a vet clinic on site and the Lort Smith Animal Hospital two minutes away. An education and training facility? Why is all of this when there is no attempt to actively rehome today’s animals by the basic outlines below?
The rise and rise of The Lost Dogs’ Home.
“In the face of constant rising costs and a climate of economic uncertainty many CEO’s and boards are asking ‘is direct marketing worth the effort?’
In 2003, The Lost Dogs’ Home faced imminent closure from an unprecedented financial crisis. Now six years on they find themselves with a 12 million dollar surplus and annual revenue 10x greater than then. And right now they are smiling as they reap the rewards of cheap media in 2009.”
So the question is this?
Why is the Lost Dogs Home NOT willing to keep up with the times? It cannot be a matter of money.
And are they being transparent enough? Why are all the impounded dogs covered up so the general public cannot see them? Why are you not allowed to take a photo of a dog in their pound?
Why are there less than 20 dogs on their website up for adoption yet they are the LARGEST FACILITY and take in roughly 1,000 dogs a month? Why are the sheltering techniques still matched to twenty years ago when there are so obviously more up to date Sheltering practices taking place around the world?
Victorians need to be told.
This is the biggest disgrace that needs to be changed. There are no excuses that they do not understand, nor that they don’t have the money to do the changes. While there is never a ‘one size fits all’ that will work with every community wishing to help animals, there are a series of programs that are the basic requirements to how a modern pound or shelter should be operating regardless of location or size.
This is what they were CREATED to do, yet they have become the killing fields for millions. Animals go in, bodies come out in bags.
And the pet lovers amongst us are sick of it.
There are Mandatory programs which must be followed, no excuses.
- The most important is a compassionate Director with a focus on saving lives.
- High volume, Low cost desexing programs
- A comprehensive fostering program for animals irrespective of age (young, old,) or those needing rehabilitation from surgery or injury
- Off site adoption programs. (How many hate visiting pounds?) How many would visit dogs avail for adoption in a park??
- Transparent PR, marketing and community outreach programs to support the Pound/Shelter
- Working with Rescue instead of killing adoptable animals.
- Volunteer programs which get the community involved and passionate about animals
- Proactive redemption/stray collection strategies.
If you think the Lost Dogs Home are doing all of these things above, then read no further.
If you think they need to implement these procedures as soon as possible and start saving more lives then read on!
These aren’t unreasonable requests; they’re not complicated or magic. They’re what Cahrity shelters were created to do. In fact, this is what they community have always thought they were doing. Now they’ve found out some organisations are nothing more than a ‘garbage’ processing plant – pets go in – bodies come out in barrels.
And the pet loving public won’t stand for it.
To find out more:
“Lost Dogs Home to cut killing rate” : click here
“Animal rights zealots to storm Lost Dogs Home” : Click here
Visit the wall at : Lost Dogs Hope
Visit Lost Dogs Home Exposed : click here
Actions you can take:
Write a letter to General Manager Graeme Smith, along with his Board of Directors
Mr. John Allen, Dr. Andrew Tribe, Dr. Keith Farfor, Mr. Brian Walsh, Ms. Dorothy McGuiness, Ms. Jenny Scovell, Ms. Margaret Crossley.
All can be addressed to the Board of Directors, The Lost Dogs Home, 2 Gracie Street, Nth Melbourne 3051.
Or have you had experience with the Lost Dogs Home you wish to share with us? Again, please email us.
Or you contact the Lost Dogs Home through their website at http://www.dogshome.com/content/contact-details
If you feel uninformed about the Lost Dogs Home we request that you take a trip into Nth Melbourne and view the facilities yourself. We would love to hear what you think, so please email us on email@example.com please make sure you leave us with your full name, address and contact details.
DRP Comment: we applaud Kae Norman, founder of Rescued with Love, for making this information about the Lost Dogs Home public. We know that there are other hi profile Charity shelter organisations that are happy to plead poor and take in the public’s money bequests and donations. We have no problem with that BUT they must spend the money on strategies that create a no kill outcome. A 60% rehoming rate today is just not good enough. Do it fast. Today there is NO EXCUSE. We have no problem with them taking in millions from the public via ‘happy days’, TV programs that tug at the heartstrings, and requests for “leave us in your will”…….but if they are mis-spending that money (eg MBA courses paid for by public donation monies, for 2 of their Directors at about $80,000???) , and animals are dying un-necessarily, then listen up, because the public will vote with their wallets…….