We are often asked if Huntsville is a no kill community. The short answer is, "no. Not yet."
There are two schools of thought regarding recognized status as a no kill community, both of which originate from a time in this social movement when norms were being developed in terms of performance. There was a time when a community was considered a no kill community after having gone twelve full months with a "live release" or "save" rate of above 90%. The percentage benchmark was based on norms at the time which said that if a community was saving more than 90% of the shelter animals, it most likely was not destroying healthy and treatable animals.
Times have changed. There are communities where the lives of more than 95% of shelter animals are being saved. Some communities save 98% of shelter animals. This means that the 90% benchmark is no longer the consistently recognized standard for becoming a no kill community and the new benchmark is one not of math, but of method. It is our position that a community is a no kill community when healthy and treatable shelter animals are not at risk under any circumstances because a line has been drawn in the sand which will not be crossed. This may mean that the save rate is 97% in a given month. It may also mean that the save rate in another month is 87% if there were truly a number of animals entering the shelter who were suffering or so irremediably ill that euthanasia was the only responsible course of action.
Getting back to the question, ours is not yet a no kill community simply because the city has yet to make a public declaration of intent that it will no longer destroy healthy and treatable animals at Huntsville Animal Services. We are hopeful a time will come when the city does just that. We think that enough progress has been made in the last year to put the city in a good position to make a public declaration and be able to keep that commitment with the help of the public.
There is a website called Saving 90 which tracks communities where the lives of more than 90% of shelter animals are being saved. This same website tracks communities where the lives of more than 80% of shelter animals are being saved. We contacted the site last week to inquire about having Huntsville listed on the site in the Saving 80 Category. We did so in spite of our position on what the phrase "no kill community" means simply as a way of asking that Huntsville be put on the map of places making great progress. As we have said many times before, the city has come a very long way from the way things were when we first took this subject to the public in 2013 and we think it is important to acknowledge that.
We were told that Huntsville does not yet make the grade to be put on the website. In order for a community to be listed as a Saving 80 community, it must have saved more than 80% of shelter animals in the last year for both species - meaning that the numbers must be calculated separately for dogs and cats. We do not yet have the shelter statistics for the month of December of 2015. This chart shows the save rates for dogs and cats for the last 12 months.
It is very possible that Huntsville will be able to be added on the Saving 90 website as a Saving 80 community in the very near future. We will continue our requests for, an analysis of, the shelter statistics so we can keep you informed of the city's progress and so we can ask that Huntsville be added to the website once it has met the criteria to be added.