Is no kill a numbers game?

Is no-kill animal sheltering a numbers game? To put that question in perspective, let’s think about when we set financial goals or health goals. We define what success will look like by aiming for a specific place that we hope to be in the future, and we work towards that. Ending the killing of companion animals in animal shelters just like reducing our debt, increasing our savings, losing weight or gaining muscle for example, requires measurement and monitoring our numbers. We even use apps, spreadsheets and scales that help us track our progress.

Approaching animal sheltering from a business perspective makes a whole lot of sense when you agree that lifesaving animal services is just as important as any other service we enjoy as a civilized and humane society. It’s a field that has been under resourced and ignored for over a century. Instead of having bake sales and begging for supplies or justifying our need for resources, we should frame our needs and approach our operations squarely from a business perspective.

Why would we expect anyone to give us these resources or funds without the specific performance metrics to go along with the request? Because ending the killing of animals is the most important goal, it needs to be the benchmark by which we measure success, both internally and externally. This benchmark accompanies other important metrics that are reported and tracked regularly as well. Metrics such as, but not limited to: quality of care, length of stay, kept with families, return to owners, transfer to rescues, adopted out, euthanized, and returned to the community.

As a 30-year veteran of municipal service, I am concerned about the recent efforts being made under the guise of “socially conscious sheltering” to confuse and dissuade municipalities and communities away from setting clear and specific save rate goals with associated timelines for ending the killing of companion animals as soon as possible.

The anti no kill messaging coming from socially conscious sheltering must be from people who are unfamiliar with what no kill animal sheltering actually looks like firsthand because the eight Tenets of Socially Conscious Sheltering are not contrary to the No Kill Animal Sheltering Definition: The main difference between the two is that no kill animal sheltering sets a specific goal and timeline of reaching 90% or better as a save rate.

        Defining feature

  No Kill Animal Sheltering

Socially Conscious     Sheltering

Establishes a Save Rate Goal of 90% or better

                       X

 

Place every single healthy animal

                       X

                     X

Ensure every unwanted or homeless pet has a safe place to go for shelter and care

                       X

                     X

Assess the medical and behavioral needs of homeless animals and ensure these needs are thoughtfully addressed

                       X

                     X

Align shelter policy with the needs of the community

                        X

                     X

Alleviate suffering and make appropriate euthanasia decisions

                        X

                     X

Enhance the human-animal bond through safe placements and post adoption support

                        X

                     X

Consider the health, wellness and safety of animals for each community when transferring animals

                        X

                      X

Foster a culture of transparency, ethical decision making, mutual respect, continual learning and collaboration

                         X

                       X

No kill is a community ethic and no kill animal sheltering is a commitment to finding live outcomes for all healthy, treatable and rehabilitatable companion animals. Humane euthanasia is always the last resort after all other options have been exhausted. Ending the institutionalized killing of companion animals in animal shelters around the nation is the no kill goal and a 90% save rate is a benchmark to work toward. Reaching that goal is made possible by implementing programs and policies designed to:

  • Keep companion animals with their families
  • Adopt companion animals to new families
  • Move companion animals into foster homes
  • Transfer companion animals to rescue partner organizations
  • Implementing a community cats’ program that includes trap/neuter/vaccinate and return or shelter/neuter/return.

That is achieved by:

  • Creating a community resource center at the animal shelter
  • Empowering animal control officers to be problem solvers
  • Implementing coordinated entry at the shelter (managed or scheduled intake)
  • Ensuring companion animals receive vaccinations, medical attention as appropriate, and enrichment to keep them healthy and ready to leave the shelter
  • Inviting the community to be part of the lifesaving equation because not killing companion animals can only be achieved if the community supports the vision and mission in meaningful ways
  • Collaborating community wide with all organizations in a position to assist (non-profits, municipal and private)
  • Ensuring that communication and marketing are a priority
  • Addressing antiquated animal code to be reflective of the mission and goals
  • Managing the organization as a business so resources are available to remain sustainable and viable

What No Kill is not:

  • Hoarding or keeping companion animals alive inhumanely.
  • Ending euthanasia for companion animals irremediably suffering.
  • Knowingly adopting out a dog that will do serious harm to humans.
  • Incentivizing animal services leadership to be unethical.
  • Name calling, bullying or intentionally creating divisiveness.

The erroneous information being presented about no kill is directly related to the death throes of institutionalized killing of companion animals in animal shelters. People either intentionally do not want to understand what no kill is or cannot allow themselves to understand it at this point in time.

Lifesaving progress on the level necessary to end the killing of companion animals as soon as possible calls for accuracy in language, swiftness of action, setting aside misunderstandings of the past, forging relationships, compassion for all and integrity in all that we say and do.

If you would like more explanation or information about what no kill animal sheltering is or is not, I am happy to share resources with you or you can visit here: What No Kill Really Means

Post script: Austin Texas is referenced by critics of no kill sheltering frequently, and almost always, by people who have never visited the community’s shelters or met with the Austin leadership. I served as the director of Austin Animal Services and I am happy to offer anyone clarification and factual information. The animal services budget grew over a 10-year time period and not overnight as some critics are asserting. Irremediably suffering companion animals are not kept alive nor are dogs that are a threat to public safety being adopted out into the community.

2 thoughts on “Is no kill a numbers game?

  1. Thank you very much for information, As to posted image and false pleas are Seen far too many. Again thanks for A Clear picture. Written so nicely.

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