While the state of Michigan has a long way to go in some areas, we are in the forefront of becoming the first no-kill state with 11 no-kill communities, more than any other state, according to the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance.
"It's the goal of our organization and our conference to get to that goal," said Pet Fund board member Christie Keith about Michigan's 2012 No-Kill Conference http://www.michiganpetfund.org to be held on Sept. 20 at the Lansing Radisson Hotel on 111 North Grand and on Sept. 21 at the Lansing Center on 333 E. Michigan Avenue.
The volunteer, not-for-profit organization plans to introduce a new way of thinking and doing things at their second annual gathering. This 21st century approach includes a formula that when implemented will save 90,000 or more of Michigan's homeless, healthy and treatable cats and dogs. The purpose of the no-kill conference is to share the formula, identify and share resources, showcase those successfully using the formula, provide opportunity for networking and establishing collaborations, and take a step closer to making Michigan a no-kill state.
"We will be giving awards to ten of Michigan's no-kill communities at our conference, as well as acknowledging many other achievements in the last year toward reaching that goal. We'll also be presenting some exciting data on progress in the state at that time," said Keith.
"The no-kill movement isn't about individual shelters becoming 'no-kill.' It is about no kill communities. The definition of a no-kill community is one in which all healthy and treatable homeless pets are adopted into new homes rather than killed. For purposes of public policy, that is considered to mean that at least 90 percent of a community's homeless pets are saved. Because that's an 'unspinnable' figure – it's simply the percentage of the total number of pets taken into a community's shelter – it isn't dependent on varying definitions or standards of 'treatable' or 'healthy,' and doesn't rely on highly manipulatible terms like 'adoptable,'" said Keith. "However, there are many communities all across the United States that save more than 90 percent, so it's likely as we progress in our movement that figure will be revised upward."
The term no-kill is not to be mistaken with euthanasia, which Keith said "is the merciful taking of life of a hopelessly ill pet, the kind of act a loving pet owner shows when a pet's suffering can't be helped anymore. Population control killing is not euthanasia, as there is nothing merciful about it. It's a public policy failure and an illustration that the community's sheltering organizations have not yet adopted the programs and policies that make it unnecessary."
Municipal decision makers, shelter staff and volunteers, rescue organizations, veterinarians, animal control officers, and animal lovers and advocates are encouraged to attend the conference to participate in a variety of sessions, including Rescue Certification Training, Veterinarian-focused sessions, No Kill 101, How to Remove "Hard to Place" From Pit Bull Adoptions, Reducing Shelter Intake, Innovation in Animal Welfare, and Compassion Fatigue of the Animal Sheltering and Rescue Workers, among others. The No-Kill Advocacy Center's http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/ founder, Nathan Winogard, will speak at the conference also.
"There is quite simply no possibility Michigan will not become a no-kill state. The only real question is how long it will take us. If we organize and unite to reach the goal, we will be the first no-kill state," said Keith. "If we delay, we'll be one of many. But the era of killing pets for no reason but the fact that they are homeless is over. In a recent Associated Press poll, 71 percent of Americans polled said that they believed shelters should not be allowed to kill healthy or treatable pets, and even the 29 percent who said they should be allowed to do so said it should only be 'sometimes.'"
Whether animal lovers attend the conference or not, Keith said the most important thing they can do is demand more of their municipal agencies and private shelters alike. "Since we know that communities can save all their healthy and treatable pets, and we know how (which will be discussed more in-depth during the conference), there really is no excuse not to – although poorly managed public and private shelters seem to have no shortage of such excuses."
Two decades ago, the concept of a No Kill community was little more than a dream, said the No-Kill Advocacy Center in a statement on their website. "Today, it is a reality in many cities and counties nationwide and the numbers continue to grow. And the first step is a decision, a commitment to reject the kill-oriented failures of the past. No-Kill starts as an act of will. The next step involves putting in place the infrastructure to save lives."
Registration (includes the Welcome and Opening session on Thursday, plus discussion of Michigan's current animal-related legislation and breakout sessions with three expert speakers):
$90 per person
$30 per person for the award banquet
$50 per student (school name and student ID number must be provided on the registration form and student ID presented at conference check-in)
Groups of 5 or more are eligible for a 10% discount. All members of the group must be entered at the same time.
Lansing Center, $6
Radisson Hotel, $10 (self-park or valet; indicate that you are with the MPFA conference)
North Grand Parking Ramp (connects to Lansing Center via Pedway, $10
Howard Johnson East Lansing (Use rate code CGARC); call (517) 351-5500
Radisson Hotel Lansing (Use rate code PETFUN); call (517) 482-0188 or (800) 333-3333