Friday, December 5, 2014

Honesty is the Best Policy

I was recently chatting with a new acquantaince about her quest to adopt a dog. She doesn't know me well and was busy telling me her exciting news so I didn't interrupt. I just listened. She told me that she was considering adopting a dog from a rescue that brings 100% of their dogs from the south because (and her eyes got as wide as saucers) they KILL dogs in the south. Wasn't that horrifying? They kill dogs in the shelters in the south so this rescue swoops in, transports them north, and finds them homes. Wasn't that wonderful? And she was going to do her part, by saving an animal that would have surely been killed in the shelter. 

When she finally took a breath, I asked her if she knew that dogs were killed right here in Wisconsin also.  In fact, we have shelters that are still killing half of the animals that come in their doors. She gasped and sputtered and shook her head in disbelief. Noooooo..... it couldn't be so.  She only saw nice things on the TV news about Wisconsin shelters. 

Petsmart Charities recently released a study (you can read it in it's entirety by clicking here) that 85% of the public underestimate how many animals are killed in shelters each year.  This woman was clearly part of that 85%. 

Milwaukee Animal Alliance publishes the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) stats monthly because unless people know that there is a problem in Milwaukee County, they will not be inspired to help.  In fact, they may choose to shop rather than adopt OR adopt from out of state rather than a shelter or rescue that helps our local animals.  Critics of MAA feel that the statistics should not be posted. Rather, they prefer  a "Move on, there's nothing to see here" attitude.  Which has clearly not been in the best interest of Milwaukee County's animals in the past.  

Only by shining a spotlight on the reality of the facts and figures will the public become aware so that more lives can be saved. Sorry, critics.  You can't have it both ways. Honesty is always the best policy. 

Oh, and by the way. She adopted a local dog. 

I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through. - Kirsten Gillibrand

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Smoke and Mirrors - 2014 Version

I've blogged about the deceptive phrases and language used by Wisconsin shelters in the past. A few years have gone by and although there has been some progress, there is still a long ways to go.

Here are  statements from two Wisconsin animal shelters that show their intent to deceive the public about their practices:

This is a screenshot from the Fox Valley Humane Association website:
Here are the statistics for the years 2011 thru 2013 from the same website:

Sauk County Humane Society seems to have the Pinocchio syndrome also:

In a statement to the public they recently said: 

Yet their 2014 statistics year to date show this: 

As shown in Purple, only 10% of shelter animals are "unadoptable". Is your shelter saything they are saving all "adoptable" pets yet still killing more than 10% of their population? Then something doesn't add up. All healthy, treatable and manageable pets should be saved and national research has shown that this amounts to about 90% of shelter animals.  Here is a graph from the Center for Shelter Dogs: 

Year-end giving is fast approaching. Please only donate to shelters who are being truthful and who mirror your beliefs. These are YOUR community's animals. They deserve better.

Follow these two Facebook pages and support the changes they are trying to bring to their communities:

He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual.  - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Join the Believers

In a follow up to my last blog post, here is the reverse side of the signs at the Best Friends National Conference.  Just like with the Ignore the Naysayers side, these were very inspiring. Please share them with anyone who still says that No Kill is impossible. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ignore the Naysayers

It was a long, long corrider in the Rio Hotel and Casino to the meeting rooms where the Best Friends National Conference was being held. (I have learned to pack sensible shoes). The highlight of the hike was these wonderful signs that inspired and delighted everyone. I was posting them on Facebook and Twitter and I had a request to put them all in one place.  The pics were snapped with my phone so please ignore my bad photography skills. One side of each sign featured an "Ignore the Naysayers" message.  The other side had a "Join the Believers" message. I'll put those in a separate blog post.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Managing a PR Crisis - Update

I'm home from the Best Friends National Conference with, as usual, a boatload of information stuffed into every nook and cranny in my brain. Since I had just blogged on the topic of Damage Control I wanted to share this oh-so-timely slide from one of the sessions I attended on public relations for your animal welfare organization.

As you can see, none of these bullet points were addressed in the situation with Jim at the Elmbrook Humane Society. You can follow this link back to his story.

Since Elmbrook Humane Society has had a good reputation for life-saving in the past, I truly hope they will take heed of these tips, find Jim a wonderful new home and get quickly back on track.

The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour. ~Japanese Proverb

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What Jim's Story Can Teach Us About Damage Control and the No KillMovement

I'm writing this from the 2015 Best Friends National Conference.  I'm sitting in a coffee shop catching up on emails and watching with interest as the situation regarding Jim, a dog at Elmbrook Humane Society, unfolds back home.  Jim, a 5 month old mixed breed puppy, originally from MADACC, was pulled by Elmbrook Humane Society (EBHS) in late 2013.  Elmbrook, a medium-sized shelter that is saving over 90% of animals, has been considered the golden opportunity in the last few years as a ticket to freedom and a new life. But due to a lack of a robust foster and marketing program, Jim languished in the shelter and has been there almost a year.   Now, a series of unfortunate incidents for which Jim can not be faulted (inappropriate puppy mouthing) has put his life in jeopardy.  So Jim who is a goofy, dopey loving young dog (according to all that know and have worked with him) has a "bite" history and an uncertain future.
But this blog isn't about Jim.  If you want to see Jim's story you can go to the SAVE JIM Facebook page that was hastily put up this week in an attempt to bring exposure to his situation and possibly save his life. The page quickly gained over 400 followers.

This blog is about a new breed of volunteers and animal lovers no longer willing to sit idly by as the shelters they support regress backwards instead of moving forward.  This blog is also about damage control (a topic that I blogged about once before) and the lessons that could be learned. You need only watch what major successful brands do when they are in a pickle (which EBHS is).  EBHS needs to get quickly back on track to saving lives (something they are generally very good at).

Elmbrook gets five brownie points for acknowledging the situation in a Facebook post (pictured above) that they put up on Tuesday in response to the uproar about Jim.  But then they lose five points each for missing the boat on the following items.

1. Thank the public for their input (not admonish them for not getting the facts straight). Admit that they have failed Jim not once, not twice, not three times, but four times by their handling of his situation.

2.  Apologize for their mistakes.

3. Outline their plan for how they will rectify these mistakes.

4. Assure the public that this will never happen again. Then, thank the public for their support and encourage their continued involvement with their brand. 

That's called damage control and it is sadly lacking in Jim's story.

If you read the EBHS statement it reeks strongly of "We'll decide what's best for Jim, and you, Joe General Public, should just go away and mind your own business."

Elmbrook, and all of the shelters that operate with this type of mindset, had better open their minds and eyes to the 21st century.  The public is fed up.  These are THEIR community's animals, supported by THEIR tax dollars and donations.  Social media has made it easier than ever for people to connect, build "tribes" of like-minded participants, and apply public pressure to the institutions which think they hold all the power.

This is social change. And if shelters think they can operate the way they did five or ten years ago, they are in for a nasty surprise.  Thank you to all of you who are speaking out for the Jim's of America.  

I'll leave you today with this quote from one of the conference boards.  Remember, someone also thought the light bulb was going to fail.  Just like the light bulb, the No Kill movement is here to stay.  Embrace it and together we can Save Them All.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Blatant Disregard for Life

Lost your pet in the Fox Valley?  This is how little regard the Fox Valley "Humane" Association has for you.  And how little importance they put on getting lost pets back home to their family. And how little regard they have for life.  This is how disrespectful they are of their supporters, their donors, the citizens of their community, and the taxpayers that fund animal control.

Twenty nine found pets.  Only 11 have pictures. And all of them are sideways. This is not rocket science. This is a matter of life and death and the folks at FVHA don't even take their job seriously enough to take a decent picture and upload it correctly.

FVHA kills over 50% of the animals in their care.  Need I say more?

Thank you to the Save More Fox Valley Pets Facebook page for working for reform at the Fox Valley Humane Association in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts.  This is the secret of success.  
- Swami Sivananda