Cooperation/Engagement with Rescue Groups
When Molly Lunaris took the job as the head of animal control for Saint Paul, Minnesota's Capital city, not much of the No Kill Equation was in place. There was no spay/neuter program, no TNR program, no volunteers, no fosters and no pet retention program. Furthermore, with very tight budgets, the City was unlikely to give her the money to develop them. Typical of other highly effective leaders, Lunaris didn't let any of that get her down. Rather than focusing on what she couldn't do with what she didn't have, she decided to figure out what she could do with what was there.
One thing Saint Paul Animal Control (SPAC) had going for it was a caring and compassionate rescue community. Lunaris decided to actively engage it to help her save more animals. She eliminated obstacles that prevented rescuers from seeing animals at SPAC by sending out a regular email to the rescue groups. The email contained a spreadsheet that listed every animal currently housed at SPAC, including photos, descriptions and information about their status.
This relatively simple change meant that rescue groups didn't have to come to SPAC to see SPAC animals. They also didn't have to remember to log on to a web site to see them. The animals needing rescue showed up regularly in their inboxes. The results were spectacular. SPAC's live release rate went from about 50% to 90% in a matter of a few weeks.
The rescuers ended up doing more than taking more animals from SPAC. They set up a Facebook page. They posted stray pets that were brought to SPAC on lost and found sites. And, they networked animals needing rescue to foster homes. The fact of the matter is that the rescue groups in every community have foster networks readily available, are already doing spay/neuter, can help with proactive redemption, and make great volunteers. Therefore, by actively working with rescue groups shelters can leverage them to implement or take advantage of the other elements of the No Kill Equation.
Many shelters say they work with rescue groups. When you look a little deeper, however, it is often the case that they are letting some rescues take some animals sometimes. What most shelters are not doing is actively engaging the rescues in their daily life-saving work in a proactive and constructive way, which is unfortunate because an active and engaged rescue community is usually just a phone call - or email - away.