What is No-Kill?

The No-Kill Movement

A no-kill shelter is generally defined as a shelter which rejects euthanasia as a form of population control, euthanizing animals only when they are too sick to be treated, or too aggressive to be adopted. Although this certainly is a step in the right direction for the animals, this general mentality still leaves much room for improvement in our shelter system.

No-Kill United believes quality of life is important, for all beings. If an animal is terminally ill and suffering severely with zero hope of improvement, then yes, maybe we should help end this suffering. Maybe that is the humane thing to do for a life which has lost all quality which cannot be redeemed. The part which No-Kill United questions is the temperament loophole of the no-kill movement.

Euthanizing an animal strictly due to it being too aggressive to be adopted really feels like just another form of population control killing. They're suddenly in a shelter. It's cold. There are loud noises, lots of movement and strange smells everywhere. Nobody knows what is happening to them, or what is going to happen next. Shelters are a scary environment. Animals at shelters are often stressed out and don't understand what is going on. Some may feel the need to get defensive because of this. They may feel need to protect themselves and to watch out for themselves. Obviously somebody had already failed them once before, or they wouldn't be at the shelter. So there may be trust issues. Maybe (and often) some of them were severely beaten by people their whole lives. Who's to say this new stranger won't do the same? Some animals end up at a shelter because the person they've spent their whole life with died. Those animals knew love. And now they're suddenly in a cold, strange place with no idea of what is going to happen to them next. And yes, maybe some of the animals just plain want to bite and claw and whatever else.

Why are we using the reactions, instincts and tendencies to place a death sentence upon these animals? Are they irreversibly degenerative in their conditions? Has a dog or cat or goat lost all quality of life because it wants to bite a person or another animal? Are they suffering severe, chronic pain, irreversible due to their aggression? Does everybody have to all get along in order to live? Or do we still just not always take the time to save a life in need of our help?

In my time volunteering at no-kill shelters, I've known more than a dozen dogs which 99% of shelters out there would have killed in the first few minutes of their arrival due to being too aggressive to be adopted. I've met these dogs. Fed these dogs. Played with them. Grabbed some of them and tackled them. And I've received nothing but kisses, love and joy back from them. Some of these dogs have since been adopted. Some are growing old at their shelters. Maybe someday they'll be adopted. Maybe not. But they're alive. No matter how few friends some of them have, they still have friends which bring them joy and happiness and something to worth living for...and they're ALIVE. The spirit is in their eye. They WANT to live. They WANT to be ALIVE.

Not everybody has to get along in order to be happy and to live. Some may get more socialized and accepting of others. Maybe someday they'll get adopted into a caring, loving home. Maybe some of the more discerning animals will someday find that just right home they were always meant for. Maybe some of them are lifers. Maybe they'll never get adopted and spend their entire lives at the shelter because we never find them they're right fit. Is that really reason enough to take a life? "But what sort of life can an animal have, living at a shelter?" It can still have a wonderful life, even if it's spent in its entirety at a shelter.

We need to help our local no-kill shelters grow, flourish and evolve into truly wonderful sanctuaries which are not cold, sad places where even people get depressed when they think about them. We need to help them become more like homes for the animals. We need to help our shelters became warm, comforting places for those whom others have already let down so severely.

We also need to do what we can to help other shelters become no-kill shelters. Show them it works. Show them why it works. Show them how it works. And if there is no progress to help the animals into a better situation, then we need to change who is in charge of those facilities and replace them with people who are truly interested in the welfare and quality of life of these beings.

Support your local animal shelter and the no-kill movement.

- Anthony