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Edited on: 11/15/2017 at 10:26PM

Ventura County Animal Services, a no kill open admission shelter, but it takes hard work says the Shelter Director

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From the heart of an animal shelter director. Tara Diller opens her heart to tell it like it is. The day to day realities of running a "No Kill" shelter without the necessary funding that is really needed, the reality of always being understaffed, the reality that no, not every animal will be saved. But most importantly, the heartbreak of seeing the never ending flow of animals the shelter must take in as a municipal shelter. "Wow! 2 years ago yet not much has changed for me personally. This has been the roughest and saddest 3 years of my life. While I LOVE this community, I've been challenged by all of the differences between Sacramento vs. Ventura. It's an entirely different world that I've stepped into here and have tried desperately to help our shelter be an amazing place to work, volunteer and visit however, the ebbs and flow of our foundation and ever-changing nature of this work, really has me taking a step back to figure out how to truly create sustainability, job satisfaction, employee development and growth, organizational health, retention and reduce variations in processes. All of these things keep me up at night and that's only the "human" side of the equation. I'm accustom to having our community shelters, allies, partners, and supporters embrace any intent of saving more lives, or becoming a "Target Zero" community that pulls together and focuses on saving our community pets first (while the community is accustom to the term no-kill, it's clear that this term only confuses the general public as there is no such thing as a true no-kill shelter, with the volume of pets municipal shelters must receive; hit by car, severely injured, severe aggression, etc., euthanasia is a reality) however, being an open admission municipal shelter that must accept any pet from our jurisdiction and brings in 29 homeless pets per day, it's simply impossible to save them all by ourselves despite our best efforts. I truly believe that our partners believed Ventura was solid in our efforts because we've been successful in some areas and we've remained upbeat and positive in our messaging, but the reality is we're treading water, it's hard to keep up, the amazing staff that care for these animals daily are suffering from compassion fatigue, we emotionally hurt from seeing the same pets in the kennels being passed up daily and we have extreme staff shortages in both the kennels and vets office. We need the community now more than ever before. Unfortunately, there is an overall feeling in the community that the pets in Ventura County shelters are now safe, and I simply cannot stress enough how untrue that is. EVERY animal that comes into a shelter should be considered "at risk" because the moment we take our finger off of the pulse of this effort, we could very easily slide backwards and clearly no one wants that. Thankfully, I have fantastic mentors and those I look up to in this industry and one thing I've learned is that this effort takes a good 5 years to stake your claim to being a sustainable Target Zero community (Target Zero: as the term implies, it is always our goal to never euthanize an animal that is adoptable, treatable, or manageable) and even then, the struggles continue. We must all band together to ensure Ventura County pets are safe, that the community knows of their shelters and understands this isn't just a "pound", yet we're a community resource and what we do and why we do it is an act of love and sacrifice. We are a State Mandated organization, every city and/or county must maintain a sheltering system, so we're not going anywhere, we are here to stay.... it's simply a matter of will we be a successful organization or one that fails its community wishes; to try and save them all?" Ventura County achieved no kill status in 2014: http://www.ventura.org/county-news/ventura-county-animal-services-department-achieves-no-kill-shelter-status-for-2014 How Camarillo stays a no kill shelter: http://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/communities/camarillo/2017/03/10/how-camarillo-stays-no-kill-animal-shelter/97139464/

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