Going No Kill – Do We Have What it Takes?

by Mary Haight on September 20, 2010

A ChicagoNow blogger Chris Dignan had asked me in a comment if I thought it was possible to go no-kill in Chicago, given the 25,000 animals dumped at Animal Care and Control yearly.  Some have expressed disbelief in the possibility. Even though a small percentage of animals will be euthanized for mental/physical health, or other compassionate reasons, when a city eventually hits equilibrium through proven best practices, and adoptable (treatable, rehabilitatable) pets are no longer being killed at the local ACC, you’ve got success.  Here’s a recent report from Australia’s Saving Pets:

Austin, Texas has its highest save rate in August ever, thanks to the firing of the ASPCA-backed director and the move toward a No Kill Equation-based system: almost 8 out of 10 animals were saved.

The Nevada Humane Society is breaking its own adoption records by doing the same.

A shelter director in Australia which was saving 93% of all dogs and saved all baby kittens this year in the Australian Capital Territory takes over the shelter system in Tasmania, immediately dropping the kill rate by 38%.

And an open admission shelter in New Zealand is on track to finish the year with a stunning 99% rate of lifesaving.

The answer is yes, and there’s already a successful working model – no wheel reinvention necessary. To clarify, no kill does not mean never kill. It’s not a religious movement.  It is a serious program that has worked in municipal and other high kill rate shelters in the US and abroad – that’s what makes it noteworthy. Yes, it can be done, and it does “take a village”.  Here’s a short video by Brie of Paws4Change showing the elements that make it work:

One item not mentioned in this formula but which can be useful is Sanctuary placement. While not something any group should rely on given the space considerations for sanctuaries, it can be very helpful to develop a supportive relationship with several in your area. 

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