It's been one heck of a year. There has been so much progress that has been made over the past year - -in moving toward No Kill, and in moving forward at eliminating BSL. I think you'll be amazed at some of the key events throughout the year at just exacly how far we've come -- and how quickly.
Congrats to everyone for all of their extremely hard work, dedication, and love for the animals that has led to the progress. Much more work to do pop a cork and celebrate the year that was. This is definitely not an all-inclusive list as mostly it has been pulled from my blog archives. Feel free to post other signicant news stories and events throughout the year in the comments section below.
In Ohio, HB 14 was re-introduced to repeal breed specific legislation in the state. Ohio is the only state in the nation with a breed-specific policy...and this reintroduction of a bill to repeal that started our year. The bill eventually passed the House of Representatives, and is currently on the Senate floor in Ohio.
Early in the year, the Vick dogs continued to make a huge impact in changing public perception -- as they appeared on the PBS Special Need to Know.
Cities like Aurora, CO and Denver, CO continued to struggle with their breed specific laws as they struggled to deal with the American's with Disabilities Act's requirement that local governments must allow for service dogs -- regardless of breed. Aurora's city leaders even mislead people about dog bite numbers in order to try to convince them the ban was the right thing to do.
Several more communities began celebrating their no kill success stories. Austin, TX celebrated it's first no kill month with a 92% save rate, and Alleghany County, MD celebrated 3 months with a 94% save rate. Two other cities, Sangamon County (IL) and Lynchburg, VA announced their own success.
Kansas City, MO decided to terminate the shelter contract with their current shelter management after allogations of abusive situtiations at the shelter (the former management was absolved of all complaints) -- and ended up taking the next 5 months seeking a new vendor. I had no idea at the time how much my life would change with this news.
The Oklahoma Supreme court failed to take up an appeal by the city of Midwest City, Ok -- basically causing Midwest city to have to get rid of its breed ban. A lower court had ruled that the law violated the state law prohibiting breed bans -- but Midwest City appealed the law and has spent taxpayer funds for four years trying to keep their ban only to be ultimately denied.
Several Connecticut cities made the move to No Kill -- and have been very successful in doing so.
After many complications with the ADA, Aurora, CO repealed its ban on 7 breeds of dogs - -however they inexplicably kept it for 3 breeds of dogs.
In November 2010, Missouri voters pass Prop B -- a bill that put major limitations on puppy mills in the state. In a whirlwind Senate/House/Governor agreement, the state assembly made dramatic changes to the law. Most of the local organizations were supportive of the changes, but the national orgs were (and continue to be) upset by the changes. But in the process of making the changes, the state added some much-needed enforcement measures that were very much needed -- including adding $1 million to the budget for more enforcement, in spite of $50 million in budget shortfalls state wide following several natural disasters.
The city of Denver changed their law regarding service dogs in response to pending lawsuits following the Department of Justice ruling on service dogs for the ADA.
On May 22, a massive tornado wiped out a huge stretch of the community of Joplin. Thousands of families lost their homes, pets, loved ones, etc. Animal welfare groups from across the nation went to Joplin to help the animal welfare community there to do their best to reunite pets with their families and to find new homes for ones that couldn't be reunited.
Cleveland, OH repealed their breed-specific law that had been on the books since 1999 and changed the law to be a behavior-based law. Cumberland, BC followed suite and repealed their law requiring certain breeds of dogs to be muzzled.
This has been an ongoing story for the year, but the complete failure of the city of Memphis to provide even adequate animal sheltering for its homeless animals was a huge story for the year. Allegations of employees stealing dogs, using dogs for dog fighting, animal cruelty, high kill rates, etc were all exposed by advocates leading to hopefully some positive change in the city of Memphis
A month after the disasterous tornado in Joplin, the Joplin Humane Society with the help of many organizations held an adopt-a-thon for all pets that couldn't be reunited with their owners. Over the adoption weekend, 745 pets were adopted -- all completely vetted and with no adoption fee -- and lines of people waited to get inside the adoption facility to meet their new pet.
In Monroe, MI, four dogs that were taken from an abuse situation received a behavior evaluation and were sentenced to death by a behaviorist -- in spite of video of the testing showing the dogs to be friendly. The video evidence ended up saving the day and local organizations were allowed to save all four dogs.
The No Kill Advocacy Center held its annual no kill conference in Washington DC -- with 300 people who attended to hear about the success stories of some of the most successful shelter operations in the country.
A new academic paper was published about behvioral challenges that come when dogs are removed from their litters too young.
In August, a tragic incident caused a huge amount irrational hysteria -- and the entire country was looking at breed-specific restrictions.
After months of an RFP process, the city of Kansas City, MO decided on a new vendor to run the Kansas City, MO animal shelter. The group was a new group that I am lucky to be a part of that was formed solely to run the city shelter.
A year after the city of Topeka repealed its ban on particular breeds of dogs, the city saw a 24% decrease in euthanasia.
The US Department of Justice issued a new publication entitled "The problem of dog-related incidents and encounters" -- a manual that is designed to educate law enforcement officers about canine behavior and hopefully prevent their injury in the field, and unnecessary deaths by dogs.
A bill that would repeal the United Kingdom's 20 year old breed ban was passed by the House of Lords -- and now awaits hearing at the House of Commons.
In a move that clearly drew a line in the sand, the ASPCA called No Kill an "Extremist Agenda".
A stray dog named Ace wandered up to a hardware store in Detroit and the store owner took Ace to the city shelter -- not realizing that the Detroit Animal Shelter had a policy that they kill all pit bulls that are not reclaimed by their owner. In spite of many rescue groups that stepped forward offering to help Ace, and a court injunction that was supposed to prevent his death, he was killed by the shelter anyway -- highlighting a policy that is shared by many shelters and is a reason for a lot of unnecessary killing in this country.
A bill in Ontario was introduced and will move forward in Ontario to repeal the its Provencial breed ban that has been in effect since 2005. The bill has been sponsored by members of all 3 political parties, which is a huge plus in a very difficult political climate.
A judge ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act trumps local laws when it comes to allowing dogs of all breeds to become service dogs. So in spite of a local breed ban, service dogs are to be permitted. The case involved a dog named Snickers who was taken from his owner under a localized breed ban. The owner is a retired Vietnam Veteran and Chicago police officer.
What were your top stories from the year? Please feel free to post in the comments.