Is The No-Kill Movement Realistic?

Jade Augustine

Advocates of the no-kill movement believe that healthy animals should never be euthanized inside animal shelters due to lack of space. While this is a beautiful and noble concept, how does a concept fare when faced with reality?
Photo by Vijeshwar Datt on Unsplash

What is a No-Kill Shelter?

Nationally, a no-kill shelter keeps its status by having at least 90% of animals surrendered to their care leave the shelter alive. No-kill shelters can be perfect for the animals that take a little longer to get adopted than others.

But the reality of the situation is that the only reason a no-kill shelter can stay a no-kill shelter is by turning animals away.

No-kill shelters will often turn away sick animals and animals deemed too aggressive to be adopted.

Yet, no-kill shelters will also turn away perfectly healthy animals if the shelter is full. For this reason, no-kill shelters are primarily known as limited admission shelters.

What is a Kill Shelter?

A kill shelter, much more accurately known as an open admission shelter, is simply a shelter that will accept every animal surrendered to them regardless of whether or not the animal is considered adoptable.

Since they accept every animal that comes through the door, many animals that end up in open admission shelters are sick, feral, or otherwise unsuitable and end up being euthanized.

However, that’s not the part that makes advocates of the no-kill movement upset. The part about high kill shelters that bothers people the most is that animals that are perfectly healthy and adoptable are put down to make room for the constant influx of new animals.

While many may think that this is extremely cruel and uncommon nowadays, in 2020, approximately 52% of shelters in the United States could be classified as open admission shelters.

What If Open Admission Shelters Didn’t Exist?

For one, millions of animals would be turned away from shelters with nowhere else to go. When an animal is turned away from a no-kill shelter, the animal doesn’t disappear into thin air. The animal becomes homeless.

And if not sterilized, the animal may end up breeding, thus perpetuating a cycle of too many animals and too few places for them to live.

Over six million animals are surrendered to shelters in the United States each year. And sadly, less than half of these animals ever find their forever home.

How To Help

While it’s clear that not all shelters can or should be no-kill centers, there’s still plenty that you can do to help reduce the number of animal euthanizations in your area.

First off, you can volunteer at a shelter. By posting pictures and videos online of the dogs and cats, you might just be putting them in front of the eyes of people who will love them for the rest of their lives. You can also contact local shelters and see if you can help them to organize an adoption event.

Shelters are also always looking for donations. Old blankets, towels, pet toys, and pet food are always in high demand at shelters. Monetary donations are also readily accepted.

If you’re not able to give of your time, money, or resources, the best thing you can do is to be a responsible pet parent. Make sure that your pets are spayed and neutered so that they are not contributing to overpopulation.

In conclusion, the no-kill movement seems admirable at face value, but it isn’t realistic or possible in practice without severe consequences. Yet, if you’re passionate about saving every animal, there are plenty of ways that you can help.

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Jade Augustine is a writer from Fort Collins, Colorado. She is passionate about cats, dogs, entertainment, vegan food, and traveling.

Fort Collins, CO

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