The first 2013 meeting of the No Kill Colorado Coalition occurred on January 10 in Lakewood. Along with an introduction of the organization’s board members, presentations were given by Foothills Animal shelter and Jefferson County Animal Control.
No Kill Colorado (NKCC) is an organization that is working to create a Colorado where animals who are healthy and adoptable will not be put down. The organization is part of a national group that is working to make shelters all across the country “no kill.” A “No Kill” shelter is defined as one that does not put down healthy animals and works to rehabilitate and bring back to heath those animals they can. A shelter receives “No Kill” status when their live release rate reaches 90%.
This can seem like a daunting task, but the organization believes with education and progress on existing programs, these rates can be achieved. In fact some 70 organizations across the US are already considered “No Kill.”
NKCC has an 11-step approach for shelters to become No Kill. Those steps are:
- Trap/neuter/release programs
- High-volume, low-cost spay/neuter programs
- Rescue groups
- Foster care
- Comprehensive adoption programs
- Pet retention
- Medical and behavior prevention and rehabilitation
- Public relations and community involvement
- Proactive redemptions
- A Compassionate Director
Every month the organization will hold a meeting explaining each step in the process. For January, that focus was on Proactive Redemptions. Proactive redemptions are ways that shelters and other organizations can reunite lost pets with their families quickly and efficiently.
Carla Zinanti, Manager of Jefferson County Animal Control, spoke about how Jefferson County’s dog licensing program helps with proactive redemptions. Started in 1994, JeffCo has a motto for their program that says “A Dog License is a Ticket Home." Dog licensing actually helps the county in many ways. The first and most obvious is a lost dog with a license tag can be quickly reunited with his or her family without have to go to a shelter at all. County animal officers can use the ID tag to find out where that animal belongs and return it. The dog does not go to the shelter, which is very stressful to the dog and costs the county money in processing. According to Zinanti, in 2011 her office handled 777 impounds (stray dogs) and 277 were returned to their homes without going to the shelter. That is a return rate of 36%. Unfortunately in 2012, 901 dogs were impounded with only 260 returned for a rate of 29%, a decrease from 2011. The more people comply with the dog licensing law, the more dogs that can be returned.
While most people would argue that they have a microchip for their dog and don’t need a tag, Zinanti points out that few civilians carry electronic chip readers with them, rendering the chip useless. What many people don’t realize is that anyone, not just control officers, can use the ID tag to find out where a stray dog belongs and return the animal home.
Other ways licensing helps the county is the fees assessed for each license go back into the community as well. License fees help the animal control department maintain self-sufficiency instead of relying on tax money. Also 1% of the fees go toward medical treatment of any injured strays they find and another portion of the fee goes to Foothills Animal Shelter, which is the county’s shelter. Licensing also helps protect the community by insuring dogs have the rabies vaccine. Another way the program helps the county is it allows the department to track “dangerous” dogs individually. Jefferson County is the only county in the metro area that does not have breed specific legislation nor does the county outlaw any specific dog breeds. Because of dog licenses, they can track aggressive animals on a case by case basis and avoid breed specific bans.
A dog license in Jefferson County runs $15 for spayed and neutered dogs and $30 for unaltered dogs. For anyone getting a new license, the dog must be four months or older and must have a current rabies certificate and written proof of spay or neuter if applicable. For those who already have a dog license, renewals can be done online. Zananti also said that sometime in 2013, the dog licensing program will be transferred to Foothills Animal Shelter making it easier for her officers to focus on their duties and because Foothills directly benefits from the fees.
Heather Cameron, CEO of Foothills Animal Shelter, spoke next and expanded on what Manager Zinanti presented. Foothills Animal shelter works in conjunction with JeffCo Animal Control and they consider themselves partners in the Proactive Redemption process.
“They (officers) are the eyes and ears in the community,” she said. Of the 8,000 animals Foothills receives each year, she said about half come from animal control. Currently the community compliance rate for dog licenses is only 24% and Foothills and the county would like to see that number go up. In 2012, the shelter reunited 1,735 lost pets with their families. The shelter will be working hard to increase the number for 2013 through microchips and licenses.
Another issue that needs to be address is the problem of stray cats. Currently cats are not required to be licensed and are difficult to reunite when they get lost. Although Foothills does provide microchips for all cats they adopt, microchips do not work if the person who finds one does not have access to a microchip scanner. This is just one of many Proactive Redemption issues that No Kill Colorado and its partner organizations will be working on in the coming year.
No Kill Colorado’s next meeting will be Thursday, February 14, at 6:30 p.m. and will focus on homeless animals. The meeting will be held at Lakewood HealthSource at 963 South Kipling Parkway. The public is welcome to attend, but RSVPs are encouraged. Learn more at from their website.
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