I read a recent news article that made me stop and say, “What??!” The story was a plea for foster homes so that a no-kill animal shelter could take in puppies and dogs from high kill shelters in other areas of the country, mainly the South. While you may think this sounds wonderful, just wait. There’s more to this story.

This shelter used to be a high kill shelter, serving a large county. They had a very bad reputation for killing a lot of animals. Due to immense community pressure, they decided to become no-kill. Okay, that made many people happy and sounds good still. Now here’s the problem. When this shelter went no-kill, it closed its doors to the county’s large number of stray animals. So that forced the county to find another shelter to take their strays. The county contracted with a neighboring county’s shelter to take in the strays. Still sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. What’s the saying, “Stuff flows downhill”? Indeed it did in this case. The county shelter now taking in the strays are doing the killing. The bottom line, no fewer animals are dying, they are just going somewhere else and the blood is on someone else’s hands. Now this other county’s shelter has been the subject of community outrage. As a result of public pressure and involvement from a senator, they have hired a new executive staff and replaced most board members. Let’s hope they stop this cycle of nonsense.

Which brings us back to the article. This shelter who no longer accepts their own county’s stray animals and has passed the killing over to another county’s shelter is bringing more animals into the area which already had too many animals. Again, I say “WHAT??!!!” Why aren’t they helping the animals that came from their own county first? Or are these animals out of sight, out of mind and it’s now another county’s problem? Why are the animals in other states more deserving than those in their own backyard?

This scenario is truly a case of getting the no-kill philosophy totally wrong. It’s not enough for a shelter to just declare that it’s no-kill. The animals have to go somewhere. A true no-kill philosophy is multi-dimensional. It demands that the shelter work with the community to increase humane education, make spay and neuter more accessible and affordable, work with the government to change and enforce laws, and develop a huge network of adoptive and foster homes.

One thing that everyone needs to understand, no-kill must be a community goal, not just the declaration of one shelter. Unless it is supported by the efforts of many, the animals will only be passed along somewhere else and the killing really isn’t stopped. It’s just being rerouted. If you are donating to a no-kill shelter, find out where the strays in the community are going. If they are going to a kill shelter somewhere else, then the no-kill shelter is simply not doing their job.

It’s time for this country to overhaul our animal sheltering system. It starts with us!