Beyond No Kill Editorial

2006 by Rich Avanzino

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

What is a no-kill community? Is it one that saves all healthy shelter dogs and cats? All healthy and treatable shelter pets? All healthy and treatable pets and feral cats? Does it mean saving all homeless pets no matter their age, medical condition or temperament?

The first question is: What do we mean by "healthy," "treatable" and "unhealthy & untreatable?" We discuss these definitions at length in the Guide to the Asilomar Accords Definitions

If a community saves all of its healthy and treatable shelter pets can it proclaim no-kill status? I would say yes because the shelters are in alignment with community lifesaving standards. But in my opinion, saving healthy and treatable shelter pets is the minimum no-kill standard. We should strive to lead our communities and go beyond no-kill.

Tompkins County, New York is a case in point. The Tompkins County SPCA (TCSPCA) maintains a 92% live release rate. It saves all of the County's healthy and treatable shelter pets and feral cats. Should this be our lifesaving goal? I think it should.

But whether a community is short of no-kill, has achieved no-kill or gone beyond no-kill, I believe transparency is essential. Transparency means publishing statistics, live release rates, shelter animal definitions and classifications, a Pet Evaluation Matrix, and feral cat and breed specific policies. By disclosing this information where everyone can see it, the public and the animal welfare community can judge for themselves how much lifesaving progress is being made.

To learn more about statistics, live release rates, shelter animal definitions and classifications, and pet evaluation matrixes, please visit our Asilomar Accords page.


Please see our Code of Conduct guidelines.