After three months of work by Cleveland for a No Kill City, Cleveland Animal Control is reporting that 80 percent of dogs and cats have gotten out of the pound alive this year, the group said.
At this same point in August 2011, only 24 percent of animals had gotten out alive, according to numbers released on Friday.
"This change is the result of direct action," Betti Gravelle, a Cleveland for a No Kill City activist, said. "Many of us in this group had been involved in rescue work and asking for change for many years. The difference this time is that we didn't ask for change, we created an alternative and made change happen."
By this point in 2011, Cleveland Animal Control had received 880 animals. This compares to 913 at this point in 2012. At the end of August 2011, 679 had been killed. At the end of August 2012, 180 had been killed.
Ms. Gravelle, who is also director of Dixie Day Spay, Cleveland's non-profit spay/neuter clinic, said Cleveland Animal Control probably has the best save rate of any pound in the southeast, and likely in the nation with the exception of the New England region and those 50 communities that have already been certified as no kill.
Another of the activists, Lindsey Smith, said that the work of Cleveland for a No Kill City "is truly a movement in Bradley County. "There is no way to stop it now. The change has happened."
Ms. Smith said she attributes a lot of the success to the relationships that have been formed with animal control employees and their willingness to embrace the change Cleveland for a No Kill City has brought.
Cleveland for a No Kill City is organized into several working groups that are addressing the 11 individual steps of the No Kill Equation. Among these working groups is one that is comprised of photographers who visit the pound every day to take photos of each animal that is in the pound. These photos are then shared through social media in an effort to find adopters or rescue groups for the dogs and cats.
"Facebook and Twitter have made revolutions around the world possible," activist Beth Foster said. "They also made the No Kill Revolution happen in Bradley County. We took these animals' stories to the community and the community has saved them."
A member of the phone working group is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer telephone calls and emails from potential adopters and rescue organizations. Before animal control opens each morning, a member of this working group faxes a list of all of the animals who have adopters or rescue organizations coming for them.
Jessica Tharpe, organizer of the phone working group, said it's a giant network of people who have made Cleveland for a No Kill City's work successful.
"Most often, people see two or three people out front, but the workers in this group are hundreds deep," Ms. Tharpe said. "While the bulk of those who are active are in Bradley County and surrounding areas, the network of people who are trying to move this community to no kill are nationwide."
She said, "Everyone is thrilled that in three short months, Cleveland for a No Kill City has moved Cleveland Animal Control to an 80 percent save rate. But we're not declaring victory yet. We can't do that until we can really call ourselves a No Kill community. Until that day comes, there will be a lifeline for these animals at the end of the phone line. That's our commitment."
As part of marking its three-month anniversary, Cleveland for a No Kill City also launched a website and released its new logo. The group's processes, working groups, calendar of events and additional information can be found on the website at clevelandnokill.com.
Despite the good news and the launch of the website and logo, there was little time for activists to celebrate. As of Monday morning, Cleveland Animal Control was at maximum capacity for cats and kittens and some of these animals have to be gotten out of the pound in the next two days. There are also many dogs and puppies looking for homes, though the number of cats is the most critical situation facing the group Monday morning.
A working group is devoted to finding barns where less socialized and feral cats can be placed after they are spayed/neutered and vaccinated. In return for a roof over their heads and a bowl of cat chow each day, these cats will provide environmentally-friendly, non-toxic rodent control. If you have an outbuilding, shed or barn that could accommodate cats, please contact Cleveland for a No Kill City. There is no adoption fee for cats placed through the barn cat working group, but in order to qualify you must be able to accommodate at least five cats on your property.
Officials said, "There are several different ways you can save a dog or cat at Cleveland Animal Control. Visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/clevelandforanokillcity and follow instructions there to adopt a pet. You don't have to have a Facebook account to access the page. For more information, call Cleveland for a No Kill City at (423) 464-6070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."
Animal control is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday for adoptions, and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Animal control is located at 360 Hill Street SE.
Cleveland for a No Kill City will be holding an adoption event at Petco in Cleveland on Saturday.
Sponsorships of adoption fees also save lives and can be made to three funds at animal control: adoption sponsorship, barn cat sponsorship or wounded/sick animals sponsorship.