Last fall, a new coalition took root to give adoptable companion animals in Columbia a greater chance of finding homes.
“No Kill Columbia was formed in October of 2011 as a result of a 45 to 50 percent euthanize rate at our local shelter,” says Tracy Green, vice president of No Kill Columbia. Deeming that rate unacceptable, even offensive, several Columbia animal lovers and animal advocates began exploring the national No Kill movement.
Supporters of No Kill seek to eliminate the need for euthanasia as a means of population control in any kind of animal shelter. To meet this goal, No Kill proponents call for working the No Kill Equation, an 11-step plan with actions ranging from implementing a trap-neuter-release program for feral cats to developing innovative strategies to help pet owners solve issues that lead to pet surrenders. A community attains the status of a No Kill Community when it saves 90 percent of the animals entering its shelters.
No Kill Columbia is on a mission to see Columbia become a No Kill Community by increasing community involvement. The collation has united local rescue groups and the shelter to work toward the same goal of saving companion animals.
“No Kill Columbia does not take in animals like the shelter or other local rescue groups,” Green explains. “We work with the groups to share information, support their efforts, educate the community about the resources available for pet owners, facility spay and neuter efforts, host adoption events, and assist with fundraising activities that support the No Kill Equation.”
In some communities, going No Kill is an effort focused on changing the attitudes of city officials, but in Columbia, the shelter is a private not-for-profit, so “it’s not the city’s business to tell the shelter how to do business,” Green says. Instead, No Kill Columbia hopes to show the Central Missouri Humane Society how it could improve its business model to meet the standards of a No Kill shelter. And there have been positive changes, Green reports, including increased efforts to reduce the number of animals killed, as reflected in the shelter’s reported statistics, and the hiring of a new director with a strong knowledge of shelter management and community involvement.
“This is the most important factor of the No Kill Equation,” Green says of the new appointment. “With the right leadership, our shelter can achieve the 90 percent adoption rate!”
Mary Pat Boatfield, the new executive director of the Central Missouri Humane Society, isn’t familiar with the efforts of No Kill Columbia yet, having just begun at CMHS in May. She does note, however, that in her past work as CEO/executive director of the Nashville Humane Association in Tennessee, she welcomed collaboration with other animal rescue groups.
“I look at other organizations as a resource provider because we can’t do this alone,” she says. “It’s a big issue, the issue of unwanted pets and what results in a high euthanasia rate in a shelter.”
Both Boatfield and Green emphasize that success in lowering the euthanasia rate will take the support of the community; the group’s website offers several suggestions to animal lovers who want to get involved. These include adopting from a shelter or rescue group, fostering animals, volunteering at local rescues and shelters, having pets spayed and neutered, microchipping pets to avoid losing them and seeking the help of an animal trainer if considering giving up a pet due to behavior issues.
Green adds that whether the Central Missouri Humane Society ever calls itself a No Kill shelter — a name that some find offensive — is really not important.
“If they shoot for a 90 percent release rate, they can call it what they want,” she says. “We’ll be happy.”
To learn more about No Kill Columbia, visit www.nokillcolumbiamo.org.
Learn More About Other Columbia Rescue Organizations
Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing chained and penned dogs.
Columbia Second Chance, a nonprofit organization that provides animals homes through adoption and fostering programs.
SNAP, a group of volunteers who provide humane trap-neuter-release solutions to feral cat colonies in Columbia.