Declaration of the No Kill Movement in the United States

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Declaration of the No Kill Movement in the United States

From No Kill Advocacy Center
August 2010

For more information, or to print a copy of the U.S. No Kill Declaration, click here.

This year, some four million dogs and cats will be killed in shelters. The vast majority can and should be placed into loving homes or should never enter shelters in the first place. But there is hope.

No Kill sheltering models, based on innovative, non-lethal programs and services, have already saved the lives of tens of thousands of animals. But instead of embracing No Kill, many shelters—and their national agency allies—cling to their failed models of the past, models that result in the killing of millions of dogs and cats in U.S. shelters every year.

No Kill is a revolution. And behind every revolution is a declaration—a statement of grievances, and a listing of rights and principles that underscore our great hope for the future. We assert that a No Kill nation is within our reach—that the killing can and should be brought to an end. Join us in endorsing The Declaration of the No Kill Movement in the United States.

It is open to every individual, every group, and every agency that wants to bring about an end to the killing by implementing the programs and services that will establish a No Kill nation. Programs like ensuring public access to affordable spay/neuter services, allowing rescue groups to save animals on death row, and communitywide Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) for feral cats. These are not radical concepts, but in the current sheltering world, one can be ostracized for daring to proclaim the simple truths that population control killing is not an act of kindness and that feral cats have a right to live.

Join us in speaking for those who can’t. In the length of time it will take you to read the Declaration, nearly one hundred dogs and cats will be needlessly killed.

I. Preamble

One hundred and fifty years ago, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals and other humane organizations were founded to establish standards for humane treatment of animals, to promote their rights, and to protect them from harm. This marked the formal beginning of the humane movement in the United States.

The scope and influence of these early humane organizations were testament to the public’s concern for animals. It did not take long for them to set their sights on the abuse of homeless animals and cruel methods of killing by public pounds. It was common practice at the time for city and town dogcatchers to beat, drown, or shoot homeless animals.

Many humane agencies responded by entering into animal control contracts with towns and cities to ensure that the killing was done more humanely. But in taking on municipal animal control duties, these agencies abandoned their lifesaving and life-enhancing platforms when those beliefs conflicted with their contractual responsibilities. In the current era, where laws require killing by even more “humane” methods, these contradictions have become starker.

Increasingly, the practices of both humane societies and municipal animal control agencies are out of step with public sentiment. Today, most Americans hold the humane treatment of animals as a personal value, which is reflected in our laws, cultural practices, the proliferation of organizations founded for animal protection, increased per capita spending on animal care, and great advancements in veterinary medicine. But the agencies that the public expects to protect animals are instead killing more than five million animals annually.

Lifesaving alternatives to the mass killing of animals in shelters have existed for decades. These lifesaving methods are based on innovative, humane, nonlethal programs and services that have proven that the killing can be brought to an end. Too many of these agencies, however, remain mired in the kill philosophies of the past, unwilling to or hampered from exploring and adopting methods that save lives. This is a breach of their public trust, a gross deviation from their responsibility to protect animals, and a point of view that we, as caring people and a humane community, can no longer accept or tolerate.

We assert that a No Kill nation is within our reach—that the killing can and must be brought to an end. It is up to each of us working individually and together to implement sheltering models that have already saved tens of thousands of animals in progressive communities. If we work together—with certainty of purpose, assured of our own success, with the commitment that “what must be done, will be done”—the attainment of our goals will not be far off.

II. No Kill Resolution

Now, therefore, be it resolved that No Kill policies and procedures are the only legitimate foundation for animal sheltering; and,

It is incumbent upon all shelters and animal groups to embrace the philosophy of No Kill, to immediately begin implementing programs and services that will end the mass killing of sheltered animals, and to reject the failed kill-oriented practices of the past.

III. Statement of Rights

We acknowledge the following:

IV. Guiding Principles

No Kill is achieved only by guaranteeing the following:

These conditions can be achieved only through adherence to the following:

V. No Kill Standards

The implementation of these lifesaving procedures, policies, and programs must be the immediate goal of every shelter, and animal control and animal welfare agency:

To participate and/or get more information, visit No Kill Declaration.