FAQs | Save90 – So that 90% of Shelter Animals May Live

FAQs

1. What does “Save 90″ mean?

2. What is the difference between Save 90 and No-Kill?

3. How can you possibly save 90 percent of all animals, when right now Hillsborough’s animal shelter is only saving 34 percent?

4. I’ve read the 11 steps that get you to Save 90… but I still don’t understand. What are you going to do with all the animals the shelter will no longer be euthanizing?

5. If you are not going to euthanize healthy animals any more, will they be packed into cages to suffer for the rest of their lives?

6. What does TNR mean?

7. What will happen to all the feral cats if you plan to release them back where they came?

8. What about disease and the environment when you put all those cats back?

9. I want to save more animals, but what about the cost of doing this? It has to be a lot more expensive.

10. I don’t see how this can work. There are just too many animals and not enough people to adopt them. Who’s going to adopt all those animals?

11. The problem is the irresponsible public. Once they find out that you won’t kill their pets, won’t more of them start giving their unwanted pets to the shelter?

12. OK, over 36 cities have saved over 90% of their animals, but how do we know that it will work here?

13. What is the Alliance to Save 90?

14. How are you going to help the animal shelter save more animals?

15. If I want to help, what type of volunteer opportunities are there for me where I can really make a difference?

16. I’m really not interested in working with the Alliance to Save 90, but really love animals. What can I do to help?

17. How do you ensure that the animals are placed into GOOD homes?

18. Does Save 90 expect this will happen immediately?

 

1. What does “Save 90″ mean?

It refers to the total percentage of animals that should be able to be saved at any shelter, based on results from current programs now running in over 90+ communities. Only 10% of pets in any shelter ever need to be euthanized due to health or behavior issues.

2. What is the difference between Save 90 and No-Kill?

There is no difference between Save 90 and No-Kill. The term No-Kill means that no animal should be euthanized for any other reason other than health or behavior issues. Both Save 90 and No-Kill have the same goal. To save as many of our healthy, safe pets as possible. The Alliance to Save 90 wants to use the “No-Kill Equation” blueprint for our county shelter.

3. How can you possibly save 90 percent of all animals, when right now Hillsborough’s animal shelter is only saving 34 percent?

More than three dozen communities are already saving at least 90% using the common sense, comprehensive, 11-step approach called the “No-Kill Equation,” described here.

4. I’ve read the 11 steps that get you to Save 90… but I still don’t understand. What are you going to do with all the animals the shelter will no longer be euthanizing?

By developing an actionable plan involving all the steps and involving the public, the public becomes more aware of what is going on at the shelter. This makes the animals more available to rescues and other people looking for pets – and creates accountability for what happens at the shelter.

Simply put: less in and more out.

The number of animals coming into the shelter is reduced through partnerships with rescue groups and veterinarians, trap-neuter-vaccinate-return of feral (wild) cats, pet retention programs, low- or no-cost spay-neuter programs, expanded foster and transitional care programs, and proactive efforts to reconnect lost pets with their owners

The number of adoptions is increased dramatically through creative, ongoing, adoption programs – including permanent offsite locations that are more visible and convenient for the public, daily offsite adoption programs at busy community sites, evening and weekend shelter hours, excellent customer service, a welcoming environment at the shelter, partnerships with local media, greatly expanded volunteer and foster programs to socialize and train animals, and broad, constant community outreach through events and publicity.

5. If you are not going to euthanize healthy animals any more, will they be packed into cages to suffer for the rest of their lives?

No, this has not happened in the 90+ documented no-kill communities, because fewer animals are impounded and many more are adopted out. The question implies that there are too many animals and too few homes. There is no data or peer-reviewed study that supports “pet overpopulation” as a cause for shelter killing of animals. In reality, 23 million cats and dogs will be adopted by Americans in the coming year, while about 3-4 million are killed in our shelters. Through creative marketing and adoption programs, we can persuade more people to look to the shelter for their next pet.

6. What does TNR mean?

Trap-Neuter-Release is the best practice for managing community cats, who often revert to a wild state after being lost or abandoned. The idea is to keep the cats out of the shelter – where they are usually killed because most are unsocialized.

Trained cat caretakers get community cats sterilized and vaccinated, and return them to their colony to feed and oversee the health and safety of the cats. Young kittens are placed in foster homes to be socialized and adopted.

While not a perfect solution, studies reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and others show that it is the only humane and cost-effective approach.

7. What will happen to all the feral cats if you plan to release them back where they came?

First, we have to realize they are already out there. Trapping, neutering and returning them allows them to live out their lives on their own terms, just like other wild animals we encounter daily, such as raccoons, squirrels and rabbits. Because they are sterilized, vaccinated and treated for parasites and fleas, TNR cats are healthier. Rather than multiplying out of control, well-managed colonies eventually stabilize or decline in number. Moreover, by reducing behaviors associated with mating and reproduction, TNR has been shown to reduce nuisance complaints by as much as 80 percent.

8. What about disease and the environment when you put all those cats back?

There is no evidence that feral cats pose a health and safety risk to humans. The last documented case of rabies transmitted from a feral cat to a human was over 35 years ago. TNR means that cats will get vaccinated at least once at the time of sterilization, which may be adequate to protect them against rabies. The number of birds and small animals killed by cats is dwarfed by the vast and growing number lost through habitat destruction and the use of pesticides.

9. I want to save more animals, but what about the cost of doing this? It has to be a lot more expensive.

The good news is that No-Kill is cost-effective and fiscally responsible. A multi-state study found “no correlation between rates of lifesaving and per capita spending on animal control.” According to the study, “The difference between those shelters that succeeded at saving lives and those that failed was not the size of the budget, but the commitment of its leadership to implementing alternatives to killing.”

This does not mean that communities should underfund their shelters. With more money, more can be accomplished. But getting the community involved in saving lives greatly expands the possibilities for partnerships, grants, volunteers, fosters, donations and other resources.

Inpoundment, killing and disposal are completely revenue negative. No-Kill generates a positive revenue stream from adoption fees while reducing impounds. Adoptions, in turn, have a positive multiplier effect in the community, generating spending on groomers, veterinarians, boarding facilities, pet sitters and all the businesses selling products for pets. It is a win-win for the whole community.

10. I don’t see how this can work. There are just too many animals and not enough people to adopt them. Who’s going to adopt all those animals?

Pet overpopulation is a myth, unsupported by any data or peer-reviewed study. Studies by Maddie’s Fund, the Humane Society and other reputable sources indicate that there are many more potential homes than the number of animals killed in shelters.

Do the math. In the next 12 months, about 23 million people will adopt a cat or a dog. Some are committed to buying from a breeder or store, and others are committed to adopting from a shelter. We only have to convince a small portion of the other 17 million homes to adopt from a shelter in order to “zero out” the killing of 3-4 million shelter animals each year.

So why aren’t more people adopting from the shelter? We need to make it more accessible with convenient locations and hours, appealing and top-of-mind. This is where creative marketing and adoption programs come in, as well as greatly expanded volunteer, foster and rescue programs.

11. The problem is the irresponsible public. Once they find out that you won’t kill their pets, won’t more of them start giving their unwanted pets to the shelter?

To discourage dumping, No-Kill shelters offer pet retention programs (behavior counseling), and one-on-one sessions with owners to explore alternatives, such as referrals. Reno has an “Animal Help Desk” in the shelter. Other methods to work out alternatives include questionnaires, waiting time, and surrenders by appointment only. If a pet is unwanted, and is perhaps being neglected as a result, the best option may be to find a new home.

In any case, blame does not help solve the problem. Hillsborough County has no more “irresponsible pet owners” than the three dozen communities around the country currently saving 90 percent or more of shelter animals.

12. OK, over 36 cities have saved over 90% of their animals, but how do we know that it will work here?

We’re not so different from other communities. In fact, we believe that residents of Hillsborough County do care about animals and will rally to help the shelter and donate their time and money – if they are given a chance. All they need are leaders and a plan that will give them the chance.

What we’re learning from the dozens of diverse No-Kill communities is that we can expect to see almost immediate improvement once an actionable implementation plan embracing all 11 steps, with accountability benchmarks, is in place. We will learn, evaluate and adjust as we work toward the goal of “saving 90.”

We can either continue to make excuses or blame the public, or we can try to solve the problems with a method that has greatly improved shelter operations in over three dozen communities. Why wouldn’t we want to try?

13. What is the Alliance to Save 90?

We’re concerned citizens of Hillsborough County – and groups of citizens with similar concerns and solutions are sprouting up in every community. We are taxpayers and voters who love and care for animals. We do not accept a 65 percent kill rate – especially when solutions exist and there are so many examples of communities with higher impound rates and fewer resources that are already saving 90 percent or more of shelter animals.

We are not blaming people at the shelter. We just want change. We’ve done research on shelter best practices, and we want to bring those best practices to Hillsborough County.

The hearts and minds of citizens are already there. We just want the shelter to reflect the values of most people, who find unnecessary shelter killing abhorrent. We want to make the shelter a true shelter, rather than a dead end for animals needing our help and a loving home.

Save 90 grew from the culture of Animal Coalition of Tampa (ACT), a low cost spay-neuter and wellness clinic whose mission since its inception in 2001 has been to end the killing of healthy dogs and cats. Despite several changes in shelter leadership and some improvement over the years, nearly 14,000 animals were killed in fiscal 2011 at our county shelter.

Recently, ACT called on animal lovers throughout the county to come together for change. We kicked off the effort with two conferences, each attended by several hundred people. Our first was in February 2012, at which No-Kill leader Nathan Winograd spoke. On April 14, we hosted our second, featuring Animal Services Director Kris Weiskopf and Commissioner Carol Whitmore from neighboring Manatee County, which is well on its way to achieving a 90 percent live release rate.

14. How are you going to help the animal shelter save more animals?

Save 90 is a coalition of clinic directors, veterinarians, marketers, researchers, animal advocates, rescuers, and pet owners who are committed to bringing best practices in sheltering to Hillsborough County. We’ve already formed a pro bono marketing agency consisting of talented professional web designers, social marketers, direct advertising specialists, market researchers and others to help get animals adopted and recruit many more volunteers and fosters.

It is critical that Save 90 has a voice in the transition plan and in ongoing evaluation. We have seen in neighboring Manatee County that community stakeholders play an essential role in providing feedback and resources to support shelter reform.

15. If I want to help, what type of volunteer opportunities are there for me where I can really make a difference?

You can volunteer with Save 90 to help educate the community and motivate people to get involved, because the shelter cannot do this alone. We expect to partner with Hillsborough County Animal Services to provide marketing services, such as photography, web design, social networking, community outreach and education. It will take creativity, resourcefulness and a commitment to saving animals. Sign up at http://save90.org/volunteer/.

16. I’m really not interested in working with the Alliance to Save 90, but really love animals. What can I do to help?

There is a lot you can do. Part of the No-Kill Equation is volunteers. Animal Services will need scores of volunteers both at the shelter and at community adoption, outreach and education events. You can work with animals, people or paperwork – whatever you enjoy doing. Another component of the No-Kill Equation is foster care. We are also looking to assist by finding foster homes for animals. Contact us at http://save90.org/volunteer/ and we will put you in touch with the right person.

17. How do you ensure that the animals are placed into GOOD homes?

We agree that finding good homes is important. Rescue groups should be recognized charities, approved by Hillsborough County Animal Services, and inspected. Each group needs to evaluate its methods to ensure that forever homes are found for our community’s animals.

While a small percentage of people abuse, neglect or hoard animals, the vast majority of people love and care for their pets. Over 165 million households have one or more dogs and cats – and together we spend over $48 billion on products and services for them each year. We go to great lengths to care for them, and we treat them as family members. The shelters that are saving over 90 percent of animals recognize this fact and are reaching out to the public for help – not shutting them out.

Sometimes we hear the phrase “a fate worse than death,” but once an animal is dead, there is no hope, no future at all. The shelter must be a safety net. The choice is not simply suffering or death. There is always a chance that a home could turn out to be abusive, but that does not mean that we should kill animals to “save them.” Rescuing animals only to kill them does not make sense.

18. Does Save 90 expect this will happen immediately?

The thirty-six municipalities that have achieved this success did not achieve success in one day, or even in a month. What they did do is develop a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic plan with a timeline for success. This plan held organizations accountable for their actions. Once this plan, which included all the eleven steps, was rigorously executed, the majority of the municipalities achieved success within less than a year. Some of these municipalities are now reporting success rates of a 95% save rate.