The writing on the wall

I love so many things in life … but doing housework isn’t even on the bottom of that list.  When I get busy writing, the dust bunnies frolic behind the couch … casual visitors can easily spot the big dogs’ favourite windows by the noseprints and the oddest bits of things can collect on the kitchen counter.
At times like that, I’m always happiest to have familiar friends pop by.   First time visitors might not understand that that the dog coats on the back of the chairs and the dog booties dangling from the pot rack aren’t really a permanent fixture.  Honest!
Good friends aren’t going to gossip about that.  And anyone who does simply wasn’t much of a friend to begin with, in my books.
Animal rescue organizations and shelters of course want to present themselves in a good light.  Gossip can have a detrimental effect on everything from adoptions to fundraising.  It can even keep kind hearts from offering to volunteer.
Some groups attempt to prevent gossip by insisting that all their volunteers sign confidentiality agreements.   In some cases, this can really handcuff animal advocates who have to choose between being able to physically help the animals and bringing things to light.  
Canada is a separate country from the USA, so of course we have all of our own laws.  South of the Border, Section 1983 of their own laws have been used in a very ground breaking way to stop government officials and employees from retaliating against animal activists who speak out against conditions in animal shelters.
Another very effective tool that organizations have to prevent gossip is transparency.  When the shelter is an open  book, when impromptu visitors are encouraged to take a tour , when outspoken animal advocates are welcome to add their energy to the Board of Directors …. it becomes very easy to nip negative gossip in the bud.
Anything less only encourages suspicion, eh?
Its important to remember that at some point in time, most existing No Kill shelters had a journey to make … one that generally began with rebuilding their relationship with their community.   How did they do that? 
The Nevada Humane Society started with a series of Town Hall meetings and surveys to determine how the residents felt about their shelter. 
Was everything peachy keen?  Of course not.   There was a great deal of dissatisfaction and skepticism as to whether the shelter was doing all that it could to save lives.
That began a two year process of change.   A new director was hired who was committed to moving forward.   The entire management team was replaced.  Only three of the original seventy employees were allowed to remain.
This was only possible because the Board of Directors chose NOT to circle the wagons.  It was only by airing out the dark corners that any of this was able to happen. 
Sound radical?  Not when one realizes that these changes were possible because the community wanted change.   At the end of the day … change always has to be community focused … because without that any shelter is just a building which can be viewed with suspicion and distrust instead of being embraced and supported.
Sound like a “south of the border” solution?  Not when viewed in light of the wonderful progress that has been made by our own society at the provincial level.  None of that would have happened without a new and very determined BOD.
On another note …. anyone who follows the No Kill world has eyed with envy the wonderful No Kill Conferences that have become annual events.  If you have always wanted to attend, now there is a very cool thing being put on cooperatively between the No Kill Advocacy Center and Animal Ark … No Kill Webinars .  For an incredibly modest fee of twenty five dollars, anyone can register for the first one on Oct 22, the topic of which is Reforming Animal Control 
A second session on “TNR and Other Programs to Save Community Cats” is scheduled for November 12th.
What time is it?  Its always time to recognize the truth of the old saw … if at first you don’t succeed…. try and try again”
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.  Samuel Adams

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