Did you know that the presence of a cat or dog in a counseling office can speed the therapeutic process for some patients? Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) was introduced by psychologist Boris Levinson in the 1950s when he discovered that his dog Jingles was able to connect with autistic children in a way humans had not.
Since then, AAT has continued to develop as a therapeutic science. Although dogs are the most frequently used therapy animals, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, donkeys, llamas and even pigs and snakes participate in different programs.
George Graham Vest (1830-1904) served as a United States Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903, and became one of the leading orators and debaters of his time. This delightful speech is from an earlier period in his life when he practiced law in a small Missouri town. It was given in court in 1855 while representing a man who sued another for the killing of his dog.
During the trial, Vest ignored the testimony, but when his turn came to present a summation to the jury, he made the following speech and won the case.
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Gentlemen of the Jury: Continue reading “A Tribute to Dogs”
One of the biggest challenges communities face in achieving “no-kill” comes from landlords who refuse pets despite hearing from their own colleagues and professional journals that permitting pets makes good business sense. In fact, a survey conducted by The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare found:
• Fifty percent of all rentals nationally prohibit pets;
In many communities, decisions regarding animal welfare are complicated by a host of competing priorities. When evaluating competing priorities it’s easy to look to the bottom line. When that happens, the questions of conscience concerning animal welfare can be overlooked.
There will always be enough injustice and human suffering in the world to make animal welfare seem less important. But compassion is not a finite commodity. We demonstrated the power of compassion in 2012 by ending euthanasia as our community’s method for controlling pet overpopulation. That is no small achievement; indeed, it places us among the nation’s most humane communities. Continue reading “Compassion is not a finite commodity By Ed Boks”
Early in my animal welfare career I developed a “no-kill” ethic. I trained shelter staff to apply this “ethic” by using the same criteria for deciding a homeless animal’s fate that a compassionate owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved pet. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them.
The “no-kill” ethic embodies a commitment that for every animal who comes through a shelter’s doors there is a kind and loving person or family – and it is our mission to bring them together.
There are three statistics animal shelters can use to measure their success, or failure, in reducing pet euthanasia (or killing). To rely on any one or two of these numbers tells only a partial, and possibly obfuscated, story. When you compare all three of these numbers you are better able to tell your organization and your community’s whole story:
The Live Release Rate (LRR) refers to the number of animals who get out of a shelter alive. I call this “heartbeats in/heartbeats out”. It includes adoptions, transfers to rescue organizations, and lost pets returned to owners. Some shelter experts claim a 90 percent LRR is the threshold to “no-kill.” During my tenure at the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) in Arizona, I maintained a 97 percent LRR for several years. This is a good internal measurement.
The Euthanasia Rate reports the actual number of animals euthanized. In the first year implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS achieved a 63 percent reduction in killing, followed by a 64 percent reduction in year two, and a 40 percent reduction in year three; for an overall reduction of 92 percent. This too is an important internal measure of success or progress.
The Per Capita Kill Rate refers to the number of animals killed per 1,000 residents. Prior to implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS was killing 17.25 animals per 1,000 residents. This was one of the worst kill rates in Arizona. However, at the end of my tenure we had reduced the YHS kill rate to 0.2; the lowest in the nation for several consecutive years! This number is the best for comparing your community with other communities in your state or across the nation.