Just One Day. When you think of that phrase, what does it mean to you? Do you think about taking life one day at a time? Do you think about how life can change, or even end, with absolutely no warning or notice? Perhaps the phrase is empowering to you and makes you think about how easy it is to change an attitude or walk away from a habit through a simple act of will.
In the animal sheltering industry, the phrase "Just One Day" is about choices and change and the future. Animal shelters across the country take a pledge that on June 11th they will not destroy any healthy and treatable animals. They open their doors to the public, hold adoption events, provide instructional classes, host activities for children, promote spay and neuter and some even do microchipping. Those shelters which are creative and energized promote their plans weeks in advance of the event to make sure they are reaching the greatest number of people in the community as they encourage adoption of shelter animals as the "go to" option.
Some shelters which have participated in Just One Day in the past have opened to lines of people who have waited hours to adopt an animal. This has led to the shelter running out of animals to adopt and caused the shelter to develop a waiting list not for animals needing homes, but for people wanting to adopt a shelter pet. A classic movie once told us, "if you build it, they will come." In animal sheltering, we can and should say "if you tell them, they will adopt."
Why June 11th? On June 11, 2001 Nathan Winograd became the Executive Director of the Tompkins County SPCA in New York. It was a day that changed everything for the animals in that community, and a day that launched a movement that is reforming animal shelters across the USA. On June 11, 2001, Tompkins County, New York became the first No Kill Community in the country. Ever since that date, shelters around the nation have been asking themselves, "if they can do it, why can't we?" Exactly.
We hear all the time that shelters have no choice but to destroy animals. They are "unwanted." There are too many of them. There isn’t enough money to save them. The public is just to irresponsible and the challenges are too great. No, no, no and no. The number of places across the country adopting No Kill philosophies to save the lives of shelter pets continues to grow with each passing week, month and year. Huntsville, Alabama; Petaluma, California; Fremont County, Colorado; Ames, Iowa; Allegany County, Maryland; Washtenaw County, Michigan; Hastings, Minnesota; Austin, Texas. The list goes on an on.
If you live in a community where healthy and treatable animals still die in your animal shelter using your tax dollars, please encourage the officials who oversee the shelter to participate in Just One Day. It’s only a day. But saving lives on that one day means they can be saved the next day. And the day after that. And the week after that. And maybe just from that point forward. Saving the lives of shelter pets is a choice. There is no time like the present to change our culture for the sake of the animals we say we value.
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson