Sunday, May 6, 2012

Numbers Speak Volumes

It was a year ago this past April that I went to my first meeting at the Lakeshore Humane Society.  Not knowing exactly what a “stray” was at the time, I wasn’t sure why I was going or what I expected.  But since I had recently started volunteering with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, I thought I should get acquainted with my own community shelter, so I went.

The Lakeshore Humane Society had scheduled the public meeting to discuss why it no longer had a contract with Manitowoc County to handle the area’s strays.  And the meeting did more than educate me about that issue…it literally changed my life
When the meeting’s presenter began to speak, I was torn.  On the one hand, I felt sorry for the man.  On the other hand, I couldn’t figure out why in the world he had been selected to speak on behalf of the Lakeshore Humane Society.  To be polite, I’ll describe his demeanor as “argumentative” even though “combative” is much more accurate.

Although I knew nothing about the Lakeshore Humane Society at the time, I lost all trace of sympathy for the lecturer when he began to recite statistics regarding the Society’s operations.  His exact words were, “We are a high kill pound,” and the stats he provided only validated his statement.  The Lakeshore Humane Society was a killing machine.  I left the meeting completely dumbfounded by how a group that exists solely to preserve and protect animals killed so many helpless, adoptable companion animals.  And that’s how my year-long journey began…

I’m happy and relieved to say that things at the Lakeshore Humane Society have changed radically in the months since that meeting.  In fact, the organization has done a 180.  The Society has proven that leadership is the number one reason that a shelter can stop killing animals…good leadership, that is.
I’m eager to tell you about the changes that have happened at the Lakeshore Humane Society since its fiscal year started last October and its new board was elected later that same month.  Following is a recap of the significant changes made by the Lakeshore Humane Society in the past six months:

·         After more than a year of negotiations, the Lakeshore Humane Society is expected to sign a 3-year contract with Manitowoc and Two Rivers on Tuesday, May 8, 2012!  Once the contract is signed, the shelter will provide pound services for both cities.  The Society will receive $22,000 per year in exchange for its services.

·         In the current fiscal year, the Lakeshore Humane Society has an adoption rate of 96%!  This rate is up 15 points compared to the 81% adoption rate recorded in 2011.  Of course, last year’s number at least partly reflects conditions that no longer exist at the Society.

·         The current reclaim rate, which measures the shelter’s success at reuniting lost pets with their respective owners, is 33%, but it tops out at 60% for dogs in the shelter.

·         The Lakeshore Humane Society presently maintains a kill rate of 4%, which is significantly lower than the 19% kill rate the Society reported in 2011.
·         This year, dogs stay at the shelter for an average of 19 days while the Society’s records show they usually stayed for 25 days in 2011.  Cats now typically stay at the shelter for 32 days while they reportedly used to stay for up to 73 days last year.

·         The Lakeshore Humane Society is now considered an open admission shelter, meaning it currently accepts all animals that are brought in.

·         Recognizing the importance of establishing relationships and partnerships with area businesses, the Lakeshore Humane Society has stopped boarding pets.  The Society will soon stop selling perishable pet goods such as dog and cat food as well.  The shelter will continue to raise funds by selling impulse items such as collars and pet treats, however.

As you can tell from the above list, it’s all coming together at the Lakeshore Humane Society!  There isn’t one thing that’s not improving over there!