“No Kill” Vs. “Kill” Shelters/Rescues

In todays world of rescuing being the thing to do when one wants a dog it can be difficult to determine which shelters/rescues deserve your support, or not.

There are many, many factors that should be considered when choosing a shelter/rescue, but for now I’m going to focus specifically on if the shelter/rescue will euthanize animals or not.
First I’ll explain the difference: a no kill shelter/rescue will not put down a dog no matter how “unwanted” the dog is, a kill shelter/rescue will put dogs down when they prove to be unwanted.  There are of course gradients on both sides. There are no-kills that take in a huge range of wanted-unwanteds, and those that take in only highly wanted dogs… and those kill shelters that destroy a dog x days after it’s entered, versus those that will keep an adoptable dog as long as it’s still adoptable.

So off the start it sounds like no-kill is the way to go.  It sounds great and ideal and keeps the warm fuzzies going – no pressure to pick a pup as they are all loved and wanted.  The problem being that these shelters and rescues tend to(this isn’t always true, some places are pretty intense on their work) take only the adoptables, leaving being the ones that would be put down in the shelters that will do so.  Some of these shelters/rescues will take on just puppies, or puppies and adorable, well-behaved, older dogs.  Some won’t take on animals with medical health problems.  While I am very supportive of anybody who truly cares about animals these shelters are not necessarily inherently better than a shelter that does euthanize the “truly unwanted” as they may just go to those shelters and remove the cute ones.

The reality is that currently there are more dogs than homes out there.  Some dogs (almost) nobody will want(or be able to work with) because of fear/aggression issues.  Volunteers may try for awhile to work through the issue but some dogs are just too far gone to be considered adoptable – they’re overlooked by the no-kill shelters and the kill shelter has to make a decision.  Does the shelter keep the spot full with a dog that nobody wants, or open the spot for another dog that has a chance and would be put down otherwise due to the spot being full?  This sucks, honestly.. but it is reality currently.  We don’t have a plethora of people sitting at rescues ready/able to jump in and take the needy – though there are rescues out there that do so.  In todays world it’s a sad reality that if you have 100 spots, 100 adoptable dogs and 10 unadoptable, the unadoptables don’t have a spot.

So while I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, please don’t refer to “kill shelters” as filthy for they are often just making the hard decision/action that other rescues who don’t carry the label don’t have to do.  With that being said do put in your research to anything you look at – some places only put down animals that have no chance, some destroy any animal within 2 weeks of them entering the doors.  Watch for that please, the ideal world is supporting a place that gives everybody a chance and honestly works with them and that only euthanizes in the case of an animal who won’t get adopted.  (Just as a note: some places say 2 weeks because they’re just getting that many dogs and would have to euthanize straight upon receiving any new dog if they don’t have a time restricted policy – you’ll have to decide if you want to support that or not, just like you’ll have to decide to agree with me or not, I’m just not going to make a case for or against this.)

And for my needing to say this because I’d feel horrid if somebody made a drastic decision and a dog had to pay for it… just because you see a dog that needs to be adopted to survive doesn’t mean you should get it.  While the thought of a pup with fear/aggression issues being put down just because nobody could reach through to it is depressing – it’s not fair to the pup to be picked up by somebody who doesn’t have the training/knowledge/resources available to give it a happy life and you’d just be prolonging the suffering.  Please don’t make rash decisions when picking a pup, everybody is unique and wants a unique dog.  Lilo is a hellspawn to many many people but to me her excitement and energy are exactly what we need.  If you’re more laid back then get the lazy drooling dog that looks adorable to you because you fit and will make each other happy.  Stepping slightly outside of your comfort zone is a far cry from taking a dog that has issues that you aren’t prepared to face – please only get a dog that you have the knowledge/experience for, thank you.

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