Nathan's introduction message:
In 2001, the Tompkins County SPCA divorced itself from its 100-year history. In one year, by sheer will, we stopped the killing of healthy dogs and cats. The next year, we stopped the killing of treatable sick and injured pets, as well as feral cats. In the end, 92% of the animals were either returned to their responsible caregivers or found loving, new homes, an achievement unparalleled anywhere in the country. The remainder were either too sick or too injured to be rehabilitated, or were vicious dogs who were clearly a threat to public safety, to other animals, and, in many ways, to themselves. There were no excuses, no blame shifting. The animals came, the animals were cared for, and the animals were saved. It is, after all, what an SPCA is there to do.
In two years, the Tompkins County SPCA went from a shelter:
a.. that was killing 100% of feral cats to killing none
b.. that was killing healthy dogs and cats to killing none
c.. that was killing treatable sick/injured dogs and cats to killing none
d.. that reduced the death rate by 75%
In those same two years, the TC SPCA increased:
a.. the animals spayed/neutered before adoption from 10% to 100%
b.. the number of volunteers from a dozen to 181
c.. the number of animals fostered from a handful to close to 800 per year
And we did it without big bucks and without a big shelter. During the same period, the SPCA:
a.. reduced its expenses by approximately $150,000 per year
b.. reduced the number of employees from 16 to 12
c.. went from a $250,000 a year annual budget deficit to a $23,000 surplus
d.. and has so far raised $2.8 million dollars to build a new shelter
We opened relationships with rescue groups in five states, engaged every veterinarian in the community, and forged alliances with the media that resulted in being either in the newspaper, radio or on the local television news 251 days out of 365 last year-with a total advertising budget of zero.
The Tompkins County SPCA has shown what can happen when we make a commitment to stop the killing and sweep away the employees, the policies and procedures, and the defeatist mentality that gave legitimacy to the past.
If we believe in our dreams, hold on to our principles, and work hard and persevere-we will succeed. So that compassion will win the day. And thousands upon tens of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats will leave shelters across the country after finding loving homes-finding in animal shelters, a new beginning, instead of the end of the line.
We did it in Ithaca. And you can too. Today.
(Note: for more on Nathan's programs please click on the following links)
Best Friends Magazine article by Nathan Winograd:
How I Turned My Shelter Upside Down: Diary of a No-Kill Shelter Director
How-to manuals by Nathan Winograd:
Building a No-Kill Community
It Takes a Community: Starting a Foster Community
Compassion Is The Way: The Care and Feeding of Feral Cats