While I was familiar with Austin's story, it was great to hear from someone who's boots were on the ground, creating success in Austin.
As a part of her presentation, she presented the chart to the left (and it is with her permission I'm sharing it). I love this chart because I think it is a really clear way to demonstrate what it looks like to achieve no kill in an open admission shelter. The data on the chart, while Dr. Jefferson acknowledges is "not scientific", I think does give a feel for what a shelter population looks like -- based on her experience in Austin. The numbers in Kansas City were very similar.
So, starting at the bottom of the pyramid you have the 50% that were already being saved. When Austin Pets Alive really started working toward No Kill, the shelter had a save rate of 50% -- so they didn't necessarily need help with those animals. They were highly adoptable, and were, in fact, being adopted. In Kansas City, the save rate was about 60% when we took over, so we were in pretty similar shape.
APA then recognized that there was another 10-15% of the population that was healthy, highly adoptable, and fairly easy to find homes for. The targeted that group first as a way to make the highest impact in lives saved with the fewest amount of resources (which were very scarce at the time).
They then identified another 10-15% of the population that were desireable dogs and cats, with minor needs. These may be animals with fairly fixable issues like ringworm, or needed slight behavior modification, etc.
They then identified approximately 5% of the population that were underage kittens and puppies that needed foster care, bottle feeding, etc in order to become old enough to be adopted.
There was then 5% of the population that were critically ill (mentally or physically) or injured. At the top were 10% of the population that were chronic, with behavioral or health problems that an animal would never fully recover from.
I really like this chart because I think it's an easy to think about No-Kill in terms of the 90% saved goal -- with the assumption that 90% are easily savable, and the other 10% are clearly not saveable.
However, it's a lot less clear than that.
While 80% or so fall under the desirabe/easily savable category, the remaining 20% (ish) falls under a graduating scale of health and behavioral issues that range from treatable with extra time/work/resources and not ever treatable. Many are highly adoptable after a significant amount of training, or medical work (like treating parvo, or recovery from amputations, gun shot wounds, etc). Others may never be fully healthy.
This graduating scale is often why you see many shelters that are working to get to No Kill hit 80% save rates fairly quickly, but struggle to get to the last 10% and you see a growing list of shelters with about 85% save rates -- including shelters like KC Pet Project and Manatee County, FL. While some smaller shelters are able to help these animals more quickly, because the 10% equals about 10-20 animals, for a shelter like Austin, the animals in this grey area equal about 1600 animals -- which is a lot of resources (veterinary, foster homes, financial and time) to come up with. It's also why you don't see "no kill overnight" happening (yet) in large shelters.
So while 90% (or higher) is achievable, it may take some time to develop the financial/personnel/capital resources to make it happen.
Thanks to Dr. Jefferson for letting me share this and I'm curious if this chart mirrors what you're seeing in your own communities in your open-admission shelters. It sure resembled what we see here in Kansas City, as well as in Austin.