The Board of Directors for the Clermont County “Humane” Society posted a letter on their web site yesterday sharing their thoughts and opinions regarding the efforts of Fix Clermont to end the killing at our animal shelter. Their web site does not allow comments so I’ve copied their letter and will reply paragraph by paragraph. Text from the Board’s letter is quoted in italics.
The time has come to share with you some very disturbing activity on the part of a local organization recently formed whose mission may seem on the surface to simply want to help Clermont County Humane Society but in actuality and from all indications, seek to derail its good work.
FixClermont is the name of that newly formed organization. Their mission is to eliminate animal euthanasia altogether at the Clermont County animal shelter. The Society’s board met with them to hear their proposal. While the board admires their goal, FixClermont’s method is not sustainable, realistic and is a simplistic answer to a complex issue. Because of the differing strategic opinions on how to reach this goal, they have threatened to do everything they can to undermine Clermont County Humane Society’s mission and relationship with the County.”
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify our position. The elimination of euthanasia is an admirable goal but is not one we believe is achievable. There will always be animals that are too vicious or too ill to be saved. Our research indicates that percentage is less than 5% of the total animal intake every year in almost 90 communities that have implemented the No Kill Equation.
We do believe the programs of the No Kill Equation are simple but not easy to implement. Simple in that they focus on reducing intakes, increasing redemptions/adoptions and rehabilitating animals that would otherwise be deemed as unsavable. Not easy because they require faith that the public will support their efforts to put down the needle as a solution for lack of time or space and trust the community (more on this later). The 11 programs we’re proposing to be implemented in Clermont County are:
“CCHS is contracted by the Board of County Commissioners of Clermont County to manage an open-admission facility, just as each county is required by State Law. CCHS has been managing the county’s animal shelter since 1971. As an open-admission facility, it accepts all cats and dogs for any reason and in any condition from the citizens of Clermont County and other outlying areas. Unfortunately, many of the animals that come through the shelter’s doors are not adoptable for a variety of reasons — severe injury, serious health issues, or aggressiveness due to their prior life experiences. Sometimes the shelter is also faced with sheer numbers and lack of space. While the number of animals coming into the shelter declined by 17% last year in comparison to 2011, the shelter, nevertheless, accepted nearly 4,000 animals last year. The primary driver for this shelter and all open admission shelters being at overflow capacity is the lack of spaying and neutering. Conquering this issue has and will continue to have the greatest impact on reducing euthanasia. And so in May 2011, CCHS accepted the financial burden of lowering adoption fees and at the same time including a full spay/neuter surgery with each adoption. Now, each animal is fixed before it leaves the shelter and joins its new family.”
We agree that spay/neuter is an essential ingredient to reducing the killing of animals but question your commitment. We’ve yet to see the CCHS sponsor a single transport to either of the two non-profit spay/neuter clinics in Cincinnati or host outreach programs to assist the public with their spay/neuter needs.
We applaud your commitment to spay/neuter all animals adopted from the shelter and look forward to the day when families can come to the shelter after normal working hours (you close at 4:00 PM during the week) to select their new furry family member or claim their beloved lost pet.
“FixClermont will have you believe that euthanizing an animal is the fault of the Humane Society for its lack of creativity in finding resources to place these animals either with rescue groups or volunteers — temporary or permanent. But it is illogical to believe that enough reputable rescue organizations and enough volunteers could be found to place roughly 4,000 animals outside the shelter each year. Even if the number of animals coming into the shelter continues to decline, simply put, there are not enough reputable resources to make this happen. Separately, there are rescue organizations in our community that have been investigated by our humane agents due to complaints and charged with various violations because of the living conditions they offer their rescue animals.”
The experience from 89 (at this writing) Communities across America indicates otherwise (visit www.NoKillNews.org to read their stories). In each and every case it wasn’t the public that changed to achieve No Kill (defined as saving at least 90% of all the open-admission shelter animals), it was the policies and procedures at their open-admission shelter! Some of these communities are in the north, some in the south. Some are urban, some rural. Some are public shelters; some are private. Some are in what we call “blue” or left-leaning states and some are in very conservative parts of the country—at least one is in the reddest part of the reddest state. No matter the location, no matter the particular demographics of a Community, No Kill success nationwide proves that there is enough love and compassion for animals in every Community to overcome the irresponsibility of the few.
“CCHS will always look for ways to increase adoptions thereby reducing euthanasia rates (euthanasia rates also declined in 2012 from 2011). However, the efforts of FixClermont to deliberately attack the reputation of CCHS in the community diverts its attention from its mission and forces time to be spent on things such as this letter. Unfortunately, the ultimate victims in all this are the animals.”
If you’ve found anything on this web site or in the literature we’ve distributed that has specifically attacked the Clermont County “Humane” Society please bring it our attention so we can correct it. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to make the public aware of how their tax and philanthropic dollars are spent at our county shelter. Our movement for change is not about organizations or individuals; it is first and foremost about ideals. It’s not who is right but what is right that is at the heart of the debate. Defending the killing of animals when proven solutions exist to save them thwarts the reform that will end it.
“Currently, CCHS is in the midst of contract negotiations with the County to run the Animal Control Operation for 2013…negotiations which have been ongoing since October. Clearly, FixClermont has extraordinary access to these negotiations as evidenced by the fact that information coming out of each benchmark occurrence or meeting (though somewhat inaccurate) is almost immediately posted on their website. They have applied pressure to the County to persuade CCHS to adopt its unrealistic and more importantly, unsustainable “solutions”. The County does not have anything to do with nor pay for any of the Adoption Services performed at the animal shelter — those services are funded solely through your donations and our fundraising.”
The Clermont County “Humane” Society was paid $335,000 in 2012 by the residents of Clermont County (through their elected officials, the Board of County Commissioners) to provide animal control and shelter services for our animals. Page 2, section 2 of the County’s 2012 contract with the CCHS states clearly our Community funds the efforts and activities at our shelter.
We’ve made 2 requests of the Board of County Commissioners on behalf of the residents of Clermont County and their lost and homeless animals regarding the 2013 contract for animal control and shelter services:
- Shift hours of operation at the shelter to remain open 2 hours after normal working hours to permit families to redeem and adopt pets.
- Permit 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue organizations (similar to the CCHS) to pull animals from the euthanasia list.
These changes don’t seem “unreasonable” or “unrealistic” to us and we don’t think our Community will believe them to be so either. The single most meaningful measure for an open-admission animal shelter is their live save rate and ours is dismal. The 11 life-saving programs of the No Kill Equation WILL save more animals’ lives!
“It gives us no pleasure to bring all this to you yet we feel we must so if you should hear negative comments about the Clermont County Humane Society, you will have our side of the story as well. Please factor this information into your understanding of the real crux of the issue and do not be fooled by FixClermont’s “simple solution”. The proposal does not work – if it did, why aren’t Hamilton County and Butler County shelters and other surrounding shelter facilities adopting this solution!”
Please share the entire story – in April of 2012 a group of animal advocates attended the Board meeting of the Clermont County “Humane” Society to offer their support and assistance in implementing the programs of the No Kill Equation. In a subsequent meeting this group offered to pull kittens and puppies from the euthanasia list, to which they were told the Board must vote on the request at their May meeting. Sadly the cost of this delay was measured in the lives of kittens and puppies put down waiting for a vote. After the May Board meeting a representative for this group was told via email “we’ll get back to you if we have any additional questions”. No reply or inquiry for additional information was received as the “Humane” Society continues to kill for lack of time and space.
In January 2012 Beckey Reiter, Executive Director for the Boone County Kentucky (in our back yard) open-admission shelter, launched their No Kill Initiative. Having 20+ years of experience in the “save some and kill the rest mentality” she was apprehensive about how her Community would respond. The 2012 numbers for Boone County tell the story:
* With Reduced and Waived Fees
TRIPLE the volunteers hours, more than DOUBLE the donations and HIGHER income despite lowering and eliminating adoption fees!! Beckey will share the rest of Boone County’s story soon. Similar successes are experienced in every community that has achieved No Kill:
- Do Good Things for Animals
- Tell the Public
- Ask for the Public’s Help
- The Public will Support You.
Regarding what’s happening in Hamilton and Butler Counties – they’ll soon have organizations similar to Fix Clermont opening their eyes to the dramatic transformations that are occurring in other Communities and demanding the opportunity to save more shelter animals.
“For over 50 years, Clermont County Humane Society has provided a refuge for homeless animals with no place to go and just looking for love. Our mission hasn’t changed – we are still here to foster the adoption of unwanted animals and to enforce the humane treatment of all animals. Our board of directors and volunteer auxiliary is strong and growing. We must raise over $120,000 a year to support the animal shelter to care for and adopt out as many animals as possible. We accomplish this goal only through the generosity of our supporters and the countless man hours volunteered towards this cause. Our very capable and seasoned staff continues to care for and be an advocate for the animals that need us the most.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We value your support tremendously and hope we can continue to depend upon it.
The Board of Directors
Clermont County Humane Society”
We respect and value the commitment the Clermont County “Humane” Society has made to our Community, unfortunately that same level of commitment is no longer good enough. If a cure for a life-threatening human disease was discovered in another Community and the life-saving information was shared with the doctors in our Community, most would expect the doctor to seek out the source of the success and learn from their success in saving lives. Once the doctor feels confident that the “cure” can save lives, most would fully expect that doctor to treat his/her patients with this cure.
Thousands of healthy and treatable shelter animals (kittens, puppies, cats and dogs) are silently dying while the “seasoned” leadership at the Clermont County “Humane” Society continues to ignore, deny and push away the very solution that would enable them to fulfill their stated mission. Other Communities have demonstrated solutions that have ended the killing of animals for time and space and the residents of Clermont County deserve the opportunity to do the same.
The #1 most important aspect of the No Kill Equation has been demonstrated time and time again to be a “Hard Working, Compassionate Shelter Director/Leadership”. If after 42 years the CCHS is unable to affect the changes required to implement the 11 life-saving programs proven successful and sustainable in other Communities, maybe our Community needs fresh leadership willing to embrace new programs and solutions to save more shelter animals.
It’s past time to embrace these proven and sustainable life-saving programs and the animal loving public to save all the healthy and treatable open-admission shelter animals in Clermont County. We will continue to be the voice for the lives that have no voice. The homeless animals and Clermont County deserve nothing less!
Lou Holtz said it best “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.”