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Brick Township Library Display Case for National Dog Week Awareness during September

 “National Dog Week is not only relevant, but is quite necessary now. First, our violent society needs positive issues to focus on. This is a healthy and encouraging subject. NDW helps counter the effect of prolific violent crime and violent sports has on our youth.

Second, our society is going through a transition period. Many Americans are changing from the old way of viewing our “pets” as mere personal property. That old dishonoring attitude is giving way to many Americans seeing their companions as valuable family members.

We, in this enlightened group, are recognizing our responsibilities as guardians (like parents) over these vulnerable family members. This will help reduce the number of “irresponsible pet owners” who surrender huge number of companion animals to shelters and pounds.” Thomas Cole, Founder of Shelter Revolution

Today’s Daily Pet Post: Rain Humane of Nassau County (Northern FL) needs HELP…On October 9 and October 13th, they need Walkers to ready pets for their ride on the RAIN Train to Broward County where they will get perhaps one more chance for adoption.  If you live in that area and can help contact

BLOG NOTES: Congratulations!  Our NDW Community Page has over 400 LIKERS as of today, October 7.  Our Canines on Canvas Contest ends at midnight.  You must LIKE and post your pooch on our page’s wall for a chance to win an original pet portrait by our NDW Artist, Donald E. Brown.!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974

This month brings us Adopt a Shelter Pet Month and Animal Safety and Protection Month. In honor of these occasions, Dr. Patrick Mahaney will appear in our next post in his ongoing role as our National Dog Week Pet Health Consultant.  He will discuss the vital role of Spay and Neuter initiatives in curbing the number of unhomed Companion Animals in the nation.  Plus, a special endorsement from the Pet Postcard Project’s Nikki Moustaki on the relevance of National Dog Weekbark on!

It was rewarding to see a widespread and greater awareness of this year’s 83rd Observance of National Dog Week.  I thank those in the media who mentioned my work, blog, and our National Dog Week Community Page that is growing steadily.   The Canines on Canvas Contest runs through October 7!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974 I hope to have some fun give-aways for each month, with some artwork or dog-related products…keep watching for announcements here.

Each day I will post a Link, a photo, a plug for a book that I think is fun, poignant, thought-provoking, etc…the Canine Clock tells me there are 50 more weeks and 352 days until NDW 2012…plenty of time to get it together~!

Although NDW was established in 1928, due to wartime and economic influences, it wasn’t always recorded in history, leading many to think it went unobserved at times, thus breaking up its timeline. But each year, it was given some notice in the nation, so it deserves its full credit for 83 continuous years served! Also, many think NDW ends tomorrow…but it has always been observed the last FULL week of September…that’s okay, a bonus week never hurt and yes, I KNOW most say every week is dog week, but National Dog Week is the source of potential for (here are seven for each day of the dog week):

Focus– it can be a time of organized reflection and action, each year a new theme can FOCUS attention on energy on a specific cause or concerns. Spay and Neuter issues, for example, face different challenges within specific regions of the country…each region could focus on these particulars to bring about effective change.

Fundraising – in addition to raising awareness, monies needed for these specific causes can be acquired through creative events in different parts of the country during this week. For example, parts of the country blessed with wineries could host “Canines among the Vines” – once again, areas of the United States can use their unique regional or seasonal characteristics to help a cause. Like I say, be creative.

Fitness – emotional and physical fitness can be promoted through our pets – NDW reminds us to keep an eye on our diets and to get moving – dog walking is a great opportunity for that. Service and Therapy Dogs can also help individuals with special needs be an active part of society.

Friendship – Many social connections are made among like-minded individuals over concern for our companion animals – the dog at the end of the leash can be a friend finder, too… a love for pets can be forged and cemented through social media and awareness can spread here, too.

Fashion – Many of my friends on Facebook are designers of doggy wear…perhaps National Dog Week deserves its own signature leash, collar or bandana…this can be both profitable to a business person and can also raise FUNDS!

FunNational Dog Week reminds us to take some time and really enjoy our dogs and human friends, visit a Dog Park or beach. Even schools and libraries can include our canines in an entertaining manner as a way to enjoy our dogs while educating our young about the special place dogs have in our nation’s history. I had the pleasure of sharing National Dog Week by sponsoring a booth at the Brick Township’s Dog Fest for The Pet Postcard Project and Covers for Critters (launched by Willie Wonka and Brenda Yohman Frick).  I also used our Township’s library display case to promote National Dog Week(see photos above and below) filled with some relevant books and memorabilia of Dog Weeks dog-gone by!

Hoops and I collect for Covers for Critters

Faith – I leave you here to fill in the blanks…certainly with so many humans looking out for over 70 million dogs in this nation, you must have some ideas of your own…I have faith in you, too.

Steve Duno's book "Last Dog on the Hill" on display. Steve has been a guest on this blog!


“Respect your dog’s individuality: concede to him all the rights and privileges a dog claims for himself. He wants to be a normal dog – let him lead a dog’s life.”   Captain William Lewis Judy, Founder of National Dog Week

My very special friend, Bocker Labradoodle, with the help of his parents, has released a terrific new book called, CHASING BOCKER’S TALE.  Last week, I received my very own numbered and “pawtographed” copy.  Everyone who advertised in the book has helped to do good for some deserving animal causes.  With contributions from Michele Avanti and Stef Daniel, you will love its message and images. Check it out at!/ChasingBockersTale.

I am happy to announce that  Hollywood-based veterinarian, Dr. Patrick Mahaney will serve as the official pet health consultant for this year’s 83rd Observance of National Dog Week Please also welcome Oregon-based artist, Donald Brown who will help capture on canvas, the spirit of National Dog Week in a fun event planned for September For more info about NDW and updates on my book, Every Dog has its Week: How Seven Days in September came to celebrate Dogs and the People who Love Them,  please see ABOUT.

 The following is my second talk with Robert Cabral…

On July 9th, I wrote a post about the talented Robert Cabral from Malibu, California.  Robert, Founder of Bound Angels is an accomplished photographer and dog trainer who works with dogs that need some tender loving care and socialization to help make them the lovable pets they truly want to be.  When Pam Dzierzanowski, Director of Events for the Patron Spirits Company, told me about Patron’s participation in a fundraiser for Bound Angels, I wanted to share. Patron “mixed-it up” with some very special drink concoctions designed just for this event held on the grounds of the  gorgeous estate of Cindy Landon in Malibu, California. It is so great to see people enjoying themselves in such a beautiful setting, all for a good cause. From Hackensack to Hollywood and all points in between, people can come together to make some important changes in the way our animals are cared for. Everyone can do something…

Patron presents some special recipes just for Bound Angels

Robert is also a supporter of Shelter Revolution.  I asked him what he thought of Thomas Cole’s work on behalf of SR he commented, “I think Thomas’ thinking is at the forefront of the revolution we are hoping for.  He is persistent and focused, and most of all, detail-oriented.   I’m certainly glad to be on the same side of the battle as Thomas.”

Please tell us about your sponsors for this event? The event was underwritten by Ms. Cindy Landon.  Sponsors included Cindy, Patron Spirits, The Annenberg Foundation and Rod and Stasey Summers.

Actress Jennifer Landon, Cindy Landon, Robert Cabral and singer Justin Bel

What was Patron’s connection to your cause? Patron was kind enough to sponsor our bar and liquor.  They created special drink recipes for our event.  It was a perfect addition to our event especially since Patron is my favorite tequila.

How many people attended? There were approx 180 people in attendance.

Please tell us a little about the event’s host Cindy Landon and her involvement in your cause. Cindy became involved with Bound Angels after we met at the first fundraiser 3 years ago.  She has been a steadfast supporter, benefactor and friend to Bound Angels and all the work we do.  She is truly an angel to all the animals we help through the work we do.

Was the event a success?  The event was a huge success, all of the funds raised will go to programs to save more animals at risk in shelters, educational and outreach campaigns as well as direct rescue work.

Robert talks it up for the dogs!

Do you have any other events planned? Coincidentally, there was another event benefiting Bound Angels the very next weekend on July 31, where my work with Bound Angels was awarded the PAL award by Chiquita’s Friends.   

 I understand you went to court a few weeks ago, can you tell us why and a little about what went on? There is new legislation in Los Angeles County that redefines the law relating to dangerous dogs.  This is dangerous as that it does not protect people from “dangerous dogs,” but contrarily puts innocent dogs with normal behavior at risk of being labeled aggressive and therefore at risk of being killed in shelters.  We are following this closely and are fighting it as well.   Bound Angels has fought several cases in court that have defended dogs wrongfully accused of being “vicious and/or dangerous.”

Thank you Robert, Cindy Landon, Patron Spirits and everyone who made this a successful event. It would be nice to see other companies follow the lead of Patron and use their products and services to help some special causes.  I think readers would like to hear more about your work with dogs in need and to be kept posted about the legalities that are facing the dogs of your area and all over the nation.

Robert Cabral – Founder
Bound Angels
“join the revolution”

“There is no man so poor but what he can afford to keep one dog.” Josh Billings, American, 1818-1885

In the next posts, read about West Coast Dog Trainer Robert Cabral’s Patron-sponsored event for his organization, Bound Angels and follow a young woman as she welcomes a special Service Dog into her life!

If you have enjoyed learning about National Dog Week or have benefited by being featured on this site, now would be a great time to go on over and LIKE my new page for National Dog Week. Blogging and maintaining social media sites take a lot of time and work, and I thank you in advance for helping spread the bark…NDW is observed the week of September 19th this year.!/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974Watch for exciting new announcements!

 Thomas Cole of Shelter Revolution is hard at work making changes in the way adoptable animals are cared for as they await new homes.  Allowing these animals to live in a more positive and comfortable environment, where those dog requiring social rehabbing can receive the help they need, Thomas envisions a more humane future for our pets and  more satisfying and safe adoptions.

Pet-advocate “Willie Wonka,” Vice President of Project Pets – Spay, Neuter, Love,!/pages/Project-Pets-Spay-Neuter-Love/160594203971240 reminds us all that the Spaying and Neutering of our pets is a crucial component of this goal. If we can reduce the large number of homeless cats and dogs introduced into the world each day, it can make the goals of Shelter Revolution reachable, serving as the model of the future for a kinder sheltering experience. “WW” is known for saying that we cannot rescue our way out of this mess. If you do the math, you know this is true.

In this interview, a follow-up to the one on May 15th of this year, I asked Thomas what it would really take to establish the model of his “dreams.” I am staying out of his way, and presenting the material as he organized it.  Please take time to read.  If there is something of note you feel you can help with, please contact Thomas directly at, or me,

Here is Part Two of the Shelter Revolution Series…

 The question always comes down to build new or revamp the old? New is always better but not always possible. Who wouldn’t want a 5-10 acre place in the country for the dogs and cats to romp in? Those inner city facilities will just need to focus on offsite rehab done by rehabbers in their homes (just like I have personally mastered!).

I have never had the luxury of beautiful buildings and a large paid staff. I had to make do with pole barns and volunteers. We ran a 100% no-kill operation back in 1963 with that kind of makeshift facility – long before the term no-kill was even used.   I can do it again and so can others with guidance. We don’t need millions of dollars.

Don’t get me wrong! I’d love to have the $5-7 million most new facilities cost to open their doors. If I did have that the money would go to designing a facility for animals not for humans. No fancy lobbies, no vaulted ceilings, no big offices. Maybe a daycare center for volunteers. But I’d certainly have a beautiful natural pond for the dogs to play in…

A pond in Chicago built by Thomas Cole

How would the facility be run?

 •  Open-admission

•  Displays in large open groups (25-30) only animals that get along.

•  A separate quarantine area will house new intakes and sick/injured animals.

•  Special fosters will provide extended off-site care for sick/injured/senior and neonatal during their recovery.

•  In-home rehab for those not ready for group living (and therefore, not ready for adoption) – provided by trained and experienced local rescuers and fosters.

•  Volunteers will provide most of the labor needed to serve the animal population at the Center.

•  Animal Control and catch poles will be euthanized, giving way to an unarmed “courtesy patrol” made up of volunteers trained in handling scared dogs and cats. No SWAT uniforms – the police will handle the cases involving violent people!  (i.e. enforcement is police work, investigations by trained & licensed animal control agents only)


Within 3-4 years the community will no longer be able to fill local adoption needs without going outside the community for a new supply of animals.


• $1-3 million for Green (Gold LEEDS certification) buildings.

•  1-2 acre land costs to be determined.

•  Staff positions will be below market-rate salaries; this is non-profit work.

•  Annual operating budget (exclusive of special S/N funding) approx $1-2 million.


Marin County or Sonoma County – weather is good, they need a better example (especially Sonoma County).

Would benefit the fragmented Bay Area by pulling together local rescue groups and shelters.


Need 3 buildings – don’t have to be fancy. Pole barns are fine. Dogs and cats don’t need fancy entryways, vaulted ceilings or grand lobbies.

•  Adoption Center display area (60-70 dogs, 40-70 cats)

•  Indoor play/exercise facility (for bad weather or emergency rescue situations)

•  Medical and intake holding area. Will need 3-4 outside fenced exercise and lounging areas (1-2 acres best) as well as a 1/8-acre manmade Aquascapes pond for the dogs.


I will train local rescuers and experienced fosters to work with “reactive” dogs and cats. These are animals who cannot get along well in a group setting. Rehabbers will return dogs often for group interaction (socialization) at the AC as their rehab progresses. This prepares them for reentry to the large groups and adoption.


•  need 2 senior managers only to run the entire operation: an experienced medical person and a business manager to handle internal and external reporting, cash management, limited auditing. All bookkeeping will be hired out to a local firm to protect integrity. Monthly performance reporting will ensure transparency to the public. Annual audits will ensure system integrity.

 •  Volunteers will make up most of the work force including shelter operations, reporting systems, offsite adoption events, volunteer coordinating, and dog training for humans.

 •  I will personally customize with Endel Jurman, CEO of ChameleonBeach software, a fully automated operations reporting system using Chameleon software. Dogs and cats will wear collars with scannable (think UPC bar codes) ID tags for control through the system. This system will include modules for open-admission control of strays and seizures, interactive reports on all animals whether adoptable, in medical quarantine or in offsite rehab, up-to-the-minute photos and updates posted on-line by volunteers. This entire process will be run by volunteers.

 •  All animal areas, especially quarantine and stray impound, will have cameras installed for public monitoring.

 •  All area residents will be able to keep tabs ONLINE on animals and place a hold for adoption on an animal they like. Required licensing can be purchased on-line through the Chameleon system. Strays will be posted for reclaim online.

 •  Offsite “kiosk viewers” can be purchased and placed in strategic malls and pet stores to draw attention to available animals.

 •  Local rehabbers (former rescuers and fosters) will be provided free broadband internet service to post updates each week. They will be able to seek advice from a help desk and answer questions from interested adopters right from their home.

 •   Internships will be sought from local colleges and professional-level help from retired business people.

In their words and actions, Thomas and WW carry out the original goals of Will Judy’s National Dog Week Movement established in 1928. Without benefit of Social Media, Judy, this unsung hero to the American Canine, helped to educate the growing population of American dog owners…a leader of the human pack…He trained humans, not dogs, long before it was popular! To learn more, please see ABOUT.

Copyright © 2011 by Lisa Begin-Kruysman. All rights reserved.  No part of this blog, or book excerpts, may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law, or in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.  For information, contact

“The battle for the kind heart is never won; it must be fought steadily with every child, with every person with every new generation.” Captain William Lewis Judy – Founder of National Dog Week My Short Story Collection continues to do nicely over on Amazon…Thanks for reading and the great five-star reviews.  Next week, I will present the newly added seventh story in its entirety here on this site (a Writer’s Digest competition Honorable Mention) .  SOMETHING’S LOST AND MUST BE FOUND now has 21 Five-Star reviews and will be the Book-of-the-Day on Amazon on December 5th! Watch for more exciting news.

…Lisa, WHO do we bug to get this going for those of us in the stone age that dont have tech readers yet. That kindle money has been set aside, and used for other things, saved up, set aside, used again for dog things, saved up, spent on better dog food…..sigh Wait, my BRAIN has been lost and must be found… a Comment from a potential reader!  Thank you, I am working on this…


In a blog post of May 15th, I presented an interview with Thomas Cole of Shelter Revolution. Thomas discussed the challenges he faces when explaining his concept of communal living models as a remedy for our failing shelter system. Shelter Revolution promotes a healthier more natural way of housing homeless animals, letting them live and play in groups (in a carefully monitored and orchestrated manner) making for well-adjusted and happy pets that are more likely to find a forever home.  Shelter Revolution is a new concept to many, one that invites lively discussion among animal-lovers so I encourage your comments and welcome questions so that more can be learned. I established this blog to encourage a positive exchange of ideas about all sorts of issues affecting dogs, and I am glad that it does.

Hopefully, with more emphasis on Spay and Neuter efforts, we might be able to lower the number of displaced animals in America, and by “managing” a smaller population of homeless pets in a more humane and positive way, we can see less suffering in the world, for both animal and the humans who love them. 

Dog Trainer, Robert Cabral, of Malibu, California has found a way to use his Martial Arts background to train and socialize dogs.  He also embraces new ways of looking at how shelter dogs are housed, like those proposed byThomas Cole’s Shelter Revolution Model.  Upon hearing that I was writing a post about Robert, Ed Boks, Executive Director at Yavapai Human Society in Prescott, Arizona commented, “I’ve worked with many trainers over the past 30 years, from the famous to the ridiculous. Robert is the real deal. His methods transform unruly, even dangerous, shelter dogs into responsive companion animals. For shelters looking for alternatives to killing dogs for behavioral reasons, I recommend Robert Cabral.”

 The following is my interview with Robert:

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you “went to the dogs?” I rescued my first dog almost 8 years ago.  When I brought him home I didn’t know much about training dog, but I knew how to teach karate.  I wondered if using the teaching skills of the martial arts would apply to dogs, and it did.  I never taught dogs to punch or kick, but I used a very fundamental approach to teaching my dog(s) what was right and wrong and they learned.  Throughout the years I’ve seen this system work on every dog I’ve dealt with from obedience to aggression (fear and dominance based) as well as desensitization and a host of other issues.  I began working with rescues, shelters as well as private clients; often times getting the dogs no one else wanted to deal with. 

 Robert, I “discovered” you after watching a video about a dog named Snowflake that was posted on the Shelter Revolution’s Facebook page.  Can you tell us why you made this video and the message you wish to impart? Snowflake was one of those typical dogs that “falls through the cracks.”  She had some behavioral issues, namely barking and growling at her kennel door.  Understanding this behavior and dealing with it is quite simple, but people usually approach it in the wrong fashion.  Snowflake had been abused and was covered in specks of white paint, that’s why I named her Snowflake.  I believe in making the most of the positive and Snowflake had a lot of great attributes.  We were able to get her rescued after showing that her kennel issues were just that, kennel issues.  Whoever put her in the place that ended her up in the kennel is responsible for her issues – not Snowflake.

Groups like Shelter Revolution call for reform in the way shelter animals are housed.  They promote the concept of Communal Living for our pets.  Do you think this can work? 

I’ve always been an advocate for at the very least doubling dogs in the kennels at shelters.  This has many benefits:  it increases a dog’s social skills, saves space and eases the stress of being isolated in shelters.  I believe social kenneling can work, but there will be some issues including fights and more – however I think it’s worth the trade-off.  Done properly, this is one of our greatest hopes for solving this crisis. 

What needs must be addressed to make this possible and successful? As I mentioned above, this change won’t be without its downsides, but they are far fewer than the millions of animals that we are killing now.  Establishing pack order will be important and I believe this should be handled by people who are skilled in dealing with this, not just rescue volunteers.  This aspect should be taken very seriously.  People need to understand that dogs are pack animals and need to be worked into the environment.  Dogs will survive and I think we owe it to the dogs to see who is best suited and who is not suited to being placed into this environment.  Some dogs should not be put into this situation until they are ready, for example fearful dogs, dominant dogs, sick dogs and old dogs and puppies. 

There are those out there who say Communal Living is not a good idea, it cannot work.  What do you say to them? Dogs are pack animals…get a clue!

What are the major issues concerning dogs, and dog-ownership, facing your region of the nation? The same concerns that plague Los Angeles plague the rest of the country and world.  Ignorance on canine behavior patterns are at the forefront.  Until people understand how dogs act and think, they think they need.  They should reconsider their choice of pet.  I’d rather see much fewer people owning dogs and see those dogs placed with responsible owners…not people who think they’re stuffed animals or a badge for their bravado.  Dogs are living, sentient beings that we must strive to understand.  We must give them what they need, not what we need.

I thank Thomas and Robert for trying to implement positive change.  I am sure we will hear from them again  To learn more about Robert and his work:

The following is my interview with Thomas Cole of Shelter Revolution.  It is lengthy (necessarily so), but fascinating. If you are truly concerned about the nation’s pet overpopulation dilemma, please read this in its entirety.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I have a degree in business management, worked for almost 15 years as a corporate controller in the transportation industry. I fled that world to get back to my roots working with animals.

How did you become involved in animal causes?  My father had a shelter and sanctuary that served as animal control for an entire county. At an early age I handled the grumpy dogs in the sanctuary. The dogs there were mostly abandoned farm dogs and pretty scary. But over time I got pretty comfortable around them. I didn’t know it then because we didn’t have a name for it, but this was a true no-kill shelter.

What is wrong with the traditional sheltering programs offered in the nation?


Cages! Gotta get social animals out of isolation and into an environment where they’re happy and can show off their best qualities naturally.


Then there’s this “enrichment” fad right now. This is nothing more than a band-aid approach: shelters cram animals into cages and they go “kennel crazy.” To fend off this problem some shelters treat symptoms by playing with the animals then returning them to cages. The solution is to get rid of the cages. Simple concept, hard to convince people.

Foster Homes

Though resisted strongly for years by the industry, fostering has become all the rage now. I see foster homes as a potential resource for rehabbers. They will just need to have their handling skills honed by experienced rehabbers. Then they can play a vital role in dealing with grumpy dogs and cats.

The real benefit of fostering is in caring for sick, injured and neonatal cases which just take time and a quiet place to heal or grow. Fosters are great for these cases.

One drawback I have seen in fostering in general is that it often provides only “overflow storage” for shelters. Of course I’d much rather see shelter animals in foster homes than in shelter cages. But it tends to be difficult to place these shelter animals who are “out of sight and out of mind.”

Overzealous Adoptions

The increased emphasis on adoption rates is also causing a hidden problem. Many placements done under the zeal of increased adoptions result in poor placements. These lead to later returns or abandonments, or worse. Most of these failed adoptions were made by placing dogs and cats who weren’t really ready for adoption. These animals need some rehab time first and are not getting it.

Shelter Rehab

Some progressive shelters are trying to deal with behavior problems by hiring trainers or behaviorists to work directly with their animals. At the forefront is Boston Animal Rescue League’s own Center For Shelter Dogs (, dedicated to working with difficult dogs. The problem is that the noisy shelter environment is counterproductive to this work. Rehab is best done in quiet homes.

What is Shelter Revolution? Shelter Revolution is just a website ( It serves as a way to get out the word about what is really important – the Adoption Center model. Shelter Revolution’s goal is to change the course of this antiquated shelter industry. That is the revolution part of the name.

Long ago I saw that the industry really treats shelters as prisons and their animals like prisoners. I still can’t understand how, in this day and age of space travel, high-tech devices and the “global community,” how people can still think the best way to deal with SOCIAL animals is to jam them into little cages. I think it’s because people with little or no animal handling experience run these places. It must be a basic fear of animals.

In order to change the shelter from a prison facility into what I envision, a fun place to spend time amongst large groups of friendly animals, two things have to happen: first, we have to get rid of the cages! That means redesigning the facility. Second, we obviously can only put into large groups animals who get along. The others have to go into rehab to fix their behaviors.

Shelter Revolution is a comprehensive marketing plan. It combines the No-Kill Equation (NKE) with the Adoption Center model to finally modernize this industry. We need to get beyond this concept of “sheltering” which focuses on housing. Instead we need to move away from that and toward the idea of getting homeless animals new homes, or rehomed.

 Can you give us an example of a shelter that has implemented Shelter Revolution’s concepts?

Sadly, there aren’t any. The Adoption Center model is very innovative and looks way outside the box. As its motto states, a better way for a better future.

There are several that are very progressive and have put into action some of the main elements. The closest are two shelters that house large numbers of cats together. Pet Connection, Inc. in Avonmore, Pennsylvania ( and the Richmond Animal Protection Society near Vancouver, British Columbia (

But I should mention Aimee Sadler at Longmont Humane Society in Colorado ( and Brandi Tracy at Braveheart Rescue in Hastings, Minnesota ( While both are typical shelters, these two are leading the pack by allowing their dogs to romp together in large groups during the day.

Natalie Owings with her The Giant Doghouse ( is truly pioneering something very close to the Adoption Center model.

Can it work anywhere in the US? Of course. But that assumes the community and the powers that be are behind it. Even tired old shelters can be cheaply converted to communal housing. Ideally new facilities are better. The greatest challenge is to create rehabbers to handle the animals with issues.

The main thing is to develop a network of experienced rescuers and fosters trained in rehab. Without this key component we will never be able to handle the growing number of animals with behavior issues and the killing will continue. Rehab is vital to sound adoptions.

By the way, two of the eleven steps of the No-Kill Equation ( generally point at rehab. The Adoption Center model picks up this issue and runs with it. This is one of the ways that the NKE and Adoption Center model complement one another.

What about costs incurred in these revolutionized centers? Much, much cheaper. I envision a center where most people working there are energized volunteers. I hope to play a role in changing this very costly thing called a shelter. Corporate streamlining is one of primary goals.

When I first promoted using volunteers all I heard is how unreliable volunteers are. I believe in the dedication of animal lovers. My faith in volunteers is what Abe Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

I have also witnessed incredible dedication from volunteers. Here’s a great example: 

Helping Paws of Minnesota ( is an all-volunteer training center. Their “Foster Home Trainers” go through an intensive two-year process where they raise and train a puppy to become a service dog. These certified service dogs are then paired with a mobility-challenged recipient at the end of the two-year training program.

Think about that – Helping Paws does with volunteers what other organizations do only with expensive professionals. And I’ll match the quality of Helping Paws’ service dogs with any produced by these pros.

How is this possible if volunteers are so unreliable? These volunteers line up on a waiting list to work for free with a commitment to over two full years of many hours per week. Then I look around the country at thousands of rescuers who give everything they have to help save lives. Many pay for their rescue work by working extra jobs. I believe the key to finding these dedicated volunteers depends on a leader who can inspire and challenge “the better angels of our nature.”

Who do you think are some of the most influential people in the SR Movement? There is a select group of what I call rehabbers – that’s my term – which I hope to bring together and highlight their much-needed skills. This will be the group that provides the expertise to form a national rehab training academy.

I’ve already mentioned Brandi Tracy and Aimee Sadler leading the way with large play groups. Also there’s Natalie Owings and her The Giant Doghouse.

FOUND Chicago is another leading-edge effort. Small now but growing. ( — watch the video)

I see you use the term “family companions” to describe our pets…why is this an important way to look at them? I think the term is more respectful and better reflects their growing stature in our society.

One of the greatest obstacles to passing effective animal protection laws is politicians’ refusal to move beyond the idea that dogs and cats are just personal property. They cannot seem to get it that our society has changed. These animals are no longer just “pets” to be bought and sold like things. Dogs and cats truly have become members of our families. They sleep with us, run errands with us and go on vacations with us. These backwards politicians will eventually get the message loud and clear that our society will not accept their attitudes.

It took a long time, laws and social leadership to get this country beyond thinking of African-Americans, Native Americans and women as mere things. Remember, there was a time not long ago when these people were bought and sold or traded for goods. Eventually our country will finally see that dogs and cats are sentient beings – our family companions.

What reading or websites do you recommend to those who wish to learn more? I think it is imperative for animal lovers to study Shelter Revolution, especially the “detailed road map” ( and the FAQ page ( Then I think it’s very important for all to read through the No-Kill Equation’s 11 common-sense steps ( These are the two most important sites dealing with shelter reform.

Then there are some wonderful videos which portray important elements of the Adoption Center. I think these are very eye opening and lots of fun:

1) No More Cages =

2) The future of sheltering =

3) Dogs can’t be housed together? =

What is your ultimate goal for the future of the homeless animals of America?

 Idealistically, to end the wholesale slaughter of millions and millions of family companions every single year. But realistically, with whatever time I have left, I hope to simply change the direction of this ineffective shelter industry.

How long do you think it would take to reach your goal? Let’s revise the goal to simply getting one Adoption Center up and running, okay? Boiled down I believe it’s a three-year process. But the question really depends on the facility:  a startup effort would be much easier and quicker than a turnaround situation. Obviously it would be a longer effort if the shelter is old and the community is not prepared to change the old one or build a new one.

I detail the timeline in Question #9 on the Frequently Asked Questions page on Shelter Revolution ( I would like to point out that the first year-and-a-half is basically dedicated to implementing the NKE. It isn’t until later in the second year that the Adoption Center model starts to show itself.

By the end of the third year we should no longer see a “shelter.” In its place will be a new Adoption Center. The shelter facility will become a true marketing tool instead of a prison warehouse.

Thomas also recommends that readers visit No Kill Nation on Facebook.

Thank you Thomas, for sharing with us.  It is the beginning of meaningful change.  Thanks to all those “better angels” among us, too.


"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda


DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”