Like many others I am quick to consider the positive effects of an action or plan, while disregarding or not considering the negative consequences.   When considering the “No-Kill” movement, saving the lives of the animals is the first thing on my mind.  However, it is not as simple as just ceasing the act of euthanizing the animals in shelters.  It is difficult to keep in mind that the shelters are euthanizing these animals for a reason.  That this act is not out of choice, but necessity.  I just read an article which gave insight into some of the problems that can accompany a shelter adopting a “No-Kill” policy .

This article was called Tupelo, Oxford faced with overflow from no-kill animal shelters.  It is about animal shelters in northern Mississippi which have adopted “No-Kill” policies and the unintended consequences.  Because of the lack of room and resources, these shelters have no choice but to turn unwanted animals away.  While adopting “No-Kill” policies is the right thing to do, the animals turned away have to go somewhere.   In this case, the owners usually end up abandoning their animals or relinquishing them to shelters in nearby counties that do practice euthanasia. It seems that few lives are being saved by the “No-Kill” policies adopted by these shelters.  The shelters manage to help a few, but many animals are turned away and end up getting euthanized anyway or cause animals in nearby counties to be euthanized to make room for them.  The main point of this article is that the few shelters that adopted No-Kill policies have caused an overflow of unwanted companion animals which has disrupted a balance between the local shelters.  The adoption of these policies also caused the shelters to become more selective about which animals they took in. Many shelters in the area have residency restrictions on the animals that they accepted, including the No-Kill shelters.  The article states that there are only two local open–door shelters which do not have residency restrictions and that these two shelters catch the spillover from the No-Kill shelters.   The term “open-door” refers to shelters that euthanize to make room for new animals.

“Open-door” is a euphemism for shelters that practice euthanasia.   “Kill Shelter” is another euphemism, which has a slightly more negative connotation.  In this article, the term “Open-door” was used in comparison to “No-Kill.”  Typically these two terms are used as cleans and dirties; however in this article, the author and some sources show that the shelters that are termed “No-Kill” are actually increasing the number of animals the “ Open-door” shelters must euthanize.  Here the article appeals to the reader’s logic to make “No-Kill” look less clean and “Open-door” look less dirty.  This shows a lack of bias and adds to the credibility of the author.  Along with showing how the “No-Kill” shelters are causing “Open-door” shelters to increase the amount of animals they euthanize, the article explains how the community is negatively affected by the “No-Kill” policies.

I feel that this article shows some very important consequences of adopting a “No-Kill” policy that are often overlooked.  In creating a “No-Kill” community, changing policy is just not enough.  The shelters that adopted the “No-Kill” policies in this article ended up turning animals away because of lack of space.  This is the underlying problem in all shelters.  Here the only difference between the “Open-door” shelters and “No-Kill” shelters is that the ”No-Kill” shelters are turning animals away, leaving owners no choice but to go to the “Open-door” shelters, where their pets end up getting euthanized.  This article describes “No-Kill” shelters, not “No-Kill” communities.  In fact, the people in the very counties where these “No-Kill” shelters are located most likely have to bring their pets to the “Open-door” shelters where they will probably be euthanized.  What is the point of being a “No-Kill” shelter if most of the pets that are relinquished in the immediate area end up being euthanized?  This article supports my idea that to create a “No-Kill” community,  we need to focus on increasing adoptions, decreasing relinquishment, educate humans before buying pets, increasing spaying/neutering, and decreasing irresponsible animal breeding.  Changing shelter policy is not enough on its own.