The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance (MPFA) read our recent post that explained what "no-kill" actually means in its real-world application. They took to social media earlier this evening to pull apart points in our blog that they feel are inaccurate. We'd like to respond to each of the four points MPFA selected as areas of disagreement to help clarify any misunderstandings.
MPFA Point 1:
KHS states that not all shelters and rescues are required to have an Animal Shelter Registration. This is accurate. As stated in our blog post, private rescue groups that operate solely through a network of foster homes (which is A LOT of rescues) are not included in the recorded statistics. KHS stands behind our original statement, as what we said in full-context is correct.
MPFA Point 2:
MPFA states that only open admission and managed admission shelters can actually achieve No-Kill status, however the SPCA of SW Michigan claims to be No-Kill, is limited admission, and has also received an award from MPFA for being a limited admission shelter with the most adoptions and a 90% or better save rate (which would put them in the no-kill zone).
MPFA Point 3:
MPFA argues that killing for space is not euthanasia, and is simply "killing".
This lack of respect for what shelter workers face every day is a huge part of the problem for open admission shelters. Many are quick to label shelter workers as "killers" who are "killing" animals. This mentality shows a complete lack of understanding for the problem of pet over-population and it puts 100% responsibility on the shelter to solve a problem that is 100% caused by the community it serves.
As someone who has had to euthanize countless animals due to a lack of space, and I can't emphasize this enough, no one who goes to work to help animals wakes up, gets dressed, heads to the shelter and looks forward to "killing" animals. NOT. A. SINGLE. ONE.
Where to these animals go? Who takes them when no one wants them? When more animals are coming in than going out, where are the overflow animals kept? This isn't a product that can simply be shelved until there is more space. This isn't excess inventory that can be returned to a storage facility until more cages become available. Shelter staff face this challenge every day.
If shelter workers are "killing" animals due to a lack of space, then it's up to the community to adopt, and the local rescues to rescue. It is unacceptable to place the guilt, blame, and negative labels on shelter workers for problems they did not create.
MPFA Point 4:
MPFA claims that our statement "No-Kill, in the sense that literally no animal will be euthanized, is a dream.", is wrong.
This is less of a right/wrong issue and seems to be a problem with the words we used. Here it would seem that MPFA is in agreement that injured, sick or dangerous animals should not be adopted, and that euthanasia would be acceptable as opposed to "warehousing" these animals.
The issue with labeling MI as a "no-kill" state is that many people interpreted "no-kill" to be literal. We feel it's very important that people understand that "no-kill" does not literally mean that no animals are euthanized, and based on the responses we received to our initial blog post on the topic, it was clarification that was needed.
Again, KHS stands behind our original statement, and it is not incorrect.
The Kalamazoo Humane Society is a non-sheltering animal welfare organization that respects the work of all shelters, rescue groups, and welfare agencies that work toward more live-release outcomes and less euthanasia of adoptable animals. We also recognize that there is a pet over-population problem and that adoptable animals are still euthanized in Michigan every day.
For this reason, KHS works tirelessly to spay and neuter, and prevent animals from ending up in shelters and rescue groups by offering programs like our pet food bank and domestic crisis sheltering. By preventing unwanted litters and by preventing animals that already have homes from entering shelters and rescues, we're hoping that shelters and rescues will be able to focus on the remaining at-risk pets that are truly in need of being rescued.
We are not alone in our concern about what effects the "kill" and "no-kill" labels have on shelters and rescues. When animal welfare groups are labeling and finger-pointing, they are dividing themselves, which in the end is bad for animals. We wish that all shelters and rescues can work together toward a common goal with the focus on the animals, and not on numbers. Statistics should never overshadow the actual work of rescuing so many unwanted and abandoned animals.