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A few years ago, I was soundly scolded by a good friend for featuring a notorious "kill shelter" in an ongoing "adopt a shelter cat month" series of featured shelters around the U. S. My response echoed my feelings then, (which are pretty much the same today), that while we might deplore the conditions at some shelters, the solution is not to turn our collective backs on them, but to support the selfless volunteers who are doing all they can to improve conditions, and to make life a little better for those cats that faced an almost guaranteed death.

It would be an understatement to say that this is a hotly-debated subject. Just this morning I happened upon an About.com Cats Forum discussion wherein one member rejoiced that her local shelter had changed to "no-kill," while other members questioned which is really better. Both sides had valid arguments and voiced them with calm yet respectful language.

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August 2, 2007 at 6:32 pm
(1) Alice says:

I’ve never adopted from a no-kill shelter, but I have supported them in fund raisers and such. I suppose I feel more urgency to “rescue” a cat from a so-called “kill shelter” over a no-kill shelter.

August 2, 2007 at 10:10 pm
(2) Karen says:

I have adopted from both, but I have to admit that the kill shelter rescues gave me a greater feeling of having “personally” saved lives. The day I went, (early summer), there were over 60 kittens at the city shelter. The gentleman who worked there told me that after the spring mating season they had to put down many cats/kittens every day. The two kittens I saved (Bonnie & Clyde) and gave to my parents (after their 16 year old dog had passed) made me feel like I had made room in the non-kill shelters for more lives.

Great thanks to all the volunteers/workers who help animals at ANY type of animal adoption center – SPAY AND NEUTER your pet!

August 3, 2007 at 8:45 am
(3) Kelly says:

I have adopted from both, and have 3 wonderful cats because of it! My first was from a non-kill, and I was pleased to know the other “tenants” would be safe. However, there is a feeling of “saving” those kittens whose lives would be cut short if I didn’t come along. The kittens still exist in both, so I would choose to support the kittens, not the shelter and their practices. I’ll agree with Karen – SPAY and NEUTER your pets! I repeat this in so many conversations with others on a regular basis! :-)

August 3, 2007 at 3:24 pm
(4) Lee Jones says:

My wife and I volunteer at a no-kill cat shelter. We are constantly at capacity, and the shelter is financed principally by the family who started the shelter in the first place.

I understand why state-funded shelters kill cats; they, too are at capacity and have limited resources. I disagree with the policy, and it does make me very, very sad, but I understand why.

That said, kill shelters would have the tendency to demoralize volunteers and staff, and you wouldn’t want to get attached, would you, knowing you couldn’t save most of the cats? As such, I think you would naturally find people that don’t SEEM to care, but PLEASE remember that they may just be protecting themselves from hurt, so BE NICE to the people there.

One last thing: if you’re reading this, and you have a strong opinion about kill/no-kill shelters, then get involved. Spend you time, spend your money; then, you can legitimately criticize what you understand, if you still want to.

August 3, 2007 at 3:54 pm
(5) Pat says:

I adopted Coco Bear from a kill shelter. I think there’s a place for both kids. Until people spay and neuter their animals it would be practically impossible for all shelters to be no-kill, although I’m sure all would love to be no-kill. Rather than criticizing shelters for killing unadoptable animals when the numbers are overwhelming, we need to educate people to act responsibly by not dumping animals and by making sure they all get fixed at the earliest possible age.

November 29, 2007 at 11:32 am
(6) Jordan says:

Hey guys i have never really thought much about these kill shelters and no kill shelters before. but i resently got assigned this topic for a 6-10 page argumentative essay in my english class, im a senior in high school and need to do well on this paper to graduate. So i was wondering if any one could help me out with getting some information on this topic it would be greatly apprechiated. thank you for your help

Edited by Cats Guide to delete email address inserted by commenter.

November 29, 2007 at 6:52 pm
(7) Franny Syufy says:

Jordan asks: “So i was wondering if any one could help me out with getting some information on this topic it would be greatly apprechiated.”

Jordan, do you know how to click on links? The title of this blog post is blue, which means it is a clickable link. Click on it and you’ll find a full pros and cons discussion about the topic.

December 12, 2008 at 10:56 pm
(8) Desirae says:

I used to think that no-kill shelters are great, and that they should be fully supported by everyone. Unfortunately, my views have been changed on this recently.

My husband and I are both in the US Army, and were unexpectedly reassigned to a new post, and the housing there will not allow pets. After looking everywhere to find some new owners for our two beloved cats, we were unsuccessful, so we finally consented that we would have to take them to the local non-kill shelter.

Upon arriving at the shelter, I saw some very deplorable conditions, and was just stunned. There was a huge barn with stacks of cages and travel kennels piled on top of one another. Each cage held one dog or one or two cats. Outside, there was small shack with fencing all around it where more cats were kept. They were in much better conditions than the outside dogs. There were dozens of medium-sized pens with 4 or 5 dogs to a pen. There was no shelter except for a blue tarp positioned over the pen. There were horses as well. I counted about 5 horses, contained in only about 1 acre of fenced, muddy land. I saw no stable, but I admit that there may have been one behind the house that I could not see.

My husband and I didn’t even talk to the director of the ‘shelter.’ We got right back in our jeep and drove away. Upon arriving home, I sent out a few emails, and filed a complaint about the despicable conditions these animals were being kept in.

We leave right after New Years, and are still searching desperately for a home for our cats. Our last chance will be when we make a trip to Ohio to see family. There is a no-kill shelter reserved for cats in Columbus that my husband’s parents inspected and assured us that the conditions there were satisfactory. I will call this place tomorrow, but if they are not accepting any cats, then we may be forced to turn them into the local kill shelter, which terrifies me. One of my cats is over 10 years old, and he would be first on the list for euthanasia.

BTW, if anyone lives around Raeford, NC and wants two male cats, please email me at godsmackgrl3@gmail.com. We’re desperate.

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