Friday, November 12, 2010

Why I Support The No Kill Movement....

When I first became involved in Animal Rescue, I was living in Houston, TX. I started as a Volunteer for a local animal organization where nearly 70% of animals who walked through those doors were killed. I never understood why these animals were not making it out alive, but naively assumed this was the only way to get the animals off of the streets. In Houston, I never questioned the killing philosophy. Wow... have things changed...

Moving to Austin, TX in 2005 opened my eyes to an entire new world of Animal Welfare. Working with a local, limited admission shelter, I was surprised to see the difference. Animals in Austin were treated with love and respect. This shelter boasted a wonderful program to place animals with owners who would understand their needs, care for them and most of all offer a loving home to these animals. It was a heartwarming experience.

My two babies, Jazz (Black) and Izze Belle (Black and White), adopted from Austin Humane Society.

Needless to say, this was not the only Animal Shelter I became involved with in Austin. I have offered volunteer hours, donations and support to the majority of our major shelters, as well as working for 2 Rescue Friendly Veterinary Offices in the Austin area. 

In 2010, I discovered the No Kill Movement. The very straightforward 11 steps inspired by Author Nathan Winograd, set realistic goals and are the key to getting our Shelters to No Kill Status. 

Being an advocate for No Kill certainly comes with it's share of criticism. I am often asked why I would want to support a Movement that gets such a push-back from huge animal organizations like PETA and the ASPCA.

To this, I respond with my story of Dallas:

Early in my Animal Career, 'Dallas", a cute little Pit Bull mix came to an open admission shelter where I happened to be working as a behavioralist at the time. Her elderly owner had passed away after suffering a heart attack and Dallas had been left alone in her home for nearly 3 days before being sent to the shelter. I happened to come in to work with some dogs that week and was informed by a Staff member that Dallas had not come out of the crate she was brought to the shelter in for nearly 2 days. Now a shaking, terrified Pit Bull mix, 'Dallas' was destined to be killed by the so called Saviors who ran the Shelter. The only reason she had not yet been killed was a lack of staff and the required hold time for animals coming into the shelter.

I didn't have much hope as I walked into the run where Dallas's crate was kept. She was balled up as small as she could get in the very back of the crate, obviously terrified with a broken spirit. As I sat on the ground in her kennel, I started to talk to this frightened pup. I tried to imagine what she was feeling and how scary this must really be for her. The smell of death from the thousands of animals who had already been killed here in this shelter, the loud sounds of dogs barking, the clanking of bowls being washed. This poor little dog had never known anything but her elderly owner and now he was gone.

After quite awhile of sitting in her run, I was crying myself, imagining what this poor dog was going through. Wiping my eyes, I looked into her kennel to see her watching me, this was the first eye contact she had made with a human over the past week. I tapped my leg and called her gently, and as she looked away again, I decided that this probably was not going to get her out. In my talking with her, I happened to ask her if she wanted to go for a walk.... at the word walk, her ears popped to the top of her head. Seeing this, I pulled my leash out and asked her again if a Walk sounded good. About 10 minutes later, she was still curled up in her little ball, but now she was half on my lap and softly licking my fingers.

Three weeks later, after lots of Volunteer time being put in, 'Dallas' had found a foster family with another Volunteer friend, who had begun to work with her as well. 5 weeks after going into foster, her foster family adopted her and she is now a happy, healthy 8 year old Pit Bull.

'Dallas' was one of a few who made it out of that particular shelter alive. I think about the trauma that she experienced and her ability to pull through that fear. With shelter's striving for No Kill, animals like Dallas will be given a chance at a wonderful life.

The No Kill Movement is about saving these beautiful souls and I want to be part of that! Don't you?

Stephanie Conrad
The Pet Studio