Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's Working

Something VERY exciting has been going on in Berkeley in recent months. It's so exciting that we've been afraid to talk for fear of jinxing it. That is, empty kennels ... lots and lots of empty kennels in the city shelter.

Ten years ago, the 60 runs at open-admission Berkeley Animal Care Services were depressingly full, sometimes doubled up, and staff was forced to euthanize for space...up to 600 dogs a year. But in 2007, the number of dog euthanasias was down 90%, with only 50 dogs put to sleep. Check it: BACS Stats

Our girl Sally was set to be euthanized in BACS due to lack of space, way back when. You-know-who actually inspired us to start BAD RAP.

Since last summer, the number of dogs coming in to BACS has dropped so much that almost one half of the runs are now consistently EMPTY. Last week, an all time low with 34 empty runs. It's almost too quiet in there! What's going on? We have to credit a combination of efforts: Successful Marketing of Shelter Dogs, Owner Education including Free Training, Volunteerism, Rescue and Voluntary Spay/Neuter Programs.

In short: The shelter staff and the local community kicked ass to make some changes.

We're really proud to be part of the these changes. Every week, dog owners pour into our Berkeley classes to learn how to be good stewards for their dogs and volunteers train unowned shelter dogs (pit bulls and their mixes are the most over-represented breed in BACS). It's extremely gratifying to see dogs that were once ill-mannered and a wee bit out of control turn into well behaved canine good citizens thanks to the help of the diehards who keep trucking in every week, some from over an hour away. It gets even better when the shelter dogs' new adopters show up to learn the drill.

This month, 25 new dog owners started BR's Beginning Class, and our Drop In class is at an all time high with up to 25 volunteer handlers and new adopters working the dogs together. (Over 400 people are on our waiting list trying to get in - EEK!) To keep up with the demand, we've called in reinforcements, and now the talented Linda Chwistek and Donyale Hoye (Photo) are giving up even more of their Saturdays to help train the new influx of people. It's going to be a busy summer!



So, there. It's out: Voluntary spay/neuter works, and Community Partnerships will save the world. At least, that's the plan. Here's more info: Cooperation & Compassion, Not Compulsion.

Congrats to Kate O'Connor and the staff at Berkeley Animal Care Services. With unwavering tenacity - not to mention a lot of class - you've shown everyone how to make it work. Well done.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is an absolutely remarkable change. Good for you, and the other advocates for the dogs AND THEIR OWNERS, without whose cooperation all such attempts are doomed to failure. What was it that the individual at the last shot fair said? Something to the effect that it was the offer that made a difference... Having, many years ago, been simultaneously broke and a dog owner, I know exactly what that person meant. You do great work, and Miss AriMarie and her family appreciate it! - Jean in Seaside

Boris said...

Happy Mom Day to all the fine dog ladies Sally, Donna, Kate, Linda, Donyale, ...
(including those who show motherly traits adopting, fostering, training, caring ...) Seeing empty cages is better gift than cards, flowers and calls.


The day-to-day work and almost thankless efforts must seem like drops of rain in the bay. So, it is important to take a look-back like you have today, to see that all those drops combined have made a fresh change.

Big pit-bull kisses to all the 'moms'

Kirsten said...

Wa hoo! Talk about a change for the better!
This does prove the effectiveness of good community outreach. I was also a broke (and socially isolated) dog owner, several years back. I did the best I could. In hindsight, there are things I could have done better. Most people will make the best choices available to them, and it sounds like these programs offer some great choices. :)

yoonamaniac said...

OMD ain't that SOMETHING! Congratulations!

Lisa said...

Oh... stories like this make me weep! Congrats Berzerkley and BADRAP and all the pitties saved!

PsyQuark said...

Congratulations!

I suspect that this is far more a result of community outreach than spay/neuter. Fixing dogs is a good stopgap, but its education that brings it home.

Over here in Ohio we have plenty of spay/neuter but little education and outreach. To much focus on breed, breeding and breeders (how do you think the puppy mills stay afloat?). Hopefully people take the right lesson from this and things will improve over here too.

2beemo said...

Happy Mother's Day from all the BAD RAP & shelter pitties you've helped, Donna! What a cutie-pie Sally is. I'm sure she reminds you every day what a wonderful fur-mom you are!

Kari in Alaska said...

That is some of the best news that I have heard in a long time. I think you should take time out of your busy schedules to come teach some classes up here in Alaska. There are so many bad owners up here that just don't have a clue.

Brent said...

Congrats. This is certainly an awesome example of what CAN be done to create positive change. Going from 600 dogs killed in the shelter to 50 in 10 years is truly amazing. Keep up the great work.

Doc Sinister said...

Congrats on the wonderful news (and the adorable pic). Austin's made a commitment to become a no-kill city, but we still have a long-long way to go...

Anonymous said...

NICE WORK.. and shows IT CAN BE DONE.. everywhere.. Nathan Winograd would be proud... and so are we...
NO BSL......

YesBiscuit! said...

Just came across this in the top ten ranked blogs in the PET category on Myspace:
http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=75647835&blogID=392391980

comfies said...

yay.

karen said...

This post made me tear up. We recently got our pittie, Otis from the Berkeley Animal Care Services and he was on the list to get euthanized. And of course this was all due to the space issue. I cannot describe how happy and excited the staff was to see Otis finally finding a home. The love I feel that the staff have for their dogs is incredible and I am so happy for them and the dogs they saved.