The Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha, Wisc. (HAWS), and the Elmbrook Humane Society in neighboring Brookfield, have teamed up to try and create a “no kill”community. According to a May 3, 2015 story on Fox 6 News, they’re looking for ways to keep every cat and kitten they receive alive, and find their “furever” homes.
The director of the Elmbrook Humane Society, Heather Gehrke, said, “The ultimate goal is to make sure every adoptable animal is finding a home.”
With that in mind, Elmbrook opened its adoption center to cats at HAWS, helping to relieve overcrowding at HAWS, and introducing the cats to a wider audience. They believe this might help more people adopt cats, and reduce their euthanasia rate.
HAWS is also involved in TNR, and will spay and neuter cats for free so long as the person who brought them in returns them to where they were found, and commits to watching over them. This, too, helps to reduce the overcrowding and euthanasia in shelters.
No kill shelters and communities have committed to not euthanizing healthy and treatable pets, even when they’re full, according to PAWS Chicago. The generally accepted benchmark for whether a shelter qualifies as “no kill” is that it saves more than 90 percent of its animals. However, some leaders are putting pressure on the community to raise that bar to 95 percent.
PAWS says to be wary of the term “adoptable,” because it’s broad and vague. Many shelters claim to be no kill, but euthanize pets that are under eight weeks of age, for instance, or that have minor, treatable injuries and illnesses. They say these pets are not adoptable, and they get to retain their no kill status. Shelters are left to set their own definitions of “adoptable,” and then claim that they are no kill shelters, even when that isn’t true.
One of PAWS’ missions is to build a No Kill Chicago. Building no kill communities is harder than building a no kill shelter, though. The whole community has to have a high Save Rate, which means they have to be saving at least 90 percent of the animals going into all the shelters within the community.
PAWS also lists a human population benchmark, which is the ratio of animals killed to the human population in the community. Taking the number of pets killed per year and dividing it by the number of people in the community, per thousand, will yield that benchmark. For instance, San Francisco declared itself a no kill community when its kill rate was down to five pets per thousand people. PAWS says that number should be two per thousand. Chicago is getting close; as of 2014, their human population benchmark was putting down 3.64 animals per thousand people in the city.
Fox 6 doesn’t list the Save Rate for Waukesha County, or the kill rate per thousand people there, so it’s not clear how much work there is to do there. However, HAWS’ and Elmbrook’s efforts will hopefully spread, accelerating the process there, and spurring similar movements elsewhere.