Shelter Tour

Shelters kill every day in the U.S. despite empty cages. Empty cages mean less cleaning, less work, less effort for shelter staff. Empty cages can be found in many shelters throughout the country. Here, a shelter keeps most of the cat cages empty during the height of the busy summer season despite falsely claiming it has no choice but to kill cats “for space.”

Staff cut corners by cleaning dog kennels with high pressure hoses and caustic chemicals while leaving the dogs in the run, instead of removing them as they should. The dogs either become sick or become fearful of people and then are killed as “unadoptable.” Here, dogs are wet and shivering after being sprayed with water and chemicals.

They call it “humane euthanasia” but shelter killing is often anything but humane. Even the methods used are troublesome. Some shelters place dogs and cats in gas chambers like the one here. Gas systems take time to kill–during which animals experience distress and anxiety, and can struggle to survive. They can result in animals surviving the gassing, only to suffer more. And they take longer to kill if animals are young, old, or have respiratory infections, which can be common in shelters. They are designed for the ease of shelter workers, not care and compassion for the animals and should never be used.

View a video of animals being gassed and then being thrown in a dumpster: Gas Chambers

(Caution: this film videotaped inside a U.S. animal shelter is very graphic)

The preferred method of killing in the U.S. is an overdose of barbiturates. Although better than gas systems by far, lethal injection is not always painless either, as anyone who has witnessed the killing of animals in shelters can attest. With some animals, there is fear, disorientation, nausea and many times even a struggle. A dog who is skittish, for example, is made even more fearful by the smells and surroundings of the animal shelter. He doesn’t understand why he is there and away from the only family he has ever loved. To kill this dog, he may have to be “catch poled,” a device that wraps a hard-wire noose around the dog’s neck. He struggles to free himself from the grip, only to result in more fear and pain when he realizes he cannot. The dog often urinates and defecates on himself, unsure of what is occurring. Often the head is held hard to the ground or against the wall so that another staff member can enter the kennel and inject him with a sedative. While the catch-pole is left around the neck, the dog struggles to maintain his balance, he tries to stand, but his legs give way. He is frightened by the people around him. He does not understand what is happening. He goes limp and then unconscious. That is when staff administers the fatal dose.

Video of a dog being dragged with a catch-pole: Catch Pole

(Caution: this film videotaped inside a major U.S. animal shelter is graphic.)

Video of a dog being killed by injection and then being thrown in a dumpster: Dog Killing

(Caution: this film videotaped inside a major U.S. animal shelter is very graphic)

We are a nation of cat lovers. The cat is the most popular pet in America, with about 90 million of them sharing our homes. The vast majority will be killed, many without ever being offered for adoption. Here, a filthy litter box–one hour after the cage was supposedly “cleaned.”

Here, a cat declared “aggressive” and scheduled for destruction as “unadoptable” by untrained shelter staff.

The same cat cuddling up to someone.

From algae covered water bowls for dogs, to rabbits with no water, to puppies languishing with no care, too many U.S. animal shelters neglect, abuse and needlessly kill animals.

Whose fault is it anyway?

To this day, animal shelters continue to ignore their own culpability in the killing, while professing to lament it as entirely the fault of the public’s failure to spay/neuter or to make lifetime commitments to their animals. Instead of embracing the No Kill philosophy, many shelters are still not sterilizing animals before adoption or providing the public with affordable alternatives. Some do not have foster care programs and do not socialize and/or rehabilitate dogs with behavior issues. Still others do not take animals offsite for adoption, have not developed partnerships with rescue groups, limit volunteerism, are not practicing trap-neuter-release for feral cats, and still retain adoption hours that make it difficult for working people or families to visit the shelter. The failure to implement these programs is mostly the result of one fact: they believe a certain level of killing is acceptable. Indeed, some would go as far as to deny they are even killing.

In March of 2006, at the largest national animal sheltering conference in the United States, a featured speaker and expert on “euthanasia” flatly denied that shelters were even killing animals: “We are not killing [animals in shelters]. We are taking their life, we are ending their life, we are giving them a good death… but we are not killing.”

Listen Here

When you sugarcoat the words, you do not make the act more palatable.

The power to change the status quo is in your hands.

“No Kill is a revolution. And behind every revolution is a declaration—a statement of grievances, and a listing of rights and principles that underscore our great hope for the future. We assert that a No Kill nation is within our reach—that the killing can and should be brought to an end. Join us in endorsing The Declaration of the No Kill Movement in the United States.”

Support the cause: No Kill Advocacy Center

Sign the declaration: U.S. No Kill Declaration

Help make No Kill a reality in your community: No Kill Advocate’s Toolkit