Skip to Main Content

Shocking How the ‘No-Kill’ Label Hurts Animals

Written by Michelle Kretzer | December 5, 2012

We’ve learned, haven’t we, when you are told “You’re a winner!” that there’s some fine print and a catch. The same is true with the magic words that imply that dogs and cats are winners, too: “no kill”! Here, too, there is fine print, and it can be much more damaging than finding that you are being billed for a subscription you didn’t want. The fact is that many limited-admission shelters, now often given the great-sounding, dressed-up title “no-kill shelter,” actually hurt animals every single day. Not necessarily the ones they take in, who may or may not be well cared for, but rather, the ones they don’t. The animals someone else has to decide what to do with or who just end up abandoned or worse when the “no-kill” shelter is full, as it inevitably is. 

These glorious-sounding shelters generally turn away many more animals than they accept, picking, choosing, and admitting only the youngest, healthiest, prettiest, and most adoptable, if any, because on most days, they will tell all comers, “We’re full.” The rest are sent away to suffer on the streets or to be left in the hands of people who don’t want them. Some “no-kills” do accept animals when they shouldn’t, by which I mean when their facilities are already crammed beyond capacity, subjecting all of the shelter’s tenants to crowded, unsanitary conditions, illness, and often a painful death from parvovirus or from fighting. And if the animals they do take in are not adopted, many so-called “no-kill” shelters warehouse them in cages for years, unwanted and unloved, even after they are driven “cage crazy” from the stress of confinement. I’ve seen them sit with their back to visitors, withdrawn into a world of depression and lost hope.

“No-kill” advocates are quick to throw stones at open-admission shelters, which offer refuge to every animal who comes through their doors and euthanize animals when they are not adoptable, when they run out of appropriate living space for them, or when the animals brought in are injured, aggressive or gravely ill. So in return, PETA is quick to expose the cracks in the rosy picture that “no-kills” try to paint. Here are just a few of the recent additions to our long, ever-expanding list of “no-kill” failures that cause animals to suffer

September 13, 2012/Corpus Christi, Texas: Area animal shelters report that they are filled to capacity and that homeless, roaming animals in the area are at “epidemic” levels. The shelter director at no-kill “Pee Wee’s Pet Adoption World and Sanctuary” stated, “I get 75 calls a day, and people get angry because I can’t take 75 animals a day .… If you multiply 75 times 365 days a year, I would have to take in 27,000 plus animals a year.” The Gulf Coast Humane Society director reports that his shelter “turn[s] people away right and left.”

July 20, 2012/Northeast Mississippi: Area open-admission animal shelters are suffering from the effects of some private shelters’ picking and choosing in order to limit admissions in a ploy to call themselves “no-kill” for fundraising appeals. A local news outlet reported that, while the [no-kill] policy keeps current shelter residents alive, it limits the number of pets those facilities can house and means new arrivals routinely are turned away. Some then are “dumped alongside roads, abandoned at a neighbor’s house or shot and killed,” according to representatives of no-kill shelters citing what jilted pet owners have told them. The writer spoke with a woman taking three unwanted dogs to an open-admission shelter and whose husband had made his family’s options and intentions clear: “It was either that or shoot them.”

July 17, 2012/Willis, Texas: “Considered one of the country’s [premier] sanctuaries for pit bulls,” was the no-kill Spindletop Dog Refuge was raided by authorities who seized approximately 300 pit bulls found in tiny plastic carriers with no water and unable to fully stand up. Some dogs were seen drinking their own urine and a police news report revealed that “[o]ne dog’s feet were so scalded it was laying on its back in its own urine in feces, presumably to take the pain off of its feet.”

As long as outspoken “no-kill” proponents continue to criticize open-admission shelters even in the face of the animal homelessness crisis, PETA will continue to save animals by exposing “no-kills” for what they really are: “slow-kills.”

Commenting is closed.
  • lucinka says:

    I hate people who hurt animals! No one may hurt someone who can not resist!

  • asdfghjk says:

    not true not all are bad

  • Juliet says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to make a blanket statement about no-kill shelters based on these unfortunate examples. Our local no-kill shelter is a great part of our community. They have wonderful staff and well cared-for animals. They educate the community and do spay/neuter clinics. Additionally, they frequently visit other shelters and rescue animals about to be euthanized whenever space is available. Obviously kill shelters are necessary; there are mathematically too many homeless animals to find homes for. This, however, doesn’t mean that you have to bash the efforts of hard-working animal lovers and volunteers who do great work. We can be upset with facilities like those listed in this article, but it’s not productive or accurate to condemn a huge group of people.

  • Brai31 says:

    This story makes it seem like all no kill shelters are bad. That simply is NOT true. I volunteered at one for several years and the animals were very well cared for and given love. It was also cage free. The owner hated turning away poor helpless and homeless animals but she simply couldn’t house all of them. I’m sure there are no kill shelters that do these things and that’s awful but not all do. Also how about placing the blame on these uncaring bad owners. They are the ones who are being cruel and letting their animals continuosly breed. One lady wanted to drop off a kitten and when the owner couldn’t take it the woman left it in a box on a snowy day in front of the shelter when no one was there. It’s owners like that that we need to be angry at.

  • Linda C says:

    What is the solution? The article states the problem without giving any suggestions for a solution. After reading the deplorable reports of the suffering of the animals in some “no kill” facilities I wonder how many of those people responsible started out with good intentions and then quickly became overwhelmed with the enormity of the task, which then resulted in actual cruelty. We all know the preventative solution is spay and neuter, but that’s in a perfect world. So what is the solution now?

  • Animal luver<3 says:

    I hate people like this they need to learn how to take care of the animals properly and have a heart and make sure they are healthy and are treated well!

  • Hanna Confer says:

    When I found a kitten on the street who was throwing up and having bowl movements all over himself I reached out to local shelters, as I was worried he might have something that would infect my other cats. The open shelters said he would be immediately put down if he was that sick, and the no kill shelters all completely refused to take him. I couldn’t leave the poor guy out there alone to die, so almost 2 grand and several years later I have a huge, healthy maine coon cat that I love entirely. I recently adopted a cat from another no kill shelter (in a different state now) and their attitude is completely different. Now I volunteer as a foster for them when I can and try to make sure no animal gets left behind! It’s sad that no kill’s have to (or choose to) not take in more animals, and my vote is, if you can, try to foster and help out the good ones in your area!

  • lisa says:

    Makes me soo angry reading all this especially the Spindletop Dog Refuge dogs having to drink their own urine, us humans have put them in that situation by not getting our pets spayed and neautered and when times get hard and cant afford to look after them anymore take them to places like this were they suffer terribly humans have caused this, if you cant afford to look after an animal for the rest of its life dont have one and if you can do the responsible thing and hae it spayed neatured, i know people that have lost their jobs but never gave their pets up they told me how can you give a member of the family away??? eventually they found another job, one less animal to suffer.

  • patricia norman says:

    Cease animal abuse! They are creatures of this world too and they also have rights. Stop their suffering.