Almost Home 2020 Initiative: Step 3 is Outreach and Education

It is possible to see all shelters in the United States be no-kill shelters by 2020. You only need to look at the numbers to see this is viable.

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Photo: Living Free Animal Sanctuary

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It is possible to see all shelters in the United States be no-kill shelters by 2020.  It will take a concerted effort on the part of many varied interests, from private citizens to animal-focused rescue organizations to make this happen, but one only needs to look at the numbers to see this is viable.

The Almost Home 2020 Initiative is the call to action that has been put out by Living Free Animal Sanctuary.  The organization has put together a comprehensive, multi-pronged program to drive this forward and make it a reality.

As part of the communication messaging, which is central to this particular aspect of the initiative, Outreach and Education is the third area on which this article is focused.

The following are the objectives as outlined by Living Free with regard to Outreach and Education:

  • Continue to produce PSAs regarding responsible companion animal ownership.
  • Continue and expand our video series on behavior problems and how to handle them, with the goal of keeping companion animals in the home and out of the shelters in the first place.
  • Increase and support public awareness campaigns promoting the importance of “adopt don’t shop”, spay/ neutering your pet, and aspects of responsible companion animal ownership through media and special event outlets.
  • Collaborate with other groups on messaging and spreading the word.
  • Produce video modules expanding on each area of the Almost Home 2020 Initiative, and how a no-kill nation is well within our reach.

A big piece of this objective is the debunking of myths that are taken as “facts” when it comes to how shelters operate.  A key example from Living Free is:

MYTH:  Cute, young, well-behaved, loving animals, including puppies and kittens, stand a better chance of being adopted at shelters.

REALITY:  Generally, stray animals are given some time (a few days) to allow owner recovery and/or adoption, depending on the shelter management/ volume/ policies.  They are killed when their time is up, regardless of “adoptability”.

REALITY:  If an animal is “owner surrendered” the owner signs a contract allowing the animal to be killed immediately – and they often are.

REALITY:  Young puppies and kittens are often the first to be killed in shelters.  Their undeveloped immune systems make them susceptible for infectious diseases, which can spread to other animals.

Living Free’s solution to this is the use of PSAs, Social Media resources such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., and other content distribution methods, both traditional and non-traditional as avenues to increase awareness about the realities of shelter policies and procedures.  This is a necessity in order to increase pressure on shelters to work harder to find better solutions for the sake of the animals and prospective adoptive families.  Further, it is exceptionally critical to encourage owners who would abandon their animals at shelters to find alternative solutions.  These solutions may include training to work on specific behavioral problems, recommendations as to how to rehome the animal with a foster or with friends and family, and by providing prospective abandoners with a list of pet-friendly housing in their area.  For many healthy animals that are surrendered or abandoned, the primary causes are based on two factors; either behavior problems or people moving.

Public Awareness campaigns, classes, and educational programs in a variety of forums are all ways to inform and get the messaging out into the community and raising support on all fronts.  Outreach and Education, combined with Direct Action, Collaboration, and Legislative and Policy changes are all key components. Living Free has an ambitious agenda, but it is attainable.  It just needs support and commitment from like-minded organizations and individuals.

Additional information about the Almost Home 2020 Initiative can be found in the related articles in the series, Living Free’s Almost Home 2020 Initiative: Step One is Direct Action and Almost Home 2020 Initiative: Step 2 is Collaboration.

7 thoughts on “Almost Home 2020 Initiative: Step 3 is Outreach and Education

  1. It would be awesome if they could make all shelters…”NO KILL shelters”…Hope you can make it happen…?
    The fact there are so many that still are….Heartbreaking….????

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