The Problem with No Kill

It is a noble cause to find homes for the homeless pets in our communities.  I would never attempt to hinder the adoption of adoptable animals.  In the completion between animal shelters to declare their organizations as no kill, we have created hostilities between organizations.  The No Kill Movement has caused an isolation between adoption organizations.

The dynamics of becoming no kill is quite simple: increase adoptions or decrease animal intakes.  In Florida, our humane society wanted to declare that they were no kill, so as to access grants that are only available to no kill organizations.  In order to accomplish their no kill status, they chose to stop taking in stray animals.  The intakes increase at the public shelter at a time that the shelter was already beyond capacity.

The No Kill Movement is ineffective unless it is viewed from a big picture view.  One organization in a community claiming to be No Kill is worthless if all of the other organizations in that community are overwhelmed.  I am always amazed at the criticism that a public shelter receives from local no kill shelters that refuse to accept animals.

The admission status of a shelter seems to get lost in the condemnation that public animal shelters receive.  It is easy to be a no kill shelter when you can control what animals that you are willing to accept.  It is more difficult to be an open admission shelter in which you are expected to accept any animal that shows up (at any time).  It is easy to become overwhelmed in an open admission shelter.

The pressure on open admission shelters is great and has caused many of them to try no kill tactics.  The most common tactic is to attempt to reduce animal intakes.  They first started by trying to reduce owner surrendered animals.  Pet owners soon saw that in order to give up their pets, they would need to claim that their pets were strays.  Shelters then began to require that people had to make an appointment to surrender an animal.  When appointments were weeks or months out into the future, people saw that it was unreasonable to even attempt to surrender a stray pet.  People were left with releasing the pets in the parking lot of the shelter. 

This strategy takes an odd turn.  Although the shelter refused to accept the animal, they would quickly prosecute an person releasing the animal in their parking lot, charging them with animal abandonment.  All the while, the animal shelter views themselves as the good guy.  The purpose of a public animal shelter is to house stray animals, to keep them from being a nuisance or a danger to the community.  The No Kill Movement has caused communities to have more animals running loose.  It is a sad day when animal control officers have to turn a blind eye to the stray dog that runs out in front of their vehicle, because there are no open kennels in the shelter.

The No Kill Movement has forced people to turn a blind eye to the community problems that created public animal shelters in the first place.  Up until now, the No Kill Movement has only pitted one shelter against another.  The Movement is ineffective until it can announce that an entire community has become No Kill.  However, becoming a No Kill Community is not the end game; when the City of Austin announced it had gained no kill status, all of the surrounding communities began to flood Austin’s shelters with animals from adjacent countries.  Our end game is to become an No Kill Nation.

The bottom line is that the no kill movement can only supply temporary fixes to a problem that demands a permanent solution.  Austin Texas is a good solution of an organization that is in constant crisis as it attempts to hold on to the title of being a no kill city.  Every attempt to throw money at their problem of pet overpopulation just delays the inevitable decision that they epiphany that they will have in discovering that they do not have enough fingers to hold back their leaking dike.

You simply cannot become a no kill city until you gain the cooperation of your community.  Every time that you get to the point of boasting that you have reached the 90 percent save rate, you have signaled your community that they can be conscience free of dumping more pets at your shelter.

As much as the no kill movement wants to decry that the euthanasia is a “shelter problem,” they foolishly overlook the role the role that bad (breeding) pet owners play in the equation.   It is so much easier to blame the small group of animal shelter staff than to take on the entire community or bad pet owners.

No kill has only been successful on a permanent level in communities that embrace each individual’s obligation to perform their responsibility of being good pet owners.  Animal Shelter can pull it off for a short time, if provided sufficient funding and staff to hold back the growing crisis that they face within a community of irresponsible pet owners.

Oddly, the No Kill Movement is offended that animal shelter staff would speak to the source of the problem.  It is easier for their movement to blame the folks who are deal with pet overpopulation problem.  It gets tiring to listen to falsehoods that there is no pet overpopulation; they want everyone to believe that the euthanasia in our animal shelters is a result of lack of imagination on the part of the shelter’s staff.  All the while, pet owners keep beating a path to their doors with the litters of puppies and kittens brought into the world as a result of their negligence.