Is the GA SPCA No Kill or “No Kill”?

The Georgia SPCA describes itself on its website as “a “no kill” organization”.  I’m not sure why they put the term no kill in quotes although perhaps some insight can be gained from reading the director’s comments in a CBS Atlanta piece this week:

The Georgia SPCA says in recent months more than a dozen cats and dogs have been dumped at their doorstep overnight.

Shelter Executive Director Jane Stewart says not only is it illegal for pet owners to abandon their animals, but they’re now running out of space.


“There’s animal control but nobody wants to do that because a number of them end up getting euthanized, but that’s more humane than leaving them on the side of the road,” Stewart said.

Oh bleh.  The old better-off-dead meme.  First off, this is a false choice because it sounds as if the only two options for pets are abandonment in the streets or being killed by the pound.  Those are not the only two options as the numerous no kill communities throughout the country prove on a daily basis.  Secondly, even if somehow those were the only two options available, life trumps death.  Always.  Killing is never a kindness.  Only true euthanasia to end the suffering of a medically hopeless pet can be considered a kindness.

While I am glad to know that the GA SPCA does not kill pets and I understand the group’s financial challenges during the economic crisis, I can not fathom how they expect to engage the public and free up cage space with these adoption fees:

Dogs: $250

Kittens: $125

Cats: $100

These fees are simply not going to work for many adopters.  Is it any wonder the shelter is at capacity?  Every pet who gets left in a cage at the GA SPCA because the adopter could not afford the exorbitant fee is taking up space which could house a pet currently on death row at the local pound.

If the GA SPCA wants to make a meaningful impact on its community’s pets, why not use camera time on the local news to engage the public in lifesaving efforts instead of offering the better off dead endorsement for the pound?  Why not let people know you are committed to saving pets’ lives and as such, you are adopting your pets out for $25 this month in order to pull more pets off death row?  Why not take the quotes off the term no kill and embrace the philosophy whole-heartedly?

Everything to gain, nothing to lose.  Why not try?

24 thoughts on “Is the GA SPCA No Kill or “No Kill”?

  1. I am not understanding these adoption fees. Does this shelter not have outside fundraisers to cover overheard?

    All 3 of our no kills here have a pro fundraiser on staff to solicit from big businesses plus a volunteer staff to run events. The daily going rate is about $60 for a dog and $40 for a cat, no age requirement and all 3 hold reduced cost adopt-a-thons. Plus stay in contact with purebred rescues to help take some of the heat off, especially for the more expensive to maintain sorts ie health or behavioral issues. AND they all go cherry pick from Animal Control when AC gets full, AND take in distress situation animals from out of the local area. AND hit the media for help when needed ie a very sweet but very old animal needs a home (that brings in a LOT of donations besides getting the old one a nice place to live out their days).

    I truly don’t get what the issue is with killing adoptables when it’s not hard at all to organize and market them appropriately.

  2. A couple of years ago the ASPCA recommended waiving adoption fees for adult cats. The shelter where I volunteer had an adopt-a-thon in early August with all fees waived. Regardless, the average fee paid was $75, with one as high as $500. These fees are just stupid.

    1. Yes – I love “pay what you wish” pricing at shelter events! It gives those who can afford to be generous an opportunity to do so while allowing those who can’t an opportunity to save a pet’s life.

  3. The Georgia SPCA is a tiny little organization with a big name. They get media attention because of their big name, but they are really just a very small rescue group that takes in less than $350,000 total a year including adoption fees and donations. Almost all the rescue groups in the Atlanta area charge similar fees to the GA SPCA, mainly because their vet bills are so high and because most people in the Atlanta area donate money to the Atlanta Humane Society instead of other animal groups even though AHS has tens of millions of dollars in the bank that they don’t use. And Atlanta Humane isn’t and doesn’t claim to be no kill, so you ought to be admonishing them or Atlanta Pet Rescue instead. Atlanta Pet Rescue is a bigger organization than GA SPCA (takes in over $1 million a year), but for the most part Atlanta Pet Rescue will ONLY take in the most highly adoptable creme-de-la-creme dogs – small dogs and purebreds and they charge between $275-$425 for their dogs. Here’s Atlanta Pet Rescue’s link with prices (scroll to bottom):

  4. I agree… who has that kind of money? Why not do backround checks, vet check, make the adopter sign an agreement to spay/neuter and give the animals for FREE. I qualify for POP and I only have to pay $10 for a spay/neuter includes all shots. To get an animal out of the shelter it only costs $20. Even I can afford $60 to save a life..

  5. Simply lowering the price on adoptions is not a solution to our county’s pet overpopulation issues. First off, it is disingenuous to compete with private rescue groups who MUST charge a reasonable adoption fee to recoup vet and other expenses. Suggesting that private non profits can afford to absorb these costs is simply a fallacy. There is little to be gained long term in devaluing pet adoptions to the point where consumers expect these non profits to not cover costs. The long term effect is we as a community would be left with fewer rescue groups not more if those practices became common place.

    Regardless of how Georgia SPCA determines to run their organization in a responsible manner they are not in the business of supplementing the cost of shelter killing in our community. Even IF Georgia SPCA created space by adopting dogs or cats out that fact alone is irrelevent since Georgia SPCA rarely pulls from the county shelter since tghere isn’t a clear partnership relationship with current shelter management.

    Our local advocacy group attempted to bring about the changes need to build these new partnerships by replacing shelter management but those efforts were in vain when a “rival” no kill group decided “they” could work with shelter management while others couldn’t. Of course, ultimately that group, No Kill Georgia never followed through with any of the promises they committed too and we as a community are still stuck with the same non performing shelter.

    At the encouragement of our group “We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett” an “Animal Services Task Force” has been established which will study all of our animal welfare policies and make recommendations to our county commissioners in early 2012.

    We are looking for real changes that not only reduce the number of cats and dogs killed in our county shelter but changes that will be revenue neutral and build on a plan that will reduce the size of animal control over the next several years. Area’s open for discussion included privatizing parts of animal control, building rescue partnerships in the community and finding cost effective solutions to our feral cat issues.

    Rather then supporting policies which devalue pets we strongly support passing local ordinances which address the huge problem of irresponsible breeding which is driving our high shelter kill numbers. We in the rescue community don’t buy into the misguided premise that irresponsible breeding or irresponsible pet ownership are not direct cause and effect of shelter killing. Clearly, the incidents of irresponsible pet owners dumping litters of puppies and kittens is not an area were taxpayers should be burdened with the expense of placing pets that should not have been bred in the first place.

    We the Pet Owners of Gwinnett will also make recommendations that require breeder licensing and require all pet that leave animal controlo to be altered including those reclaimed by owners.owners to spay/neuter their pets.

    1. In the words of Nathan Winograd:

      “Randy, put down the 1000 pipes.”

      You have been banned from this blog for a long while and you know that. Quit trying to come up with ways to circumvent it in order to spew your misinformation. Nobody’s buying.

      1. That really wasn’t necessary. Spend less time attacking other advocates and more on the real issues. Be part if the solution, not the problem.
        Joan Sammond

  6. The Dekalb County Humane society has been no kill in the past but I don’t know their status now. They might be a powerful ally in breaking this mess in Atlanta. Money always draws in the worse people who get caught up in the power and forget the original mission of the organization. I see the same thing happening in Human rescue organization all the time.

  7. The Dekalb Humane Society changed their name to Paws Atlanta many years ago. They only adopt out about 350 – 400 animals a year total. Their adoption fee is $175 for dogs and $225 for puppies. They tend not to get involved in local shelter problems or animal welfare issues and seem to stick to themselves. They do offer low cost vaccination clinics and occasionally will sponsor low cost spay/neuter days, but they aren’t as low cost as other groups in the area.

  8. I don’t feel the adoption fees are too high if they need to cover their vet costs. They should try to have lower fees for some special events (w/special harder to move pets) to help them get more media attention and move more pets when they are too full. Maybe also work on getting more people to sponsor pets so they can do some low adopt fee events.

    Take better pet photos and videos to make the pet look more adoptable will also help place more pets without needing to do as many lower fee adoptions.

  9. I believe if the prices for adoption are so unreasonable, more animals will die. Take the greed out of it and show the compassion for placing these animals.

  10. High compared to my local hs, but they are always running special deals and that seems to get a lot of the animals out and into homes. For example – today is “Tortie Thursday” so torties can be adopted at a lower rate. They also lower the fees for seniors/medically needy/long-timers/”dog/cat of the week”, etc. Last month they did a special “teachers pets”. There is always something going on.
    It can be done!
    Seems to me that a big problem is the power plays between different groups who simply have to have it their way or not at all. The only ones suffering from this are the animals.
    C’mon, folks, let’s get our priorities straight here!

  11. I usually love your blog posts, but I have to respectfully disagree with this one. GA SPCA is a group that I know well and LOVE. Not everything they do is perfect, but that can be said of all of us. Their adoption fees are about on par with that of most rescues in Atlanta. I hope you noticed the number of animals they have currently in their shelter. On top of that, they have about the same number in foster care. It costs A LOT to vet all of those animals. In fact, it costs at least the amount of their adoption fee to just do the basic spay/neuter, vaccination, disease testing, and microchipping that is done for each pet. Keep in mind, however, that they pull a lot of dogs and cats from shelters and they end up with one illness or another. That requires the involvement of a private practice veterinarian (instead of a low cost spay/neuter clinic) and the expenses begin to soar! I am currently fostering a litter of kittens (not for the GA SPCA) and one of the kittens came down with an URI which required $120 worth of veterinary care. That’s on top of his basic vetting. His adoption fee will be $120 even though our rescue group has invested almost twice that amount. This is not a rare occurrence and we fund-raise to cover the difference. A rescue group, especially one as large and GA SPCA cannot continue to do the good work they do if they don’t charge an adoption fee that at least covers the cost of basic vetting.

    I wanted to also mention that the GA SPCA recently did hold an adoption drive where cats were available for half their usual adoption fee. You can’t do that year round because then you wouldn’t be able to pay your veterinarians and if you don’t pay your veterinarians, how do the animals get the care they need and deserve?

    Lynette Purves
    Planned PEThood of GA

    1. I agree with Lynette. After veterinary exam, vaccines, fecal tests, FeLV/FIV or heartworm testing, deworming, OHE or Neuter surgery that little kitten or puppy has received several hundred dollars of veterinary care…and that is IF it doesn’t get sick. One parvo puppy will easily cost over $1000 to treat. If someone got a free kitty from the lady down the street, they would/should be expected to have all of this veterinary work done anyway…and it would cost them A LOT more than the adoption fee, even if it was over $100. And, this doesn’t take into consideration the costs of food, chemicals to clean and disinfect, water, electricity, labor costs, paper towels, blankets, bowls….and all the myriad of things that go into running a shelter. Adoption fees are not set to gouge the public. They are not set to discourage people from adopting. They are set to help recoup even a tiny percentage of what the cost is to run a shelter. I do agree that being flexible and having “specials” to help get longer term residents is savvy and very helpful in placing them. In my opinion, just saying “One hundred dollars is WAY to high for an adoption fee! They
      are all about the money and don’t love animals or care if they get killed” is naive and over-emotional.

  12. You think those adoption fees are too high?! At the SPCAs in my area you’re looking at paying about $450 for a dog. Of course, vet care is a bazillion times more expensive in Canada, however the adoption fee of $250 seems pretty darn reasonable to me.

    I still stick with the belief that if a person cannot afford to pay an adoption fee (especially one so inexpensive!) they cannot afford a pet. It’s a catch 22, really.

    1. I can’t afford to pay that. Should I not have pets? How about other people like me – should they be allowed to save a pet’s life or should we keep piling the carcasses up in landfills by the millions?

  13. If a rescue group wants to be a “boutique” organization who keeps its average length of stay high by charging outrageous fees to adopters in order to recoup expenses instead of doing the fundraising, engaging the public, bartering, etc that other groups do, that’s an individual choice. I’m grateful for any lives saved. But IMO that group forfeits the right to go to the media to promote the better-off-dead meme and complain their facility is full. No ma’am. The group needs to own the choices they make.

  14. You will never stop poor people from having pets. Even if you believe we shouldn’t be allowed to have them. Even if your rescue charges $5000 for a pet. What you will do, is drive them to other sources – probably sources you don’t like and discourage people from going to – like flea markets, cardboard box of pups at the Walmart parking lot, etc. Most likely, it will not be a pet saved from death row. And in the future, they’ll tell their friends and family to avoid trying to rescue a pet and to do like they did and get a pet from someone who doesn’t judge them for their income level. Mission accomplished?

    As things stand, our municipal pounds are tossing several million pets a year into the dumpster. Shouldn’t we allow even the dirty poor to save some of those lives if they want to do that? Is the pet really better off dead than living with a poor owner? Can we check with the pet on that? Sure, maybe the dog will break his leg someday and the owner won’t be able to afford surgical repair. But the dog might not break his leg. It’s a chance I’m willing to take when we’re talking about the difference between life and death. Life trumps death. Always.

    Make no mistake, every pet a rescue fails to adopt out today because the adopter couldn’t afford the fee is taking up a space which could have housed a pet on death row from the local pound. Even if the rescue is lucky enough to find an adopter who can cough up $400 tomorrow, it will be too late for the pets killed at the local pound today. The opportunity to save the lives of those pets was pissed away because someone thought it would be better to continue to house a pet a poor person wanted to take home and love.

  15. Running a business of getting animals adopted is still a business. Non profits are over run with do gooders who fall in love, ok I get that. But why not solicit donated services and supplies? Why not have someone out there who’s job it is to raise funds to cover most of the overhead?Who’s pay comes out as a commission? It’s just silly to think “love” is enough. Ever heard of marketing? Ever heard of Lifetime Sponsors? Ever heard of Estate Donations? Why are these fundraising efforts not being utilized?

    And what is this crap that poor people can’t afford pets? SRSLY?!!?!?! So they don’t do all the blingy cute crap because they can’t afford it. What they will do is check Craig’s list for cheap animals rather than go to a shelter. Without available reasonable respectful education and care they will continue down the ignorant path, but hear me well: They are not stupid ignorant hillbillies who defy you do gooders. Your attitude is elitist and alienating.

    Get a trainer to provide low cost classes on the property. Get several vets to donate a few hours a week to health checks. Euthanize the parvo puppies. Euthanize the fe leuk cats, the FIV cats. Euthanize the ones who bite. It’s humane to the hundreds of other adoptables, you have to draw the line somewhere. Yes, it’s sad. Life is sad. Would you deny helping an adoptable dog, would you then require it to live months and months in a kennel run because fees were too high to cover your overhead when there are other options? Really?

    No kill has to have limits. You can’t save them all, you really really can’t. What you can do is increase placements of placeable pets, reduce costs with donated services, increase income with solicited donations.

    Been there, done that, got the tshirt donated.

  16. OK, I just went to watch the video AGAIN to make sure that I remembered it correctly. Jane NEVER SAYS the animals are “better off dead”. She does not subscribe to that philosophy. If you watch the video, she is talking about the fact that it is not safe to leave pets on the side of a very busy road. They would be safer at animal control. She did this story to bring adopters into the shelter, which is exactly what she should be doing. They just finished expanding the shelter so that they could increase their capacity and they DID get most of that work donated. They do tons of fundraising to cover overhead. Please don’t speak about an issue you don’t understand. They DO have a pro bono vet who helps them out with simple exams and vet checks and they use low cost clinics to handle basic vetting. However, as someone mentioned above, when you are pulling kittens and puppies from animal control facilities, they almost always come with some sort of illness — parvo, URI, etc. that is expensive to treat. Their adoption fee is VERY reasonable. There are plenty of humane society’s and SPCA’s out there who deserve criticism. This is not one of them.

    Lynette Purves
    Planned PEThood of Georgia

  17. Did u know that it usually cost them double the adoption fee to get the animals healthy… they spay/netters everyone of them. All animals get vaccinations. Puppies and kittens usually get about 3 vaccines before they leave to build immunity. They all get dewormed multiple time. They all have fecal tests run to make sure they don’t have any uncommon intestinal parasites ..which 80% of them do because they are exposed to them at animal controls…which means even more expensive deworming medication. They have heartworm tests run on dogs and combo tests runon cats. They treat all of the animals illnesses and most of them come sick because of the animals control. They microchip them all. They treat the heartworms for the dogs who have them. So ya I say $250 for a dog or puppy sounds good when it cost them $400 to rescue it. And 125 for a kitten when it cost them 250 to rescue it. Oh and not mention every animal is kept up to date with monthly flea and heartworm prevention. They don’t receive free vet care they pay all this on there own. So Ya I would say thank u to the Georgia spca for helping all of the animals that they do and for sending them on to there new life with the proper veterinary work done on them. And they always find room for animals in danger or about to be euthanized at animal control. Thank u ga spca for doing what u do and also Congrats on the highest adoption year yet in 2011!

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