Originally Published: August 31, 2011 9:53 p.m.
This past Saturday, Aug. 27, was a milestone for the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS). The Reigning Cats and Dogs Gala at the Prescott Resort was an unprecedented success. More than 350 people came together to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of the past year and raise funds to help continue YHS's many life-saving programs. The final record-breaking tally will be announced soon.
Many of the celebrated accomplishments of the past year are tangible, such as the new state-of-the-art cattery, industrial laundry equipment, a professional grooming station and a sophisticated solar power installation. Cumulatively valued at more than $150,000, these amenities provide additional evidence of the community's support for YHS.
Another cause for celebration came from a report in the current issue of Animal People magazine, identifying our community as the safest in Arizona for pets due to our having achieved the lowest animal shelter kill rate in the state.
Recently, I was asked the reason for YHS's amazing success. It all began with a change in attitude - "a little thing that makes a big difference," to quote Winston Churchill. The change began a little more than a year ago when YHS attracted a distinguished and compassionate board of directors. This board embraced a no-kill ethic and allowed the YHS management team to implement that ethic in practical ways - ways that made an immediate, measurable, and sustained difference that continues to improve month after month.
The no-kill ethic is defined as using the same criteria a loving pet owner or a compassionate veterinarian would use when deciding if or when an animal should be euthanized. This attitude helps ensure only pets who are irremediably suffering or dangerously aggressive are ever euthanized. With a 94 percent live release rate and a 72 percent reduction in the killing, some might argue that YHS has accomplished what it set out to do. However, achieving no-kill is not an Olympic moment in which you accomplish a set goal and then rest on your laurels. No-kill is a marathon, a never-ending race to stay one step ahead of the grim reaper. This pursuit is sustained by programs that affirm and reaffirm the intrinsic value of every life.
Programs like the Big Fix that provides affordable spay/neuter surgery to pets belonging to our indigent population; STAR (Special Treatment And Recovery), which provides medical care to rescued animals suffering from treatable injuries or illnesses; New Hope, which maximizes the limited resources of local rescue groups in a coordinated effort to save the greatest number of animals most at risk; and Heart to Heart, which ensures every possibility to place an animal is explored and exhausted.
At their worst, programs simply promote mindless mechanics. At their best, programs are inspired by a living and contagious idea. No-kill is such an idea, and it is taking root throughout our community.
In the words of journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell, we are experiencing "that magic moment when an idea crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." This year's Reigning Cats and Dogs Gala was a manifestation of this phenomenon.
I want to thank Don and Shirl Pence for their long-standing and visionary support of YHS and the no-kill ideal; to paraphrase Leon Russell, "Their vision of us is what we had always hoped to be."
YHS is also grateful for the extraordinary support of our two Champion sponsors - Olsen's Grain and Hooligan's Pub - and our Benefactor sponsor, The Alarm Connection. In addition, we are grateful to Whiskers Barkery, the National Bank of Arizona, Prescott Dog, Weber's Insurance, Jebco Building Systems, LPL Financial, Energy Savings Heating & Cooling, and Invisible Fence for supporting our no-kill ethic.
If you would like to participate in this life-saving revolution, please make a donation to YHS and consider YHS in your planned giving. Together, with the help of our sponsors, donors, grantors, employees, volunteers and partners, we will win this marathon.