Who is Animal Ark?
Animal Ark is a Rescue-Rehabilitate-Rehome animal welfare organization. We also embrace, follow and advocate a “no kill” philosophy to the approximately 800 of Minnesota’s lost and homeless companion animals every year. We operate a shelter in Hastings, Minnesota; founded in 1977, we are a 501(c) 3 non-profit Minnesota corporation.
What do you mean when you say that the Animal Ark is a no-kill organization?
The term “no-kill” can be confusing to some, but it has been branded with tremendous support throughout the country to address the grim reality of what has been, and still is, going on in our country’s pounds and “shelters” for well over a century. Yes, the horrible reality is that many of our well-recognized institutions have been ending the lives of healthy and treatable animals for a very long time.
When we say “no-kill”, we mean that once we admit an animal into our care, we treat that animal no differently than we would expect a loving pet owner to do. We do not take the life of any animal in our care for reasons of length of stay or to manage shelter capacity. If it is determined that an animal in our care requires medical or behavioral care, we provide that care so as to return that animal to a healthy or a manageable state.
But will Animal Ark euthanize an animal? Yes, we will. But we euthanize only if it is determined that the animal is too sick or injured to recover to a life of quality and is suffering irremediably with a poor to grave prognosis; or if a dog is so behaviorally aggressive as to present a material danger to human safety (See “How does Animal Ark define which animals in its care are “savable” and which are not?” for further explanation). The typical benchmark to be considered no kill is a 90% save rate; however, many communities are saving upwards of 99% of the animals in their municipal shelters. Animal Ark’s save rate has been at the 98%-99% mark for several years now.
How does Animal Ark decide which animals to accept into its shelter?
Animal Ark maintains an agreement with our local animal control/impound center in Hastings/Rosemount to accept stray dogs that have not been reclaimed by their families. This agreement created the first no kill community in Minnesota, an accomplishment we are very proud of, and that which is quintessential to the mission and history of our organization. In addition, over the years we have built partnerships with other local municipal animal control facilities and impound centers in various communities throughout Minnesota to transfer animals into our care on a regular basis.
We also accept owner surrender animals from across the state of Minnesota and parts of western Wisconsin. We receive many inquiries every day from individuals and families who need assistance in rehoming a pet, helping a stray animal in need, and often times in simply resolving a medical or behavioral issue with their pet. We are honored that animal lovers across Minnesota reach out to us for support!
Because of the nature of our relationships with our partner communities it requires we manage our animal intake in a very specific way, which involves accepting animals into our shelter on the basis of need. Owners wishing to surrender canines and felines can call the shelter to discuss their situation and schedule an appointment for an evaluation to determine when and if we can accept their animal; owner surrenders are subject to a waiting list and evaluated on a cases by case basis.
How does Animal Ark define which animals in its care are “savable” and which are not?
Animal Ark provides routine medical care for healthy animals in the form of vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, standard testing, etc… We also provide comprehensive care for animals with treatable medical and/or behavioral conditions. We do not euthanize savable animals who are healthy, or who have treatable medical or behavioral conditions. Euthanasia is reserved for animals who are not savable and suffering horribly.
- Healthy animals– those that are free of any significant medical or behavioral problems. We do not consider the lack of a limb, eyesight or hearing, pregnancy, or the age of an animal to be a problem that makes them unhealthy.
- Treatable animals– meaning those that have an injury, ailment, or condition that is either “rehabilitatable” or “manageable” such as an upper respiratory infection, ringworm, canine parvovirus, diabetes, feline distemper and other infectious diseases that can be addressed with medicine and/or supportive care. This also pertains to dogs displaying behavioral conditions such as jumpy/mouthy behavior, on-leash and barrier reactivity issues, separation anxiety, and other subsets of behavior that can be rehabilitated through the use of behavior modification and reward based training in order to make them suitable for living in an foster or adoptive home.
- Non-Savable animals are those who are suffering horribly and who are determined to have a poor to grave prognosis by our veterinarian. These animals are euthanized to prevent unnecessary suffering of the animal. This includes dogs with severe aggression, which pose a serious risk to human safety, and who do not respond to behavioral rehabilitation; but only after consultation with a credentialed animal behavior specialist and two veterinarians where it is determined that prognosis for rehabilitation is poor or grave.
What special programs and services you offer contribute to the creation of a no-kill community?
Animal Ark has developed and implemented a number of highly effective programs over the years to decrease the number of animals entering shelters and increase adoptions. The following are several key programs that we have implemented to contribute to the creation of achieving No Kill in communities throughout Minnesota.
- Pet Retention– We offer surrender counseling to those individuals and families wishing to rehome their beloved pet. Over the years, we have found in that in many cases when families surrender their pets to a shelter it is for reasons that are fixable. Assisting pet owners to resolve the issues they are having with their pets helps reduce the number of animals coming into the shelter and allows us to better serve those animals that are most in need.
- Comprehensive Adoption Program– Adoptions are the key to our success, and include, but are not limited to: marketing our animals to the public via Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and running regular adoption specials to promote our animals. Our focus is on education and providing valuable resources to adopters to ensure our animals find, and stay in, loving homes. This includes hosting and participating in off site adoption events, and post adoption follow-ups.
- Stray Cat Help– Years ago Animal Ark implemented our Stray Cat Help Program to provide free-roaming and outdoor cats with a core vaccine, dewormer, FeLV testing, and flea/ear mite preventative for a small suggested donation. This program has benefited hundreds of felines accustomed to living outdoors and has helped to promote their well-being, especially in rural areas where cats are often permitted to roam outside. The program follows best practices for dealing with free-roaming cats, especially when coupled with TNR to reduce the number of felines entering shelters.
- Pet Fix Certificate- Animal Ark offers a free Pet Fix Certificate to any pet owner to be redeemed at one of six participating veterinary clinics in and around the Twin Cities for spay/neuter surgery for their pet at a reduced cost. The Pet Fix program, originally called the “Pit Fix” program and created to reduce the number of “pit bull” dogs surrendered to shelters from unwanted litters, has long since been extended to all breeds of dogs and cats and offers spay/neuter surgery for pets regardless of their owners income level.
- Partnerships with other Agencies– We partner with various animal control and impound centers as well as other local rescue organizations to assist in the rescue and transfer of animals for adoption. Partnering with local agencies helps reduce overall length of stay in the shelter, helps manage shelter stress, maximizes resources, reduces unnecessary killing of animals, and promotes and facilitates the adoption of animals into new homes most suitable for long term success.