Those associated with the No Kill Movement have created a number of elements that they have identified as necessary for an animal shelter to become no kill. They view this as an all or nothing arrangement; you either commit to every element or you will be declared as a lazy uncompassionate shelter director.
The equation is pretty simple: to reduce euthanasia at your shelter, you must reduce animal intakes and provide for more positive outcomes. But, getting there becomes a little more complicated.
Reduce Animal Intakes
The first order of reducing the pet overpopulation is to reduce the breeding of pets through low-cost sterilization programs. As the number of unwanted pets in the community are reduced, fewer will find their way into your shelter.
Pet retention programs provide resources to pet owners to show alternatives to the dumping of their pet on the shelter when they lack financial resources to care for their pet or wisdom to deal with behavioral problems associated with their pet.
A few shelters are so committed to becoming no kill that they have resorted in shutting their doors to the intake of animals. People finding stray animals are force to keep the stray until such time as it is convenient for the shelter to receive the animal.
In my experience, I have found that creating rescue partners is the most successful avenue for the placement of pets in the shelters that I have directed; however, it is critical that a watchful eye is on those rescues to prevent them from getting into a hoarding situation. The fastest way to bring rescues onboard is to have the animals already prepped for adoption for them. Rescues will jump at the change to rescue animals that you have already spayed or netuered and fully vetted.
Mobile adoptions are a project for volunteers. The idea is to take animals from the shelter and deliver them to a highly visible area of your city to be viewed by the public. Petsmart is always open to using their stores for adoption events.
Adoption Ambassador programs allow foster parents to screen potential homes for the animals in their care. The main problem with this program is similar to a foster to adopt program where the animal is in a permanent home, but is on the shelter’s records so the shelter has to flip for the medical expenses on the whim of the person keeping the animal. Also, people who foster animals tend to have stricter standards for giving up their “babies” to a new owner. Be prepared for a lot of complaints from potential adopters that want a foster animal.
When all else fails, you can offer free adoptions. Since people purchase on impulse, you should create strict guidelines for those who adopt a free pet. It is critical that person has sufficient income to support day to day care for the animal and necessary medical needs of the animal.