Best Friends Blog

Once more with feeling: Save Them All!

Couple volunteering with dogsThe Best Friends call to action, Save Them All, is a statement of commitment and resolve. It is the flag that we wave to rally the public to our cause: ending the killing of shelter pets in this country. It is also a vision of our preferred future and a goal that will keep all of us striving to deliver compassionate, lifesaving outcomes for the most difficult cases well beyond the point at which we are able to declare that the entire country is saving 90 percent of the pets entering shelters (the commonly agreed upon no-kill threshold).

Save Them All is as much aspirational as it is inspirational.

Save Them All is not, however, a demand, an instruction or an exhortation for any individual or organization to become overextended. We understand the inclination to push the envelope and we hope that everyone will implement more efficient and effective programs and protocols. But no one should feel pressured to put themselves, their organizations or the animals they serve at risk.

It’s entirely understandable to want to do more and, of course, the needs of pets in shelters are many. But I hope that the last thing anyone will do is to hear the Save Them All call to action and to then start stuffing their home with incontinent poodles! Or for a local rescue group to take in more and more animals without a practical plan for placement and without any sustaining fundraising mechanism. Those kinds of misplaced good intentions don’t advance the no-kill cause and are just counterproductive.

Sometimes, it can only be a matter of time before overextended rescue groups and rescuers need saving themselves. That failed rescue story feeds the narrative of those looking to discredit the no-kill movement as a costly and impossible-to-achieve fantasy.

Of course it isn’t a fantasy. More than 200 communities across the country are already saving 90 percent or more of their local shelter pets and sustaining that level of lifesaving. Each year at the Best Friends National Conference, we profile eight communities that are either very close to achieving or have already achieved that 90 percent threshold. Their stories are instructive, powerful and inspirational. While their paths to no-kill vary, the one constant is their rallying cry to each other and their communities to Save Them All.

If you are somehow still on the fence about the reality of no-kill, I encourage you to check out the playbooks that we put together each year for the conference. They tell the story of the individual communities and the ways that each one is saving them all. They show even the biggest non-believer that no-kill is not a vague dream or unattainable goal. It is, in fact, what we owe every animal entering a shelter.

Our call to action of Save Them All is not a matter of individual heroics. Rather, it summons all of us to work together, to set aside the obstacles that stand in the way of a united front for shelter animals, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our commitment and to be open to new and effective ways of doing our work.

Don’t stress. Together, we will Save Them All.

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Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

  • Lisa Kay Peters

    When are we going to acknowledge that “animal advocate” is a self-bestowed title that carries NO qualifications, and that we have genuinely sick and incompetent people involved in animal welfare who should not be? No, we don’t have to all work together. Just like people in child welfare do not have to embrace any pedophile who claims to be a child advocate. It’s time to admit we have people who want to help but can’t. They are mentally ill, or simply have none of the skills needed to contribute. They will NEVER understand what BF is really saying, they take the slogan and run with it … And right now it feels like the worst of them are the most fanatical about BF slogans, and they want to be a “sanctuary” more than they are actually focused on ending shelter killing nationally.

    • Exhausted

      Lisa, I would say that these sick people were hoarding way before this slogan was created. People will take issue with any/all slogans or mantras and twist them to stand for their personal agenda – “no kill” has been warped and twisted as well. I’m not sure there is an answer for this issue.

      I really like your point about “animal advocate”. IMO this movement (animal welfare) has been held hostage by self-appointed “advocates” for decades and are as much to blame for our the lack of progress as the antiquated shelter directors that are unwilling to evolve.

  • UMM

    The difficulty I have with Save Them All as a rallying cry is that it implies and asks for an immediate result. I hear you when you say it’s meant to be aspirational. But that nuance may not reach the public, especially when some no-kill leaders (outside of Best Friends) insist we really can save them all, not in years or months, but overnight, if we work hard enough. Instead of no kill, I wish the focus was on ensuring a good quality of life for every animal placed, and for providing education and resources where they’re lacking. It may be tricky to find a pithy, succinct call to action that demands companionship and mental enrichment and daily exercise and adequate shelter for each pet. Granted, that message is not as sexy as Save Them All. But perhaps, in the long run, being more explicit would be a surer way to keep our shelters empty and our animals truly alive?

    • Lisa Kay Peters

      UMM, you expressed my own frustration – exactly.

  • Julie

    Thank you for balancing the story. I do think there is an epidemic of large failing rescue groups, and we need to figure out how to deal with this phenomenon more quickly and effectively. However, the rise of communities that are conquering their use of euthanasia as their main population management tool is inspiring. I hadn’t seen the playbooks before – thanks for pointing those out. I especially liked the “What Worked” and “What Didn’t Work” sections – progress is always a process of trial and error.