Samantha Serum and Beth Foster sat down to explain the group’s mission and hope for the future.
“Several months ago, some of us were at the pound looking at these beautiful animals. It is difficult for us to go in there and see all these faces and all these lives that are begging you to take them,” Foster said.
“Some of us started taking pictures with our phones and placing them on Facebook. By the next morning, every one that we had posted had a home.”
This response on Facebook got the group of friends thinking. If there was a way for them to be there every day, then any number of animals could be saved.
“We couldn’t be there every day though,” Foster explained. “After brainstorming, we decided we could go in shifts with groups of two. One person could take the photos and the other could gather information.”
A Google+ number was acquired and duties were split between the almost 20 members. The response was more than anyone had anticipated.
“Part of the problem when you start doing this is all the phone calls and all the emails and all the questions. You are trying to connect this person with this animal and make sure that animal is not killed before the person can get down to the shelter,” Foster said.
“You almost have to have somebody manning the phones 24 hours a day so these adoptions are properly facilitated before the animals are killed.”
As the response continued to grow, so did the organization of the group. They decided early on to work as a team without official leaders.
Instead, six “Pound Teams” of two people each were established to go to the pound every afternoon and take pictures of every animal.
The volunteer coordinators in turn would take the phone calls and coordinate with Animal Control to get the animals.
According to Foster, the volunteer coordinators sometimes do not go to bed until 3 a.m. and are awake by 7 a.m.
“So we got all that organized and decided to make a Facebook page,” Foster continued. “When we made the page we were hoping for two or three hundred friends. When I left this morning, we were almost at 1,100.”
The overwhelming response has made it a necessity for the group to recruit volunteers, especially volunteer coordinators. The response also made it clear the public was not only receptive, but responsive, as well.
“The public is responding in ways that we never anticipated. We are getting at least half of the animals out of the pound every day,” Foster said.
Encouraged by the response, the group held a meeting with the community on Friday to hear their suggestions and to recruit volunteers.
According to Foster, both are important as the group will be presenting to City Council the necessary steps needed for Cleveland to become a no kill city by 2017.
“When you have a kill and destroy facility, people in the community do not feel good about Animal Control,” Foster shared.
“Becoming a no kill city has a lot of human rewards, as well. We hope that when people see Animal Control they see the hero, because they are saving lives. It is hard working in a facility where you have to kill animals every day.”
Serum and Foster state a misconception of becoming a no kill city is the process will be expensive.
According to Foster, none of the things needed to become a no kill city is any more expensive than what animal control already does.
“It involves being a little more creative and marketing,” Foster explained. “None of this has to cost money initially, and in the long run, the no kill models usually save money compared to the kill and dispose model.”
Both Serum and Foster say animal control has began to change the way they think.
“I do feel like the officers themselves seem to think there is hope now, as well. At first, they were looking at us like we were crazy, but then in the past couple of days they have seen all the animals that have been saved,” Serum shared.
Added Foster, “Animal control has really turned around in the past couple of days. They are trying their best to work with us and get the animals to the people that want them. And to be fair to them, this is the system they inherited before we, ‘stormed the castle’ so to say.”
Serum and company are currently following a list of steps by no kill activist Nathan Winograd.
They strongly agree with Winograd’s website, “We have the power to build a new consensus, which rejects killing as a method for achieveing results. And we can look forward to a time when the wholesale slaughter of animals in shelters is viewed as a cruel aberration of the past...”
They are actively working to have the groundwork ready before the meeting with City Council in July.
The group hopes for many volunteers and continued interest in the animals at the pound. For more information on volunteer opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 464-6070.