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The "101" Department: Strength in Numbers

Animal welfare groups discover the advantages of working together

Animal welfare groups discover the advantages of working together

Calling Colin, Condi, and Hillary—we need you! With your experience brokering ceasefires and international peace deals and border disputes, surely you can handle a little tension and bickering between animal welfare groups, right?

It should be a cakewalk: Just bring together all the animal welfare groups in town, from animal care and control to breed rescues to feral cat caretakers, from the largest shelter to the smallest feral cat group. Sidestep the politics and the difficult personalities, the egos and the vendettas, the relentless grinding of countless axes, the finger-pointing and trash talking. Help these quibbling agencies and organizations come together to agree on common goals and work together to achieve them.

Wait! Wait! Where are you going?

Hey, we understand: Getting the stakeholders in a given community's animal welfare scene to come together is tricky. They have competing agendas, from protecting public safety to increasing adoptions to keeping the city council happy to ensuring that backdoor cats are sterilized and fed. Bringing all these competing goals into a harmonious approach is daunting—especially for those working in a field that, many shelter old-timers joke, is the only one that eats its young.

But it's not impossible, and the proof can be found all across the country. With no help from the heavy hitters of the State Department, many communities have figured out how to move forward. Whether they call themselves animal welfare alliances, federations, coalitions, or something else, these unified forces have managed to set their resentments aside and work productively— even cheerfully—for a higher good: the shared goal of saving animals.

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