2613: No Kill Nation Finally a Reality?

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The real answer is impossible to know, of course, but the mathematical answer is 500 years for this nation to be a "No Kill Nation".

A Facebook page, Animal Shelter Research Project, has put up some interesting statistics concerning the proclaimed "No Kill" shelters. These No Kill shelters have a "live release rate" of 90% or better. No Kill itself is laying claim to 162 "communities" have adopted the No Kill Equation. The Animal Shelter Research Project of Facebook has dispelled that by showing that only 64 "shelters" have this program. Often times small communities will contract with the county or another city for services. This means they adhere to whatever that agency dictates, it's not a choice that is made by the community necessarily. For this instance we prefer to take the actual number of shelters for the math rather than communities who have no shelter.

So how long for the application of the No Kill Equation to make all shelters No Kill per No Kill Equation definitions? It is estimated that there are approximately 3,500 shelters throughout the country. If you assume the rate of success continues at the same rate as the past 12 years since it was developed at the Tompkins County SPCA by Nathan Winograd while he was director there, the 500 years figure is the result.

The actual number of shelters, 64, over the past 12 years is 5.33 shelters per year. We will round up to 7 to make it easy. To reach all of the estimated 3,500 shelters in the country at the rate of 7 per year would take 500 years. The 500 year figure also results when you consider that only 2% of the population is being served by No Kill shelters after 12 years. That also works out to 500 years.

Maddie's Fund figures are a little more confusing. According to Maddie's Fund, they have 400 shelters in their database for no kill. They go further to say that this represents 4% of the shelters in the country.

"Maddie's Comparative Database contains data from more than 400 shelters throughout the United States. However, this represents less than 4% of all physical shelters and all foster based animal welfare organizations in the US."

If you use the estimate of Maddie's Fund, then the figure for achieving a No Kill Nation is even further in the future.


Prior to the advent of the no kill movement, intakes at shelters were reducing by 3% a year because of the emphasis on spay/neuter. With the advent of the no kill movement, intakes at shelters have averaged dropping only 1% a year. The emphasis of No Kill is adoptions and spay/neuter has suffered, thus intakes at shelters are not doing as well. Another result of No Kill's campaigns is that the 18-34 pet owner group doesn't think spay/neuter is necessary and they prefer to buy from a breeder. This is according to a recent survey by Best Friends, who have their version of no kill. The wrong message is being sent. The No Kill Equation states there are plenty of homes for pets, there is no pet overpopulation problem. Not only does this philosophy give credibility to more breeding, but it is sending a message that you don't have to be concerned about shelter pets because they will find a home. No Kill followers regularly accuse shelters of horrible acts but fail to give supporting evidence to those accusations. The damage is done whether evidence is presented or not.

The term "No Kill" alone is now under scrutiny from it's own followers. The Kitsap Humane Society is listed as a No Kill shelter but they protest the use of the term. To the question as to whether Kitsap is No Kill, this is their response.

"Officially, no we are not a "No Kill" shelter as we refuse to use the term. We have the same performance, goals and philosophy but do not refer to ourselves this way. The "No Kill" movement is one of compassion that has sadly been misused and abused by many shelters. They have used this term to convince unknowing donors to give funds out of sympathy and pride, while allowing other shelters to deal with problem pit bulls, feral cats and other populations."

Hoarding has risen with the advent of No Kill. Prior to the movement, hoarding among "rescues" was estimated at about 5%, now that figure has been revised to 25%. We see the likes of Spindletop, filled with the less adoptable dogs pulled from shelters to "save" them by followers of the No Kill Equation. It is common place now to see "rescues" charged with cruelty.

All in all, the No Kill Equation has created so many scams and schemes, that alone will keep it afloat for years to come. Money is to be made from keeping desperately suffering pets alive and this movement allows that to happen. Let's move toward a No Suffering Nation instead, one where pets aren't used as pawns in a game that has become a national disgrace. There is a renewed passion for spay/neuter sweeping the land now and none too soon. Will there be enough homes for them all in 500 years without a renewed effort to spay/neuter? Please remember to spay/neuter your pets, you can't kill 'em if they ain't there.