Our Commitment to Achieve No-Kill


Understanding No-Kill

Our goal is to achieve no-kill and to provide Hidalgo County with a community-wide no-kill animal shelter and community center that serves people and pets.

Approximately two million homeless dogs and cats are killed annually in America’s shelters. That means that nearly 5,500 animals are killed every day. They are being killed simply because they do not have a safe place to call home. Together we can change that.

At Best Friends and in many animal welfare organizations throughout the country, euthanasia is defined purely as an act of mercy. Euthanizing a pet is considered only when veterinary or behavioral experts determine that an animal’s condition is untreatable, and the animal has little or no chance of an acceptable quality of life.

no-kill community is one that acts on the belief that every healthy, adoptable dog and healthy cat should be saved, and that its focus should be on saving as many lives as possible through pet adoption, spay/neuter, trap-neuter-return and other community support programs rather than achieving a specific numerical outcome.

With that said, we understand the importance of having a quantitative benchmark that communities can use as a goal. Saving 90 percent or more of the animals who enter shelters is the current benchmark for no-kill. This means that for a community to be considered “no-kill,” all of its shelters and animal welfare facilities responsible for animal control intake must be saving 90 percent or more, collectively, of the animals who enter their system.

Defining Healthy and Treatable

Healthy or treatable animals: This segment of the animal population includes those who are fully healthy and behaviorally sound around people and other animals. It also includes animals with behavioral and medical issues that can be addressed and/or managed, such as (but not limited to):

  • Ringworm

  • Upper respiratory infection

  • Leash and barrier reactivity

  • Mange

  • Dental disease

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Resource guarding

  • Anxiety

  • Need for limb amputation

  • Heartworm

  • Ear infection

Unhealthy/untreatable animals: This category includes dogs with severe behavioral challenges or dogs and cats with medical issues who are irremediably suffering with no possibility of a positive outcome.

Euthanasia: Defined purely as an act of mercy, euthanasia should be reserved for dogs and cats who have irredeemable medical situations and are experiencing serious and irreversible reduction in quality of life, or dogs whose behavior obstacles make them unsuitable for rehabilitation.

Killing: The definition of “killing” is ending the life of an animal who is healthy or treatable (either medically or behaviorally) as a means of creating space for incoming animals in a shelter or for other considerations.

What “No-Kill” Doesn’t Mean

“No-kill” has become an emotionally and politically charged term for many people, which is why it’s imperative that, as a no-kill advocate, you understand what no-kill doesn’t mean.

“No-kill” does not mean that: shelters that haven't reached no-kill, and their employees, are willing killers, or that dangerous or sick animals will be released into the community, or that shelters will start warehousing animals indefinitely. 

Each community is collectively responsible for its decisions regarding homeless animals and for creating safe, humane environments for the people and pets who live in them.

A No-Kill Community

More than 500 communities around the United States successfully run no-kill shelters, saving over 90% of the animals that enter their facility. Some of these shelters are managed by municipalities, while others are run by private organizations. Some organizations take in thousands of animals a month, and others take in fewer than 100 a month. With the help and support of the community, and with the no-kill mission at heart, communities across the nation are saving thousands of lives.

How You Can Help Save Lives

Adopt, donate, foster, support or volunteer. With your help, we can achieve no-kill.

To learn more about no-kill and the impact that it has on the lives of pets and the communities in which they live, visit Best Friends Animal Society, the leader of the national no-kill movement. You can also make a direct positive impact on our path towards no-kill by making a charitable contribution today. 

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