|MF: Mike Fry |
BN: Beth Nelson
NW: Nathan Winograd
MF: I’m thrilled, because we’re being joined by Nathan Winograd. He’s the author of the book Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America. He is the founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center. He’s got more books – his most recent one, Friendly Fire, I think is a phenomenal piece of work. He’s the organizer of the No Kill Conference. He’s got his fingers into pretty much everything going on in the no kill movement in the United States, and it’s a movement that’s growing by leaps and bounds every year. We’re thrilled to have him on today to talk about not only what’s on tap for 2013, but what happened in 2012 that set us up for an amazing year ahead of us. Welcome back to Animal Wise Radio, Nathan.
NW: Thank you, Mike. Thank you, Beth. Happy to be here.
MF: For 2012, can we start just by hitting some of the highlights? It was an amazing year for no kill.
NW: It was an amazing year. If anybody out there had any doubt whether literally a small handful of people could change the world for animals, especially in the face of entrenched opposition, I think 2012 laid that doubt to rest. We started the year with under 30 no kill communities identified, and by the end of the year we had almost 90. That represents about 300 cities and towns across America that have achieved save rates of above 90% - some of them as high as 98% or 99%. If you look at it in terms of how many new no kill communities popped up; it’s over five a month. Every week we had identified more than one new no kill community for all of 2012.
Not only are we seeing an exponential growth in the number of those communities, but the newest members, the new shelter directors to join the 90% club are really thirsty for the knowledge and the information that would allow them to push their save rates even higher than I think any of us just one or two years ago thought possible.
MF: What I find fascinating too as I hear and talk to some of these different people, I’m hearing it coming from different places and for people who maybe haven’t even seen the road map for how others have done it – places like Independence, Missouri and Seagoville, Texas and Shelby, Kentucky – where people have just said, “We’re stopping killing,” and they have.
NW: That’s the thing, Mike. Not only are these communities popping up so fast that we are learning about them much later after the fact, but in virtually all those cases – in fact, the vast, vast majority of those communities achieved save rates of better than 90% in under six months once they made the commitment to implement all the programs and services of the No Kill Equation.
As I said, they are shattering the notion of what it even means to be a no kill community. If people remember one of the lowlights of last year, which we talked about on the show was what we looked back on and called “Cookiegate” when PETA sent Shelby County, Kentucky officials a gift basket of cookies because they announced that they were going to start killing again after four years as a no kill community. That galvanized the community to do even better, and not only did they not stop killing, Shelby County, Kentucky finished the year saving 99% of dogs, 99% of cats, and 100% of rabbits, hamsters, and other animals – just simply phenomenal.
BN: Now I know where I could have gotten a hamster last year.
MF: We’ve only got a couple minutes before the break and I want to make sure that I get a plug in for the No Kill Conference for 2012, because it was really one of the biggest highlights for me of the year. The numbers of people, the type of people, and the quality of people who were attending the conference just blew me away.
BN: It was fun for us, Nathan. We had a couple of folks from Animal Ark’s family come with us this past year, and to just see … even for people that we’ve talked to a lot, and we’re working with closely, the veil just lifted, and there was this new awareness. It was a high point for both of us.
NW: And for me, too. I think it really does hit the nail on the head when you talk about both the growth in the numbers, going from 300 to almost 900 attendees in one year, but also the breadth and depth of the people who attended with half of the attendees being from shelters and particularly municipal shelters in some of the largest and historically shelters which had historical acrimony with the rescue and no kill community were embracing it in droves in 2012. That’s the kind of thing that we expect to continue and accelerate in the coming years.
MF: I have to harp on the Conference for just one more bit, because in addition to the quality of the presentations, in addition to the volume of people who showed up, and addition to them being largely from animal control centers, the numbers of speakers, the diversity of the speakers and the topics, one of the things I found so exciting is with each year, new no kill advocates who have actually been there and done it and seeing them showing up in person, face to face …
BN: Telling their stories and new ways of doing things. It keeps evolving. This is something we’ve talked about in the past with you, Nathan, that this isn’t a movement that should stop. We have to keep expecting more from ourselves.
MF: We have to take a quick break. When we come back, we’ll be having more of the conversation with Nathan Winograd from the No Kill Advocacy Center about what was great in 2012 and what’s on queue for 2013.
MF: On the line we’ve got Nathan Winograd from the No Kill Advocacy Center. The first show of each year, we like to take a deep breath, look at the past year, mark what’s been happening in the no kill movement, and if you go way back to when we first met Nathan four or five years ago now, last year was an entirely different year than any other year before. The momentum and the movement is just phenomenal in what’s happened.
We went out talking about highlights from 2012, one of which was the conference. I have to just say on a personal note, one of my favorite things of 2012 as well was the inaugural event for Just One Day. I think we’ve talked about it on the air a lot, but I just have to say it was a bit thing for me, and I think for a lot of people around the United States.
NW: I think we have a theme going, and that is we talked about no kill success, we talked about tripling the number of no kill communities and adding more than one new no kill community a week last year. We talked about the breadth of the no kill enterprise. We’re not just talking about 90% of the animals; in cases like Shelby County, we’re talking about 99% of the animals, and depending on the species 100% of the animals.
In terms of the No Kill Conference, we also tripled the attendance and deepened the attendance with half of the people being from animal control shelters and shelters, and the speakers diversifying. I remember when I did my first conference back in 2005, I was the only speaker. We had two dozen people; now we’ve got more potential speakers than time.
Then we land with Just One Day, which I think was a monumental day for animals in the movement, not just because we saved upwards of 9,000 animals, many of which would not have been saved in years past, and not just because I think we can safely say it was the single safest day for homeless animals in shelters perhaps ever, but the deep lessons learned by all those shelters that were suspicious of the no kill philosophy, suspicious of those of us who advocate the no kill philosophy, and the fact that they learned that no kill is not be feared, that rescue groups are not be feared, that the public is not to be feared; in fact, that we’re all partners and have always been ready, willing, and able to work together the moment they decide to do so. The moment they did decide to do so on June 11th, they saw the wonderful results that occurred because of that.
MF: The big learning that I had from that day was … it was so fun – I got up in the morning and checked the Just One Day Facebook page, and I think within the first hour there were about three or four photos of Just One Day cakes that were baked that day. The thing that I got so loud and clear in my face all day long was that people were having fun doing it. People all over the United States who have been in animal welfare oftentimes don’t think of it necessarily as fun work, but it actually can be if you’re working hard and you’re saving lives, that’s fun. That’s worth celebrating. People I think had a blast that day. What isn’t fun is the resistance to that.
BN: Can I just say, I have a wish for 2013, Nathan Winograd, and it’s that those people who have spent their days trying to figure out how to say it’s impossible, how to jump into conversations in successful no kill communities to say why it’s wrong, what’s broken, or just waiting with baited breath for some community that has had great success to fall below 90% so they can say it can never work – my wish for 2013 is that those people will have less traction, less of a voice, and that people will become very bored with their message.
MF: Or maybe those people will have an epiphany and say, “Wow – maybe I can come to the party.”
BN: Either or. I’m open to both.
NW: Not only is it a big tent and getting bigger all the time, but it’s always an open door. Without naming any names, one of the communities that I found so rewarding in terms of the Just One Day campaign is a shelter that started out the year with really some negative press and some really regressive ideas in terms of the role that killing played in their community, and for whatever reason – I have no idea why, but maybe they thought there was nothing to lose for Just One Day, which was sort of the idea, but they joined the Just One Day campaign and I have since spoken to this shelter director and heard what a phenomenal success it was, and how it completely turned around his ideas of who his partners were out there waiting in the wings to support them, and actually begging to help and in the past turning them away, and instead embracing them and having the single safest day in his community and also the most adoptions not only that they did in one day, but did more adoptions that one day then they historically did in a typical month. Very exciting stuff, and more of that will continue and accelerate in 2013.
MF: Obviously the momentum is getting bigger and bigger and bigger – I’m curious – what’s on tap for 2013?
NW: To transition to that, I want to say that not only did we have some great successes in 2013, but I think it’s important to note that we also held the line against retrenchment. There were several attempts by the status quo to turn back the clock on animal protection. I’m thinking of legislation in New York. I’m thinking of the Governor of California trying to repeal the Hayden law, and the voices of thousands and tens of thousands of animal lovers put a stop to those. I think those are the kinds of things we’re going to see in 2013.
I don’t think we are at a point where the opposition is going to go away. Beth, while I share your hope and your dream and your wish, I think that’s going to happen over time, not just in one fell swoop in 2013. We have to remain vigilant, but I think easily by the time the next No Kill Conference rolls around that we’re going to have over 100 no kill communities across the United States. I think we’re going to easily close the year with about 400 to 500 cities and towns being represented within the no kill camp. Since we’re already seeing save rates of 99% community wide, I think we’re going to see those communities now that have pushed the envelope to 90%, 91%, 92%, we’re going to see them push even higher to the 95%, 98%, 99% range, I think we’re going to start to see communities that not just save 95%, 98% of dogs and cats, but also all the animals entering their shelters, regardless of whether they are dogs and cats or hamsters, or regardless of whether they’re considered domestic animals like dogs or cats or wildlife like pigeons.
I think those are the kinds of trends we’re going to see in 2013. Once we start seeing more of those communities come online, I think the sky’s the limit and we’ll be past the rubicon where there could be any hope of stopping our complete success all over the country.
BN: Nathan Winograd, I’m going to push back at you just a little, because I didn’t say it was all going to go away in one fell swoop, but I believe that with more communities coming on, those folks who have make their bread and butter or stoked their egos by showing up and being the naysayers or the haters or whatever about no kill, that little platform that they’re standing on right now is going to shrink board by board, and it is exactly the progress and the dedication of all of those no kill advocates out there hustling their tails that’s making that very phenomenon happen. People will be bored with their messages.
MF: There is a phenomenon that I observe. It’s not an event like a conference, but there’s something that happened online that you can see, and that is that the no kill naysayers as more and more evidence that it is possible, more and more places are doing it, and it’s undeniably true. Their conservations about why it can't happen have gotten more and more crazy. They don’t even come off at all like they’ve got their oars in the water. They’re getting less traction. It’s really hard to say something is impossible when it’s already happening. I think that that dynamic, I suspect, is going to continue to happen.
BN: Vigilance is key. Agreed.
NW: Right. I do agree that their voices are becoming more shrill and more desperate, and I do think that that colors the perception of people around them so they can no longer say it’s impossible. They can no longer say it can't happen in the South. They can no longer say it can't happen at municipal-run agencies. They can no longer say that there are not enough homes. I think we’re all on the same page, and all of that is very exciting and very good stuff.
While people should remain vigilant against the opposition and remain vigilant against potential retrenchment and pushback, I do think our trajectory is clear. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to talk about No Kill Conference 2013, which we’ll announce in the coming days. That’s actually the theme of the No Kill Conference for this year, that we’re on the march. I’m inspired by the great words of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “We’re no longer marching in ones or twos, but in legions of thousands.”
We’re at the point that it is very clear that there’s no stopping us; nothing can stop our march and our eventual achievement of a no kill nation. The fact that we’re going to get there doesn’t mean we can't get there sooner if we remain vigilant and keep marginalizing the voices of opposition and keep highlighting our positive message and our message of hope, and our can-do attitude.
MF: Tickets for the No Kill Conference 2013 will go on sale later this week, I understand. I just have to say that last year they tripled attendance, and it sold out. If people want to go, go to www.nokillconference.org and wait for the announcement and get your tickets early. If you’re interested in what’s happening in the sheltering movement, it’s the place to be.
We’ll also have a bigger and more robust Just One Day on June 11th. I’m excited about it, Nathan. We’ve already got more shelters signed up this year than we had last year.
NW: Right. Our goal last year was to erase one day’s worth of killing of healthy or treatable animals, and we had roughly 800 organizations that answered the call, saving upwards of 9,000, so we did that, but we can even go further. I think as the No Kill Conference grows, Just One Day will grow to save over 10,000 lives. The number of no kill communities will grow, and our collective voices I think are going to carry the day.
Also, there’s other things that will come up in 2013 – inspired ideas by you, by me, by the hundreds and thousands of people out there making a lifesaving difference in their communities. It’s just so exciting and fun to watch, and to think about how just a little over a decade ago, we could point to no kill as our goal and our dream, but it was largely theoretical. Today, even the leaders of just a couple years ago are watching with amazement as new voices and new faces come into this movement and take us further than I think most of us probably ever thought possible.
MF: We thank you so much for all your work. If people want more information about Nathan, they can find him at www.nathanwinograd.com or at www.nokilladvocacycenter.org.
Find the show podcast here.