In past I focused my no kill advocacy on shelter pets as long time readers well know. Currently I take a broader approach to include all animals combined with an understanding of our relationship with animals in history. To understand a thing, one must understand the history of a thing. And I am constantly refining a nuanced view of no kill in general and successful advocacy specifically.
No kill is a complex and multi-faceted philosophy that at its core, encompasses a respect for life. It’s most often defined narrowly as a belief that all shelter animals have a right to live. But no kill as a philosophy can certainly apply to all living beings. Under this broader view, the definition could be phrased as a chance to live, taking into account the relationship between predator and prey among wild animals. But the basic tenet remains: we (humans) should choose not to harm animals whenever possible. And increasing the opportunities when that is possible is one indicator of successful advocacy.
Within the no kill movement, there is compassion, comraderie, support, heroes, hypocrisy, corruption and bad actors – just like life. There are people who disagree with no kill. They are not necessarily bad people, though some are, as are some who agree with no kill. Recognizing these facts is important. Denial and deception make for a poor structural foundation.
An open, honest discussion about anything is hard to come by these days and that includes no kill. But if your only approach to discussion is to bring out your emotional sledgehammer and start swinging, you’ll find people are going to run from you. And you won’t change anyone’s mind.
My hope is for no kill to have a seat at the table where life and death decisions are being made about animals. I understand that the no kill position is not often going to be the winning position. We don’t have all the answers and the vast array of problems is complicated. But I believe it’s essential that the preservation of life be given a voice whether the issue is feral cats, non-native species, habitat destruction or anything else animal related.
No kill has undeniably made significant progress in recent years with regard to animal sheltering – progress that advocates were told would never happen because it’s unreasonable and logistically impossible, along with a host of other excuses. There’s more work to be done to fully realize no kill in the shelter community but the numerous major advancements are notable. The impossible is, in fact, possible. And all animals, not just those in shelters, deserve to have a voice advocating for their right to not be harmed by humans.