There's a revolution sweeping across the United States and on Aug. 25, it will reach the shores of Maui. Over the last several years, animal shelters in numerous communities across the country have comprehensively implemented a bold series of programs and services to reduce birthrates, increase adoptions and keep animals with their responsible caretakers. As a result, they are achieving unprecedented results, saving upwards of 95 percent of all impounded animals in their animal control facilities.
Some of these communities are in urban communities, and others are in rural communities. Some are in very politically liberal communities, and others are in very conservative ones. Some are in municipalities with high per-capita incomes, and others are in communities known for high rates of poverty. These communities share very little demographically.
What they do share is leadership at their shelters with a passion for lifesaving, who have comprehensively implemented a key series of programs and services, collectively referred to as the "No Kill Equation."
Nathan J. Winograd and other experts are coming to the island later this summer to advocate for no-kill policies and practices for Maui’s animal shelters. Save the date--August 25--and help save Maui’s animals, who “deserve animal shelters that reflect, rather than undermine” the values of Maui’s animal-lovers.
The fundamental lesson from the experiences of these communities is that the choices made by shelter managers are the most significant variables in whether animals live or die. Several communities are more than doubling adoptions and cutting killing by as much as 75 percent--and it isn't taking them five years or more to do it. They are doing it virtually overnight. This is consistent with the results in other communities. There are now no-kill communities in California, Kentucky, Indiana, New York, Michigan, Texas, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere. In short, there are no valid excuses for Maui not to do the same, if it chooses to.
In fact, at one time, those communities also offered little more than killing and excuses: pet overpopulation, blaming the public, a lack of resources. When they stopped blaming and changed their own behavior, the killing stopped. There is still a "public" in these communities, animals are still entering their shelters and resources are tight.
How these communities did it and how Maui can too will be the subject of a day-long conference at the Kahili Golf Course on Aug. 25, sponsored by Maui-based 9th Life Hawai'i, a local no-kill rescue group.
The event will feature experts from across the nation, including: Ryan Clinton of Austin, Texas, who helped spearhead a no-kill initiative there; Diane Blankenburg of the Nevada Humane Society, who helped lead Reno, Nevada, to be a no-kill community; and myself. I created the first no-kill community in Tompkins County, New York, and now head the San Francisco-based No Kill Advocacy Center.
Their message is simple, but powerful. Today, no-kill is a humane, sustainable, cost-effective model that works hand-in-hand with public health and safety, while fulfilling a fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. The success of this approach across the country proves the viability of the no-kill model and the above principles.
In our community, it is time for change. It is time to reject the failed philosophies and poor performance of the past. It is time to end the killing in Maui shelters. They have an unprecedented opportunity for a new beginning. Maui's citizens are kind, caring, and generous. They love animals. And they deserve animal shelters that reflect, rather than undermine their values.