Saving 95% 



Last year, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA -- an open door animal control shelter in Virginia -- saved nearly 9 out of 10 dogs and 7 out of 10 cats. They think they can do better...

Until April 2005, the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, an agency which contracts for animal control in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the target of criticism for what some in the rescue community saw as unnecessary killing. But then it all changed.

In their search for a new Director, agency trustees did not hire someone with years of sheltering experience. In an era which has historically been dominated by reactionary policies, "sheltering experience" often brings a set mindset of “how we have always done it.” In other words, it brings an over reliance on killing. Instead, the Board of Directors sought someone with passion for the animals, and specific skills which could be transferred to a shelter environment. They chose Susanne Kogut, a lawyer with a business background. And the results have been dramatic.

Kogut explains:

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA changed the way it operated and began implementing programs advocated by No Kill Solutions. In 2005, we saved 87% of our dog population and 67% of our cat population, the result of adopting the “can do” philosophy of No Kill Solutions. We doubled the number of animals placed in foster care from the previous year. We also treated and found homes for many sick and injured dogs and cats, as well as older, blind, deaf or animals with “special needs.”

But the CASPCA thinks it can do better. Nathan Winograd of No Kill Solutions applauds the commitment:

Most directors would be content with saving 9 out of 10 dogs and 7 of 10 cats. But Kogut isn't like most directors I have met. She embodies the spirit of No Kill which is always demanding improvement. We just need more directors like her.

So far this year, 95% of the dogs are leaving the shelter alive. If that holds, Charlottesville, VA will become the safest community in the U.S. for dogs. As for cats, saving 7 out of 10 makes them the envy of most communities in the nation. But, once again, Kogut wants more.

Saving 95%
As Charlottesville works to save more dogs than anyone else and widen the safety net for cats, the secrets to their success are not hard to figure out. And it starts at the top. Nathan explains:

The first step to success is often the hardest one of all—a hard working, compassionate animal control or shelter director not content to regurgitate tired clichés or hide behind the myth of “too many animals, not enough homes.” Kogut embodies that, which has made all the difference. Unfortunately, directors like her are oftentimes the hardest to demand and find. But find him or her we must. Because the public wants No Kill, the animals deserve it and if it requires regime change to get it, we must fight for that too.

Combined with a series of programs and services we call "The No Kill Equation," the City of Charlottesville is proving that when it comes to homeless dogs and cats, we can do better than the two prong strategy of failure championed by the architects of the status quo: adopt some and kill the rest. We can, in fact, save 95%.  

To learn more about the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, click here.

Learn more about Building a No Kill Community by subscribing to No Kill Sheltering magazine. The current issue describes the foundations and framework for Charlottesville's success, outlines the No Kill Equation, gives you the top ten strategies for saving lives, and explains why some communities who are sincere in their effort to save lives are nonetheless failing because of a fundamental misinterpretation of how to achieve No Kill. To subscribe, click here.

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