Save them all, kill the excuses.

Dog #0871849 at the Charlotte pound in NC, as pictured on PetHarbor.
Dog #0871849 at the Charlotte pound in NC, as pictured on PetHarbor.

Many pet killing facilities in this country are enabled by caring volunteers and rescuers who buy into the Save a Few, Kill the Rest business model.  How it works:  The pet killing facility allows members of the public to care for, network and rescue certain pets so long as the public plays by its rules.  The rest of the pets are killed.  The rules that must be obeyed typically center around silence on the part of the enablers – no speaking to the media or posting online about the truth of what goes on at the shelter.

How do compassionate people stand by silently while healthy/treatable pets are being killed all around them?  It a two-pronged attack – one from without and the other from within.  The pet killing facility tells the rescuers and volunteers:

  • We’re not monsters.  No one here wants to kill pets.  We’re animal lovers, just like you.
  • It’s the public’s fault that we have to kill pets.  With the exception of you guys, the rest of the public is irresponsible and uncaring.
  • We’re all on the same team.  But if you speak to the media about what goes on here, people might get the wrong impression and stop donating.  That will only hurt the animals.

The rescuers and volunteers carry the weight from there and tell themselves:

  • If I publicly tell the truth about what happens at the shelter, I won’t be allowed to walk dogs/foster kittens/rescue pets any longer and then the animals will have no one to be kind to them because the people here are monsters.
  • The people here aren’t monsters.  They only kill pets because the irresponsible public forces them to do it.  I am a member of the public and so are all the networkers, adopters, fosters, donors, rescuers, volunteers and transporters that I know.  Before we got involved with the shelter, we were all just regular pet owners.  I guess I and everyone I know are all exceptions.  Yes, that must be right because only uncaring people would surrender their pets to these monsters.
  • The people here aren’t monsters.  After all, they are allowing me to save a few of the pets.  And saving a few is better than saving none so I am going to keep my mouth shut and play by their rules in order to maintain my privileges.  If I don’t, they might kill Fluffy, whom I’ve been working on getting into rescue for 2 weeks, in retaliation.  I can’t risk these monsters killing Fluffy.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these statements?  This is how our broken shelter system’s status quo of Save a Few, Kill the Rest is maintained.  The monsters sell it and the compassionate public buys it.  If you buy it, there will always be a place for you at your local pet killing facility.  Because there will always be a Fluffy.  They will dangle a Fluffy in front of your face forever and taunt you with their power of life and death.

A pet adopted from UPAWS, as posted on Facebook.
A pet adopted from UPAWS in Michigan, as posted on Facebook.

If however you decide to empower yourself to be free from this mindset, to put the responsibility for Fluffy’s protection on those paid to protect her, and to stand up for what you know in your heart is right – that ALL SHELTER PETS HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE – let me know.  I’ll stand by you.

We don’t have to accept saving just a few.  We can save them all.  As compassionate pet advocates, we must reject the myths of pet overpopulation and the “irresponsible public” that have been put forth in an attempt to justify needless killing.  It is our duty to publicly condemn the notion that saving shelter pets is a “privilege” which directors extend only to those who play ball.  We must organize, not to enable more killing by keeping quiet, but to garner legislative support for the Companion Animal Protection Act to protect pets from monsters.

Take back your power.  Giving it up was a tragic mistake but one that can be made right – unlike killing.  Save them all, kill the excuses.

28 thoughts on “Save them all, kill the excuses.

  1. Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing this attitude even with “no kill” rescue groups. They don’t kill the animals themselves, but they have such ridiculous policies preventing people from adopting and fostering. If you don’t support their policies, then you’re not welcome as a volunteer. Very frustrating.

    1. My first wake up call to no kill for “adoptable” pets was when I fostered a terribly shy kitty from a “no kill” shelter. After having her for a couple of weeks they called to tell me they were having meetings to determine her “adoptability.” The subtext was clear, if I gave her back they’d kill her.

      I kept her, even though she was a terrible fit for my household (she should have been an only kitty doted on by an elderly couple). We accommodated her by keeping her in our bedroom as she was terribly afraid of the other critters, and petting her in the evenings and mornings. She lived seven more years and became less shy as the time went by. I joke to that by the time she died she was almost like a “normal” cat.

  2. Absolutely TRUE! I was a volunteer for 3 years at a municipal shelter and was “terminated as a volunteer” because I “spoke out about the senseless killing. I can only volunteer if I keep my mouth shut, but that won’t happen so I help elsewhere. I will NEVER defend anyone that kills healthy and adoptable animals. Until other volunteers speak out, the killing will not stop! I can only pray that someday all volunteers will be brave enough to stand up for the animals!!

  3. Preach it, sister! I could not agree more. I am so tired of the “Friends of __________” being friends to the humans and standing by while the same thing happens over and over, as if the act of killing an animal is not permanent. It may sound overly harsh, but I actually find the enablers more at fault than any group. They, of all people, know the truth. Failure to speak out against it and stand up to it means they might as well be standing in the E-room, doling out the Fatal Plus. Silence is not golden. It is deadly. And please don’t talk to me about saving the life of that one animal when we can work together to save thousands and hundreds of thousands.

  4. I wish more people would read these posts.. I try to share them in as many places as possible.. a good place to post them would be on I Hate Dog Breeders fb page.. so the haters there could see the truth..Of course i am banned from the page as is anyone who dares to tell the truth.. so if one person a week sneaks in it would help.. be prepared to be banned.. but really who cares?

    1. Some of the killing apologist pages out there concern me. I’ve been forwarded threats made by some of the wackos there – threats against humans. It worries me that they believe killing shelter pets is A-OK and threatening humans is good too. Where is the line for these people? Is there a line?

  5. This is so very true!.I worked with the Stockton “shelter”, it’s not a shelter it is a killing zone!, for the past 12 years. Rescuing 30-60 pups a month. I no longer work with them. Your words were the exact words that the new director said to me….”If you come against us in any way, you will not be able to “partner” with us. It has been a year and a half and even after investigations and black balling me, the killings still go on. Why? Because I am the only rescue that has stood up and come against them, all the rest rescue the few and stand by idly, look the other way and watch them all be killed. It is so sickening that even after confronting them all, they will not stand up and do whats right. Why? Because they have their own agenda and they only care about the ones they can bring into their rescue, that will make them money. Mean while who gets the brunt of it all …….the animals

  6. So true. And it very much becomes an abusive relationship, with the lives of the animals held for ransom against otherwise good people toeing the line and keeping their mouths shut. If you are volunteering where this relationship exists, it is solely because the shelter ISN’T DOING IT’S JOB of sheltering.

    Also at play (and this just fuels the fire) is the “it’s us against them” with the “us” being the shelter/workers/volunteers and “them” being everyone else (the irresponsible public).

    But I think there’s another factor…a darker side even than the abusive relationship…

    I think that some (please note that I said “some”) volunteers *enjoy* the perceived social status of being someone who “saves lives from that hellhole of a shelter”. If the the shelter were a bit less of a hellhole, they (in their minds) are a little less angelic for whatever few they save. So improving the shelter is actually counter-productive for their ego-feed and they willingly stand with the hellhole shelter administration *because this is the way they like it*. In these cases, it was never about the animals (no matter how much or how loudly they say they are); the animals are simply a means to an end. Just as the animals are a means to an end for the sick bastards who enjoy the power of killing, or just enjoy abusing/killing animals and they decide to work at a shelter. When you have the most vulnerable at the mercy of those with almost no accountability, you have a horror show. And that’s what we see happen time and time again.

    High kill shelters attract two types of people – the ones who want them to change and the ones who want them to stay the same. The mentally healthy and the mentally compromised. The real danger of the “save a few” mentality is that it can end up beating someone down to the point where even though they may have started out as one of the ones who wanted change, they end up a twisted shadow of their former selves and become one of the ones who want things to stay as they are.

    Kill shelters are bad for people.


  7. Great blog! I have volunteered at Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (previously the Marquette County Humane Society) since 1997. It is like two different shelters – the one before and now. The one before we decided to STOP killing these beautiful pets was exactly like you wrote:

    We’re not monsters. No one here wants to kill pets. We’re animal lovers, just like you.

    It’s the public’s fault that we have to kill pets. With the exception of you guys, the rest of the public is irresponsible and uncaring.

    We’re all on the same team. But if you speak to the media about what goes on here, people might get the wrong impression and stop donating. That will only hurt the animals.

    I felt brainwashed! Felt sad and bad a lot of the time but I stayed for the animal’s sake. I feel sick to my stomach thinking about all the killing, all the stupidity. All the excuses. Awful.

    Thank goodness our shelter Board in 2006 said enough is enough and stopped killing! Yes, our little shelter did it way up in the U.P of MI. We stopped killing, reached out to the Community, changed our name to UPAWS and have never looked back and regretted it once. Our shelter went from killing 60-70% of the animals in our care, to this last year having a save rate of 100%. YOU can do it! Read Redemption, follow the No Kill Equation…just STOP killing. If we can do it…you can too! The animals that come to us our like our family…we love them, care for them and give 100% to finding them loving homes. They deserve no less.

    1. I read about UPAWS right here and ended up interacting with Dayna before she returned to Wisconsin. Your transition is one for all to learn from and I applaud you. I actually have a “How We Did It” document about UPAWS that I compiled from what Shirley posted here and I use it all the time!

      1. Thank you!
        Another Yes Biscuit blog that I feel can be very helpful to anyone who does not think No Kill at there shelter, in their community, with their Board, financial situation etc, etc. can be done or are afraid to even try, is the blog “Testify”. It is testimonials from those of us at UPAWS who were there during the years of killing, the transition period and the present environment of lifesaving. Here is that blog link:

        and the Doing It blog that you referenced to for those who may be interested.

    2. Wow, Ann! Thats incredible! I really wish more shelters would do this as well. Even a 90% rate is good, but 100%? Thats really something to marvel at.

  8. And the kill shelters go all out and move mountains to keep on killing. Watch what happens when CAPA is introduced in your state. These “animal lovers” who are too busy killing to adopt out/rescue/properly take care of animals, will suddenly have lots of time to attempt to derail/ defeat life-saving legislation. You’d be amazed at the motivation change. It’s painful to see. Someone gave me some great advice when I was younger, “People lie. Believe actions.” Whatever people say, trust their actions more, because it shows who they truly are.

  9. Agree totally that we need to find way s to reduce kill rates…! But are you all really saying that there are 35000 more homes out there every year just in the state of victoria? I don’t think so. I simply do not believe that a 100 percent save rate is possible at this point in time And anyone who says they get this is clearly restricting the number of aNimals they take in, the big pounds are not able to turn Animals away and are where They all end up when the supposed no kill shelters are full Nd turn them away. I think we need to do more to reduce animals being born! , and I am sick and tired of hearing lots of people criticize shelters so aggressively nd demand a zero kill is ridiculous to expect that and some of you Are all spending energy on talk when you should get out there and do something about it.

    1. What you may or may not believe is irrelevant to the reality that there are roughly 100 open admission shelters in the U.S. saving more than 90% of the pets in their care. As to your tired accusation of talk vs. action, I will only answer for myself: This is my blog. Talk is what I do here. You are a guest. Please behave accordingly.

      1. More tired excuses and misinformation from ‘Doug’. All of these inane criticisms have been addressed in so many other blogs and posts already. “If you really loved animals, you’d blah blah blah blah, so go and do that instead of writing pertinent and timely blog posts about things that affect the big pound’s revenue raising endeavours”. I am so glad to see that you have refused to be drawn in by this defeatist nonsense. Another excellent blog.

      2. Doug is another who knows what doesnt work but offers up no answer as to what should be done. You are far to polite. Some people are not worth wasting time with. Doug is one of those. Just delete him.

  10. I would like to state the No Kill can be achieved with an Open Admission Shelter. The Upper Peninsula Animal Shelter is an Open Admission shelter (we turn no animal away) and we charge no fee to admit an animal. We do not restrict the number of animals we take in and we do not turn any away. We have been awarded for the last three years the Outstanding Michigan Medium (1,000 – 5,000) Open Admission Shelter Award for No Kill for achieving a save rate of over 90%. Currently we are at 100% save rate. Why I wanted to write this is to state that yes, it can be done! We are doing it!

    1. Ann, would it be ossicle for you to email me some info about your shelter/rescue. That is a phenomenal save rate and I would love some more info to tap into. My email address is

  11. Everytime I get angry on a “shelter” page and I use that term loosely, the volunteers jump all over me, telling me if I want to get angry, be angry with the irresponsible pet owners, etc. If I want to really help, rescue, foster, sponsor. I tell them if we don’t get angry, we are accepting the status quo. I won’t! Please don’t tell Doug, his views aren’t valid. Please don’t delete him Have an open, honest debate of the issues. If we can’t do that in an intelligent, adult manner, we will never have the concensus to affect change.

  12. May I add one more horrid thing that NYC’s main kill shelters (ACC) inflicts on volunteer no-kill foster groups?

    Every cat that goes into ACC gets a contagious URI. Every. Single. One. Not only does this cause vet bills that wipe out our tiny budgets, it makes it hard to find immediate foster homes.

    ACC also ‘dumps’ terminally injured cats onto rescue groups, by lying with descriptions. We’ve pulled very injured cats, rushed them to our vets, only to learn that they are suffering and beyond saving. Again, we get stuck with the bill.

    We’ve approached the media – even our vet will make a public statement – but no one is interested. And yes, we run the risk of being banned.

    Its a horrible situation. Go public, and lose the ability to save cats from the nightly kill list. Keep quiet, and continue saving animals.

    The psychological toll on rescuers is formidable. The kill lists are made public on FaceBook every night; and well-meaning people deluge our (and other groups) mailbox demanding we ‘save’ these cats. But we have so few fosterers and very little money. The guilt, insomnia, and anger really affects us.

    This has to change. The groups that are sitting on 7 figure nest eggs are happy to watch the shit run downhill on tiny volunteer rescue groups. We’re the ones staying up until 6 a.m., trying to save a single cats (and arrange for transport, and vet care, and foster placement). ACC gives us 12 HOURS (6 pm to 6 am) to do this. Every night.

    Were so busy jumping through their hoops that we don’t have time to topple their regime.

    1. “We’re so busy jumping through their hoops that we don’t have time to topple their regime.” – and that’s exactly how kill shelters designed the system. Save a Few, Kill the Rest is self-sustaining and never needs maintenance. Compassionate rescuers, volunteers and fosters do all the heavy lifting. Until someone gets off the hamster wheel of death and says ENOUGH, the system will remain in place.

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