Coincidentally, this past week two people have told me that they would only adopt a pet at a no-kill animal shelter, not wanting to support any shelter that euthanizes animals.  I was thrilled that they want to adopt from a shelter instead of buying because, this same week, a friend asked me where she could find a breeder to get a specific breed of puppy.  I was disappointed that she wouldn’t consider adopting and also dumbfounded that she would think I would know this information, given my deep commitment with rescuing homeless pets and… she knows about the book I’m publishing on puppy mills.  But that’s a different topic.  Let’s return to the facts about no-kill shelters. (For clarification, I’m talking about shelters, not rescue organizations which are entirely different – yet another topic for another time!)

On the surface, no-kill shelters sound wonderful.  Pets are rarely euthanized at these shelters.  What the unsuspecting public does not know is that these shelters turn away pets.  They can only house a limited number of pets and when they are full, they must refuse to accept any more.  So where do these unwanted, turned-away pets go?  To the “kill shelters,” the shelters that some people criticize and want to avoid because they are killing animals. But the huge number of unwanted pets needs to go somewhere.

In my humble opinion, the kill shelters need our help as much, if not more, as the no-kills.  Why?

  1. No-kills will generally keep pets forever once they are admitted.  Some never leave because they may be unadoptable for certain reasons. They’re safe forever.
  2. No-kills tend to receive more donations because people perceive them as being more humane and better than kill shelters. People judge kill shelters as cruel and may be less likely to support them as a result. Rachael Ray held a contest last year to give a grant to a shelter and she excluded kill shelters from qualification.
  3. The kill shelters are doing the dirty work; most of them hold the animal control contracts for their areas which means that they are picking up strays, taking in owner surrenders and responding to cases such as animal hoarding, dog fighting and illegal kennels.
  4. The kill shelters see the worst of the worst of mankind’s inhumanity to our fellow creatures. The employees are over-worked, under-paid and often angry and depressed from continually dealing with people who hurt or discard animals that the staff so dearly loves.

The bottom line: Both kill shelters and no-kill shelters need our support because they are all trying to help animals.  One is not better than the other.  Remember to adopt, volunteer and donate locally.