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Education is key to community understanding of TNR.

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Today, a Letter to the Editor, Cat Trapping Plan Wrong, Too Costly,  by Ken Hedrick was published by the Cumberland Times news. This comes on the heels of another letter, Forcing Cats To Survive on the Streets is not Humane,  sent from a PeTA representative. I’m still not quite sure why anyone would look to PeTA as a “Voice of Reason” when they continue to kill 98% of the animals surrendered to them every year. Please see the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Online Animal Reporting for their yearly reports.

I know several advocates who wrote a response to PeTA’s letter, and none were published. Today, I sent a response to Mr. Hedrick to the Times News, which is published in full here; however, the email I had to send was a condensed version as we are only permitted 300 words. While Mr. Hedrick’s letter is 607 words of misinformation, I will not let the length of my correspondence warrant an automatic exclusion as the reason for non-publication.

This letter is in response to Ken Hedrick’s discussion on Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR), on August 10th, 2011. Shelter Director, Karl Brubaker, noted at the last Animal Control Board meeting that females are spayed as a part of TNR. Rabies shots can be given every 3-5 years, and communities that embrace TNR find the expenses incurred are fewer because they decrease the cat population and number of intakes at the municipal shelters. Grants are readily available to assist the costs associated with TNR,  which is beneficial for the public.

Alley Cat Allies, Best Friends, Nevada Humane Society,  Charlottesville SPCA, and several other organizations list TNR as the best method for stabilizing cat populations, and also diminishing them. Thompkins County SPCA has been using TNR quite successfully for over a decade. When cats are trapped, taken in and killed, you leave an empty territory for new cats to move in, who reproduce due to lack of competition for food, and suddenly it’s a population issue again. We’ve always been trapping and killing, and we always continue to have this same “problem”. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you continue to get what you’ve always gotten! Through TNR, colonies hold their territory, and decrease in population as new litters are not born. Even if a percentage of cats are sterilized in the beginning, it would have astounding affects as all those litters that would have been born are not. Please research the Stanford University case in which an approximate 500 cat colony is down to 15.

While the County Attorney has stated that current actions being taken are in compliance with current law, those cited also permitted the murder of thousands of animals. No sane person would agree to continue killing 85% of the animals that come through the shelter’s door. Mr. Devore and the Commissioners should be lauded for breaking free of the encrustation of death that has surrounded the shelter for years. It’s time for Allegany County to leave the 19th Century, and step into the modern era. There are old and archaic laws, and now is the perfect time to change them.

Jodi Sweitzer
Queen City Animal Rescue

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The Journey to No Kill

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When I came to the Allegany County Animal Shelter as a Volunteer for the first time in the middle of December 2010, little did I know about Animal Shelters or No Kill. All I knew was the fact that I came to protect and save the animals. I met Jodi and learned very quick the terrible history of the Shelter, that every 2 hours an animal was killed in that Shelter dispite the fact that there always was enough room. I learned about Nathan Winograd and the No Kill Equation. I also learned about the Powers and the Status Quo that tried to continue and maintain the killing.
Today I know that just reading and trying to follow the No Kill Equation alone is not enough to stop the killing. It takes people. People that believe in what they are doing and people that have the will to stand up against the Status Quo and fight for what they believe in. Every Shelter is different and with it’s own unique configuration and setup. But what never changes are the people. As long there are people that stand up for what they believe in, every thing is possible. Just one person, with one step, can stop the killing.
Another very important thing to become a No Kill Shelter is the support of the Community. It will not work without the Community support. The support can be in many different forms, donations, volunteering or just supporting the Shelter with voicing support for No Kill.
Today the Allegany County Animal Shelter has a save rate of at least 93% for the last 8 month. Is it a No Kill Shelter? Did we win? No, we did not win. We did stop the killing but legally, as per County Code, the killing still is legal and can resume at any time. It is necessary for us to change the County Code in order to fully protect the animals and stop the killing once and for all. I believe that we can archive this goal together with the support of the Allegany County Community. We will continue to fight and educate the public about No Kill and how to save and protect the animals.

No Kill Conference = Dream Come True!

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The last ten days have been busy, and the buzz about the No Kill Conference is still plentiful. Bloggers, advocates, shelters, rescues, and even those outside the No Kill movement have noticed the energy surrounding the event in its 3rd year. Sponsored by The No Kill Advocacy Center, The No Kill Nation, and the George Washington Law School, this year my little advocate’s dream came true.

I first learned of  Nathan Winograd and his book, Redemption, in 2008 while listening to an episode of the Vegan Freak podcast.  Around that time, I learned that the County was planning on trapping feral cats near my former place of employment.  The Commissioner’s office had made my boss aware of the situation, and let her know that if we wanted to save any of them, they needed removed immediately. We quickly mobilized traps and started our mission to save them. I was soon after contacted by not only the animal shelter, but the police department as well. I attempted to discuss Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) with the Animal Control Officer who contacted me, but she wasn’t even remotely interested in what I had to say. They threatened to arrest me for “trespassing on private property” and “stealing county property” if I was found to be feeding or trapping any of the strays or ferals. I’m not sure how many cats the county ended up capturing (not many), but we saved 16 cats who were either socialized and sent into adoptive homes or spayed and returned to the wild. I would do it again in a heart beat, if need be.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years and Allegany County Animal Shelter comes under a firestorm for ignoring complaints about 4 abandoned dogs. Thousands of calls came in from Allegany County, throughout Maryland, around the United States, and Canada. This led to further egregious acts within the shelter, and more public outcry over their meager 15% save rate. Chief of Public Works, Dick Devore, temporarily suspended euthanasia, and the Shelter Director resigned.  An euthanasia policy meeting was held, and several representatives from local animal rescues, foundations, and concerned citizens were called in. I arrived with enough copies of the No Kill Equation for everyone, and gave Mr. Devore my copy of Redemption.

Shortly after the meeting, Queen City Animal Rescue was founded in an effort to assist the shelter in incorporating the No Kill tenets such as calling forth potential volunteers and fosters, finding other rescues that would work with the shelter, getting the community aware and involved in making the shelter a better place, founded a petition requesting the new Shelter Director be of the No Kill philosophy, and with the help of the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation and the community at large, an amazing transformation has been taking place. Karl Brubaker  started his position as Shelter Director in April, and has been carrying forth and expanding upon the work of the dedicated volunteers who helped run the shelter in the 4 month gap of having no manager. As of the last Animal Control Board meeting on July 13th, 2011 the current save rate for the year is 93%. The transition has not been easy, and we experienced the same perverse treatment that all other shelters go through from those who have interest in maintaining the status quo, but oh what a difference caring leadership creates!

Karl, Animal Control Officer Aaron Alt, and I were able to attend the 2011 No Kill Conference, and enjoyed what was by far one of my favorite weekends ever. This is something I had only dreamed of being able to accomplish for years, and showing up 40 minutes early that Saturday morning, seeing Ryan Clinton hanging the official banner in preparation, and then meeting Nathan personally, I knew it was indeed this girl’s dream come true!

We all came away from the weekend having met amazing advocates, dedicated presenters, and a personal drive to make our communities a safer place for our companion animals. Our Director’s first order of business when he came home? Securing a bus to be used for events and services! I will be posting notes and thoughts from the Conference soon.

Hello and welcome!

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Hi everyone,

This will be our new page of information as to current animal happenings in Allegany County. We are an advocacy group that supports the endorsement and implementation of the No Kill philosophy in our municipal shelter. You, the community  have stepped up and supported the shelter with amazing donations and contributions of supplies, vet expenses, and volunteer time.

For those who are not familiar with the path the Allegany County Animal Shelter has taken in the last 8 months….

Dick Devore, chief of the county’s Emergency Management Division, which oversees the animal shelter operations put a stop on the senseless killing at the Allegany County Animal Shelter on 11/29/2010, after a story of 4 abandoned dogs went viral and public outcry over the shelter’s conditions and abuses emerged. A euthanasia committee meeting with several members of the community was called and at that very first meeting, we introduced the No Kill Equation and the tenets of the philosophy to Chief Devore.

The manager of the Allegany County Animal Shelter resigned on 12/17/2010. The majority of the work in the Animal Shelter was taken over and continued by dedicated group of volunteers, that set up many of the tenets involved in the No Kill Equation. We were and continue to be the target of sabotage, harassment and intimidation from people who want to continue the killing in the Allegany County Animal Shelter or have vested interests in the status quo.

In the beginning of April 2011 a new manager for the Allegany County Animal Shelter was selected, and today the Allegany County Animal Shelter has a saving rate of 93%. Previous to 11/29/2010, the kill rate was 86%, the saving rate just a little bit over 10%.

The next step that needs to be taken now is to change the County Code for euthanasia or hand over the Shelter to a non-profit organization. The County Code still allows the killing to continue at any time and as long the County Code is not changed, the killing can continue at any given time.

No Kill Allegany consists of Peter Masloch, Kerry Shoemaker Davis, and Jodi Sweitzer, board members of the Queen City Animal Rescue. We initiated this rescue in December in order to help the ACAS implement the tenets of the No Kill philosophy, and have been extremely successful in teaching the tenets to the county leadership in Allegany County.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact us at nokillallegany@gmail.com!