FAQ’s about Save90

May 7, 2012 at 1:10 am 1 comment

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

www.lohv-fl.org

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%.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Terri Romano  |  May 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    This is such ground breaking news! I’m excited to be part of a community that as exhibited a willingness to embrace this methodology.

    Reply

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