Mike Fry’s ‘Just One Day’ initiative saved thousands of pets’ livesMike Fry, the director of Hastings’ Animal Ark no-kill shelter, was the recipient of a prestigious award in the shelter community, the Henry Bergh Leadership Award.
By: Katrina Styx, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Mike Fry, the director of Hastings’ Animal Ark no-kill shelter, was the recipient of a prestigious award in the shelter community, the Henry Bergh Leadership Award.
Fry received the award for his efforts to create an annual nationwide no-kill day. The program, called Just One Day, launched June 11 of this year.
For Just One Day, Fry asked shelters all over the U.S. to stop euthanizing animals and make an effort to see them adopted instead.
“We were amazingly inspired by the number of shelters (that took the pledge),” Fry said.
About 800 shelters and rescues pledged to become no-kill organizations for just a single day. When they pledged, they were sent a media kit with tools to engage the public in creative ways and bring people in to adopt.
“The response was just phenomenal,” Fry said.
One success story came from Houston, where an animal center that normally would have been closed for the day decided to open its doors. On that one day, about 200 animals were adopted out of that site, Fry said.
Other sites had stories of people lined up at the doors just waiting for shelters to open so they could adopt pets.
“There were stories like that pouring in from all over the United States,” he said.
Although there wasn’t an accurate system in place to track all the adoptions at the organizations that took the pledge, Fry said about 9,000 animals were adopted that day, and that’s a “very conservative” estimate, he said. That’s in comparison to a statistic that says 10,000 healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized every day, he added.
Just One Day was an effort to introduce the no-kill concept to shelters and rescues that haven’t already made the step. Switching to a no-kill model can be daunting to organizations, Fry said, because of the amount of change that often has to happen. Policy, practices, programs and sometimes staff have to change. Although many shelters and rescues like the outcome of a no-kill model, it can be difficult to see past the sheer amount of work it takes to make it happen, Fry said.
Just One Day took the enormity out of the equation. “By outlining what they can do to prepare for this one day, we made it a digestible, relatively easy thing,” Fry said. “It was easier for people to not feel confronted by it.”
The ease of Just One Day even had an effect on some shelter directors who have been vocally against moving to a no-kill model. One of the most vocal, located in the Miami area, even baked a giant cake with the Just One Day logo on it to share with her staff.
In many places, Just One Day became two or three days, and many shelters have already pledged to participate again on June 11, 2013. Fry said there are already more organizations signed up than participated in 2012, and the official pledge period hasn’t even started yet.
The Henry Bergh Leadership Award
The Henry Bergh Leadership Award is named after the founder of the animal welfare movement in the U.S.
“I feel a little strange receiving the award,” Fry said.
Although Just One Day was his idea, and he did the initial work to see it started, he credits the event’s success to all the people across the nation who got on board.
“I feel it belongs to all the people who participated,” he said.
He does take special pride in the fact that such a widespread movement got its start in Hastings, however.
“Our whole community deserves to celebrate,” he said.