What 'No-Kill' Really Means

Profile photo of Whitney-C

Posted August 28, 2013 by Whitney Calk

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ve more than likely heard the phrase “no-kill” when referring to limited-admission shelters.

To hear supporters of “no-kill” talk, you’d probably assume that the only reason why animals in shelters are euthanized is because open-admission shelter workers just haven’t closed their eyes, clicked their heels, and wished hard enough. So, is the “no-kill” movement really helping animals as much as supporters claim it is?

The answer again and again is a resounding NO.

Here are just a few examples of why “no-kill” DOESN’T mean “no suffering”:

    • After a Hillsborough County, Florida, shelter adopted a “low-kill” policy, it became so crowded that dogs and cats started getting sick and dying. “If someone from Animal Services came to my home and inspected my home and my dogs lived in the conditions that exist in this county [shelter], they would confiscate every one of my dogs and shut down my rescue,” said a man who runs a local bulldog and boxer rescue group.
    • Things got so bad at the “no-kill” Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Kent County, Delaware (where pro–”no-kill” legislation was passed in 2010 with disastrous results for animals and taxpayers), that the county government revoked its dog-control contract. “The problem is your business model. It doesn’t work. It’s not going to work,” one county commissioner told Safe Haven. The head of the Kent County SPCA, the state’s largest open-admission shelter, said, “The expectation of our community is that every animal will be saved, but there’s not enough money to pay for it.”
    • In San Antonio, thousands of stray animals are suffering and dying on the streets, a predictable result when “no-kill” shelters turn away animals because they are full or refuse to accept strays—a common limited-admission “strategy.”

“No-kill” shelters and “no-kill” rescue groups often find themselves filled to capacity, which means that they must turn animals away. These animals will still face untimely deaths—just not at these facilities. In the best-case scenario, they will be taken to another facility that does euthanize animals. Some will be dumped by the roadside to die a gruesome and horrible death.

Although it is true that “no-kill” shelters do not kill animals, this doesn’t mean that animals are saved. 

sad shelter dog

Open-admission shelters are committed to keeping animals safe and off the streets and do not have the option of turning their backs on the victims of the overpopulation crisis as “no-kill” shelters do.

Instead of focusing on the end result—euthanasia—we need to focus on how so many animals get to this point in the first place. The only way to stop euthanasia is to stop puppy mills, breeders, and irresponsible guardians from bringing more dogs and cats into a world that simply doesn’t have enough room for them.

You can help now by taking the pledge below to save animals right now:

end animal homelessness




Post a Comment

Please log in to comment.

Your email address will not be published.

Connect with Facebook

Your email address will not be published.

Connect with Facebook

  • Profile photo of Nicholebridgewater

    805 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Thank you for the explanation! My hometown is trying to convince the shelter to become no-kill, but I can see how that would end up hurting all the animals.

  • Profile photo of amyvp77

    819 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    This is Horrible!!! Made me cry:( These poor cats!!! Is this not illegal to have animal in such shape??

  • Profile photo of alexblue

    820 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]


    Great article…thanks for explaining it. I guess it’s like fixing the symptom without treating the disease.
    Adopt! Adopt! Adopt until every shelter animal has a home!

US & Canada: Sign up for Mobile!

Games, freebies, events in your area & more

Mobile #

  I agree to the full texting T&Cs. Msg and data rates may apply. Text HELP for help, text STOP to end. Up to 10 msgs/month.

Follow Us

Top Commenters

  • Profile photo of Pantherxxl12

    I'm a therian /otherkin wolf lycanthrope that sees this lifetime in this body as a punishment that the god and goddess has bestowed upon me, but I try my best to do good to all living beings except usually humans which I hate and detest with all my being.

  • Profile photo of babyhuey121795jess

    ☸ ✵ ❂ ⚘ ❀ ❃ ❁ ✼☸ ✵ ❂ ⚘ ❀ ❃ ❁ ✼☸ ✵ ❂ ⚘ ❀ ❃ My name is Jason. Top 10 quirks: 1. I’m vegetarian. 2. I’m Sagittarius 3. Artist 4. I love The Beatles 5. Love dogs! 6. Spring is my favourite season. 7. I’m an only child. 8. I knit. 9. I like to press flowers. 10. I like to shrink potato chip bags. I have a tattoo on my wrist that says peace in braille. I feel like I should've been a teen in the 60’s-70’s. I have rainbow gauges in my ears. I’m FTM transgender but only identify as a gay male. I will write to anybody! I love fast food, glass blowing, making solar sensitive paper prints, ceramics, making friendship bracelets, tie dying, decorating my room, shopping online and off (but mostly online), cuddling with my Cockapoo named Mickey,eating candy, making things, fashion, & going to the mall. I can’t cook to save my life. I enjoy Netflix, crafts, & making people laugh, I am generous and enjoy Oldies. Green is my favourite colour. I hate the colour orange. Halloween is my favourite holiday. I’m addicted to playing Kardashian on my Ipod and using Instagram. I want to travel a ton one day, learn German, drive and lifeguard, and be an elementary school art teacher. I collect international stamps, coins, postcards, Betty and Veronica Archie Comics, kawaii stuff, cameos, *stickers*, and trinkets (I pick things off the ground, I’m a klepto like that). I write in a diary everyday. I hate candy corn. I have two cactus plants. I have Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr and Instagram, so HMU if you want my usernames. I believe loosely in karma, fate, kismet, déjà vu, reincarnation, dreams, destiny & fate. I love for stores: Etsy, Hot Topic, Francesca's, & Claire’s. People say I look like Brenton Thwaites. My Celeb Hotties are: Joseph Gordon-Levitt *swoon*, James Franco, Paul McCartney, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Krasinski & Josh Hutcherson (I have no idea why they all mostly start with “J” lol). But my favourite actors are Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman. · My favourite foods/restaurants are mangos, 99 Restaurant, Dominoes pizza, pickles, & Pinkberry/Froyo World. My favourite movies and TV shows are Juno, Aquamarine, The Office, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Investigation Discovery, Bojack Horseman, Detention, Crank Yankers, How To Catch a Predator, Mary and Max, Bates Motel, Bob’s Burgers, Salem, Dateline, The Killing, & Darknet. As for Horror films the scariest I’ve seen are: Vile, Quarantine, Would You Rather & Truth or Die My favourite books are The Catcher In The Rye, Penpal, It’s Kind Of a Funny Story, & Life As we Knew it. · My favourite quotes are "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "If you wait to tell someone you love them, it’s too late." -Paul McCartney "If you don’t shoot, you don’t score." "It’s all okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end." "And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make." -Paul McCartney Looking for: • Penpal • Art Pals • Package Pals • Snail Mail I send small gifts, and even surprise you when I’m thinking of you. **I ask that your age is 18-23.** No country requirements, I enjoy using stamps lol. What I expect from a pen pal is LGBTQA respect and a consistency to correspondence. But I seriously love meeting new people with different interests and writing to them.

  • Profile photo of rebekahbunny

    I'm a coffee-guzzling college kid. I love animals and just recently decided to be vegan.

  • Profile photo of dragonfly95

    I was bullied out of my old school, my only friend was my dog. Now i work with a vet and an animal rescue, ive gone vegetarian, and all i want now is for animals to be treated better.....because i know first hand how cruel and evil humans can be But i wish to find new better friend on here and maybe we can change this world for the better together, so please friend me, and talk to me!

  • Profile photo of srivera0117
  • Profile photo of stasia3419
  • Profile photo of AnimalActivist
  • Profile photo of DaughterEarth
  • Profile photo of deantate
  • Profile photo of gamontesdeoc
  • Profile photo of isar2015

    My name is Isa. I was raised around the world. I play clarinet in my school band and I play guitar for stage band and outside of school. Hablo espanol. I help everyone dealing with any issue, I am very outspoken, and I can never shut my mouth