Why No Kill Can Happen in Miami-Dade

Despite the proven effectiveness of the No Kill Equation at creating communities of all shapes & sizes with 90%+ save rates, the No Kill naysayers continue to produce the same time-worn excuses for why such a thing isn’t possible in THEIR community. They say things like:

  • We have (insert ethnic stereotype here) and they don’t know how to treat animals.
  • There aren’t enough resources.
  • The public is too irresponsible.

Sound familiar?

Well, these excuses are just that – and they’re easily struck down with a little bit of logic and a lot of facts.

When it comes to Miami-Dade, the pessimists are singing these same songs. But, I beg to differ. No Kill is absolutely possible in Miami-Dade, and here’s why:

We are a compassionate, animal-loving community. In March, when the shelter shut down due to a distemper outbreak, people came together and saved almost 500 animals who would have otherwise been summarily killed.

We are an animal-friendly community. To see this in action, just visit one of the city’s 13+ dog parks, and mingle with the thousands of other pet owners across the city. Pet events, pet-friendly restaurants and vet offices abound.

When it comes to per capita intake of animals, Miami-Dade’s is approximately half the national average. Miami-Dade Animal Services takes in approximately 14 animals per 1,000 people, and the national average is 30 animals per 1,000 people. Washoe County, Nevada, takes in 38 animals per 1,000 people – and they’ve maintained No Kill success since 2007. Too many animals has not been our problem; making the effort to get them into new homes or returned to their owners, has.

Money is not a determining factor for No Kill success. For the 2011-2012 budget year, the proposed spending per capita for Miami-Dade Animal Services is $3.77. In 2010-2011, the spend was $3.91. While this is a reduction in budget, this per capita amount is higher than in some communities with a much higher rate of lifesaving. Shelby County, Kentucky, spends approximately $3.44 per capita and has been No Kill for three years. Additionally, it’s been well established that working towards No Kill leads to greater community support for the shelter, which means more donations.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no correlation between spending and lifesaving, so blaming a lack of resources for the killing is a fallacious argument. As Nathan Winograd has said, “A 2009 multi-state study found no correlation between per capita funding for animal control and save rates. One shelter saved 90 percent of the animals. Another saved only 40 percent. One community has seen killing rates increase over 30 percent. Another has caused death rates to drop by 50 percent. There was, however, no correlation between success/failure and per capita spending on animal control. In other words, the difference between those shelters that succeeded and those that failed was not the size of the budget, but the programmatic effort of its leadership. The amount of per capita spending did not seem to make a difference. What did make a difference was leadership: the commitment of shelter managers to saving lives and their follow through by holding their staff accountable to results.”

Miami-Dade has a robust and passionate rescue network. There are hundreds of dedicated volunteers spending countless hours saving animals from death row. For a shelter who’s amenable to working with rescues, the opportunity exists to save thousands of lives.

The prognosis for success in our county is excellent. We just have to reach out and grab it.

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