Pueblo, Colorado: Moving Along The No Kill Path
Updated: Jun 8, 2019
I just returned from an inspiring event in Pueblo, Colorado. It was inspiring to me for many reasons, most importantly, I love meeting people whose hearts and minds are synced up with the social change that is needed in order to reform animal shelters. Social change is hard and often thankless work. The same can be said for animal rescue. By definition that means that the people who work for social change in the field of animal rescue/animal sheltering have to be a unique breed that possesses a complex set of abilities you don't often find mixed together in our society.
The people who walk the path of "shelter reform advocate" experience all of the daily heartbreak that accompanies animal rescue. Many of them are deeply involved in rescue in addition to their advocacy work. But, they see a need that is beyond the urgent day-to-day rescue efforts. They see a need for change within the rescue community so that it can better serve the people and animals in their communities in the future. On top of their normal work and on top of their rescue work, they add advocating for shelter reform, so that the rescuers won't have to be so worn out and heartbroken in the coming days.
When I meet people who take something like that on, I always come away inspired. It was no surprise, therefore, that meeting the people in Pueblo filled my heart. I came away with a sense of hope and a belief that, because of these people, their community will be a better place.
On the path to No Kill, they have crossed a lot of ground quickly. As I explained in my presentation, I described the typical No Kill path in a timeline that can generally take years. (Note: it does not take years because No Kill is hard. It takes years because social changes are hard, and social change takes time.)
Very often when No Kill reform efforts begin, most people in the community do not even know what is happening at their local shelter, which often involves a fair amount of unnecessary killing. To change that requires a significant effort to inform the public. I call that part of the path to No Kill the "Information" phase. That phase can take years.
From there, the information begins to gel into understanding and awareness, which ultimately leads to the decision by the community to embrace No Kill reforms. Once the decision to commit to No Kill is made, it is achieved immediately, in most cases.
On this timeline, I believe Pueblo, Colorado is getting ready to flip. Will the decision be made today? This week? In 2019? We will have to wait to see. But, I left knowing that in my heart, the people I met will not stop until killing in their shelter stops.