The Knock on No Kill Editorial

2001 by Rich Avanzino

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

Many times I've heard the statement made that "No-kill shelters can exist only because someone else down the street is doing the killing." The implication is that no-kill shelters are derelict because they refuse to euthanize animals.

Should no-kill shelters be criticized because they take in only the number of animals they can place or because they choose not to kill healthy and treatable animals?

Who sets the rules that say unless you do it all and take in every animal deposited on your doorstep, you're not part of the solution? Do you have to kill animals to be credible?

What about the Good Samaritan who finds loving homes for feral cats? Even though this kind-hearted soul may place only a few animals a year, isn't he making a contribution?

What about organizations that focus only on spay/neuter? Should they be condemned?

Or the group whose mission is to save cats only? Is the organization bad because it has chosen not to save dogs? What about rescue groups that focus on saving only one breed? Is this wrong?

If an organization wants to set up a sanctuary and take in only animals who are sick, injured and poorly behaved, are they undermining the animal welfare cause?

Why isn't every effort to save a life worth praise? Shouldn't we welcome everyone who is helping animals in need?

No-kill organizations have a major role to play in a community's life-saving efforts. A well-run no-kill agency is like a safety valve, relieving some of the pressure from animal control and traditional shelters, saving additional dogs and cats who would otherwise be killed. No-kill organizations often bring new people, energy, and financial resources to the cause and greatly broaden the safety net of care for homeless, abandoned animals. I believe no-kill organizations should be lauded, not lambasted and so should pure breed rescue groups, feral cat caregivers, spay/neuter advocates, and every other individual or organization working to save more lives.

We in the animal welfare movement can continue to sling barbs and arrows at each other in an effort to discredit one group or another. But to do so is to do a disservice to the dogs and cats who need us.

I say let's put aside our differences and applaud everyone who is willing to help.


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