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Living Free Animal Sanctuary: Almost Home 2020 Initiative

OG5wrcgPvTfD86_TsgDkPG1dk1UTuRJ7q2wBvlgtI9EThe Almost Home 2020 Initiative, spearheaded by Living Free Animal Sanctuary, is a multi-pronged approach to making all shelters in the US no-kill by 2020.  It may appear a lofty goal, but Randall Harris, President for the organization, shared a comprehensive and highly deliverable plan that needs both grass roots and high-profile attention to spur the movement and make this a reality.

Harris shared that in 2014, the Board of Directors at Living Free Animal Sanctuary decided to become more involved in the operational aspects of the organization and garner a better understanding of the day-to-day that is required of such a facility.  While there was no clearing house that contained the data about animals he was seeking, as part of his efforts, Harris began culling stats from a variety of resources that informed him this objective was completely attainable.  In large part, the plan would need to be about changing the misconceptions about animals in shelters and rescues and, perhaps even more striking; it is not about changing everybody’s mind to make this work.

This is a huge undertaking, but well thought-out and fact-supported.  As an example, consider a few of the points that Harris provided in when just discussing the adoption aspect.

  1. In 2016 if only 20% of new pet owners would join the 3.5 million that will adopt from a shelter or rescue, statistically, there would be no need for shelter killing.
  2. Mathematically, US shelters have the potential find homes for almost 9 million pets each year. That is 2.1 million MORE companion animals than the number of animals that will be adopted (3.5 million) or killed in shelters (3.4 million).
  3. About 24 million families will acquire a new pet this year.  About 8 million of those have already determined where they will get their new pet – whether it’s a pet store, private breeder, friends and family, Craigslist or other online source, or a shelter.
  4. This means about 17 million homes are available for the 3.4 million healthy, adoptable animals that will die in shelters this year.
  5. THE KEY: We don’t have to change everybody’s mind.  If only 1 in 5, or 20% of these families adopted from shelters instead of acquiring a pet from another source, statistically, there would be no need to kill healthy adoptable animals.

With that information at the foundation, Living Free has determined the actionable areas of the initiative Initiative as follows:

  • Direct Action

Living Free Animal Sanctuary will increase its own capacity for rescues while growing their rehabilitative and preparatory efforts to increase adoptions.  Expansion of their current low cost public spay/ neuter clinics, TNR work for feral cats and dogs, and by providing clinics to the public about preventing or correcting behavioral problems.

  • Collaboration

Living Free will continue to collaborate with other rescue groups, including the facilitation of transferring rescues from high-kill areas to high adoption demand locations, promoting the no-kill objective by creating, maintaining, and growing key alliances and coalitions, sharing resources and media opportunities, and advancing the support of no-kill policies and objectives

  • Outreach and Education

Continue production of PSAs about being a responsible companion animal owner, expanding upon current Living Free video series on behavioral issues and how to keep companion animals in the homes and out of shelters, grow public awareness to “adopt don’t shop,” spaying and neutering pets, and responsible ownership through campaign messaging independently and in collaboration with other groups, and development and production of Almost Home 2020 Initiative modules demonstrating how close the US is to being a no-kill nation.

  • Legislative and Policy Changes

Advocate for a change in the culture, practice, and policies of publicly funded shelters operated by private contractors, a change in incentive practices, stronger enforcement of all animal cruelty laws, legislation requiring breeders and their facilities to be licensed and inspected including severe and enforced penalties, and prevention of interstate commerce of puppies and kittens under one year of age, with exceptions for private parties or licensed, approved shelters or rescue groups.

Because the scope of the Almost Home 2020 Initiative is so extensive, additional articles will follow with the expansion of each objective with the great hope word will spread and the reality of what Living Free Animal Sanctuary is actively driving will take root with other like-minded groups, organizations, rescues, shelters, and individuals who will choose to join this admirable and purposeful cause.

As with anything worth pursuing, while words are good, it is action that is required on multiple levels to reach any goal worth its salt.  Talk it can be cheap, but elevating those words by physically digging in and doing the work brings real power and change. For Living Free, that salt equates to all the animal lives needing to be and, more importantly, worth being saved. It’s time to dig in.

Originally blogged at lifewithcats.tv by Adrea Gibbs. A cool site for all things cats!

Almost Home 2020 Gallery

Almost Home | 2020

We’ve run the numbers, and if only 20% of people seeking a companion animal adopted a rescue instead of buying from a retail store or a puppy or kitten mill, it would virtually end the need for healthy animal euthanasia.

There has been a groundswell of no-kill initiatives from the rescue community nationwide.  We all sense that this goal, while ambitious, can be accomplished and that it’s our responsibility to do all we can to see it through.

Our initiative is “Almost Home 2020” with a target date of 2020 for the US to become a no-kill nation.  We’ve developed several strategies that enable us to do our part, including increasing public awareness, pushing for local and regional legislative changes, and pushing for stricter enforcement of existing laws against inhumane commercial breeders.  We truly believe that, in alliance with others in the no-kill community, we can get there.  If you have ideas, suggestions or connections and would like to participate, please email Randall Harris at rharris@living-free.org.

We Are Living Free

We’re a nonprofit, no-kill sanctuary rescuing dogs and cats whose time has run out at local kill shelters.

We dream of a day when the U.S. will be a no-kill nation and the need for healthy animal euthanasia will be a thing of the past. That’s reflected in our Outreach & Education Initiatives, our Wild Mustang Initiative, Almost Home 2020 and the many other ideas we are putting into play here in Mountain Center, CA.

Many thanks.

Thanks to your support, Living Free is saving more animals than at any time in our 35 year history. Every life saved honors the vision of our Founder, Emily Jo Beard, as well as those who followed and overcame enormous challenges to keep her dream alive. Due to their efforts, we have a strong foundation upon which to build. Now it’s up to us to do even more.

Our current team of Volunteers and Staff is working hard to improve and expand our animal care facilities, our education and outreach programs, and our public awareness and legislative initiatives. We’ve launched our new website, social media sites and branding initiatives which will serve to strengthen our alliances throughout the rescue community.

We believe that by working together, we can become a no-kill nation. Our addition to this groundswell movement is the “Almost Home 2020” initiative.

On behalf of everyone at the Sanctuary, thank you again for helping to make a profound difference in the lives of these animals.  They are our responsibility – and our greatest reward.
Randall Harris


AngelaMollyKiss2aOur mission is to save cats and dogs that have been abandoned to shelters and are scheduled to be euthanized.

Once at Living Free, our rescues go through a full medical exam and receive treatment, they are spayed and neutered if necessary, and they are then provided a safe, cage-free environment so that they may be rehabilitated, socialized and prepared for adoption.

We have developed educational and outreach programs to promote responsible pet ownership, and we are collaborating with other organizations to help end the need for healthy animal euthanasia by increasing public awareness of the need to eradicate inhumane puppy and kitten mills. By pulling together and spreading the word, we believe every shelter can become a no-kill shelter by the year 2020, and have created the “Almost Home | 2020” Initiative in support of this goal.


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