No-Kill Animal Shelters Are Better than Traditional Shelters

Out of the six million intakes shelters get each year, over 2 million of those animals are euthanized. While the “No-Kill” movement has no stated year of creation, it’s risen into popularity in the late ’90s in an attempt to increase live release rates in shelters. The effect that these shelters have on both the animals and people involved is a positive change in society and could be the solution to high euthanasia rates in shelters. Research has shown that we can help change the percentage of animals killed in traditional shelters each year and increase the mortality rate of shelter animals by implementing ideas from the “No-Kill” movement into more areas.

The introduction of “No-Kill” shelters in the ’90s led to a more positive option for shelter pets, yet left some things unanswered. One of the main reasons shelters felt they had no options but to turn to euthanasia is the costs of medical bills. With overpopulation and older animals, comes a higher cost for those running traditional shelters. Solutions to this include free adoption periods and increasing donations. Even with the popularity of “No-Kill”, Pat Miller, member of the Association of Animal Behavior Professionals, states in an article for Whole Dog Journal that “despite all […] efforts, as well as those of the “no-kill” proponents, euthanasia numbers have remained static in the past 10 years” (Miller).

A conflict with traditional shelters, regardless of one’s moral standpoint, is the mental effect that those who are in charge of euthanizing the animals experience as, “performing euthanasia can be an unpleasant task for veterinarians and animal care attendants at any time, but the emotional toll on shelter personnel of dealing with cases of animal abuse and killing dogs and cats day after day should not be underestimated” (Turner). Often, shelters don’t have access to a professional veterinarian, causing a large amount of shelters to turn to the regular workers when it comes to performing euthanasia. The debate over traditional shelters versus “No-Kill” has a short history, but it’s important when it comes to animal welfare.

Whether one believes in the use of euthanasia, overpopulation is still an unarguable issue for many shelters, “No-Kill” or not. A study conducted in Australia on the effects of free adoptions showed that cats that are adopted free of charge have the same level of life quality as those adopted with regular fees. This approach could be beneficial in helping traditional shelters no longer need to use euthanasia to assist with overcrowding. It’s proven that many of the animals, cats in this study, “are euthanised due to illness, disease or behavioural issues, healthy adult cats are also euthanised due to shelter crowding or financial strain”(Crawford).

With this information, it’s established that with a few changes, shelter pets can live much longer. Many of the problems shelters have are due to lack of funds, and while free adoption periods don’t help directly, it can reduce overcrowding in a more positive light. With “No-Kill” shelters implemented in more places, overcrowding is a large problem. With the movement, though, “50 million people live in communities saving at least 80% of dogs and cats in their shelters” (No Kill Advocacy Center). The benefits of “No-Kill” effect both the animals and people involved in the end.

Even with the positives of “No-Kill”, the shelters are far from perfect. Animals in these shelters are chosen selectively, and not all are able to be saved. As stated by author Patricia Turner, “shelters with strict “no-kill” or limited admission policies often refuse animals that are sick, aged, of unsound temperament, or with inappropriate behaviors because they are poor adoption candidates”(Turner). The discriminatory nature of “No-Kill” shelters causes many to debate the true benefits they provide.

Pat Miller, who has over 40 years of experience with animals, defines the term “No-Kill” as, “no euthanasia of animals who are adoptable, or who will be adoptable after medical or behavioral treatment or rehabilitation.”” While these shelters sound extremely humane, they aren’t entirely “No-Kill”. They claim themselves as such due to the lack of ill or elderly animals in their care, causing less need for euthanasia. Some shelters that define themselves as “No-Kill” understand that there “are times when their humane choice is to euthanize an animal that’s not thriving under their care” (Miller).

This information can change how one views the movement as a whole, and can then be argued against for not saving every single animal. The facts pertaining to the shelters show that, while the movement and act can be flawed, when carried out correctly, it does benefit communities to have “No-Kill” shelters running. If the shelters are provided the proper resources, the quality of life for these animals could be better than they could in most traditional shelters.

The idea of a “No-Kill” shelter is a vision that many have come to appreciate, but it still remains a vision. Shelters with “No-Kill” policies struggle to run due to a shortage of trained professionals and funds. A shelter animal’s quality of life could be improved if those shelters had increased donations and a higher number of volunteers. By helping out at your local shelter, researching them and learning how and where to donate, or even adopting a pet, traditional or not, you could help save the life of an adoptable animal. With more donations to “No-Kill” shelters, we could provide them the help they need to keep many adoptable pets alive.

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