My home state, New Hampshire, has a unique motto: “Live Free or Die.” Although Revolutionary War general John Stark had something else in mind when he wrote those words, it is easy to apply them to America’s animal-shelter problem. If there’s no place for dogs to live free, then thousands of them are euthanized every day across the country. But not in New Hampshire.
According to an article on the Life with Dogs website, animal lovers in the Granite State launched a plan in the early ’90s that resulted in a kill rate of zero in the majority of the state’s shelters: “There are some animals that are put down due to illnesses or aggression, but since the year 2000, not one single animal has been euthanized simply to make more room for new homeless pets.”
Peter Marsh, director of Shelter Overpopulation Solutions (STOP), has written a book called Getting to Zero which offers a roadmap that shelters and states can follow to stop killing dogs for lack of homes. In telling the story of how the New Hampshire folks accomplished their goals, the book discusses:
- Concrete and comprehensive recommendations about how animal control agencies, veterinarians, humane societies, and advocacy groups can employ shelter statistics and data from surveys and research studies to reduce shelter overpopulation in their communities;
- Suggestions about future research that could increase shelter adoption and pet retention rates and improve the effectiveness of pet sterilization and feral cat management programs;
- Summaries of significant research findings and suggestions about how they can be used to full advantage in program design and implementation.
The documentary below features many of the people who made the New Hampshire story a possibility.