Savannah Shelter Puts in the Hard Work to Change from a Pet Killing Facility to a Lifesaving Shelter

A recent article in the Jackson Sun looks at the commitment to lifesaving at the Savannah Animal Shelter in TN.  Charlie Nickle, director of the shelter, said that 3 years ago the primary focus of the facility was impounding homeless pets and killing them.  But things have improved greatly:

From Nov. 1, 2011, to Nov. 1 this year, the shelter took in 657 animals and euthanized 29 of them. The remainder were adopted.

That’s a 96% live release rate.  Mr. Nickle attributes the dramatic change to a number of factors:

“We tried to look at placements and adoptions instead of killing them,” he said. “We’ve been very successful in that. We’re very proud of that.”

He credits the efforts of staff and volunteers working the phones and networking animals online as well as a good relationship with the city commission, a strong spay-neuter program and a new benefactor.  In addition, Robin Haspiel, shelter coordinator, says the convenient location of the new building has been helpful.

So to recap, in the views of people who work at the Savannah shelter and have been part of the turnaround, the success can be attributed to staff and volunteers committed to lifesaving instead of killing, building good political relationships, efforts to make spay-neuter accessible to the community and a good location.

For an outsider’s view, the paper turned to the Collierville Animal Shelter director:

Nina Wingfield, a Collierville resident and president of the Animal Control Association of Tennessee, said Savannah is an example of a community that has rallied to support a public animal shelter.

“It’s been turned around,” she said. “It just takes money. A city can’t continue thinking it doesn’t need one. I have no problem with euthanasia, I just don’t have to do it much here. We just got behind spay-neuter education. Euthanasia is putting a Band-Aid on a gushing wound. It’s just creating more animal issues. … There are just not enough homes for all these animals.”

It just takes money?  That’s not what the people doing it said.

By the way, how comforted is everyone to know that the president of the ACA in TN has “no problem” with pet killing?  As for the notion that killing pets is “putting a band-aid on a gushing wound” – ouch.  If death is your band-aid, I’d hate to look inside your first aid kit.

But this is what you get when you buy into the old “not enough homes” myth.  Killing is your solution.  Money is your elusive friend.  The public is your enemy.

The Collierville shelter’s website says they offer a “comprehensive pet adoption service”:

It is not the Animal Shelter’s intent to make pet ownership seem inexpensive or unrealistically easy.

Which puts me in mind of Ms. Wingfield’s earlier quote, “I have no problem with” pet killing.

Right.  That’s the problem.

(Thank you Clarice for sending me this article.)

Leave a comment

9 Comments

  1. Callie Fitzgerald

     /  December 10, 2012

    It’s nice to see that at least the Savannah Animal Shelter has the right idea. It’s great to hear of a good shelter director in Tennessesee.

    Reply
  2. At a 96% save rate – obviously there are enough homes despite this sage’s pearls of wisdom.

    Reply
  3. mikken

     /  December 10, 2012

    Wow, Ms. Wingfield really missed the point on this one, didn’t she?

    Hurray for Mr. Nickle and his decision to change the direction of the shelter! Without that mindset, all the money in the world won’t make a damn bit of difference in your kill rates (*coughcough*Memphis*cough*).

    So what does it take to save lives? The will to do it. Nickle’s got it, Wingfield doesn’t.

    Reply
  4. First, you have to WANT to. Another small oasis in an all-to-barren landscape.

    Reply
  5. so all that needs to be done is get rid of all the shelter directors that can’t get it threw their pea brains .. “that No-Kill can be done” I think shelter directors should be elected ,,not hired… just a thought

    Reply
  6. Jennifer

     /  December 10, 2012

    Those phone calls and online networking must cost a lot of money!

    The ACA has its own agenda and it is strictly about animal control. Here is its mission from its website: http://www.tnanimalcontrol.org/index-1.html
    Our Mission
    To improve the methods and standards of the animal control profession on a statewide basis, to inform the public of the true nature and importance of the work performed by animal control organizations, to cooperate with other public agencies dealing in animal control, and to promote justice and equity in the enforcement of animal control laws.

    Reply
    • Don’t see even a remote reference to the welfare of animals or keeping them healthy, returning them to owners or getting them adopted. This kind of mission statement is nothing but pure BS – and means nothing much as far as practicalities go. Sounds like they were told to write something, so they did.
      BAH HUMBUG!!!

      Reply
  1. Foothills Humane Society is a shelter to love | FixNC

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