Can We Really Save Every Healthy/Treatable Shelter Pet in America?

Nathan Winograd has a post detailing why “pet overpopulation” is a myth:

  1. How many dogs and cats enter shelters annually? 8 million. (Some put it as low as 6 million, but I am going to use a “worst case” scenario.)
  2. Of those how many are savable? 90 percent or just over 7 million.
  3. Of those how many will be saved? 4 million.
  4. How many of the savable animals are killed? 3 million.
  5. How many need to find new homes? If shelters are doing their jobs comprehensively, just over 2 million (3 million on the high end). The remainder should be increased reclaims or in the case of feral cats, TNR’d.
  6. Other than those who will adopt from a shelter as a matter of course (those saved above), how many people in the U.S. are looking to bring a new dog or cat into their home next year but have not decided where they will get the animal and can be influenced to adopt from a shelter? 17 million. So, 17 million people for 2-3 million dogs and cats.

The Shelter Pet Project has a Powerpoint presentation here.  The first several pages explain how we can find homes for all the healthy/treatable pets in shelters in the U.S. and include a slide on the methodology behind the numbers:

To fully understand the problem and to strategize wisely on the solution, the Ad Council and Draftfcb:

•conducted in-depth research

•ran surveys and focus groups

•met with The HSUS and Maddie’sFund at length

•…and visited shelters

HSUS has a press release on the Shelter Pet Project on their website:

According to The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund, eight million pets enter shelters and rescue groups every year, with three million of these healthy and treatable pets euthanized due to a lack of adoption.
“By reaching a subset of the population uncertain about where they’ll obtain their next dog or cat and convincing them that an animal shelter is the best source, we can end the euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats in this country,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

Maddie’s Fund looks at the shelter numbers here:

There are around 3 million healthy or treatable dogs and cats put to death in shelters each year.

There are 14 million people who have adopted shelter pets already, and another 41 million who’ve indicated they’re considering doing so – we call those the “swing voters,” and of them, 17 million will bring a pet into their family in the next year.

We only need to convince 3 million of those 17 million to do what they are already considering doing, get their new pet from a shelter, and every treatable or healthy cat or dog in America will have found a home.


America’s approximately 4,000 animal shelters are currently adopting out more than 4 million pets per year – between 2 and 3 per shelter, per day. By simply increasing that by an additional 2 pets per shelter, per day, the 3 million healthy and treatable pets who currently lose their lives in shelters will be saved.

Does a no kill nation seem achievable to you?

136 thoughts on “Can We Really Save Every Healthy/Treatable Shelter Pet in America?

  1. It would seem more achievable if every group you quoted was in agreement.

    For example, the HSUS press release you link to is dated September 24, 2009, and it seems to agree with Nathan Winograd. However, two months later on November 23, 2009, HSUS was still touting “Pet Overpopulation” (

    In my view, you either defend the killing of shelter pets under the Pet Overpopulation banner, or you oppose it. I oppose it. HSUS doesn’t.

      1. If you are going to quote HSUS on saying there is pet overpopulation, better get Bonney Brown the queen of no kill in Reno, Nv. She referenced pet overpopulation 5 times in one article. The Nevada Humane Society is a tool of Nathan Winograd, and yet his CEO frequently uses pet over population as a reason for their continuing to give animals to anybody walking past the door.

  2. I have heard those numbers many times and it makes me wonder do those 17 million homes GET a pet or they are just interested but don’t adopt? I didn’t think the breeding industry was producing 13 -14 million animals a year. But I could be wrong.


    1. When you say “breeding industry”, I’m guessing you are referring to puppy mills. If so, I would guess puppy mills supply maybe 1 million (or less) puppies yearly.

      1. I meant breeding as a whole – so responsible breeders as well as puppy mills. Basically options other then shelters and rescues. My question is are there 17 million animals who get homes in a given year (via rescue, or a breeder or a pet store or an ad in the paper) or is it just at 17 million homes THINK of getting a pet and the vast majority don’t get one?


      2. Gotcha. I think research of this nature is always best viewed as an estimate. On the one hand, people may indicate an intent to get a pet this year and never actually follow through for a variety of reasons. On the other hand, if Draftfcb were to ask me about the potential for getting a new pet this year I would have said absolutely no. Then came the knock on the door from the neighbors with Mulder in tow…

    2. I have wondered similar things because I, too, have seen those numbers bounced around all over the place. It makes me wonder if they have only expressed an interest that they are interested in getting a pet – or if they said they are actively looking for a pet. Similar to Shirley I have also said that I do not want any more pets…then my orphan kitty (Minnie) came along and after hand rearing her I fell in love with her and can’t bear to part with her now. So I added cat #5 to my herd. (Of course, that was after I tried rehoming her and those who were interested in taking her I couldn’t release her to because they had crazy vet references….most of them went through an incredibly high number of animals – as in they had one dog one week and within a month or two it appears as if the fun & newness wore off and they got rid of the first animal only to replace it with another animal. I was looking for a forever home, not to pass her off as a play thing only to be disposed of once the fun and newness wore off…or to put it bluntly she grew up and wasn’t a cute little kitten anymore.)

      BUT – anyways…IF those number are indeed accurate and every shelter within the US would follow the no kill equation – we would have shelter sitting basically empty, which is what I would love…but maybe people (in the shelters) are thinking that if No Kill became a reality that people would be out of work (at the shelters) and so they continue to not try and do right by the animals? Grasping at straws here because I just don’t understand how some of these shelter can continue to kill when there is data out there that shows that we could potentially become no kill overnight. Given all the math – even if “puppy mills”, legit breeders, rescues, and shelters all actually found these people that has expressed an interest in getting a pet – it appears that there are more than enough homes. So why are we not active searching out these people to take these animals?

      1. I don’t think it’s quite as straightforward as the numbers might suggest, because the dogs entering shelters don’t necessarily match up well with the owners looking for dogs. Some of it may be that it’s difficult for a publicly-funded shelter to justify spending money transferring animals elsewhere. It strikes me as crazy that some shelters seem to be killing chihuahuas when there’s definitely a strong demand for tiny dogs.

        I’m doubtful that there’s any prospect of shelters being emptied however effective they are at finding homes because there will always be some people who get into difficulties and need to have their animals rehomed.

      2. Again, this is why rescues having the legal right to pull animals from death row in shelters is so important. The shelter may not have transportation worked into the budget but some rescues do. And absolutely, we will always need shelters. There will always be people who become gravely ill and are unable to care for their pets and myriad other unforeseeable life changes which cause people to need assistance with rehoming pets. And of course there will always unfortunately be a small percentage of people who are outright cruel or irresponsible with pets and those pets need a safe haven to care for them until new homes can be found. We’ll always have a need for child welfare services for those same reasons.

      3. OK – but what if we have an organization that was set up just for that purpose and that purpose alone. A national transport group that could fund and arrange transport from shelters? Especially given the shaky ground some of these rescues are on with these shelters. Do you guys think that if we had something like this up and running that the shelters would use it???

      4. Like someone else said, these transport networks exist NOW. Obviously more PR needs to be done about them, if for no other reason than to get more people involved with the actual driving. The fact remains though whether it’s petfinder or transports or anything else, SOME dogs are going to be harder to save than others. Is there any place where there’s a shortage of 6 year old black lab mixes? And the real question here, the point I haven’t seen addressed, is where are all the pitbulls and pitbull mixes going to go? Yes we know they’re great dogs and yes the discrimination is slowly changing but is there anywhere we can transport them to that doesn’t have more than they can find homes for already?

      5. @ Molly – Pit type dogs are something near to my heart…there has to be some way and place that is ‘safe’ and welcoming of them. Villalobos has around 200 dogs and they adopt them out and get new ones in all the time. They are located out in California, which is one place that you see a TON of people with pit type dogs that are walked all over the place and treated like every other dog. Maybe Tia (who runs Villalobos) would have sugggestions on that topic? Or, maybe that guy who is in that show “Pit Boss” would be another good resource to ask about that – he’s a big pit type rescuer and manages to place them a lot….

        And, while I HATE to stereotype…I hear that dog fighting is more rampant in inner city areas and in the south. So maybe there are specific areas that would be more welcoming than others.

        The biggest problem we have one that started years ago when PETA & HSUS introduced the BSL that we are still fighting against TODAY. Even though HSUS, at least, has changed their stance more people have started opening their eyes to the fact that pit type dogs aren’t mean, vicious killers – but we still have a long way to go to completely tranform misconceptions about the pit type dogs. I think it would be better IF we could make BSL go away.

        @ Rosemary – Yes, more PR needs to be done in regards to transports…I know that people do it, but when it’s brought up in conversation it is normally being due to pulling from a high kill shelter to a rescue or foster in another area. I haven’t really heard of dogs being pulled from one shelter to another depending on what types of dogs are getting adopted at a higher rate – to increase their effort at being adopted vs staying where they are and facing possible death or life in a cage….and THAT’S the kind of transport I am MOST interested in finding out about. Yet, no one has info on this that I can locate (transports from one shelter to another).

  3. I think one of the keys to achieving a no-kill nation is emphasizing the need for shelters and rescue groups to organize and establish a network that spans the entire country. Acknowledging that I’m basing this entirely on anecdotal evidence rather than empirical data, my impression is that there are real issues of supply and demand at play here. Not every municipality has overcrowded shelters teeming with adoptable pets. It’s my belief that there are millions of well meaning companion seekers out there who may look at their local shelter, not find just what they’re looking for immediately, and then assume that they’ve run out of adoption options so they go track down a breeder instead.

    If every shelter was willing and able to work with potential adopters to expand their search beyond their immediate locale, I think we’d make a lot of progress.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with this. There are still way too many people who only think to look at their local SPCA or HS for a pet, and when they don’t find one, they head to a breeder/mill/BYB.

      I think one very easy step would be to make everyone aware that rescues DO exist, and chances are, they will have exactly what you are looking for.

      I’m ashamed to admit that up until I started volunteering with a local rescue last year, I only knew about the SPCAs and HSs. And when I speak to people now about what I do, I find the same things.

    2. That is an idea I have been floating around in my head for some time now. I have been trying to discover if we have some sort of system in place like rescue transports have that could move dogs from an area where they area just going to be killed, or kept in cages for years, and move them to an area where those same dogs are in demand to see them find homes. I think that this is a HUGE part of our shelter system that is broken and not utilized enough…maybe they haven’t thought to do it? I don’t know. Yet, it makes me wonder if shelter are working together to help these animals succeed at finding a home…or do they not think about tranporting and moving them around because it hasn’t been done that way in the past?

      1. There are transports every single day throughout the US and Canada.

        The group I volunteer with on Yahoo Groups – the animals come from high-kill shelters in the south, usually, and are transported from there to various foster/forever homes in Canada. Of course, along the way, other animals are picked up and dropped off to other rescues.

        It’s an incredibly time consuming thing to do, and very difficult, since it’s sometimes hard to fill every single leg, so animals are sometimes left behind.

        So yes, it is being done. All the time. Everywhere. But volunteers are the only way this succeeds.

      2. Yes, but it depends entirely on the initiative of individual volunteer rescue groups. The group I work with pulls dogs and cats from high kill rural shelters in the south and brings them to the DC metro area for adoption. But it would be nice to establish a direct link between shelters across the country so that if I find a dog that I really want to meet on petfinder, but he happens to be located 5 states away, I can go to my local shelter and they could coordinate with the out of state shelter to get us in touch.

      3. To Erica, Mel and Mary –

        You guys are so creative! God bless you three for highlighting a crucial need for the future of our rescue “system.”

        It is my dream to turn shelters into real inviting places where people love to come and visit – even if they aren’t adopting. Hopefully, between the Adoption Center model and the No-Kill Equation we can bring this overpopulation to an end.

        Right now wonderful groups like Dogs In Danger, Petfinder, etc. are swamped with millions of dogs and cats needing homes. It is a pipe dream right now to think they could focus on this idea.

        If this glut of unwanted animals were under control, these “locator” groups could play a much more useful role in doing just what you pointed at: locating specific dogs or cats for “customers” around the country. Our underground railroad could then work on these fun placements instead of just trying to save animals from death as they do now.

        The notion that an adopter can’t find purebred or specific breeds at a shelter is hurting our cause. This is such a great idea you guys have.

        Hypothetically, if Joe needs a special part for his 1965 Corvette L88 427, he can go to a mainstream junk yard and have them locate the part anywhere in the country and have it shipped to him. Why can’t we do that with dogs and cats?

        Great idea, guys!

      4. This is making me wonder if the shelter reform effort we were beginning needs to take a new direction. With all the groups already out there trying to enact reform. I was heading in the direction that we would be best to establish a national group that umbrellas over all the shelters…maybe what is needed instead is a network that can be used to locate animals people are requesting and find transport for those animals? Maybe my time would be a better use if I tried to establish some sort of database rather than trying to set up a national shelter umbrella group? Or maybe it oculd be part of the shelter reform discussions? My mind is running with a zillion ideas of how to help shelters – but this is one of the ideas that I wanted to tackle in the forum discussion. Now I am beginning to think time & energy would be best served if we looked at transport to move animals to people who do want them vs the transports that are set up to specifically pull from high kill shelters….IDK!?!?!

      5. Erica –

        There is a national database – Petfinder. It works very well, as far as I’m concerned, because it can only be used for shelters and rescues – not your regular run of the mill breeder.

        The part I have a hard time with are the many rescues who will only adopt out animals if the person lives within XX number of miles, or adjoining states. It’s ridiculous, especially if someone is more than willing to drive the distance to pick the animal up.

        I realize that most rescues (or at least, I hope) like to do home visits, etc. If the person wanting to adopt is not in their region, it’s simple – find a reputable rescue in that person’s region to do the home visit.

        If someone called me today and said that there is a person in my city who is interested in adopting a dog from their rescue that is 600 miles away, I wouldn’t even think twice about offering to do a home visit.

      6. I’m all for dispensing with the home inspections, except in perhaps a rare, special situation. I feel like if people present themselves as responsible, compassionate pet owners, can provide a vet reference (or an alternative if a first time owner), and have no cruelty convictions on their record – they’re good to go.

      7. Hi Erica,
        I am a group that is trying to do just that for the cats along the east coast. We figure that if we can find out what kind of cats get adopted quickly in a certain area we can pull them from kills shelters and get them to that area. Compiling all the data we need isn’t easy and I am not sure that the plan will work without a lot of cooperation that just doesn’t seem to be coming.


      8. I know that the NAIA has been trying to gather shelter numbers and other info on their website. Maybe I can talk to Patti Strand and see where they stand on that and see what her input it on establishing a group (or charity) that could handle the work of arranging and funding these transports?

        While I am aware of PetFinder – not all shelters use it. AND it doesn’t help when people are across the country and want an animal from the other side of the US. I am thinking BIGGER – like working with shelters that don’t utilize things like PetFinder and Craigslist.

        I guess this is something that needs looked into more. We have tons of different rescues and volunteers that are willing to do the work of transport…but if we had a group that made all arrangements and all people had to do was go pick the animals up and deliver them to the next drop spot – and we could reimburse them for gas and such – maybe it would help.

        As I have been researching the shelter reform project a few of us have started I see tons of “reform” efforts – but nothing that is a single place to incorporate everyones dieas into one single thing…it is the same with transports and locating rescues. We have thousands upon thousands on shelters, rescues, etc and I keep thinking if we got everyone on the same page it would work better than having 50 different groups all trying to accomplish the same goals.

  4. These numbers sound encouraging, but I have some questions and lingering doubts. I’d appreciate any insights you have!

    1. Who determined that 90% of animals in shelters are “savable”, and how? Is this based on a real statistical study, or is it an assumption based on preconceived beliefs?

    2. What exactly does “savable” mean? Is it synonymous with “adoptable”? The average adopter is unlikely to bring home that senior dog with arthritis, or the unneutered pit bull with ongoing behavioral issues whose muzzle is covered in scars, or the cat with one eye and burns on its tail… Are these animals considered “savable” under this criteria?

    3. If an estimated 25% of the pets in shelters are purebred, can we assume that a significant portion of that segment were intentionally bred by commercial or independent breeders?

    Thanks for your time and courtesy!

    1. There are those who WANT to adopt a pitbull with facial scars, or a one-eyed cat, or a three legged hamster! (Yes, these animals are both savable AND adoptable…I agree, the “average” adopter might not be interested, but that’s why there are so many more “average” pets!)

      I don’t think 25% of the pets in our Alaskan shelters are purebred.

      Another important point: The American Kennel Club revokes the registration of any purebred dog that has gone through a shelter! Of course, since going through the shelter is supposed to require spay or neuter, those dogs are off the breeding table and thus don’t matter to the AKC anymore.

      1. Thank you John for saying what I tried to also say/ask, without any answers coming forth.

        Here is just a tiny piece of a comment line and a follow up piece. Reams of info related to all this discussion is available for anyone to study.

        §No Kill Doesn’t work in Tompkins Co. NY
        by Lori Tyler-
        “As a previous shelter manager of a shelter Nathan Winograd “saved” and a board member of an SPCA in a neighboring community, I absolutely believe that the “No Kill” movement has failed us in Tompkins Co.- once touted as the “safest place in the US for animals”
        I was the manager at the Ithaca SPCA two years before Nathan was hired. Under my management, the euthanasia rate for all animals (not just those deemed adoptable) decreased by about 50%. We were developing programs to achieve “no-kill” before he came along. In fact, the board resolved to stop euthanizing BEFORE Nathan was even working at the shelter.
        What he did do was raise money and he built a new shelter (which we had already been planning and had already bought the property for). However, this shelter is not sustainable for the shelter. They cannot afford the operate it- its too big. Now, Nathan has gone away, the donors have dwindled and they are in a danger of losing their animal control contracts as they have had to ask for large increases in money from the towns and city.
        At my shelter in a neighboring county, we have been lured into “trying to keep up with the Jones'” attitude. We tried to change our euthanasia policy to be similar, but we didn’t have the programs to keep the animals moving, and we ended up with a warehouse situation and we couldn’t care for the number of cats in our care. We now have more stringent euthanasia guidelines- including euthanizing for issues such as dental disease and poor socialability.
        “No-Kill” is a euphemism for “limited admission”. Animals aren’t truly safe if they are being dumped on animal control or left in the street. I personally want to be part of an organization that accepts all homeless animals in the community and tried to help them- even if that means some will be euthanized. There are worse things in this world than euthanasia- I have seen them. I choose to euthanize over leaving an animal to suffer in a cage, starve on the street, or suffer from a treatable- yet un-affordable to care for disease.
        You can limit the number of animals being euthanised in your shelter by creating programs to increase adoptions and reduce the number of animals coming in. It is not, IMO, a front-loaded proclamation- it the the result of sustainable programs within the shelter and in the community. Once the population is stable and the community sees your results- the money will come to help you help more animals be adoptable. We are far from this in Chemung Co. It is far easier to get a cat from your neighbor than the shelter and far easier to just leave your cat to breed recklessly than get her spayed. This is where we need to work- not making sweeping proclamations about not killing animals.”

        Add a Comment
        §Shocked but not really
        by Reality-
        “So Nathan Winograd failed in Ithica? He tells everyone that he made that place “nokill.” It was the first “nokill” shelter in the nation. He said it’s still his pride and joy. I had a feeling that probably wasn’t true, like everything else he boasts.

        I know he failed in Rancho. The euth rate went up, there is overcrowding, diseased animals. They no longer want to let the public into the shelter unless they can prove they are looking for their dog.

        We know he failed in Philadelphia. I saw the video, read the articles. I heard some news from Nevada that things aren’t as peachy as he states. He knows how to tell people what to do but not how to do it. And this guy is selling a book on nokill sheltering?”

        §No kill Ithaca? Nathan taking cred for others work
        by LT-
        “Nathan basically takes credit for things that were already in place and done before he came along. According to him, our shelter was slaughtering animals before he came in and saved the day. The truth was, the shelter manager in charge at the time of his hire had not euthanised an adoptable animal for 9 months before Nathan ever set foot in the shelter. This was due to programs well in place before she was manager. It was aggressive spay/neuter- all animals were S/N before adoption- long before Nathan came and this great shelter he takes credit for building was already planned and the land purchased before he was hired.
        It burns me to no end that he takes full credit for rescuing our organization from the backwards locals who were massacring animals.
        His no-kill shelter is falling apart now due to bad planning and lack of funding- but he doesn’t care because he’s gone on to bigger things. I don’t see him coming in to fix things.”

        Add a Comment
        §Reason why
        by DL-
        Shelters that succeed in becoming NoKill or LoKill can do so by only admitting puppies/kittens and young dogs/cats. They close the door on older animals and those with medical concerns. They are driven by adoption fees to succeed. If this were the case with all shelters, they would all be NoKill because most people want to adopt younger, healthy animals. But what about the others? People are to blame for this problem and NoKill shelters adds to the problems.
        Add a Comment
        §To LT
        by just a dog lover-
        “Nathan Winograd told me to my face that Ithaca was killing most animals before he went there and fixed things. He does take all credit for Ithaca. I had no idea that wasn’t true. Of course I also believed Ed Boks when he told me he made Maricopa the first nokill shelter in the nation. He was killing 72% of all animals at the time. That’s not nokill. Why do these people play on our heart strings and lie so much?”

        Add a Comment
        §To Dog Lover
        by LT-
        “It burns me. I put ALOT of work into saving those animals and so did the manager after me. She was the one that stopped killing animals in Ithaca- not Nathan. Then, he fired her- he got rid of her position! What shelter gets rid of a shelter manager position!?!
        Whenever I read anything by him or hear him speak- it makes me sick. I know he’s still taking credit for our work and countless others out there who are doing a damn good job trying to fix the problem. But, he brings in money and press… and people believe him.
        This shelter in Ithaca is in serious trouble.”

        >>So to double check on some of these allegations brings us to this recent info-

        And there is much more to back this info up.
        I guess if you read all this and still want to dismiss everyone’s words as worthless or assume they are just evil people who really want to see animals murdered, then so be it…..

    2. First off, savable and adopted are similar and yet not the same. A savable animal may need medical treatment or special time with an animal behaviorist that can work on the issues that the animal is having. Does that mean they are not adoptable – absolutely NOT…it just means that the animal will need a little additional work to make it adoptable.

      While you stated that “…the average adopter is unlikely to bring home that senior dog with arthritis, or the unneutered pit bull with ongoing behavioral issues whose muzzle is covered in scars, or the cat with one eye and burns on its tail..” I completely disagree about this. There are many people that do take animals just like this. I am one of them and I know a whole lot more. Every pit type dog that I rehabbed in the 15 yrs of doing it had behaviroal issues, that I had to train them to get rid of the negative behaviors (pit type dogs are very smart and they learn fairly quickly).

      If you just instantly say that dogs/cats that fit those criteria are not adoptable, then they are obviously only good for using to fundraise and then need to be killed? That’s BS. If ever life is sacred then that should apply to animals as well as humans. I mean – do we just kill a person who was in a fire that covered 90% of their body by claiming that no one would want that child? Do we just shoot a person because they have behavioral issues and we feel that no body would want them?

      As for the estimated 25% of purebreds in shelters. I can tell you stories of people who purchased purebred dogs and then after they brought them home they didn’t want to deal with the puppy behaviors, or the puppy grew up and was no longer cute/fun, or the people ran into financial problems and were unable to keep them. Maybe they were from an ‘oops’ litter? There are a million reasons for purebreds to be in shelters. A good portion could be from *raids* that were done….look at the recent raid of 97 purebred dogs and 1 cat that were removed from a breeder and then dispersed to shelters & rescues.

      As for the 90% of animals that are “savable” – I don’t know exactly how that number was figured, but I guarantee that if shelters were more willing to work with legit rescues, as well as foster homes we would see an increase in adoptable animals. Especially when we have shelters killing orphaned puppies & kittens because they don’t want to invest the time and energy required to hand rear them and then adopt them out. Or what about the animals that have treatable conditions that are killed because the shelters don’t want to invest the time & money into fixing what is wrong – many times animals are killed for conditions that ARE treatable – mange, worms, ear mites, URI’s, and other treatable problems. Plus we have shelters that take in owner surrenders and the shelter will kill the animal just because the owner requested it – even if there is NOTHING wrong with the animal and it oculd be adopted out, the shelter refuses to take the high road and find a home for the animal.

      IF our shelters were more willing to work with fosters and rescues we would see an increase in adoptions and a decrease in the killings.

    3. So “savable” is any animal that is not deemed to be vicious and whose ailments could be treated (irrespective of expense and outcome)?

      Am I correct that under that criteria, a dog with behavioral issues (which doesn’t bite), requiring thousands of dollars in surgery, having disfiguring scars, etc is considered to be as adoptable as the purebred puppy in perfect health?

      In a shelter system with limited funding and space, won’t that high-cost, high-maintenance, low-adoptability animal displace a number of low-cost, low-maintenance, highly adoptable animals?

      I agree, there are many who have no qualms about adopting pets with special needs — my own rescue cat, Wicket, has a spinal deformity and chronic asthma that requires expensive monthly treatments.

      But I think those of us who make a point to save “less adoptable” pets comprise a minority of potential pet adopters. If you ask the average family to choose between a fluffy white puppy and a grizzled, traumatized senior missing patches of fur that will need “a little extra love”… most will pick the puppy. No judgments here, and I’m *absolutely not* suggesting that those pets are less worthy or less desirable. But they do not appeal as readily to those of us who work with animals and know to look beyond the exterior.

      And that puts a bit of a kink in the optimism of those numbers, especially in the context of a shelter system with limited resources that is not permitted to triage or prioritize adoptions, and is expected to save 91-95% of the animals coming through their doors, regardless of their condition.

      I’m not sure how to reconcile the ideal of saving all animals with the realities of limited resources.

      1. First, I want to address the savable definition….you bring up “irrespective of expense and outcome” when discussing treatable illnesses. I know that in a perfect world we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. AND while I don’t know how other people feel about this, but my take on it is that if an animal can be treated and has a good chance of a positive outcome then it should be treated. We see animals put down for things like ear mites, mange, intestinal parasites, etc – which are treatable and the outcome is positive that it will be cured. While I have seen people willing to pay $10k and up to treat their pet who has developed cancer, I don’t think we are in a position right now where we could say that a dog with cancer is considered treatable, especially given the outcome ‘could’ be that the cancer is not gone and the dog is going to die anyways. I think this is something better discussed as saying an animal is savable when it has a treatable illness that has a 75-80% chance of recovery from that illness.

        “Am I correct that under that criteria, a dog with behavioral issues (which doesn’t bite), requiring thousands of dollars in surgery, having disfiguring scars, etc is considered to be as adoptable as the purebred puppy in perfect health?” I think this requires more discussion as to exactly what is wrong with the animal and what surgeries it would be requiring, pricing, and possibility of recovery before an answer can be given. On the flip side – we have seen stories of dogs getting hit by cars and having thousands of dollars in surgery and being perfectly fine afterwards – 100% recovery rate and got adopted right away.

        ” In a shelter system with limited funding and space, won’t that high-cost, high-maintenance, low-adoptability animal displace a number of low-cost, low-maintenance, highly adoptable animals?” If the shelter is set up and utilizing the support programs – rescues, fosters, etc there shouldn’t be a problem of any animal being displaced by any other. That is where transports and thinking outside the box comes into play.

        I guess what I am getting at is that there are always going to be exceptions to the rule. It’s not like everything is carved into stone. When you speak of “less adoptable” pets it brings a few things to mind. First of all, that animal is going to be adoptable to many people, maybe not EVERYONE, but there are many people that do look specifically for the less than desirables – just like you will find people who would rather get an older dog (already house trained and no puppy chew everything stage). Also, something to make note of here is that many times it is the story behind HOW Fido or Fluffy got the way they are that makes that animal more adoptable. You know how HSUS uses the pictures and films from raids & rescues to fundraise and they bring in a decent amount of money using those strategies? The same concept can be utilized by shelters – telling the story of how the animal came into their possession can help rally support for the animal – and ultimately, if the shelter’s play their cards right this can lead to additional adoptions for the shelter and fundraising options. If you have a puppy that fell down a well and was rescued by local firefighters – the shelter can use the story to help get the puppy adopted. Oftentimes, there are may be hundreds of people that express an interest in adopting that particular puppy – but since only 1 person can really get it, shelters can turn those potential adopters towards other puppies/dogs that are available and could potentially empty out the shelter just by utilizing the media surrounding a particular story of a abused/rescued animal. The media ops are something that many shelters fail to utilize, and those that have discovered this have tapped into a resource that will be invaluable for them!

        I guess my take on this is – the only way to discover if this is do-able is to do it. Citing things such as funding as being a problem, or in your words “limited resources” – I think that does a major disservice to not only the animals in the shelters BUT also to the general public. If you aren’t willing to at least TRY how can it be said that it won’t work? We are a country full of animal lovers and unless we are open & willing to try new things and play around with ideas, as well as utilizing different options that are out there (thinking outside the box) – in addition to using rescues, foster homes, implementing TNR, low cost/free spay & neuter, low cost/free vaccinations, pet retention counseling, etc. I believe that this can be a reality.

        I know you aren’t a big Nathan Winograd fan – but I suggest both “Redemption” and “Irreconcilable Differences” as readings that can explain it better than I ever could. I will end by saying that until we first say that killing is not the way to handle pet ‘overpopulation’ (or should I say crowded shelters) and begin to think of alternatives we will continue to be stuck in a cycle that has our shelters full and animals killed everyday. Think of what could be done in shelters if Fatal Plus was removed from their budget and ONLY used when it is absolutely needed, not for population control or for treatable illnesses – the money used to purchase Fatal Plus could go toward other programs and used to cover other expenses that the shelter has.

        Otherwise – our shelters continue to operate as they always have and we’ll never see a decrease of killing and an increase in placing the animals that are available. I don’t know about YOU, but I’d rather see shelters TRY to make changes and see where they are failing AND then try to figure out methods to fix any problems that they are having. Unfortunately with all the existing laws regarding animals, and those that are still being written…none of them touch on shelters. This leaves shelters without a true sense of checks and balances to guarantee that animals are treated humanely, or given every possible chance at life. It allows our shelters to determine what they think is adoptable vs. what can be done if we just say no to killing.

        Something that I tell people who question why bother trying to reform our shelters is this – our sheltering system, in many cases, is decades old models and methods. Just as people’s lives evolve based on advances that area made, so should our sheltering system. If change never occurred we’d all still be a bunch of people that only lived about 30 years and our lives as we know them today would not exist. I know that you value animal’s lives, but do you value them enough to TRY change and see if it works…or is it only valuable if it is quick and easy and left as it has always been?

        P.S. Resources are only as limited as we allow them to be. If people continue to think of groups like HSUS and ASPCA as being ‘umbrella” groups for animal shelters across that US – we will continue to see ‘limited resources’. While I know there are people who value HSUS for the work that they do in creating laws and such, but when people mistakenly believe that it oversees any shelter with ‘humane society’ in its name that’s when we run into problems (same goes for groups with SPCA in their name), espcially in the funding problems some shelters have. That’s a perception that needs to be addressed and changed. While it may cost HSUS & ASPCA to lose a few donations – it will help the shelters take care of the animals in their care. But then again – I can’t speak for everyone…this is my opinion and is based on my research and talking to other people.

      2. “While I have seen people willing to pay $10k and up to treat their pet who has developed cancer, I don’t think we are in a position right now where we could say that a dog with cancer is considered treatable, especially given the outcome ‘could’ be that the cancer is not gone and the dog is going to die anyways. I think this is something better discussed as saying an animal is savable when it has a treatable illness that has a 75-80% chance of recovery from that illness. ”

        Some rescues have hospice programs for terminally ill animals, while certainly many others end up providing that same care for individual dogs who are found to be terminally ill after they’re brought in. It’s the same idea as human hospice: provide end of life care and comfort for whatever time they have. This option would provide for dogs that aren’t “treatable” but still deserve a kinder death than a needle in a pound.

      3. i just wanted to say that Erica, i really appreciated not only the thoroughness of your comment, but that you stayed positive and civil and really encouraging in response to John. I don’t think there’s enough of that when discussing animal welfare and the challenges we face

      4. I think sometimes the really badly injured/ugly animals have a greater chance of being adopted if their story is spun right. There was a cat in England a few days ago – it lost its ears and nose to cancer – it was really scary looking. But after the shelter went public with it and it got a media blitz the cat had a home within a few days. The shelter I volunteer with took in 120 beagles from an animal testing lab – within 30 days all but three beagles were adopted. With the proper use of publicity animals like that can really pull heartstrings and make people who were only thinking about getting a pet sit up and decide to go ahead and do it. The operative phrase there is “proper use of publicity” – I don’t think most shelters really tap into that potential.


      5. Thank you Erica, that was a great answer.

        Just so you know where I’m coming from: I agree that we have an obligation to try to save as many animals as possible, and we should always be encouraging — and helping — shelters to strive for that no-kill ideal. (I don’t think that the militant, scorched-earth approach of attacking shelters is particularly helpful in this regard. I agree with the motivation, but not the methods.)

        I see many no-kill supporters — including Winograd himself — with an uncompromisingly hostile, “do what I say or I’ll make you suffer” attitude towards shelters and rescuers.

        Yet the no-kill solutions being advanced seem vague, untried, and unsustainable. Yes, we can save 95% of the animals — if we accept only the most easily adopted animals and turn away the rest. Yes, we can rely on foster networks — until those networks become saturated, or the hoarder masquerading as a rescue has to be shut down, and a few hundred malnourished and diseased dogs flood the local system. Yes, we can try creative solutions — but when the money runs out, the shelter *shuts down forever*.

        The No-Kill Equation looks great on paper, especially when you cut out variables like funding and long-term sustainability!

        Like many others, I would dearly love to see it succeed, but I’m not convinced of its viability. And I don’t understand why incremental changes that could substantially lower kill rates are being rejected in favor of all-or-nothing bids to overthrow “regressive shelter directors”.

        Wouldn’t proving the superiority of no-kill by demonstrating it in practice be a better way of persuading the sheltering community? And wouldn’t incremental changes be a safer way of enacting major reforms, without endangering our dangerously overburdened shelter system?

      6. very well said, John.
        The problem with “no kill” isn’t the tenets. A lot of places are using the ideas on his list without much fanfare or controversy. It seems to me that no matter what’s done, if it isn’t 100% working yet, then the finger pointing and blame starts, and even caring hard-working rescuer and shelter workers get shot down too. (I just saw another opinion piece that said the reason it isn’t working is that those who should be using this philosophy are “lazy.” OK!) I believe a lot of the people who support “No Kill” do so because it sounds so nice. Who wouldn’t want it to work? Others though have crossed the line into zealotry, and you cannot have a reasonable discussion with zealots.
        And going back to the cat issue, it seems to me most discussions revolve around dogs and even many of the dog rescuers I know are somewhat oblivious to how enormous the cat overpopulation really is. Still if we’re going to stop killing 4 million companion animals we need to include cats. I obviously can’t know for certain what it’s like in every town in North America but I’d about bet my best aussie that there is NO place without a cat problem that is completely out of control. What I do know is in the county where I live there are an estimated 70,000 stray cats. And I also know that they do extensive TNR. We have low cost S/N clinic that will fix feral cats for a flat $20. That clinic along with rescues and shelters have acquired $1000s in grant money to address the problem, including money to fix every cat in one of the worst zip codes. Another rescue has been running a program where they fix every “free” kitten they can round up (as well as the parents and all other pets in household) and place as many of those as they can, for over 10 years now. The rescues and shelters also work together to move cats and kittens around so there is less reason to euth for space. The cat people I know will say there’s been progress. At least for a few months each winter there’s few kittens and some of the adult cats get homes. And still every spring and summer they field literally 100s of calls A WEEK from people with kittens or cats they need to find homes for and the shelters either have waiting lists a mile long or are putting cats down. Yes some of those are from people who need to “get rid of” their cats for some stupid reason or didn’t get around to getting their cat fixed and were shocked to find it had kittens when it was 6 months old but many are from people who had a cat show up and have a litter in their garage or found a kitten alongside the road or whatever. Those are the facts. The real saints in this are the people who just keep doing this work year after year because they care. And when “no kill” insists that THESE PEOPLE are the ones doing something wrong, they are deluding themselves, period.

      7. Molly, Your experience is absolutely common in regard to the cat problem. And your area has some of the best programs and assistance for dealing with this it sounds like. My area HAD low cost spay/neuter and feral cat TNR. but now that the HS went ‘No Kill’ and ran out of money, there is NO help for anyone in getting their pets altered. Still, this is the South, and the normal vet fees are low compared to most places. But even when it was free, people that most needed to do it, did not! The city has NO WHERE to take strays now either because the HS cancelled their contract of many years of taking the animals, saying they could no longer afford to do so. I get calls everyday from citizens telling me there are strays running around their neighborhood and wanting me to do something….I am an independent Rescue doing what I can with my own very small resources. But, I can tell you the problem is getting worse by the week and animlas are suffering here in this area like never before. It breaks my heart…

      8. “But even when it was free, people that most needed to do it, did not!”

        This is another very valid point and goes back to the “human nature” aspect of all of this that is not being addressed. I can’t remember exact stats but know when they went back over a year’s worth of FREE S/N vouchers, something like half weren’t ever used. And that’s not counting all the volunteer transport help that’s done for people who say from the start they can’t get their pets in themselves. And these same people will call back later with another litter or when the puppies or kittens they HAD to keep are 6 months old and they’ve lost interest and expect us to fix it because that’s what we “do.”

      9. I wanted to say thank you to everybody for reading and posting comments. I think this thread is critical to my personal growth, and the success of the no kill movement.
        What I saw when I volunteered at our local Animal Control many years ago, was that when management took killing off the table, even just for a few select animals, volunteers came in droves! But there was some weird dynamic at play, and some staff took offense and made it a point to sabotage the *chosen* animals.
        I know there are a lot of animals all over the country that need help.
        I know that there are a lot of caring people all over the country that are willing to help. (Donations of time, money, and materials, if not through fostering and/or adoption.)
        But killing animals kills the flow of energy. And *Oops Killing* makes it even worse!
        The tangle my mind gets into when asked the question: “Can We Really Save Every Healthy/Treatable Shelter Pet in America” is that we need to work TOGETHER in order to do it! H$U$ doesn’t want to give up their money/support. (They’ll share just a little bit, when they have to, but they seem to prefer to blame and claim…and then run!)
        We need that owner of the Alabama 44… because those dogs were safe and happy in their pack. We maybe don’t need another 99 King Charles Cavalier puppies bred. Although the rescues likely made some really good money on that bust and hopefully they’ll use those funds to save a few other marginal animals.
        I do sled dog rescue. I could have 100 dogs tomorrow! There are at least that many dogs looking for safe harbor just in my borough! Many don’t burden Animal Control with their leftovers. Some kill their own culls (more humanely than a gas chamber or a heartstick.)
        But there are those of you who don’t approve of tethering. So would ALL of these Alaskan dogs be better off dead? Local Animal Control has an outdoor dog yard with tethers because they found that the dogs that were acclimated to that method of confinement really freaked out inside or in an outdoor pen.
        To me, being no kill is doing what is right for each individual animal. I’ve euthanized many animals. I was willing to stand up and take responsibility for that life and death decision. But I don’t do it lightly. I understand how shelter workers can be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and the insanity of the job.
        Which needs to come first, our support of them, or their support of us? Or, could we perhaps put all of that aside and try to do what is right for the ANIMALS?!
        TNR is not an issue here because Mother Nature culls the feral cat population. There are feral dogs. I’ve fostered some, and many more have been killed by land owners, by Animal Control, and by Nature.
        I guess the main point I wanted to make was that when convenience or space killing is taken off the table, resources, enthusiasm, support and energy build. Dang, gotta go, gonna be late for a vet appointment!

      10. LynnO, Taking killing off the table was what my local HS did with great fanfare…and the expected support, money, volunteers, etc. DID NOT materialize! I know some people figure if a place is No Kill, they don’t need to worry about helping cause no animals are in danger. I have heard this thought expressed more than once. Our HS has publicized their No Kill mission AND their increasingly desperate need for help and money….but it does not come. Many places it does start out with a big show of support, but usually does not sustain itself. The ever plentiful supply of money and volunteers and good adopters that the NKE would have us believe will always be there, many times peters out.
        Molly, thank you for also mentioning human nature. I was insulted and derided for talking about it here. No one here, and certainly not me, LIKES to point out problems or failures of the NK idea! The equation is great-but there are variables in play that need to be considered and only in looking at the WHOLE truth will the best solutions evolve for the BEST outcomes for the animals.

    4. Thanks for asking John. My experience has shown that the majority of purebreds in shelters are pitbulls. There are also a large number of Chi’s. Savable and adoptable are not the same and most people are looking for a pet, not a project. Running the actual numbers shows the majority of people do not want a pet in this economy. I did a survey for a local pet food manufacturer and people are not looking for pets right now. It is not the cost of aquiring a pet, it’s the cost of maintaining the pet. The shelters act as if one set of shot and a quick snip are going to give you a maintenace free dog.

      1. I just want to clarify something…there is indeed a breed called ‘pit bull’ – but too many dogs get lumped together and called pit bulls because they have similar characteristics. AND many people are unable to tell the difference between a true pit bull and other dogs that share the same physical characteristics.

  5. My experience has been that those 17 millions households “contemplating” adopting from their local shelter etc., are not all necessarily the kind of homes that would pass our Adoption App. So…do we lower our standards to place as many as we can, or do we hold to our standards and work toward the goal a bit more slowly, acknowledging that we will have to live with the lives forfeit during that time?

    1. And so you’d rather have the animal dead than in a home? (Even if they are only in that home for a month, or even if they don’t get fed the right food, or even if they escape and get hit by a car next week?) You’d rather see them murdered on purpose than allow an *average* person the opportunity to love them and learn from them for any length of time at all?

      1. Pleas engage in an adult dialogue and don’t take up the chant of “thisorthat”. I have over 45 animals at out Sanctuary, what the hell do you think my answer is? But I am very picky about where they are adopted out to. HOw many rescues do you live with?

      2. Uh, don’t think we are talking about ‘average’ people here if they are truly wanting a pet and are halfway committed to giving it a decent life. There are more people than you realize, applying for pets and intending to banish them to the backyard, chained or penned for the rest of their life or worse! Have you not seen the warning from some Rescues and shelters that owners should never give a pet away ‘free to a good home’, or advertise on Craigslist and similar? That is because people with poor/bad intentions grab those animals for dog fighting/bait dogs,selling to labs, and other abuses, or simply get the animal on a whim cause its easy and free. Then neglect or dump it, often after it has gotten sick or pregnant, etc. Yet, I know of many NO KILL shelters and Rescues that find ‘adopters’ just this way! Anything to keep from having to PTS!
        Unless you have really suffered, physically, emotionally, or mentally, you can not say that any home offering any EXISTENCE, for any span of time, is better than HUMANE euthanasia. Death is not the enemy as much as SUFFERING is. We will all die….an animal only knows the day to day life it leads and cannot feel better in that because it cognitively has hope of one day being given a better life. Absolutely life CAN be worse than death…..

      3. Thank you lurchmom, for putting it into perspective. While I haven’t placed thousands of animals over my time as a rescuer, I have only had 2 returns since the early 1990’s when I started. So yes, I would stick to my protocol, because it works, and I know it does, becuase I follow up on my animals.

      4. I thought I had said in my first response that “there are things worse than death”. Yes, I would rather have an animal humanely euthanized than find itself happy in a home that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about it, and have it hit by a car three weeks later, and suffer. Or, I’d rather it be humanely euthanized than end up as a bait dog or worse.

      5. While I tend to agree with many points that have been made. I have to ask this – how many times have people been turned down because they were thought to be too old, or have children in the house, or other animals? How many people get turned away because they have never owned a pet before – so there is no way to tell if they would be a good owner?

        A few years back my mom was looking for another dog – so she went to a dobie rescue. They turned her down. Why – because they decided that since she was going to school full time and my step father worked full time that they wouldn’t have enough time to spend with the dog. Plus my mom specifically asked about tail docking and ear clipping and asked if they do that – not because she wanted it done mind you…but because she wanted to know more about how the rescue operated. They took this to mean that she was hell bent on having the ears clipped and tail docked when that wasn’t the case.

        While I admit that when I was doing my pit rescue I was very aggressive in doing reference/vet checks on the people interested in the dogs. I ran into many situations where the person had never owned a pet. Instead of turning them away point blank I worked with them on education and made sure I did frequent home visits, as well as offering training when they encountered any problems. Many places are unable to do this – but I made sure I did it due to the type of dogs I had.

        I have to say that I had better results with people who were first time owners – or those who had worked with pit types in the past. They learned about the breed and discovered exactly what they needed to do to not only obey the BSL laws, but also they learned proper animal care from the get-go. Of all the dogs I rehomed – only 2 had problems where I had to remove them from the home…and 1 that was rescued from a fight operation and while the guys references all checked out and he appeared to be a STELLAR adopter, yet he ended up trying to fight the dog and when the dog was taken into custody – the ACO’s refused to release her back to me even though I had contracts and such to prove she came from me in the first place. They said that this was her second chance and they refused to allow me to pay the fees to get her back and ended up killing her.

        So – regardless of how you feel on the subject…just because someone appears to have it all together and would be the PERFECT home – that isn’t always the case. As much as I am on the fence about having an animal abuse registry – it is times like this when I think it would really be a good thing.

      6. I live with about 20 rescues at the moment. Some might be considered unadoptable. Some are *unavialable* because I intend to keep them forever.
        This or That is actually Life or Death!
        Your standards for acceptable Life are perhaps very different from mine. I’m really glad that you screen so carefully and that you have very few returns. Yay You!!!
        I don’t screen so carefully, I get a few returns. (Worse, there have been those who dumped at Animal Control rather than to return to rescue.) Why is it that an adopter would rather dump anonymously than to return a dog to the rescue from where they got it? Usually because the rescue made the adopter feel crappy/inferior. Or maybe the rescue didn’t follow up and didn’t follow through and the adopter felt *abandoned* just like the animal.
        I frankly don’t think there are too many fates that are worse than death. I hear people worry and fret about giving away their animal because they don’t want it to be used for fighting. I just don’t see that as a problem in my area. I see dogs killed needlessly way more than I see them being saved from a fate worse than death.
        I think the sheltering industry uses the term Hoarder to scare people away from rescues. I think many rescues hoard their animals because they are afraid the evil public won’t take proper care of them.
        We can ALL do better! I’m working on it. But agreeing to kill the surplus in the meantime is NOT the right thing to do. At least that is my opinion.

      7. Please folks, assume that I, too, have some common sense and elasticity…while our application is “fraught with peril” as some of you seem to infer, I am a thinking, educated and rational adult. I can weigh the options, the possible pitfalls and so forth.

        On the other hand, I have seen rescues pull an animal out of the shelter for the sake of it not being euth’d, only to warehouse it for years, not to have the animal rehabbed, and then pawned off on the first person that shows interest, AND they never did follow-up because they KNEW, in the back of their minds, that that animal was toast. I don’t want that for our adoptees, so with careful consideration and to THE BEST OF MY ABILITIES to read a situation, the animal’s interaction with the potential adopter and any already-present companions, I make recommendations to our Board, and then we make a collective decision. Which includes honest debate, intuition, hard facts, and common sense.

        I am now going to opt out of these discussions, because I think everyone is just venting their spleen(s) and not THINKING or to put it another way, this thread could go on till Doomsday, and I have animals to look after.

        I thank each and every one of you who have responded to my little side-thread, whether we agree or not, I am sure that we can agree to disagree if necessary.

        BLessed be.

      8. Morgana –
        When I asked about people being turned down – I am sincerely interested in finding out answers. I am trying to understand reasons that people get turned down from rescues. I didn’t ask because I was trying to demean your work or say anything negative about it. I understand that some rescues are more cautious about who they place and where…but I am trying to understand the process that other rescues & sanctuaries use in placing animals. (And how it plays a role in shelters & pulling from them.)

        I understand you are busy, but if you get a chance can you send me an e-mail explaining the process your sanctuary uses in pulling & placing animals…I would be grateful –

      9. >>Erica: When I asked about people being turned down – I am sincerely interested in finding out answers. I am trying to understand reasons that people get turned down from rescues. I didn’t ask because I was trying to demean your work or say anything negative about it. I understand that some rescues are more cautious about who they place and where…but I am trying to understand the process that other rescues & sanctuaries use in placing animals. (And how it plays a role in shelters & pulling from them.)<<

        In my experience, which is probably similar to some people's and different than others, there are 2 categories why people are turned down.

        1. They are declined for a particular dog.
        In this case there could be 2 or 20 perfect apps and you're choosing what is best for your dog, or you know the particular dog and know they need a fence or no small kids or can't handle being home alone for 9 hours a day or need an experienced owner or whatever. Unfortunately a lot of times when someone has their heart set on *this dog, no matter how nicely you word it, all they see is "No" and they decide rescue is a waste of time and they're not going to try it again. Other times they appreciate your assessment and honesty and truly want to find a dog that is a better fit for their needs.

        2. They are declined entirely by a rescue for any dog.

        Here at least, the number 1 reason people are declined entirely is a lack of proper vet care for current or previous pets. That might mean a current pet that isn't fixed, and then it's up to the rescue's policies whether or not they can be allowed to adopt after that's done. (and this is allowing for exceptions for medical reasons and/or show dogs.) I personally think that IF they are willing to do so then they can be given consideration. IF however they refuse, for whatever reason (we want the kids to see the cat have kittens! We want to breed our lab with the neighbor's poodle! Etc etc) then we have done what we can to educate and that's all we can do. We also get applications from people whose current or previous dogs never or barely seen a vet, were never given heartworm preventative, never vaccinated, etc. And yes I know there are legitimate reasons for some of those things; however, if your reason is "My dog lived to be 12 and was perfectly healthy!" then I'm not adopting to you. Your dog should see a vet regularly. Period. If you haven't maintained proper vet care before I have no way of knowing you will in the future and I am not going to take a change with this dog.

        Other reasons are people with a history of getting and then getting rid of dogs. Yes sometimes something happened in the past that will not happen again but also sometimes owners have been clearly nonchalant about dropping their dog or cats off at the slightest whim and I do not want that happening to a dog I care about.
        Other reasons off the top of my head are:
        1. fences. Some rescuers require them for all their adoptions. While I know many people disagree with me, I personally do not. I know "my" dogs and what they need. Some absolutely need a fence. Some will be OK without one with the right owner.

        2. Distance, which someone else mentioned too. I agree that if we can arrange a home visit elsewhere and it's a great app from people who are willing to travel to the dog, then it's fine with me. I've seen dogs from here end up in some amazing homes under those circumstances. Which also brings up home visits. I am not willing to do adoptions without them. 99% of the time everything is fine and I'm happy to complete the adoption. When I get there and see a dog house that has clearly been used recently or the "finished" basement the dog will stay in during the day is a piece of carpet and a crate or a "completely fenced-in" yard is missing an entire side, then we've got problems.

        3. Kids. Again some rescues don't adopt to homes with small kids. And again I see this as a case by case basis. Some dogs are not going to do well with toddlers, period. And if (for example) you have 3 kids under 5, one dog who's already on a tie-out and you want another dog, even though you might be wonder woman and perfectly capable of caring for them all, I'm probably going to err on the side of caution and say no.

        4, Outside dogs or cats. Again this varies but most rescues will not adopt their dogs to live in a barn or end up tied to your "nice" dog house and the cat people I know believe the only safe place for a cat is inside too. I also do not want my dogs left outside alone. IF I explain to you why this isn't safe and you seem to understand, OK, but if you insist the dog is "happier" outside I will explain that when my kids were 3 they were happier outside all day too but they weren't left there by themselves.

        The fact is though with rescue, we ARE the ones going into those loud smelly kill shelters and bringing those dogs into our homes. We're the ones taking care of any medical issues so you don't have to, and teaching them not to mark on the couch or eat off the counter before they come to your home. I don't know anyone who does this who doesn't fall a little bit in love with every dog they bring into their homes, whether it's for a few days or a year. And that goes for the people who run these rescues who don't foster too. We have earned the RIGHT to decide where "our" dogs go. I've had 100s of fosters and I can count on one hand the adoptions I wasn't 100% certain of and I still sometimes worry about those dogs. I want to send "MY" dogs out into the world KNOWING that I have done everything i can to assure they will be well-cared-for their entire lives. And I want the same thing for the dogs I pull from the pound. I don't want them "saved" to end up in another hoarding situation or with some brutal "trainer" who will make their lives hell or shoved off AGAIN on a country road in the cold by someone who lost interest in them. I want them fixed, vetted and placed with the same policies I would place them with myself. If someone doesn't like our policies then they can certainly "rescue" a dog from somewhere else. They can start with the pounds I go to all the time.

      10. Molly – first, let me say thank you for sharing your experiences and insights/reasons with me. Many of your responses mirror what other rescues have in place as well, which I am finding to be the ‘norm’ rather than the exception. The majority, of which, I not only agree with but totally support for many reasons.

        When you are dealing with someone and say they are particularly interested in one dog, but through discussion you realize that this dog is not going to fit with their lifestyle. Say you talk to them and explain this to them and then give them a list of dogs that you do have available that would be a better fit. Let’s say that they are completely receptive to this and open to taking your expertise as a good reason for why they should look at other dogs. What would you do in, say a situation where you don’t have a dog that would work for them…what do you suggest to them at that point? Do you refer them to another rescue or a shelter? Or do you do the leg work to try and locate a dog that will work for them?

        Also – cage/crates & tie outs…how do you feel about people that do utilize crates – like for while they are going to be at work for the day? As for tie outs – I can see not wanting to adopt to someone who utilizes tethering dogs outside all the time (why get a dog in the first place for a family pet if it is only going to live outside IMHO)? But how does tethering play into it IF the family/person doesn’t have a fenced in yard but usees tethering to enable the dog to go outside and be able to run & play…under supervision, of course?

        Lastly – in regards to vet care…how does your rescue handle it if you have a person sincerely interested in getting a dog but they have never owned their own dog (like someone who has moved into their own home from living with their parents), and therefore they have no vet history to supply you with? Is that taken as an opportunity to educate and do a lot of follow-up visits to ensure that they are doing things correctly? Do you supply them with info on vets, trainers, etc.? Do you ask them what vet they chose for their pet and do follow-up with the vet to ensure that they are providing proper vet care?

      11. @ Lynn O Have you read about the pitbull that was sliced open with a boxcutter ? The abuse comes with the lack of caring where the animals live. This tweaker thought there was a rat inside her belly so he cut her open to look. You guys are needing to do some serious cruelty studies, if you think every person is up front.

    2. Yes, a family member of mine had to go through the 3rd degree with questions, etc. from a rescue when she was interested in adopting an older dog with seizures. They even made her go home and “think about it” over night. My family member is a retired veterinarian !! Now why should anyone have to go through such a crazy process to adopt a dog who was on the kill list ?? If a retired vet is not qualified, then no one is. Rescues have to start trusting people more and think less about the ~ 1% who abuse animals. The rescue paranoia is resulting in more animals being killed. Rescues need to be facilitating adoptions – not getting in the way.

      1. Well, as I always say to my adopters: My sole interest is this animal finding her FOREVER home, emphasis on FOREVER. I don’t think that “rescue paranoia” is killing dogs. And btw, we place only dogs/cats that have been with us, so they are in NO danger of being euth’d. We don’t place an animal we have never had our hands on, or lived with. So your argument doesn’t flesh out with our process.

      2. Regardless of if your fmaily member is a retired vet or not – rescues have certain ‘protocol’, if you will, and they follow it for each adoption. Can you imagine the stink that would be raised if they changed it per person? I don’t think it’s so much about not being qualified as it is about making sure that the animal & person/family are going to ‘fit’ well together AND the process of going home and thinking it over is not a new one…I see even shelter implementing that. Especially given that taking on a pet is a lifelong committment they want to make sure that the person adopting (regardless of their background) is 100% sure about the adoption.

        I don’t feel as if rescues are getting in the way of adoptions, they are trying to make sure that the people getting the dog and 100% committed. They are also there to make sure that the person/family’s lifestyle works with the breed/type of animal they are looking at.

        While the chances of the animal being abused is small – there are other factors that have to be considered. It’s not all black and white as you would think it is. Also, not all animals in rescues are there because they were on a kill list somewhere…and those that are in the rescues are in no danger of being killed.

    3. Again this “referral” idea in my experience is a case by case basis. If the family really wants to adopt from XYZ rescue and they’re perimeters aren’t so narrow that their dog may never show up, then odds are they’ll be matched with the right dog. Sometimes there may be a possible dog in a shelter and that dog could come in with a pending adoption. I don’t think anyone can keep track of every request (Please let me know when you have a Boston terrier!) and so most of the responsibility is on the applicant to keep an eye on what dogs come in. As far as searching for the right dog, I cannot see that as a viable option. There are only so many hours in a day anyhow plus that dog would still need foster space plus we’ve all seen “certain” adoptions that fell through at the last minute. Certainly people are referred back to petfinder as well. I do think sometimes there’s too much I guess, hoarding, of good applicants, in that rescues want them to adopt “their” dogs. I will refer to other rescues I’m familiar with, for example if I have a purebred dog and they aren’t a good match, I will make sure they know there are specific rescues for that breed. Also when I am approached by “friend of a friend” type requests I make sure they know of all the options: from rescues to humane societies to going directly to the pounds themselves. This is because I never know who will or won’t pass a screening and the requirements are far less strict if they do adopt directly from a pound.

      I’m sure they are people out there who are against crates but I have personally never met them, with the exception of PETA. (eyeroll) Since the dog has been in a foster home, then we know if it would do better with a crate or is generally fine without one. Again tie-outs are a case by case basis as well. I’m not going to adopt a high drive border collie to someone who will only be tying them out, and I have also refused to adopt to tie-out situation the dogs I know have spent their previous lives tied up. For fence jumpers you might wait a real long time around here anyhow before someone comes along with a fence that is high enough to keep the dog in, too. All of this on dependent on other factors too, how active the family is and how much else the dog will have to do besides be on one. Do they have access to a dog park, day care, or friend where the dog can run free? And once again, this is my take on it. *If a foster or rescue is against tie-outs, then that is *their choice.
      If someone has never had a dog then they’re educated about what this dog needs (follow-up puppy shots, heartworm preventative, annual shots etc) There are specific dogs I don’t think are right for first time dog owners but as far adopting to them in general, we all started somewhere, right? I believe ALL reputable rescues should follow-up on their adoptions, let people know they can help with problems, have trainers willing to offer suggestions or meet with them in their home, make sure the dog has seen a vet etc. Most of us want to keep these dogs in their homes.

  6. Shirley, you keep beating to death this mantra that is an insult to every single rescuer and shelter worker in this nation. I couldn’t give a damn less whether you call it an overpopulation of pets or an underpopulation of homes for them. Either way we have rescue groups and shelters in every community overflowing with unwanted family companions. Stop insulting my intelligence by telling me this overpopulation is a myth. IT IS NOT!

    I will not waste time explaining how useless all those numbers are. Why? Because it does not matter. We all know personally through our own experience that we are flooded with animals for whom we cannot find homes fast enough. Does it matter whether it’s 3 million or 2.56 million?

    If you and Nathan Winograd would add one thing to your statement then I would agree wholeheartedly. But you guys refuse to add that little conditional statement called an “If, then” clause: If we do this, then this will happen. That kind of statement is basic to English grammar and to computer programming. We run it across it every day. Try using it!

    Examples of the IF clause:
    1) IF we implement the No-Kill Equation…
    2) IF the industry could do more than reach 15% of those 17 million potential homes…
    3) IF shelter directors and their boards (or govt officials) would endorse the NKE…

    Examples of the THEN clause:
    1) THEN we would have enough homes…
    2) THEN we would find homes for all the unwanted animals…
    3) THEN we could achieve a balance so we could work to shut down the supply line from commercial and backyard breeders.

    Put the IF-THEN statement together and you have something like this:

    IF the shelter industry could be effective at convincing those 17 million prospective adopters, THEN we’d have a home for every unwanted animal in this country.

    See how that works? That does not insult my intelligence and it serves to highlight the need to do something other than just declare the situation a myth.

    One last point about the Shelter Pet Project you referenced. Every one of your smart readers should know that the shelter industry (meaning Wayne Pacelle at the HSUS, Rich Avanzino for Maddies Fund and what’s-her-face at AHA) decided instead of actually fixing the problems like horribly failed outreach to those 17 million people, that they would just run an expensive ad campaign. That’s DraftFCB’s role – they’re the ad agency. No more, no less.

    What’s wrong with that approach? Nothing, but it does absolutely nothing to fix the problems.

    But instead of just advertising, why not change shelters into a real marketing tool? Implement the NKE and my Adoption Center model and we’d have inviting facilities people would enjoy coming to. They’d pass the word and quickly we’d run out of adoptable animals to meet our needs. Instead our shelters remain prisons and drive people away.

    That is the difference between marketing and advertising. One is a superficial effort (the easy way out), one takes real commitment and effort.

    The American Pet Products Manufacturers (APPMA) “study,” upon which all of those flawed numbers are based, points to the cause of the problem being people’s perception of shelter animals. I disagree. I think the real problem is the shelter facility itself. Put those same beautiful animals in a nice, homey setting and I’m betting my reputation that people would gladly adopt those unwanted animals. And they’d spread the word like wildfire – btw, that’s called word-of-mouth advertising. YOU CAN”T BUY ADVERTISING THAT GOOD!

    Please join me in modifying that “myth” statement. Otherwise, you guys are just insulting us and helping to cover up a real genocide that occurs every year in this country.

    The end.

    1. By definition, ‘overpopulation’ means that the number of animals exceeds the carrying capacity of the habitat. In the case of pets, the habitat is the number of potential homes. Therefore, ‘pet overpopulation’ *is* a myth, because there *are* enough homes. The numbers, including the ones you cite, prove that. “Shelters” are failing to see the animals into these homes for the reasons you list in the “if” clauses. Those reasons have nothing to do with the numbers of animals, but with the failures of humans. The traditional “sheltering” model has a long history of trying to obscure its failings by seeking to conflate them with ‘overpopulation’. ‘Pet overpopulation’ is a myth. The statement requires no modification.

      1. Valerie, you are so stuck on an ideal that you cannot seem to see the difference between what is reality and what is “potential.”

        This is not even a factor for rescuers. This is strictly a shelter dilemma defined by the shelter industry. Okay, shelters — you, at best, are reaching only FIFTEEN PERCENT (15%) of those 17 million potential homes. That’s right, read that again. 15%. That is a pitiful display of market impact.

        There is and will continue to be a pet overpopulation until such time as either the shelters get their act together and are able to “capture” more of that POTENTIAL market -or- rescuers eventually take over and grab hold of that POTENTIAL market themselves.

        Until more of those 17,000,000 POTENTIAL homes are convinced to adopt our unwanted animals, the pet overpopulation will continue.

        This is not about numbers in some formula, Valerie. These are real live animals and real nonexistent adopters.

        To claim there is no overpopulation is to arrogantly assume we have penetrated that POTENTIAL market. We have not. Every single year goes by and this failed industry continues to flail about trying to figure out a way to get more of those 17 million homes to adopt.

        The Shelter Pet Project is the industry’s latest approach. Basically, it’s an approach that blames the animals: if only the shelter animals were as good as “real” pets. The solution? A slick ad campaign to convince people shelter pets aren’t really that bad. Nice, blame the animals. What rotten report stated the “fact” that those POTENTIAL homes felt animals were the problem?

        I wonder why the industry does not consider the possibility that shelters are the problem (he writes sarcastically)? Who here is at all in doubt why the big guns in the shelter industry don’t want us looking at their prison-like “shelters?” Follow the bouncing ball – it’s the animals!

        To blame shelters (instead of the animals) is to risk their careers. Instead of fixing their crappy, antiquated prison-shelters, the industry points at a “non-problem” and is now spending millions upon millions of dollars of our donations to convince POTENTIAL adopters that those problem shelter animals really aren’t that bad.

        Man, get off this myth crap! We can’t figure out how to capture those needed POTENTIAL homes – so it doesn’t matter if there are 100 million POTENTIAL homes. Get it? Valerie, just because Nathan’s formula shows there is the POTENTIAL to solve the problem does not make the problem solved or go away.

        There is clearly a pet overpopulation – or home underpopulation. Until you guys can figure out how to get access to those needed 3 million homes, I’m sticking with “fix the ugly shelters!”

    2. I would like to agree with the “IF-THEN” clause that you mention. I’d asked a few days ago about the “pet overpopulation” myth and Yesbiscuit! was kind enough to point me to the Maddie’s Fund link. The information presented there was more acceptable to my intelligence. However, as I stated then, I still feel these are national numbers and each area needs to break down their own numbers.
      The animals my area shelter brings in are appx 3600/yr, while the large metropolitan area 20 minutes away, brings in appx. 18K/yr. So, IF the potential homes wanting pets go to those shelters, THEN those pets may be adopted out.

      1. I’m not going to get sucked into a lengthy exchange here but I honestly don’t understand what is with this “if-then” crap. No one is stating that IF we implement the NKE in every community in America today THEN every pet will be adopted *within that community*. No kill advocates work very hard trying to get shelter access laws (such as Oreo’s Law) passed. One reason is that rescues pulling pets from kill shelters and networking to get those pets adopted – wherever that may be – is an important part of the No Kill Equation.

        Seriously Thomas, reading your rants makes my head spin as you continually change definitions, move targets and pull the rug out from underneath. You contradict yourself constantly and I don’t know if you are simply trying to stir the pot or have some other motivation. I am generally patient but this has gone on for so long, I’ve grown weary of it. Intelligent discussion and disagreement is welcome here. You have failed to bring that thus far. Please do not treat this blog as your personal ranting grounds.

      2. My problem with this “if-then” situations are that IF we had shelter willing to work with rescues & foster homes AND those same shelter were willing to work more on marketing the animals THEN the animals WILL find homes. Everyone keeps getting caught up in the blame game (it’s the shelters fault, its the peoples fault, its the animal fault – its the politicvians fault – it’s ____ fault). It sucks that animals are dying everyday while we sit here and debate if these numbers are correct and “if-then” arguments. Are our shelters perfect – hell no! Is anyone perfect – hell no!

        Here’s my contribution to the “if-then” argument —-
        I guarantee that IF a shelter would implement ALL stages of the No Kill equation THEN we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  7. Sorry, I want to post the above comment under a different blog post.

    I too think that many people do NOT want to go to a sad animal jail to pick out a pet. Until shelters are nice places to visit many people rather buy a pet. We need more than ads telling people to adopt. We need shelters to completely change their image before people are willing to visit and consider the adoption option.

    1. Taking your point, and also one from Thomas above… Rescues often blame the adopters! (Read where she said: “Most of those 17 million people wouldn’t pass our adoption app.”)
      There is enough blame to go around.
      Yes, it is the fault of the shelter system (the big guys are padding their pockets while the little guys are doing the work.)
      Yes it is the fault of the public (because we haven’t reach out to help and teach them sufficiently.)
      Yes it is the fault of the rescues (because they belittle everybody they perceive as *not good enough* to adopt one of their precious animals.)
      Mostly, we are ALL to blame because we don’t work well together and we all let our egos get in the way of helping THE ANIMALS!
      And do ANY of you feel better with all this blame shmeared around?! I don’t. So I’m going to get outside and shovel and scoop and take care of my animals and THAT will make ME feel better! You do whatever it is that makes you feel better, and I’m hoping that a few animals will benefit from that as well.

  8. Shelter Revolution has some very valid points there. It really DOESN’T matter what the numbers represent, we all know there are too many animals/not enough homes/too much breeding/not enough spay/neuter…this could go on and on. We need to find a way out of the morass of statistics and into the light for these animals. If people get so lost in the statistics, they lose sight of the fact that each “number” in the 17 million is a face, with a wagging tail or a purr, and a personality, and feelings, and is a sentient being. We need to emphasize that more!

  9. Maybe if the shelters made it a little bit enjoyable to pick a pet, more people would go. Not only was the adoption fees high, but the people were rude working their and most of the cats were not ready to be adopted. I understand maybe some were sick or needed to be fixed, but please make every effort to have animals available so people can go there in one single trip and pick a pet. I broke down while i was there and decided i could never go back. Such a shame. I did adopt one for a local cat rescue.

    1. Can you tell me a little more about your experience? You can contact me at

      I am really interested in hearing about EXACTLY what you dealt with at the shelter you visited (and you don’t even have to disclose the shelter).

      While I am VERY glad that you were able to adopt a cat through a rescue – I’d like to know how the shelter is being viewed from potential adopters, as it will give me a different perspective to look at.


      1. My shelter places cats on the adoption floor that are not quite ready to go home (either need to be sterilized- which we do every other day- or need to finish their stray hold).
        The science behind that (courtesy of UC Davis’ shelter medecine program) is that animals will actually get adopted FASTER that way
        For example:
        A cat has to be on a 5 day stray hold. So we keep him in back during that time. He then goes to adoption and is adopted 3 days later.
        Now lets take the same cat- instead of being on hold in the back, he is on stray hold in the adoption area. he is then selected for adoption while still on his stray hold. When his stray hold expires his new owners take him home.
        The first cat is in shelter 8 days
        The second cat is in shelter 5 days
        Faster adoptions leaves more resources (or even space) for other animals still waiting

      2. Anne – I think that is a great idea. Of course you will always have exceptions to the rule, but overall (if implemented correctly) this can result in quicker adoptions and shows ALL animals that will be available. I think that is an awesome idea for all shelters to consider that.

      3. i have to admit- we had some reservations at first- especially about the strays (won’t the toms be spraying and stink up our lobbies, what if one gets stolen or lost).
        But the reality is- an animla could be stolen or lost in the back just as easily. And tom cat urine lingers even after a neutering.
        and the results have just been FANTASTIC! Cats are flying out the door. i literally haven’t gotten to know any cats since January because they’re just gone so fast. And they’re less stressed because there are less cats overall and they get more TLC from our adoption volunteers

  10. We cant solve the problem at the shelters until we solve the problem that is the reason those animals end up at the shelters. That being Puppy Mills we need to stop them all puppy mills whether they are checked by the states or the government and allowed to operate we need to stop over breeding. Then Breeders need to be taxed for their high priced breeds. Back yard breeders need to also pay a tax or some type of a fee for breeding. People who do not have their animals s/n need to pay fines. This is where we start to stop the over population of shelter animals . We can not take care of the shelter problem with out getting to the reason that they are there. People who turn in their pets should be on a Do not adopt to list. So that these people dont just keep getting animals and turning them in. If people need to get rid of pets they should work hard at getting a no kill safe place for their pet instead of just dropping at the local high kill shelters. Then we can work on the shelters. We need to stop this senseless killing of beautiful beings. This is no acceptable . We need responsible pet owners. We need responsible people working in the shelters to network the animals and try to find homes for them . I know the shelters are just waiting for people to come to them. Fact is most people do not want to walk into the shelters it is too heartbreaking. We need to change the way shelters operate, and think . Maybe get those animals out to adoption events . Post them in the local papers . Petfinders a perfect place alot of people use petfinders The shelters have to work a little harder also.

    1. Cats don’t end up in ‘shelters’ because of puppy mills, especially not feral cats, and feral cats are the animals most likely to be killed in ‘shelters’, even more so than ‘pit bulls’, and ‘pit bulls’ don’t end up in ‘shelters’ or die there because of puppy mills either.

      Please free yourself from the tired, old, and false “the irresponsible public is the reason for shelter killing” mantra. Educate yourself. Read Nathan Winograd’s book ‘Redemption’.

    2. Christine – you are right to worry about solving the “supply side.” But please understand that this is a two-edged problem.

      With some effort from the shelter industry to implement Nathan Winograd’s common-sense No-Kill Equation, this nation could actually handle its unwanted animals. I believe that is what Valerie and YesBiscuit! are trying to convey when they cite all those numbers. The problem is solvable.

      But you are absolutely right – we desperately need to turn off the faucet that not only is supplying so many unwanted animals, but is also harming so many in that process of massive breeding. Most of the breeding facilities that make up the large part of the flow of animals are also very negligent about their treatment of these millions of animals.

      Can you see where we need to work on both sides of the equation? It’s not one or the other or one before the other. It’s both at the same time – at least until we get some of it under control.

      1. Christine, I forgot to compliment you on your grasp of a most-significant problem with our mainstream shelters:

        You wrote, “I know the shelters are just waiting for people to come to them.”

        Beautiful! One of the most important statements I’ve read this year! That is exactly the underlying reason for my work to change shelters into marketing centers.

        Yes, we can augment the effort by using all sorts of efforts like off-site adoptions to GO TO the public.

        But wouldn’t it be nice if people actually enjoyed going “shopping” at the shelter? I know a lot of people who like to shop. Sometimes they just “window shop.” Why can’t this antiquated shelter industry understand this?

        The boards and the government officials in charge of shelter improvements need to grasp this very basic concept. Every retailer in this country is finely tuned into the importance of store layout and the attractiveness of its facility. Not the shelter industry. “Nope, we’re gonna keep running these ugly prisons until hell freezes over!” seems to be their motto.

        You’ve got it, Christine! You go, Girl. Tell everyone you know that Shelter Revolution is all about making the facility (shelter) a fun place to go to see beautiful, and available, furry family companions! :-)

    3. i 100% disagree with the statement that anyone who surrenders a pet should be put on a Do Not Adopt list
      Believe it or not, there are actual, LEGITIMATE reasons why a person may need to rehome a pet, and choose to use a shelter (or rescue) to do so.
      Why the hell would i ban customers from adopting from us because they used the service i was providing?
      Now obviously some people do need to be gently discouraged (or outright denied) from adopting again. But those people are actually the exception.
      And i don’t write policies on exceptions

      1. I could be wrong, but I think it was in regards to those people that get a pet and once the newness wears off they get rid of it and want another pet OR get a puppy and don’t want to go through the chewing/housetraining and think a different breed puppy will be different – you know, the type that doesn’t research to see what type of animal or breed would be a good fit for their family. BUT, if shelters/rescues are doing vet checks they will be notified of the high turn over rate of the potential adopter and that, in and of itself, would be enough to turn someone down. I don’t know if I would consider that something that would need to be done as a “do not adopt” list’s more a common sense problem (at least to me).

  11. Christine, may I suggest that you read “Shelter Revolutions” FB page. And Redemption.
    I believe communal “adoption centers” go hand in hand with the No Kill equation. All the number games are just that – games. Facts are that millions of healthy animals die in our shelters every year. Fact: most shelters are terribly depressing,loud and scary places to visit. The shelters I see in the Southeast are much worse than those I saw in Pa., NY., and MD. The truth is that of we had the homes for these homeless animals they would not be filling the shelters week after week. Owner surrenders are at an all time high. Then I can read here and I see posts moving #’s around like balls in a a cup. Play games with the numbers all you want, then come to ANY N.C. County shelter on a Friday night with me and count corpses.
    Every “no Kill” facility has a high population of middle age mix breeds at are not high on the adoptable list. In the shelters that allow Pits, they are always too well represented. These dogs will most likely live out their lives in cages with little human companionship and no socialization. What quality of life do they have ? You tell me they have homes??? Where are they ? 250,000 animals will die in N.C. alone this year – Dept of Ag.#’s. Where do you want me to have them sent instead ?
    I have had Animal Control officers tell me they believe their job is “to kill as many as possible” . Fighting this state of mind is going to take time. I see a disconnect here between what is being said and reality. Please tell me which of you actually goes to your county shelter on a regular basis? Which of you goes inside – see hears, smells the fear in that shelter and does not feel something is terribly wrong?? I can make some good guesses. The typical mindset of the shelter workers scares me. It stops rescues dead in their tracks. There are daily horror stories and few southern ACO’s will work with rescues.
    I liked Redemption. It has some great points. NKE may work, in conjunction with adoption Centers, puppy mills law enforcement, and S/N programs. Pet stores have to stop buying from puppy mills and offer shelter pets. The southern shelter workers have not read the book and are not interested.
    I have read dozens of “models” and spoken to many shelter reform advocates. We need to improve in every direction to really make changes. I do not see the families waiting for the shelter dogs and cats. I ask people daily while I am in the park to stop by the shelter. You should see the looks I get. Something has to change fast.

    1. Hey Willie,

      While I appreciate you and what you do VERY much for the animals here in NC, I have to disagree on a couple of points.

      While I do realize how bad NC shelters really are, this is not “playing with the numbers”, these numbers are facts. We have been conditioned to think there is an “overpopulation” problem by the “big 3” idiots.

      If it were true, how could Cabarrus county, NC go from KILLING almost 80% to SAVING over 75% in less than a year?
      I’ll tell you how. Caring and compassionate people like Judy Sims who refuses to use “killing” as a method of animals control. Foster homes, volunteers, off site adoptions, low-cost S/N.

      Does this sound familiar? It’s a few pieces of the NKE, the ONLY model that has ended the killing in our “shelters” across this country and beyond.
      “It may work” is a huge understatement. It IS working in places like Reno, Ithaca, Austin, Kentucky, and even North Carolina.

      You speak of No kIll “facilities” having middle aged mixed breeds. Let not compare apples to oranges.
      A NO KILL Shelter is NOT a rescue or facility that warehouses animals, anyone who is “closed” admission can call themselves “no kill” because they turn away animals.

      The “open” admission shelters I spoke of above are all following the NKE. Again, the ONLY model that has ended the killing.

      Lastly, you are correct about everything else regarding NC. I appreciate YOU and what you DO every day for the animals here in NC.

      1. Not to be a douche, but the reason why it’s working so well in Kentucky is because they ship a ton of their animals elsewhere, including up to Canada, with our animal rescues. That to me is not me is not really a success.

        However, our rescues continue to take them because they’re high kill shelters. Unfortunately this doesn’t leave a lot of extra room for puppy mill pups that are being dumped from Quebec.

      2. Mel – part of making No Kill work involves moving animals around to other places where they have a better chance at being adopted. If it is saving animals lives then it is a success. I dont’ care how it is done – but we are at a point where we need to think outside the box to make this effort succeed. It all begins with shelters refusing to kill animals unless they absolutely HAVE to. Without moving animals around they may not have a chance in hell because it is a small community – or it is out of the way – or even some places people don’t even know there is a shelter!

  12. What no one here has apparently realized, nor has Winograd and his minions, is that there are WAY MORE than 3 or 4 million ‘excess’ animals every year needing homes.Of those 17 million people that actually follow through on getting a pet, the vast majority can find one through friends, newspaper ads, etc. and those pets are never counted in the numbers since they never enter the ‘system’. No one seems to think about the great numbers of pets that are technically owned, but in bad situations ranging from neglectful to outright abusive homes. They need rescued and rehomed too, but those numbers haven’t been included yet in your stats. And what about the many in Rescues vying for the adopters? Who is counting those? I am a Rescue and no one has ever asked me for my records on the numbers I save and adopt out. All this is to say that the 3-4 million figure is baloney. The lumping of all the shelters together as terrible places that force people to go elsewhere for a pet is baloney too. I have experience with plenty of NICE shelters that do work hard and creatively market their animals. I have experience with transporting and adopting nationwide in order to get the ‘right’ pet to the home that wants it. I also have experience with vast networks of rescues, needy animals, media and other promotion of said animals and I know that even with all this, even with money offered, even with begging and pleading, great pets are OFTEN not saved because NO ONE wanted them! Rescues can’t even find enough foster homes, much less adopters! Come to small towns in the South and show me how your No Kill Equation is gonna fix things there. I was on the board of our local Humane Society. It wasn’t some nasty place where workers liked killing. I know there are bad shelters out there, but then, unless they are going around stealing pets or breeding them at the shelter,the majority of pets in any shelter are there because the PUBLIC brought them there! If the public is not to blame; if they care so much about their animal and if there are so many homes out there just waiting for a pet, then I reckon any individual needing to get rid of their pet could make an effort to rehome their own pet! All this talk about the work the shelters need to do is all well and good, but they have MANY animals to find homes for because the previous owners apparently couldn’t take the same initiative to find a good home for their one animal! I have been in Rescue over 40 years. I HAVE read Redemption. I also know that Winograd’s supposed successes aren’t all as rosy as you may think. Just remember, the idea that any home is better than death is a sad road too many No Kill proponents are marching down, and many, many animals are suffering for it…..

    1. Lurchmom-

      Totally agree. I live in the South and see dead animals on the road to work every day. I also agree the numbers are too low. What about pets that never see a shelter but need rescue? What about pets taken from some sad situation that otherwise would have ended up in a shelter or foster situation? These are just some of the scenarios where I doubt accurate numbers exist.

      Education is also a key element, but first you have to have willing participants who want to learn. The emphasis on education seems to be waning in the USA rather than waxing.

      I haven’t read Winograd’s book. I’m sure it’s got some great ideas. However, just because X number of people exist doesn’t mean they all will run out and adopt an animal. Also, the public has to accept its fair share of blame. The public has been more than willing to let the status quo of the “shelter” system exist for far too long.

    2. Lurchmom, what you’re missing is that the shelters are SUPPOSED to take in pets (from the “irresponsible public” or otherwise). Blaming the public because there are animals in shelters is backwards. We need to blame shelters for NOT SHELTERING.

      Yes, there are a lot of substandard pet owners out there, but through education and evolution, it’s changing. It’s getting better. More people than ever consider pets as part of their family.

      But until we “there”, it’s vitally necessary that we prove through actions that pets’ lives MATTER. It starts with no kill communities. Rosy outcomes for individual pets or not, it’s where we MUST begin.

      We’ve been whacking the “bad pet owners/breeders/millers” with the blame stick for 20 years. Time to hold out carrots to the people who will make the difference – the ones who don’t realize that spending $400 on a puppy from a “farmer” is paying that man to keep committing atrocities in milling. The ones who think that it would be “cute” for their cat to have a litter of kittens or two. The ones who would have gotten their dogs neutered if there were low cost services available in their area. The ones who like to feed the local stray cats who didn’t know that TNR is an option.

      Change MUST happen. Because what we’re doing now isn’t working and hasn’t worked, ever. Time for shelters to start sheltering.

  13. Exactly CP, Shelters and animal controls only came into existence BECAUSE there was a problem with strays, neglect and abuse. No town builds a shelter unless and until the NEED is already there! For any one who TRULY cares about their animal, but due to TRULY legitimate reasons must rehome it, the info, and help is out there. If they don’t have the smarts or ability to check out the place they are leaving their ‘beloved’ companion, and it is a ‘Kill’ shelter, whose fault is that, REALLY? Whose fault is it if they are moving and need to ‘get rid of’ their dog TODAY? I hear that ALOT – and upon questioning usually find out they knew they were moving for months, but didn’t bother to put the effort forth to safely rehome their pet. This is just ONE example of the lame excuses I hear EVERYDAY. With the wealth of info available on rehoming options, puppymills and petstores, etc., if they are ignorant of the facts, it pretty much is because they have CHOSEN to make little effort to learn them and their pet is not the priority they or the NKN folks would have us believe. Making adoption an even easier option, i.e., no home checks, tiny fees or even free, no standards of care such as fenced yards, housetime, etc. only cheapens and perpetuates the disposable, ‘easy come, easy go’, attitude of pet ownership. Pets should be valuable family members, added to a household with forethought and research into its needs, not an impulse grab at a corner adoption fair with few questions asked!

    1. And so *shelters* should kill the animals dropped off by lazy, stupid, uncaring or *busy* people because they were lazy, stupid, uncaring or busy?!
      And yet, the old-school sheltering model makes those very animals pay with their lives. While the CARING public then foots the bill! (Responsible owners pay taxes and follow the rules…)
      I have seen so much “Shelter Retribution” and it makes me sick. They don’t pass Oreo’s Law because they don’t want to give up their control and their ability to *stick it* to the rescues who want to SAVE ANIMALS. And then some of the rescues want to *stick it* to the *irresponsible public*…people, can’t we just GET OVER IT and help the animals? (Any animal, any help, please.)

      1. No where did I say animals SHOULD be killed or that it was their fault. In the real world though, there is not an unlimited supply of space, money, volunteers, trainers, fosters and adopters for all. I have worked in child welfare also- all parents SHOULD take good care of their kids. When they don’t, there SHOULD be a good system to care for these kids, but I can assure you, it is quite broken. No one SHOULD go hungry, but they do. People SHOULD be kind and obey laws and not take drugs and etc., BUT they do. And all the money and education and programs haven’t fixed all this…and innocent people suffer for it. Just like innocent animals suffer….human nature will insure innocents suffer and die sometimes. Good people will continue to do what they can to lessen this. I do my part with the Rescue I run, all on my own, with my own money. Its a NICE place to visit and adopt from, but I still struggle to find homes for great dogs, PB dogs, even puppies, and I adopt to anywhere in the Country! I don’t have one reliable foster home or volunteer, and the local shelter is constantly begging for them too. They went No Kill a year ago, so its not that they are so depressing or mean. Unfortunately, since going No Kill, they are going broke and the animals are lanquishing in their cages. Before some NK folk say they must not be trying hard enough, I was on the board when they went No Kill and warned them it was not going to work here. They passed out Redemption to all the members and were gung ho. They do pet fairs, adopt out of state, training classes, EASY, CHEAP adoptions with no background/ref. checks! But it is FAILING. The waiting list is over 300 animals waiting to come in in a small town! The local animal control is having to PTS all the extras now dumped because the HS has no room. The low cost Spay/neuter program WAS in place for many years, but now had to be shut down due to lack of funds. They have had to stop other programs due to lack of funds. Funds spent on animals with issues that needed addressed to make them adoptable or just on the care it takes to support animals month after month after month. There is now mostly old, black, pit bull types or hounds there….just like many No Kill shelters. All the adoptable puppies needing shelter are turned away for lack of room….No Kill just means someone else ends up doing the killing when unwanted animals keep coming….

      2. But it doesn’t HAVE to be that way!
        “No Kill just means someone else ends up doing the killing when unwanted animals keep coming….” That is so far from the truth that it makes me sick to even read!

        You claim that there are all these options out there BUT the people CHOSE not to use them. Sorry but I have found way too many people that didn’t know that this stuff is out there. As involved as I am within the animal community in my area (and this goes back generations as my family was a big part of our small community for generations) – it wasn’t until the past few months that I found out we have like 3-4 pet food pantries…so I can only imagine that there are people out there that have NO CLUE about some of the programs that are avaialble.

        Prime example – I took 2 feral cats and wanted to have them spayed. At the time I couldn’t afford to do it – I discovered that there was a program that does low cost & free spay/neuters BUT they have a waiting list that extends 7 months out! By the time I found this info the cats had reached 6 months old…went into heat and began spraying all over my house…so I did more research and more research – everything turned up the same results. Then while filing out paperwork for an group called Cat Welfare to pay for a low cost pay ($47 per cat) – I had to make a decision at that time to either get my car fixed or spay the cats – I was willing to let my care sit there unusable just to get the cats spayed. But I found this little link at the very bottom of a page – seriously – you would miss it if not looking for it…I was eligible to have them both spayed for free due to TNR. But, my point is that even if you are involved in animal welfare – you don’t always know what programs are out there to help, so why would just your average pet owner know they existed UNLESS places make a point of MARKETING these programs.

        More needs to be done with the marketing aspect of programs that ARE available for EVERYONE to know about. It would be wonderful if we could publish a phone book based exclusively on animal services taht are available by the state & locality they service. But until we look at making these options NOTICABLY available you can’t use that as an argument that nobody is using them.

        Also – for you to sit on the board and tell them before they even decided to go No Kill that it wouldn’t work..doesn’t sound too much like the attitude that not only fosters the no kill philosophy but one that actually sounds like you don’t want it to work. Have you ever thought of having the No Kill Advocacy Center (or even Nathan Winograd) come in and chedck what’s changed and make reccommendations on changes that could be implemented that might help?

      3. Erica, I could predict their move to No Kill would not work because I know this area and I am a REALIST. BUT, I ALSO started and operate a no kill rescue/refuge of my own 20 years ago and know what it takes and also have no illusions as to what happens to all the animals I MUST turn away every day due to limited space, money, help. I live VERY simply and my life is devoted to helping animals. As far as the assistance programs available, they were well marketed- radio, TV, paper, etc. Course now its a moot point since the money is gone. And yes, now that the HS is NO KILL, the number of animals being dumped,and PTS at the animal control is MUCH higher, and several local independent ‘no kill’ rescues are over run to the point of actual suffering for the residents there. One place has parvo running rampant and the the dogs are grouped in areas where fights, injuries, sickness has increased. Another one has cats stacked in crates 24/7 in a garage,cause by god, wouldn’t want them DEAD! I have rescued dogs FROM NO KILL facilities in varying degrees of suffering. I know, I know, this is not what Winograd and NKN are pushing….they think the NK equation is magic and blame any place that fails on missing one of the steps….well, that’s like telling starving people in China, that they just gotta get hold of some money, and rustle up some volunteers to drive them to the closest McDonalds and eat! Where is this great abundance of money, space , volunteers, etc. that’s gonna fund all these great sanctuaries for the millions of animals? Do you realize how many children never get out of foster care? Do you not realize that much of this Country’s priority is NOT easing the suffering of animals? In a world where atheletes make millions and teachers and firefighters don’t, where billions are wasted on cigs and alcohol, and other indulgences, where 90% of healthcare issues and dollars are the result of people’s own bad choices, do you REALLY think we can safely and humanely save all the needy pets? I would LOVE it, but I know human nature way too much….

      4. Lurchmom- Your ignorance is mind boggling. Why don’t you call Bonney Brown of the Nevada Humane Socitey and ask her what she has implemented to be able to save over 45,000 animals in the last 5 years!
        They have saved over 90%+ each of those years.

        They have achieved all this success despite “overpopulation” and despite the “irresponsible” public. Despite being one of the worst hit cities in America following the housing collapse. And despite people like you with horrible attitudes that told them “it can’t be done”.

        How did they do it? The NO KILL Equation.

        The mandatory programs and services include:

        I. Feral Cat TNR Program

        II. High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter

        III. Rescue Groups

        IV. Foster Care

        V. Comprehensive Adoption Programs

        VI. Pet Retention

        VII. Medical and Behavior Rehabilitation

        VIII. Public Relations/Community Involvement

        IX. Volunteers

        X. Proactive Redemptions

        XI. A Compassionate Director

        THIS is what “NO KILL” is, period. Now, tell me which one of these you disagree with. Exactly, you probably AGREE with all of them.

        NO KILL is NOT a “sanctuary”, it is NOT a “rescue”, it is NOT warehousing animals, it IS 11 policies/procedures that have been PROVEN to work, and he ONLY model that HAS ended the killing in shelters across this country.

        Your “know it all” attitude is sickening. Your lack of knowledge about “NO KILL” is atrocious, and what’s even worse you’re so busy running your mouth you refuse to even acknowledge the FACTS in this blog or what others have presented in their comments.

        With an attitude like yours, no wonder you can’t get anyone to adopt any animals from you.

      5. All4Bella,

        If you will reread my posts you will see where I said I knew what NO KILL was supposed to be under Winograd’s definition and was quite familiar with the equation. I have read his books and his blog. I have NOT taken everything on face value though and I HAVE uncovered erroneous, false information there. Never said I disagreed with the equation- asked where was the money, people, space, trainers, etc. going to come from in more than the handful of cases Winograd keeps touting as his success stories. I am well aware of Reno’s methods and inside workings that keep them touting their No Kill status, and some of it is quite disturbing actually. You know nothing of my background and knowledge and I have no need to trot out my credentials for someone who resorts to insults and rude responses. Suffice it to say, I have a great deal of experience in working in shelters, vets, Rescue, training, and more and live the reality everyday of saving animals from some of the worst abuse and neglect you can imagine. My Rescue has been visited by over 6000 people from all over the world and I have been on national TV, in major Magazines, newpapers, and currently have a documentary about my Rescue screening at film festivals around the Country. No boast, just fact to say I am not a ‘know it all’, but I am not an ignorant nobody either.

      6. “I have NOT taken everything on face value though and I HAVE uncovered erroneous, false information there.”

        I would like to know what misinformation and deceptions you have uncovered, and the horrific details behind Reno’s lies about being No-Kill. Because those are some pretty bold accusations to be making without any details or proof.

      7. Pai, I said there is erroneous, false info there. I did NOT say there were “HORRIFIC” details or that their whole No Kill claim was a lie. The discussion of some of their methods and other aspects of their day to day reality they are glossing over, is beyond the scope of this platform. Unless you or someone you know is or has been there and been privy to this info firsthand though,(and I mean this for anyone here who wishes to ASSUME all is as wonderful at Reno or any of the other NK facilities under Winograd as he would like the world to believe)then any argument to the contrary is moot. I went into exploring Winograd’s books and ideas with an open mind and a great hope. Unfortunately, the reality of his record and ramblings has sadly forced me to speak out for the TRUTH, for the animals sake and those people who care enough to explore and question, and wish to protect animals from the results of egos and faulty programs. I care about animals above all. Above a numbers game, above the need to look good, above the pressure to lower standards to move em’ through, above the rationalizations that allow animals to lanquish for periods of time with little more than basic custodial care….

      8. So you are not going to provide us with the “erroneous, false information” you have uncovered in Reno? I try to make this a fair forum to air honest differences of experience and opinion. I’m not sure where would be a more appropriate place for you to share the information you have about Reno. But if you do decide to share it elsewhere, please at least post a link here so those of us interested can read what you have to say.

      9. Yesbiscuit, as I said, the info I have discovered through research, including that given me by knowledgeable, trusted individuals with firsthand experiences, is extensive and I fear sharing any of it hear would simply open myself and others to attack and further insult and futile attempt at communication. This has been the result any time anyone speaks out against Winograd’s conquest and I have enough to do with my Rescue and daily efforts to save animals and relieve suffering. Much of the info that contradicts Winograd’s claims and ‘facts’, is readily available for any interested person to study for themselves. Some of it written directly from the people most involved with the shelters he has ‘fixed’. Winograd and his followers have a sad history of villifying and smearing anyone who questions or disagrees with any aspect of their NK march. His books and blog are full of blame, attack, and twisted info that only serves to further divide the animal welfare community. Simple questions that I have asked here 3 times are ignored ( Where are all the funds, volunteers, time, space, trainers, etc. coming from to support a No Kill Nation?)I realize some communities have more ability to make this happen, just like some communities can and do support any number of things, but when I know the lack of support for a great number of programs that work and beg and publicize their needs, I can not grasp the ideal that a NK Nation is even close. I am not the enemy. I have spent my life helping animals. I do though know a bit about human nature (a Master’s degree in Sociology/psychology/Human Behavior). So, as much as I would like to be wrong, I can not ignore what I know and the fact that Winograd has NOT been honest with his followers on many levels.

      10. And BTW, all you staunch Winograd followers would be shocked to learn of some of the well known and respected people in the Animal Welfare/Rescue world who are opposed to Winograd and also know the truth of his ‘work’. They choose to remain quiet on their opinions for good reason – anyone questioning or speaking against NK is accused of wanting animals killed or not caring enough to support NK and just plain insulted and discredited. It is not up to me to ‘out’ them, because I obviously understand the flak it brings ….

      11. Lurch mom- if you cared as much as you say you do about the animals then a little bit of “flak” should be easy to tolerate.
        With all your experience, surely you can take constructive criticism, can’t you?

        You’re pathetic attempt to discredit Nathan is pretty ironic. All your rants, without any “actual” proof, has just showed everyone your true colors.

        You have the chance right here right now to set all of us “staunch Winograd followers” straight. But you won’t because you can’t.

        Unlike you, I have an open mind and would listen to any “proof” that you have to back up your claims. However, we all know that’s not going to happen, because you don’t have any proof.

        The saddest part of all is you can’t even come down from your pedestal to actual “see” what has worked, what is working, and what will work for communities all over this country if they would just embrace the NKE and take killing off the table.

        The more you keep talking, the more any “credibility” you “might” have had goes out the window. You can add one more degree to your list, “keyboard cowboy”, all take but nothing to back it up.

        Don’t you have several animals to take care of? Please do us all a favor and tend to them.

      12. Lurchmom –
        You continue to spout off but FAIL to give us ANY EXAMPLES of how No Kill isn’t working. I have not bashed you – yet I did ask questions…like has the shelter had anyone from No Kill Nation or even Winograd, himself, come to the shelter to see what, if any, changes could be implemented to help the movement succeed? Instead you gave me a million reason why it won’t work – without ONCE telling us these negatives. How can you continue to blast the No Kill movement wihtout giving us facts or even citing examples to PROVE what you are saying.

        The stories of children, hungry people, drugs & alcohol….I see what you are saying about THEM, but there is NOTHING substanial to PROVE to us that No Kill doesn’t work and WHY.

        Have you read “Irreconcible Differences” yet? It takes things deeper then “Redemption” did. It has given me a lot of food for thought. AND I really believe in the movement. BUT I am also open to a discussion in regards to problems within No Kill movement as well. You can’t keep coming on here posting about all the problems – without referencing where you get the information. Otherwise we have nothing to base it on and it appears to just be an ’empty’ post ranting about how No Kill doesn’t work. We welcome the opportunity to have you give us PROOF to the contrary that it doesn’t work everywhere.

        I would love to hear more about exactly what the shelter has done & not done. While you state that the funds have dried up and it doesn’t matter anymore….that just doesn’t register in my mind. Don’t get me wrong I understand that you are seeing what you are seeing, but if you can’t SHOW it to us then how can we learn from it.

        You have spent a huge amount of time posting all the posts that you have – ALL downing the movement, but you fail to give us examples and pinpoint EXACTLY where it has failed and WHY. IF we don’t have those examples and explanations then it almost appears as if you are just downing the movement without any REAL evidence – and I can’t imagine you would waste your time posting so much without a reason for doing so.

        I could care less about your credentials – I DO, however, care to hear about how No Kill has failed in your local shelter and WHY. I have never gotten the feeling from discussions through/with/by Winograd that he is not open to discussing if it is failing…as I haven’t seen him blame the shelter for it not working. I have seen him say that in many places where they have implemented No Kill that they miss some of the steps. My point is that by having Winograd or someone from the NKN come to the shelter, maybe – just maybe, they might have suggestions on other things that could be implemented to help the movement.

        If we all decided to be ‘realists’ and start off by saying that it won’t work – then how can you expect anything other than failure? Nothing is perfect – NOTHING. BUT, if there are pieces of the No Kill movement that aren’t working (that you have seen or discovered) then it is only fair to share this with others so that if other places have encountered similar problems they can see what has been done – or maybe they’ve been in your shoes and found a way to fix it. Without explaining it all we have no way of knowing or even attempting to grasp the problems that your shelter has encountered and to see if there is a way around those probelms.

        Seriously – if you think the movement isn’t working then don’t you kind of have a responsibility to tell us about it so others can learn from it???

      13. Lurchmom-

        If you do indeed have a Master’s in “Sociology/psychology/Human Behavior” then you should be familiar with the concept of psychological projection. Your posts are an example of this phenomenon. You are wrongfully accusing others of doing exactly what you are doing in making your baseless and vague accusations. What are your motives for doing this? You are anti-No Kill, at least you said that much. You claim to be some sort of authority with a collection of evidence, but you will reveal neither your identity or your alleged “evidence”. That seems more underhanded than authoritative to me.

        Where are these people who are “involved” with these No Kill communities and who claim that they are not for real? I witnessed the transformation of Tompkins County, and I do not believe that anyone who really cared about animals and people would say that the ‘before’ was better than the ‘after’:

        I recently visited the Charlottesville, VA shelter and experienced a friendly, clean environment. It was busy and upbeat. The staff and volunteers seemed very happy, as did the animals, and some members of the general public were visiting just to hang out with the animals. Are you going to cast aspersions on them too?

  14. My take on the foregoing is that we are sinking into a quicksand of semantics. We are rescuers, we know what the problems are. Can we activate our enthusiasm and get together on a plan of action, both at the NKE level, and on the ground at the same time? We could argue this until we ourselve cross the Bridge…now is a time for action. IS IT POSSIBLE without years and years of conferences and yapping?

  15. While we sit here and go back and forth over who’s right and who’s wrong – which numbers are the right ones and which ones are wrong – while we debate which shelter method is the way to go, or not go – while we continue to JUST SIT here and debate if these are right or wrong – the are animals dying!!!

    Everyone thinks they know the answer – everyone thinks they know the right way to do this. The basic problem is we have a blame game going around that is nothing more than a catch 22 situation. Shelters blame the public – the public blames the shelters…at the end of the day it is only the animals suffering while this debate goes on.

    1. Most of the people debating aren’t *only doing so. Most of us are also in the trenches saving dogs. What’s sad is a whole lot of these discussions turn into attacks amongst ourselves, on whether or not this one or that one is doing things the “right” way. I think a dialogue from different perspectives is a good thing. I do not believe the HSUS has all the answers, any more than me or anyone else.

    2. Debating this issue doesn’t prevent anyone from rescuing animals. We’re simply responding to the issue posed on this blog.

      I think there needs to be a cohesive overall plan which appears to be lacking. It seems that rescues need to join together to improve the life of animals. There is strength in numbers. Also, the public does need to stop accepting the shelter status quo and start demanding humane results for the taxpayers’ money. I have no idea how to get rescue groups to come together to increase the benefit to animals.

      1. My point is we have entire groups of people – each tooting their own program and how it will fix the problem – while demeaning another person’s program.

        Has anyone thought of forming a National Rescue Group that could actually address the issues? The thought is there to do so for shelters – why can’t rescues be a part of it? In fact – why can’t we have a national group that has different arms that extend to each state and filters down to localities? Why can’t it include shelters, rescues, and animal sanctuaries? Why hasn’t someone thought, hmmm, maybe we need a national level group that can not only pull these groups together but also offer support (physical, education materials, and finanical)?

        Because honestly – the more I learn, the more I realize that having a National group that is solely focused on shelters & rescues and the like. Too many people believe that by donating to HSUS or the ASPCA that it covers any local group with HS or SPCA in its name….and neither is true.

    3. Erica and cp — check out Animal Rescuers Coalition of North America ( It’s withering on the vine for lack of involvement, but its intent was to provide the forum for what you seek. Several authors have contributed writing. I think it is still active. Worth taking a look…

      1. I will most definitely look at it. I appreciate the info, as I didn’t even know this group existed. I am discovering so many groups that are out there ‘withering on the vine’ as you put it and am VERY interested in finding a way to get all these groups together to form a cohesive group that is a place where each group can work together. That whole strength in numbers thing….

      2. Erica, Cheryl (the woman who started ARCNA) started out a couple years ago trying to initiate a national database of independent rescuers, rescue groups and transporters. Her desire, I believe, was to bring us all together to help the “underground railroad” get animals on death row to safety.

        Due to lack of response to the database (on Facebook) she then put together the coalition in hopes those writing for it could bring rescuers together on a national scale. For anyone interested here’s a link to the home page = The contributing authors are listed on the right side.

        Sites like Petfinder and DogsInDanger focus on the animals, Animal Rescuers Coalition of North America (ARCNA) focuses on the people who rescue. Btw, Cheryl lives in Canada which is why it has a “North American” flavor. :-)

      3. Thank you for the additional information. I am finding a lot of groups that are lingering out there…wondering if there isn’t some way to create a place where they can all come together to share ideas and formulize a plan to make these changes a reality. The more info I find the better the chance of picking people’s brains for mroe thoughts & ideas. THANKS!!!

  16. Interesting discussion, have a few thoughts to add to what”s been said. I apologize in advance if I’m repeatibg what’s been said.
    Let’s not be too quick to assume all 17 million of these potential adopters are home responsible rescues and shelters want to send dogs and cats too. We can leave aside a home visit or not argument, or even outside dogs or not, among other points because if one place has a set of rules that precludes this particular adoption, there are dogs available elsewhere. We still need to realize some of these people have been the problem to begin with. How many of us, for example, have seen applications from people who have a history of dumping previous dogs for stupid reasons and almost certainly won’t make a lifetime commitment to this dog either? Or how many want a “rescue” dog but only if it’s an under 6 month old purebred Bichon who is already housetrained etc? Ir want to save “that poor dog” but don’t see why they have to fill out even a basic application to do so? It just seems to me this is nice in theory but is too simplistic when it comes to the realities we see every day dealing with people who want to “rescue” a dog.
    I also want to get my 2 cents worth in about petfinder. Petfinder is a wonderful tool. We’ve all seen ordinary dogs go to great homes that would have never known about them otherwise, because someone fell in love with them on petfinder. It’s not the be all/end all though. Unfortunately they have nothing in place to police their own groups and it has also become a resource for puppy mill brokers and other “rescuers” who are in it for profit to promote their dogs to unsuspecting people who want to do a good thing.

    1. “Unfortunately they have nothing in place to police their own groups and it has also become a resource for puppy mill brokers and other “rescuers” who are in it for profit to promote their dogs to unsuspecting people who want to do a good thing.”

      I want to thank you for pointing that out. I hear all the time that the “national” database that I have inquired about (for shelters) is already in existence and everyone cites Petfinder as ‘the’ site to go to. I was left with the impression that Petfinder is for shelters & rescues to use as a tool for placing their animals…but until you said that I was willing to use that as a basis to go by, but now it’s giving me second thoughts. Thank you for sharing this info.

      1. Like I said I appreciate the good petfinder has done and continues to do. I have found though that very few people really understand what happens when there’s no checks and balances. Pretty much anyone with a vet willing to sign off on them can list dogs there. We have a long time BROKER in this area who now calls her puppies “rescues” and hands them out to whoever will hand over cash. I field calls all the time from people who A) were savvy enough to question how a “rescue” could only have high demand puppies and wanted the facts and B) got a puppy that ended up sick, and want to take her down. Good luck because it isn’t happening. Or there are “rescues” that don’t do proper vet care or take returns or whatever. And I am quite sure this same story happens just about anywhere else too. Being on petfinder or even being a non-profit does not equal legitimate. I believe it is OUR job as rescuers to educate people about how to find a legitimate rescue dog.
        As far as petfinder in general, I have issues with the assumption it is a perfect answer. Everyone wants every shelter on there but you know what. I can save a purebred year old bichon (for example) from the kill shelter I help out at without petfinder. I can network some nice medium-sized mixes, and pretty much all the purebred dogs that show up. And I can just about bet when it comes to the rural pounds in this area at least, I can list all the hounds and labs and mixes therein on petfinder for weeks and still not save them all. That goes back to the problem with this whole HSUS statement to begin with. However many millions of “potential” adopters there might be, they are not all willing to take whatever dogs we need them to save.
        I’ll also toss in my pitbull response here rather than go back up to it. Around here we’ve seen some amazing changes and yes a lot of really nice pitbulls are finding great homes. There are still TOO MANY. And that’s in a region where most counties won’t release them at all. You cannot convince these 30 million potential homes they want a pitbill, anymore than you can convince them they want a beagle or a lab if they don’t. That’s the beauty of dogs, right? We all prefer “our” breeds. But it also makes this numbers crunching fairly meaningless.
        And of course most of the discussion centers around dogs. What about cats? If there’s no place with a shortage of pitbulls where are you planning on sending all the cats??!
        I don’t like it anymore than anyone but you don’t change that by denying the facts. I don’t know how another kind of national resource would change anything. Rescuers ARE transporting and networking and begging and educating and pouring their whole lives into the problem. This is way too complex to be solved with a few easy answers. And that is my problem with the “no kill” movmement. They make it all seem so simple! Just do what WE say and no more animals will die! OK.

      2. I guess I don’t view No Kill the same way you do. When you said “They make it all seem so simple! Just do what WE say and no more animals will die!” I have read both of Winograd’s books – ‘Redemption’ & ‘Irreconcilable Differences’ – and while they have laid out a plan for others to follow – I have never seen anyone in the No Kill movement say it is easy or will completely fix the problem. What I have seen is that places that have implemented No Kill and found bumps in the road – they have revisited what they are doing OR gone to the NKN to see what options/suggestions they have. But IF the first step is to say we are going to stop the killing and then people begin to think outside of the box it WILL save more lives. Is it the perfect and ONLY solution – absolutely not, but at least it gives guidance & direction for places to implement that many might not have thought of. Especially as we see the ‘old guard’ changing and people’s opinions on the value of animals lives improving – the No Kill equation gives them a basis to go by in an effort to try and solve the problems.

        In every area of the US we are faced with different issues regarding animals – some places have an overabundance of pit type dogs, some have less – some places have too many cats, some not enough – some shelters have no problem adopting out certain breeds, while another can’t adopt out the same breed at all. Which just leads me right back to having a database EXCLUSIVELY for shelters/rescues, in addition to a well organzied national group to handle transport issues between shelters for just these cases.

        When you speak of checks & balances – it would go back to the PEOPLE who are using PetFinder to locate a pet…if they are willing to spend the money that the person or group is asking, then it doesn’t matter if it’s a breeder or a rescue – that person is going to do it regardless of WHO is offering the animal. That just goes back to the issue of product demand – which is what led me to discussing transport and making the animals available in an area that has high adoption rates for that type or breed of animal.

  17. I am asking again, WHERE are these places with “fewer” pitbulls? Or “not enough” cats? Really?! Give me a state, city, country?! Seems to me last time you deferred to someone somewhere who is saving a lot of pitbulls. I know people here who are saving a lot of them too. That doesn’t answer the question. THIS is why I say No kill makes it sound easy, because you toss out ideas like transport & networking and think that solves what? You didn’t even know these networks existed until this discussion. Nothing personal, you seem willing to learn but I would be able to take you a bit more seriously if you quit talking about creating a database and put some dogs in your car and drove them a few hours on their way, like the rest of us do.
    Every single “no kill” discussion I’ve seen involves the same kinds of personal attacks that have gone in in this one. How many people here have said THIS IS REALITY and we’re told, no it’s not. I’ve seen people attacked because they spend time with death row dogs, when they should be doing something else. I’ve seen people like me attacked because we “sleep with the enemy” when we go to kill shelters to save dogs. yeah OK some kill shelters are run by people who don’t give a damn and couldn’t care less how many dogs die but sometimes when shelters don’t want to work with rescue it’s because of this same “OMG!! YOU WANT THEM TO DIE INSTEAD!!?” attitude we’ve all seen right here. I don’t want any of them to die but I will pet them and tell them their good dogs and know it will happen rather than turn them out to some worse hell. And don’t pretend like that doesn’t exist.
    And you’re also missing the point about petfinder. People go to petfinder because of what is being discussed in this original article: They want to rescue a dog. IF they won’t have the knowledge to ask the right questions or understand what can go on even using petfinder then what has happened is their good intentions have been taken advantage of. And the people I talk to are really upset to find out their “puppy mill rescue” puppy lined a few people’s pockets, no different than if it came from a petstore. If they have the facts then oftentimes they continue to look. Saying they would just go to a breeder pretty much nullifies the entire point of this original argument. If 13 million of these “potential” adopters want purebred puppies and we don’t have them, they’re just going to get them somewhere else.

    1. Molly – Obviously this is addressed to me. While I appreciate some of the information you gave me – you are being pretty damn condescending…without even KNOWING me.
      “Nothing personal, you seem willing to learn but I would be able to take you a bit more seriously if you quit talking about creating a database and put some dogs in your car and drove them a few hours on their way, like the rest of us do.”

      I didn’t realize I had to list credentials to respond to a BLOG! I have spent ALL of my life rescuing and rehabilitating pit bull type dogs and rehoming them, I take in litters of orphaned kittens and hand rear them and rehome them. Just because I don’t jump in my car (of which I don’t even own one right now) and drive dogs around in a transport doesn’t mean I am not doing MY part in helping. I also take my income tax refund and take half the money I get back and go shopping for shelters & rescues for supplies and other items that they need – I make up “Going Home” bags that include supplies for new pet owners and I organize fundraisers to help with certain shelters & rescues that I support.

      First of all – I KNEW that there were transports – I did NOT know the extent of them or EXACTLY what each one focuses on and how they manage them. I have also taken part in a transport before bringing pits from a high kill GA shelter up to the rescue I support here in Ohio.

      Secondly – while you are demeaning any work that I am trying to do to help bring groups together to form a more cohesive plan to help shelters, rescues, transports, etc. These are all things that are needed. How many times have you seen the animals posted that need pulled because they are at a high kill shelter and it gets tagged and posted everywhere and you have a zillion people trying to get info and the shelter gets fed up with all the inquiries and they start to get nasty when people call? I have seen it happen quite frequently. I’ve also seen rescues arranged but there are “missing” legs of the journey that have resulted in the entire effort to be scraped and the dog(s) die as a result.

      What I am doing is no more or less important than what you are doing. Obviously, we feel differently about the No Kill Movement – but the difference is that I am trying to think outside of the box and making an effort vs sitting back and doing NOTHING. You can demean what I am trying to put together – you can say I am not doing my part to help, you can say whatever you want….but I know that unless SOMETHING is tried – it’s better than sitting back and NOT trying anything.

  18. Can I ask the source(s) of the 17 million people looking to bring a new cat or dog into their home next year? Can we see the questions that were asked? I’m an advocate of No Kill. I know that some shelters and rescues make adoption too difficult. I see the evidence against mandatory spay/neuter. I’m simply trying to validate any facts that I share. Thanks so much for an excellent website. Georgette

  19. I say good for lurchmom, I am in Reno, and I personally know all you people promoting the Nevada Humane Society as a model have never set foot in the door. One friend, a cop, said the urine stench reminded him of mace. Hundreds of cats stacked up blocking the intake vents,animals stored in places not meant for live animal air exchange. I do know what I am talking about and there is a website that has published Winograds assessment of NHS. It is not pretty.I see that yesbisquit likes to bump people with opposing views off her step. Make your next stop ” Opposing views living with the failure of no kill” Isn’t it a little hard to breathe with your head in the sand ?

    1. I’d like to see the website you are talking about. Can you please post a link?

      Other than that – you quote a cop friend, while stating that those “promoting the Naveada Humane Society as a model have never set foot in the door”…have you been there? Because from your comments it appears as if you are relying on a friend’s experience yourself…while I personally don’t have a problem with that it’s kind of hard for me to read you blasting people (including YesBiscuit/Shirley), especially when you don’t know if the ONE person (not “all you people”) that did make a positive comment on the shelter has been there or not. I find it disrespectful for you to come on Shirley’s blog and blast her like you have…and you wonder why she would “bump people”?!?!? For the most part I see people disagree and talk about their differences, but when someone just posts to ‘blast’ people I don’t see how you can expect to have an adult conversation when that is how you interact with people. While I get it that many people feel very strongly about their opinions, I don’t understand why they still can’t engage in civil conversation while disagreeing.

      1. I am sincerely sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings. That was not my intent. i explained in an earlier post my long association with the rescue community, so why would you think I hadn’t gone to NHS ? I had taken the cop out to see a dumped former police dog from another jurisdiction. I thought being involved with K-9 dogs through his work place it could be a fit. The dog was 15 years old and had been turned in for euthasia because it had cancer. This we learned later. He will never go back there. Before we get offers, he did find a nice dobie mix at the SPCA.

    2. Here is one Blog written by a long time shelter volunteer at NHS. Winograd’s assessment is copied and different pages/topics relayed in different posts here. It will take a bit of time to read through to see them all. Winograd himself admits huge employee turnover, need for better training, animals being kept in unsatisfactory environments, etc. I am always open to an adult, civil discussion on this topic. I was blasted and insulted here from the beginning for stating my opinion and experiences, though I never engaged in personal attacks and never do. I do understand Sheldon’s frustration though with people who resort to attacks while denying what they do not wish to hear or explore. Seems to me if we truly cares about animals, we would welcome info whether good or bad, so we may work towards solutions.

    1. I’ve read through some of that link. The writer is not near as clear or gifted as Shirley here! (Thank you Yes Biscuit! for all you do for not just the animals, but the people that trying to care for them!!!)
      I understand that turnover is high. I understand that collaboration is required and that no one facility can *fix* the problem for everybody, let alone for one location. But would you rather have NHS go back to saving a few and just killing the rest?

      1. Um LynnO, That ‘writer’ is Winograd himself! These posts are page after page of Winograd’s assessment of the shelter!
        Of course I do not want them to go back to killing most! But when someone (Winograd) is charging shelters huge amounts of $$$ to come in and make them no kill, with an equation that does not reflect reality, it is not going to further the cause if and when it fails. Following is just one page from the assessment.In it he admits that off-site adoptions are not working well, most volunteers never make it past orientation, and animal care and disease control is an on-going issue! This is just ONE PAGE! –

        Ringworm, Off-Site Adoptions & Lazy Volunteers
        Since offsite adoption venues aren’t yielding many adoptions, use the opportunity for “yellow dot” dogs by taking some of them to these venues for the stimulation and socialization
        If there was a deficit in cat care, this occurred in the Ringworm cat ward. These cats, some of them long term, were the last of the cats cleaned for disease prevention purposes. In order to contain the spread of ringworm, caretakers attend to this room after other cat rooms were cleaned, and then only after suiting up in scrubs, gloves, and booties. Unfortunately, this did not occur until the later afternoon and I often found the cages to be very dirty, with a large number of cats not having access to drinking water (empty water bowls). After bringing this to the attention of management, the situation improved, but was not fully corrected. I was told that the cats would be checked first thing in the morning and water bowls replenished, but I still found cages with multiple cats to have empty water bowls by the afternoon. If consistent water cannot be guaranteed, a simple rule of thumb to prevent this problem in these circumstances is to have one bowl of water for each cat in a cage.
        Since offsite adoption venues aren’t yielding many adoptions, use the opportunity for longer term cats by taking some of them to these venues for the stimulation and socialization .
        To prevent problems, volunteers should not be doing dog-dog interactions. This should be reserved for staff. Currently, volunteers fill out an application and are given a date to return for an orientation. During the orientation of about two hours in duration, staff review basic rules. hand out a volunteer t-shirt and badge, and have candidates sign a waiver. About 100 come to a session, sometimes more or less, but about 70% never come back to actually volunteer, and then the number begins to drop further over time.

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      2. lurchmom – It is obvious you have an agenda here. You have made your opinion clear. But you’re crossing into hijacking territory here. Please consider this a one time warning to knock it off.

    2. @ all4Bella, why don’t you tell the nice people where you get such handy info and links Diane ? I am sorry you lost Bella, but for you to come on here and tell lurchmom and a couple of others to go “tend their animals ” would be good advice for Diane Blankenburg of the Nevada Humane Society who has plenty of animals to tend to herself. You work for Winograd and Valarie Hayes is a writer for him, you may both do well to tend your kitties. Diane is in upper management at NHS, so that’s why she is so heavy handed here. Why don’t you and Bonney go have a glass of wine and talk over community affairs ? You’ve done enough harm. Tell them about Cooney & the boxcutter.

      1. @Sheldon- You’re pathetic! Diane and Bonney don’t have time for a glass of wine, they’re too busy saving animals.
        In fact, they have saved over 45,000 in the last 5 years. Thats 24 animals per day, every day…for FIVE years!

        They are by far one of the most progressive shelters in the country with a save rate of over 90%.
        You obviously have something personal against one or more of them. Anyone that can ignore those numbers totally, while trying desperately to discredit them, obviously has some kind of ulterior motive.

        And lastly, this is NOT Diane. Not even the right gender, my dog was shot and killed last year by a rogue AC “officer” just because she was a PitBull.
        With such sharp investigative skills, you should be able to figure out who I am in a month or two if you get some help from your cop friend.

      2. Sheldon – This has gotten stupid. You are simply posting misinformation and insults. You are bringing nothing new nor are you contributing in any meaningful way to the conversation. This is a one time warning to straighten up and fly right.

  20. OK we’ve got 134 comments here. This is a notice to everyone to quit the thread hijacking. New information and/or meaningful discussion is welcome. From here on out, anyone attempting to drive this thread into the ditch will get the ax.

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