Three laws that will change the world
This web site is dedicated to the eradication of an evil that has plagued humanity since the buildup of the modern, urbanized society - the so called ' euthanasia' solution to the homeless pet problem. This organization is not unique in any way in seeking a path out of this morass. What differs is the vision of how to accomplish this much sought after goal. In a series of three articles I will enumerate the outlines of three laws that, I believe, will change the world of animals as we know it today. While both Nathan Winograd's solution to turn US shelters into marketing powerhouses and Maddie's Fund vision of pushing the excess dogs/cats down the line to thousands of rescues are commendable efforts and certainly stones in the mosaic, they will not in and of themselves result in the end of the practice of killing homeless pets! My perspective is obviously biased by the view that only through legislation can we exit the evil catch 22 we find our society in.
My personal journey into the world of the animals was led by my friend and teacher, Buddy, the dog. He paved the stones that I walked on till I arrived at the gates of a concept called DogsInDanger.com. It was a simple idea; ask shelters what dog was going to be killed on what day and list this information on a web site. Armed with this timely knowledge, caring people all over the United States would be able to make informed decisions. Often those decisions saved the life of a dog unbeknownstly waiting at death's door. At the launch of DogsInDanger we hired a public relations specialist and he wrote a one page press release. Lo and behold America was fascinated by the images of beautiful dogs, awaiting death. Every major news organization covered the story leading our 50+ year old PR expert to state ' this is the most successful campaign of my 37 year career.'
Suddenly DogsInDanger.com was receiving 100,000 visitors per day and kill shelters all over this country were signing up to list their dogs. The shelters were overwhelmed by calls for their listed dogs, receiving multiple demands for the same dog, leading to quite a bit of acrimony. Oh those heady days were a wonder. We were saving 200+ dogs A DAY and we knew the door my Buddy had led me through was one of redemption for the human race.
Unfortunately fame is ever so fleeting, the cameras soon took their glare elsewhere and DogsInDanger began a long, but steady web traffic decline. Without the enormous marketing budgets it takes to compete with the likes of Purina, we relied on word of mouth, a tactic that will only take you so far. Still while DogsInDanger slowly declined in traffic, we saved over 70,000 dogs on death row. One day, lamenting our situation I came to the realization that what Buddy had shown me was not an effort to save 70,000 dogs but the means by which we could save 500,000 each year!
Consider these statistics! Over 65% of the dogs ever listed on DogsInDanger have been adopted. That number was 80% for the first three years, a remarkable number when taken in full context of the parameters it encompasses. The shelters that upload dogs to DogsInDanger were in states that care not for their public image. In these shelters killing 20+ dogs a day was routine business, places where high kill rates have been tolerated for decades. No one in the northeast uploads dogs to DogsInDanger. You will not find ONE SINGLE DOG in the 11 states of the northeast! Why? Not because dogs aren't being killed in those states, indeed thousands die each month, but to these shelter organizations their public image is paramount. Thus the 70,000 dogs we saved were from the most difficult areas of the country, from communities that were far divergent from the ' touchy, feely ever so animal friendly' east coast, west coast audience. Yet, the concept persevered!
First Law - It's the adoptions stupid!
Imagine for a moment what America would be like if there was one website that all kill shelters in the US HAD TO list their dogs on PRIOR TO KILLING THEM! Let's say for the sake of argument, a shelter was required to list a dog for three days prior to killing it. Now imagine if the web site was run by some government agency, yes even the horrid Department of Agriculture. Costs you say, what costs I reply! A web site is extraordinarily inexpensive to run. DogsInDanger would be more than happy to donate our proven technology for $1 to this government effort. Now all you would need is some free government public service announcements about ' save a dog's life, adopt from the US gov death row dog listings'.
Does the reader realize the repercussions of this simple solution? Shelters would be adopting instead of killing, thus replacing the costs of euthanasia (-$300 on average) with the gain from adoption fees (+$75 per dog average), a swing in the shelters favor of $375/per dog. Now the unscrupulous deeds of a nasty owner can be transformed into a positive for the shelter. This is the prima facie gain but there are many, much more subliminal ones as well. Instead of being seen as a 'killing machine' the shelter becomes a ' healing machine', a positive public relations aspect that can be monetized into additional donations. How about the adopters themselves, a dead dog does not garner any donations but families, thankful for being united with their wonderful pet, will come back time and again with donations, grants and bequests.
Let's summarize the emerging picture. A national listing of all dogs scheduled to be killed would cost little to implement and maintain, would adopt over 500,000 dogs a year (DogsInDanger has averaged 10,000 dogs per year with only 10 - 15 states participating, a national program should easily do 50 times better) and make the shelters and their employees richer and happier respectively. If it's so perfect, you say, why hasn't anyone else suggested it by now? Ahhhh we say, you just hit the perennial nose of the pet animal juggernaut. DogsInDanger came up with this idea, it is embodied in our existence and thus no one else can claim it's their idea, so better you forget it. Each organization brings its own unique vision, perspective and most importantly, agenda to the issue. This is how polarized the animal leadership is currently! If someone has a great idea, all the others feel it their duty to kabash it, lest it take luster off of their particular view.
Since the animals cannot vote, have no bank accounts and live by our grace, human generosity or the lack thereof becomes their nimbus. DogsInDanger has for the past six years been a test case of the aforementioned concept. We have run the test on hundreds of thousands of dogs encompassing every possible breed. The results are clear, TRANSPARENCY WORKS, IT SAVES LIVES! Why have humane legislators not embraced the idea? Because, as noted above, none of the leading animal organizations has brought the facts to their attention. DogsInDanger does not have the funds to persue this known truth and is barred by Federal rules from doing so. But with great hope and anticipation I envision AnimalsVote.org performing the impossible task!