A well worn argument used by some animal advocates that sounds reasonable on the face of it: Look, we’d like to be for no kill but let’s get real -we’ve got animal shelters abusing pets, gas chambers and serious funding issues to deal with. Let’s try to improve things one rung at a time and maybe one day we’ll reach a point where we can advocate for no kill.
Here’s where we agree: Rooting out shelter abuse, ending the use of the gas chamber in shelters and getting communities more involved in an effort to increase funding for shelters are all great goals. Where we start to diverge is that, to my mind, these are worthy goals to strive for but only within the context of no kill. Because if we try to help shelter pets without continually advocating for no kill, we are perpetuating a culture of needless death for our communities’ pets. We are saying, in effect, it’s not ok for shelters to deny pets food or veterinary care but it is ok to kill them. We are saying it’s not ok to put healthy/treatable pets into a gas chamber to die but it is ok to kill them via injection. We’re saying we need more funding to help shelter pets which we will likely kill.
Some animal advocates are very keen on blaming the public for the killing of shelter pets. I disagree with this entirely but if you are determined to blame the public for the so-called necessity of shelter killing, is this truly the approach you want to take when asking the public for support? Does this sound at all like a successful sales pitch?: You horrible people are the ones to blame for all the pets killed in shelters. Therefore we are asking you to give us money, support our causes at the ballot box and follow our pet care advice so that we can continue killing our communities’ pets.
Even if I agreed with the idea of blaming the public for shelter killing (I don’t), I’d have to admit it’s a tactic which has failed to end the killing. And it has failed because animal advocates have wasted time, resources and effort to maintain a culture of acceptance of death for healthy/treatable shelter pets. Many people in this country, including some of the shelter workers doing the killing, actually believe it is humane to kill healthy/treatable pets because of this culture of acceptable death.
We will never achieve no kill if we continue to work within this framework of acceptable killing. To put it another way, we will never save shelter pets by continually advocating to have them killed.
So no, I can not in good conscience embrace efforts to “help” shelter pets which are rooted in a culture of killing shelter pets. Everything I do to help my community’s pets is done within the context of working toward no kill. I am opposed to killing healthy/treatable pets in shelters and therefore won’t take any action which might lead to killing. I reject the notion that killing healthy/treatable pets is either necessary or acceptable. I am for no kill. What are you for?
14 thoughts on “It’s No Kill Day – Where Do You Stand?”
I have read Redemption and felt reborn to the idea of NO KILL. I attended a No Kill Nation Seminar last month in Shelbyville, KY. I left that date more alive and high that No Kill was strong and growing. However within a week I saw a posting on Facebook regarding transporting needed for Shelby County Shelter. Because the posting also had dogs will die if not transposted. I emailed the coordinator to ask WTF. I was told that since the shelter is run by the government if animals are not rescued/transported out they are forced to kill when full. With that logic, than all shelters could claim their No Kill with exceptions. It’s not the public, it’s not the shelter workers, it’s the government that must be changed. Homes are being raided and people are being accused of hoarding. Why don’t shelters work with these people if they are willing to space to save a life? You constantly hear they just got overwhelmed. Will guess what, when one home/rescue is shut down, once again there are pleads to help save the animals. Another person is asked to take in a dog, that person feels guilty in wanting to help. Another person is getting overwhelmed. If communities/rescues would work together animals could be saved. Less animals would be killed in shelters. The Change must be with the government. There are programs out there that can help train/socialize animals to help others. Since I have gone off on a random rant I stop here. I have many more issues regarding the No Kill notion. I will support NO KILL, but continue to pray it will happen.
The good news is that Shelby County has been No Kill for over a year through sheer will and hard work. I talked to them about institutionalizing that effort so it is not so dependent on who is running the shelter and how hard they work and not so crisis oriented.
I specifically suggested they open up in the evening and weekends when working people and families with children can adopt (to that end, they opened up a pilot effort to expand hours into the evening one day a week; not enough, but a start), I suggested they set up offsite adoptions at the local Walmart (which I am told they are doing now), and to begin a foster care program (which I am told is also in the works).
Rest assured, despite the frantic plea, at least it is a plea. Most shelters do not do that, choosing to kill the animals instead. And to this day, they are still No Kill.
But these added efforts will help reduce the crisis mode and more institutionalize the effort. And if they do it, the skies will remain blue for the animals there.
Thank you for opening your heart to the possibilities. No Kill is our great hope for the future.
My goal is to see the conversation move beyond “No Kill” to “Open Door” shelters. Often, No Kill is a myth–a shelter simply ships its unsellable animals to a kill shelter. The first shelter is able to claim THEY are No Kill, but the truth is that the animals are simply shipped to another kill facility. In addition, No Kill shelters often turn away dogs that they feel are not re-sellable like so many of the medium to large sized black dogs and “pit bull” mixes.
My goal is to see shelters return to cooperating with purebred rescue organizations who seek to remove the purebred dogs from the facility and free-up space for mixed breeds. These days, many shelters refuse to cooperate with purebred rescue organizations because the purebred dogs can be sold for more money than mixed breeds.
My goal is see the end of the practice of importing dogs from other countries and other states into shelters that are NOT full so that the shelter may keep itself full.
My goal is to see the end of the “pet overpopulation” myth.
My goal is to see the end of the “buy from a breeder and kill a dog in a shelter” myth.
My goal is to see the deceptive practices of the HSUS and PETA exposed to the public.
My goal is to see the truth, the real truth, exposed and laid bare so that true animal welfare, and the much-needed shelter reform that goes with it, can begin to become a reality.
Thank you for beginning that conversation here.
I believe the idea that “no kill” and “open door” are opposed is a meme introduced by the keepers of the status quo with the express purpose of confusing people.
“No-kill” did not begin as a descriptor of a method or a label for a group of people. It began as a probe towards a paradigm shift from an approach based upon killing when it’s convenient to one in which killing is not on the table as a solution to the problem.
A no-kill community or no-kill nation could very well have some shelters that specialize in high-volume, easy adoptions; others that take on hard behavior cases; others that provide specialized medical care and so on. A no-kill region might very well utilize a regional system where the “inventory” of animals can be moved such that little dogs go to the city and big dogs get to people who want them in suburban or rural areas where properties are larger.
One of the most crippling myths I see out there is that EITHER every single, individual shelter must solve every, single individual type of animal problem OR no kill is a farce because some shelters pass animals to other shelters or groups. That just isn’t true.
“No Kill shelters often turn away dogs that they feel are not re-sellable like so many of the medium to large sized black dogs and “pit bull” mixes.” … “My goal is see the end of the practice of importing dogs from other countries and other states into shelters that are NOT full so that the shelter may keep itself full.”
We have Pit Bulls (including one who is 17-years- old), Big Black Dogs, 22-year-old cats, along with puppies, kittens, and a shoestring budget. We might be different from the rest because we pull from local animal control facilities and we don’t take “shipments” from out-of-state. It’s true: We serve the animals in our own backyard. We don’t have to “keep ourselves full” with anyone’s help, thank you.
Our shelter never turns a dog or cat away, regardless of its health, age, breed, etc. Ask “E,” the puppy left in our lobby, suffering from Parvo and near death. Ask “Mr. P,” a cat brought in a few weeks ago who had been hit by a car and left for dead. Both are on the road to recovery because we didn’t turn these “unsellables” away.
Spreading the rumor that all shelters “ship their unsellables” to a kill shelter is extremely unfair. Just as saying that all breeders are disreputable, because in my opinion, they’re not.
We are a true no-kill shelter. No animal gets “shipped” anywhere. We will keep an animal for however long it takes to find him/her a home. Many will argue that that animal is taking up space and other animals are dying in pounds, but this is our philosophy. We even have enrichment programs, including “field trips” and weekends away with volunteers that help to keep the animals sane while waiting for their homes.
“My goal is to see shelters return to cooperating with purebred rescue organizations who seek to remove the purebred dogs from the facility and free-up space for mixed breeds. These days, many shelters refuse to cooperate with purebred rescue organizations because the purebred dogs can be sold for more money than mixed breeds.”
When a purebred dog comes in we always contact a rescue for the exact same reason you mention: To free space for the mixed breeds. Unfortunately, we might not get a call back, the dog might be “too old,” or we’re given another excuse as to why they can’t take him/her. As you can imagine, it’s very frustrating. We recently pulled a Boxer and an Australian Shepherd from a local pound; none of the rescues we contacted were willing to help. At least that’s what I think; they never returned our calls.
Please don’t view all shelters in the same bucket as HSUS and PETA. Those organizations don’t save lives; again, my opinion. They’re out to make money; they’re PR machines, and that’s all there is to it.
Give the smaller organizations a fair shake.
My mother managed a local shelter when I was a kid. I volunteered at another shelter in college. Word around the shelters was always “there are just too many–we have to kill to make space for others.” That was, more or less, true. A select few animals were taken in by purebred rescue organizations but my hometown shelter, for example, was grossly overpopulated and beyond capacity (dogs shared kennels, many were kept in outdoor enclosures, etc.) because of my mother’s policy of “openness.” Under new management, the shelter in question drastically reduced its kill rate only because it began to refuse to take in more animals than it had indoor kennels and foster homes. That makes sense too, and I absolutely understand both managers’ philosophies.
I used to believe what I was told, that killing was okay as a means to cope with the overpopulation problem (I’m sorry, but isn’t an excess of homeless pet animals the definition of overpopulation? I’ve known an abundance of wonderful animals who were executed for no other reason than for being homeless for too many days AND the genuinely well-meaning people who tried to promote and save them). I was told that it was more humane to kill dog after dog than to let them live in an overcrowded shelter. I understood.
More recently, I’ve changed my mind. Now I realize that killing healthy animals hides the problem and allows it to continue indefinitely. It allows people to make arguments like those made by another commenter above. If we kill the excess, there is no overpopulation problem (Karen Pryor might call this “shooting the dog”). The excess is dead now… but at what cost? Do we really care so little about their lives as to disregard the problem that directly led to their deaths? So few really care about the overproduction of dogs in puppy mills. It’s so disheartening.
Maybe if we stopped killing, more people would step up to the plate and support rescue, be it by actively working in rescue, donating money and/or time, providing much needed foster homes, or just considering compatible shelter dogs as permanent family members. <3
Maybe if we stopped killing, more would understand that simply are producing more puppies than we can realistically provide homes for. Perhaps we could finally make puppy factories illegal.
I stand firmly for no kill and have ever since my bubble was burst by reading “Redemption.” As I tell people whom I introduce to the book and the concept of the No Kill Movement, I thought I was aware of a lot of issues in my “pre-Redemption” world. I had no idea. I now feel hyperaware, even if that’s not a word, and I feel I am responsible for voicing my beliefs at every given opportunity and at some opportunities I either make or create. I know irresponsible people. I get the emails about the abandoned animals. About the family which just had a baby and no longer has time for the dog. But I also know how the community in which I work responds any time there’s a story on the news about an animal in need. I know how the people I work with look stricken and pale when I say to them, “no. I’m sorry. Not all of the animals who end up in the shelter get put up for adoption.” I believe in my heart of hearts that if we 1) embrace no kill 2) cease to placate the Old Guard which says one thing (“I don’t want to kill them”) and does another (kills them) and 3) inform the public about how they can help bring about change, they will become the solution to shelter killing because life saving is simply the right thing to do.
I cannot affect sweeping change in my region by myself. But I can do my part to educate folks and get them fired up in hopes that no kill really can become our reality and the current status quo can become part of our shameful past. I will not give up. I will not stop fighting.
Thank you so much for posting this article. We need more and more people to learn about no-kill and the programs that make it possible. Most people do NOT want to see shelter pets killed. They need to learn that there are things that they can do to put an end to it.
Keep pushing info about no kill – it is helping people wake up to its possibility.
My dream is No Kill – when I heard almost by accident Nathan Winograd speak in Seattle on his book tour for Redemption..my hope was renewed. No kill is going to happen.
If only every day was No Kill day.
“Everything I do to help my community’s pets is done within the context of working toward no kill. I am opposed to killing healthy/treatable pets in shelters and therefore won’t take any action which might lead to killing. I reject the notion that killing healthy/treatable pets is either necessary or acceptable. I am for no kill. What are you for?”
I am right there with you, my friend. No Kill, No excuses.
“For there is nothing inaccessible for death.
All beings are fond of life, hate pain, like pleasure,
shun destruction, like life, long to live. To all life
Jain Acharanga Sutra.
“Does this sound at all like a successful sales pitch?: You horrible people are the ones to blame for all the pets killed in shelters. Therefore we are asking you to give us money, support our causes at the ballot box and follow our pet care advice so that we can continue killing our communities’ pets.”
No, it sounds like mental illness.
Very well said!