Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

The goal of no-kill cities

idiot chair - nyc

There are some great things being done in recent years to find more animals homes and prevent euthanasia. It is a big task – currently 5 million homeless animals are killed by shelters every year.

San Francisco is, as far as I can tell, one of the first (if not the first) communities to set a goal of being a no-kill city.

In 1994, the City of San Francisco broke this tradition and ushered in the modern “No Kill” movement. The San Francisco SPCA guaranteed a home to every healthy dog and cat who entered the shelter system. But ten years after San Francisco’s groundbreaking accomplishment, only one other community has so far achieved that elusive goal.

In 2001, Tompkins County, New York became the second community in the nation to guarantee a home to all healthy, homeless dogs and cats. And in 2002, Tompkins County went one step further by saving 100% of sick and injured treatable animals and 100% of feral cats – 93% of all dogs and cats entering their open door animal control facility.*

*The Tompkins County SPCA also saved all the mice, hamsters, rabbits, goats, chickens, gerbils, and horses who made their way to the shelter. And while the No Kill Advocacy Center’s major focus is to save dogs and cats because they represent the vast majority of animals killed in shelters, we also work to save all other species of shelter animals.

NYC has had great success with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Inc., is working with the City of New York toward the day when no New York City dog or cat of reasonable health and temperament is killed merely because he or she does not have a home.

Their goal is to be no-kill by 2008. There are lots of great articles and resources on their website, and one of the links I followed was for a magazine called New York City Tails. As luck would have it, they had a recent article on a subject I’d been meaning to research – estate planning for our companion animals.

Alliance for Philadelphia’s Animals began an adoption campaign that has succeeded well beyond what the many critics thought it could do. Their goal is to make Philadelphia a no-kill city by 2015.

The Alliance for Philadelphia’s Animals is a coalition of animal welfare and animal rescue groups who are already working to control and care for the population of Philadelphia’s animals through pet adoption programs and spay-neuter initiatives. The coalition has 14 member groups now and is growing steadily.

Following a model that has successfully reduced pet euthanization in major cities across America, the Alliance, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation, is developing creative solutions to deal with issues affecting Philadelphia’s animals while serving as the liaison between animal care groups and the City.

The City of Philadelphia has begun a push for more animal adoptions, hosting adoption fairs in city parks, supporting the spay-neuter of Philadelphia’s animals, and hosting town meetings where animal welfare groups can combine efforts to solve Philadelphia’s pet overpopulation. An agreement between the City and the Alliance for Philadelphia’s Animals will result in a joint effort by the City and local animal welfare organizations to make sure that no adoptable cat or dog in Philadelphia is killed simply because he or she does not have a home.

Both groups do a lot to work on prevention – among other services, they offer low-cost spay and neuter clinics and low-cost microchipping.

They aren’t the only cities, either. A July ’06 article about L.A. had encouraging news, and language that seems to signify a shifting of attitudes, placing the blame for the “problem” on the shoulders of humans, and shining light on the fact that killing healthy animals for convenience is not, and never has been, right.

In Richmond, Va, no healthy dogs or cats were killed in 2006.

It can be done.

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10 responses to “The goal of no-kill cities

  1. Gary February 10, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing your research in this hopeful and informative post.

    “The Tompkins County SPCA also saved all the mice, hamsters, rabbits, goats, chickens, gerbils, and horses who made their way to the shelter.”

    It is nice to see “the little guys” mentioned.

    Now if we could just get the Petcos and Petsmarts and Petlands of the world to quit selling animals…my heart breaks for the forgotten animals who never make it to the shelter. But the respect and compassion inherent in the no-kill movement may have a wide reach and help build broad public support for no-sell.

  2. RichBeBe February 11, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for the info. I had no clue that NYC was working towards being a no kill town. Though I disturbed by the language they use “reasonable health and temperament” I hope that is not their “safety net” and allows them to become selective kill shelters.

  3. Jenna February 11, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    This is great news! I also didn’t know about these kind of goals being set by communities around the country. (And Tompkins County is where Ithaca is, btw. Makes me proud.)

  4. Deb February 12, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    rich, that is so funny because I would have sworn we’d talked about it! I agree though – it is worrisome that they give themselves an out, but at the same time, they can’t box themselves in and not be able to euthanize an animal that is suffering and beyond help. Something else I worry about (and haven’t looked into enough to be even close to making a statement about any of the cities mentioned in this post) is whether they find it acceptable to supply researchers with animals. I would *really* hope not, but I haven’t looked into it enough to know.

    Even Denver was able to stop its shelters from selling/adopting to class b dealers, so hopefully these cities are well beyond that also.

    Jenna, I didn’t know that Tompkins County is where Ithaca is! Makes sense, though!

    This topic, as is fairly common with many of my topics, is something I stumbled over while researching something else, and that sparked me to research more, which is one of the things I find fun about this blog.

    Gary, I knew you’d appreciate the “little guys” getting a mention with regards to Tompkins County! I’m not at all familiar with Petland, but petcos and petsmarts at least only host adoptions for cats and dogs. Maybe they could be convinced to do the same for birds and the other animals (i’m not even sure of the full list, it has been so long since i’ve been in one) they currently sell. I know there are a lot of birds that end up in rescue groups. Do you know if there is any sort of campaign or if any of the Pet*s have been approached?

  5. Gary February 12, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    PETA and other groups have tried for years to get Petco and Petsmart to stop selling animals. They have also uncovered horrid abuse at both chains. Petco had pledged to stop selling birds, but I haven’t heard much about that for months. I still see them in stores near me. Petsmart has recently started selling rabbits in some stores and has plans to expand. The source for their rabbits is a notorious puppy mill operation. About a year ago I talked with a sales director there who denied there were any plans to sell rabbits.

    As you may know, there is almost no screening of buyers in these cases.

    As you mentioned, many rescue groups, including rabbit rescue groups, hold adoption fairs at Petco and Petland, so it puts them in a bind; my sense is that rabbit groups across the board are re-thinking theur relationships with these chains.

    A couple of years ago, I spent weeks trying to talk Petco out of selling cat toys made with rabbit fur from China; even had some help from HSUS. No luck. No surprise: it’s all about the money with these places.

    And as bad as they are, Petland’s even worse – nationwide dealers of puppy mill animals, no adoptions.

    Sorry if I strayed too far off topic.

  6. Deb February 12, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Thanks Gary. I don’t think it is off-topic at all. The more adoptions and less selling that goes on, the better off everyone is. Well, maybe the breeders aren’t as plump in the pocket, but from the perspective of no-kill goals, certainly this is inline.

    I’ll have to do some more research. Thanks for the info!

  7. Bird Advocate February 14, 2007 at 5:36 am

    I would be overjoyed to see half as much concern for the endangered wildlife in California. Among them are the California clapper rail, the California least tern, the western snowy plover, and the salt marsh harvest mouse.
    These are wildlife God/nature placed in our ecology rather than irresponsible pet owners who abandon their pets that have no place outdoors.

  8. Deb February 14, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Interesting point, Bird Advocate. It is true that humans do often seem misplaced in our ecology, though I am not one that thinks of humans as “unnatural” and having no place in the ecology. We do need to learn better how to live without damaging the environment, and to not use up resources or destroy habitats that others need. And that ties right into your point about the endangered wildlife in California.

    The good news is that protecting the environment will have a positive impact on *all* wildlife, not just those who are endangered, and not just those who are living in California.

  9. Bird Advocate February 14, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    I appreciate your sense of fairness, Ma’am. As I’m sure you’re aware by now I am an activist looking at the other side of the feral cat coin. When I Google California clapper rail, California least tern, western snowy plover, salt marsh harvest mouse, and feral cat, I see humans releasing feral cats into our ecology as a major threat to our wildlife’s extinction.

  10. Deb February 14, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    The number one problem remains destruction of habitat and the poisoning of the environment, and that is not being done by feral cats. In fact, every link I googled for the species you mention and feral cats pretty specifically states just that. not to mention, ‘feral cats’ is one group among many that prey on the various species mentioned. Are you campaigning against the red fox, perchance?

    ‘Major threat’ is overstating it to a rather large degree, especially when put behind habitat destruction and environmental degredation, but I know you’ve discussed this with Gary at animalwritings, so I’ll leave it at that.

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