Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Board, New Attitude

After attending the first meeting of the Lakeshore Humane Society’s newly-elected board of directors, I can honestly report that I firmly believe this is the best board the Society has had in years, if not decades.  Not only did the board conduct its discussion in front of an audience of Society members, it actually focused its conversation on the animals…the dogs and cats currently in the Society’s care as well as those who will be in the future.
With nothing on the meeting’s agenda that directly related to animals, the Society’s board members launched into a dialogue about pet adoptions.  After some debate, the board members agreed to reduce the cost of pet adoptions.  Senior citizens will receive a 50 percent discount off of the Society’s adoption fees.
The board also decided to extend an invitation to members of the general public to adopt pets in exchange for reduced fees during the months of December, 2011 and January, 2012.  During this time period, a person can adopt a dog for approximately $70, half off the Society’s usual adoption fee.  During these months, the price of adopting a cat from the Lakeshore Humane Society will be reduced from $95 to $20.12 as well. 
After taking the huge step of adjusting the Society’s adoption fees, the board moved onto another  subject, boarding.  Soon after broaching the subject, the board decided to no longer allow the Society to board animals.  The board continued by dedicating the space formerly used to board animals to the specific use of quarantining dogs when they arrive.  Finally!
The board also formed a desperately needed public relations committee, discussed approaching the county to revisit previously abandoned negotiations, described the seemingly fair numbers included in city contracts and debated what information will be presented to individual cities.  Oh, did I mention that while all of this talk was going on, the board’s members actually made those of us in attendance laugh a time or two?
While I am not na├»ve enough to think the Lakeshore Humane Society’s board of directors can overcome all of the obstacles it inherited from previous boards in a single year, I am optimistic that the current board can and will undo years of inappropriate, ineffective policy-making and make significant headway in improving the Society’s horrible reputation.  Being a No Kill advocate, I am further encouraged by overhearing one board member ask if they should speak about the life-saving No Kill matrix, even though that was deferred to the closed session.
I invite you to attend the next monthly meeting of the Lakeshore Humane Society’s board of directors so you, too, can witness real, meaningful progress in action.  It’s invigorating to hear board members talk about the reasons they have their positions, the animals, instead of themselves.  
Personally, I can’t wait to attend next month’s meeting.  I’m hoping the conversation includes finding a new Executive Director for the Lakeshore Humane Society!  Join me there to see if it does!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ASPCA Blunder

Do you remember the adage:  sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?  Well, my very dear friend remembers it differently.  Her version ends with “names will always hurt me.”
While I’m not exactly hurt, I am more entrenched in my support of No Kill after all of the Movement’s advocates were labeled as “extremists” in downloads made available by the ASPCA in its blog, ASPCApro.  Although the downloads have been removed during the past few days, they were originally attached to material that provided advice on how all animal advocates could work together to achieve their common goals.  Rather than bringing all advocates together, however, two of the documents were particularly divisive and included specific instruction to others about how they should handle supporters of No Kill, those of us otherwise known as “extremists.”
Needless to say, members of the No Kill community were highly offended by the content posted by the ASPCA.  Even Best Friends created a post on its blog chastising the ASPCA for having created the downloads and for presenting them for public view under the guise of trying to get everyone to get along, to work together.
Do people involved with No Kill need to be handled differently than other animal advocates?  Maybe.  Maybe after twenty years of trying to convince shelter operators to stop the needless slaying of companion animals by making simple, practical changes to the way they run their shelters, the No Kill community does deserve to be treated differently.  Maybe members of this community need to be heard by people who are willing to lead their shelters in a direction that protects and preserves animals instead of the one that leads to the senseless deaths of homeless pets.
Even though I have never run a shelter, I know how No Kill works compared to old, traditional sheltering methods.  Any normal person who examined the No Kill Equation would agree that once every shelter in America adopts a No Kill approach, the practice of slaughtering homeless animals, homeless pets, will stop.
The real problem, as I see it, is not with those of us labeled as “extremists.”  The real problem is with the lack of leadership and passion that still governs this country’s shelters.  Maybe the people who refuse to accept that those of us who are truly passionate about animals need to be treated differently are the same ones who are preventing shelters from being operated differently…from being operated as No Kill facilities.  Maybe these non-extremists, these people who accept their killing operations as business as usual, need to step aside and let those of us who are willing to lead, to effect change, do so.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lakeshore Humane Society Has A New Board

Some of you may remember me writing about the election of the Lakeshore Humane Society’s board of directors in recent weeks.  Well, now that the election is over, I think it is time for me to comment on its results.
I am happy to report that I am very pleased with the election’s results!  I have full confidence in the individuals who were awarded seats on the board and their collective ability to make sweeping changes to the Lakeshore Humane Society.  Failing to win a seat on the board myself, I will have to rely solely on my faith that the new board will not just retain its ability to make changes, but will use its new dynamic to develop a willingness to make the necessary changes as well. 
Personally, I hope the board begins its term addressing some of the problems the shelter has with its operations.  I look forward to the day when the board hires an executive director, for instance, and hope this day is not too far off in the future.  I hope the future executive director of the Lakeshore Humane Society will put an end to the rude treatment of the shelter’s volunteers, myself included, and the seemingly random, senseless killing of animals the shelter is supposed to protect… the animals who would have made excellent companions had their lives been spared.
Until the Lakeshore Humane Society has a new executive director in place and the organization’s leader remedies the current dysfunction that remains obvious at this point despite the success of the recent election, I regret to write that I will continue to suspend my charitable donations and my involvement with the organization.
Even though I am disappointed with the way the Lakeshore Humane Society operates at the moment, I feel very, very confident in the Society’s new board of directors at the same time. I am looking forward to telling you all about the changes the board succeeds in making during the upcoming year and, hopefully, about my renewed giving and involvement with the shelter.