No-kill. It’s a common term in the animal welfare industry. It’s also become an important label that many look for when determining if a rescue organization is worthy of their support. While it seems straightforward, there’s more to this label than you might think.
Where no-kill began:
The term “no-kill” comes from a movement that began in the 1980s and 90s. At the time, a common way to obtain a dog or cat was to go to your local breeder. Shelter animals were often seen as a less desirable, broken alternative for those who couldn’t afford a purebred animal.
No-kill was formed as a response to the overwhelming numbers of healthy animals being euthanized in shelters across the United States. The no-kill campaign asked for a commitment from communities to take proper measures to save all healthy and treatable pets from unnecessary euthanasia.
And it worked. According to Shelter Animals Count, a national database that began gathering shelter data in 2011, adoption numbers have more than quadrupled over the last decade. As adoption became more popular with the public, shelters were able to gain more funding, which helped build larger facilities, hire more staff to care for (and help rehabilitate) animals, and purchase better medical equipment. And as funding grew, the number of healthy and treatable animals being euthanized decreased.
But a label once meant to unite communities in saving animal lives now divides the animal welfare industry.
The no-kill definition:
To be considered no-kill, a shelter or rescue has to have at least a 90% placement rate for the animals in their care. At the end of 2022, YVAS had a save rate of 96%, meaning we meet the qualifications to be considered no-kill. However, we’ve made a deliberate decision NOT to identify as a no-kill organization. It’s language we don’t, and we won’t, use to describe ourselves or any other animal rescue agency. Why? Check out the five facts below about no-kill, what it means, and why YVAS does not use it.