Five Years of Positive Change

Happy_Anniversary

It all started five years ago today. On June 10, 2010, we began our campaign to bring the open-admission Rockwall, Texas animal shelter into the 21st century. At that time, it was a decidedly old-school municipal facility. During the first half of 2010, only 48% of the pets entering the Rockwall shelter got out alive.

In June 2010, the term “No Kill” was a “no go” in the state of Texas.

Nicole Nickel adores a kitten during our first offsite adoption event at the Rockwall Petco on June 18, 2010.

Nicole Nickel adores a kitten during our first offsite adoption event at the Rockwall Petco on June 18, 2010.

We chose a simple path: We marketed the shelter pets like crazy. We started a web site, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a blog that focused solely on promoting the shelter pets. And we began weekly off-site adoptions at the Rockwall Petco on June 18, 2010 that haven’t stopped since.

To our surprise, it worked! By April 2011, just ten months after we started, the save rate at the Rockwall shelter had skyrocketed to 86%. And during that time, the Austin and Seagoville shelters had achieved No Kill. By August 2011, the Rockwall city council voted unanimously to make our shelter No Kill. The save rate jumped to 97% right after the council’s vote and has remained at or near that level ever since.

Legacy Humane Society, who now manages the Rockwall shelter, posted another 97% save rate during May 2015.

Here’s the moral of the story: If we can do it, you can too. We were two ignorant volunteers who refused to take no for an answer. We worked hard to find solutions instead of wallowing in excuses. And we were extremely fortunate to be joined by fellow volunteers who agreed with our mission, volunteers like Margo Neilsen, Barbara Seed, Kay Hancock, Sasha Stubblefield, Robin Welch and Stephanie Russell who came on board nearly five years ago.

The Rockwall Pets team on February 18, 2011 (from left): Pam Kitkoski, Brock Seed, Barbara Seed and Sasha Stubblefield.

The Rockwall Pets team on February 18, 2011 (from left): Pam Kitkoski, Brock Seed, Barbara Seed and Sasha Stubblefield.

After we banded together to form Rockwall Pets, we worked to make two separate shelters No Kill. Then we spun off Rockwall Pets last summer and formed No Kill Solutions to help move other shelters into the No Kill column.

The result? On June 10, 2010, there were zero No Kill municipal shelters in Texas. Today there are about 16, including the smaller shelters who don’t have much documentation. In 2010, there were fewer than 50 No Kill municipal shelters in the United States. Today there are 300 or more. There’s also quite an impressive array of shelters which are now saving at least 80% or more of the pets in their care. And there’s plenty of help out there for the remaining shelters, from the No Kill Advocacy Center to Best Friends Animal Society.

To this day, everyone at No Kill Solutions is a volunteer. We’re middle class volunteers who have to work full-time to make a living. We may not be wealthy, but we’re certainly passionate! If we can achieve No Kill, paid shelter staff can do it too. And if we can do it, any volunteer in America can do it. We’ve made a lot of progress in five years. There’s no doubt in our minds that we will achieve No Kill nationwide in our lifetimes. Here’s to another glorious five years!

 

Find out more!

Read our 2011 interview with Nathan Winograd.

See the annual statistics from the Rockwall, Texas shelter.

See a list of No Kill communities in the United States at Saving90.org.

Read our No Kill Playbook compiled by Best Friends.

See one of our most recent seminars, “Taking Different Paths to No Kill,” produced by Maddie’s Institute.