A Revolution in Animal Sheltering: Introducing the “No Kill” Movement

The concept of “No Kill” is as simple as it sounds: to eliminate the number of animals killed in shelters every year. The policies of this reform ensure that animals are not killed because there isn’t enough space at the shelter, or because the animal is sick, old, handicapped, unattractive, or has uncontrollable behavioural problems. An animal shelter that adheres by this practice can typically save over 90 percent of the animals it takes in. The leading cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in Canada and the United States is shelter killing. Prior to “No Kill”, shelters were killing more animals than they were saving. Animals are admitted to shelters for a variety of reasons and have different needs, but before “No Kill” shelters, there was a way to deal with these animals: adopt some and euthanize the rest. These shocking facts mobilized animal advocates such as Nathan Winograd, to start fighting for a way to govern these practices, and the “No Kill” movement was born out of compassion.

“No Kill” can be spread by educating the public to support this future of a second chance for animals. The services and programs necessary for a “No Kill” program include, but are not limited to: low cost spay/neuter and vaccinations, working with rescue groups, longer shelter hours, increased adoption events, more volunteers, follow-up calls, a foster network, and training events. These services appear to be bona fide requests for a shelter. The challenge is getting the already overwhelmed staff to implement them. How are they going to ensure these services are available, with little to no resources at their disposal? A commitment to implement lifesaving programs and dedicated shelter leadership that focuses on saving lives.

With the support of local communities and political pressure, it is possible to implement “No Kill” shelters in every city across Canada and the United States. A “No Kill” shelter embraces the support of its community and relies on people. For instance, volunteers, foster homes, rescuers, onsite staff, adopters and so on must make the conscious effort to spay and/or neuter animals, and spread the message. People should consider adopting over shopping for their pets. There are beautiful animals in shelters that need a loving home and would make great companions. Further, existing “No Kill” shelters can spread the message and inform other shelters on how to replicate their practices and success in saving shelter animals.

The killing will not stop unless communities mobilize and support “No Kill” policies of shelters in their cities. With more widespread support “No Kill” shelters are within our reach and we can create an alignment between shelter practices and public sentiment. Please share this information on the need for widespread community support so we can save lives and also consider adopting an animal from a shelter. You could save a life and find a wonderful friend.