Many citizens of New Braunfels, Texas were shocked recently to learn their Humane Society is not a No Kill facility. This was a surprise because, as this writer has heard from many residents, the Humane Society staff tells people the shelter is No Kill. Now there is a campaign to really make the open admission shelter a No Kill facility.
To better understand No Kill, it helps to define the jargon. "Open admission" means that animals are not turned away from a shelter. If you take an animal to an open admission facility, they must accept the animal if you live in the area they serve or if the animal was found in that area.
"Limited admission" means the shelter or rescue has the option of saying no. They pick and choose the animals they want and turn animals away. Most limited admission organizations are No Kill because they never have to take more animals than they have space for. When you read about a community working toward No Kill or achieving No Kill, you are usually reading about their open admission shelter, not a private limited admission shelter.
So what is "No Kill?" Some people think it means no animals are ever killed. Not at all. No Kill was devised by animal lovers to help animals. No one who loves animals would want to keep animals in pain or sentence animals to a lifetime of confinement because they are too dangerous to be adopted. No Kill means that 90% or more of all the animals who enter a shelter are saved. Conditions such as mange in dogs or ringworm in cats are treated. The same conditions might be a death sentence in an open admission shelter such as the Humane Society of New Braunfels, Texas which kills over half of the animals in their care and adopts out fewer than 20%.
If a dog has behavioral issues which make him dangerous, then he is not adoptable and will not be part of the 90% who live. However, a dog who appears aggressive at first look will be given the time needed for staff to see if he is truly aggressive or just acting out of fear of the noisy shelter environment. A dog with severe behavior problems may turn out to be adoptable with a few weeks of kind attention from the shelter staff.
But, what about cats? What about those wild feral cats who might never warm up to being around people? Feral cats do not belong in shelters where they can only meet an early death. They belong with their own kind in a managed feral cat colony. A colony is an outside area where the cats are fed and given shelter. Usually a colony is watched over by a volunteer who keeps an eye on the cats and puts out the food. These cats have all been trapped, neutered and returned (TNR).
TNR has replaced the old-fashioned idea that feral cats should be trapped and killed. Instead they are systematically trapped with humane traps, neutered, vaccinated and returned to the area where they came from. The neutering not only stops that cat from breeding, it also stops the unwanted behaviors associated with breeding, such as yowling and fighting. The cats are vaccinated, for maybe the only time in their lives, but that still cuts down on disease.
The Humane Society of New Braunfels has stated, " In order to get TNR in place, city ordinances must be amended and/or changed. We will need calm and collected public support when the time comes. This is the most complicated step of the process for us and we want to keep a great relationship with the city because it will take a joint effort to make TNR happen. Write your council person and express that you support TNR!"
Keep calm and TNR? This writer is not sure why city ordinances would have to be changed to implement TNR. The city ordinances applicable to animals appear, for the most part, to be the same boilerplate language used for laws in many other communities. TNR is a widely used in this country and laws did not have to be changed for that to happen. In the meantime, over 80% of the cats at the Humane Society were killed in 2013. The Humane Society rents traps for $1.00 a day to the public to ensure a steady supply of cats. The Humane Society will even pick up the trap to save you the trouble of bringing in trapped cats to be killed. This is a practice that was stopped years ago by San Antonio Animal Care Services because it enabled people to trap and kill their neighbor's cats.
TNR is an essential component of what is called the No Kill equation. The foremost authority on No Kill is writer Nathan Winograd. He talks about the creativity and love for animals needed to make a No Kill shelter. When he became director of an open admission shelter, he made it No Kill his first day on the job. To make a shelter No Kill, you just stop killing and you get creative to encourage adoptions. Winograd wrote about someone bringing in a litter of puppies and he took an unused horse trough and put it in the lobby to showcase those puppies and socialize them at the same time. When over seventy cats were dropped off one day, he overheard staff discussing how now they would have to start killing again. But killing was no longer an option and they found a way. Is it any wonder the number one factor in whether or not an open admission shelter can become No Kill is the director?
No Kill is not simple to implement, but it brings great rewards for the community which does it. It is the civic equivalent of an Olympic Gold Medal. You have to look no further than Austin, Kirby and Williamson County to find successful No Kill communities near New Braunfels. The animal loving community of New Braunfels appears ready for this change. Residents are expected to show up in force at the City Council meeting on Monday, February 10th to participate in a discussion of the Humane Society.
I am looking for more volunteers from the Humane Society to tell me what goes on in the area away from the public behind closed doors and members of the public to tell me their experiences. Your privacy will be respected and your identity concealed. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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