Sometimes community helpers need help from the community

In 2007, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter’s savings rate was 58%. This means that 58% of the animals that entered the shelter came out of it in a positive way, such as adoption or transfer to another organization. Also in 2007, the shelter was at the very beginning of a dramatic visionary change. The shelter began to see itself not as a place of disposal, but as a rescue service. Staff are invested in providing rescue programs to animals in our jurisdiction.

From 2007 to present, the shelter has grown in its efforts to support Williamson County dogs and cats and their people. The shelter staff is made up of community assistants who help residents find their lost pets, help them with food when money is tight, take care of their pets when they have no other choice and many other services. The community has rallied around this change, embraced it, and is waiting for it now. Thanks to the shelter’s dedicated staff and community support, last month’s savings rate at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter was 95%.

misty valenta

The change did not start with a mandate, but with the hiring of a shelter director with a saving vision and the will to carry out this mission. In fact, the refuge still does not have a mandate to be a “no-kill refuge”. This phrase has come to mean a shelter that does not euthanize animals because of space and achieving this title is measured as a rescue rate of 90% or more. The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, although it is an open-admission shelter – meaning it does not discriminate based on race, behavior or condition of health – has maintained a rescue rate of 90% or more since December 2010. This is due to the community’s commitment to supporting the shelter’s rescue mission.

Recently, this legacy has been put to the test. Due to the tough economic times, families have been forced to change their lives in one way or another. New jobs, new living conditions, new roommates have impacted the lives of many people and their pets. This affects the shelter in two ways. Not only does this keep our owner surrender appointments booked for weeks for families who have run out of options for their pets and need to bring them to the shelter. It also means that there are fewer individuals and families convinced that they have the resources to bring a new dog or cat into their family. When more animals enter the shelter than leave for weeks, the outlook begins to look bleak.

The lack of kennel space is only one sinister factor. The second is the ability to care for each animal appropriately and humanely. When a shelter is both over capacity in kennel space and beyond its care capacity, strong measures must be taken. Each refuge has its own method of solving this problem. The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter uses advocacy, adoption promotions, media engagement, and seeking help from other organizations as a few of our methods to support their rescue mission. Recently, that wasn’t enough and the heartbreaking decision to start a euthanasia list was made. As an organization that believes in openness and honesty with our community, this decision was communicated to the media with a final plea for help.

The community has proven that saving lives doesn’t start at the doorstep of the animal shelter. The responsibility of caring for these dogs and cats does not rest solely on the shoulders of those who work inside the shelter building. Rescue only happens when a passionate community and dedicated shelter staff meet on the doorstep and decide to work together.

This is exactly what happened with our last plea. The shelter struggling with 174 dogs, 74 above our care capacity, has been transformed. With the help of foster families, adopters and other organizations, we recently started the day with 93 dogs. Although we are always full, we are delighted to be able to avoid euthanasia, to take care of the animals we house and to maintain our saving rate and our rescue mission.

Sometimes it’s the community helpers who need the help of the community. And, when the two come together, everyone is better off.

Misty Valenta is the Director of Animal Services at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter.

Source link

Jennifer R. Strohm