Stuck In the Middle With You
It’s $100K Challenge time and that means it’s also time for the complaints to hit my inbox. In the beginning of the contest when we announce the competing shelters, we always get a slew of complaints that we shouldn’t let X or Y agency be part of the contest because they aren’t a no-kill shelter. Since the whole point of the contest is for shelters to save more lives than the same time/prior year, I’m always a little taken aback by this complaint. Isn’t this exactly what we want agencies that haven’t achieved no-kill to be reaching for?
The next complaint milestone happens to be the next contest milestone: August 1 Kick-Off (Which this year was more like blast-off, with contestants going over the top in creativity, enthusiasm and hard work to adopt some 3,300 animals in the first 5 days of the contest!). Check out some of these kick-off photos…
But again, just like last year and the year before, the complaints came in like clockwork. At Kick-Off, though, the common complaint is that a contestant is reducing or waiving adoption fees. The complainant generally goes into a lot of detail about the dangers of low or no fees – including concerns about the animals being taken for dog fighting or laboratory testing, and also that people won’t value animals that they haven’t paid (handsomely) for.
The good news, of course, is that’s not what our research revealed. Plus, I remind people over and over that while shelters may reduce or waive fees, they’re not waiving their adoption counseling. Making good matches and giving people the information they’ll need to succeed with their new pets is still top priority.
It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it, that shelters first get attacked for not being no-kill and then they get slammed for pulling out the stops to get closer to no-kill? There I was at my desk last week feeling stuck in the middle of these contradictory complaints, and I was getting irritated with the complainants when all of a sudden I realized that that’s kind of like getting irritated with adopters for what they don’t (yet) know about caring for their animals. (Ugh. Moments like these are humbling.)
Now I’m seeing things in a more positive light: These people care about animals, they’re paying attention to what’s happening at their local shelter and they’re trying to make sense out of a pretty complex situation. And – and this is really big – they’re actually taking action.
And here I am – still stuck in the middle. But if staff and volunteers at the 50 $100K Challenge shelters can drive themselves harder than ever before to save more lives over the next three months, I guess the least I can do is to take the time to help their well-intended community members see the whole picture – and hopefully in a new light. My personal challenge during the $100K Challenge will be to turn every one of these complainants into a cheerleader for their local shelter. Wish me luck!