No Kill vs. "Regular" Animal Shelters

Hypothetical scenario here. Let’s say that I wanted to adopt a pet. Would it be better to adopt one from a no-kill shelter or a “regular” one?

I believe that animal life should be treated with at least some dignity, and should not be taken unless necessary - definitely not to simply “get rid of” the animal. But it’s a complex answer to the question, because adopting from a regular shelter, while directly saving an animal’s life, would help support the system taking it in the first place. Meanwhile, adopting from a no-kill shelter would have the exact opposite effect - supporting the system saving animal’s lives, but not saving one who’s life was actually directly in danger.


I can’t say which one is better but I know this:

The term “no-kill” shelter is a misnomer. My brother works at a no-kill, and says they put animals down if they are too sick or too feral to be adoptable. he also said one of the vets would not wear the “no kill shelter” uniform because she believed it was false advertising.

In the county I live in the shelter euthanizes 27,000 animals per year because there is no place for them to go.

We have a nation-wide charity in the UK called the Dogs’ Trust. It is completely no-kill, as healthy dogs which are not able to live with people are cared for in one of their centres as permanent residents - they have a big area where they roam freely, and people sponsor them. They also have sheltered kennels they use and are fed and cared for, but they basically live in a managed pack, as it were.

We are dog-lovers with rescued dogs and have willed a significant part of our estate to the Dogs’ Trust - we think they do wonderful work.

Adopting from a no kill shelter will create a space for another animal, there will likely be a long waiting list.

In Phoenix and Mesa there are the local animal shelters: the county dog pound and some of the no kills. The dog pound doesn’t hold animals for long. If no one adopts them, they are placed on a euthanasia list. It is sad. Either way, whether you adopt from a place that kills or from a no kill, the main thing is to get them out of there. I have had 2 dogs from shelters and both of them (one died) were wonderful. I still have the other one.

It seems reasons people have for disposing of their pets range on many levels: a person who owns a pet moves and can’t take it with. An individual drops dead at home and isn’t discovered for a while. The dog is left alone for days without food or water…and with a corpse, to boot. I have heard of people being cruel to pets and the pets were confiscated.

My dog had been left behind in an empty house. A beautiful white dog was found in Phoenix recently tied to a post. The people left their apartment, and tied their dog there, thinking sooner or later someone would take her. The dog injured her hind leg.

A friend of mine brought some feral cats to a cat shelter because some restaurant owners were going to call animal control. They were hard to trap, but she did it and brought them over to a new cat shelter.

Logically speaking, if you buy a dog from the no-kill shelter, then they have room to bring in another dog that might have gone to a shelter that does euthanize dogs after a time. I am somewhat skeptical, though, of the “no-kill” label, as I know of at least one “no kill” shelter that doesn’t euthanize on site, but if a dog isn’t chosen after a certain time, or is not sponsored by a breed rescue program, they will transfer them to another shelter, which will then euthanize them there. The fact remains that all shelters want to find homes for as many pets as possible and they know that holding onto a less desirable pet could mean the lives of multiple desirable pets.

Either. They all need homes. No kill shelters don’t kill (except in cases of dangerous animal or untreatable illness/old age) but sometimes animals sit in one of those shelters for literally years. I just took in a cat that had been at a no kill shelter for 13 years. 13. Years. This is the first home he’s ever had since he was a kitten. I follow pages on Facebook for dogs that have been in no-kill shelters for 5 years. Those animals need homes too- just because they aren’t in danger of being euthanized doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t seriously benefit from having a real home. Another option is to adopt from a rescue group, who will in turn go and save another animal from a shelter.

True from my perspective. A “regular” shelter could feasibly put down animals to make room.
(I know of only one, but still…)

Yes, but that’s where the rest of my post comes in.

Qualify of life matters. Animals that live long term in shelters often develop severe behavioral issues and become unadoptable. Sometimes the longer they are in a no-kill facility, the less likely they are to find a home.

I can’t count how many cats I’ve had; (20ish?!) all but three came from shelters, both types. This is just my experience; unadoptable animals can come from either type of shelter. I have preferred a reputable no kill shelter because they will do all they can to keep the animals healthy, thus adoptable, and then adopted. Both no kill and ‘regular’ will put down the unhealthy and/or dangerous ones. But, again in my experience, the latter has put them down just to make room. Understandable in a way, just not my preference to use.
By the way, one cat came to me privately, no shelter involved. He had feline PTSD for the abuse endured from prior owners. He seemed to calm down with us. Ya just never know, no matter where they find you.

adopting from a regular shelter, while directly saving an animal’s life, would help support the system taking it in the first place. Meanwhile, adopting from a no-kill shelter would have the exact opposite effect - supporting the system saving animal’s lives, but not saving one who’s life was actually directly in danger.

Dedicated to "T"

That’s sweet of you to take him in- I’m sure he is grateful.

I have 3 cats and 2 dogs- all rescues. Two of the cats came from a kill shelter, one from a no-kill. The one from the no-kill I already mentioned- he’s 13 and this is his first real home. He was nearly feral when we got him. He’s still like that with everyone but me- he likes me. Both dogs came from a rescue group. One of the dogs was pretty messed up mentally by being dumped by his owner - it took him months to get over it but he seems to be doing better. He’s a happy boy now. The other dog has nightmares often- I don’t know what happened to her, but wish her nightmares would stop. She’s been with us for over 2 years now. I respect people who take in rescues no matter how they get them. My plan is for all my future pets to be rescues.

T’s vet thought we prolonged his life. He wouldn’t even purr for the longest time.

I still vote for no kill.

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