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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I saw this discussion in another thread and rather than further hijack that thread I thought I'd move it over here. I'm curious what people think of no kill shelters vs kill shelters. I think some people will say in an ideal world there would only be no kill shelters, but I think in an ideal world there wouldn't be shelters at all. All dogs would come from responsible breeders or friends/family members who, due to hardships of some kind could no longer care for their pets.

I once was of the opinion that shelters should strive to be no-kill shelters. Since visiting our local no-kill shelter, I've had some second thoughts as I did see some dogs there that I wondered if it would be better off if they were put down and there was more space to take on more needy animals. I'm not a fan of euthanasia on perfectly healthy dogs at all, but I sometimes also question the morality of keeping dogs in kennels for years who have virtually no chance of being adopted. What is everyone else's thoughts?
 

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There are many successful no kill shelters. There are many badly-run kill shelters. There are shelters in between.

Personally, if ANY shelter tries it's hardest to find homes and care for their animals, I don't have an issue with them. I do feel many kill shelters kill needlessly, while blaming the public for their own failure. In those cases, it's inevitably the fault of the shelter directors failing to implement working adoption programs and systems, not the volunteers and staff in the trenches that try to do the best in a bad situation. Good leadership is key. Killing animals for space to house more animals that will have a higher than 50% chance to be killed anyway makes no sense to me. It's just a cycle without a real solution. Shelters need to do more than just warehouse or warehouse+kill.

Personally, I believe in no-kill. I think a lot of people don't know what it really means, and many shelters use the word wrongly to describe themselves. It's not hoarding animals until they die in miserable conditions, or keeping vicious or hopelessly ill animals alive, as many seem to think. Living long lives cared for and loved by foster families and volunteers is a superior fate to death. People seem to forget that many of those animals (especially pit bulls) ARE adopted BECAUSE they got more time. There is no reason for a shelter to just be an extension of the neglect an animal faced in life coupled with a swift death; nor is there's an excuse for neglecting an animal's emotional and physical needs in a shelter that doesn't kill.
 

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For the most part I don't really think strictly no-kill shelters are helping the situation. The only ones I've had experience with were completely overrun! They take in all the animals that are dropped off and they don't euthanize at all. They end up with aggressive and unmanageable dogs and cats.

Unless a facility has unlimited funds that many animals cannot be cared for adequately. They don't end up with enough food. There isn't enough people working/volunteering to walk and care for the animals every day. They are often pictured with way too many dogs in each kennel. I have seen some really sad pictures from no-kill shelters.

IMHO, those dogs would be better of in peace than locked in a crowded kennel with not enough food and love. It would be awesome if someone with unlimited funds and space would create a healthy and happy no-kill shelter, but that just does not happen.

And not to say they are all this way either. There are some great ones! But many "no-kill" shelters should just be called "limited intake" or something of that nature. The one we have in town quickly stopped calling themselves a "no-kill" shelter because if they don't have room they end up sending the animals to the humane association.

It really depends on the shelter and how they run.
 

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My stand is that a shelter should not strive to be no-kill if it can't handle it. If a shelter can afford the resources to properly fulfill the physical and mental needs of several dogs for years and years to come, then it should go ahead and institute a no-kill policy. If a shelter can set up a solid foster programme such that its dogs can all be kept happy and relatively well-balanced for a sustainable amount of time, then I think that's great and it should call itself a no-kill shelter.

But at my local shelter especially, I've seen how a no-kill shelter can yield terrible results because it can't handle being no-kill. What do I mean by can't handle it? I mean they don't have the manpower to exercise the dogs properly, give them proper individual attention, feed them decent food or provide even the most basic training. The dogs get limited human contact, spend all but half an hour of their day alone in their pens, little to no interaction with other dogs and certainly zero interaction with the rest of the world. Leave a dog in that environment long enough and you get a pretty messed up animal.

My shelter operates on a policy where surrendered dogs are put through a battery of "adoptability" tests. These tests look at age, health condition and temperament to determine how "adoptable" the dog is. If a dog fails, he is PTS; if he passes, he is housed in the shelter and has a place there until he is either adopted or dead. Unfortunately, because the shelter can't provide them with a fulfilling environment, they eventually become so leash-reactive, so aggressive, so neurotic and hyperactive and under-socialised that if you were to put them through the same adoptability tests that were conducted in the beginning, they wouldn't stand a chance of passing.

Look at it this way: a 6 month-old, healthy, sweet-mannered stray mutt is found. She is put through the adoptability test and passes with flying colours. Due to various external factors (influx of more appealing small purebreds, minor health issues that cause her to be kept in the shelter clinic, etc) she remains in the shelter for the next six months. Over those six months, due to a lack of attention, training and socialisation, she becomes human-aggressive, leash-reactive and an obsessive barker and spinner. She now has little to no chance of being adopted, but she can't be put to sleep to make room for a new, more adoptable dog because of the shelter's no-kill policy. And the longer she stays in there, the worse she'll become.

My shelter has about twenty dogs, and I'd say at least ten of them are "long-term residents" that have been there for YEARS because of this issue.

See what I mean?
 

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I think both are necessary as long as they're both effective.

Our no kill, does not take in every animal that comes knocking at the door. They take in who they can when they can. And, many times they do have to send people to the county shelter. But at the same time, our adoption rates seem good. I mentioned we do have 3 that have been there for years. They each came in with different issues, of both behavioral and medical, and the staff has taken quite a bit of time to prepare them to go to their new homes. I think part of the reason they've been there as long as they have is, the staff wants to make absolutely sure they are placed in the right home. I believe that in this particular situation, each of these dogs will find the forever home they've waited long enough for. And I will support the shelter with these animals unless the shelter become ineffective all together (i.e. taking on more dogs than they can handle, trying to adopt out un-adoptable dogs, etc.).

Our county shelter does euthanize animals, and I understand why. It does seem that they have a few volunteers that are really trying to promote adoptions too. They're posting pictures online, of the dogs there for people to see, which I have noticed does grab people's attention. Even though these dogs' time is limited, I think our shelter is really trying to improve adoption statistics. Although, it is the county shelter, so they have to accept all animals that are dumped upon them, and I understand why space is limited.
 

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Over those six months, due to a lack of attention, training and socialisation, she becomes human-aggressive, leash-reactive and an obsessive barker and spinner. She now has little to no chance of being adopted, but she can't be put to sleep to make room for a new, more adoptable dog because of the shelter's no-kill policy. And the longer she stays in there, the worse she'll become.

My shelter has about twenty dogs, and I'd say at least ten of them are "long-term residents" that have been there for YEARS because of this issue.

See what I mean?
If that shelter was a private pet-owner, we'd be accusing them of animal abuse. Who advocates for ownerless dogs when their 'shelter' is the one harming them? Shelters work for the taxpayer, such gross neglect should be protested by animal lovers in the community. It should be publicized so that public outrage can change the shelter policy. Keeping a dog confined until it loses it's mind is not humane by any definition.

In my own county there was recently a scandal where the shelter was leaving sick animals to fester in their cages, not quarantining sick animals, and not feeding them over the weekends and holidays. Needless to day, such treatment resulted in their kill rate going up. Every animal made sick by the neglect in my county's shelter, and then killed for it, was a needless death. Volunteers didn't speak up because they were afraid of being barred from the shelter, and then not being able to help what animals they could. But until the abuse was publicized (just this last year), the shelter director responsible for this mismanagement could not be fired. It was a dirty little secret for years. Such things should not be tolerated -- shelters should not be depressing, concrete prisons of miserable animals in this day and age.

MHO, those dogs would be better of in peace than locked in a crowded kennel with not enough food and love. It would be awesome if someone with unlimited funds and space would create a healthy and happy no-kill shelter, but that just does not happen.
Actually, it happens a lot. Washoe County, Tompkins County, and many others (including Best Friends, Animal Haven, and Animal Ark) operate successful no-kill shelters. It's not impossible. More shelters should look at other shelter success stories and try to learn from how those places succeeded.
 

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Here is what I posted on the other thread that this started on:

I think this depends on the shelter. Yes, a lot of no-kill shelters are too small to take in all the dogs they receive; but more progressive no-kill shelters are building huge networks with other shelters, rescue groups, fosters, and donors that are able to handle a much higher volume of animals. I don't know the exact proportions, but I think that the majority of no-kill shelters are like the ones you're describing, but a growing minority are able to accept all surrenders.

I agree with you that the overpopulation is the root of the problem. I've heard of mobile spay-neuter clinics and I think this is the future of population control. If every city had these mobile units going from neighborhood to neighborhood, just imagine how that would dramatically reduce the quantity of surrenders and strays in a single year and forever after that. It would also be incredibly cost-effective for cities, because it's a lot cheaper to get to the source before it's multiplied.


I want to add to that by saying that the issue of dogs never being adopted and just staying indefinitely is one that a successful no-kill shelter has to address. Only by having the resources to rehabilitate dogs -- by having a full-time behaviorist on staff -- and by getting the community involved in fostering can shelters make sure that this doesn't happen to dogs. A shelter is not a home. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of shelters to find fosters, rescue networks, and adopters.

I also wanted to make sure everyone is using the same definition of a no-kill shelter. I've been to one shelter that literally never euthanizes any animals. They even had a feral cat room that was really depressing because the cats were so miserable. That isn't the definition of "no-kill" that most people use, though. A no-kill shelter is generally understood to be one that has a live-exit rate of 85-95%, depending on the location. In this kind of shelter, they do euthanize dogs and cats that are either too sick to recover or too dangerous to be rehabilitated. (Also, I believe in the TNR -- trap, neuter, and release -- approach to feral cats, not euthanasia.)

Rosemary Ninja -- I think the shelter you are talking about just sounds like a bad shelter. I mean, not because it's a no-kill shelter, but because they don't do a good job taking care of the dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I posted in the other thread about the local no-kill shelter here. They don't take every animal that comes to them because they don't have the room and they run a kennel on the side to take in money to support the shelter. I don't have a problem with any of this. The last time I was there though they had a couple of dogs that I honestly believe might be better off being PTS.

They had a young (1-2 yr old lab) who was dumped as a puppy in a residential neighborhood. Various kind souls in the neighborhood fed the pup, but he didn't belong to anyone and when some of the other neighbors complained about the possibility of this stray dog being aggressive or carrying disease, animal control came out. The neighbors got the dog out of the county shelter and took him to the no-kill shelter. This dog (because he got so little socialization at a young age) was extremely fearful. He would cower in his kennel when people came up and would not take food from the hands of most people. He would not allow anyone to pet him for any reason and would approach strangers extremely reluctantly and even then he would run if they made any sudden movements. To me this dog should have been PTS as the the shelter did not appear to have the time and resources to deal with his serious behavioral issues.

The other dog I saw was an elderly corgi. His owner had dumped him as they didn't want to deal with a geriatric dog. He had lots of grey hair and moved around very, very slowly. I wondered if the dog was not better off being PTS rather than spending the rest of their life cooped up in a kennel as the chances of this dog being adopted seemed very, very slim.

On the other hand they had a boxer there who had three legs. His previous owner had shot him for whatever reason and one of the legs had to be amputated. This dog was still a very, very sweet dog, but one who would probably be PTS in a kill shelter very quickly just because a three legged dog would be hard to adopt. I find it hard to advocate putting a dog to sleep just because it has three legs.
 

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Actually, it happens a lot. Washoe County, Tompkins County, and many others (including Best Friends, Animal Haven, and Animal Ark) operate successful no-kill shelters. It's not impossible. More shelters should look at other shelter success stories and try to learn from how those places succeeded.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, as well has had open admission no kill status for almost a decade now. It is a city of a million people (1/3 of our provincial population) which has maintained a 91-94% save rate for dogs for years now, and with TNR in place and a spay/neuter clinic are planning to be no-kill for cats within a few years.

In Edmonton, the other large city in Alberta with ~one million people, the joint open admission pound/humane society has also claimed to not euthanize any healthy/adoptable canines for at least 8 years that I know of. (Their save rate is not as good as Calgary's due to stricter temp. testing and less rehab. I understand). Without the same licensing strategies as Calgary, they do struggle to get the larger dogs adopted out.

Both cities have rescues that import small dogs from kill shelters in the Southern parts of the USA to fill the demand for small dog adoptions here.

For anyone truly interested these article and links describe and show how great leadership (Bill Bruce) made no-kill work for Calgary . . . of course it continues to be, and always will continue to be, a huge challenge and a lot of effort and work. If Bill Bruce hadn't led the way in Calgary I feel Edmonton (its competitive neighbor) would not have stepped up . . it takes those with a vision to raise the bar.

http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/Columnists/Platt_Michael/2008/09/01/6627046-sun.php

http://caveat.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2007/1/29/2694938.html

http://www.calgary.ca/docgallery/bu/animalservices/what_happens_to_our_impounded_dogs.pdf

http://content.calgary.ca/CCA/City+...mal+Services/Statistics/Animal+Statistics.htm

http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/reforming-animal-control.html
 

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Rosemary Ninja -- I think the shelter you are talking about just sounds like a bad shelter. I mean, not because it's a no-kill shelter, but because they don't do a good job taking care of the dogs.
They are the only shelter in Singapore. Because of that, they stretch themselves thin trying to care for as many dogs as possible. They aren't the best, but they're the best we've got.
 

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The local shelter here is now a "no kill" shelter. There is often No Room at the Inn. There was a cat shelter taking cats, but they are now so full that they have no room. They are no kill and even keep FeLV positive cats alive and adopt them out. *sigh*

There is also NO animal control where I live tho there is a leash law... largely unenforced. If you find a loose dog, and you call the shelter they say, "No Room. We will call you..." WHAT???? :eek:

What if the dog you find is aggressive toward your other animals? What if it seems to have health issues? WHAT DO YOU DO? Put the dog back on the STREET???? Best to look the other way when you see that dog.

A relative of mine had a cat dumped on her. The cat had kittens. We tried to find a place for the cat... and by the time the Shelter (a misnomer IMO) called with "room" ALL her kittens had died (been devoured by a fox). She is hihgly highly allergic to cats and did not bring them in for that reason. Finally she could not stand it. My relative took the cat in, had her spayed and vaccinated and has her to this day and the "shelter" can pound rocks in her opinion. She takes allergy meds and makes do. She is doing better than the "shelter" IMO.

I have looked at the shelter lists for the local no kill facilities and have seen some of the same cats and dogs (3/4's are APBT or AST or crosses) for YEARS. What service is this providing? How are they HELPING animals?

They used to have two shelter facilities.. one where they are now and one in my county. They sold the one in my county (and the owner now boards dogs there). I can understand the consolidation as it makes sense from a management point of view. The question is, what do people do when they have, find, or see an unwanted animal if there is NO ROOM at the Inn? What do they do when they find a dog and there is NO local shelter to take the dog to? What if they can't KEEP the dog, even for a DAY?

Meanwhile, the shelter Board holds silent auctions, fund raisers and a Gala Ball with expensive dinners to get money for the operation. The president of the board owns and breeds and shows pure bred dogs....

I dunno.. it all doesn't add up to me.

Meanwhile, last night I saw and older B&T GSD male that was 3 legged, thin and ratty looking walking (hobbling) down the road.. and I wanted to call someone but there is no one to call and no shelter to bring him to. I will keep an eye out for him. It is all I can do.. and even if I take him off the street, what do I do then? I can't afford another dog. If I could I would already have one.

I am not in favor of killing a healthy animal. I hate that. I also hate that animals get dumped, abandoned and even shot by their owners because there is no place to take them.

Yes. The ideal world there are no need for shelters and every dog has a forever home. Unfortunately, that is not reality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am not in favor of killing a healthy animal. I hate that. I also hate that animals get dumped, abandoned and even shot by their owners because there is no place to take them.
I'm going to probably tick some people off here, but I have to ask the question, "what defines healthy?" Take the lab I mentioned earlier. He's a 1-2 yr old dog who is physically healthy yet is terrified of people and of human interaction. He is not a good adoption candidate because no one is going to want a dog who runs from them and who they cannot even touch. He is not a good adoption candidate because his fear makes him a possible fear biter to boot. Is a no-kill shelter really "helping" this dog by keeping him in a kennel for the rest of his life instead of putting him to sleep?

I remember reading in Cesar Milan's book of a pit bull that was extremely human aggressive. Numerous trainers had worked with this dog and failed before they called Cesar. Cesar worked with the dog for something like two months and also failed. He stated that the dog would jump at the throat of any human who came near him. He then said that this dog was currently living in a no-kill shelter where he would stay for the rest of his life as (literally) no one had been able to deal with the dogs behavioral problems and he could not be adopted safely into anyone's home. Does spending his life in a kennel really make more sense than being PTS in this situation? Yes, I know people criticize Cesar's methods and that's fine, but in this case he was not the only behaviorist to work with this dog.

I prefer no-kill shelters to be sure, but I also think there is a place in the world for kill shelters as well. At least there is with the current state of the pet population.
 

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Hulkamaniac: Did you read my post? It addresses the issues you raised.
First of all, a good shelter, no-kill or kill, rehabilitates dogs. If the lab you're discussing can be rehabbed, in a good shelter it would be.

And a good no-kill shelter doesn't keep animals "for the rest of their life." Dogs and cats that can be saved are rehabbed, and those that can not be are put to sleep.

That brings me to my last point. You also seem to still think that no-kill shelters don't put any animals to sleep. That's not true. I addressed this in my last post. The majority consensus in this country is that no-kill is a relative term, and that dogs that can not be rehabilitated or are too sick do get put down. If the cases you're talking about are true, they are not the norm.

Pai and spanielorbust: I'm glad you brought up examples of successful no-kill shelters. It seems that a lot of people here haven't ever seen one before so they're assuming it's not possible.

Elana, Crazybrit, and others: No-kill shelters don't have to be limited intake by definition. And they shouldn't be "warehousing" animals for years without adopting them out. It takes a vision, a lot of work, community involvement, and money, but successful open admission no-kill shelters are possible. And if they're possible, why not aim for them? Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if no animals were unnecessarily euthanized?
 

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I volunteer for the spcaLA. We are a kill shelter, but we also have a 97% adoption rate. Because we only take as many animals as we can handle, we are able to take good care of them while they are with us. The only ones that get put down are ones that have become truly unadoptable due to fairly extreme health or behavior issues.
 

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At the vet clinic I work at we are pretty close with the humane society and there are just some awesome people that work at ours!

A couple people I am close to there have taken home and fostered sick dogs that would otherwise be put to sleep. The rules are that any sick dog (regardless of what is wrong) should be euthanized. They have saved so many dogs and cats by simply taking them home, treating them (often with our help or another clinic in town) and returning them to be adopted. They are awesome people!

We also donate any expired meds to the humane society. We can only do antibiotics, but that's really all they need to treat things like kennel cough, upper respiratory infections, etc.
 

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I volunteer for the spcaLA. We are a kill shelter, but we also have a 97% adoption rate. Because we only take as many animals as we can handle, we are able to take good care of them while they are with us. The only ones that get put down are ones that have become truly unadoptable due to fairly extreme health or behavior issues.
That's exactly the same as what a no-kill shelter does. 'No-Kill' is not 'no euthanasia'. It's 'no killing of healthy / savable animals'. They focus on implementing programs to raise the standard of care for their animals and increase adoption rates most of all.
 
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