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The No Kill Model

I. Feral Cat TNR Program

Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is the only proven method for lowering the numbers of feral/community cats in an area. The traditional "catch and kill" model does not work, and only creates a vacuum for new cats to enter a territory. We believe that even though these cats are not adoptable, they should be allowed to live. TNR succeeds in lowering the population and cats can live long, happy and healthy lives after being altered. Alley Cat Advocates is one example of an agency using TNR to lower the population without killing.


II. High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter

Low cost, high volume spay/neuter will quickly lead to fewer animals (particularly puppies, kittens, loose pets, and animals injured by cars) entering the shelter system, allowing more resources to be allocated toward saving lives. 

III. Rescue Groups

An adoption or transfer to a rescue group frees up scarce cage and kennel space, reduces expenses for feeding, cleaning, killing, and improves a community's rate of lifesaving. In an environment of millions of dogs and cats killed in shelters annually, rare is the circumstance in which a rescue group should be denied an animal.

IV. Foster Care

Foster care is crucial to the No Kill Model. It is a low/zero cost way of increasing a shelter's capacity. It also improves public relations and increases a shelter's public image. It gives rescues a chance at rehabilitating sick, injured, or behaviorally challenged animals. And of course, fostering saves lives. With a foster program, the "walls of the shelter" are limitless! 

V. Comprehensive Adoption Programs

Adoptions are vital to an agency's lifesaving mission. The quantity and quality of shelter adoptions is in shelter management's hands, making lifesaving a direct function of shelter policies and practice. 

VI. Pet Retention

Shelters must develop innovative strategies for keeping people and their companion animals together. Surrenders can be prevented through counseling and resource referrals. When citizens see the shelter as a place for advice and assistance, this becomes much easier.

VII. Medical and Behavior Programs

The shelter must put in place comprehensive vaccination, handling, cleaning, socialization, and care policies before animals get sick. They should also develop rehabilitative plans for those who come in sick, injured, nursing (neonates), or traumatized.

VIII. Public Relations/Community Involvement

Increasing adoptions, maximizing donations, recruiting volunteers, and partnering with community agencies comes down to one thing: increasing the shelter's exposure. Public relations and marketing are the foundation of a shelter's activities and success. To go No Kill, the shelter must be in the public eye.


IX. Volunteers

Volunteers are a dedicated army of compassion and the backbone of a successful No Kill effort. There is never enough staff, never enough dollars to hire more staff, and always more needs than paid human resources. That is where volunteers come in and make the difference between success and failure. And for the animals, the difference between life and death.

X. Proactive Redemptions

One of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims. Sadly, besides having pet owners fill out a lost pet report, very little effort is made in this area of shelter operations. This is unfortunate because doing so has proven to have a significant impact on lifesaving by allowing shelters to return a large percentage of lost animals as well as garner more public support for the shelter. Shelters would be primarily shifting from passive to a more proactive approach.


XI. A Compassionate Director

A hard working, compassionate animal control or shelter director not content to regurgitate tired clichés or hide behind the myth of ?too many animals, not enough homes.? Change starts at the top, because No Kill has to be an organized, all-encompassing effort.

No Kill 2.0


In recent years, some shelters have been so successful at saving animals, they began to wonder "Why stop at saving 98%?" These shelters started to also focus on the following:

I. Palliative and Hospice Care

for animals nearing the end of their life, such as animals plagued with cancer. Caregivers, usually foster homes, dedicate themselves to providing hospice support, pain management, and assessing quality of life. The animal's will to live is honored, and the pet is kept happy and comfortable as long as it seems interested. When the time comes, the animal is humanely released from its suffering through euthanasia.

II. Sanctuary Care for "Non-Rehabilitateable" animals,

usually the rare dogs considered too aggressive to be placed in a home. A team of well-trained staff and volunteers work with these animals and give them a good quality of life in sanctuary, with plenty of appropriate stimulation and interaction for each dog.

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