The No-Kill Movement

This is a special section for dogs needing new homes and for inspiring stories of dogs that have found their furever home through Dogster or through the love and energy of rescuers. This is also the place to discuss shelters, rescue organizations, rescue strategies, issues, solutions, etc. and how we can all help in this critical endeavor. Remember that we are all here for the love of dog! If you are posting about a dog that needs a new home, please put your location in the topic of your thread so those close by can find you! Make sure to check out Dogster's dog adoption center!

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Black dogs rock!
Barked: Wed Dec 5, '12 2:18pm PST 
I an in the North Northeastwink Our shelter seems to be low kill. There have been a few times when puppy mill or hoarder intakes have threatened to overwhelm our local shelter but the community has stepped up. Also , all the shelters in our province seem to help each other out when necessary. I am not sure what has happened up here to change things so much from when I was younger. Our shelter does seem to have a lot of community support. 8 times out of 10 , if I ask someone where they got their dog, the answer is "The shelter." Unless it is a small dog. They are very hard to come by around here in shelters , and I suspect most of the puppy millers are breeding small dogs. I wonder how much of a role Kijiji has played in all of this. A lot of people now re home their dogs that way, possibly freeing up more space at the shelterthinking I know that would certainly be an avenue I would look it if looking for another dog. It could also be that this is a small city and many dogs get re homed through family and friends, like both of mine were. I have also noticed that some of the dogs going through our shelter are dogs that were adopted out years ago and due to changes in family circumstances have returned back to the shelter.

Cats are another story. I agree with whoever said that they were a huge problem. People here do tend to spay or neuter their dogs, in spite of the fact that there are no low cost spay or neuter clinics. I myself managed to have Bunny fixed in spite of having very low funds at the time. Cats just seem to be more disposable and easier to come by. Dogs often need to be paid for , even a small amount . Whereas kittens are mostly given away, possibly making for more impulsive decisions by people who can't afford to get them fixed. They then go on to have kittens and the cycle continues. cry

I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Thu Dec 6, '12 12:46pm PST 
Bunny, good point about being able to find dogs online now, that is one way things have really changed in the last twenty years. Petfinder and the like have certainly helped shelter dogs get adopted. Please be aware that kijiji, craigs list etc. has become a haven for puppy mill fronts who try to appear as rehome until they ask for cash. Just be cautious. They now try to imitate rescues, too, because they're being driven more and more underground. I've flagged a couple doing that in my area in the last year alone. They were moving them up here from the PA mills, they put up ads in areas along the I-95 corridor and meet folks in parking lots. They ratchet it up in time to sell Christmas puppies, unfortunately.

Cats do remain a huge issue here, too. I get laughed at when I suggest that they be treated the same way as dogs are here. They should be contained and not allowed to roam, licensed with a discount for altering and proper vax. A recent study quantified how much of our native bird populations we've lost in NE US due to loose domestic cats, and it's much more than originally thought. If my dog can't roam into the neighbors' yard, crap all over and kill their birds, why should their cats be allowed to do that in my yard? Grrrr. (We have leash laws and containment laws for dogs in my area) Vets recommend they be kept as indoor pets, and yet people get pissed off at the coyotes for eating what to them are essentially vermin and for being the only thing that actually cuts down on the feral cat overpopulation. naughty If you don't want your cat to be coyote dinner, keep it inside.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Fri Dec 7, '12 2:17pm PST 
That's part of the cure and part of the problem....the internet. Some people who look into rescue do so for viewing purebreds as inbred, disease prone, neurotic and so on. I actually have adopted to several of these people. But there are plenty others who address their concerns via the designer breeder route, who has taken full and gross advantage of that opening. That's part of the problem really, as rescue finds itself in an identity crisis of sorts. The tragedies, the urgency....accents no kill discourages...does drive some away, but take it away and a main selling point to rescue is gone. I mean, that is WHY you get a rescue puppy, at the end of the day. There's really not a selling point how rescue is superior when you have one side of unknown genetics, unknown background in terms of how they were raised (but likely not so hot), often separated from mom too young, etc., and the other with known genetics, optimal raising (or that you can convince yourself of such things, through ignorance and savvy marketing by the BYB's). There's a clash of sorts, for we are told, re breeders, how much genetics and testing matter, how imperative proper raising is, and then when you get to rescue pups it's "o, nevermind that!" Really, the reason why you rescue puppies is that they will otherwise die and have high likelihood to grow up into nice dogs, so why not save a life vs purchase, for even with the strictest of controls, it's never a sure thing with your breeder puppy. That I can promote and do. I see no other platform past that. It's a sweet, happy puppy with his whole life ahead of him and he's in danger. Save him and raise him well and you will be fine. Speaking here strictly of puppies, for I do think there are selling points well beyond "save me!" when it comes to adults.

That's part of why I say it is leveling. Not only that I feel it is, but that is was or is unrealistic to expect it not to. For a while, rescue was this new, fresh and awesome thing...a concept....full of promise. It drew many in, and continued to swell and popularize itself. But now the promise has shifted to the realities...still good, but with more of a known identity. Unlike twenty years before, some have had negative experiences. Some who have rescued with good experiences now want to try breeders, while others say they will never do anything but rescue. You see those sensibility splits, which is just expectable, IMO. That curiosity to try rescue, those wanting that new experience, can lead to a curiosity to try breeders as well. There is also rescue backlash....we see it here all the time. Where rescue is no longer an infallible icon, but very much human. Even the stressing that rescue was the "right thing to do." Ten years ago you could say that pretty freely. Now, this sort of social pressure has overstated itself and there is backlash. On a community such as this one, extremely dog savvy, some revolting against that are actual rescuers (meaning those who adopt their dogs). In a recent thread on this on the CAD forum, the majority of those responding had rescued their dogs. I know personally that quite a few of them will continue to do so. It's not that they don't think it is a good idea, but more that they realize it isn't for everyone. For a lot of someones it is, but people will rescue and make their decisions. You can't stop that. The BEST you can do is to make rescue an awesome experience and hope.

Which is what leads me back to my original point. The cold numbers put up, and the truth they avert. The lesser adoptables within that percentage. How much of the dog obtaining populus they will draw, or even what the result of those unions are. Some people do decide to go ahead and take on that behavioral dog or special needs medical and so on. They love their dog, but in the term do look forward to something that is simpler, more predictable. And as such will naturally start to think of breeders for their next dog. Which may or may not meet their expectations. Time will tell. But minimally look forward to the known vs unknown (i.e., pedigree, how the dog was reared, what his exposures have been, how he assessed within his litter), and critically to the long term support, something for which rescue itself remains grossly under evolved.

To me, and my sensibilities, I look past the numbers. What percentage are doing this in a good hearted way, or to avoid purebreds, or to get an adult vs a puppy, like the fostering concept vs a young puppy (i.e., known behaviors), or simply now view it (thankfully!) in a market sense....rescue is a manner by which you can obtain a nice dog. It's actually easier to find a rescue than it is a breeder, afterall wink

A question I think rescue ignores is if the kill factor weren't there...would things move backwards? It's a provocative question. I personally feel things in New England are moving backwards and with strong legislation against transport rescue, may continue only to head that way more. The designer dog breeders seem to me to have swelled proportionately, and rescue fees have skyrocketed, to the point where there isn't even much of a price difference oftentimes. I think rescue adults are safely held from this. To me rescue will always remain a superior option to get the adult of your dreams. But puppies right now, from my perspective, are heading into deep, deep trouble frown

Edited by author Fri Dec 7, '12 2:26pm PST


Member Since
Barked: Tue Dec 25, '12 7:15pm PST 
There is a No-Kill conference coming up in Austin, TX, the Largest No-Kill city is the nation (as of right now) in February 23-25, 2013, which shows attendees how to create No-Kill communities, by creating and implementing programs for certain high risk populations - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmo--u0LYNU . Here is an article that discusses how Dr. Jefferson approached the situation - http://www.maddiesfund.org/Maddies_Institute/Articles/Using_Data_to_ Make_Austin_a_No_Kill_City.html .

I strongly believe that animal control will always be needed as circumstances change for individuals, even when the entire nation becomes No-Kill.

Edited by author Tue Dec 25, '12 7:24pm PST


Late Christmas- Baby
Barked: Wed Dec 26, '12 4:25am PST 
We have issues with cats here too T_T recently a neighbor decided to throw his sons cat out of the house because it was spraying.... and didn't want to get it fixed. ( I mean really we have the OR neuter and spay program its NOT that hard) and had a few of his neighbors wanting for me to return the cat to him. Of course I checked the laws and stated that the cat was abandoned and since the lil guy is only 8 months old the neighbor is LUCK that I was in a giving mood and didn't try to find away for reporting him as this kitty is having to be separated from our other cat because its sick ( sinus issues taking back to vet today) and that he could get in SOOO much trouble for neglect if I truly wanted to make a fuss since they wanted it both ways ( kitty wasn't micro chipped and had no tags).

Edward - Sweet to the- core
Barked: Sat Jan 5, '13 7:18pm PST 
I am in the deep South and there are just so many dogs and cats. It is really discouraging. I volunteered at the shelter for a while but I just couldn't deal with how many animals were coming through and being put down. One day I was there over 40 dogs were put down. People in the South just don't get responsible pet ownership - sorry to say that but it is true. I lived in the NE most of my life and the attitudes are just so different.

But at the same time I can't totally agree with an absolute hardline no-kill stance. While I was in college I volunteered at a large no kill shelter in the Midwest. They never put anything down for any reason. As a result the shelter was filling up with non adoptable animals (feral cats, aggressive dogs, severe behavioral issues). The shelter was completely full and turning down potentially adoptable animals to literally warehouse all of the unadoptables. Personally I don't feel that living in a cage or kennel for years with no end in sight is a good quality of life for an animal. Even in the cageless rooms it really wasn't IMHO any kind of life for an animal long term. I don't think keeping an animal alive strictly for life's sake is the answer. I really felt bad for some of the cats and dogs that had been there for 10+ years. But where do you draw the line - it is a really tough question.

Late Christmas- Baby
Barked: Sun Jan 6, '13 1:51am PST 
Well not everyone from the south is like that I grew up in the south and watching all the dogs and cats roam all over and knowing everything that can and does go wrong being a stray broke my heart. As a Kid I was the kid that begged my dad to let me call rescues and such to try to help pup or kitty get off the street and have a chance at a good home and I grew into a responsible owner of 2 cats now and a loving pup. ( He has issues but I'm still keeping him)its just for everyone person from AL, TN, GA, KY, and OH that is like me you have 9 others who your right don't care. They don't get it. They see Paris Hilton with a dog or cat and want it while its young and then when its older toss it aside like trash. All I know is this needs to be fixed on both sides. There need to be more laws that make pet owners accountable so it will die down.
Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Sun Jan 6, '13 2:28pm PST 
Edward, the No Kill Equation is not about never putting any animal down for any reason.

It's about not killing healthy or treatable animals.

It's about having an active adoption program with good marketing.

It's about working with rescues and transports and foster homes so that animals don't languish in cages.

Dogs who are suffering from intractable medical issues that can't be managed humanely, or who have intractable behavior problems such that they cannot become safe in a pet or working home (some dogs that are not suitable for pet homes are suitable for some kinds of working homes), should be put down.

But killing animals should never be a way of making space. Good use of foster homes and cooperation with other shelters and rescue groups, including transport rescues, along with active, well-planned, attractive adoption programs and good marketing are the tools that should be used to "make space."
Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Sun Jan 6, '13 3:05pm PST 
But the number of No Kill open admission shelters continues to grow, and is now close to a hundred. They're not just "statistical no kill" shelters in the northeast; they're in urban, rural, rich, poor, north, south, east, and west communities.

One shelter alone can't do it; it takes leadership and community support, but No Kill can work anywhere, if there's commitment to it.

Nathan Winograd hasn't run a shelter in several years, but that shelter was a doozy. He took a fairly horrific high kill shelter in upstate New York to No Kill, very quickly, and it has remained No Kill. That's a real accomplishment, diss it, and him, though you will.

Shelters in the northeast tend not to have super-fancy adoption programs and marketing and great hours, because, for whatever reasons, they haven't needed them. No Kill communities in other parts of the country DO have these programs, because they're integral to getting the job done.

But one of the places I volunteer is the Salem Animal Rescue League in Salem, NH. They're open for adoptions Thursday-Sunday, with evening hours on Thursday. They make extensive use of foster homes. On the days they are "closed" for adoptions, adoptions may happen anyway, if a staff member able to do adoptions is there when someone who doesn't know the hours shows up. They do offsite adoption events. They do good marketing, and they routinely do adoptions not just in NH and MA, but in Maine, Vermont, to snowbirds spending half the year in Florida, etc. They are statistically no kill for dogs; limited admission for cats.

MSPCA Nevins Farm (Methuen MA) has adoption hour six days a week; they're closed for adoptions only on Sunday. They have good marketing, good PR, they use foster homes for animals not yet ready for adoption (sick, pregnant, too young, not socialized, whatever) to keep kennel and cat habitat space for animals who are ready for adoption. They think No Kill is icky, but in practice, when they get an influx of animals in excess of their available space (as for instance when there was a cat hoarder seizure about a year and a half ago), they make a big media push for more fosters and they get them.

Nevins farm is also, and has been for many years, a major source of low cost spay/neuter here in the Merrimack Valley. They offer a ten-dollar spay/neuter program for cats for low-income residents of Lawrence MA, where I live. That's in addition to their broader low-cost programs available to anyone who can get there.

These are just the two shelters near enough to me that I have reason to pay active attention to them.

It's not just dumb luck and not just inexplicable cultural differences that explain the relatively uncrowded shelters in New England.

ETA: This post was written partly in response to a post by Duncan that isn't there now. shrug I'm leaving it as is because I think the information is still useful.

Edited by author Sun Jan 6, '13 3:08pm PST


Because I'm- Duncan, that's- why

Barked: Sun Jan 6, '13 9:23pm PST 
shrug I didn't write any post that isn't there now. Perhaps you were referring to some points in my post on the first page of this thread.

I didn't say all the shelters in the NE were horrid or not doing anything right. It's just that, by and large, they do less than shelters in other regions, from my experience. And it's just that, as you conceded, they don't NEED to do fancy programs of any kind, because they have relatively low intake numbers. The shelters here that do the absolute bare minimum can still be statistical no-kill and keep up with their intakes. The shelters here that SHINE -- like my oft-referenced Potter League in Middletown, RI -- have amazing programs, and they tend to be the ones importing from the South and other places. In other words, NOT ONLY can they keep up with their own regional intake (AS AN OPEN ADMISSION SHELTER WITH THE LOCAL ANIMAL CONTROL CONTRACTS!!), they have been importing adoptable animals from the South for over 20 YEARS. On top of that.

Addy, I appreciate the insights about two organizations with which you have some connection. It's interesting and, though I have much more to say about the general topic here, this is a detour I must take. The more you work with an organization directly, the more you learn and can truly say you "know" about it. Transparency is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in the animal sheltering and welfare world. It's become ever more political and there is a lot of pressure -- so that many orgs are resorting to deceptions of one kind or other -- and others are simply getting too defensive to talk openly. Now it is so ugly. When you try to research what is going on at a shelter or animal organization, whether they are doing well, whether they are saving many animals and doing a good job...? Very often the answer is that it depends on what source you believe, as every org seems to have its supporters -- and a field of critics and detractors. Even whole communities...for every success trumpeted in this city or that, you can find another internet community saying it's not true, not as it seems, etc.

My point being, again, that the best way to truly know what's going on in your local shelter or other organization, is to work with them directly. Volunteering is the best way to not only gain knowledge, but understanding. Especially if you are consistent and long-term and earn trust within the organization. What you learn of an organization might be good, it might be bad, but in this environment, it is best to learn it first-hand. And sometimes, if there are problems, you can find ways from within to make changes. You have to have the understanding first -- the more, the better. Even if you're to take issues up with the politicians (city/ county usually) who are ultimately in control of the public animal shelters, you have to have knowledge, and also keep perspective on what is important to those politicians themselves.

So, what I mean to say, is...Bello, if you are still reading this thread...I'd encourage you to spend some time at the Memphis Animal Control shelter. See what it's like there on a daily basis, whether the management and staff are compassionate, whether they're working to improve things for the animals. Take your knowledge from that Winograd book; I'm not saying to leave it behind! But take it with you and volunteer directly with the shelter and see how it sorts out to you. We would love to hear about your journey.
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