Let’s Talk About No Kill Shelters

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No one ever gets a pet thinking they’ll have to find them a new home in the future. But the simple truth is that it happens. Often, people who care about their pet can’t imagine surrendering them to a shelter. For good reason, many people who find themselves in this unfortunate situation search for no-kill shelters in hopes that they’ll find a safe place for their pet. So, let’s talk about no kill shelters, rescues and other types of shelters so you’ll be educated on what it all means – for you and your pet.

A photo of dogs surrendered to no-kill shelters

What does it mean to surrender a pet to a shelter?

Surrendering your pet to a shelter means that you are voluntarily giving up all rights to your pet. This means that the shelter decides if your pet lives, dies, gets adopted, goes into foster care or gets transferred to a rescue. Life in a shelter, even a no kill shelter, is not agreeable for a dog or cat. Not only do they experience the stress of being separated from the people they know and love, they must quickly adapt to living in an unfamiliar environment that looks nothing like home. It is chaotic, loud, and intimidating. They’re handled by strange people, confined to a cage or kennel, and then left alone to make sense of new sights, sounds, and smells.

Shelters are a necessary resource, and we support their efforts.

Shelters have a respected and essential place in our communities. About 2/3 of the animals that end up in shelters (roughly 4 million each year) are strays. Whether because of neglect, abandonment, or an accidental litter, stray animals have nowhere else to go. Found on the streets or rescued from poor living conditions, they are brought to the nearest shelter malnourished, scared, confused, and in need of medical attention. These animals need the care and rehabilitation that shelters can provide. But, ask any shelter employee if they would willingly surrender their pet to a shelter and they will emphatically tell you: a shelter is not a happy place for pets.

The difference between open-admission shelters and no-kill shelters (limited-admission shelters)

When people bring their pets to shelters due to financial reasons, death, divorce, housing restrictions, health issues, or other factors beyond their control, they may not realize that there are two distinct types of shelters: no kill shelters (also known as limited-admission shelters) and open-admission shelters.

The simple way to define the difference is that limited admission shelters, also called no kill shelters, decide which animals to take into their care. They choose pets to accept into their shelter based on a variety of factors, including a pet’s suitability as a candidate for adoption. If a pet has an illness or behavioral issue that they can’t afford, they could be deemed ineligible for adoption and turned away. Often, even healthy, adoptable pets are turned away from no kill shelters. They may just not have enough space to take them in. 

Open admission shelters do not have the luxury of deciding which pets to accept. They must accept every pet that comes to their door, stray or owner surrender, as a part of a contract they have with their municipality or city. While it’s true that they often receive funds from taxpayers to provide this service, don’t be fooled into thinking that there’s enough money to cover their expenses. In addition, when the cages and kennels are full, hard decisions must be made because pets are still coming through the front door.

There is no guarantee, even for the “winners”

Even when a pet has been found eligible for adoption and is accepted into the shelter, is in good health, and is well-behaved, they may not be adopted anytime soon. Many pets sit in cages or kennels for months, experiencing limited human interaction.

The bottom line: the current shelter-based system has flaws. We believe there’s a better way to rehome dogs and cats.

Supporting Guardians as they choose their pet’s new home

At Get Your Pet, we believe no one cares more about or better knows a pet’s needs than their Guardian. With our system, the Guardians screens potential adopters. They exchange of messages on the site and meet up at a neutral location, where the pet is most likely to act naturally. Get Your Pet gives Guardians guidance throughout the process, providing resources and tips on how to arrange a successful adoption. 

There’s no such thing as perfect. But there is such a thing as better.

Before surrendering your pet to a shelter, even to one of the many no-kill shelters, consider Get Your Pet. It truly is the simpler, smarter more humane way to rehome your pet. With Get Your Pet, you can keep your pet out of the shelter, and help them go from one good home to another.

Need to rehome a dog or cat?