dog poundTwo decades ago, the concept of a No Kill community was little more than a dream. Today, it is a reality in many cities and counties nationwide and the numbers continue to grow. And the first step is a decision, a commitment to reject the kill-oriented failures of the past. No Kill starts as an act of will. The next step involves putting in place the infrastructure to save lives.

Following a commitment to No Kill is the need for accountability. Accountability means having clear definitions, a lifesaving plan, and protocols and procedure oriented toward preserving life. But accountability also allows, indeed requires, flexibility. Too many shelters lose sight of this principle, staying rigid with shelter protocols, believing these are engraved in stone. They are not. Protocols are important because they ensure accountability from staff. But protocols without flexibility can have the opposite effect: stifling innovation, causing lives to be needlessly lost, and allowing shelter employees who fail to save lives to hide behind a paper trail. The decision to end an animal’s life is an extremely serious one, and should always be treated as such. No matter how many animals a shelter kills, each and every animal is an individual, and each deserves individual consideration.

And finally, to meet the challenge that No Kill entails, shelter leadership needs to get the community excited, to energize people for the task at hand. By working with people, implementing lifesaving programs, and treating each life as precious, a shelter can transform a community.

There are communities in the United States that have eliminated population control killing. We want—and the animals deserve—No Kill in every city in the country. But it requires shelter leaders committed to these goals and embarking on a campaign of diligent implementation. That is where we must focus our efforts at reform. Only the No Kill Equation model has achieved this success. It is a program model which changes the way shelters operate and which gives the animal loving public an integral role in that operation. If a community wants success, this is the way to go: nothing else has succeeded.

No Kill shelters can be public or private, large or small, humane societies or municipal agencies. A No Kill shelter can be either “limited admission” or “open admission.” And there are plenty of No Kill animal control shelters and thus No Kill communities which prove it. An “open admission” shelter does not have to—and should not—be an open door to the killing of animals. In fact, using the term “open admission” for kill shelters is misleading. Kill shelters are closed to people who love animals. They are closed to people who might have lost their job or lost their home but do not want their animals to die. They are closed to Good Samaritans who find animals but do not want them killed. They are closed to animal lovers who want to help save lives but will not be silent in the face of needless killing. And so they turn these people and their animals away, refusing to provide to them the service they are being paid to perform.

For a description of the programs of the No Kill Equation and how shelters should implement them, click here.

For our No Kill matrix of treatable medical conditions, click here.

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