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