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The Difference Between No-Kill and Other Animal Shelters

What are no-kill animal shelters? What is an open admission animal shelters? Why do animal shelters euthanize pets? Why do some animal shelters put pets to sleep? Which is the best animal shelter to support and why? Why can some animal shelters keep pets alive while others kill them?

Many people want to help the unwanted pets of society, and they turn to the animal shelters to look for places to adopt pets. While this is good, it has also been the cause for some debate and controversy. Some people will only support No-Kill shelters, and advocate donating finances only to them, and encourage adoptions only from them.

Here is the truth of it all in short terms. Adoption from either type of shelter helps animals, donating to either helps animals, volunteering at either helps animals. Ignoring one over the other hurts animals. Understanding how both work is a good place to start.

No-Kill Shelters

  • These operate primarily from private donations. Not all have charitable (non-profit) status. If they have charitable status they can apply for government grants. A few receive local funding.
  • Some are actual buildings while others operate out of a series of homes (called foster homes).
  • When no-kill shelters are full, they simply turn animals away, refusing to accept more than they have space for.
  • Some no-kill shelters are extremely selective about what animals they accept, either taking only the most adoptable (young animals and those of breeds that are in high demand) or taking only specialty animals.
  • Some no-kill shelters only accept owner-surrendered animals and not strays.

Other Animal Shelters - Open Admission Shelters

  • These operate primarily from private donations. Not all have charitable (non-profit) status. If they have charitable status they can apply for government grants. Some receive local funding, particularly those who also operate as the area's pound for strays.
  • Most have an actual building and some also have foster homes.
  • When these shelters are full they have no option but to make room by euthanizing some animals.
  • These shelters can inform people that they are full, and cannot guarantee a pet a home, but most operate in a way that they cannot turn down an animal being surrendered or brought in as a stray.
  • These shelters deal with all the animals turned down by the no-kill shelters.

photo by Author

Dispelling some Myths!

In shelters that do euthanize animals, it is NOT a first choice, nor is it ever easy. It is done on animals who are aggressive, old (and typically unadoptable), or those who have been there too long and have been passed over for adoption time and time again; they are put down to make room for new animals so those pets have a chance at a home.  There are always good reasons why pets are euthanized.

Shelters who take in strays cannot legally put those pets down right away, most areas have a 72 hour law. This means stray pets must be held for 72 hours (longer if the pet is microchipped or tattooed) in order to allow an owner to claim them. After the 72 hours is up the shelter is considered the legal owner of the pet and can put it up for adoption if they feel it is adoptable.

Most shelters, when space allows, hold stray pets for at least 1 week to allow the owner more time to claim it. Microchipped or tattooed pets can be traced to their owners, and in most areas shelters must hold them for 10 days to allow the owner to be traced, or to come forward.

If they decide an animal is adoptable the shelter has it dewormed, vet checked, and vaccinated.  Once they have invested this money into the pet they certainly would rather have it adopted than euthanized.

Shelters do not have unlimited space (or unlimited funds).  In most areas more animals are brought in on a weekly basis than are adopted out. This is why no-kill shelters are forced to be picky and turn pets away when full, it is also why the other shelters are forced to euthanize animals.

Adopting out a dangerous dog, or a sick animal, could mean a lawsuit against a shelter; and as such, lacking funds and/or time to aid such an animal, they are forced to euthanize it to allow safer, and healthy pets, a chance at getting a home. Also, keeping sick animals in their care could spread health concerns to the other animals in their care.

Who Should You Support?

Both are ultimately worth supporting, but turning your back on the shelter that is forced to clean up the surplus number of animals is truly wrong.

Adoption is saving a life, be it from one shelter or the other.

If you look at one shelter and they do not have a pet you want to adopt, check out the other kind of shelter, too.

Look for shelters with charitable (non-profit) status.

If you have to surrender your own pet, you should be honest, is it adoptable? If not then it should be humanely euthanized rather than having it become a burden on an already full shelter. Dumping a problem pet on a shelter is unfair to all the healthy pets in their care, as well as being unfair to the staff.

Related Links

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Comments (27)

I should add that once shelters put a pet up for adoption they try to keep it for as long as they can. They have to pay for it to be vaccinated, dewormed, etc, so they do not want to euthanize it unless they have to.

Jim Mitchell

This article is so full of factual inaccuracies I just have no idea where to begin. Really, there are NO open admission No Kill shelters? Tell that to Reno, Charlottesville, Tompkins County - places that are required to take every animal that walks through the door - "full" or not - and still save 90%+. Also places that are private institutions working in PARTNERSHIP with municipal animal control and shelters to achieve No Kill in their communities by taking animals that would otherwise be put down. You do them a great disservice here.

*Many* "other shelters" are municipally funded, including most that do animal control, which as a function of public safety is almost always gov't funded - they do not operate "primarily from private donations". When they are full they actually do have other options than killing animals, most of them just choose not to put in that kind of effort, because not killing isn't easy and they get paid either way. Many kill animals with your tax dollars because it's just too much work for them to actually implement life saving programs. If indeed "in most areas more animals are brought in on a weekly basis than are adopted out", they need to WORK HARDER TO ADOPT MORE ANIMALS OUT. Sick animals can actually usually (God forbid!) be cured quite safely with some basic understanding methods of disease transmission. We don't kill people when they get a cold, but there are shelters killing pets for kennel cough. Pathetic.

"If you have to surrender your own pet, you should be honest, is it adoptable? If not then it should be humanely euthanized rather than having it become a burden on an already full shelter. Dumping a problem pet on a shelter is unfair to all the healthy pets in their care, as well as being unfair to the staff." Of course. Kill, kill, kill. Don't ask for help or anything, just solve the problem with a needle of death. I have seen so many "problem pets" go on to happy lives with owners that love and understand them, including my fear biter, my undersocialized mill breeder, and my ex-fighting dog. Your unadoptable is someone else's ideal. Adopters are out there and they want to help, too many shelters do a poor job of marketing to them and matching them to the appropriate pet. You would obviously be shocked at the animals that are adoptable.

There is another way. No Kill works, it is here, and it is the future. Read Nathan Winograd's "Redemption" and find out why you don't have to put up with this "killing is kindness" crap that's been spoon-fed to animal lovers for the last hundred years. See No Kill shelters - including OPEN ADMISSION shelters - that have put these programs into place in all different places in this country and are saving record numbers of animals - they're for real.

Those who defend the status quo and the needless, tragic, morally indefensible killing of animals on a daily basis are on the wrong side of history. Join us.

Jim - you must note that every shelter is different. No where have I stated that there are absolutely no open admission No-kill shelters - but as you mentioned the shelter only saves 90% of the animals, meaning some are put down. If they are forced to take in animals even when they are full - then obviously they have to do something with the excess animals. (FULL meaning no foster homes or nothing) - as such they are not truly a no-kill shelter. If a shelter that is government funded has 200 cages, and 300 animals coming in every month - who do you think they are going to pick to save? Its easily the ones who are most adoptable with the least expenses occurring. Very few people are willing to adopt, let us say, a dog with heartworm, or that needs insulin shots twice a day. So the shelter picks who lives who dies. I am not saying it is fair, but when there are limited number of adoptions and more animals born - something has to break. The ONLY solution is spay and neuter - thus we have fewer unwanted animals. I have never said for people NOT to support no-kill shelters - rather that it is important for people to know that when they do not support the other kind of shelters they are forced to euthanize because of a lack of space.

Jim Mitchell

"When no-kill shelters are full, they simply turn animals away, refusing to accept more than they have space for." That certainly SOUNDS like you're saying there are no open admission no kill shelters. Isn't a shelter that never refuses to accept animals by definition open admission? Your above statement is quite simply untrue.

The three leading lights of No Kill that I mentioned previously are all open admission, none kill for space, and none "turn animals away when full" as you claim. It is possible. Given a choice between finding one more space and stickin' the needle in so they can make their dinner reservation they have made the choice to do what it takes so that no animal is ever killed for space reasons. It is not easy, but it's possible. The reason it is not now a 100% save rate is that some small number of animals that are dying or suffering with no hope of recovery or continuing quality of life undergo actual euthanasia (as opposed to killing for space, which is just killing) and unfortunately dogs which are judged to be a danger to the community at large are killed. I look forward to a day when there is enough sanctuary space for the dogs which are unable to be released into the community to live out their lives in peace, but for the moment that is the compromise in the name of public safety.

There are MANY people willing to adopt a dog with heartworm. I did. Others will. It's treatable. Insulin shots? Same. You just have to reach out to the right people - or better yet, have the shelter treat what is treatable, like most cases of heartworm. Some of the open-admission no kills have gotten very, very good at marketing special needs pets and there is a library of how-to material on marketing and adopting out special needs pets available for free from places like Maddies' Fund for those who actually look . A shelter is supposed to be a place of refuge where the sick are healed - not killed because "no one wants them". They do. I do. I have participated in rescuing thousands of imperfect dogs that have found perfect homes. No more excuses to not try.

When there are a "limited number of adoptions and more animals are born" then shelters need to do a better job with marketing, PR, and customer service to get more animals adopted - which most, frankly, are beyond pathetic at. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 million people will add a dog or cat to their home in the next year. Approx 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters each year. There are approx 3 million healthy and treatable animals dying yearly in shelters. Do the math. We don't just throw up our hands and say "there's nothing we can do", we need to get better at the things that save animals' lives - and while S/N is certainly a very important part of that, it's not the whole deal. The solution is the set of programs usually collectively referred to as the No Kill Equation (tried to link a .pdf but this system won't let me - google "No Kill Equation") which have pushed save rates past the 90% mark in shelters all over the country.

I AM saying that people shouldn't support shelters that kill willy-nilly. Ask for their statistics. There are an awful lot of shelters out there hiding behind this "there's no other way" garbage and using that as cover to not try, to not improve, and to spend tax dollars on Euthasol to kill animals instead of on programs that save lives - because contrary to your assertion, many shelters are partially or fully municipally funded including virtually all that do animal control which is considered an essential public safety function. There actually IS another way. Stop making excuses to kill and start implementing what works. This is one of the last industries on earth where complete and utter failure is considered perfectly normal and rewarded with continued funding. We can learn from the places doing it successfully how to change that.

"Forced to euthanize because of a lack of space" is a lazy lie. Reno, for instance, is in an area of the country that was hit very, very hard by the recession. Open admission. Lots of people giving up their pets. Limited private funding. Not a wealthy community. Not unlimited space by any means... and they don't kill for space.

What do they know that you don't?

Jim. there are NOT many people who will adopt a heartworm dog or insulin dependant pet - there might be a "few" but not "many" - there are MANY people who want to adopt healthy puppies and kittens...not older animals. But I do have to ask - you say that the shelter is open admission but also no-kill, and I ask how this is possible - if they have no space, how are they accomodating these animals? Clearly they must have space because otherwise they are euthanizing some somewhere to make space. So I suggest they are blessed to have space. We both want the same thing - less euthanasia. While it would be great if everyone was willing to adopt, many people know the truth and still prefer to take 'free to good home kittens" or go to pet stores and buy puppy mill pups. There are shelters world wide - everyone is different. In my experience many no-kill shelters pick and chose the animals they admit - either taking the ones with the best chances for adoption - or the worst chances. I think we need to push for laws against allowing people to give unfixed pets away. As many of those animals do not get fixed, or looked after, often creating more problems for shelters in general. Still I ask you, respectfully, how can a shelter have unlimited space so they can take in unlimited pets?

Valerie

You don't need 'many' people to adopt a diabetic cat or a heartworm+ dog, you only need one good one per animal. Educate yourself, read 'Redemption' (which includes the story of Tompkins County's overnight transition from high-kill to No Kill)and 'Irreconcilable Differences' by Nathan Winograd (both readily available on Amazon). Oh, and if you want to know how Tompkins County does it, you can visit their website at www.spcaonline.com .

Many people who would adopt from kill shelters don't because of the poor customer service and inhumane conditions often found in those places. Lack of adoptions is primarily due to a failure of leadership at shelters.

I have read the info at Tompkins - they do admit they do euthanize pets - 1 in 20 in fact. This is only slightly less than the number of pets euthanized in my local "kill" shelter, which in 2008 was 1 in 18. I have NEVER seen poor customer service or inhumane conditions in any of the "kill" shelters I have been in, infact the Only inhumane conditions I ever saw were in 2 no-kill shelters. One wasnt really inhumane - simply crowded and over run with cats (in Vancouver BC). The cats, becauase of there were so many cats, bonded better with cats than with people. I do not know if that shelter still operates. I adopted a very frightened cat from there roughly 20 years ago. She had feline leukemia. The other case was a no-kill rescue that specialized in old dogs. One dog in particular seemed to be their poster child - a puppy mill breeding dog. She was terrified to walk on grass. Her body was riddled with cancer - they paid a lot of money for her to get chemo treatments which made her sick. She was not able to he house trained and the foster family that had her loved her and did the best for her, but because of the stress of seeing this dog kept alive who was clearly suffering they felt they could not foster again - in short they felt keeping her alive was inhumane. I am inclined to agree, at least Tompkins shelter understands this is cruel, but some no-kill shelters really stick to "no-kill" meaning NEVER! Alot of money was spent helping that one dog, money that could have helped others who were turned away in the mean time because that shelter only had limited number of foster homes and space. I really have not encountered poor customer service at ANY shelter, and support anyone who tries to help animals.

Valerie

The rule of thumb for No Kill shelters is that they save at least 90% of all animals that come through their doors. Some shelters try to fake this by playing games with the definition of the word 'adoptable' to make themselves look better. That is not cool. I am surprised that you have not experienced rude shelter staff. How many kill shelters have you visited? I would like to invite you down to GA. Here we have kill shelters staffed by prison inmates. There is a reason why Macy's and Nordstrom's don't hire prison inmates (in stripes or orange jumpsuits--no kidding) to staff their stores.

Well-run No-Kill organizations and shelters provide support for their foster families, such as behavior consults, and they keep lines of communication open. As for a privately funded rescue group deciding to provide chemo for an old dog, that is at their discretion, just as providing chemo to one's elderly pet is at the owner's discretion.

Hello Valerie. All the shelters I have visited are in Canada, Alberta, and BC, and Michigan. (and a couple in England). I have also worked at a shelter, and was working with the shelter who kept the old dog and turned away many other pets in the process. I have seen shelters that take in over 50,000 animals a year. They cannot possibly keep them all. Yet people will not support them, and their animals, for no fault of their own other than that they lack the ability to house all the pets that are brought in. Staffing a shelter with prisoners is agreeably questionable.

Valerie

No Kill shelters can't 'keep' all the animals they receive either. They succeed by moving animals through the system efficiently. This is accomplished by implementing the No Kill Equation, which is detailed here:

http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/nokillequation.html

Mathew Phillips

I am doing a report on compairing no kill dog shelters and kill shelters and i am having trouble finding info on kill shelters can you help me

to Mathew... some of the best information you can gain is by contacting your local shelters and asking them - some even have pamphlets that will help you too.

Lee

I am very much turned off when these "no kill" shelters advertise how they got this animal or another from that "awful high kill shelter". In addition, from voluntering, I have personally witnessed no kill shelters that warehoused dogs and cats in crates for years, and at that point the poor animal was pretty much insane. I have see them lie, call the pitbull a "german shpeard mix", or not disclosing to adopters about past issues, like the dog ate the last owner's cat, etc... I caught one no kill shelter worker putting a stray cat in my open garage after I had adopted a cat from them (they got my address and thought they would sneak and drop just one more kitty on me! how nice of them). I have seen them "dump" animals they can't adopt back to the municipal "high kill" shelter, but late at night in secret so as not to place any cloud on their precious and "high judgemental" "no kill" status. In otherwords, I have seen behavior that is clearly unethical, irresponsible, and borders delusional.

I have never seen euthanasia taken lightly or done cruelly as these no kill folks would have you believe is happening in all municipal shelters. It is very sad there is an epidemic number of unwanted animals. There are far far more than could ever find homes. Shelters that euthanize know this and do the best they can with what little they have. And the really ugly fact is that no-kills simple cherry pick the most adoptable animals and refuse the others. So isn't that in effect condemmning the poor creature to death??? I don't like the no-kill organizations as I feel they are taking the battle to organizations that have the same goals they do, to save animals. They demonize their own brethren to futher their delusion.

Lee

I am very much turned off when these "no kill" shelters advertise how they got this animal or another from that "awful high kill shelter". In addition, from voluntering, I have personally witnessed no kill shelters that warehoused dogs and cats in crates for years, and at that point the poor animal was pretty much insane. I have see them lie, call the pitbull a "german shpeard mix", or not disclosing to adopters about past issues, like the dog ate the last owner's cat, etc... I caught one no kill shelter worker putting a stray cat in my open garage after I had adopted a cat from them (they got my address and thought they would sneak and drop just one more kitty on me! how nice of them). I have seen them "dump" animals they can't adopt back to the municipal "high kill" shelter, but late at night in secret so as not to place any cloud on their precious and "high judgemental" "no kill" status. In otherwords, I have seen behavior that is clearly unethical, irresponsible, and borders delusional.

I have never seen euthanasia taken lightly or done cruelly as these no kill folks would have you believe is happening in all municipal shelters. It is very sad there is an epidemic number of unwanted animals. There are far far more than could ever find homes. Shelters that euthanize know this and do the best they can with what little they have. And the really ugly fact is that no-kills simple cherry pick the most adoptable animals and refuse the others. So isn't that in effect condemmning the poor creature to death??? I don't like the no-kill organizations as I feel they are taking the battle to organizations that have the same goals they do, to save animals. They demonize their own brethren to futher their delusion.

Crystal

Thank God someone posted about this horrifying article which, as Jim states above, is FULL OF FACTUAL INACCURACIES.

Before you put something like this on the web, Brenda, you need to do much, much more research and back up your assertions. This article is horrible and you are perpetuating inhumane conditions that routinely euthanize animals for space issues. No-kill shelters that turn animals away when they're at capacity are not the norm.

Lee

Case and point "you are perpetuating inhumane conditions that routinely euthanize animals for space issues" -- in otherwords demonizing shelters that euthenize as : "killer shelters that kill animals willy nilly..." Very sad that you take your fight to people that are trying to help stray animals rather than to the problem at hand: far too many animals for homes, e.g. how to reduce the number of strays. The immature infighting and holier than thou attitude in the rescue business turns people off, costs both donations and volunteership.

Crystal... I have worked in animal rescue, and at shelters for many years. I worked at a "KILL" shelter for 5 years, in a city that had 2 no-kill shelters. One of the no-kill shelters was very specific, taking in only older pets of certain characteristics.. turning away ALL others. The other no-kill shelter legally could only house 2 dogs and 20 cats.. of course they turned away animals when full. Even now if you call a no-kill shelter and ask what they do when they are full - they say they put animals on waiting lists - this is basically saying "turning them away".. open admission shelters take ALL animals - because of this they are forced to euthanize when full. To my knowledge there are no no-kill shelters with an endless supply of space to the point they do not have to turn animals away from time to time. I have NOT said anything about shelters keeping animals in "Inhumane conditions". As I said I worked in a kill shelter and the pets were well looked after - many being kept for 3 months before being euthanized and NONE lived in inhumane conditions. Lee thank you for your comments! Teaching people to Spay or Neuter is the BEST solution - not teaching people to hate "kill" animal shelters and workers!

Karma

Hi Brenda

Your points are sound. I am more concerned about the inaccuracies of the "no kill" movement that are listed above.

In Nevada the Humane Society is No Kill, but Animal Services which is right next door is not no kill. The Humane Society is contracted to take in ALL owner surrenders and animal services must take all stray animals. Sadly the truth is in the numbers. Families that are surrendering a pet are turned away from the humane society (deterred by a help desk), and then out of desperation walk next door to declare their animal a stray. This has caused the intake of strays at animal services to triple. The trend in the US is that owner surrenders far out weighs stray intake,,,,why then this anomaly in Washoe County Nevada.....the truth lies in the shift to "No Kill" policy that isn't honest or working on behalf of its two and four legged suporters.

No Kill is great, but lets be honest on our road to becoming No Kill and not lie and manipulate the numbers. In this scenario who is actually the compassionate shelter the one that is helping the people and their pets (animal services) or the one that is turning both the animal and the people away?

Thank you Karma. A proper shelter would accept all pets, strays, or owner relinquished. When people are forced to call their pet a stray they do not even give the pet the dignity of its name, nor can they help the shelter by telling info on the pet, including what it eats and so forth. The shelter I worked at was a kill shelter, we never turned down a pet, but we did want people to be honest if it was their pet they should say so. Some shelters do not even put "strays" up for adoption because the public prefers to adopt pets with a history.

Josephine Falcicchio

The animal care and control has 3 locations in NY. They DO NOT vaccinate ANY of the dogs until there is an adopter in place. Most of thes "deathrow" dogs lay in their own feces until they are being taken out of thier cages to be given the needle. I have been there several times doing transport for so called "unadoptable" animals. Funny as soon as I got them ouot of that place they were different dogs. One whom I picked up was deemed food aggressive and temper. This was a full grown dog who should have been at least 60 pounds and was only 32 pounds, If I was starving to death I would have a problem with someone trying to take my food bowl away as well. Plus the fact these dogs are kept in close quarters scared oout of thier wits and have no idea if the human in front of them is friend or foe. Once I got the "aggressive dog" out of the shelter and we were on the road, (and yes I did crate him) i stopped and got him 3 double cheeseburgers that he ate out of my hand getley with NO AGGRESSION AT ALL. Later we walked for a bit, sat as I stroked and spoke calmly to him then he rolled on his back and got a great belly rub. This is ONE example of several of these dogs that I have taken out of the ACC. It is such a typical response to just throw away anything that gives any signs of a problem, animal and human. I volunteer with several NO KILL shelters and no they do not just take the CREAM OF THE CROp. They go to Newark NJ Humane Society on a regular basis and pull 10 dogs at a time of all different sizes, breeds, ages atc. They do not let those dogs leave until they are fully socialized and until the right adoopter is found for that dog. Take a tour sometime of the ACC in NYC, or go to Newark or any other shelter on the east coast. Before you speak try doing more research. No we cant save them all but you know what I will be dammed if I am going to take the easy way out like most people do in this country and throw away a life without a second thought. Humanity gets more disappointing EVERYDAY. As far the public wanting to adopt a pet with a history. Most of these animals DO have a history. Te reality is their humans no longer want them, care for them or they are ust o much of a bother. No one takes responsibility for anything anymore and quite frankly it makes me sick. Educate yourself a bit more BRENDA

Josephine, If that is the conditions the dogs are living in you need to call the SPCA, or ASPCA or whomever deals with animal welfare laws because that is unacceptable. That is not a proper animal shelter. Not all no-kill shelters take "cream of the crop dogs" many take only the problem cases, for example Dog Town - Best Friends, is noted for taking the problem dogs that other shelters dont have time or funding to deal with. However because they are not open admission, no-kill shelters do have the option of refusing animals for whatever reason, be it fullness or type of pet. Just because you dealt with pathetic places, which I would not even go so far as to call "proper rescues" but sound more like "dog pounds", does not mean all are so bad. Yes all pets have histories, I refer to the fact that pets that come in as strays, do not have KNOWN histories. In Chicago many years ago it was their rule not to put strays up for adoption, all were euthanized after the 72 hour waiting period (10 days for purebreds). I do not know if this is still their rule, but at that time only owner relinquished pets went for adoption. It would be impossible for myself, or anyone really to visit all shelters, I would not try to insult you by telling you to educate yourself by visiting all the shelters I have worked in or been involved with. Why are we fighting when we want the same goal.. pets to have loving, forever homes, why insult somebody who is trying to work towards that with comments such as "Educate yourself"? THis page is NOT against any type of shelter.

Josephine

Funny my other comments have been deleted. Why dont you read this for better education

The fears of a shelter dog by Jayne Matthews

Posted on June 12, 2011 by Helene Scharf

If you think about life from a dog’s perspective, all you want to do is to play, exercise, eat and sleep and get plenty of attention from your handlers. The attention does not necessarily always have to be affection, but anything that the dog enjoys and training can also be a part of this.

However, shelter dogs are a different story. Generally these dogs have had a rough life. There is a whole litany of excuses for why they end up in shelters. These can range from ‘we’re moving house and the new landlord won’t let us have pets’, to ‘we’re having a baby and we don’t want a dog around the new baby’. As all animal lovers know none of these reasons are valid, they are just excuses because the dog no longer fits in with their plans. All pets are for the span of their lifetime, not just until we get fed up with the responsibility and don’t want them around anymore.

They may be only a puppy who due to lack of consideration on the part of the human family, was born into a family where puppies weren’t wanted, so they dump them in the shelter, sometimes with the misguided idea that they will find a ‘good home’. The sad truth is most of them will be killed before they see 6 months, unless they are very lucky and a rescue finds them in time or they are noticed by a new family looking for a new puppy.

They may be an older dog, who has given their loyalty and love to their human family for quite a few years, but now the dog needs them and they find they don’t want to, can’t afford to, or can be bothered to cope with the responsibility or vet bills, so again the dog gets dumped at the local shelter. Unfortunately these poor souls have even less chance because they are ‘OLD’ or have ‘MEDICAL ISSUES’ and not many people want the responsibility or the cost of an older dog, especially if there are puppies in the same shelter.

Wherever they are from and whatever their circumstances they have ended up in a shelter and feel nervous stressed and certainly scared. There are lots of new smells, new sights and sounds and nobody to comfort them because the shelter is so busy. They are probably still waiting for their family to come and get them, waiting to hear their voices or smell their scent. Meanwhile they can smell the fear from the other dogs in the neighbouring kennels and who knows what the conversation is between them.

These dogs are then taken out of the kennel before they actually have time to settle down and taken into a room where they are assessed for character issues. HELLO!!! These dogs are scared, nervous and stressed and yet they are expected to act normally!! They have food put down in front of them and no sooner do they start to eat it than some stranger tries to take it away from them! A complete stranger tries to hug them and puts them through all their paces to assess whether they are aggressive, friendly or whether they have any other issues that may or may not make them adoptable. If somebody I didn’t know came up to me when I was stressed and unsure and tried to hug me or take something off me that I had just been given, rest assured I wouldn’t be relaxed and comfortable about it and if I was a dog it’s damn well guaranteed I would bite them. Whilst all of this is going on, the poor dog is giving off signals to try and get the human to back off. Some signs of stress in a dog are:

1.Sweaty paw prints – They will actually leave paw marks behind if on a tiled or concrete floor.

2.Shake-off – They will suddenly shake themselves for no apparent reason, sometimes after or before a sneeze.

3.Tail between their legs – We should all know this one.

4.Tap-out – This is similar to a roll over (to have a belly rub), but it’s much slower and gradual, generally starting from one end or the other, whereas a roll over is more like a fast flip done through excitement.

5.Hair loss – They will suddenly start moulting and fur will be flying off wherever they are touched.

6.Urogenital checkout – This is when suddenly and completely out of context they will start sniffing, looking and licking their genital area, almost as if checking to make sure everything is still in place.

These are just a few of the signals that a stressed dog will use to ask the assessor to back off, which are generally missed due to lack of training, or ignored because they don’t have time to work those issues out. Unfortunately a lot of the people assessing these dogs are not really qualified as trainers and therefore should not be assessing these dogs.

A lot of dogs lose their lives because of lack of knowledge by the assessors who don’t understand the stress that the dog is under or the signals that the dog is giving out. The dog is trying everything polite within his knowledge to ask the assessor to back off, but the assessor is missing these signals and just keeps forcing the issue, until the poor soul feels he has no alternative than to bite the hand that is terrorising him.

If a qualified trainer was brought in to assess these dogs then they would be able to read and train these dogs so that they could be adopted and a lot more lives could be saved. But until the people in power realise that IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS these poor souls will continue to be misjudged and to lose their lives through the ineptness and ignorance of people.

to Josephine, I didnt delete any comments, I checked and it shows no past comments deleted from you. I know very well what goes on in shelters, having worked in them for years. You dont have to tell me. The worst thing I saw was a woman bring in a dog she said was a stray. She filled in the paper work saying where she found it and so forth. I noticed it had a collar and tags so while she was filling this out I ran the tags through the computer. It showed that her daughter was the owner. Even confronted with this she denied it. Finally I had to explain that the more info we have on a dog the better we can help it and she admitted the dog was her daughters but her daughter stopped caring for it. I also know many happy stories. Blame the public for not being a good owner - not being commited to the LIFETIME responsibility of pet ownership. Blame people who do not spay or neuter. Dont come here and tell me to get educated when you have no idea on my experiences based on one tiny article.

wow! heated comments, but increases awareness.

Your knowledge is appreciated.

The only experts on no-kill animal sheltering are those who have achieved it. No kill shelters that follow the No Kill Equation are examples that others can follow to achieve similar results. There are now almost 100 open-admission no-kill shelters in the USA. I think Austin, Texas is currently the largest example. They are in all sorts of communities, large, small, rural, urban, well-off, poor.

The difference of a true no-kill community and a traditional community starts with being open and honest. This starts with defining euthanasia as being used ONLY for animals that are irredeemably suffering or who are vicious and a danger to the public. Taking the lives of animals due to space limitations is not euthanasia but is killing.

True no kill shelters must be transparent with their data. Any animals that are euthanized while in their care affect their live release rate. While some shelters have had months with 100 percent live release rate there will be times that animals are not saveable due to their condition or temperament. The No Kill Advocacy Center seeks to standardize the way records are kept. While 90 percent live release rate is the minimum, 95 percent or higher has been achieved.

Only those who are familiar with successful no-kill communities can be an expert about them. The real experts are the people in those communities working to achieve what they have.

Did you know the Nova Scotia SPCA started implementing the No Kill Equation a few years ago? If they keep at it they could be Canada\'s first no-kill province. In some of the communities they operate more like a rescue group if they don\'t have a physical animal shelter.

It\'s helpful to understand the history behind animal control and sheltering. This video is a trailer for \"The No Kill Revolution in America\" - http://vimeo.com/48445902Traditional models of animal control and sheltering have never lead to creating a no-kill community. They think that that\'s the way things are. But they can change and be the example to show that pets are not disposable. That is why it\'s worthwhile to look to successful examples that use the comprehensive approach.

\" [Dr. Ellen] Jefferson — ...reactivated Austin Pets Alive, a group dedicated in 1997 to saving more shelter animals, 50 percent of which were being killed.

Austin Pets Alive, in concert with scores of smaller rescue groups, has, by targeting specific animal groups, put the Austin save rate above 90 percent, the only large city in the country to do so.

Jefferson, whose group now works from the old shelter as well as pop-up adoption centers, believes the save rate can be driven up to an almost inconceivable 98 percent.\"

Read more on - http://www.austin360.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/outandabout/entries/2012/12/07/profile_ellen_j.html/

If someone doesn\'t want to learn about this, I have to wonder why. Even if they save 25 percent more pets than previous years, what\'s wrong with that?

More info resources to help achieve success - Maddie\'s Institute articles, data and webinars- http://www.maddiesfund.org/Maddies_Institute.html

Brent Toellner is the president of the KC Pet Project, a non-profit, open admission animal shelter with the animal control contract for Kansas City, Missouri. They are working to put the NKE in place. He also blogs about no-kill and barriers to achieveing it - http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/ .

If the worst thing you\'ve seen in animal sheltering are a few people bringing in their pets and claiming they were strays, then you might be in for some huge shocks.

I suggest checking out this blog, especially the parts about Memphis Animal Services when they were using security cameras to stream live images to the Internet. http://yesbiscuit.wordpress.com/ .

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