What is Save90, anyway?

May 7, 2012 at 12:42 am 1 comment

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.


Entry filed under: Everything else.

Announcing Ian Hallett, Hillsborough County Director of Animal Services, starting June 18, 2012 FAQ’s about Save90

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Lisa Mazzola  |  May 10, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    HOORAY for the good news! Thanks to you (ACT) and all the volunteers and members, etc., for all the outstanding work and devotion to make this progress possible.


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