11 Steps to the No Kill Equation

The No-Kill Equation by Nathan Winograd and The No Kill Advocacy Center

As published in his book and on his website, The No Kill Equation is the standard blueprint to follow that has been implemented successfully in many communities. Please visit his website to read more: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/nokillequation.html

Here is the equation:


I. Feral Cat TNR Program
Many communities throughout the United States are embracing Trap, Neuter, Release programs (TNR) to improve animal welfare, reduce death rates, and meet obligations to public welfare.

II. High-Volume, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter
Low cost, high volume spay/neuter will quickly lead to fewer animals entering the shelter system, allowing more resources to be allocated toward saving lives.

III. Rescue Groups
An adoption or transfer to a rescue group frees up scarce cage and kennel space, reduces expenses for feeding, cleaning, killing, and improves a community’s rate of lifesaving. In an environment of millions of dogs and cats killed in shelters annually, rare is the circumstance in which a rescue group should be denied an animal.

IV. Foster Care
Volunteer foster care is crucial to No Kill. Without it, saving lives is compromised. It is a low cost, and often no cost, way of increasing a shelter’s capacity, improving public relations, increasing a shelter’s public image, rehabilitating sick and injured or behaviorally challenged animals, and saving lives.

V. Comprehensive Adoption Programs
Adoptions are vital to an agency’s lifesaving mission. The quantity and quality of shelter adoptions is in shelter management’s hands, making lifesaving a direct function of shelter policies and practice. In fact, studies show people get their animals from shelters only 20% of the time. If shelters better promoted their animals and had adoption programs responsive to the needs of the community, including public access hours for working people, offsite adoptions, adoption incentives, and effective marketing, they could increase the number of homes available and replace killing with adoptions. Contrary to conventional wisdom, shelters can adopt their way out of killing.

VI. Pet Retention
While some of the reasons animals are surrendered to shelters are unavoidable, others can be prevented—but only if shelters are willing to work with people to help them solve their problems. Saving animals requires communities to develop innovative strategies for keeping people and their companion animals together. And the more a community sees its shelters as a place to turn for advice and assistance, the easier this job will be.

VII. Medical and Behavior Programs
In order to meet its commitment to a lifesaving guarantee for all savable animals, shelters need to keep animals happy and healthy and keep animals moving through the system. To do this, shelters must put in place comprehensive vaccination, handling, cleaning, socialization, and care policies before animals get sick and rehabilitative efforts for those who come in sick, injured, unweaned, or traumatized.

VIII. Public Relations/Community Involvement
Increasing adoptions, maximizing donations, recruiting volunteers and partnering with community agencies comes down to one thing: increasing the shelter’s exposure. And that means consistent marketing and public relations. Public relations and marketing are the foundation of all a shelter’s activities and their success. To do all these things well, the shelter must be in the public eye.

IX. Volunteers
Volunteers are a dedicated “army of compassion” and the backbone of a successful No Kill effort. There is never enough staff, never enough dollars to hire more staff, and always more needs than paid human resources. That is where volunteers come in and make the difference between success and failure and, for the animals, life and death.

X. Proactive Redemptions
One of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims. Sadly, besides having pet owners fill out a lost pet report, very little effort is made in this area of shelter operations. This is unfortunate because doing so—primarily shifting from passive to a more proactive approach—has proven to have a significant impact on lifesaving and allow shelters to return a large percentage of lost animals to their families.

XI. A Compassionate Director
The final element of the No Kill equation is the most important of all, without which all other elements are thwarted—a hard working, compassionate animal control or shelter director not content to regurgitate tired clichés or hide behind the myth of “too many animals, not enough homes.” Unfortunately, this one is also oftentimes the hardest one to demand and find.

7 responses to “11 Steps to the No Kill Equation

  • Dana

    I have to confess to being one of the people who doesn’t adopt pets from shelters. Why? Because, in my area, the inquisition the shelter subjects prospective adopters to is absolutely punishing. I’m not sure they would approve me since I’m a grad student, and being a private person, the interrogation they give you is hard for me to face. Combine that with their totally naive and idealistic view of what kind of homes are minimally acceptable, and animals die.

    How many animals would be saved if they would adopt to:
    – Students
    – People with full-time jobs
    – People without jobs
    – People looking for hunting dogs (have you ever met an unhappy hunting dog?)
    – People looking for service animals
    – People who live in apartments
    – People without fenced yards (assuming the animal would be kept inside and not tied or left to roam free)
    – People who have given up pets in the past (not that I approve of these people, just to be clear!)
    – People who would allow cats outside
    – People who would walk dogs off-leash
    – People who would have cats declawed
    – People who are unable to promise “forever homes”
    – People who aren’t comfortable with home inspections (especially in the case of shelters whose policies are to “check in” without notice to make sure the pet is being cared for “adequately”)
    – People who don’t want to promise to return a pet to the shelter if they can’t keep it (personally, I’d rather choose my pet’s new owner and make sure it wasn’t euthanized if I were in this position)

    I know this is probably going to be an unpopular comment, but I wish shelters would ask themselves – would they rather have a cat DIE than be declawed? Would they rather kill a dog than take a chance it would be hit by a car walking off-leash? I do believe there are fates worse than death, but those fates, in my view, are neglect and abuse, not the situations I described above.

    Where I lived before, in Oregon, we had an awesome humane society that was really positive toward prospective adopters. My in-laws adopted two cats from them and had a great experience. I went with them and would totally have adopted a pet there as well. They asked some questions but weren’t intrusive, just to make sure my in-laws were responsible people. That humane society successfully places 96% of adoptable dogs and 85% of adoptable cats. This is why.

    • Meg Givans

      Dana what you are referring to are shelters that have applications for adoption, this place is the city pound. You can adopt from the city pound without an extensive background check, employment status, etc. Many people are under the impression that you cannot adopt directly from Animal Control, which is not true. The facility I’m referring to is a high kill facility here in the south, as most are, and you can adopt from ours for $65-$75 and that includes the Spay/Neuter voucher. Humane Society’s and other Rescue Shelters have a more stringent application process, the only thing you need to adopt here is a driver’s license/photo id and an address and phone #. That’s it! So please, next time you want an animal adopt one from your local animal control facility. You may be surprised to find out that there are many pure bred dogs and cats there and in danger every single day. Every animal deserves a loving home, and whether you get them from a breeder or a shelter it’s the same to me. I do however think there needs to be a much stronger policy on back yard breeders and puppy mills which should be outlawed. But all comments and opinions are welcome on my page. That’s why it’s here.

  • Casey Krasnecky

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    • Meg Givans

      Thank you. I have been busy lately but hope to start back to blogging on a regular basis. I will try to keep it updated with the most pertinent info. Thank you for your support! Also i would love to hear some suggestions about topics you would be inerested in reading more about!

  • website

    Have you thought about adding some videos to your article? I think it will really enhance viewers understanding.

  • regim hotelier arad

    Pleasant page, I genuinely benefited from glossing over it, keep doing the hard writing.

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