No Kill Huntsville is a coalition of local animal welfare advocates, rescuers and shelter directors who came together in January of 2012 to speak with one voice to seek better for our community. Our goal was to make ours a No Kill Community; a geographic hub where healthy and treatable animals are not destroyed in our municipal shelter using our tax dollars and resources because there are proven ways to save them. There are hundreds of no kill communities across the country where the lives of shelter animals are saved while still ensuring public safety and fiscal responsibility.
The phrase No Kill does not mean that animals do not die in the shelter. It is in keeping with use of the word "euthanasia" for the intended purpose. Animals who are suffering or who are irremediably ill are euthanized for reasons of mercy, but the shelter no longer destroys healthy and treatable animals for space or convenience. The shelter also destroys dogs deemed a genuine public safety risk to the public after having thoroughly evaluated those dogs, having made exhaustive efforts to rehabilitate them and having sought sanctuary placement for them. We believe there are additional measures which can be taken to reduce the number of dogs destroyed for public safety reasons and remain hopeful the city and shelter will continue to explore those measures while still ensuring the safety of the public and the animals who live in the community. The live release rate at the shelter in 2021 was 94% for dogs and was 96% for cats. The rate has dropped in 2022 and is unlikely to exceed 90% for dogs this year.
The intake at the animal shelter is lower now than it has been at any time prior to the pandemic. The shelter now has a staff that is approximately double what it was when our group formed and it has a budget of approximately 3 million dollars annually. While the City of Huntsville has made tremendous progress over a period of almost ten years to change the animal shelter operation, this progress has not been entirely sustainable. We believe this is due to the city's failure to fully embrace all of the programs and services of the No Kill Equation which work in concert to save lives. Elements of the Equation are not optional - that is why it is called an Equation.
We are hopeful the city will take affirmative steps to keep the live release rate at the shelter from declining. Many of our recommendations on how to prevent that decline we have been making for may years have been ignored and the reality is that there is little we can do about it. Saving the lives of shelter animals, while still ensuring public safety, is an issue that has to be important enough to the city to keep from going back in time and destroying more animals. To see our most recent recommendations to the city on how to resolve some of the current issues with the shelter operation, please see this information posted on our Facebook page.