The phrase “No Kill” is not universally understood at this point in history. This is partially due to the fact that some who oppose No Kill methods (for a variety of reasons) often attempt to paint the movement in a negative light. It is also partially due to the fact that the No Kill movement is constantly growing and changing as people find new and better ways to develop the programs of the No Kill Equation. Confusion about the name “No Kill” has led to many myths, some of which we address here.
“No Kill means no animals are ever put to sleep and that’s just wrong.”
The No Kill philosophy does not mean that no animals are ever destroyed. It means that animals who are truly suffering are euthanized because that’s what the word euthanasia means: “the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, an animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition.” Also provided for in the No Kill philosophy is the destruction of dogs who are so aggressive that they cannot be rehabilitated, even by experts, and thus pose a genuine danger to the public. In labeling a dog as aggressive, however, it must be remembered that very few dogs behave “normally” in shelter environments which can be anything but normal for a dog who is used to living in a home or a yard. Dogs must be evaluated for aggression using double-blind tests and not with methods which may set them up for failure and not for success.
“There just aren't enough good homes for the animals.”
America is a nation of animal lovers and we spend billions of dollars every year to care for our pets. We bring 23 million animals into our homes each year while at the same time shelters destroy almost 4 million animals each year. The problem is not too many animals and not enough homes. The problem, at least in part, is that we often do not market the animals effectively or use public relations effectively to help shelter animals find loving homes by educating the public that being homeless or a victim of circumstance is not the same as being “damaged.” When we successfully reach out to and engage the public to convince them of the merits of adopting, we can adopt ourselves out of killing.
“Our shelter takes in too many animals to implement the No Kill Equation.”
Open admission shelters across the country are located in very diverse communities with their own economic and social challenges. Most of these shelters have high intakes of lost and homeless animals but are still saving 90% to 98% of all animals entering their facilities. Even in the most economically challenged parts of the country, many without large populations of residents, some high intake shelters are adopting out close to 10,000 animals per year. It can be done with the will and knowledge to make it happen.
“No Kill is too expensive. Our community cannot afford it.”
No Kill is cost-effective, fiscally responsible, and a great economic boon to local communities. Municipalities which want to enact good policy and improve the local economy should invest in lifesaving at their local shelter. Given the cost savings and additional revenues of doing so (reduced costs associated with killing, enhanced community support, an increase in adoption revenues and other user fees, and additional tax revenues), as well as the community economic impact of adoptions, a community cannot afford not to embrace No Kill.
Although costs vary somewhat, impounding, caring for, and ultimately killing an animal and disposing of his/her body costs approximately $106.00 ($66 for impoundment and $40 for killing and disposal). The process is entirely revenue negative to the municipality in contrast to the No Kill approach which transfers costs to private philanthropy, brings in adoption revenue and other user fees, and supports local businesses (veterinarians, pet supply stores, groomers, trainers and boarding facilities.) It makes more economic sense to adopt out animals, transfer animals to private non-profit rescue organizations, and increase the number of stray animals reclaimed by their families, all revenue positive activities that save the costs of killing and bring in fees and other revenues.
“No Kill shelters hold animals too long, spread disease and just amount to institutionalized hoarding.”
The No Kill Equation has 11 elements, but is dual purpose in principle: keep animals from entering the shelter in the first place and then get them out quickly if they do end up in the shelter. Animals are kept in shelters for the least amount of time possible. Those who are kept in shelters are housed in shelter conditions which optimize their physical and mental health to make them easier to adopt out and in which there are high shelter medicine standards practices, disease mitigation programs and enrichment programs.
"You just want to get the shelter director fired."
Becoming a No Kill Community is about local leadership and is not about any one specific person. We strongly believe that in order for a community to embrace change, the person in charge of the municipal animal shelter has to believe in proven programs and has to be the strongest advocate for them in dealing with elected officials. Because that person is accountable not only to the citizens but to the mayor and the city council, the responsibility for the manner in which our community functions is equally shared by those who govern us using our tax dollars. If we wanted the shelter director fired, we would say so and we would use our time and our resources to that end, leaving no doubt about our motives or our goals. We remain hopeful that our shelter director will have enough faith in herself, our community and our local officials to learn about and bring proven programs here for the sake of all of us, including her staff and the animals entrusted to her care.