Points of Progress: Shelter euthanasia rates are down, and more

A kitten is caged at a shelter in Atlanta on Aug. 28, 2019. Euthanasia rates at animal shelters have dropped 75% since 2009.

United States

Since 2009, euthanasia rates for cats and dogs in city-run shelters have dropped 75%. Willingness to adopt pets is increasing as some say adoption has become a badge of honor. And the no-kill movement is proving to be successful; advocates have pushed shelters to pursue alternatives such as releasing after spaying or neutering. Efforts to track and compile shelter records nationwide are promoting transparency, but shelter representatives note many shelters face impossible expectations and are doing the best that they can. (The New York Times)


Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

The country has a new approach for protecting its rivers: It is granting them legal rights. Bangladesh has one of the largest networks of rivers in the world – nearly 700. The country’s Supreme Court ruled that every river has a right to life, and people can be taken to court if they are found guilty of causing harm. Advocates say this is a victory for legal defense against environmental damage. While other countries such as India and New Zealand have granted rights to specific bodies of water, Bangladesh’s new rule applies to all rivers. The government said it is figuring out how to enforce river rights and support communities that rely on the rivers for fishing and farming. Human rights activists are still concerned that the legislation will lead to evictions of people living in informal settlements and slums. (Vox)

A boy flies a kite near the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Sept. 4, 2019. The country’s Supreme Court declared that all rivers have the right to life.


Collaboration among the ocean’s stakeholders is helping coral make a comeback. Beginning in the 1980s, Jamaica lost 85% of its vibrant coral reef ecosystem from natural disasters and overfishing, and many scientists thought that it was too late for recovery. But thanks to grassroots organizations and no-fish zones, corals and fish are slowly reappearing. Two years ago, a marine association of businesses and fishers came together and negotiated boundaries of a no-fish zone along the coast. More fishers are getting on board with the zones once they’ve seen fish populations rebound. (The Associated Press)


The new president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, is allowing activists to protest. The Central Asian nation has long prohibited public protests, but members of a youth-led movement were allowed to hold rallies calling for constitutional reform in several Kazakh cities on Constitution Day this August. In the past, police would detain protesters or interfere with marches. President Tokayev reportedly is showing more leniency toward dissident groups, and invited critics to discuss reforms at a special council meeting. (Reuters)

People were able to protest and demand constitutional reform in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Aug. 30, 2019.


Worcestershire County is welcoming back light-shy bats. After learning that some bat species will avoid flying near bright white streetlights, the county decided to install red LEDs along nearly 200 feet of highway by the local Warndon Wood nature reserve. The red-tone corridor allows bats and other nocturnal wildlife to reach key water and food sources undisturbed, and is completely safe for motorists and pedestrians. Similar systems have worked in the Netherlands, but this is reportedly the first installment of its kind in the U.K. (Worcester News)

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