As promised, parts 2 and 3 will look at the no-kill movement as an advantageous option for reducing the number of homeless pets in a city/municipality. Part 1 mentioned that indeed some shelters do not take the no-kill shelter to heart, using the rhetoric but not practicing it in its true form. That is more an issue of bad shelters, though, not the ineffectiveness of no-kill. Today we will be looking at the amazing results no-kill can produce when it is practiced right.
Most cities and shelters today still use euthanasia to attempt to control the pet population. If these traditional methods were truly effective, we would not have such a large pet overpopulation problem, and Chicago would not have seen 42,561 animals euthanized in 1997 alone. Before any of these animals would be euthanized, they have already produced enough off-spring to continue the overpopulation problem in their absence – a cycle that only continues with the next litter. In fact, the Humane Society of Flower Mound notes that in just seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats – considering the offspring of the offspring of the offspring, etc.
In previous articles and comments I have defended Chicago Animal Care and Control and entities like it, for they are overburdened with homeless animals and do not have the resources to ensure that all find homes without being euthanized. Indeed, taking on no-kill is a huge undertaking. Still, with leadership, community activism, and proof that it would work, San Francisco was able to become a no-kill city. No longer could shelters claim that euthanizing animals en masse was “necessary,” because more humane alternatives proved more effective.
Enter the no-kill movement to Chicago in 1998. By publicizing the practice of no-kill, and working hard to implement it as much as possible, euthanizations in Chicago fell by 45% – and it is not because kitties decided to simply have fewer kittens. The no-kill movement truly makes a difference, and Chicago Animal Care and Control worked with shelters like PAWS Chicago to maximize humane treatment of animals and minimize the numbers euthanized.
When implemented properly, no-kill is not a measure that requires a lot of money; it requires a lot of leadership. A June 2009 study published by the No Kill Advocacy Center surveyed shelters across the nation, and found no correlation between the dollars spent and the rate-of-kill. The study elaborates, “Roughly, per capita funding ranged from about $1.50 to about $6.30. Save rates ranged from 35% to 90%, but they did not follow any predictable pattern. There were shelters with an 87% rate of lifesaving spending only $2.80 per capita, and shelters with a 42% rate… spending more than double that.” What the study did find to make a difference was the commitment of shelter managers to saving lives. (Underfunded shelters did note that sustaining programs proved difficult; this study should not be used to justify spending cuts).
Part 3 will examine programs shelters have undertaken and the results they can produce. Check back soon!