A few weeks ago, I was talking to an advocate about her quest to try to instigate shelter change in the large Midwest city in which she lives. It seems that there is some political will to take the community's shelter no kill, and they are exploring how best to implement change to set them up for success.
During the conversation, we talked about the different structures that communities have used to get to No Kill.
While the things you need to do to get to no kill are pretty much the same everywhere: low cost spay/neuter programs, increased adoptions, strong volunteer programs, foster programs, strong RTO programs, strong medical and behavioral programs, etc, the structure for this has varied a lot from community to community.
In Austin, TX they have a very high-functioning shelter, but also have a singular key not-for-profit partner that pulls hard-to-place animals from the shelter in a very strong partnership approach.
In places like Dekalb County, GA (Atlanta) with Lifeline Animal Project, or in Kansas City, with Kansas City Pet Project, not-for-profits have taken over the operations of the city-owned shelter facilities so that the public/private cooperation was able to get the community to no kill.
In a place like Washoe County, NV, the community achieved No Kill with a private shelter opening up adjacent to the county shelter. While the county shelter handles the stray intake, the animals are then transferred to the not-for-profit for adoption and transfers.
In places like Charlottesville, VA, they achieved No Kill when a not-for-profit entity, the Charlottesville SPCA, contracted with the city for sheltering services and worked out of a a building the not-for-profit owned. Lynchburg, VA achieved success using the same model.
In Jacksonville, FL, and Portland, OR, their transitions to No Kill Success happened with a coalition of several groups that worked together to achieve no kill - including the city shelter, a major rescue organization and low cost spay/neuter clinic. The coalition approach is the way No Kill LA is working to try to make positive changes in Los Angeles as well.
And in places like Williamson County, TX, they achieved no kill success when new leadership took over the county-owned shelter changed its own leadership and led the community to change as a county-run facility. The same has been mostly true (I think) in Baltimore County.
All of the different options can be a little overwhelming and confusing. So after discussing many of the different structures, the advocate asked: "Well, which model do you recommend??"
There are strengths and weaknesses of each model to be sure, and yet the single common thread that all of them have is that they have strong leadership that has access to the resources (shelter facilities and $$$) they need to succeed.
So my recommendation was to use whatever model that could get them the best leader connected with the most resources the fastest given the players, and politics in their community.
There are many different structures -- but I think all emerged differently based on how they were able to facilitate getting the right leaders connected with the right resources.
Given the political nature of your community, and the resources available, which model will get you there fastest?