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Michigan On The Forefront of Becoming The First No-Kill State


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Nathan Winogard, Executive Director for the No-Kill Advocacy Center, holds his furry friend. credit: Michigan Pet Fund Alliance

The state of Michigan is currently in the forefront of being the first no-kill states. So far, the state as 11 no-kill communities. According to the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance, that is more than any of the other states.

The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance will be holding Michigan’s 2012 No Kill Conference in September.

“It’s the goal of our organization and our conference to get to that goal,” said Pet Fund board member Christie Keith.

The not-for-profit, and volunteer based organization will be introducing a new mindset at their annual conference. It is believed that their new formulated approach will save at least 90 000 homeless dogs and cats that are heathy and treatable. Organizers hope that sharing their new formula, as well as identifying and sharing resources and showcasing those who have had success with the formula will bring Michigan one step closer to being a no-kill state. The conference will also help shelters network and put together collaboration efforts to save homeless animals.

“We will be giving awards to ten of Michigan’s no-kill communities at our conference, as well as acknowledging many other achievements in the last year toward reaching that goal. We’ll also be presenting some exciting data on progress in the state at that time,” said Keith.

“The no-kill movement isn’t about individual shelters becoming ‘no-kill.’ It is about no kill communities. The definition of a no-kill community is one in which all healthy and treatable homeless pets are adopted into new homes rather than killed. For purposes of public policy, that is considered to mean that at least 90 percent of a community’s homeless pets are saved. Because that’s an ‘unspinnable’ figure – it’s simply the percentage of the total number of pets taken into a community’s shelter – it isn’t dependent on varying definitions or standards of ‘treatable’ or ‘healthy,’ and doesn’t rely on highly manipulatible terms like ‘adoptable,'” said Keith. “However, there are many communities all across the United States that save more than 90 percent, so it’s likely as we progress in our movement that figure will be revised upward.”

The organization clarifies that “no-kill” and “euthanasia” are two separate things.

Keith explains, “[euthanasia] is the merciful taking of life of a hopelessly ill pet, the kind of act a loving pet owner shows when a pet’s suffering can’t be helped anymore. Population control killing is not euthanasia, as there is nothing merciful about it. It’s a public policy failure and an illustration that the community’s sheltering organizations have not yet adopted the programs and policies that make it unnecessary.”

Municipal political leaders, staff and volunteers of state shelters, veterinarians, animal control officers, animal advocates and rescue organizations are all encourage to attend. The conference will include a variety of different sessions, including Rescue Certification Training, Veterinarian-focused sessions, No Kill 101, How to Remove “Hard to Place” From Pit Bull Adoptions, Reducing Shelter Intake, Innovation in Animal Welfare, and Compassion Fatigue of the Animal Sheltering and Rescue Workers, among others.

Nathan Winogard, the founder of the No-Kill Advocacy Center will be speaking at the conference as well.

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The goal of the conference is to make Michigan the first no-kill state.
credit: Michigan Pet Fund Alliance

“There is quite simply no possibility Michigan will not become a no-kill state. The only real question is how long it will take us. If we organize and unite to reach the goal, we will be the first no-kill state,” said Keith. “If we delay, we’ll be one of many. But the era of killing pets for no reason but the fact that they are homeless is over. In a recent Associated Press poll, 71 percent of Americans polled said that they believed shelters should not be allowed to kill healthy or treatable pets, and even the 29 percent who said they should be allowed to do so said it should only be ‘sometimes.'”

It is hoped that animal lovers will also attend the conference, as they hold the power to lobby together and demand more out of their municipalities and local shelters.

“Since we know that communities can save all their healthy and treatable pets, and we know how (which will be discussed more in-depth during the conference), there really is no excuse not to – although poorly managed public and private shelters seem to have no shortage of such excuses.”

Back in the 1980s, a No-Kill community seemed more like a pipe dream than a reality.

Posted on the No-Kill Advocacy Center’s website was, “Today, it is a reality in many cities and counties nationwide and the numbers continue to grow. And the first step is a decision, a commitment to reject the kill-oriented failures of the past. No-Kill starts as an act of will. The next step involves putting in place the infrastructure to save lives.”