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Tired from a late night plane arrival and early morning wakeup call, I stumbled to the keynote address by No Kill Advocacy Center founder Nathan Winograd, kicking off the first day of the No Kill Conference 2010 . Excitement was in the air—from the reunion of like-minded colleagues to awestruck newborns meeting the “rock stars” of the animal welfare world for the first time.
In spite of running on fumes and having attended many of these types of conferences over the last eight years, I was still moved by the emotion and stirred to action—feeling a new sense of inspiration that our goal was more possible than ever before.
Nathan’s message is always clear and to the point—stop the needless killing of homeless pets. But this time, there was a new twist that added an extra spark of hope. He eloquently pointed out that cultural change traditionally comes about in our nation through legislative change. “We are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Nathan said. “Our system of government was designed not only to solidify the ideal of the American Revolution, but to change with the changing times.”
But it is also traditionally fueled by passion and commitment to overcome social resistance. We are a people that love dogs and cats as is evidenced by how much money, time and love we invest in them. So it only makes sense that if we give these same people a chance to support laws that save these very animals, they will come out in droves. Social resistance is not a factor.
So this is why it’s so important that this conference is held in Washington D.C., in a law school (George Washington University Law School), and in a conference that combines animal sheltering and law. Today’s conference topics ranged from legislating no kill to shelter enrichment for dogs and cats to turbo-charging pet adoptions to using technology to save lives.
I found the last topic particularly interesting. Just as our national traditions bring the legal field to bear on this cause, modern society brings technology in the form of social media. “Social media works because users want to create social value through the use of media by elevating the consciousness of society,” said Mike Frey, executive director of Animal Ark, a no kill shelter in Minneapolis/St. Paul. It is a crime to not use this phenomenon and tool for the sake of the homeless animals.
How ironic that a century-old legal system and the current social media explosion can come together to change the future for our deserving homeless pets.
So I joined forces with several hundred other attendees in applauding Nathan’s mantra—“We are the future. No more excuses, no more compromises and no more killing.”