On September 27, 2011 the Talk About It! Campaign, hosted an event called “Reno Achieved No Kill: San Antonio CAN too!” featuring , an open community conversation at the Norris Conference Center from 6PM to about 9PM.
In attendance were two No Kill experts from Washoe County in Reno, Nevada. Our featured experts were Bonney Brown, executive director of the Nevada Humane Society, and Mitch Schneider, the current manager of the Washoe County Regional Animal Services. They both shared multiple strategies on how Reno became a No Kill community. It is our goal, San Antonio, to duplicate their success in our own community deep in the heart of Texas. There are eight different topics to be covered in our blog, so there will be a total of eight posts to browse through!
These questions were submitted by community members that were in attendance at the event through their registration, a written submission during our conversation, or there was unfortunately not enough time for these questions to be answered at the event.
Here we go San Antonio: Questions related to our community are answered below!
Q: How do you encourage a non-caring community to care?
A: The Nevada Humane Society does not say “can’t.” We only say “how.” NHS has 4,000 volunteers and it took hard work to get them. These things have worked for the NHS:
- We do not have “No” signs (“No Volunteers,” “No Access,” etc.) at the NHS. We are open and friendly and encourage people to help.
- Through its Help Line, the NHS tries everything it can do to keep pets in homes.
- We tell people exactly what we want them to do—not just in broad, general terms, but very specifically.
- We tell the public specifically what we need from them.
- Make inspiring goals and invite the public to help.
Ask and ye shall receive. People know people and you will be surprised at how many people want to help.
Q: Do you have specific strategies to target the Latino population with your message?
A: First, let’s recognize that a specific ethnic or other segment of the population is not the whole problem. These issues pertain to all people in the community. Work with stakeholders in the community—people that the residents in the Latino community know and respect. Get them to help provide opportunities to share the message. Find people in the Latino community who will speak to No Kill, especially people who are public figures that members of the community know and respect.
Q: Realistically, at the point San Antonio currently is, how long will it take for us to be anywhere close the No-Kill goals that have been set?
A: It would be a mistake to put a timetable on it, because it’s really a matter of how soon and how big the different players in San Antonio can step up and take on the challenge:
- We look for rescue groups to increase the number of dogs and cats they take from the shelter.
- We look for one or more rescue groups to step up in a big way and be willing to take several hundred dogs and cats per month.
- We look for ACS to double their returns to owners.
- We look for the animal welfare community to work together to reach out to citizens of San Antonio and get them on board to adopt from the shelters and rescue groups.
It’s a big challenge, but it needs to be started right away with a sense of urgency—hundreds of dogs and cats are dying each month at ACS and on the streets of San Antonio.
Q: How did they (Reno) overcome the apathy in the community? How do you encourage more community involvement to decrease animal deaths?
A: We are constantly and consistently reaching out to the community for people to adopt, spay/neuter, and care for their pets. The Nevada Humane Society issues 2 – 3 news releases each week. The local media sees the NHS as an information source. Be newsworthy and news ready—always have something to tell the media to encourage residents to help. Finally, be specific about what you want residents to do—foster, adopt, donate, etc. Citizens can help with returning pets to owners. In Washoe County, citizens can put lost animal reports on Pet Harbor.
Q: Systematically what can we do to avoid/reduce animal cruelty on the streets and in more economically disadvantaged neighborhoods?
A: Education and example setting. See answers above related to how to help people understand about No Kill, spaying and neutering.
Q: How to achieve interest and commitment from the public to drive city policy and dollars?
A: In Reno, we made a public declaration that we would strive for No Kill, we told citizens how we would do it, and we told them specifically what we needed them to do. San Antonio has received a good deal of support from its Mayor and City Council, especially in terms of budget and fiscal support. Build upon that.
Q: What are the annual costs associated with this mission, and who is responsible for funding?
A: These costs are quantifiable, but the costs will be different in Washoe County than in San Antonio. One benefit of No Kill that is not quantifiable is the delay or avoidance of staff burnout with all of the costs associated with hiring and training new staff.
Q: How can concerned citizens, not associated with a shelter or rescue organization, help in this mission?
A: Citizens can help in many ways:
- Adopt, don’t shop for your next pet.
- Spay or neuter your pet.
- Don’t let them roam freely, especially if not sterilized where they will be out on the streets making puppies and kittens.
- Provide a foster home for a puppy, kitten, dog or cat.
- Talk about it with neighbors, relatives, and friends.
Donate to your favorite local animal welfare organization or you could contribute to the Animal No Kill Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation for grants to be made to animal welfare organizations.
There are eight different topics so there will be a total of eight posts to browse through! Make sure to enrich our blog with feedback! Our next blog post will feature Q & A regarding spay/neuter!