Liveblogging No More Homeless Pets Conference: Opening

October 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm Leave a comment

Best Friends Animal Society co-founder Gregory Castle opened the No More Homeless Pets Conference in Las Vegas this morning by mentioning that this year is the 25th anniversary of the organization’s founding. I’m liveblogging the conference, which runs through Sunday. The body of the liveblog will be behind a jump.

Note about my liveblogging: Anything in quotatoin marks is a direct quote. Otherwise, it’s a paraphrase. This is live; there will be typos.

Gregory Castle gave an overview of the history of the no-kill movement, calling the 20 million pets who used to die in America’s shelters the shelter world’s “dirty secret.”

Today, he said, the no-kill movement ha a willingness to try new things and do things in a new way. The movement has always been about that, and it still is.

He told people to listen carefully to their neighbors, and says not all the good ideas this conference are on the podium. Take new ideas home, put them into practice, be brave, be bold, step into unknown territory. “It’s all for the animals.”

As we do this work, we can be proud that are movement is moving towards the moment when there will be no more homeless pets.

Panel discussion

Moderators are Julie Castle and co-founder Francis Battista.

Joked about how far the convention center is from the entrance to the Rio Hotel, where conference is being held. No kidding. Also, apparently the scheduled breakfast didn’t happen — I ate and, most importantly, consumed large amounts of caffeine before I came.

Slideshow of adorable rescue and foster animals.

Tag lkne: “So, what do you think? Can we change the world? Just try and stop us.”

Shout-out for everyone in the audience who volunteered during Hurricane Katrina, as well as no-kill “oldtimers.”

Julie: Record attendance, over 650 people. “Truly a grass-roots movement.”

Fran cis: First panel is “Game changers.” Thinking WITHOUT a box.

Bill Bruce, City of Calgary Animal and Bylaw Services

Rick DuCharme, Founder, First Coasty No More Homeless Pets

Elizabeth Oreck, Beast Friends Los Angeles Programs Manager

Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies

Holly Sizemore, No More Homeless Pets Utah

Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies, begins. Francis asked how she got started.

Becky: A lot of us grow up with families who have some kind of experience — how many of us here grew up with a family that rescued animals? I’d go down alleyways to go to parties (grew up in Kansas). I moved to Washington DC to work on animal issues, planning on working on big issues. I was on my way to a party to network, and “tripped over a bunch of cats.”

They made every mistake in the book, but she and friends began to try to help these cats and others. Trial and error, very expensive — 250-500 dollars per spay. She was a waitress, and could afford only a cat per month.

Then people began calling the group even though they had no fliers or any official group. One night, she came home and had 60 calls. Found out what was happening in th ealleyways of Washington DC was happening in alleys all over the country. We knew we had to help, write fact sheets, do workshops.

Julie: This is one of the pionreers of Trap-Neuter-Return. If you have the opportunity to drive in a cr with Becky, she will point out every cat that you do not see… but she does.

Rick DuCharme is next. Has come up wtih “cool stuff to ‘bypass the shelter entirely in your community.”

Said that feral cats are the last animals left dying in many shelters. They started asking the city to give them all the ear-tipped ferals. So the city decided they could have ALL the ferals coming into the city (Jacksonville).

Solutions tried in past like catch and kill don’t work, don’t solve the problem. So Jacksonville let them take all the ferals. They have saved around 6000 cats since it began. And those were cats facing certain death in the shelter.

Less pressure on shelters so they can focus on the adoptable pets, and cats can be returned to areas where they were doing well, living outside, and can’t have kittens. (Note: This is a Maddie’s Fund project.)

Next, Elizabeth Oreck:

Amazing room is packed “at this hideous hour of the morning.” “You may not be fed, but at least you’re caffeinated.” Laughter, applause.

Speaks about puppy mill crisis. Multi-pronged approach to shut down puppy mills and to encourage people to consider adoption as the primary method of obtaining a pet.

Created “puppies aren’t products” campaign. Working with local governments to introduce new legislation, and tighten existing, to eliminate commercial breeding.

Support investigation of mills and animal cruetly.

Peaceful pet store demonstrations to bridge disconnect so many people have between expensive puppies in pet stores and the mills. Trying to deflect pet store sales and encourage pet stores to “go humane” by offering only rescues from shelters and 501C3 groups for adoption instead of puppy mill dgos for sale.

Fourth component, which she says is innovative: “Pup My Ride.” Small dog trasnport program. There are parts of the country where there are shortages of small dogs for adoption, but the LA area shelters are overflowing with them. So they transport from areas where demand is high, but supply is low.

As a result of that program, over 1700 animals slated to be killed in shelters have found forever homes. That program has since gone national “with a twist” and has helped to rescue and transport unwanted pets from puppy mills to groups that have experience placing large groups of dogs at one time.

They go through mills in the midwest, take unwanted animals, and find them forever home.

Keeps referring to “pet overpopulation crisis” at the same time of mentioning there are shortages of dogs in many areas. ;/

Next, Holly Sizemore, No More Homeless Pets, Utah:

Organization in Utah was started by the Castles. Holly was at the launch, and remembers thinking, “This is never going to work.”

We were euthanizting 21.7 animals for every resident in Utah. Today that number is 12.5. With dogs, we are one of the cities where there’s no reason a small dog has to die today. We’re only euthanizing 3.7 dogs per person. Cats are the real problem.

Super Adoption events. “We’re going to do things big. we have a big problem in Utah; let’s come up with big solutions.”

Have done 18 of these three day events. Shoot to adopt out 400 animals at each events. They bring together shelters and rescue groups, bringing around a thousand animals.

Said that animals adopted at events might face going back to kill shelters after, and could die, but in recent years, the no-kill groups have rallied and NO animals at the the Super Adoption events goes back now.

Bill Bruce from Calgary:

Realized that this isn’t animal control, it’s about people. Says they are so close to no kill…, kill rate for dogs is .25  dogs per thousand people. 85 percent of dogs make it out of the shelter. Return to owner rate for cats is 56 percent. 30 percent of animals necer come into the shelter at all — they drive them straight home.

Calgary, if US city, would be 11th largest city in US.

Built “state of the art” vet clinic to provide care, including dental. Saves huge money and can move treatable animals into adoption. Points out animals not in pain any more are more adoptable.

Do not use behavior tests as indicator of adoptability, but just to help them work on issues. Adopt out animals with known issues to approprioaate homes and subsidize training through the Humane Society!

Will soon be openin…

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