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Making Mutt-i-grees Matter

Submitted by Dylan and Donovan
South Side High School
Bee Branch, AR

On May 20, 2013, we gave a presentation to the County Judge and Quorum Court on how to turn our local animal shelter into a no kill shelter. Our Oral Communications class collaboratively researched this persuasive speech after several classes as part of the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. The experience was very cool and we liked speaking in front of a judge. We only wish we could have made more of an immediate impact for the animals in the shelter! You can find our presentation below.

Teacher: Mrs. Mary Lemmings

Thank you for meeting with us today. We are here to discuss the possibility of making the Van Buren County Animal Control Shelter a No Kill shelter, which means we want to save healthy animals from being euthanized. The citizens of our community are kind, caring and generous. They deserve an animal shelter that reflects, rather than undermines, their values.

There have been 26 animals put down since January of 2013. We strongly believe that we can find other means of dealing with these animals, such as pushing for them to be adopted or placed in foster care until adoption. We would also like to work with the VBC shelter to form a behavioral rehabilitation program, to increase volunteer efforts, to improve the website for effective adoptions, and to educate the general public about the positivity and possibility of a No Kill shelter.

Some people would argue that it is too hard to find people who want to adopt from an animal shelter. I believe this is wrong because with effort and hard work anything is possible. Nationwide, roughly 23 million Americans will bring a loving animal into their household this year. Of those 23 million, 17 million of those people are undecided about where to get their animal. This may be a nationwide statistic, but I believe it is relevant to Van Buren County as well. By implementing the ideas we have for improving the VBC shelter, I believe we can get more people in this community to adopt from our shelter.

Some people might also argue we are seeking outrageous and unreasonable standards for our shelter. We don’t believe this is true. We believe people are often against change because they are unaware of what might develop. Several No Kill shelters have been implemented across the nation. Washoe County, Nevada was one of the first counties on board for reforming their shelters. They were euthanizing two times the national average, but after switching to No Kill policies, have found extremely positive results. A No Kill shelter is about valuing animals, not about being a burden to the community. We want to work side-by-side with this community to help improve the quality of life for its animals.

Others may argue that a No Kill shelter is too costly for our community; however, it actually cost more to impound an animal and euthanize it (approximately $106 per animal) than it would to get the animal adopted (which would bring in revenue from the adoption). Many No Kill shelters rely on private philanthropy and volunteer workers to help cut cost. Spay or neutering cats and dogs also helps long-term because it cuts down on population numbers and thus on future expense to the community. A No Kill animal shelter does require funding, but the size of the budget does not determine the success of the shelter as long as that shelter is dedicated to alternatives to killing.

A No Kill shelter is possible for this community. Will it be an easy transition: possibly not, but anything is possible if there are enough people with “Can Do” attitudes and a passion for animals. Our community can adopt these policies and, with small changes, make our shelter better than it already is. We need to work on improving the number of animals being adopted. We need to begin programs that will help make this happen. Forming foster care for animals that are close to being put down is a start. Developing a behavioral management program for dogs could help transform their dispositions making them more desirable for adoption. Welcoming more volunteers to the VBC shelter or changing the hours of operation to ones that are more agreeable to people who are seeking to adopt might help. Improving the VBC website so that it is regularly updated might be a great project one of the surrounding high schools could tackle. Maybe one of the most important things we can do to help transition to a No Kill shelter begins with educating our community, and more so our youth. Change takes time, but if our community can learn of the benefits a No Kill shelter can bring to this community, who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a great cause? Everything that can breathe and enjoy life deserves a chance to live, even if it is covered in fur. Please help us give these wonderful creatures a chance to change someone’s life in a big way. Thank you for your time.

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