The No Kill Revolution

The No Kill revolution may have been started by the private San Francisco SPCA in the mid-1990s, but it is being driven by progressive animal control agencies around the country: Tompkins County, Charlottesville, and Reno are but a few. Recently, Porter County Animal Control in Indiana reduced killing rated by 94%, Montgomery County Animal Control in Texas went from an 80% rate of killing to an 18% rate of killing, Caddo Parish Animal Control in Louisiana has seen adoption/redemption rates increase 245%, and others are striving equally hard toward No Kill.

Some of these communities are in the North, some in the South. Some are urban, some rural. Some are public shelters, some are private. Some are in what we call “blue” or left-leaning states, and some are in very conservative parts of the country—at least one is in the reddest part of the reddest state. Despite all the things that separate us as Americans, people of all walks of life want to build a better world for animals.

The fundamental lesson from the experiences of these communities is that the choices made by shelter managers are the most significant variables in whether animals live or die. Several communities are more than doubling adoptions and cutting killing by as much as 75-90 percent—and it isn’t taking them five years or more to do it. They are doing it virtually overnight. Their success occurred immediately after the hiring of a new shelter director committed to No Kill and passionate about saving lives.

In Reno, for example, a new director’s commitment to the No Kill philosophy resulted in an increase in the adoption rate of 53% for dogs and 84% for cats and decrease in the number of dogs killed by 51% and the number of cats killed by 52% countywide in her first year. Not content with saving nine out of ten dogs and eight out of ten cats, in 2008 she led an effort which further increased adoptions by an additional 9% and decreased killing another 10%. The director’s appointment followed the 20-plus year reign of a darling of HSUS—a member of their national sheltering committee—who for two decades found killing easier than doing what was necessary to stop it.

This is also the story of Tompkins County, Charlottesville, Porter County, Montgomery County, and all the others. The buck stops with the shelter’s director.

And that is ultimately why the question of public vs. private shelter, urban vs. rural, or South vs. North is not relevant. The only relevant inquiry is whether the shelters are run by truly compassionate directors working to rigorously implement the only national model that has achieved success—The No Kill Equation. And that is why any argument that “every community is unique” or its residents are particularly—or peculiarly—“irresponsible” is simply excuse making.

The time has come for animal advocates to broaden their understanding of why animals are really being killed in shelters, to stop accepting the excuses which rationalize the killing, and to stop providing regressive shelter directors the political cover they need to continue killing. The animal protection movement must find the moral courage to stand up to shelters directors who refuse to change the way their shelters operate, to national organizations like HSUS which legitimize the killing, and also to the Naysayers in our midst who choose to ignore or remain willfully ignorant of that facts and champion defeatism by repeating the mantra, “It can’t happen here”.

By replacing kill-oriented shelter leadership, by boycotting groups that oppose No Kill, and by silencing the voices of negativity and failure, we pave the way for No Kill’s conquest of the status quo. And that conquest will give animals entering U.S. shelters a new beginning, instead of what they currently face unnecessarily and much too often—the end of the line.

The Bark

A new year, a new president, and new hope for a No Kill nation. Read my editorial “No Kill Nation” in this month’s issue of The Bark magazine. Available wherever books and magazines are sold.

Building a No Kill Houston

The No Kill Conference in Washington DC has sold out two months in advance, a testament to the desire and hunger for a No Kill nation. If you did not register in time, consider the all-day No Kill seminar in Houston, TX:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Come to the all-day seminar which has been called “a prerequisite for rescue groups and organizations that are serious about changing their communities to No Kill.”

Workshops include:

•    Building a No Kill Community: Cost-effective Lifesaving Programs
•    Big Dogs, Shy Cats & All the Rest: Finding Homes for All of Them
•    Saving Shelter Dogs: Evaluation, Socialization, Treatment & Placement
•    Feral Cat Care & Advocacy
•    Reforming Animal Control: A Guide to Citizen Action

For more information, go to

To register, go to

Proceeds benefit No Kill Houston.

BOGO (For Your Local Shelter) Free

Buy One Get One (for a local shelter) Free!

From now until March 31, buy one copy of Redemption from the No Kill Advocacy Center for you or a friend and get a second  one sent to the manager or director of your local animal shelter free.

Help spread the No Kill revolution with the book which is being called “powerful and inspirational,” “ground-breaking,” and “a must read for anyone who cares about animals.” Winner of USA Book News Award for Best Book (Animals/Pets), a Best Book Muse Medallion winner by the Cat Writers Association of America, a Best Book nominee by the Dog Writers Association of America and winner of a Silver Medal from the Independent Publishers Association, the book shatters the notion that killing animals in U.S. shelters is an act of kindness.

To purchase, go to and click on “What’s New.”

Reforming Animal Control

The No Kill Advocacy Center’s latest e-newsletter, The No Kill Advocate, is dedicated to Reforming Animal Control and includes features on shelter reform legislation, litigation, a guide to citizen action, pet limit laws, liability, and more.

Read it at by clicking on “No Kill Advocate.”

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