More than a policy and statistical objective, “no-kill” is a principle, an ethic, and once applied the practical consequences begin to fall into place. The principle is that animal shelters should apply the same criteria for deciding an animal’s fate that a loving pet guardian or conscientious veterinarian would apply. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because of a lack of room or resources to care for them. Continue reading “Applying the No-Kill Ethic by Ed Boks”
Board members have a lot of responsibility to the organization they represent, to the community for which they are stewards of the nonprofit’s resources, and also to the organization’s CEO. The CEO’s success is tied closely to the support he or she receives from the board. How can individual board members support their CEO’s success? Below are the six ways I’ve found that have the greatest impact. Continue reading “Top 6 Ways a Board Can Help Its CEO”
Is it time national animal welfare organizations rethink their position on pit bulls?
This is the recommendation of Beth Clifton, a former Miami Beach police officer, animal control officer, elementary school teacher, veterinary technician and wife of Animals 24-7 editor Merritt Clifton.
Animals 24-7 recently published Beth Clifton’s open letter to Matthew Bershadker, president of the ASPCA; Julie Castle, president of Best Friends Animal Society; and Kitty Block, president of HSUS. Continue reading “Time for a national conversation about pit bulls by Ed Boks”
Every year, ANIMALS 24-7 conducts a national dog-breed survey. The results of the 2018 survey were just released. As interesting as the data collected by the survey are, I was particularly struck by a rather provocative proposition posed by Merritt Clifton, the editor/reporter of ANIMALS 24-7 and this survey.
Before exploring the thought provoking proposal, let’s set the stage:
The survey found that as of mid-June 2018, nearly 15% of all the dogs available for sale or adoption in the U.S. were pit bulls. With that kind of market presence, one might conclude pit bulls are pretty popular in the U.S. However, Mr. Clifton has another explanation. Continue reading “When it comes to pit bulls, how stupid are we? by Ed Boks”
It is commonly understood that any serious initiative to end shelter killing has to focus on ending the “supply side” of the surplus animal equation. The only way to do that is to preemptively spay/neuter those animals most likely to “supply” (give birth to) animals most likely to die in animal shelters.We
The three categories of animals dying in the largest numbers in most shelters throughout the United States are feral cats, pit bulls/pit bull mixes, and Chihuahuas.
There are effective solutions for ending the killing of these populations; and those solutions begin and end with targeted spay/neuter programs. In a previous blog I addressed the need for targeted spay/neuter programs for pit bulls. In this blog, I focus on how to end the killing of feral and stray cats. Continue reading “Formula to end feral cat killing by Ed Boks”
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.
According to research, when people hold and stroke an animal, many positive physical and psychological transitions occur, including lowered blood pressure, a feeling of calm, the ability to be more extroverted and verbal, decreased loneliness and increased self-esteem. Continue reading “Pets improve owners’ health and well-being By Ed Boks”
Six years ago this month I joined the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) team as executive director. When I joined the YHS team I found an organization operating with some challenges — from a notable deficit, high employee turnover, and low morale.
The greatest concern was the sheer number of animals dying each year. YHS was among the highest kill shelters in Arizona per capita; killing over 2,200 animals annually – six per day. The organization and our community wanted to see change.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, I made it my mission to bring a transformative vision to YHS, summed up in the term “No Kill Ethic.” I have always stood in the conviction that killing animals because of lack of space or out of convenience is immoral and it need not occur in any community.
The YHS Board of Directors rallied around this vision to help attract and establish a team aligned with our determination to end the killing. The results speak for themselves.
YHS immediately began the “steepest and fasted decline in shelter killing ever seen in any shelter anywhere” according to Animals 24/7 publisher Merritt Clifton, a 25-year watchdog of animal shelter euthanasia in the United States.
This transformation was no flash in the pan either. YHS has sustained the lowest or among the lowest kill rates of any shelter in the nation throughout my tenure—a commitment that I know the solid leadership which remains at YHS will continue to carry far out into the future. Today, YHS holds prestigious ratings from both Charity Navigator and GuideStar for fiscal responsibility and effective program management.
I am honored to have been a part of what I consider to be YHS’s greatest chapter – transforming a troubled past into a very bright future.
This was not a one man show. The YHS miracle occurred because of a committed Board of Directors, a brilliant management team, dedicated employees and volunteers, and generous donors and community partners. Together we generated an extraordinary legacy having created and sustained the safest community in the nation for pets.
It is with this recognized success that I have decided to leave YHS to continue my vision to help other communities establish their own “No Kill Ethic.”
Prescott has been my home these past six years and I have come to know many of you and I will miss you all. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
Ed Boks, former Executive Director of Yavapai Humane Society
A message from the Board of Directors President, Jerry Kipp:
“Ed’s vision brought YHS to a place of leadership in the animal welfare industry, and inspired our organization to create an extremely safe community for animals in need. We remain grateful for the numerous contributions Ed has made toward YHS’s lifesaving work and will continue to build on the solid foundation created during his six-year tenure. We remain committed to our No Kill Ethic, which is at the heart of all we do at our organization.”
Source: Carrying on legacy at Humane Society
Although the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) has been providing animal shelter services to our community for 43 years, it was only five and a half years ago that YHS embraced what we have come to call our “no-kill ethic.” We define this ethic as applying the same criteria to determining a homeless pets’ fate that a pet owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved family pet. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not euthanized (killed) simply because of a lack of resources.
Once this life-affirming ethic was implemented, the practical consequences immediately began to fall into place. Embracing and practicing the no-kill ethic has resulted in our community becoming the region in the United States for dogs and cats – for five consecutive years. Euthanasia/killing has been effectively eliminated as a tool to control pet overpopulation in our community and overcrowding in our shelter. Killing has been replaced by a robust low-cost spay/neuter and pet identification (microchip) programs. Spay/neuter programs reduce the number of unwanted pets and pet identification programs allow for the quick return of lost pets to their frantic owners.
A perfect example of an animal benefiting from the YHS no-kill ethic is Ziggy – a 2-year-old intact male Tibetan spaniel mix. Ziggy was found by animal control on Dec. 1. He was abandoned by his owners with an apparent broken leg.
Upon arrival, the YHS medical team found Ziggy had suffered severe trauma. X-rays revealed two broken legs: his right front leg had fractures of the radius and ulna and his left front leg had metacarpal fractures. We splinted both front legs and started him on pain medications. YHS veterinarian consulted with a private practice veterinary orthopedic surgeon.
The decision was made to transport Ziggy to a local veterinary hospital in Phoenix where Ziggy was examined and immediately scheduled for surgery. His multiple fractures were repaired with plates, screws and a tension splint. Ziggy’s recovery is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks and is made possible thanks to YHS’ compassionate foster care giving volunteers. The orthopedic surgeon felt the fractures could be old injuries suggesting criminal cruelty and neglect may have been involved.
Typically, the cost for this surgery would exceed $4,300; however, the private veterinarian graciously agreed to charge YHS only $2,800 for this lifesaving surgery. Ziggy is now a STAR Animal.
STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery) is a donation funded program designed to ensure animals in critical need of medical care beyond the scope of the YHS budget are not denied the care they need to survive. These animals are sadly routinely euthanized in many other shelters.
If you would like to help animals like Ziggy please make sure your local shelter has a STAR Program you can make a tax deductible donation. Your donation will help ensure your local shelter has the funds available to help the next rescued animal in need of life saving medical care.
This past Friday, July 10 at the Prescott Resort, the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) was recognized by the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce at their 2015 Community Excellence Awards ceremony. YHS was honored as “The Organization of the Year.” Among the many YHS accomplishments cited by the Chamber, the impact of our no-kill ethic was particularly singled out.
The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) celebrated its 43rd Anniversary in March, however, it was only five years ago this month that YHS first embraced its no-kill ethic.
The no-kill ethic refers to our commitment to apply the same criteria when deciding an animal’s fate that a caring pet owner or compassionate veterinarian would apply to a beloved pet. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because of a lack of resources. Believe it or not, that was happening just five years ago.
Killing animals because of a lack of resources may be the quick, convenient and, at least from afar, the easy thing to do. But I have never, in over 30 years in this field, heard anyone argue it is the right thing to do. After all, the creatures who fill our shelters can hardly be faulted for bringing trouble upon themselves. People who excuse euthanasia in shelters often say we have to be “realistic.” But we contend such realism is best directed at the sources of the problem and at the element of human responsibility.
It is gratifying to be recognized by the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce for the remarkable transformation the no-kill ethic has had on our community. In fact, YHS’ no-kill ethic is gaining attention in communities coast to coast. Organizations in Los Angeles, Mohave County, New York City and even the country of Israel have asked YHS for help embracing our no-kill ethic.
YHS is fast becoming a world class organization. This growth has required every member of the YHS team to expand their individual capacity, vision and expertise. Working for YHS is no longer just a job; it’s not even just a career – it’s a vocation. I’m proud of every member of our team for getting us to where we are today; but even more exciting is where we’re taking YHS in the years ahead. If you are not a part of this life affirming effort, I invite you to join the YHS volunteer team.
Other reasons cited by the Prescott Valley Chamber for selecting YHS as “The Organization of the Year” include our many lifesaving programs that ensure appropriate care is provided for every lost, homeless, sick and abused animal we rescue until we find them their forever home. YHS successfully “re-homes” 97 percent of the pets who come through our doors (compared to the national shelter average of about 40 percent). The 3 percent who are humanely euthanized are due to irremediable suffering resulting from disease or injury, or aggression that threatens public safety.
The Chamber also called attention to YHS humane response to the significant increase in the number of animals rescued from hoarding situations (over 70 animals in the past 12 months compared to 20-30 animals in previous years); the recent expansion of the YHS New Hope program, which enables YHS to rescue animals from kill lists in shelters across the Southwest – effectively exporting the no-kill ethic; and YHS plans to include homeless equines in its rescue mission as early as 2016.
It is gratifying to be recognized as our community’s “Organization of 2015” for providing a broad and compassionate safety-net for animals in greatest need. This award is deeply appreciated by the Board of Directors, employees and volunteers of YHS.
I’m often asked how the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) maintains its “no-kill” status. (“no-kill” is defined as applying the same criteria to deciding a homeless animal’s fate that a devoted pet owner or a conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved pet). Since embracing this ethic in July 2010, pet euthanasia in our community has declined 94 percent, and 97 percent of all the animals rescued are re-homed (compared to the national average of about 40 percent).
How do we do this? Every animal shelter has “decision points.” YHS refers to these as our “moments of truth” – junctures where we ask ourselves if we’re being true to our no-kill ethic or are we capitulating to expediency because of a perceived lack of resources.
Let me share a true story to help illustrate how YHS responds to moments of truth. On a Wednesday this past April a Good Samaritan found a severely injured four year old cat hit by a car. The Samaritan rushed the cat to YHS where we found no microchip, collar or ID. This sweet cat was clearly someone’s pet; but now she was alone and scared.
Moment of Truth 1: Euthanize or treat?
The trauma was severe. No one would have faulted YHS for humanely euthanizing this cat at that moment. In fact, it is common practice in many shelters to immediately euthanize severely injured animals at impound. Instead, the YHS medical team jumped into action and stabilized, evaluated and diagnosed the cat – finding a right femoral head fracture and gross hematuria. She was befittingly named Tuscany, defined in the Urban Dictionary as a “perfect mixture of art and wisdom.”
Moment of Truth 2: Euthanize or operate?
Tuscany’s prognosis was good so the YHS medical team performed surgery. However, weeks of recovery were now necessary – requiring prolonged use of cage space that could otherwise benefit many other cats.
Moment of Truth 3: Euthanize or Foster
To benefit the greatest number of animals, Tuscany was placed into Foster Care with a qualified YHS volunteer. While in Foster Care our volunteer discovered a lump – demonstrating the value of the individualized attention foster volunteers provide. The YHS Chief Veterinarian was consulted and confirmed three masses had acutely developed – suggesting cancer.
Moment of Truth 4: Euthanize or test?
To make an informed decision, biopsies were performed. Two tests were negative; the third discovered fibrosarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer. Prognosis in such cases, even with surgery, projected a mean survival time of about 19 months. Recovery would take weeks and the trauma would negatively impact Tuscany’s remaining quality of life.
Moment of Truth 5: Euthanize or hospice?
In many shelters, euthanasia would be the only remaining option. YHS had three: uncertain surgery, euthanasia, or keep her comfortable until the tumor metastasizes. Because Tuscany has significant quality of life, she was placed in the YHS Hospice Program – where she is thriving in a home dedicated to ensuring her remaining months are filled with tender loving care.
Multiply Tuscany’s story by 3,500 animals annually and you begin to understand the challenge. Every animal has a story – and our mission is to create as many happy endings as possible.
Tuscany’s story underscores how YHS depends on exceptional employees and compassionate volunteers and supporters. If you’d like to volunteer to provide foster or hospice care to a needy animal, contact your local shelter. If you’d like to help support lifesaving programs financially, send your tax-deductible gift to your local shelter or call for information on giving opportunities. Together we can keep this dream alive.