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Until recently, I had no idea that an open-door, no-kill shelter existed. I was under the false impression that there are just too many dogs and cats out there and not enough homes. After volunteering at my city shelter, and seeing how well it does with volunteer programs, fostering, and off-site adoptions, I started wondering why all shelters do not implement these types of programs.

I called my county shelter, and asked if they had a foster program. The girl who answered the phone DID NOT KNOW THE ANSWER TO MY QUESTION. Shes said "why? do have an animal that needs to be fostered?"

I said "no, I am currently fostering for the city shelter, and I am offering my services to you. I want to help." she put me on hold, and came back to tell me that I had to be some type of non-profit in order to foster. (I'm assuming that means I need to be a rescue)

So here I am, offering to take an animal from them, that will otherwise be put to death, and they say no. They would rather kill a cat, than let a concerned animal lover take over their care.

This raised a lot of questions for me, and those questions led me to this book:

Amazon.com: Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America (9780979074301): Nathan J. Winograd: Books

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

It talks about the history of animal shelters and animal welfare organizations in the U.S., and how they have continued to fail in the fight against "pet overpopulation" - it places the blame on the shelters themselves, instead of blaming the public. It proves that the "no kill equation" can work in big urban cities, and small rural towns alike- with the implementation of programs including, fostering, volunteering, off-site adoptions, T-N-R, low-cost spay/neuter, extended shelter hours, etc. Basically taking a pro-active approach to adoptions instead of blaming the public for being irresponsible, giving into defeat, and killing millions of homeless, adoptable pets each year. It also talks about the bureaucracy involved and how many of the big animal welfare organizations are not embracing this equation, even though it has been proven to be extremely successful.

The number one cause of death in companion animals in the united states is shelter killing!

I don't know why this fact surprised me, but this has been one of those things that is just accepted because its the way it has always been, and its time to change.
 

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I think it's very important to understand that while "no kill" sounds good, these shelters are not "no-turn-away." For every cat they take in and foster out, there are many thousand they cannot take. Where do THOSE cats go? The kill shelters. There are NOT enough homes for them all, period. The book you cite is highly controversial--don't believe everything you read.

When I take in a rescue, I work hard to get the cat/dog into a no kill shelter for obvious reasons. But when I adopt from a shelter, or when I recommend that someone else do so, I always try to go w/ the kill shelters first. The great majority of the animals who enter kill shelters will not get out. This is not b/c the people there don't care. It's b/c they are usually under-funded, under-staffed, and under-supported.

There are good reasons why the municipal shelter can't foster animals with you--they can't risk law suits. Most muni shelters work w/ several outside rescue groups/no-kills shelters, so find out which ones work w/ your shelter and offer your services to them. The muni shelter then turns over the chosen animals to the no-kill and the no-kill then fosters them out. Around here, even the EXTREMELY underfunded rural shelter in my county has a great rescue group that works with them. They foster out animals, post their photos on FB, etc.
 

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I have had several dealings with my local county shelter over the last few years trying to adopt a dog and a cat on different occasions. I have always found the employees to be the weakest link, from not knowing what they're talking about to actually discouraging me from adopting a particular animal. They also seem to be weighed down by rules and red tape, like when I went there to adopt a dog who was about to be put down, I was told he wasn't available because they didn't have the funds to "proccess" him, which I gathered meant vet and neuter, so I offered them money in advance and they couldn't take it. Apparantly they have a whole slew of dogs that they can't proccess that they make available to rescues only. The dog in question is asleep on my bed right now. A rescue pulled him last minute and I adopted him from them a week later, paying much less than I would have if I had paid the shelter for his vetting. Good for me, but imo this also puts a burden on rescues.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think it's very important to understand that while "no kill" sounds good, these shelters are not "no-turn-away." For every cat they take in and foster out, there are many thousand they cannot take. Where do THOSE cats go? The kill shelters. There are NOT enough homes for them all, period. The book you cite is highly controversial--don't believe everything you read.

When I take in a rescue, I work hard to get the cat/dog into a no kill shelter for obvious reasons. But when I adopt from a shelter, or when I recommend that someone else do so, I always try to go w/ the kill shelters first. The great majority of the animals who enter kill shelters will not get out. This is not b/c the people there don't care. It's b/c they are usually under-funded, under-staffed, and under-supported.

There are good reasons why the municipal shelter can't foster animals with you--they can't risk law suits. Most muni shelters work w/ several outside rescue groups/no-kills shelters, so find out which ones work w/ your shelter and offer your services to them. The muni shelter then turns over the chosen animals to the no-kill and the no-kill then fosters them out. Around here, even the EXTREMELY underfunded rural shelter in my county has a great rescue group that works with them. They foster out animals, post their photos on FB, etc.
Have you read the book? I don't believe everything I read. I know that most "no-kill" shelters are not open door. The author states that he succesfully ran an SPCA in San Fransisco, that saved every healthy dog and cat that ended up at animal control. Are you saying that this didn't happen?

One of the things that needs to change is the legal red tape that keeps them from fostering and allowing volunteers. My city shelter has reformed by Instead of just being "animal control" they split into two seperate entities. One is animal control, and one is a non-profit rescue. THis way anyone can volunteer and foster directly from them. This way they take in private donations, and that money goes directly to rescuing the animals. 10 years ago, this shelter most likely used the excuse that it is "under-funded, under-staffed, and under-supported" .....now they have new leadership and, while they are not no-kill, they are employing many of the strategies outlined in the "no-kill equation", and have been extremely sucessful. Btw this is Baltimore city I am talking about-a low-income, high crime city.

The story is here if you want to read it.

History |


My county shelter does not have a facebook page. They don't always answer their phones during business hours. They kill ear-tipped cats. Someone who runs a very successful local cat rescue refers to this shelter as "**** on earth". And this is Baltimore county shelter, which is located in a high-income neighborhood. A neighborhood where I grew up, and a shelter that I drove by everyday on the way to school. It is cold, and not inviting to say the least. We adopted cats from there, but I can see why people would rather buy a cat or dog elsewhere rather than enter this building. The first time I went there I was in tears. I have heard other people say it is just "too hard" to go there. This is the type of place that I am talking about that needs to change. And if the laws are keeping them from change, we as a community need to work to change those laws.
 

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I use to work at a no-kill shelter and they are not as good as people think. As previously mentioned, even though they are no kill they still refuse lots of animals. Those animals are then brought to the high volume shelter and are most of the time put down.

The shelter I worked at was under staffed, under paid and most were unqualified. I have no formal training yet I knew more than the vet techs. They didn't seem to care at all. I had to point out several animals that were sick and they always said ya ya ya and didn't look at that animal for weeks. Most of the staff don't care so the animals are neglected. I actually got in trouble for giving cats love and affection. I left after 4 months, I couldn't stand it anymore. There are feral cats there that are hiding in the backs of their cage for years with no one paying attention to them. They don't put them on foster cause they are too wild bit won't put them down so they sit there and take up space making them refuse adoptable animals. Cats arnt pulled by rescues at that shelter they only take from high volume shelters. Breed specific dog rescues take from there occasionally but not often.

They take donations there but through most out and only feed science diet dry. They only feed the wet version if they don't eat for 2 days and all the good quality wet is left sitting until it expires or donated to other rescues(not all the time). When I fed I would feed good stuff but got in trouble for not using science diet since they said that was the best food on the market(hahahaha).
 

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I think it's very important to understand that while "no kill" sounds good, these shelters are not "no-turn-away." For every cat they take in and foster out, there are many thousand they cannot take. Where do THOSE cats go? The kill shelters. There are NOT enough homes for them all, period.
This isn't exactly true. Maybe your area is high-kill, but not all places.

I live in a city with over a million people, and the shelter has never been filled to capacity (since a large renovation in 1988.) No animal has been put down to "make space" in at least that long. The program is so successful and internationally recognized that we're starting to have a problem with people importing pets internationally - from Afghanistan and California, among other places - to save them, and risking new introduction of deseases. And it's all paid for by pet owners, pet fines, and licensing fees.

I haven't read the book in question, but there's no point having a defeatest attitude about it. I've seen first-hand that it's possible, and there aren't just "not enough homes for them all, period." I've seen first-hand the benefits that a little education and smart shelter management can go.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I realize that there are different struggles that each shelter faces, I am merely putting this information out there to make people aware of what works to save lives. I am not saying that "no-kill" shelters are the miracle cure. I am saying that this "no-kill equation" works. And that everyone should fight the good fight.
 

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I haven't read the book in question, but there's no point having a defeatest attitude about it.
Took the words out of my mouth.

I don't live in an area with stray dogs, that type of thing is only seen on reservations in this province... and maybe it's for other reasons like "not enough homes" and "not enough space" in some areas, or maybe shelters around here do not have high euthanasia rates along with programs pulling animals from high-kill shelters in the USA and Asia as well (and the shelter in my city is no-kill along with housing the largest cat sanctuary in North America) because the city has outlawed the selling of dogs in pet stores, that the city has made it mandatory to spay and neuter animals, and no cat or dog leaves the shelter unaltered, that there are low cost spay and neuter programs for those that can't afford this (as well as large donation drives to support this), and most recently a vet is willing to do work for free once a week at the cat sanctuary... slowly, all these things add up.

I understand that in rural areas this is much harder to implement, but I still wouldn't write it all off as a pipe dream. It all starts somewhere. Maybe rural areas wouldn't be able to adopt the exact same methods, but seeing as no shelter wants to euthanize animals - people aren't heartless - they should be able to get past some of the red tape and attempt adopting some of these proven methods instead of staying it's hopeless from the get-go.

I use to work at a no-kill shelter and they are not as good as people think. As previously mentioned, even though they are no kill they still refuse lots of animals. Those animals are then brought to the high volume shelter and are most of the time put down.

...

They take donations there but through most out and only feed science diet dry. They only feed the wet version if they don't eat for 2 days and all the good quality wet is left sitting until it expires or donated to other rescues(not all the time). When I fed I would feed good stuff but got in trouble for not using science diet since they said that was the best food on the market(hahahaha).
Any shelter, no-kill or high-kill can be poorly run and have uneducated staff.

Some no-kill shelters turn away after a certain limit of animals, others don't. Perhaps the ones that do are in areas that haven't caught up to their no-kill way of thinking, there's no doubt no-kill is a harder goal to work towards and will take more work to establish.

Also, criticizing food is really a minor thing. The cats are alive, and frankly, plenty of cats live to an old age that sort of food. Not every cat is going to be eating EVO and other grain free products, shelter or no. If shelters didn't adopt out to people on lower income and those that will be feeding lower quality food a heck of a lot more cats would be euthanized every year. I'd choose the lower quality food and a home than euthanasia any day.
 

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Any shelter, no-kill or high-kill can be poorly run and have uneducated staff.

Some no-kill shelters turn away after a certain limit of animals, others don't. Perhaps the ones that do are in areas that haven't caught up to their no-kill way of thinking, there's no doubt no-kill is a harder goal to work towards and will take more work to establish.

Also, criticizing food is really a minor thing. The cats are alive, and frankly, plenty of cats live to an old age that sort of food. Not every cat is going to be eating EVO and other grain free products, shelter or no. If shelters didn't adopt out to people on lower income and those that will be feeding lower quality food a heck of a lot more cats would be euthanized every year. I'd choose the lower quality food and a home than euthanasia any day.
This is true. I was just describing the one I was at an saying that they don't act in the animals best interest. There are lots of rescue groups that want to pull animals from there but they refuse. There is only one dog behaviourist and she is part time so the dogs who need it don't benefit at all and spend years in the small cages obviously not improving.

About the food, yes I know the food thing is minor... I made the wrong point. I was trying to say that there is readily good quality food donated everyday but instead of using it on the cats there they let it sit and expire then throw it out vs feeding it to the cats. Tons of cats there have urinary issues and it's no wonder. They also brainwash staff/adopters in keeping them on science diet for life. Most of the adopters are uneducated so that is what they feed. Everyone I worked with there fed their own animals that.... It's not like it's cheap in price either.
 

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Science Diet donates food to shelters and rescues. Either that or they have a contract where they provide shelters with food for a low-cost. Im not really sure, but every rescue and shelter I have ever been involved with, feeds Science Diet. Honsestly, I believe that this is just another way for Hill's to make money by getting new customers. If they were truly concerned with animal welfare, they would work on making a better product. Luckily, my city shelter actually tells adopters that its not a good food and there are better options out there. They suggest wellness and blue buffallo brand, even though they give out a free bag of Science diet with every adopted animal. The problem with donated foods, is that it is inconsistent. They can't just feed the animals whatever is donated, because then they would have animals getting sick from the changes. Unless they ask for specific brands- but that doesnt sound like the case since they are letting it expire....

It sounds like you were involved with a very poorly run organization. You shouldnt generalize that all no-kill shelters are fun the same way. That is obviously not true.
 

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Five of my cats and my dog all came from shelters where they only euthanise for medical reasons. My local authority has also gone over to the same policy for dogs picked up by the dog warden (unless there are seriously dangerous - a hard thing to judge). I have visited the cat shelter as a supporter as well as a potential adopter and I have never failed to be impressed by the individual care and attention given to the cats and by the advice regarding suitability given to would-be adopters. Of course they get full, but please don't assume that equates with them being badly run. IN this instance, at least it would be far from the truth.
 

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One of the things that needs to change is the legal red tape that keeps them from fostering and allowing volunteers. My city shelter has reformed by Instead of just being "animal control" they split into two seperate entities. One is animal control, and one is a non-profit rescue. THis way anyone can volunteer and foster directly from them. This way they take in private donations, and that money goes directly to rescuing the animals. 10 years ago, this shelter most likely used the excuse that it is "under-funded, under-staffed, and under-supported" .....now they have new leadership and, while they are not no-kill, they are employing many of the strategies outlined in the "no-kill equation", and have been extremely sucessful. Btw this is Baltimore city I am talking about-a low-income, high crime city.

The story is here if you want to read it.

History |
This was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing! It all comes down to money in the end. Baltimore was successful creating that division between the municipality and an NPO. Calgary's animal services have always been run in tandem with Bylaw enforcement (things like parking passes, noise complaints, that sort of thing.) Instead of relying on donations, the city enforces annual licensing fees for animals. Incentives are in place; I know Io's registration is $10/year because she's spayed, it's much much higher for intact animals or animals that have been previously labelled a "nuisance." Dog fees are $50/year, and with over 100,000 dogs registered, you're looking at a lot of money to put back into the program.

That Baltimore and Calgary can both be so successful using totally different approaches, I think is proof that there are sustainable models and that high-kill, overcrowded shelters isn't an insurmountable, inevitable problem. Like diet and vaccinations, I think we are seeing a shift in how animal companions are perceived, and all it takes is a bit more education (and business savvy) before every place could boast numbers like Calgary and Baltimore. :D
 

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There are a lot of long replies in this thread so I only read the first few none of which told me what The World's Best Cat Vet told me. "There is no such thing as a no-kill shelter". They'll ship cats off to a kill shelter.
 

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I disagree with your vet - world's best or not. There are shelters that only kill for medical reasons. The cat shelter I ahve mentioned take cats from other organisations that don't ahve a no-kill policy - including the RSPCA - but don't send any to other shelters.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There are a lot of long replies in this thread so I only read the first few none of which told me what The World's Best Cat Vet told me. "There is no such thing as a no-kill shelter". They'll ship cats off to a kill shelter.
I am aware of the fact that many no-kill shelters turn animals away and they end up at kill shelters. I thought I made that clear-the book that I mention in this thread was written by a man who successfully ran two no-kill shelters, and neither of them turned away any animals. I feel like some people arent really reading my thread(obviously, you just said you didnt) or i'm not communicating effectively. I am discussing specifically the "no-kill equation" presented in his book. He proved that you can run no-kill shelters that do not turn any animals away.

Maybe your vet is the best in the world, but does that mean that he/she is up to date on most recent movements regarding animal rescue? And blindly following another's point of view is a dangerous move in any regard. No matter who that person is.
 

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This was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing! It all comes down to money in the end. Baltimore was successful creating that division between the municipality and an NPO. Calgary's animal services have always been run in tandem with Bylaw enforcement (things like parking passes, noise complaints, that sort of thing.) Instead of relying on donations, the city enforces annual licensing fees for animals. Incentives are in place; I know Io's registration is $10/year because she's spayed, it's much much higher for intact animals or animals that have been previously labelled a "nuisance." Dog fees are $50/year, and with over 100,000 dogs registered, you're looking at a lot of money to put back into the program.

That Baltimore and Calgary can both be so successful using totally different approaches, I think is proof that there are sustainable models and that high-kill, overcrowded shelters isn't an insurmountable, inevitable problem. Like diet and vaccinations, I think we are seeing a shift in how animal companions are perceived, and all it takes is a bit more education (and business savvy) before every place could boast numbers like Calgary and Baltimore. :D

Yes, money is a big part of it- Although we have pretty much the same thing in place regarding licenses. $10 for a dog or cat, more if it is not spayed/neutered. In the book it actually discusses how animal licenses can be a bad thing- mostly relating to feral cats. Since feral cats can't wear a tag and don't really "belong" to anyone, they are killed. Even though it has been proven that TNR programs are more effective at lowering feral cat populations than just rounding them up and killing them. This is one area that Baltimore needs to improve. In the city, it is illegal to have an unlicensed, unleashed animal, which is a death sentence for feral cats. I agree that traditional ways of thinking are changing regarding homeless pets, and it seems like common sense almost- why have we continued to do the same thing, when it has never worked in the past?


Do you know what Calgary's policy is regarding ferals?
 

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I am aware of the fact that many no-kill shelters turn animals away and they end up at kill shelters. I thought I made that clear-the book that I mention in this thread was written by a man who successfully ran two no-kill shelters, and neither of them turned away any animals. I feel like some people arent really reading my thread(obviously, you just said you didnt) or i'm not communicating effectively. I am discussing specifically the "no-kill equation" presented in his book. He proved that you can run no-kill shelters that do not turn any animals away.

Maybe your vet is the best in the world, but does that mean that he/she is up to date on most recent movements regarding animal rescue? And blindly following another's point of view is a dangerous move in any regard. No matter who that person is.
I read your first post. Just not all the replies.

Yep TWBCV is up on everything cats. She's a Board Certified Cat Nut. Her opinion is at least as good as the authors

If you read closely I think you'll find the no-kill shelters also have policies that they'll pass on a cat that becomes ill or reacts badly to being confined
 

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I read your first post. Just not all the replies.

Yep TWBCV is up on everything cats. She's a Board Certified Cat Nut. Her opinion is at least as good as the authors

If you read closely I think you'll find the no-kill shelters also have policies that they'll pass on a cat that becomes ill or reacts badly to being confined
I'm not talking about those no-kill shelters. I am talking specifically about the no-kill equation outlined in the book and how it can save lives and transform the traditional practices of many shelters accross the country.
 

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If you read closely I think you'll find the no-kill shelters also have policies that they'll pass on a cat that becomes ill or reacts badly to being confined
Not the one I have been talking about - they will euthanise when health demands it but NEVER pass a cat along to any other organisation.

Not all of their cats are available for general adoption - some, for example, are only available as barn cats.

Some that I know that were "unadoptable" because various reasons are living with them years afterwards - quite a few of them inside their house. My Oz was the only one of the litter he came from who wasn't left damaged by the seere cat flu they had when first picked up. His siblings (one brain damaged but very happy and the other with heart problems) are both with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I simply don't believe that what works in crunchy San Fran, with it's highly educated and highly paid population, can have even a HOPE of working in rural TN or even larger cities in the south or much of the midwest. Those who think that it can need to spend a week or so around here. :(
I have never been to Tenessee, and I admit I have no idea what the situation is like where you live. It does sound as though the current policy is not working, wouldn't you agree? If there are stray dogs everywhere, the current animal control policies are failing horribly. THis equation offers new solutions, wouldn't it be worth it to try?
 
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