Best Friends Animal Society, based in Kanab, Utah is a mover and shaker in the animal welfare world. Just a couple of years ago they came out with an incredibly bold vision to achieve a no-kill nation by the end of 2025. It’s a moonshot at which some may scoff. However, I personally believe that it can be achieved if we maintain our current trajectory. The momentum has been building for years and the vision of no-kill is taking clearer shape with each passing day.
In the 1980s animal control shelters all over America were killing as many as 17 million companion animals each year. Today, the number of animals euthanized in shelters is estimated to total 1.2 million, with 733,000 of these killed for lack of space or other resources needed to hold them for a better outcome. This is the number we are focused on. Although it comes to over 2,000 needless deaths each day, it demonstrates the progress that has been made.
To help us focus, Best Friends recently launched the Community Lifesaving Dashboard. The idea behind it was to create a user friendly graphic where anyone could go to learn just where their community stands. For some this will be amazing good news. For others it will be disappointing, even alarming.
The dashboard can be easily accessed at www.bestfriends.org. Click on your state to find data for your community. Share this resource with everyone you know. The goal is to raise awareness of the vision to achieve a no-kill nation and to activate communities.
The bulk of the data contained in the Dashboard has come from a large national data base called Shelter Animal Count which has been collecting data for a few years now. Where Best Friends found nonparticipating shelters they scoured the internet, made calls and when all else failed they processed Freedom of Information Act requests to fill in the gaps.
As you explore the Dashboard, it will come as no surprise that, by far, the highest euthanasia numbers are concentrated in the southeast. The top five killing states account for 50% of the total national death toll. Those states, in order, are Texas, California, North Carolina, Florida and Georgia. Alabama ranks a not too distant number six.
We have our work cut out for us but our movement is growing. Paws Humane Society serves as secretary of the Steering Committee of the Georgia Coalition of Hope for Dogs and Cats. You can learn more about us at our website: www.georgiacoalitionofhope.org. Our primary function is to share information and our various competencies to move our state closer to no-kill. We know that it is only by working together that we will succeed.