Best Friends Blog

Leadership meeting at the No More Homeless Pets Conference

The no-kill movement – and indeed it is a movement – includes a growing list of very diverse stakeholders, some of whom have achieved and exceeded the 90 percent threshold save rate and others who are well on their way or are committed to transforming their community to embrace no-kill policies and who have practices and a track record of openly stating that commitment and advocating it to others.

I believe it is in the interest of the movement and of the animals for there to be a coherent framework for sharing ideas and program design, thrashing out issues that may be potentially divisive, and establishing a platform for speaking with one voice on common concerns. Such a framework must be open and inclusive of all types of organizations: municipal shelters, private humane societies and SPCAs, and high-functioning rescue, spay/neuter organizations and national animal welfare organizations, with the only qualification being a commitment to no-kill.

It was with this in mind that I invited a group of no-kill stakeholders to a leadership meeting that Best Friends hosted at last week’s No More Homeless Pets National Conference in Jacksonville.

The leadership meeting included animal control agency general managers from several major cities, leaders of private 501(c)3 organizations with animal control contracts, funding organizations, spay/neuter innovators, and leading rescues that are addressing critical issues, such as high-volume foster and adoption, community cats, and the unique challenges of low-income neighborhoods.

As the first of its kind, this meeting focused on basic first steps related to the goals, purpose and shape of such a forum and whether or not there was even a consensus about whether or not to invest the time and energy to create such a forum. There was a strong consensus.

In the coming months, Best Friends and our friends and colleagues in other agencies, including individuals of a like mind not at last week’s meeting, will build on these first small steps with an eye to helping more and more communities to adopt successful no-kill policies and practices. Together, we can Save Them All.


Gregory Castle
Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Jackie

    Oh – forgot to ask you if there is a roadmap if you will on what the stakeholders believe will work-needs to be done- to put the poor rural areas in the mix to “save them all”? Is there support for these areas?

  • Jackie

    Gregory, I am really glad to hear there was consensus among stakeholders of the large organizations in predominately urban areas with large donor bases.
    I would like to know where poor rural communitiess fit into the plans going forward if we are to “save them all”.
    Could you also tell me how small rescue organizations serving these rural areas will have a place? Especially in light of “fee waived” or reduced fees when the donor base of these poor communities is not sufficient to cover the costs of vetting an animal for adoption and adoption fees had traditionally made up the difference or a least offset the costs so the rescues could increase their save rates.
    Also poor rural communities have one of the greatest needs for a well funded TNR program and free to low cost s/n program. The rescues operating in these poor socially economic areas are usually under the unwritten threshold of $75k and up to receive targeted grants.

    • MelissaLMiller

      Hi Jackie,

      Our plan for rural communities is the same as it is for urban ones. The goal is to reduce the number of animals entering a given system through economically targeted free and low-cost spay/neuter services, shelter surrender intervention programs, adoption follow-up programs, and progressive community cat programs. At the same time, we aim to maximize the number of animals leaving the system through high-volume adoption strategies, collaboration with rescue partners, and the transfer of animals to agencies in communities with a complementary high demand for the types of animals likely to be killed in the system.

      In regards to grants, we’d recommend that all rural organizations seek grants in the same way that urban ones do. Grants are offered through the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network Parter program to organizations that create a significant and measurable decrease in local dog and cat euthanasia rates and increase adoptions in their communities.

      One of the featured conference communities is very rural Brown County, Indiana – population 15,000 and no-kill (we previously wrote about them here: If you’d like to see how they did it, we should have playbooks for all the no-kill communities featured at the conference posted on our website in the next few weeks. We encourage you to check out the amazing work that they’ve done in Brown County.

      Thank you for all that you’re doing to help homeless pets and Save Them All in your own community.

      Melissa Miller
      New Media Coordinator

    • michellenevada

      And the vet fees we pay for TNR — $75 for a female cat through our local vets — is above the limit grant givers will fund.

  • joyce moyer

    My thanks to all the founders, staff, volunteers and supporters of Best Friends for leading the way in changing the lives of the animals. YOU HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE!