KY Shelter Soars to 95% Save Rate

Josh Cromer has been the director of the Humane Society of Henderson County for a little over a year and, while he does not claim to be no kill, the shelter’s save rate has improved immensely under his leadership:

2010: 731 animals or 40 percent of all animals that left the shelter that year through Oct. 1 were euthanized.

2011: 862 animals or 45 percent were euthanized.

2012: 65 animals or 5 percent have been euthanized.

Mr. Cromer credits having like-minded people on board with his lifesaving goals at the shelter as a key element in his success.  He also mentions that HSHC stopped accepting surrenders from other counties, worked with more rescues and sent more pets home with adopters.  His goal for his first year was reportedly to cut the killing by half.  He obviously exceeded that goal.  HSHC board president Josh Williams explains:

“Josh brought in a fresh perspective and challenged what was possible,” Williams said.

Challenging what’s possible for shelter pets in Henderson Co means challenging the idea that killing is an acceptable means of population control.  In too many areas, we see anyone who challenges the killing attacked, marginalized, and/or demonized by those claiming that no one wants to kill animals while filling up the dumpster with dead pets.  I’m glad Henderson Co was open minded enough to give someone challenging the status quo a chance.  We need more municipalities willing to condemn the cruelty of the past and demand that lifesaving alternatives be given every opportunity to succeed in the future.  It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s what people want, as Mr. Cromer notes:

“The community does support what we’re doing for the most part,” he added. “People don’t want to see animals die for no reason other than they were not wanted.”


(Thanks Clarice for sending in this link.)

26 thoughts on “KY Shelter Soars to 95% Save Rate

  1. BRAVO.. showing the world of sheltering that it can be done. Lots of new pets “home for the holidays” YEA!!!!!!

    1. I meant that he doesn’t use the term in any of the quotes in the article and, going on memory, he says something along the lines of ‘I wish we could save them all but we can only do so much with limited resources’. I interpret that to mean that in his view, if he had more resources, he could save more.

  2. I am from Henderson, I live in Evansville, IN now but fully support Josh and the shelter! He is such a kind hearted person. When he says he cannot claim “No-Kill” he means that there are animals that they still have to euthanize. I can just about guarantee you that the animals that are euthanized is because they are injured or sick beyond help or becsuse of aggression problems that cannot be resolved. Josh is so passionate about saving animals! The bad news is that the city of Henderson recieved grant money to spend on animal control. The city is determined to build a new shelter, separate from the Humane society that will do intake only and no adoptions!! Please contact the mayor of Henderson County, Ky and let them know that they need to give this money to the Humane Society so they can expand the shelter they have and continue to save lives! Thank you for getting out the good word about this shelter. Josh will not consider it to be No-Kill until every animals walks out of their alive. He’s a rather intense, passionate guy when it comes to saving animals! : )

    1. Although often misunderstood, the definition of No Kill includes euthanizing pets who are medically hopeless and suffering or dogs deemed aggressive where rehab efforts have failed and sanctuary placement is not an option.

      1. Right – “no kill” is not “no euthanize”. See, the problem comes from using the word “euthanize” for every death, including the deaths of healthy, adoptable animals that are 3..made dead for convenience/space/whatever excuse they use. That’s not euthanization, that’s killing.

      2. With this definition, Josh’s shelter is No-Kill. In fact, I have known them to get treatment for animals that they would have easily been justified in euthanizing. A little Jack Russel pup named “Tuff” comes to mind. : )

  3. That’s why I asked about what we mean by “no-kill”. Some would say it’s a live release rate of a certain percentage. Some would say it’s using the No-Kill Equation, etc.

    My shelter’s live release rate is about 92-93% per year for both dogs and cats, which we’re very happy about. I never hear anybody there (staff or volunteer) using the term “no-kill” though. It’s not intentionally avoided, it’s just not part of the lexicon as far as I’m aware. The No-Kill Equation isn’t used by name, though the shelter does do a lot of what it suggests (and has for a long time).

    So I’m not sure if no-kill folks would consider us to be “no-kill” or not.

    Either way, it’s great to volunteer at a shelter that has so much success. Hopefully the Henderson County shelter can develop a stronger volunteer base.

    1. If your shelter director has put protocols in place to ensure that the only animals euthanized have been evaluated by at least one qualified individual and determined to be medically or behaviorally hopeless, I would consider that no kill.

      1. Yes, that definitely happens. Sometimes various voluteers disagree with the decisions on individiual dogs, which is inevitable. But the staff is very experienced, and it’s hard to say they don’t take the decision seriously when they’re only putting down 7 or 8% of animals per year.

  4. Josh does not consider the shelter “no kill” due to the fact that they are part of animal control. Due to that fact, they cannot turn down any animal that is brought to them, provided that the person bringing it in is a resident of Henderson County. For that reason, having to euthanize for space IS always a possibility. Thankfully, due to the efforts of Josh and his staff, it’s not a decision they are often faced with, and when they are, they work even more diligently to get animals adopted out or into rescues and foster homes.

    1. There are many open admission shelters in the country that do not turn away pets, just like Henderson Co doesn’t turn away pets. But they have taken killing off the table. Instead, they look at every other possible option which would result in saving the pet. And that’s what they do – save them. All of them (except for those deemed medically hopeless and suffering). I hope Henderson Co will consider removing killing for space as an option one day soon. The shelter has done amazing things and made awesome changes. There’s no reason the upward trend has to stop.

  5. As a new board member at HSHC, and also fairly new to the rescue world, I’d love to know what the other options are, when a shelter is out of space and can’t find rescues, fosters, or adopters. I know it is Josh’s goal to be no kill, as it is mine, so we are open to any and all suggestions. I’m sure he’s probably aware of options that I’m not, since I’m a “newbie” but I’d love the information for my own personal efforts in saving as many animals as possible!

    1. Renee, these are the official stats for 2012.
      Well for the year 2012 we have some impressive numbers!!
      Adoptions were 57%, UP 17% from 2011 – UP 13% from 2010
      Rescues were 21%, UP 10% from 2011 – UP 14% from 2010
      Euthanasia was 6%, DOWN 34% from 2011 – DOWN 34% from 2010
      Return to Owner has held steady all three years at 7%

      I will have to see if I am permitted to share the intake numbers from previous years. They are dropping, due to no longer taking animals from outside of Henderson County. I think these stats speak for themselves though.

  6. I’m from Henderson, KY and my experience with Mr Josh Cromer and his staff have been terrible. I am NOT the only one.
    I called repeatedly for a starving and neglected pit bull. Animal Control wrote me a ticket requiring me to appear in court for helping the dog!! I could not wait to go to court! I did nothing wrong and of course it was dismissed. They finally took the dog and it had a infection so bad it had to be put down. It would have lived if they would have helped her sooner. I cried and cried over that dog. What a disgrace!
    Next was a stray cat that came to my house in desperate need of a Vet it had an infection so bad you could see it and smell it from a distance. I took it to the “Humane Society” that Josh runs and they interrogated me for 20 minutes accusing me of being the owner of the cat. I finally asked where to take the cat since they didn’t want to take it? They took the cat. I was furious when I left!
    Additionally I don’t believe Josh’s number.

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