A consultancy non-profit organisation called Target Zero are having great success in reducing the kill rate at animal shelters. They work with shelters providing them with information as to how to build a shelter with a 90+ percent shelter save rate. A no-kill shelter is one which kills less than 10% of the cats and dogs.
Target Zero say that there are two key aspects to achieving what some people regard as an impossible target. The first is to reduce the number of cats entering the shelter. They refer to community cats entering shelters. Less than 30% of these cats leave alive. Community cats are wondering domestic cats (stray cats) or semi-feral or feral cats. They are usually healthy and of good bodyweight.
The idea is to divert these cats from the shelter back to the community after going through a sterilisation/vaccination programme. This keeps them out of the shelter. When the overall intake of cats decreases there is less crowding in the shelter which allows staff more time to save the lives of the cats and dogs and the animals are less stressed.
The second major factor is reducing barriers to adoption of shelter cats and dogs. This new way of thinking is built around avoiding unnecessary restrictions to shelter cat adoption because of the fear of adopting out a cat to somebody who is inappropriate where it is thought that only 2% of people who adopt cats and dogs are inappropriate. Effectively, the 2% who are inappropriate are dictating the terms of adoption towards the 98% who good adopters. This is a bad policy. Facilitating adoption is a better policy which gets the animals out of the shelter as soon as possible.
Part of Target Zero is also to ensure that pets are sterilised as soon as possible which obviously leads to a reduction in the intake into shelters over the long term. They also say that the number of people who surrender their animals to shelters do so for reasons which can be rectified by the shelter which means they end up not surrendering the animals. Once again the objective is to reduce the intake.
The number of shelters working with Target Zero is increasing and there have been great successes. For example, in 2007-08, Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services reported taking in 12,093 animals. Of these, 10,703 were euthanised while 1,390 were released alive. After being consulted by Target Zero, in 2015-16 there were 6,688 animal intakes with 309 cases of euthanasia and 6,379 live releases. These figures are amazing to be honest. You can see the dramatic reduction in intake figures and the even more dramatic reduction in euthanasia figures.
In all 300 shelters have signed on to these practices. They report that they have killed 369,000 cats in 2015 than in 2012. That’s a lot of cat lives and it proves that these lives can be saved. The benefits of no-kill shelters go wider than the lives of cats. It reduces the emotional stress on the people killing the cats and it reflects better on the human race.
I am sure that there are more aspects to this enlightened program but I’ve touched upon the key issues in this short article.
I welcome the input of others in comments.