Achieving the Same End Goal
It is no secret that animal welfare is a hot topic of discussion in not just Yolo County but around the Nation. I can attest that, at least in Yolo County, I have seen and heard the heated debate of our shelter animals bring some to tears and others to a stalemate refusing to give an inch. Working together seems to be the obvious way to accomplish our goals. And the goals should be mutual, not divisive: Doing the best for our animals and being cost efficient. Why is it that the two sides of the aisle are so divided, when we should have the same goals?
Let’s take a look at the rift that has stalled progress of animal welfare in Yolo County:
The eleven programs of the No-Kill Equation are perfectly admirable as well as logical elements of reform: rescue partnerships, volunteers, foster care, trap neuter and return (TNR), pet retention, comprehensive adoption program, public relations/community involvement, medical/behavior prevention & rehabilitation, high volume/low-cost spay & neuter, proactive redemptions, and last but not least a ‘hardworking, compassionate shelter director.’ Sounds like something we can all support, right? So, what’s the problem?
Unfortunately, some see getting to no kill as a numbers game. While achieving a 90+% live release rate is commendable and should be recognized as a great success, there is another way to look at it. No kill is a choice that is made. Killing a healthy and treatable animal is a choice made not to save that animal. Only when the option of killing is taken off the table is no kill truly achieved.
Since the cost of city contracts has gone up considerably over the years, the cities want to see cost savings in the shelter operation. Totally and completely understandable. But in a status report on Animal Services dated January 20th, 2009 (over 8 years ago) the following is stated: “Ultimate stabilization or reduction of animal services cost is dependent upon reducing the unwanted pet animal population. This is directly linked to aggressive spay and neutering programs. Currently there are no low-cost programs in Yolo County. Animal Services is interested in promoting and working with participating jurisdictions and private organizations to seek grants to fund low-cost spay and neuter services. The success of these efforts will depend upon support from all parties throughout the County. If such programs are established, it will be several years before any benefits are likely to be seen. It is recommended the City participate with Animal Control Services to promote such programs. That the biggest cost savings to animal services would be a low cost/no cost spay and neuter program.” Well, it is 2017 and Yolo County still has yet to implement such a program.
Closing the gap once seemed impossible, but now it seems that working together has gotten us much further than one once thought. But we are not there yet. We still are faced with the question on how do we achieve success?
success = X (11 programs of no-kill) (time) ($)
Solve for X
Hint: It starts with the leadership and ends with community support. We don’t need to like each other, we don’t need to agree on everything. What we must do is work together.
Unleashing the Possibilities, Inc. (UTP) was created to specifically speed the construction of a new state-of-the-art facility for Yolo County. The current facility was built over 50 years ago and does not meet any of the best practices of animal sheltering. A modern shelter welcomes the public, and keeps the animal’s best interest first and foremost. In its design the modern shelter recognizes how each animal moves through the system, and further recognizes that all are different in their needs.
Prolonging the construction of the project only hurts our four-legged friends. They sit in an old and cramped facility that is prone to disease and is not conducive to adoptions. When you ignore a problem such as a failing animal shelter it doesn’t get cheaper to fix as time goes by; it becomes more expensive as it continues to fall in disrepair.
Yes, the price tag is hefty – millions of dollars. But how awesome will it be when Yolo County is a leader in animal sheltering, the model for the rest of the State and Nation to follow.