Our Solutions

Find out how your animal shelter can do amazing!

The Value of Teamwork in Saving Lives

Posted by on 12:49 pm in Solutions | 0 comments

When different types of people come together, it’s not uncommon for conflict to occur. But conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If resolved effectively, it can lead to better teamwork and a more focused effort at saving the lives of animals in shelters.

Too often, we receive inquiries like this:


A campaign of outrage should only be a last resort. Resolving any conflicts and working together is always our preferred approach. But that’s not necessarily easy either.

Discover a step-by-step method to resolving conflict. Michael will be giving his presentation, “The Value of Teamwork: Shelter Managers, Staff and Volunteers,” at the American Pets Alive No Kill Conference in Austin, Texas. Don’t miss this lifesaving seminar on Saturday February 21 at 9am. See the full conference schedule or register today.


Get Your No Kill Playbook

Posted by on 11:31 am in Shelters, Solutions | 0 comments

The 2014 Best Friends National Conference spotlighted eight communities which have achieved No Kill or are on their way to success. Now you can download a playbook from each community. You can see what worked, what didn’t work and what’s next in each community. Click a link below to see a playbook:

Thank you to Best Friends for providing these playbooks. Put these ideas to use in your community, and start saving more lives today!


Retail Thinking Goes Mainstream

Posted by on 3:50 pm in Solutions | 0 comments

We’ve been delivering our retail strategy at No Kill seminars across the country for the past few years. The idea is simple: By thinking outside the box and using some retail-like strategies, we can put an end to the needless killing of healthy and treatable pets in our shelters.

Lakeside_CertificateWe’ve tried every gimmick in the book to find a shelter pet a loving home. For instance, we partnered with Lakeside Chevrolet in Rockwall, Texas to make sure everyone who purchased a new vehicle during Christmas 2011 received a certificate encouraging them to adopt a shelter pet for free. We made sure a shelter pet was cast in a starring role in “Annie” at our local community playhouse, which generated a lot of publicity. The list goes on and on.

We’re happy to report that the strategy is not only working, it’s gone mainstream. There have been many innovative ideas that have received media attention lately, from the nation’s first Cat Cafe in Oakland, California to a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina that offers a guest a chance to hang out with – and adopt – a homeless dog.

Do you have an innovative idea to help find homes for shelter pets?

This was one of the promotional materials used to promote shelter pets during the run of "Annie" at the Rockwall Community Playhouse.

This was one of the promotional materials used to promote shelter pets during the run of “Annie” at the Rockwall Community Playhouse.

Riding the Wave in 2015

Posted by on 1:43 pm in Solutions | 0 comments


Surf’s up! The waves are getting higher for the New Year. And that means shelter pets are ready for a much happier 2015. That’s if recent statistics are any indication. The concept of No Kill is riding a huge wave as more shelters are finally accepting the 21st century business model.

It’s a business plan that reflects the way most Americans feel about our pets.

S_CurveMost social movements in America can plot growth on a logistics curve, or “S” curve. On paper, it looks like a huge wave. History shows that, during the first years of the movement, growth is extremely slow as the new challenge to the status quo sinks in. Once a majority accepts the new ideas (like putting an end to the killing of healthy and treatable pets in animal shelters), growth occurs rapidly. It’s when the movement is approaching the eventual success of its mission that growth slows once again (as the remaining hardheads refuse to change).

By all accounts, the No Kill movement is on the fast upward arc of the curve. Exponentially more shelters are implementing the No Kill Equation every month. And the national save rate is climbing dramatically, reaching an average of 64% at the beginning of 2014 according to ASPCA data (a million more shelter pets are saved annually compared to just five years ago).

ChartMany of our major cities are proud No Kill communities, like Austin, Seattle, Portland, OR and Kansas City. Cities like Washington, DC, San Antonio and Los Angeles as well as entire states like Michigan and Colorado are on the threshold of becoming No Kill. And many more medium- to small-sized communities across the United States are No Kill. To be sure, there are big cities like Phoenix, AZ and Dallas, TX which are still lagging behind, but the rapid pace of change will inevitably force these communities to embrace the new business model. (In surfing terms, these cities are paddlepusses.)

This is an exciting time to be a part of the No Kill movement. Enjoy the experience, because we’re like surfers who are riding a rapidly swelling wave that’s lifting all of us skyward. Let’s make it an even happier New Year for pets in our local shelters.

We’re in the pocket in 2015. Radical, dude!

Home for the Holidays!

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O there’s no place like home for the holidays! Thank you for everything you do to make sure each homeless pet has a very merry Christmas!

Looking for gift ideas? How about a pet!

Posted by on 11:30 am in Solutions | 0 comments

Want to give a pet as a gift? Shelters, rescues, breeders and others continue to express horror at the idea. Yet extensive research proves otherwise. A year-old study showed there’s no reason pets shouldn’t be given as gifts. In fact, discouraging the practice could mean that more pets lose their lives in shelters.

Rex_2The ASPCA study showed that 96 percent of people who received pets as gifts reported it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to the pet they received. Also, 86 percent of the pets in the study are still in their homes, which mirrors the national retention percentage following routine adoptions.

Dr. Emily Weiss, the Vice President of Shelter Research and Development at the ASPCA (and one of our heroes due to her extensive research), said, “Christmas is coming up, birthdays are every day, and dogs and cats in some shelters around the country are missing chances at homes, so it’s time to put this myth to bed.”

Santa’s preparing for his big trip, so let’s encourage him to save lots of lives by delivering homeless cats and dogs to loving families across the nation. Are you a grumpy elf who still doesn’t believe us? Read the research for yourself! Let’s make it a No Kill Holiday!

Black Friday is a Test

Posted by on 11:16 am in Solutions | 0 comments


There’s been a lot of discussion this year about stores that plan to open on Thanksgiving Day. It’s become a litmus test to see which corporations value the holiday the most. But we’re more interested to see what happens on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. We use the day after Thanksgiving to see if animal shelters are in the business of saving their animals’ lives by finding them homes.

Yes, Black Friday is a test. If your shelter is open on Black Friday – or at least doing offsite adoptions – it’s doing everything it can to find homes for the animals in its care. After all, the shoppers are out in droves, so why not entice them to stop into your shelter? If your shelter is closed on Friday, we suspect they’re willing to kill healthy and treatable animals needlessly, because they’d rather be out with the shopping hordes instead of doing their job.

It drives us to distraction when shelters refuse to open on a busy day like Black Friday. At least some of their staff is working that day to clean and feed the animals in their care. Why not open the shelter why they’re cleaning? A volunteer or two could greet potential adopters. It wouldn’t cost a dime extra. Extra adoption revenue and new homes for some of the shelter pets would be a bonus.

So pay attention to your shelter this Black Friday. If they’re open, congratulate them for working to find homes for their shelter pets. If your shelter is closed, make sure they know you give them this grade: FAIL.

Part 5 of 5: 2014 Best Friends Conference: Our Take

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The recent Best Friends National Conference in Las Vegas confirmed our belief that we’ll achieve No Kill nationwide in our lifetime. It also confirmed our emphasis on a retail-based, business-like approach.

Even though we’ve achieved a tremendous reduction in the number of annual shelter deaths over the past few years, it’s time to take our efforts to the next level. Simply doing the same thing over and over again won’t get us to our goal. By operating like any industry – by analyzing our tactics, our data and our results – and by being open and receptive to new and proven ideas, we’ll put an end to shelter killing once and for all.

Five healthy or treatable pets like Maverick are killed every minute in American shelters. He was a young, exuberant dog who was killed for "behavior problems," even though he had received no previous training.

Five healthy or treatable pets like Maverick are killed every minute in American shelters. He was a young, exuberant dog who was killed for “behavior problems,” even though he had received no previous training.

If you don’t know it by now, please allow us to repeat: Shelter killing is the number one cause of death for healthy and treatable pets in the United States. If you use the ASPCA’s most recent estimate – 2.7 million pets die in our shelters annually – that means nearly 7,500 pets die in our shelters every day of the year. An incredible 310 animals die every hour in our shelters, 24 hours a day. Yes, that means over five pets are killed every minute in the United States.

As the conference illustrated, 90-95% of the 310 shelter pets whose lives are snuffed out every hour are healthy or treatable. By our math, 294 of those animals didn’t need to die.

It’s time to take it to the next level so we can save the lives of the 294 animals who die needlessly every hour of every day. It’s time to take our message beyond our own animal welfare bubble. It’s time to try things that have never been tried before.

In the words of Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, “We need to reach out to people we’ve never reached out to before. We need to send our message beyond the choir. We need to examine our traditions. Yes, the animal welfare community, like any other, has its traditions. We need to ask ourselves which of our current policies and attitudes are based on absolute proof that they will save more lives, and which are based on sheer convention.”

A new day is upon us. It’s time to draw the curtain on needless shelter killing. Let’s do this.

Part 4 of 5: Our Country. Our Pets.

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Our_Country_Our_PetsThe recent Best Friends National Conference in Las Vegas confirmed that we’re headed in the right direction. Animal welfare advocates from six nations attended the conference to see how we’re saving the lives of healthy and treatable shelter animals here in America.

We’re on the crest of a 150-year-old wave. The modern era of animal sheltering began in the United States when the ASPCA started operating the municipal sheltering system in New York City in 1894. At that time, Americans kept our animals primarily in our barnyards as working stock.

Following World War II and the rise of suburbia, we Americans began keeping pets in our new backyards. And, in the most recent development, our pets have moved into our bedrooms as part of our families. That’s how much American culture changed over the past century and a half: Animals moved from our barnyards to our backyards and then into our bedrooms. Yet the catch and kill business model of animal shelters barely changed during that time.

We’re in the process of bringing our shelters into the 21st century. We deserve an animal sheltering system that equals our values as Americans.

The Best Friends Conference was filled with vivid examples of the wonderful animals who end up in our animal shelters. They’re there through no fault of their own. Pets end up in shelters due to their family’s job loss, illness, divorce or other personal catastrophe. The pets in our shelters are good American pets. And it’s our patriotic duty to make sure these animals find a new home. After all, it’s our country and these are our pets. Be a good American. Adopt a good American pet from your local animal shelter.

On this Veterans Day, it’s time for all of us to do our patriotic duty.

Part 3 of 5: It’s not Impossible if it’s Being Done

Posted by on 4:11 pm in Solutions | 0 comments

Attending the recent Best Friends National Conference in Las Vegas was like immersing ourselves in a force field of positive energy. Tremendous progress is being made in bringing an end to the killing of healthy and treatable pets in our shelters. New and exciting ideas are bubbling up like never before, providing an exhilarating preview of a bright future. And recognized No Kill communities like Austin, TX, Kansas City, MO, Reno, NV and Portland, OR look like they’ll be joined soon by areas like Pima County, AZ, Washington, DC, San Antonio, TX, the entire state of Michigan and many more communities throughout the United States and around the world.

Invigorating stuff.

Spreading the word about happy adoptable shelter pets leads to a bright future.

Spreading the word about happy adoptable shelter pets leads to a bright future.

We returned home to hear this report – just two days ago – from a shelter director in our area: “It’s impossible for our shelter to be No Kill. We take in too many animals. We don’t have enough space to put all the animals if we don’t put them down.” The usual excuses, right? And this shelter has a per capita intake lower than the No Kill shelters in our area.

That’s why it’s so important for all of us to continue to spread the No Kill message. It’s not impossible if it’s already being done. As the Best Friends conference plainly illustrated, No Kill has been achieved in communities large and small, rich and poor, conservative and liberal, north and south.

We’ve always joked that old-school shelter workers have “an excuse for everything and a solution for nothing.” That’s why we believe in solutions. Solutions make the seemingly impossible possible.

Faith Maloney, one of the founders of Best Friends, encourages us to be pioneers. “Pioneers are people who step outside of how things are usually done, take a look at the problem and do it differently,” she said. When you’re putting No Kill into place, you’re blazing new trails for the shelter pets in your area. When you spread the positive No Kill message, you’re knocking down barriers for shelter pets everywhere. That’s the pioneer spirit that’s leading all of us toward a bright future.