‘No kill’ or not ‘no kill’ – is that the question?In 2010, Animal Allies Humane Society collaborated with local organizations to launch “Campaign for Zero,” aimed at eliminating euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs entering both shelters in Duluth.
By: Amy Miller, Duluth Budgeteer News
In 2010, Animal Allies Humane Society collaborated with local organizations to launch “Campaign for Zero,” aimed at eliminating euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs entering both shelters in Duluth.
That year marked a major milestone for local animal welfare. The goal was achieved, and more animals were given a second chance than ever before.
Animal Allies, committed to saving more lives, was determined to expand the campaign to Superior when it began operating the city-owned shelter earlier this year. This August, the organization officially announced the launch of the Twin Ports Campaign for Zero. Building on already achieved successes, this campaign will further confirm our community’s position as a national leader in animal welfare.
But when it comes to the question of “no kill,” the answer may surprise you.
Currently, there is no fixed definition of “no kill.” The term is generally used by organizations that save animals that are healthy and adoptable (or would be adoptable, with a reasonable amount of medical care) and refuse to perform convenience-euthanasia. Each organization has the flexibility to determine if an animal is “adoptable” and what qualifies as a “reasonable amount of medical care.” Because of this flexibility, and the use of humane euthanasia for animals that are sick and suffering, “no kill” does not necessarily mean “no euthanasia.”
We should always celebrate when lives are being saved, and the point is not to doubt shelters that label themselves “no kill” – but these two words shouldn’t be used to judge an organization.
Saving lives is much more complex.
In 2004, a group of animal welfare leaders from across the nation assembled to standardize terms to be used by animal shelters. The resulting Asilomar Accords lays out a unified system that defines how to classify an animal as “healthy,” “treatable and rehabilitatable,” “treatable and manageable,” or “unhealthy and untreatable.” Using these definitions, organizations enter data into a table that calculates their live-release rate, the percentage of animals entering the shelter that also left alive. The result is a uniform reporting system for all shelters that choose to use these accords.
Animal Allies implemented Asilomar reports in 2009 and has since published annual statistics. Data from the last three years, in addition to an in-depth description of the above terms, are available on the shelter’s website. Although there is a lot of information to digest, it is well worth the effort to further understand and celebrate our community’s incredible achievements.
Although Animal Allies does not currently define itself as a no-kill shelter, the organization has saved nearly all treatable, rehabilitatable, manageable and a significant number of what would typically be categorized as unhealthy/untreatable, animals in addition to eliminating euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs. This goal, once thought impossible, has been achieved through progressive adoption, spay/neuter, and humane education initiatives; establishing relationships with other shelters and rescues; and, above all, support from the community.
The Twin Ports Campaign for Zero aims to eliminate euthanasia of all healthy animals entering shelters in the Twin Ports. This campaign is made possible by Animal Allies’ continued partnership with the city of Duluth, new partnership with the city of Superior, and generous support from maurices.
Of course, whether a shelter and its community are achieving zero euthanasia or are working toward that goal, the first step to saving more lives is collaborating with each other: The community must be committed to its homeless pets.
Instead of asking, “Are you a no-kill shelter?” the better question may be, “What can I do to help?”
Amy Miller is the marketing and communications manager for Animal Allies Humane Society. She lives in Duluth with her husband and three adopted pets: dogs Maverick and Goose, and a cat named Buddy Love.