Archive for May, 2012

The New Clinic

With all the other buzz, its easy not to put the new clinic first. But not really, because increasing the save rate is going to take lots more spay and neuter, vetting and retention programs than ever before. And as the summer sun starts to take its toll, we are once again, tired of the lobby under the tent.

So put on your sunscreen and stay strong, ACT’ers! It’s almost here! The new address is 502 N. Gilchrist. You can get to it by going from the Lemon Street clinic on down Lemon Street to Willow, south on Willow a few blocks to Fig, turn east on Fig (toward downtown) and look on the left. It’s so close we are able to keep our same phone numbers!

But more now than ever, we need your donations to help us get our doggies, kitties (and 2 leggers) out of the sun into one of two comfortable lobbies. We will soon notify you about ways you can help, from dedicating a room to favorite person or creative forever memories for those you have loved with our memory tree. Or have fun and get creative by painting a tile that will forever be our walls. We are fast creating our new campaign on our website that will notify how you can help. And remember, helping will be saving lives. This year, more than any. And now, more than ever.


May 8, 2012 at 1:52 am 3 comments

Volunteers: we’re looking for you!

We need so much help. Below are some ways to pick from:

  • Are you good at applications on websites? We currently have a volunteer position open to load in our new building opportunities on our events software that is similar to Greater Giving. Email
  • Can you paint a building? We need to paint our orange building back to a boring beige before we leave so that the landlord will consider giving us our deposit back. Contact
  • Can you greet the public and talk ACT talk to the clients waiting in the sun? Maybe wear your bikini (or not)? email
  • Can you hand out flyers? Host special events? Help us get the word out? Volunteer for tabling events? Email
  • Do you know anyone that might want to help sponsor ACT’s upcoming Stride for Strays walkathon or any other fundraising events? Email

May 7, 2012 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

FAQ’s about Save90

It will be the focus of this monthly newsletter, beginning this month, to feature Q&A’s about Save90. The following is a reproduction of some frequently asked questions posed to Kris Weiskopf, Animal Services Director of Manatee County, by Renee Rivard of League of Humane Voters. If you have questions, please send them to us and we will do our best to get an expert answer for you and publicize it in our newsletter, which comes out between the 10th and 15th of each month.

1) In what year did your shelter begin to work towards “No Kill”? And what is your current save rate?

We began in May of 2011. We put together our plan the first part of June. Our “No Kill” resolution and final plan was approved by our commissioners in October, 2011. Seven county commissioners unanimously agreed. We started at a 63% Save Rate, which was consistent with the months prior. Our goal is to increase the Save Rate by 2% each month. At this rate, we will be at a 91% Save Rate by the end of December 2012. We are currently, as of the end of February 2012, at a 77% Save Rate. The idea is “less in and more out”.

2) A possible concern is that a dog owner will no longer feel guilty about surrendering their pet because they will be surrendering their pet to a “No Kill” facility. The fear is that “No Kill’ may bring more animals to the shelter because owners will know that the animal will not be euthanized. Has your shelter seen an increase in the number of animals surrendered since you implemented “No Kill”?

We charge a surrender fee of $20, but yes–we did see an increase. Now we have implemented a “Pet Retention Program”. Owners wanting to surrender their animals must now set an appointment. And there must be a minimum of 48 hours between the time of the call and the actual appointment. They must also fill out a questionnaire–which actually makes the surrendering owner take a moment, sit down, and fill out a form about their pet–whether it is potty trained, good with kids, etc. We are trying to make it tougher to surrender. We give referrals and alternatives for problems such as aggression, etc. We just implemented some of these procedures, so we will let you know if they helped make a difference.

[Note from ACT] When the Humane Society of Tampa Bay became a no kill shelter in 2006, people were worried it would result in an increase in surrenders and abandoned animals, but there was not a significant increase.

3) What about warehousing animals with “No Kill”? Many people are concerned that animals may live in cages for the rest of their lives, waiting for a home. What is your take on this issue?

We are not seeing that.

[Note from ACT] When Nathan Winograd spoke in Tampa, he mentioned several cases of animals that were deemed “unadoptable” yet were adopted to loving homes through hard work and creativity on the part of rescue groups and shelter staff.  He also told us about the success of Charlottesville, NC foster program.  When a major media blitz was done asking for fosters, they built up to 1 in 30 homes accommodating them as temporary homes.  This type of response far from “warehousing”  it is actually like staying at a bed and breakfast!

4) Are you getting a lot of support from local rescue groups? Are the rescue groups checked on a regular basis to make sure they are not in any violations and/or are not hoarding animals?

Yes. We are getting a lot of support from our rescues. We have 60 local and non-local rescues (as far north as Jacksonville) that we work with. Some have facilities; most use fosters. We meet with them every two months. We are all on the same page with the “No Kill” program. The rescues share resources. The rescues must be approved by us or we will not work with them. Animal Services has the authority to investigate. We are taking the lead, so we are going to make sure that they are doing things properly.

5) Some say that the longer an animal stays in a facility, the more exposure it has to diseases, and the more likely it will be infected. Is your facility experiencing an increase in infected animals related to your “No Kill” program? Have you heard the idea that keeping your cages 80% full would help with disease?

No. What would an additional 20% do? It’s the same probability whether you have 30 cats or 50 cats. We don’t want to euthanize for space reasons. Sometimes we do have to euthanize, in cases of hopelessly sick or real aggression issues. We keep our cages full.

[Note from ACT] Step #7 in the 11 steps of the no kill equation addresses this: “…shelters must put in place comprehensive vaccination, handling, cleaning, socialization, and care policies before animals get sick and rehabilitative efforts for those who come in sick, injured, unweaned, or traumatized.”

6) Legislators and shelters will want to know about the increased costs of becoming a “No Kill” shelter. What costs, if any, are associated with “No Kill”? Are there increased costs due to having to microchip and spay/neuter every animal coming into the facility (whereas before, the animals that were coming into the shelter and being euthanized did not require these procedures)?

We are not seeing much of a difference. If you reduce euthanasia, you are running your incinerator less. We used to run it about 4 times a week and now we are down to once, maybe twice a week. Also, you need two staff to euthanize, so you save money there. Over the years you save money. When you spay/neuter and microchip an animal, you get that money back when someone adopts it. If we transfer an animal to a rescue, it is their responsibility to spay/neuter and microchip it. It is required by state statute for them to do that. There are low cost programs for them. We have also set up separate fundraising for “No Kill” for donations. We sell “No Kill Manatee” t-shirts and bumper stickers.

[Note from ACT]  When we talked with Ryan Clinton of  Fix Austin recently, (Fix Austin is the advocacy group that was successful at getting No Kill mandated in Austin, Texas),  he informed us that they asked for only 2 things from Austin’s mandate:  daily offsite adoptions and a major foster recruitment program.  They never asked for nor received extra funding to go No Kill.]

7) Are you getting a lot of support from the community with your “No Kill” program?

Of course you are going to get a few nay-sayers, but the majority are supportive. I write a column every Tuesday in the newspaper–mostly about “No Kill”.

8) What have been some of the difficult challenges that your shelter has faced since implementing “No Kill”?

I knew it was going to be hard and I always made that clear. There is additional workload. Staff knows they have to all be on board. I can not think of any very difficult challenges right at this moment.

9) Can you think of any reasons why a shelter would not want to move forward with a “No Kill” program?

They don’t want to put in the effort. It is extra work.

10) Do you have any additional comments or suggestions that may be helpful for a community or a shelter that is considering “No Kill”?

You have to have all of the rescues on board with it and looking at the same plan. Without an actionable implementation
plan, you will wander without direction. Our plan is not written in stone, it is a living plan and ever changing.


Interview with Kris Weiskopf, Director of Manatee Animal Services provide by

Renee Rivard The League of Humane Voters–Florida Chapter

Renee Rivard is a member of League of Humane Voters – Florida Chapter and of Alliance to Save90.

Kris Weiskopf is the  Director of Manatee County’s Animal Services, which adopted the No Kill method of management 6 months ago and have
since has increased the save rate from 58% to 82%.

May 7, 2012 at 1:10 am 1 comment

What is Save90, anyway?

If you read the article from the Tampa Bay Times that printed in Saturday’s paper, you will notice in small print halfway through that “a number of animal advocates have stepped forward in recent months to demand improvement, seeking a target kill rate (in the county’s animal shelter) closer to what Austin reports”. Save90 is that “number of animal advocates”.

What the Times was unaware of is that it has been a lot longer than “the last several months”. In fact, ACT started creating an alliance of like-minded advocates when we first read of the possibility of saving 90% of the adoptable animals through the book, Redemption, and then again at the summer No Kill conference in Washington DC  in 2010. A long overdue Alliance formed and brought in the national leader Nathan Winograd to speak at a conference in February of this year. The rest has culminated in the county’s new commitment to ending the killing of healthy animals and the hiring of new director experienced in doing what some call “impossible”.

The idea seems logical to some, extremely compelling to many, but is taken by others as a criticism that their efforts were not appreciated. To them, we can only say that we can understand why that might be a first reaction, but that it certainly was never the intention. We are and will always be eternally grateful for all the nights and middle of the nights that you have gone without sleep and many things that you wanted or needed just to save one more dog or cat or be there for that 4-legger that would not be alive today if you didn’t.

We apologize if it sounds like it is a criticism but believe us, it is anything but that. It is, instead, a plea to give you the chance you deserve, give the animals the chance they deserve and bring more attention and help to the plight that our rescuers and employees and 4-leggers have been mercy of for so many years now. We do so want our rescuers to know that we understand that they are already giving a whole lot more than anyone can expect, and it’s time they got some help.

One of our many pieces of research was a trip to Manatee County to interview Kris Weiskopf, the director of Animal  Services that embraced No Kill about 6 months ago. One of our questions was “how can we help the rescues”? His
response was encouraging. He said that since they had gone No Kill, it had become easier to find funding, so that any rescuer who took an animal from Animal Services (which many already do), also got a stipend with it in order to cover
the costs of providing foster care and vet care that costs the rescue group to re-home that animal.

There are 11 universal steps that are being used by the 34 municipalities currently saving 90% of their shelter animals.  These steps are developed into an measurable action plan based on community needs. Hillsborough County can
already check the box for one of them: a Compassionate Shelter Director. The new director, Ian Hallett, will begin this new endeavor June 18, and as he has already said, he will need to “engage all Hillsborough stakeholders in process improvements”. It will take a community: rescues, veterinarians, advocacy groups and shelters, to achieve this.

We know that many of us are still in shock, having walked that “green mile” to save individual animals and not understanding, or maybe not yet truly understanding how we will ever achieve such a lofty goal. We’re sure there will be lots of questions, discussions and compromises along the way, but we’re also delighted – no, ecstatic – that we will be able to see this in our own backyard, within our lifetimes. Many of us that have been working on this for a decade or two have to admit to wondering, in our guts, if we ever would see it happen. We can tell you that if you do not yet believe it, stay close. We believe enough for all of us and we will not let go of your hand until you see it, too.

May 7, 2012 at 12:42 am 1 comment

Announcing Ian Hallett, Hillsborough County Director of Animal Services, starting June 18, 2012

Ian HallettWe’re excited to annouce the most important news that we’ve had in about a decade. On Friday, May 4, 2012, our county made an official announcement of a new director for Hillsborough County Animal Services, a position that had been open since Bill Armstrong retired last summer. The new Director, Ian Hallett, known as “Deputy Dan” in his current position at Austin, Texas’s Animal Services, brought his local community from a save rate of 45% to 90% within the first year of going No Kill in 2010.

“We are ecstatic”, beamed Jack Talman, an advocate for lowering the euthanasia rate of our local dogs and cats. Talman has been known for years as the man that “walks the green mile” daily at Animal Services, trying to pull as many dogs and cats as he can to find fosters and rescue groups for before their 7 days are up. Seven days is the amount of time about 65% of our county’s animals have  to live before facing the fatal shot, known as the “blue juice” to those close to the practice. Starting June 18 th, his green mile won’t leave him feeling so heavy-hearted at the end of the day.

Hallett’s message to Hillsborough County is inspiring: “During my tenure (at Austin Animal Services), one of the goals of the Austin community was reducing the number of euthanized animals. When I started there, the save rate was under 40%. Currently, the save rate is 90%. While that may seem like an unattainable goal, I have firsthand knowledge of the process and bring that valuable knowledge to Hillsborough County. I will do my part to ensure that it is a thoughtful, gradual, and inclusive process”

Mr. Hallett begins on June 18, 2012.

Read the official announcement from the County Commissioners.

Read a great synopsis of the hiring detail.

May 7, 2012 at 12:21 am 5 comments

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