Thursday, November 08, 2012

How you can help sustain "no-kill" in your community

Dora is a remarkable success story!
In animal welfare there is a term sweeping the country called "No-Kill." No-kill is defined as ending the killing of pets as a means to control pet overpopulation. Many are shocked to learn that killing healthy, adoptable pets is the primary method some communities use to control pet overpopulation. That is not the case at the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) and we update our statistics on our website each month because we believe all members of our community have the right to know what is happening in their local animal shelter.

Last week I opined that if achieving no-kill is likened to an Olympic moment then sustaining no-kill is akin to a marathon.

I'm happy to report that 2012 is our community's Olympic moment. YHS has maintained a 95 percent live-release rate and the third lowest pet euthanasia rate in the nation for over a year - an Olympic "no-kill" moment by anybody's standards. But there has been no time to rest on our laurels as we quickly transitioned into marathon mode to sustain this success over the long haul.

Many ask me, "What can I do to help ensure our community never resorts to killing pets again?" There are two important ways you can help our community eradicate the killing once and for all.

One way is to join our volunteer foster care program. Under the direction of our veterinary team, foster caregivers take sick, injured or behaviorally challenged animals into their homes to care for them until they recover or are rehabilitated and can be adopted into loving homes. We also have a hospice foster care program for animals with some quality of life left despite a life threatening condition. By volunteering as a foster caregiver you help YHS not only by caring for an animal in need, but you open a kennel for a different needy animal.

Another way you can help sustain "no-kill" is by making a life-saving donation to the YHS STAR (Special Treatment and Recovery) program. Your gift helps ensure every sick and injured animal rescued by YHS receives the medical care they need to recover. Through STAR you play a significant role in supporting no-kill because the animals you help are the very ones that would have been euthanized without your help.

Let me give you an example of how these two programs benefit at-risk animals. Dora is a playful 2-year-old Australian heeler rescued by YHS on July 5. The YHS medical team noticed an abnormal gait and ordered X-rays. The X-rays revealed improperly healed fractures on her pelvis and femur.

This old injury required a femoral head ostectomy - which corrected this crippling condition. This procedure was possible only because of generous donations to the YHS STAR program. Dora was then placed into a foster care home for rehabilitation where she improved significantly. Sadly, just as she was nearing full recovery, she came down with valley fever, which required her foster care to be extended. Without these life-saving programs, Dora would likely only be a sad statistic today.

Instead, she is available for a medical release adoption - thanks to our foster care and STAR program supporters. "It takes a village."

If you want to help YHS complete a second year of no-kill, please volunteer or make a life-saving donation. If you want to make sure our community continues its no-kill ethic in perpetuity, consider making YHS a beneficiary in your planned giving. By including YHS in your planned giving, you can help make sure no-kill is a permanent solution to our community's pet overpopulation woes.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.