My hiatus from writing is now officially over and I will soon be off to No Kill Conference 2012 in Washington, DC. This will be my 3rd time attending the conference and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. The conference organizers have dramatically increased the number of available tickets over last year, and last year seemed so much bigger than the year before, with an almost overwhelming level of positive energy. There will be over 800 attendees this year, and I expect that the energy level will be off the charts. Many of the speakers have only been part of the No Kill movement for a few years, some even less than that, but the No Kill movement attracts quick studies with a can-do attitude.
The theme of No Kill Conference 2012 is “Reaching Higher”. No Kill communities save 90% or more of all homeless pets–the ones that fall into the “healthy or treatable” category. Some are expanding the definition of “healthy or treatable” and saving 98-99% of all homeless pets. Conventional animal control kills 50% of all homeless pets, on average. Some kill nearly all of them, including those that people are on their way to rescue, and puppies and kittens (reaching lower?).
I will be blogging from the conference (live-blogging, barring any internet connectivity problems) so that those unable to attend will still be able to learn something from some of the distinguished lineup of speakers. If you are unable to attend, do check out the conference website, this blog, and follow the twitter hashtag #nokill, which attendees will be using to tweet from the conference. Conference organizers will be making a wealth of materials available for free download on the conference website, as they have done in the past, so be on the lookout for that.
This is going to be an exciting and educational weekend, and I look forward to seeing some old friends there, and to meeting some new ones, especially if you are from Georgia or elsewhere in the Southeast.
If you can’t make it to the conference or you are new to the No Kill movement or to this blog, check out the “Best Of” list on the sidebar (especially “I was there”), read Nathan Winograd’s book Redemption, watch the short video “Strayed”, keep up with the movement on Facebook at No Kill Revolution and No Kill Nation and stay tuned…
Day 2 continued the whirlwind begun in day 1 of No Kill Conference 2011. There were many more talks than any one person could possibly–so many more that two people could attend every session and have no overlap in content. Brent Toellner, one of the presenters from yesterday, has a collection of links to blog posts on the conference overall and on particular presentations.
Politicians have a long memory for the people who help them.
Legislators love numbers.
You will find help in strange places.
An editorial in support of your bill in the local paper is legislative gold.
Diane Blankenberg of Nevada Humane Society on ‘Harnessing Community Compassion’:
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” –Sun Tzu
Volunteers are ambassadors in the community. They will tell other people about their experiences.
The average volunteer is with the organization for 90 days. That is a lot of turnover. make it easy and flexible to be a volunteer.
Get rid of patronizing rules. They are unwelcoming.
The focus is on fun. Match people with what they want to do. Challenge them to name a skill that they have that can’t be used by the shelter.
Reach out to the media. Be responsive to them and they will be responsive to you.
Keeping volunteers is a challenge. People need to feel like they are using their talents.
“Enthusiasm is contagious. Start an epidemic.” –Don Ward
Create positive experiences.
Example of a car decal given to volunteers at a recognition event: “I’m a Nevada Humane Society foster parent. I save lives.”
Your program doesn’t have to be perfect. It is a work in progress.
We make it easy for rescue groups–they can have any animal they want at no charge, and we help with spay-neuter. We don’t complain about ‘cherry-picking’–we’re glad to let them have animals.
“The combined force of a thousand sparks makes a powerful bolt of lightning.” –Arlo Guthrie
During lunch Nathan Winograd spoke about leadership:
For so long, the bar has been set so low that we get excited about crumbs, but we deserve more.
What is the most important characteristic of a leader? I would argue that it is imagination.
Directors of kill ‘shelters’ need to ask themselves: “What do you want your legacy to be?”
It is never too late to do the right thing.
Excuses will be proven false.
Imagination = Lifesaving²
Robyn Kippenberger of the RNZSPCA spoke about “Leadership” (do you see a theme here?):
Proverbs 29:18–”Where there is no vision, the people [and animals] perish.”
You need to re-sensitize people, many of them have killed for a long time. You have to come forward and let yourself feel in this work. If you don’t, your heart is not in it, the passion isn’t there.
Imagine that the animal before you is your animal. If you do not, then you are not doing the best for that animal.
Save one life at a time, with the intention of saving them all.
“When placed in command, take charge.” –General Norman Schwarzkopf
With leadership comes responsibility. When you know this stuff [the stuff in Redemption], you can’t un-know it.
We bring joy–and so much more.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
It’s the “Can do!” that will save lives.
My philosophy is, if we’ve got money in the bank, we should be spending it on saving lives.
“Neuter is cuter.”
Storytelling is part of bringing people into the circle, into the tribe, and people will remember and tell the stories.
“To the world, you may be just one person, but to one life, you may be the world.” –Anonymous
Many media figures have pets, but few really understand your issues.
Your best media contacts may be weather guys, sportscasters, movie reviewers, etc. They have pets or their audience does. Their audience is unexploited territory for you!
Think of it as courtship, relationship-building. Don’t ask for something right away. For 20 you reach out to, you will be lucky to get one.
Journalists are used to being reached out to, so get over your shyness and be more professional.
Cute animals are the greatest PR tool ever.
Before you send a press release, put it on your website, or at least as a Facebook note. Journalists must be able to link to you.
Bloggers have more influence than their readership numbers may indicate. When you have a cause, you want to target influencers.
Reporters may have relationships with regressive shelter directors. Never target them or tell them that they are wrong, reach out to them on a human level.
Be professional and brief.
It takes an enormous army of people, of the dogs themselves, an enormous wave, to combat the propaganda against pit bulls that’s out there.
Journalists get frustrated when people want to tell them what the story is, especially if it’s controversial. Your goal is to get attention.
Remember the difference between advertising and news.
Investigative journalists are few and far between. Bloggers are filling this niche.
Is it a story? Does it have a hook? is it interesting?
Set out to be newsworthy (like Bonney Brown).
From the closing remarks by Nathan Winograd:
Lifesaving is the only criteria of success.
The status quo will call you crazy. But No Kill is far from crazy. Every new idea has been called “crazy”.
“‘We’ve always done it this way’ never justifies anything.” –Mitch Schneider
Most resistance to change is laziness.
“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” –Goethe
No Kill represents nothing short of a paradigm shift in animal sheltering, a completely new, rigorously positive, forward-thinking way, and that is perhaps the hardest part, especially if you have been steeped in the old ways, especially if you have killed animals. The rest is just work.
The public–those people you’ve been led to believe were the enemy, the ones that criticize shelter killing–they’re the key to saving lives. If you stop punishing them and yourself, and ask them for help, sincerely ask them, and if you commit yourself to laying down the needle, you will be amazed at what can happen. There is a groundswell of change in the world of animal sheltering. You can choose to be a part of this lifesaving adventure, or you can fight it bitterly for a time, kill some more animals, make some human lives that much more miserable, and then be swept away. We’re past the point of no return.
Spaying and neutering and humane education are not “the only way”, they put off success until some vague time in the future. They will do nothing to stop the rampant gratuitous killing and abuse in shelters today. That is the task before us. People want to save lives now, and we have a proven model for doing so. Join the growing list of No Kill communities by following the No Kill Equation.
It has worked everywhere that it has been wholeheartedly implemented–Shelby County, Kentucky, Marquette, Michigan, Tompkins County, New York, Austin, Texas, Reno, Nevada, and in communities in Australia and New Zealand. It doesn’t matter if the community is urban or rural, in the desert or in the mountains, on an island or on the mainland, in a politically liberal or conservative area. It doesn’t even matter if you drive on the left side of the road.
It works. No excuses.
The following are from my notes taken at No Kill Conference 2011 in Washington, DC July 30-31, 2011. I have tried to get these quotes as exact as possible. I’ll be posting more extensive write-ups of some of the talks I attended. The conference was a heady and exciting experience. Despite being at the same venue as last year, it seemed bigger, almost overwhelming, even. Last year’s theme was “A new day dawns”, and this year, we are seeing the results. I used to have the list of No Kill communities and those closing in on joining the ‘90% Club‘ memorized. I can’t keep track of them anymore. No Kill initiatives are popping up everywhere, testament to the theme of this year’s conference–the power of individual No Kill advocates to lead and to make a difference in their community and beyond. The refrain throughout Winograd’s keynote address set the tone: ” One person. One moment. One decision.”
Killing an animal is never an act of kindness, especially if the animal is not suffering…We have recognized the value of the full expression of our values…One person can change the status quo.
It took a fight in Austin, Texas.
Whether Austin’s emerging story is your story depends on: one person, one moment, one decision.
We want to leave the darkness. Our love for animals is not unique as we have been led to believe…History will vindicate us.
Our battle is against the few, not the many–the vested interests. Millions of lives could be saved if you find the courage. They will fight you. They will attack you. They will ridicule you. You have support. We have your back.
The No Kill revolution starts with you. Go give ‘em Hell!
Opinions are fine, facts are better.
[crickets] ~On how to win friends through advocacy blogging (i.e. you won’t).
From ‘Shelter Medicine for Non-Veterinarians’ with Dr. Diana Lucree of the Nevada Humane Society:
Every place has different challenges, and many excuses.
Feral cats–for those who like a little spunk in their cats.
Every animal is unique, and a potential source of infection.
Your intake protocols will make or break the health of the animals in your shelter.
Plan for days of high intake so that your intake protocols do not suffer–July 5 or days after high winds.
There’s somebody out there for everybody.
Most diseases are benign, but can be deadly in the shelter environment.
The take home lesson: follow your intake protocol, never deviate from it!
From Seth Godin’s talk ‘Be the Tribe Leader’:
You don’t have to reach everyone. Give people something to believe in and talk about.
People are waiting for someone to organize them, but nobody joins a boring movement.
We are all weird.
Bring humanity to a problem, not a manual.
People want you to fit in so they can ignore you.
There is no map. You have to figure it out. Report what works. Make the map.
We need people who can solve interesting problems.
Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.
Emotional labor–doing what scares you.
How was your day? Leaders are never ‘fine’.
To stay put, argue about minutiae.
From ‘Overcoming Internal Obstacles to Success’, with Michael Linke, CEO of the Royal SPCA in the Australian Capital Territory and the State of Tasmania in Australia:
We’re in the business of saving lives.
Temperament testing as a tool for euthanasia is rubbish.
Staff turnover is not a bad thing. Cemeteries are full of people who thought they were indispensable.
It is better to lose poor staff than to compromise animals.
Why bother? We can fall into the trap of not bothering, but this is life or death. Remove obstacles. Remove excuses. If there is still a problem, remove staff.
You need to micromanage at the start, need to do something immediately.
From Alan Rosenblatt’s talk ‘Here Comes Social Advocacy’:
Social media is about reciprocal relationships, not just two-way communication–your audience talks to each other while you talk to them.
Audience size doesn’t necessarily matter–quality is more important. Size is good if it includes the right people–influencers.
Now consumers of content, not producers, determine distribution.
Tumblr is great for animal pictures (one of the best marketing tools in the world) and can be linked to twitter and Facebook.
Manage your social media–tweet 2-3 times per day. Ten minutes per day can be very effective.
‘How to’ is still being figured out.
Just a sampling of snippets from day one. I’ll cover day two in my next post. The ideas were flying fast both in the sessions and during the ‘downtime’, and I got to meet many interesting people. Some you’ve heard of, others you haven’t heard of yet. To be in a room with hundreds of people who ‘get it’ and are generous with their expertise regarding how to ‘get it done’ is a powerful thing, and something to keep in mind when you are in a room full of people who don’t yet and some who may never.
“Fight the power!”
I don’t claim to be a songwriter
Which is why I only have about half the lyrics
But I do know what people can do
And what a wonderful world it could be.