When I started in animal welfare, I started where most people start (and where most people stay) -- in rescue.
Rescue was great - -you got to spend a lot of time with dogs, foster, and see them off into their forever homes.
But rescue just wasn't for me. I found it frustrating that with so many animals in our shelter that I couldn't help. It felt like the move Ground Hog day, no matter how many dogs I rescued, there were still more....and there appeared to be no end in sight.
So I focused my efforts more toward advocacy and working with cities about laws. My thinking was that if I could get just one breed ban repealed, or stop one from happening, or if I could convince one city to no pass mandatory spay/neuter, I could save hundreds, or thousands of dogs -- which I could never do with rescue.
While I still believe this to be the case, I think I've created an interesting bridge between my two schools of thought. Several years ago, after facing the reality that the city of Kansas City was never going to effectively run their animal shelter, we (among other people) pushed for them to privatize its operation. They did, and the move proved to save literally thousands of animal lives.
Then, when the selected vendor was proving to not be worked out, we, along with this time MANY others, pushed for them to change vendors.
This time, I became part of a group that assembled to bid on the shelter contract...and we won.
Now, as we work through the transition in taking over the shelter, it's common for me to think about what big break through can take this still high-kill shelter, and turn it into a no kill shelter. But this post, from Seth Godin, definitely created a different perspective. In the post, he comments that waiting for the breakthrough moment almost never happens:
"Of course, it almost never happens that way. Products and services succeed one person at a time, as the word slowly spreads. Customers defect one person at a time, as hearts are broken and people are disappointed. Doors open, sure, but not all at once. One at a time.
One at a time is a little anticlimactic and difficult to get in a froth over, but one at a time is how we win and how we lose."
Of course, getting this shelter to No Kill is going to happen one at a time. One adoption at a time. One owner at a time who comes into the shelter who we help to keep their dog instead of surrendering. One potential adopter at a time that we could deny adoption but instead, help them to learn what they need to learn to become a responsilbe pet owner. One pet shipped to rescue at a time. One person we convince to adopt vs buy at a time. One person at a time that we convince to spay or neuter that otherwise wouldn't have.
And each "one at a time" will add up to a whole lot of lives saved.
It's hard for me to change my perspective....but I'm getting there. This doesn't mean that I don't still think advocacy is important -- I very much still do. And still think it can help save hundreds, if not thousands of lives at a time. But getting to no kill is not going to be a breakthrough -- it's going ot happen one pet, and one adopter at a time.