This week marks my 10-year anniversary as a streaker – yeah, yeah… sit tight now… streaking is a term used for running every day without a day off. For me, as I have written before, the goal of a daily run impacts me in many ways. I adjust my life to assure that the streak continues. It has driven me to run in storms – ice, rain and snow, through a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and a few mornings after overindulging.
Anniversaries are times for reflection – and here I reflect again on the importance of goals.
I continue to advocate strongly for shelters to have a goal that is focused on live releases and decreasing intake as opposed to a No Euthanasia goal. The impact that this shift in thinking can have is so profound. While from the outside the goal almost sounds the same, it is quite different.
First, it starts with an agreed understanding that a life is saved only when the dog or cat has left the sheltering system. Sheltering a dog or cat in a cage, suite or condo is not home, and not saved. Sheltered, yes – saved, no. Those focused on a No Euthanasia goal often lose this notion and consider saved any animal who has not been (or not yet been) euthanized.
I have been watching the ASPCA Partnership communities as they focus on a live release rate goal. The ASPCA formula for live release rate is a simple formula that has all live releases as the numerator and all live intake as the denominator. If the goal is to increase live release rate, the best way to meet that goal is to increase the number of animals leaving the sheltering system alive while decreasing the numbers of dogs and cats coming into the system in the first place. The majority of the ASPCA Partnership communities have been steadily and sustainably increasing their live release rate through yearly concrete, objective goals focused on intake and live releases.
I have also been watching the ASPCA $100K Challengers in 2010 and now in 2011. The innovation and motivation these shelters have mustered to save lives is awe-inspiring. Even more exciting is their ability to message a call to action to their community that is actually something within grasp for the general public – Save A Life.
Ask the general public to support No Euthanasia and you have a difficult message for them to find actionable (other than to support you with funds or relinquish their pets. Who better to bring their pet to than the organization that has a no euthanasia goal?). But ask them to come save a life, and that they get. The mass pilgrimage to the Joplin adoption event after the tornado is a great example of that messaging, as were many of the amazing adoption events the Challengers conducted for the 2011 kick-off weekend.
The beauty of a goal of increasing live release rate is that it just so happens that euthanasia decreases too. With a focus of thinking daily about how do I get this one home for each and every dog and cat in your care, you not only save more, but kill fewer. Go figure… Go goals!
Tomorrow I will wake up and run, and the amazing work around life-saving goals will continue around the country. What goal will your shelter make?