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‘No-Kill’ Horror Stories

Written by Alisa Mullins | August 16, 2013

To hear proponents of “no-kill” talk, one would conclude 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. They hold up so-called “no-kill communities” around the country as “models,” but are these communities really as successful as “no-kill” proponents claim? The answer again and again is a resounding no:

•    After the 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.” San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) is documented in a PETA video exposé; turning away a desperate visitor seeking shelter for a pit bull she could no longer keep. After the visitor explained that she had visited ACS several times but had been turned away at the door and that other area shelters wouldn’t accept her dog, an ACS representative told her that “there’s nothing that really that I can do for you. We’re not taking owner surrenders right now.” Animal Care Officer Thomas Stowers reported, “Public Works scrapes over 30,000 dogs from the sidewalks and streets because they’ve been hit by cars … this is euthanasia by proxy, and it’s cruel.”

To keep their euthanasia numbers low, “no-kill” shelters choose to take in only adoptable animals, turn away most other animals, charge exorbitant surrender fees, require appointments weeks or months in advance to surrender animals, and refuse to offer euthanasia services for gravely sick and injured animals whose guardians can’t afford to go to a veterinary clinic. It’s easy not to euthanize animals you’ve turned your back on. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t die—they do, just somewhere else, often in a prolonged, painful way after suffering and experiencing some kind of trauma.

Many “no-kill” shelters warehouse animals in cages and crates (not really a life at all) indefinitely—sometimes for years—which makes animals depressed, withdrawn, aggressive, and even less adoptable as well as causing disease outbreaks. “No-kills” also put animals at risk by doing whatever they can to get animals out the door—waiving adoption fees, eliminating screening procedures, and passing off animals to disreputable “rescue groups,” unscreened foster homes, and hoarders.

This is not a humane or even a nonlethal solution. The animals are still dying—they’re just not being allowed to die peacefully and with dignity.

The answer, of course, lies in prevention. 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. Instead of putting thousands of dollars and full-time care into helping one dog who is injured or ill, we must save far, far more by aggressively targeting breeders, puppy mills, and pet stores—;as well as the people who buy from them, only to decide weeks, months, or years later that their purebred dog or cat is “inconvenient.” We must make it nearly impossible not to spay or neuter every dog and cat so that there are no more “oops” litters, no more unwanted puppies and kittens, fewer animals who will need homes. We must make it unthinkable to do anything else but adopt an animal from a shelter. That is how we will solve the homeless-animal crisis—by focusing on their lives, not on their deaths.

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  • Marleen says:

    Being a true animal lover/advocate, it’s been a horror to watch with our hands tied behind out backs b/c the no-kill movement went down the Winograd hell hole where S/N is 9th in importance — rather than 1st! Can you just imagine how many MILLIONS of lives would *not have been born to suffer & die* if only he had made Spay/Neuter Top Priority rather than blaming one of our shelters that have over 12,000 animals come thru its doors in a year from just one county in a tiny state like Delaware? No-Kill Delaware wanted to be FAMOUS — the True Angels of no-kill national movement. They wanted nothing more than to be able to say “Delaware has gone NO KILL!” That’s right, they don’t let the shelter do their JOB of being a *shelter* when an animal is unwanted/homeless. They BULLIED our two SPCA’s into going No-Kill which as us grown-ups know – means limited access & doors shut in the face of helpless animals when they need us the most. No matter what we do — even if we could catch every animal & S/N — the fact that people always will want to “get rid” of their animals will never change! So that means there needs to be a place for them to go when that happens. At least there they have a chance of being adopted or transferred to another rescue – a chance – instead of being doomed to be killed in a most horrible way & die out there – alone! These egomaniac’s think it’s best to let them die on the streets, hit by cars, starved, set on FIRE — just so they can utter the words “We’re no-kill” This is only because they are so desperate for recognition & a pat on the back – they are willing to sacrifice the quality of lives on helpless animals for their ego. Well, Delaware and all its players are now famous – famous for being an EXAMPLE of what NOT to do. For years (un)Safe Haven had a director named Anne Gryczon that you – PETA — had to run out of town in Kentucky when she decided to take an open access shelter & turn it into NO KILL overnight – no plan – no aggressive S/N program — just going to *say* we are NO KILL rather then actually being no-kill like New Hampshire. Of course all she did was leave in her wake sick & dying animals due to lack of medical care & and overcrowding. PETA had to come in when no one else would to end the Anne Gryczon saga in KY. Guess what!? After you ran her out of town — she landed here in Delaware!! She brought her hoarding/warehousing insanity to Delaware’s Safe Haven. She repeated history b/c that is what hoarders do. Even though she was finally fired back in January 2013 – (seems $800,000 went missing!) she left behind the same people who only knew how to do everything wrong b/c that is what she taught them. That is why Safe Haven is so famous now b/c Anne taught them how to run a shelter into the ground. Last year you (PETA) had to be contacted AGAIN about her & you sent a letter back in November 2012 after hearing from whistle-blowers to the office of Senator Blevins. She has put herself in charge of all matter in reference to animal welfare, not that she is qualified — it’s just a political move to attract the poor uneducated animal lovers who when they hear *NO Kill* it’s like Plum Fairies dancing in their heads. No Kill must mean GOOD — right? You were trying to make her aware that YOU were concerned that history was repeating itself. As always you/we were all ignored by Blevins. Her political power is such that she will not admit they went down the wrong road with the Winograd version of No-Kill. She will not admit they were wrong no matter how many animals must be destroyed for their egos. Thank you for your honest & thoughtful comments. “We must make it unthinkable to do anything else but adopt an animal from a shelter. That is how we will solve the homeless-animal crisis-by focusing on their lives, not on their deaths.” “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.”

  • Julia McLaren says:

    Brilliant piece. This is the truth. I may not always agree with the PEtA philospohy and have had to do a serious turn about in my “no kill” thinking and especially the Winograd No Kill dogma (pun intended). The only way to stop the killing is to stop the birthing and that is by S/N controls! There us a pet overpopulation, this is no myth. Everyday dogs abd cats are dying in misery and pain on the streets and at the hands of so called rescues, puppy mills and “reputable breeders”. I so wish there was a mgic wand that could be waived to take all of the unanted and unloved animals outof their living hell, let them die in peace with dignity and then legislate the hell out of animal “ownership”. We have to stop this hell on earth?

  • Drats Unleashed says:

    I’m not what you would call a true blue loyal supporter of any particular animal protection group but I do support common sense. Thanks for explaining so clearly without all the emotional baggage that the no kill nuts attach exactly how we all can work towards a no suffering – no kill world we an be proud of.

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