What is No Kill?

To answer this, it is helpful to decide what the term “no kill” means to you:

  • Does “no kill” mean that no animal is ever euthanized?
  • Does “no kill” mean that no adoptable animal is euthanized?
  • How is adoptable defined?

Is spcaLA a “No Kill” Shelter?

spcaLA does not specifically euthanize for space or for time. We do not euthanize what we determine are adoptable animals.

We will euthanize when an animal requires medical treatment that goes beyond our ability to humanely provide, or has a condition that puts other shelter animals or workers at risk.

We will also choose euthanasia when an animal has negative behaviors, such as unmanageable aggression towards other dogs, or aggression towards people that goes beyond our ability to correct, especially if that behavior presents a safety concern to a potential adopter or to the community.

We do not feel it is responsible to place a dangerous animal in the community. We also do not feel it is responsible to imply that we would.

There are few organizations with the money and facilities to keep an animal that is ill or unsafe around people. In fact, keeping such animals while thousands of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized because there is no place to keep them could be considered an unconscionable decision.

Further, because of the collaborative spirit and mutual respect that exists between shelters in our community, spcaLA does not use the phrase “no kill” to separate ourselves from public shelters who are under the pressure of space and/or time constraints.

While “no kill” is a popular phrase in today’s animal welfare environment, we do not find its use responsible. We discourage the use of the phrase “no kill.” It hides the problem and unfairly vilifies public shelters. We instead want to be very clear to our community what our choices are and how our decisions are made.

How does spcaLA reduce the euthanasia of dogs and cats in the community?

No shelter in one community works in a vacuum. Our efforts are reflected in each other’s animal population. spcaLA is a private facility. When we run out of room, we have the luxury of closing our doors until the animals we have are adopted. We could reduce euthanasia in our shelter to zero if we did not euthanize any animals, regardless of health or behavior. However, we would quickly become full, and unable to accept animals from other shelters, since the animals here would never be placed in homes.

Public shelters, with an obligation to the city or county that funds them, do not have that luxury. When public shelters are full they have no choice but to euthanize even adoptable animals to make space for those incoming. Public shelters rely on us and other private shelters or rescue groups to take in adoptable animals and keep their population low enough to avoid euthanizing.

What about rehabilitating animals?

We work extremely hard with the limited resources we have to extend medical services. Donations and our businesses subsidize the medical care we provide to our shelter animals. As a result, many conditions that would doom the life of a dog or cat in another shelter can be treated here.

We perform amputations when needed, remove tumors, set broken limbs, and often can treat contagious conditions like mange or ringworm, all on animals that were otherwise adoptable, in order to save their life and ensure they wind up in a home.

We work diligently to provide training and behavior modification to dogs, including those with problems. Every attempt is made to work with a dog’s negative behaviors to reach a manageable stage. Perhaps with limitations, that dog can be safely placed in a home. This is not always possible but the decision to euthanize comes only after considerable effort, and with the support from staff.

Similarly, cats displaying dangerous behaviors or problems such as not using the litter box, are not just turned over to a new owner “as is.” We work with these animals in the shelter or in foster homes to determine if the problem can be “fixed.” If it can’t be fixed, euthanasia is a humane alternative.

“I don’t support euthanasia, so how can I support you?”

We don’t support euthanasia either, but until a community has a home for every dog and cat, it will inevitably occur—somewhere. Euthanasia is not the fault of any shelter, public or private. The fault belongs to people who do not support spay and neuter or practice responsible pet ownership. As long as there are owners who abuse or neglect animals, who casually discard animals, or who allow unaltered pets to run free, there will be dedicated shelter workers performing humane euthanasia.

By supporting spcaLA, you are supporting your community. We look at the entire community as our problem—not just the animals in our shelter! If there are homeless, adoptable animals anywhere in our community being euthanized, we have not yet succeeded. We cannot justify keeping unadoptable or potentially dangerous animals kenneled or caged for the rest of their lives while thousands of adoptable ones are euthanized elsewhere in our community. Even if we aren’t the ones doing it.

We have chosen the solution that allows us to save the most animals in our community, instead of just the few we can shelter in our own facilities. If you would like to comment on this statement, or have any questions, please send us an email to info@spcaLA.com.