The Value of No-Kill Animal Shelters


As an animal lover and financial supporter of no-kill animal shelters myself, I understand the importance and significance that these programs hold in saving the lives of homeless and ‘unwanted’ animals. It’s an unfortunate problem that not many people address today.

There are currently over 70 million stray animals in the United States, of which only 6 to 8 million dogs and cats find animals shelters annually. The only reasons why these animals successfully make it to our country’s shelters is because of their owners either giving them up, or animal control officers finding them in the wild. But, even then, many of the cats and dogs rescued are subjected to a similar fate by being given to facilities that promote euthanization to control population sizes.

Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized every year, largely due to the fact that most shelters do not have the space permitting for the number of cats and dogs received on a regular basis, along with adoption rates not being able to keep up. However, depending on the type of shelter, many homeless or ‘unwanted’ animals are able to once again find their way back to a loving home. Private shelters, for example, often have contracts that allow them to work with their local governments for funding sources, additional help in finding homes for these animals, and enforcing stricter animal care laws.

The standard practices within these facilities also differ in terms of dealing with the increasing size of the animal population. For example, standard shelters typically euthanize cats or dogs who have not been claimed in a shockingly small 72-hour window, thus stressing the importance of no-kill shelters.

The only reason why a cat or dog may be euthanized within a no-kill shelter is because they are suffering from an irreparable disease or injury, which is then for the good of the animal. Doing so as a means of controlling the shelter numbers is never policy. Because of this, communities working together to save homeless and ‘unwanted’ animals are able to rescue up to 90% of those found, without worrying about euthanization.

No-kill shelters are also responsible for largely promoting adoption, spay and neuter programs, donations, and fellow programs benefitting an animal’s well-being. They strive to work collaboratively with other organizations dedicated to placing animals in loving homes, and avoid senselessly putting down those without them simply due to the fact that their facilities are not big enough. Though some people may argue that allowing at-risk animals through their doors is unsafe, that is the point of no-kill shelters; to give each animal a fighting chance.

Stray animals may appear hostile when approached by any individual, but trained professionals working with no-kill shelters are able to rescue those without homes regardless of age or breed. Sadly, pit-bulls and “bully breeds” are often discriminated against depending on the community’s laws. Nearly every no-kill shelter though, rejects this false belief that one breed is more dangerous than another, accepting all animals into their facilities.

Today, the number of animals euthanized has thankfully decreased in recent decades because of the no-kill shelter movement. This humane trend is beginning to take effect in many cities across the United States, leading to a higher number of rescued animals and more volunteers willing to devote their time to this cause. While establishing no-kill shelters in every community across America is unlikely, there are strategies we can put in place, along with the combined efforts of those passionate enough to make a change, that can lead to this ideal goal.