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.
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