“No-kill:” What does it really mean?
In light of complaints about the number of animals it euthanizes, the Escondido Humane Society in California has decided to stop calling itself a “no-kill” shelter.
Seems “no kill” really means “we only kill a few,” and officials of the Escondido Humane Society have decided they don’t fit either definition.
Humane society board Chairman David Knox, a veterinarian, said the board of directors decided about two weeks ago to change the designation, removing it from its literature, although the agency remains committed to limiting animal deaths as much as possible, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
“The definition of no-kill versus the public perception of no-kill are completely different,” he said. “We don’t want to seem as though we are portraying something that is not true.”
Former board member Joe Benson and his wife, Robbie, who left the organization due to concerns that too many animals were being euthanized, raised the issue at a board meeting about a month ago.
As of yesterday, the agency’s Web site still referred to itself as “amongst the few open-door, no-kill animal rescue centers in Southern California.”
No-kill, a term used by animal control agencies across the country, means that a shelter will not euthanize animals that are not terminally ill, injured or vicious, or to make space for other animals.
Escondido Humane Society Executive Director Sally Costello said that although the term is open to interpretation, her agency has followed its generally accepted definition.
“To us it means that no healthy animals will be euthanized because we’ve run out of time or we have filled up,” Costello said.
The Bensons, associated with the organization for four years, said they saw animals that could have been rehabilitated or adopted being euthanized. Dogs labeled as fearful, timid or displaying “kennel stress” sometimes were euthanized, as well as dogs with hyperthyroid disease, a treatable but incurable disease, and dogs with other minor health problems, they said.
Nathan Winograd, director of the nonprofit No Kill Advocacy Center in Oakland, said that “to be truly no-kill we’re looking at less than 10 percent of all the animals coming in being killed.”
Costello said that for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 83 percent of the dogs that came to the Escondido Humane Society left the facility alive. That number includes adoptions, lost pets returned to their owners and animals transferred to rescue organizations and other jurisdictions, she said. The number of cats saved was about 53 percent during the same time.