Are No-Kill Shelters Really No-Kill?

I am an animal lover. I always have been. For several years I have volunteered at my local SPCA. I have witnessed many success stories and watched many miracles of rehoming come to life. However, with any good thing, there is also a sad side. Most people think that the ASPCA or local SPCA is a 100% No-Kill Shelter. That is somewhat true, but there is always the exception to the rule.

A No-Kill shelter is not all 100% gold standard. If any animal is deemed unadoptable because of aggression or being housed long-term in the shelter, then more than likely that animal will be quietly euthanized. Additionally, if there is a situation where a cat or dog requires long-term medical care that the shelter cannot afford then euthanasia is usually the course of action. In some cases, there are alternative shelters or rescue groups that may take in physically and behaviorally challenged situations. However, this is a rare case. I have watched some animals go off-site to an animal clinic for the sole purpose of being euthanized by a SPCA.

This blog is in no way a slap in the face of organizations that do a wonderful and terrific job of many rehomed animals. The fact is that when I read a no-kill shelter sign, then it should not come with an asterisks or disclaimer. The fact is that no-kill shelters do a much better job than county animal shelters overall when it comes to euthanasia rates. However, what I would like to see is the ASPCA or local SPCA’s truth in reporting efforts. It should disclose to the general public the actual number of animals it sent off site for euthanasia procedures rather than claiming its no-kill rate at 100%. This reporting is not accurate because these shelters outsource that death order.

A problem I have readily identified with any SPCA is that they should be an advocacy group rather than just an animal shelter. To me, any animal shelter should have at a minimum a veterinary hospital like structure with its toxicology lab, radiography processes, and plenty of quality preventive medications. It takes serious money to run a shelter. The amount of food, litter, cleaning supplies, newspapers, staffing, water, and medicines can be staggering. However, every animal should have not only necessities but basic quality care. If shelters wish to outsource veterinary care, that is fine. However, at some point, the severity of illness or pain threshold should not have to wait until the shelter can find someone to drive the animal to a vet clinic. This is where intake identifiers are not always readily identified, and animals are returned because of expensive veterinary testing or procedures not identified at the shelter. Thus, euthanasia will continue to climb, but SPCA numbers will never reflect those death rates.

I still support my shelter and try hard to advocate for animals where I can. However, I challenge any of you to call your no-kill shelter to ask a simple question of when do they euthanize and when was the last time it was performed? The actual answer may shock you.

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