‘No-kill’ what’s in a name?

I personally have no issues with the term ‘no-kill’ as in ‘no-kill animal shelter’.   Traditionally, this term has been used to mean an animal shelter that does not kill healthy or treatable animals even when the shelter is full.

No kill image

Euthanasia would only be an option for terminally ill animals or those that were considered too dangerous for public safety ever to be re-homed. 

In the case of the latter circumstance, it probably was easy for some shelters to bend the rules and still claim no-kill status.  If you believe that all pit bulls, for example, are inherently dangerous – or your local laws deem them to be and you are running a municipal shelter – then yes – you could claim no-kill status under the definition while killing those breeds of dog as a matter of course.

Others would claim that shelters would shift adoptable animals into their shelter and ship out animals that were less adoptable to achieve their no-kill status.

Ideologically, some people state that they would rather be ‘for’ something than against it.  So names are popping up such as “Humane City” or “Humane Rescue.” Some quote Mother Theresa who said “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”.

In other words, promote what you want and not what you don’t want.

Approximately two years ago, for example, Best Friends Animal Society changed its mission statement from “No More Homeless Pets” to “Save Them All.”

Do these changes make a difference?  I don’t know; I don’t have the data on this.  Presumably marketers and public relations experts have data to show increasing levels of support.

All I know is that New Zealand is definitely NOT a no-kill nation or a save-them-all nation.  We have a way to go to require responsible husbandry, pet ownership and the acceptability of adopting animals of all ages who end up homeless.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand


3 responses to “‘No-kill’ what’s in a name?

  1. That’s a great post, I really like the way you think 🙂 I’m an idealist and I hope the world will change for the better – in many aspects, not just animal welfare. We need more social responsibility, more education about what animals are and how they feel. Most western societies promote reckless ownership through the altogether disposable culture (‘spending is better than mending’ comes to mind). Animals are not objects to be bought on a whim and disposed of when we get bored with them. Shelters would not be necessary at all if we took responsibility for animal ‘ownership’. But I hope for a shift towards more sustainable way of life: in the same way we (in the UK) can’t fly-tip, we might not freely abandon our pets. Money is always a big argument. Many people would think twice before getting a puppy if they had to pay for ‘disposing’ of it (like if shelters fined them and they had to pay till the dog/cat finds a new owner).

    • Glad you liked the post. I fundraise for local dog groups annually and also volunteer my time for a greyhound re-homing program. I don’t care how we get the message across – as long as we get it across. When you bring an animal into this world, it’s your responsibility for life. Unfortunately, we do live in a time when people don’t accept responsibility for a range of their actions.

  2. The Greyt Knitter

    Interesting. Definitely, food for thought.

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