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Pondering Two Words
On the eve of the No Kill Conference 2010
Diane Blankenburg with her nearly 14-year-old Lab, Lady.

I’m on my way to Washington DC, from Reno, Nevada, to attend the No Kill Conference 2010 and represent Nevada Humane Society, one of the largest no kill shelters in the country. I have been pondering two words – No Kill – and how much they have changed my life in the last seven years since I left corporate America.

I was like many middle-aged people who realized they want to do something different and more meaningful. I packed up my life in San Diego and moved to the tiny town of Kanab, Utah – in the middle of nowhere. I would work for Best Friends Animal Society for the next two and half years and this is where I first heard those two words. And it’s where I learned what they meant. I was devastated to know that millions of pets were needlessly dying every year in shelters across the country. (It is estimated that four million more cats and dogs will die this year.) And I was thrilled to be part of a movement that was dedicated to making sure this would cease to be.

So this conference is all about how to stop the unnecessary killing. It’s about creating programs with this one mission in mind. It’s about bringing like-minded people together so that the combined force is greater than any one individual. It’s about valuing life and making decisions based on saving lives, not killing.

This year’s conference sold out even earlier than in 2009, the inaugural year. This is a major testament of the passion for this cause and the dire need to learn how to put that passion into action. Representatives from 39 states and four countries will attend. The No Kill Advocacy Center is teaming up with the Animal Law program at George Washington University Law School, Maddie’s Fund, and Friends of Animals to bring together the nation’s most successful shelter directors and the nation’s top animal lawyers. Their mission? Help others create their own No Kill community.

The conference participants will learn from animal control/shelter directors who are now saving over 90 percent of all animals in their communities. They will learn from animal law experts who have successfully challenged the legal system to help animals. And they will learn from activists who are fighting to overcome traditional, entrenched shelters.

In the last decade, several progressive shelters have implemented lifesaving programs and services that have dramatically reduced the death rate in their communities. I am proud to say I have been a part of the rebirth of Nevada Humane Society and I join my colleagues in traveling to D.C. so that we can participate in a give-and-take – sharing our lessons learned and absorbing ways to become more effective.

In the end, the power to change is in our hands – a power that is mightier by working together.

Diane Blankenberg will be blogging for Bark from the No-Kill Conference 2010 in Washington D.C. Community programs/development director for the Nevada Humane Society, Blankenberg is a speaker on animal homelessness and has written columns for The Times-Picayune, Reno Gazette Journal and Pet Folio Magazine. nokillconference.org

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