Is No-Kill Possible?

Several previous posters have opined that No-Kill just does not work for open admission shelters. This is stated as if it were a fact and we should go on to rethink No-Kill, whatever that means, as if we were not already constantly thinking about it. To say that No-Kill open shelters are impossible, is foolish and self-defeating pessimism.

A thing is impossible until it is not.

Flying through the air was impossible until the airplane was invented. Traveling to the moon was impossible until we did it in 1968. Kidney and heart transplants were impossible until the 1980s, but now are almost routine all over the world.

Nothing with a technological solution is impossible. Nothing. No kill sheltering is only a matter of numbers, marketing, S/N, logistics and manpower. We are not going to Mars here.

A reasonable approximation of No-Kill has been achieved, or so claimed, by some smaller (under 7,000 animals per year) shelter systems.

No one defines No-Kill as every animal going in comes out alive; that does not even happen in a with a good private practice vet clinic. Always animals coming in sick and injured should be put down for their own sake. Certain dangerous dogs should be put down and still the shelter would be considered no kill.

With a large shelter system such as LAAS with 47,000 dogs and cats impounded a year, if they can achieve the same kill rates as smaller, open admission admitted No-Kill shelters, then we will have arrived.

What I would question is the assumption that large shelter systems cannot be as effective as smaller systems in terms of saving lives if they have the same proportionate budget and manpower, especially in a place like LA where there are multiple shelters serving multiple areas, in effect, having six smaller shelter systems.

I think Boks’ definition of animals killed per thousand residents is more a statement about resident demographics than about the condition and adoptability of impounded animals. New Yorkers would have fewer animals per thousand residents, therefore a lower kill/1000 pop than would a rural Midwester area.

This should not be a criteria for measuring No-Kill.

Some smaller open admission shelters claim a live save rate for dogs of 90% or better. Winograd claimed no treatable cat was killed at Tompkins County. I would assume that did not include 100% of the unweaned kittens—I don’t know.

If the dissenters mean we should more carefully define No-Kill, I agree. But to state that No-Kill is impossible a priori, is defeatist foolishness.

No-Kill as an attainable goal is incredibly important as it is a lead-in to obtaining a No-Kill state of mind towards all animals in the future, including other humans. Creating No-Kill shelters would be a great milestone in the effort to achieve a higher morality for all of mankind. Its importance as a concept and goal should be assessed from that viewpoint.


Anonymous said...

Has ANY large municipal shelter like NY or LA gone nokill? If so, how did they do it? I don't think one has. Only small shelters or shelters that can limit the n umber of animals they take in.

Ed Muzika said...

The comment above is the same as all the previous naysayers. There are small, open admission shelters that have gone No-Kill or mostly so. There is no reason that just because LA or NYC has not made it yet, LA or NYC should stop trying. LA has only been at this for five years. We have cut euthanasia 50%.

Success will be a matter of will, knowledge, community effort and money.

Boks got it right thinking No-Kill in Los Angeles needed a charismatic cheerleader and money, but he is not pulling it off because of poor progress and cheerleading that is razor close to lying.

Churchill and FDR were not gladsayers; they spoke the truth about how hard and long the road was ahead and exuded the confidence that unified nations.

Boks might still be able to carry it off if he stops being a cheerleader, gives us a plan, and convinces us he can carry it off.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been called a dissenter since the 60's but yes, indeed that is what I am on this issue. I firmly feel that the term "no kill" is the problem. That term alone is killing animals in our shelters. People like Winograd and Boks have taken the responsibility off the public by using this term and have placed it squarely on the shoulders of Animal Control. The use of the term "low kill" would put some responsibility back on the public. When will we learn that animal control has not made the problem and they don't have the capacity or ability to solve the problem. We all work for the day when no (and I don't discriminate here) animal (not just "adoptable") goes down for time and space. You have failed to mention the shelters that have tried to go "no kill" and were miserable failures. The problems they encountered were the same from shelter to shelter. The key to being where we want to be is to stop the influx, what is so difficult to understand about that? If they aren't there, they can't be killed, alright???

Anonymous said...

O.K., how about this: to the public the shelter would be called lo-kill, to the people involved in the rescue community it will be a No-Kill goal shelter. I agree there could be a semantics problem.

You are assuming the public is dumb as well as irresponsible--which is probably true.

But your assumption that the term alone cases more deaths is only speculation. To prove it you'd have to have supporting data, such as a shelter going from No-Kill to Kill having significantly fewer animals brought in.

One can cite the problems at one or more shelters but that is not proof. That is anecdotal evidence until you do a study, and I don't think you have done a study. but concentrate on Rancho as your sole experience.

Besides, there are extremely few public shelters claiming to be no kill, but they do exist. I don't know what criteria they use.

Your talk about an irresponsible public, what of it? It is just a label like No-Kill. To fix the cause of animal killing on the public helps less than changing the term No-Kill to Lo-Kill.

Is the public PRESENTLY responsible for the large number of feral cats out there? Or, are they only responsible if they TNR? Are owner turn-ins of sick and injured cats irresponsible? Irresponsible public is a cliche born of not thinking deepely.

You talk about the "public" as an entity and blame them, but how does that help? LAAS then becomes only a street sweeper.

What do you mean animal control has not made the problem? You deny they have no responsibility? If that is so, they have no responsibility other than to do minimum Hayden compliance rather than make a 100% effort to adopt, TNR, spay/neuter. If you refuse to admit LAAS has any responsibility, you put the entire burden on the rescue community and LAAS/rescue efforts to educate the public.

Is the solution TNR or educating the irresponsible public? Will an irresponsible public spay/neuter their animals?

You state over and over and over and over that there are no No-Kill shelters and there never can be. But no one denies killing is necessary in many cases, not even Winograd. So you create and attack a straw man.

You suggest TNR/Spay/Neuter is the 100% solution. But what about the animals alive now? Let them run the streets? Who is supposed to effect this birth control solution? How?

Your birth control methods are long term solutions and does not touch the animals now existing, and the numbers needed to be soayed/neutered is probably far beyond our capacity to do so.

AND, how can you force and owner to S/N their animal without legislation, licensing, no roaming laws for cats, etc.?

For the last time, do not speak in generalities. If you have solutuions, give us a break an articulate them clearly and in detail, and do not continue to harp on the problems of two shelters as proof that no kill is not possible.

Ed Muzika

Anonymous said...

If the pounds actively performed marketing like any successful business entity, animals would get adopted. Animals are adopted from rescue organizations because they market the animals. The pounds kill the animals in lieu of marketing them for adoption because it is their policy to kill.

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