Can She Stop the Slaughter?
Earlier this week, the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission, or MADACC, announced that it will welcome Karen Sparapani as its new executive director in the middle of next month. Sparapani is the current executive director of the Elmbrook Humane Society, having assumed her present position in 2008.
Given Sparapani’s experience as the leader of Wisconsin’s first No Kill shelter, her support of Trap, Neuter, Return, or TNR programs, and her personal fondness for pit bulls, there is reason to believe that MADACC’s incumbent executive director may be able to implement some of her ideals and thus spare the lives of perhaps thousands of animals each year that would be euthanized otherwise.
Given the support MADACC’s current board of directors has consistently shown for long-time MADACC employee and present interim executive director, John McDowell, there is also reason to believe that the problems that have led MADACC to kill thousands upon thousands of animals year after year may be so firmly engrained in MADACC’s culture and operations that it will be impossible for one person to have a meaningful impact on them on her own, regardless of her past successes, long-held beliefs, or job title.
According to the “No Kill Nation Blog,” the most important step in the eleven of them that make up the No Kill Equation is compassionate leadership. More specifically, the blog says, “The number one most important factor in reaching a No Kill community is effective leadership. Unless a shelter’s leader is progressive, compassionate and hard-working, other efforts are likely to fail. The leader dictates the policies & procedures of the organization, and if a leader makes a decision to stop the killing – it will stop.”
The No Kill Nation Blog identifies the following as the additional ten parts of the No Kill Equation:
Feral Cat TNR Program,
High Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter,
Comprehensive Pet Adoptions,
Medical and Behavior Rehabilitation,
Public Relations/Community Involvement,
So, will Sparapani’s assumption of the role of executive director be enough for MADACC to evolve into a No Kill shelter or even one that kills fewer than the 5,357 animals MADACC euthanized in 2012? Well, if leadership is the single most important element in the No Kill Equation and only refers to MADACC’s incoming executive director, there seems to be a reasonable chance that thousands of animals will be spared death sentences thanks to Sparapani.
If, however, leadership refers to MADACC’s current board of directors and whatever role John McDowell will fulfill after he steps down as interim director, then the question that must be asked is, “How many more animals will be euthanized this year compared to last?”
As animal advocates, it’s important to remember that we all share a single, common interest, the welfare of animals, rather than the success of any one person who works or volunteers in the animal welfare industry. In this particular instance, it seems that the welfare of the animals who will see the inside of MADACC’s walls during the upcoming months and, possibly, years, is directly related to the success that one person has or does not have as MADACC’s executive director – Karen Sparapani.