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

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.