Jargon Jockeys by Amy
April 4, 2009, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Executive Director | Tags: , ,

This week, the Austin Chronicle ran Patricia Ruland’s thorough pieces about the City of Austin’s municipal animal shelter and the community’s animal welfare efforts: How Many Cats Did Austin Save Last Year?, How They’re Doing It, and Austin’s Animal Partnership Model: Get Engaged.  While it is not the main thesis of any of the pieces, one point she makes quite well is about the confusing jargon we have a tendency to use in this field.

We use jargon, terms like “adoptable,” “treatable,” “no-kill” “limited intake,” even “euthanasia” as a sort of shorthand to facilitate program and policy design and measure results.  However, sometimes our jargon is so confusing that it obfuscates the intended impact of our work.  This is risky because if the people we rely on to help us save animals – our volunteers, donors, clients, staff, and supporters – don’t understand where we want to go, how will we get there?  We need a clear, shared vision of what success “looks like” so we can design the fastest way to get there, and maybe more importantly, so we will actually recognize it when we see it.

What does success in Austin look like to me?  It’s pretty straightforward: success = no unnecessary killing at TLAC.  To clarify our position a little more, we support shelter veterinarians’ decisions to humanely euthanize animals that are suffering from an illness or injury.  We support shelter staff’s decisions to humanely euthanize animals that are legitimate threats to the safety of people, children, or other animals because of their aggressive and dangerous behavior.  And that’s it.  If we are killing Austin’s homeless animals for any other reason, we have not yet reached our goal.

We aren’t there yet.  We are still needlessly killing homeless animals in Austin, and that is exactly why all of us are working so hard to think strategically and build and enhance the programs that will get us to our goal most efficiently and effectively.  I know for a fact that we will reach this goal, and I don’t think it is that far away.  In the meantime, I’m making a pledge to try to keep jargon to a minimum, and speak as plainly as I can about what we really want for Austin’s animals.  I will be a jargon jockey no more!


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