The Will Of The People


In case you haven’t noticed all the politicians and pundits cramming the airwaves, 2012 is an election year. The top-line issues are clear: jobs and the economy. It’s pretty hard to argue that moving the country out of the economic doldrums should not be the top priority for whomever gets elected in the fall. It is one of the few things that the majority of Americans agree upon. Once we get beyond that top rank of concerns, however, we find that we are a nation divided on social issues and the best way to allocate resources to build the brightest future for the country.

There is something else that the majority of Americans agree upon, and that is No More Homeless Pets. Best Friends has maintained for some time that the debate between the no-kill and the traditional sheltering worlds was over long ago with no-kill as the clear winner, and now it is clear that the broader public agrees as well.

A recent AP-Petside.com national poll revealed 71 percent of Americans believe “animal shelters should only be allowed to euthanize animals when they are too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted.” That is a mandate by any measure, and we hope that the old-line shelters and national organizations that are dithering or are on the wrong side of the fence will listen to the public and step over to no-kill.

Since the late 1980s, we have seen the number of animals killed annually in shelters around the country decrease from a high of around 17 million to the current level of about 4 million. We are in the home stretch, and more communities are taking concrete steps to achieve no-kill status all the time. And not just small, prosperous towns and progressive communities. Salt Lake City is on the cusp of no-kill; Reno, Nevada, has achieved it, as has Austin, Texas. Likewise, New York City is well on its way to achieving its no-kill goal under the leadership of Maddie’s Fund and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. This year in Los Angeles, Best Friends is launching a citywide campaign to achieve no-kill that includes a coalition of local rescue organizations and L.A. Animal Services. I am also proud to say that Best Friends is supporting exciting no-kill efforts in San Antonio, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida.

What is most exciting is that in places like Los Angeles and San Antonio, the city administrations are full partners in the effort rather than naysayers who are resisting or taking a wait-and-see attitude. It is no longer a small group of activists and rescuers tugging on coat tails or waving protest signs. As reflected in the AP-Petside poll, no-kill is what the public wants and expects, and savvy politicians recognize that and are getting out in front of the no-kill wave. It is the will of the people.

2012 will be a banner year for animals and the no-kill movement. From all of the animals and staff at Best Friends, I wish you, our members and friends, who make all that we do possible, all the very best for the New Year.

Gregory Castle
CEO, Best Friends Animal Society



[Editor's Note: A few comments on our New Year’s blog, “The Will of The People,” take exception to the inclusion of New York City and efforts of the Mayor’s Alliance and Maddie’s Fund as helping us toward the goal of no kill.  

These comments single out New York City Animal Care & Control as an organization in need of major reform and a miserable place for any animal, and criticize Best Friends’ support of the Mayor’s Alliance.

We want to point out that our blog offered no defense of NY AC&C and, in fact, never mentioned it.  Again, our blog did not mention NYAC&C.  We do not dispute the deserved criticism of that operation.

The intention of the blog was to highlight the fact that the tide is changing to the point where the will of the public across the country (including the nation’s largest and most densely populated city) supports a no-kill agenda.

Best Friends has no special allegiance to the Mayor’s Alliance and we certainly have no allegiance to NY AC&C.

We do, however, have an allegiance to objectivity—and objectively speaking, it would be nonsensical to deny the fact that the results of Maddie’s Fund and the Mayor’s Alliance efforts in New York have dramatically reduced shelter killing—from 31,701 deaths in 2003 when the program began to 11,602 in 2010.  

Additionally, shelter intake has declined (largely the result of spay neuter efforts) from 52,415 to 44,293 over the same time frame, saving the lives of 136,587 animals along the way.

Whatever the “should have,” “could have” or “might have been” observations that we all can make, the fact remains that without the work of the Mayor’s Alliance, most of those lives would not have been saved; and those positive, life saving trends would not exist.

Source: http://blogs.bestfriends.org/index.php/2012/01/03/the-will-of-the-people/



Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends is a nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships nationwide, all coordinated from our Kanab, Utah headquarters - the largest no-kill sanctuary for homeless companion animals.

At the core of our work is the dream that one day kindness will replace cruelty, and animals will no longer be destroyed because they are unwanted or imperfect. Spaying and neutering will be the rule for all pets and adoption from local animal shelters and rescues will be the first option for everyone. Those same shelters and rescues will have the knowledge and resources to help rehabilitate special-needs animals and find the right family for every animal.

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