What was the most used word at this years No Kill Conference? It was the little word “YOU”! YOU as in stand up, YOU as in speak up, YOU as in do something. Often we hear people saying “Somebody needs to do something….”. Well, YOU are somebody. During the No Kill Conference it was said many times by people like Nathan Winograd and Ryan Clinton that it starts with YOU. And right so, it truly does. I would like to use myself as example. Last year in December, a big change took place in the Allegany County Animal Shelter. I went to the Shelter for the first time in the middle of December. The Shelter previously had a kill rate of almost 90%. I did not know anything about Animal Shelter, the No Kill movement or how to do anything in a Shelter. My friend Jodi invited me to come out and walk some dogs. So, I went out and walked some dogs, talked with Jodi and other people. I already knew that the Shelter was a high kill Shelter and that the goal was to turn things around. I learned very quick about the No Kill movement, the No Kill Equation and I spoke up against the killing and for the animals, against the Powers and the Status Quo. I visited several County Commissioners Meetings and held several speeches there. I also said (I actually yelled it) the now famous words “There will be no more killing here” in the Animal Shelter to somebody form the Status Quo. I also learned that people started to follow me rather quickly. It was said over and over that it only takes one person to set the spark and it truly does. But we also have to be honest and admit that it is not a easy journey. Shirley Lyn once summed it up pretty good:
“What does it take to be a no kill community?… “In reality, it takes a group of dedicated animal advocates willing to stir things up in their own community by challenging the status quo and refusing to accept killing as a means of population control. There are consequences to such actions: old friendships may be broken, egos may be bruised, glass houses may be shattered. This ain’t no fairy tale. It’s hard work which will be met with resistance by some. You will no longer be able to ride the I Love Everybody and Everybody Loves Me bus. You will not be nominated for homecoming queen. No soup for you”
Today, the Allegany County Animal Shelter has a saving rate of over 90% every month for the last 8 month. Many people tell me that the change would not have happened without me. I truly don’t know and I don’t really think about it that much. But after all is said and done, it sure was worth it. It was the most important thing I have ever done in my life and I would do it all over again. So please, if you think something needs to be changed in your Community, change it. Get up, stand up and do it! Don’t wait, don’t point your finger at others and say “somebody needs to do something”. YOU are somebody.