The No Kill Conference 2009 an Amazing Success

The No Kill Conference 2009 an Amazing Success

Almost a year ago I started The No Kill Nation website in the hopes that it could become a voice and a resource for No Kill advocates from across the country and the world. To get the site going we started by asking people to contribute answers to the question:

What is No Kill?

Although the answer seems clear to those of us who live and breathe it, it is a term that has been misused and misapplied. Then those very same people who have misused and misapplied the term claim that the public doesn’t understand what it is.

  • No Kill has been described by those who claim to be working on behalf of companion animals as impossible, divisive, or something no organization should even strive to achieve;  
  • No Kill has been called a fraud, a pipe dream thought up by crazy rescue folks, something not to be taken seriously by “real” animal advocates or attempted by “real” shelters;
  • No Kill has been sidelined, labelled a “special project” for shelters and rescues who limited their admissions or a philosophy that equaled warehousing with poor care as a result. 

The answers to our question one year ago were heartfelt:

I bought into the Humane Society rhetoric that it was better to provide a humane death because there just weren’t enough homes for them all, but it always bothered me to think that perfectly wonderful animals were dying. I thought I was alone. But, I’m not … Connie Swaim

Connie was not alone then and she is surely not alone now. As the first No Kill Conference has come to an end we have officially entered a new era.  The conference sold out two months in advance. I was bombarded with requests from both friends and complete strangers to help get them in the door. Many people bought plane tickets, flew into DC or drove for hours just in the hopes of getting in the door even though registration was closed and the conference declared full.

What does it all mean? It means that in 2009 we have a new answer to the question, “What is No Kill?”:

  • No Kill is an unstoppable movement that must be taken seriously;
  • No Kill is embraced by open admission, limited admission, private and municipal animal control shelters;
  • No Kill communities have been achieved with more successes in every type of community;
  • No Kill is not the fantasy of unstable activists on the fringe of animal welfare but a mainstream movement comprised of professionals - attorneys, veterinarians, shelter administrators and more;
  • No Kill is, in the words of Rich Avanzino, the father of the No Kill movement: inevitable.

Rich Avanzino and Nathan Winograd together for the keynote address

What was most striking about the conference was the intelligence level of the attendees. This was not a naive audience who could be bought off with a happy kitty story and a round of kumbaya singing. They wanted solid answers and they wanted tools to take home and put to use. They were professionals, activists, shelter administrators, attorneys, animal control officers … you name it, they were all there.

All I can say is I’m excited about the movement to end the senseless killing of dogs and cats in our shelters.  I’m excited by how many people are involved. I’m excited that as a country we’re as close as we are to achieving this goal (even though it may not seem like it at times). Brent Toellner

Didn’t make it to the conference? Unlike any animal welfare conference I’ve attended before, this one was intensively covered by writers and bloggers helping spread the word to those who couldn’t make it. In that respect, the modern concept of No Kill was well reflected in up-to-the-moment methods of communication. You can read more about it here:

Driving by on the way back to the hotelCoincidentally our hotel was right down the street from the headquarters of the country’s wealthiest animal welfare and protection organization.

Despite the close proximity, they were noticably absent from the event although I heard that someone from the organization was there. In passing their building late at night after dinner I had a brief but exhilarating feeling … as if I was a part of a new party, elected to office

… the change had come and it was our town now.

I am certain that many people left DC motivated and armed to make change in their communities and they won’t be taking no for an answer.

They will find a way.

It’s their town now.

Can anyone say No Kill Conference 2010?  Let’s see a show of hands!

UPDATE: More Conference Links

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2 Responses to “The No Kill Conference 2009 an Amazing Success”

  1. This news is so wonderful that tears are flowing. It is a good time and will be a better time for the pets in the US. Thanks for making this report and this blog. The more people read about no-kill and how it is working to save pets’ lives the more they will demand the same from their local animal shelters. Thank you!

  2. Rob Anderson says:

    Sue wrote: Can anyone say No Kill Conference 2010? Let’s see a show of hands!

    I’m waving *both* my hands in favor of No Kill Conference 2010. We know ‘09 sold out, we know there will probably be twice (or more) as many attendees in ‘10. And we know what a difference it makes for the No Kill Community to be able to gather in one place. Yes, please…thank you, may I have another?

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