Several of us from Manatee County attended the No Kill Conference in Washington, D.C., last weekend.
The conference was held by the No Kill Advocacy Center at the George Washington University campus. Saturday morning started with an introduction by Joan Schaffner, director of the animal law program at the George Washington University Law School, speaking about the partnership of the George Washington University and the No Kill Advocacy Center.
Schaffner was holding her cat, appropriately named Freedom, while speaking into the podium microphone, explaining the lapel microphone she used at last year's conference only picked up Freedom's purring and no one could hear what she was saying.
Schaffner stated the importance of everyone striving toward their goals, using the No Kill Equation, just before introducing Nathan Winograd, director of the No Kill Advocacy Center and author of several excellent books.
Winograd started out telling the audience how he was hired as a director in a shelter, basically not knowing anything about animals. He went on to say he was embarrassed to ask his own staff what spay and neuter meant. He saw the shelter was killing dogs and cats, asking staff why. Their reply was because they always had.
Winograd said it was time for change, killing was not necessary and there had to be a better way. He asked for help and that was exactly what he got.
A new philosophy, a new plan to adopt, foster and rescue. A new plan to use volunteers in a variety of
ways. A new beginning to end the killing. The No Kill Equation was here.
Winograd showed several success stories from different communities in his slide presentation of communities with a high rate of killing at their shelters. Grasping the No Kill Equation, each of them became successful, saving more than 90 percent of the dogs and cats in their shelter.
Winograd is a great speaker. His presentation was inspirational, motivational and awe-inspiring. When he was done, I felt a wave of emotion, especially with the standing ovation he received.
Then we were off to learn more about saving dogs and cats, making our plan better and how to use all of our resources to help sheltered pets get out alive.
The conference was packed with a variety of sessions offering everything from No Kill 101 to shelter medicine to dog behavior to success stories in No Kill shelters across the country.
As you know, we are well on our way to becoming a No Kill Community, but we are not there yet. We still have to work on some of the programs and services in the No Kill Equation to make them better, with lessons learned and the new found excitement obtained from the speakers in the sessions we attended.
We can do this.
Manatee County will succeed.
Every citizen in our community will be proud to say they are part of the cause, helping the homeless sheltered pets that cannot help themselves. The pets will be happy. too, knowing they live in a community that cares.
Watch for upcoming events and adoption specials. Don't forget the BOGO special where you can adopt a dog or cat at the regular adoption fee and get a dog or cat for no adoption fee.
If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky. too.
Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends. Our website mymanatee.org/pets has a wealth of information, including your new family member for adoption. Or call 941-742-5933 for information.
Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Herald.