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« Aurora (CO) continues to look at loosening breed restrictions, media perpetuates fuzzy math | Main | Kansas City Area Elections tomorrow (& three types of politicians) »

March 17, 2011



I agree. This is one reason I wrote "This is your local animal shelter"


Good post. As long as the shelters are allowed to blame the irresponsible public instead of being accountable, these horror stories will continue.


Things like this are not aberrations. They are part of the system. This is why Georgia shelters kill animals on intake
or kill more cats than they take in
or kill animals with rescue on the way
or allow animals to suffer and then turn around and punish the rescuers
This is 'business as usual', a perversion of the word 'shelter'.



Yes. These are all, tragically, great examples. I could have included many others...Memphis recently allowed a dog to starve to death in their shelter (shelter director was fired) and Charlotte/Mecklenburg (NC) have had their problems as well.

And yes Valerie, these are not aberrations. Fortunately, the majority of shelters are not this catestrophically bad, it is far too common.


And Lyons, GA, which killed 77 dogs in one day, and the case of Target in AZ or Bella....


There is one small paragraph in this article stating that some shelters are trying to do good, but the story really makes everyone bunch all shelters together into the bad catagory. I have avoided making comments up until know, but I think it is time for others to hear truth from the other side. Kill shelters are kill shelters because others are not. Others are closed admission shelters, turning away animals and owners in need. Open admission shelters accept all animals so they do not meet a worse fate. We have no choice but to euthanize when all other options have failed; when closed admission shelters and rescue groups tell us they are full and can't help. No matter how hard we try, it seems we will alway be the "bad guy". Some recent posts, not necessarily here, make it seem like we actually promote and even enjoy euthanasia; reality is, some days, I barely get through. No kill is a dream we all share, but until it is a reality, there will always be shelters that will have to euthanize. It will never be reality until pet owners take responsibility. They must spay and neuter their pets. They can't abandon the animal when they are moving or can't take care of it anymore. So to try to say that their irresponsibility is mine is cruel and wrong. There are good shelters and good people working in them that care. To continue to be negative toward shelters that must euthanize only hurts the animals, as everyone believes they must choose sides - yours or mine. They favor no kill; who wouldn't. They support no kill shelters and rescue groups, leaving us with limited choices. I believe we are supposed to be working together to make change; not attacking the "other side".


Sometimes it can be as simple as the animal shelter not taking the effort of giving each animal a name and not a number that leads to a higher kill rate than it would be otherwise.

And too many animal shelters are still not posting their animals on or other Internet adoption sites.

Many shelters say they don't have the manpower to do these things, but then refuse help from people willing to work for free.

Unless the shelter is saving 90% or more of the animals entering the doors they have room for improvement!

All shelters should now have a Facebook page and Twitter account and post animals as they come in to help get the pets back to their owners or to new owners.


"I believe we are supposed to be working together to make change..." Jennifer, it sounds like you think that anyone who points out the bad shelters that are NOT "working together to make change" is wrong. That's just crazy. If these bad 'shelters' aren't talked about to let the public know what goes on behind closed doors, that same public can't get involved to even attempt to "work together" with those at the shelter "to make change." We all know that there ARE good shelters out there. They are the ones that open as many hours as they can, that have friendly, empathic staff, that don't make adoption difficult through high fees and hurdles to jump, that not just have volunteers, but actively ask for them and use their skills to the fullest, that have foster programs, work with other rescues to get adoptable dogs/cats/pets out instead of killing them, that at least try to support low-cost spay/neuter, and TNR, and lastly, DON'T blame the public for not being perfect. How many of those things does YOUR shelter do - and how well do they do them - and think about what else and how YOUR shelter could be better, before you claim that anyone who points out bad shelters is not helping the animals.

A concerned citizen

I think that there are those shelters out there doing the best they can with what they have. I don't believe Jennifer was saying that bad shelters should not be pointed out but that all municipal shelters should not be lumped together either. There are stipulations that are put on municipal shelters that are not always put on private shelters and there are a lot of good people working in municipal shelters. It is time we quit blaming and start working together for the good of the animals!


When shelters ask for help from the public--genuinely ask for help and treat the public civilly, like the colleagues that they should be--they get the help they need.

The tired old excuse that "we have to kill because other shelters that don't kill force us to" really should be retired. If that is what you tell people, you are insulting them, not asking for help. No kill shelters and rescues that don't take every animal are not forcing you to kill, they are taking in animals that might otherwise end up in your kill shelter. They are part of the solution, and you should work on being part of that solution too. That is what "working together" means. It does not mean "shut up and take insults from us but don't you dare point out that we can and should be doing better because we who run kill shelters are entitled to have the last word and not be held accountable because that's how it's always been."


I love how people think that if you ask for help you shall receive it. Not happening people. Everyone wants help, everyone wants money and not enough people for both wants. You put a volunteer at an animal shelter and by the time you have them trained they have already quite. Why? BECAUSE IT IS HARD WORK! People want to come play with the animals but when they see what it really takes they are gone. Let’s hold the owners more responsible for these animals who are being put down. Don’t go blaming the city workers who have to do their job. Non kill shelters are full or close to full on a daily bases. I personally know someone who works at a kill shelter that hates being the one who has to walk through and personally pick which animal with die today. In a perfect world we would have people with enough since to take care of their animal or find a home for them instead of dumping. Yes, there are people out there who are cruel to animals even at the same shelter that has rescued the animal. This could be said about foster homes for children who were rescued from an abusive home only to be placed into an abusive foster home. They system isn’t perfect. Are kill facilities needed? Yes it is sad to say but yes they are. If your city or shelter is over flowing with volunteers congrats. Not everyone is as lucky. Jennifer I am sorry that you feel under attacked by so many of the “NO KILL” people of the world. I feel bad that you have to decide things that others are unable to decide. I am sorry that the world is full of stupid people that don’t know how to take care of their animals which ends up providing you a job.


It must be nice to live in a state, city, county that has unlimited funds to provide food and shelter for all these animals. Please send us your address and next time it is either "kill" or "not kill" we will send the animal to you.

Lis C

"Kill shelters are kill shelters because others are not. Others are closed admission shelters, turning away animals and owners in need. Open admission shelters accept all animals so they do not meet a worse fate. We have no choice but to euthanize when all other options have failed; when closed admission shelters and rescue groups tell us they are full and can't help."

No, Jennifer, you are NOT killing animals because Tompkins County, UPAWS, or a host of other OPEN ADMISSION animal shelters have 90% or better live release rates. There are examples in every part of the country, now, many of them in communities where previous shelter management "knew" it was "impossible" until public outrage forced a change.

And Bonnie, yes, as long as you deny the value of playing with the animals, taking pictures of the animals, investing effort in good Petfinder write-ups of the animals, holding off-site adoption events, and working with foster homes, things that actually GET ANIMALS ADOPTED, is "fluff," and only being willing to hold healthy, friendly animals while they die because no one was willing to "play," you're going to have a hard time finding volunteers.

And then there's Lynchburg Humane Society, with something to say to you: They're not yet at a 90% save rate; "only" 84%. But they got there in one year, in part by increasing pet retention and reducing the surrender rate.

But that involved real work, and the desperately hard measure of not Blaming the Bad Public.

Robert Garnett

Do No Kill shelters really know that they are increasing pet retention and decreasing surrender rates? Or are these people doing something else with their animals? Are they surrendering them to other shelters? Are they taking them out to rural areas and releasing them or worst shooting them? Are they tying them out in their back yard and saying it's too much trouble to surrender them? Do no kill shelters do any follow up on people who they offered solutions to see if they did keep their pet? Within their own 4 walls they may have reached No Kill but is it true for their community? If yes produce the evidence community wide including what effects they have had on other shelters in their area since achieving No kill themselves? Has their over all volumes decreased with an overall increase in the volume of the surrounding shelters? Most would prefer No kill to kill but is that what is really happening or is it just transferring the problem. Having said that all shelters should be adopting the policies of the No Kill equation but I don't think it happens over night it's not that simple of a problem..

Lis C

Robert, yes, shockingly, No Kill shelters do generally follow up with families they've been in contact with. And HSUS and PETA have attempted, without success, to prove increases in intake and kill rates in surrounding shelters, because they, ESPECIALLY People for the Extinction of Tame Animals, want to believe that No Kill can't work.

Did you READ the Lynchburg Humane blog post?

Robert Garnett

Lis C Just read the blog. Need more of this from other communities complete with details. That's the only way to convince the naysayers (which I am Not).But I do require documented proof rather than anecdotal evidence to convince the shelter in my area that it is not only possible for an individual shelter but for a complete community.If there are any more detail stats produced by other shelter/communities I would appreciate and links anyone is aware of. Thanks.

Karen NZ

Jennifer, you might want to consider the fact that by far the majority of people failing to de-sex their pets fail to do so because of cost.
People find themselves pet owners for all sorts of reasons besides irresponsibility, and animals end up in shelters for all sorts of reasons.
In the lower socio-economic demographic the cost of de-sexing is often beyond them.
So besides all of the excellent and proven no-kill measures pointed out to you in other comments here, your shelter might want to do something about low cost/no cost spay neuter programmes for people needing this level of support.
Then, instead of saying "we're justified in killing these animals today so we don't have to kill their offspring tomorrow" you can instead be assured that people will de-sex if they have the option. Therefore, no-one needs to die today, and no-one needs to die tomorrow either.
Further to that, high fines and fees only ensure that animals will die as their owners can't pay to get them back.
Having done the job myself I can tell you that from experience, and that it is an awful thing to hold an animal while it dies only because too many shelter directors don't get it.


I would like to leave you with these thoughts. As Robert addressed above, as the "no kill" shelters believe their intake rates are down, I field the calls from the owners who are left with no choice. They have been turned away from shelter after shelter and rescue group and group. They call from out of state looking for options for their animal. Our shelter does offer low cost spay/neuter (less than $55 for dog or cat). We take great pictures, attach video, write memos, do mobile adoptions, have facebook, great volunteers and staff that work way above their paid hours. Our dog adoption rate is at 88%, but not so good for the hundreds of cats that we intake each month. We work with rescue groups and understand when they say they are full and can't take anymore; we just don't have that option. Your assumptions have been that we are a kill shelter because we don't try hard enough. That is insulting and heartbreaking.
We do not insult the other side because they have a differing opinion or abilities and money beyond our budget. My point in my original post was don't lump all shelters into one. KateH, I do believe that the bad needs to be addressed, not ignored, but again, there are more good shelters and staff than bad and the article above will lead the uneducated public to believe that kill shelters are bad and the staff are evil. I actually have people who refuse to support our shelter because we are a "kill shelter". Who does that hurt? As far as I see, it hurts only the animals and it totally blows my mind that they can call themselves animal lovers and walk away from our adoptable animals. This is a debate way beyond this page and I am sure I could spend the time spent debating, saving more animals. I can appreciate each of you and your efforts to lead the no kill movement and pray for your success, as it means I will no longer have to euthanize a healthy, adoptable or treatable animal.

Lis C

Jennifer, 88% is very, very good. For the dogs. You'll note I cite, approvingly, Lynchburg Humane Society, which has so far only achieved 84% live release rate--but that's for all animals taken in, not one species.

Does your shelter support TNR for feral cats, or do you simply kill them as "unadoptable"? You don't say, and if you are currently killing ferals because they're "unadoptable," you could change your kill rate for cats dramatically by adopting TNR.

Tompkins County SPCA IS Animal Control for that county, and IS open admission. UPAWS IS Animal Control for the area, and IS open admission. Lynchburg Humane Society IS open admission.

HSUS and PETA have failed in attempts to document increased intake or killing in surrounding areas in places where the open admission animal control shelter has become No Kill while remaining open admission.

"We do not insult the other side because they have a differing opinion or abilities and money beyond our budget."

In fact, Jennifer, yes, you do, routinely, and again in this comment, with your insistence that No Kill facilities aren't open admission, and ARE responsible for killing at your shelter. And that there's something wrong, not truly animal-loving, about people who don't support kill shelters.

And, here's a shocker for you: People who just want to adopt a new family pet are looking for a positive experience, not one where they will feel guilty and sad about every single animal they walk away from. So YES, it's actually EASIER to get animals adopted from a No Kill shelter, where adopters know they're not leaving any animal they don't adopt to likely be killed. Also, people who want to help animals often DON'T included "helping healthy, happy animals to DIE" as one of their big wants, so, yes, a commitment to No Kill also makes it easier to get volunteers.

It sounds like you're doing a lot of things right at your facility, and for DOGS, at least, you're within a hairsbreadth of No Kill. Why not LOOK at your cat program, and see what's not working there and what can be fixed, rather than defending hellholes like Chesterfield County or any of the other abuses Bett mentions? Which, yes, you are defending, by objecting to them being exposed and discussed.

"Accidentally" killing family dogs whose owners are expecting to come pick them up, or animals rescues are expecting to pull, or turning dogs loose in a dump and using them for target practice, or letting a cat starve to death trapped in the "shelter" walls, don't contribute to a positive impression of kill shelters or the people who work in them, and don't support the idea that killing is happening only because the shelter genuinely doesn't know any better way to help the animals.

I'd think you'd feel outrage and a strong desire to expose and end these abuses, rather than wishing Bett wouldn't be so rude as to focus on them.


The problem with the "No Kill Movement" is they consistently fail at providing a discussion or acknowledging the fact that there are cost considerations involved.

While the "No Kill Movement" has chosen a path were just about every bit of information coming out is now for sale we still see a reluctance to accept that for many communities there simply isn't the funding needed to stop killing.

So, the next tiem your out there asking for $25 for a webinar on turbocharging pit bull adoptions why not consider that for some advocates we would rather spend that $25 SAVING a pit bull instead.

The next time your off selling but another No Kill Conference ask yourselves if advocates couldn't put THAT money to better use especially since most of the info is nothing more then rehashed rhetoric that hasn't addre4ssed the funding issues in the first place.

No legitimate movement has ever succeeded by simply selling off solutions.


Thank you for drawing attention to this issue, and sadly the ones you mention are only a drop in the bucket. Many more never hit the media so no one knows. In eastern MD, there is a pound that tosses live dogs in to the incinerator screaming 'nobody wants you!'- I heard this from an eyewitness who was unable to get anyone to listen. Nobody wants to think these things happen, it's so much easier to believe they all 'get a niiiice home' or 'go to sleep' but the reality is many are treated badly, and even those who aren't are terrified before they die by the strange smells and sounds of other trapped animals, and are scared at the end when they are poisoned to death and their bodies tossed into the landfill. If I were an animal, I'd just as soon take my chances running loose, quite honestly, getting run over or shot is a much quicker way to go than languishing at a pound and then being systematically murdered in one way or another. At least free I'd have a better chance to happen upon someone who might want to take me in, a person who most likely would never find me at a pound that's only open 3 days a week during working hours and asks adoption fees of over a hundred dollars for a mutt or stray, making adoptions very few and killing more common. Though there are of course some caring shelter workers, they are unfortunately the exception and not the rule, and the sad fact is that a person hired to round up and kill animals is not generally a very nice person- so you're going to get these horror cases of the cruel killings and heartless behavior.
Can we change this, by winning over the hearts and minds of the right people? I say yes, because it's happened before. When I was growing up, the 'dog catcher' was the bad guy, the villain of movies, cartoons and comics, booed in the neighborhood and on the street. (I never even heard of any taking cats until the late 90s!) Over the years, the public has been brainwashed to believe that the 'shelter' as it's now called is a good place where animals find nice loving homes in the country or are 'put down' with no pain, fear or suffering, and these fairy stories are in the vast majority of cases not true. No one wants to believe the reality of what will happen to their pet when they dump it, it's easier to imagine another ending once the poor creature is out of sight. Big organizations such as PETA who wants to end pet ownership and HSUS and ASPCA who do nothing to save lives in pounds and only attack owners and breeders seem to be working against life saving by tricking people into believing they are 'rescuing' animals when most of them end up dead. Some people on the street I have spoken to honestly believe the animal control is the same thing as 'animal rescue'- perhaps because of 'Animal Cops' (though on that show they put down too many and never tell you most of the 'rescued' animals end up dead and not saved) when the exact opposite is true. We must work harder to get out the message that too much killing is going on, but it's difficult because whenever we try to put the cold hard truth out there people always say we're 'bashing' or 'being divisive' and take it in a negative way, when all their negative energy should be directed at the current sad state of the average pound in this country, and the system that uses their tax dollars to kill and dump precious, unique living creatures like they were trash.(I have no room left to even address the issue of how 'funding' for these horrible places actually increases the killing as they feel they must justify their existence in the battle for ever decreasing budget money in most localities- in one small VA city, a vet who ran her own No Kill shelter in the back of her office was shut down by the city council on the grounds she was taking money from the local kill shelter and costing them funding!) So it's all a lot sadder and sicker than your average rose colored glasses wearing American wants to believe. This is why we can never give up.

Lis C

Dear Disappointed:

You need to take a look at Maddie's Fund if your concern is that you can't possibly get funding.

What High Kill advocates such as yourself have difficulty grasping is that there are cost BENEFITS to not killing healthy animals.It's easier to get volunteers, easier to get donations, easier to get animals adopted, if you can honestly tell people that no healthy or treatable animals are being killed.

Did you read the Lynchburg Humane Society blog post linked to above? You should also read the story of UPAWS

The Maddie's Fund website also has more stories, how-tos and information on getting to No Kill
Click through some of the links there, explore the website. There's lots of information for which you'll pay not one cent.

The No Kill Advocacy Center also has quite a bit of information downloadable for free I've linked directly to the page that lists and links the available resources so that you don't have to go hunting for it.

As for conferences, in most fields, committed professionals and volunteers find conferences useful, so that they can share ideas, learn from each other, teach each other, and encourage each other.

And that $25 webinar? If it's a good webinar and taught you things that helped you save 20 pit bulls instead of 1, would that be worth it to you?


Every time we try to get the word out about how horrible many pounds are, somebody has to come in ranting about how 'they're not all like that' ignoring the fact that many of them ARE like that and while you waste time excusing and justifying some you may have personal feelings for, the bad ones literally get away with murder because the subject gets changed and the discussion goes off in another direction. Of course 'they're not all like that' but the point is too many ARE like that and we can't close the door and forget it and do nothing! The whole system needs to change. Personally I find it impossible to feel sorry for anyone whose job it is to kill animals, because they knew what their job involved when they took it. If they weren't comfortable with that, they should have chosen another line of work. If they found out they didn't agree with the things being done and couldn't change them, they could quit- I know a woman who had such a job but resigned and took less money to go work at PetSmart instead because she was against the way things were done at the pound she worked at and she was unable to change things alone- but she didn't just keep doing the dirty work and making excuses. Yes, the public is stupid. Yes, people are bad. That goes without saying. However, it's not them but the shelters who are ultimately responsible for killing the animal because they actually commit the deed instead of looking for other options. How can anyone 'work together' with the people described in the blog above? Sorry, sometimes you have to take a stand and say one side is wrong and one is right.



I think that you need to calm down and actually read what I and others have written. No Kill does not require huge amounts of money. many programs are actually cheaper than traditional 'catch and kill', especially since it is much easier to get people to volunteer at No Kill shelters than at kill "shelters". I live in Georgia, and I've written about some of the disgraceful excuses for shelters that we have here--'killing centers' would be a more honest term for what they actually are. Before that, I lived in Tompkins County, NY, where I witnessed the creation of the first No Kill community in the country almost 10 years ago, something else I've written about. How did it happen? The shelter hired a director who treated the volunteers and public like human beings. (This was a stark contrast from what had gone on before when the animals were abused, neglected and killed, and volunteers were abused, and the public was treated rudely. Shelter staff worked against the lifesaving efforts of the volunteers.) As a result, the number of volunteers increased tenfold, lifesaving programs were expanded greatly, the shelter was in the news constantly, and donations increased greatly. No Kill shelters work with the public and volunteers and rescuers. Kill shelters try to paint any criticism of their failure to save lives as 'divisive', or "not working together", but that is the height of hypocrisy.


Hey, Disappointed--I can't believe you're complaining about a 25$ webinar when HSUS charges 2500$ (yes, that's two thousand, five hundred dollars!) to do a shelter "assessment". That doesn't include any saving of lives--it's what they charge for an "opinion". Yet, because the No Kill movement is not COMPLETELY free, just ALMOST free, well, we shouldn't believe those money grubbers. HSUS brings in 100 MILLION dollars a year--doing an assessment for FREE would literally be a drop in the bucket for them--yet they actually charge struggling shelters to give them outdated advice. Hmmm--I know who I'm gonna follow!

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