Tagged: Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America

Maryville animal shelter proves ‘No Kill’ model is possible in Tenn.

The Maryville animal shelter, which serves the cities of Maryville, Alcoa and Rockford, Tenn., has the only no kill government program in the state with a save rate of 90 percent or better.

Steve Phipps, the founder and president of the Blount County Humane Society (BCHS), said, “We’ve always been above 90 percent, which is the benchmark for saying that you’re ‘no kill.’ … Ninety percent is just a goal. There’s no reason why you can’t do 96, 97, 98, 99 and even 100 percent. And so we take that seriously. Every dog and cat is an individual.”

Eddie King, the director of the Maryville animal shelter, said, “When I first started doing this [26] years ago … we [were] doing 3,500 to 4,000 a year, coming into the shelter. I’d say … maybe 95 or 90 [percent] of that was being put to sleep. Now if you can imagine that’s what we did everyday here first thing in the mornings. Now fast forward to 2015, we’re not doing anything, and it’s thanks to the Blount County Humane Society.”

Phipps said, “Maryville, Tenn., is the safest community for shelter pets in America today – right now. For 2014, we have a 100 percent save rate.”

BCHS collaborates with the Maryville animal shelter to ensure that all of the animals that enter the shelter are released alive. The Shelter Pet Project team takes photos of any new animals received by the shelter to put on the BCHS Facebook page.

King said, “It’s been a 100 percent blessing because, [for] everything that comes in here, Steve’s group comes in here, takes pictures, information, and it goes automatically that day onto Facebook. And I can’t tell you how many times we found the owner [or] we’ve got an adoption because it’s on Facebook.”

After Phipps created the BCHS in 2003, he was the director of a low-cost spay/neuter clinic but learned specific details of the No Kill Movement when he read ‘Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America’ by Nathan Winograd.

He said, “Changed my whole perspective. Changed my life as it has many people’s as far as their role in animal protection.

“It opened my eyes, and I was like, ‘Well, there aren’t too many pets for the homes that we have in America. As a matter of fact, we have a surplus of homes, and the breakdown is we don’t have a pet overpopulation.’ We have shelter overcrowding due to poor shelter performance. …”

Phipps also started the national No Kill Revolution organization in 2009, to promote the principles and strategies of Winograd’s no kill model of shelter management.

He said, “The moral of the story is pretty much any dog can be rehabilitated to go into a family if you choose the family correctly and with much care. We believe in the no kill movement that pretty much any dog can be rehabilitated, and, if they can’t be, we still have a moral obligation not to kill that dog. And that’s where sanctuary comes in. That’s why it’s so important for us to have a sanctuary for dogs.”

Since the BCHS started working directly with Maryville Animal Control, Police Chief Tony Crisp has initiated several changes on his own.

King said, “Back in the day, it was three days if a stray animal came in, five days if it had a tag on it – or if we knew who it was, we’d hold it five days. Chief stepped up and says, ‘We’re going to do a 20-day hold for all animals. Period.’

“It’s been great. And, again, this really couldn’t take place without the help of Steve Phipps and his group. Because after that 20 days is up, they step in, and they find a home.”

Phipps said, “When we first started, we were working with the domestic dogs and cats. Our secret ambition was to save the feral cats because that’s part of the no kill model. … And so [the chief] approached us again. We had it in the plans to approach them, but they beat us to the punch. They said, ‘We’ll let you have the feral cats under one condition. You cannot release them back into the city limits.’

“And so we started a barn cat program, which we studied, and learned that it was the next best step.”

In the barn cat program, BCHS finds farmers who want to control rodents in an Eco-friendly way. The humane society has the feral cats spayed or neutered. They place the cats in barns in the surrounding areas of the city in kennels for two weeks to acclimate them to their surroundings.

Phipps said, “We’ve had a really good rate of feral cats staying there. We’ve maybe had five that owners say just took off to parts unknown and never saw them again. But they’re feral cats. They know how to survive, and now they can’t reproduce. So we feel like that’s the model that works for us here.”

Phipps and King believe that the Maryville program is one that can be adopted anywhere in Tennessee.

“Go out there an talk with your shelter,” said Phipps, “and, if they’ll work with you, work with them with the ultimate goal – and this can happen overnight – it’s not a five-year program though I see a lot of communities say, ‘Well, seven years down the road we’re going to be ‘no kill.’

“That’s a cop out. You can achieve no kill in one year or less if you’re serious. And the reason I say that is because it’s been done over and over. There are over 250 communities in America now that have no kill shelters.

Phipps said, “In Cumberland County, it can happen. We’re proof that it can happen, so take heart. Get out there and do the things that it takes.”

A Time 4 Paws, a non-profit organization located in Crossville, Tenn., also wants to establish a long-term community partnership with the Cumberland County animal shelter in order to prevent the killing of homeless animals. The group needs volunteers in a variety of areas to make this plan a reality. For more information, contact AT4P at 931-456-6906, at savetnpets@gmail.com or on Facebook.

Successful no kill animal programs show change possible for Cumberland County

A Time 4 Pets (www.at4p.org)

A Time 4 Paws is a non-profit organization committed to establishing the no-kill animal philosophy in Cumberland County, Tenn.

Karen McMeekin, president of AT4P, said that in 2004, the county and city shelters were killing 85 to 90 percent of the dogs and cats they brought in. In order to reduce these numbers, she often transported large numbers of animals to out-of-state no-kill rescue organizations.

McMeekin discovered the book “Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America” (2009). Nathan Winograd, the director of the No Kill Advocacy Center, presents a researched-based plan that can change shelters across the U.S. to increase their save rates to 90 percent or better. He has also produced a movie based on “Redemption” that will be shown in theaters this summer.

Winograd’s text gave McMeekin hope for a new plan for Cumberland County, and, at her own expense, she visited successful no-kill programs in Utah, Texas and Florida to learn how to implement the same initiative in Tennessee.


Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) in Kanab, Utah, has been a prominent model for no-kill animal programs since 1984. Founders committed themselves to sheltering homeless animals until they were adopted and educating the public about the routine and unnecessary euthanasia protocols in U.S. shelters.

Board member Gregory Castle has served as BFAS’s CEO since 2010. However, as a co-founder of BFAS, he has been advocating for no kill animal programs for 30 years. He believes that communities can eliminate unnecessary euthanasia of homeless animals with organized programs. Through No More Homeless Pets in Utah, another organization he founded, his team developed programs for animal care education, low-cost spaying and neutering and pet adoptions.


Austin Pets Alive! in Austin, Texas, is managed by Executive Director Dr. Ellen Jefferson. She has led Austin to be “the largest No Kill city in the United States.” APA! has a 91 percent save rate, which translates to more than 6,000 animals annually. The center regularly plans broad, creative programs to save at-risk companion animals.

Since 1988, the Animal Refuge Center (ARC) in Ft. Myers, Fla., has provided an alternative to euthanasia of unwanted dogs and cats. They ensure that all animals are treated, rehabilitated and given an opportunity to be adopted. For dogs and cats that are never adopted, ARC is committed to providing them with lifetime sanctuary.


Closer to Crossville, the Blount County Humane Society in Maryville, Tenn., has established itself as a no-kill program in Tennessee with a verified save rate of 99 percent in 2014. The group offers a variety of leadership and supporting volunteer opportunities and is very active in promoting its philosophy through social media. Citizens can offer support as on -the-ground members of the Friends of the Animals Advisory Team and financially through the Bark-N-Purr Club.

For board members and other volunteers with AT4P, the goal for a true no-kill animal facility with the Cumberland County government is very realistic. However, they know that they must continue educating the community about the statistics and the proven successes of other programs to counteract the long-standing mindset of pet overpopulation that must be controlled with euthanasia.

A Time 4 Paws brings no-kill philosophy to Cumberland Co., Tenn.

Animal shelters across the U.S. put down millions of animals annually because they have not found homes for these dogs and cats within a small window of time. While shelters have improved their save rate to a national average of 65 percent, no-kill adoption centers are forming in both urban and rural areas to improve this statistic to 99 percent. Staff members and volunteers with A Time 4 Paws, located in Crossville, Tenn., believe that through education they can change this community into one that embraces the no-kill philosophy.

In 2004, Karen McMeekin, founder of A Time 4 Paws, joined the local Humane Society as a board member when the county and city shelter’s were euthanizing 85 to 90 percent of their animals. McMeekin said, “What I started doing was making transports out of the county up north to facilities that would accept them. I transported in my truck and my horse trailer 30 to 40 to 50 animals at a time.”

McMeekin said, “When I was running the Humane Society [in Cumberland County] for three months, we were completely no-kill. We killed nothing. We saved 42 upper-respiratory cats and every animal that had Parvo in there. [Elizabeth Chaste] and I took 12-hour shifts laying on the floor with Parvo dogs, giving them medications that they needed to save every one of them.

McMeekin and Chaste met when they were board members for the Humane Society. They read “Redemption” by Nathan Winograd, the founder of the No-Kill Advocacy Center and strategically planned to implement this way of thinking in Cumberland County.

“[A Time 4 Paws] became a non-profit 501(c)(3) in 2005. We then decided that we should learn other ways – rather than transporting animals north. We felt that we would be killing other animals up north by bringing ours there, so we educated ourselves on the no-kill philosophy.”

McMeekin visited Best Friends Animal Society in Utah and other organizations in Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C. to learn how to develop a no-kill community.

According to the No Kill Advocacy Center in Oakland, Calif., more than 23 million people adopt pets annually, and shelters kill approximately three million dogs and cats every year because they are not re-homed. McMeekin said, “The no-kill philosophy does not say there is an overpopulation. There’s a lack of effort.”

McMeekin said, “I could go on for hours about animals we have helped and people we have helped – not just animals – but the people.”

Fran Long agreed that she has benefited from adopting two dogs through A Time 4 Pets.

Long and her husband Jim adopted Zoe after Jim was diagnosed with cancer. She said that Jim and Zoe were inseparable. A year and a half after Jim passed away, Long decided to adopt another dog. She said, “I wasn’t able to take her to the dog park and walk her as much as we did before – and exercise and play. … I thought, She needs someone to play with to help occupy her time between me getting involved.

“[Zoe] took to Rosie right away, and they’ve been the best playmates. They watch out the front door and alert me to anything that goes on outside.”

Jason Kennedy has volunteered at A Time 4 Paws for four years. He said, “I believe in chances for animals. If I help out, the more chances they get.”

McMeekin continues to look for opportunities to promote the no-kill alternative to Cumberland County, Tenn. She said, “The ultimate goal would be is to not be needed. Wouldn’t that be fabulous? They just didn’t need A Time 4 Paws because everything was a no-kill, everyone took care of their animals, everyone fed them, didn’t tie them out to trees, didn’t use them as target practice, didn’t anti-freeze poison them. It would be fabulous, but until then we’ll keep on fighting.”

The A Time 4 Paws adoption center is located at 463 Old Jamestown Hwy. in Crossville. The thrift store is located at 1201 West Ave, and the pet hotel is located at 2149 E. 1st St.

McMeekin’s next goal is to open a pet sanctuary to provide more room for the animals in which to live and to engage with potential adopters. She said, “We need someone to donate 70-100 acres. Now that would be community cooperation!”

To contact A Time 4 Paws, call 931-456-6906 or email savetnpets@gmail.com. The organization also has a Facebook page.

For more information about the 11 steps for a no-kill community, click here.