How Are No-Kill Animal Shelters Different?

Operation Kindness pic
Operation Kindness
Image: operationkindness.org

Like many other Texans, Stacy Cary volunteers at a local animal shelter. For a number of years, she has served at Operation Kindness in Carrollton, the largest no-kill animal shelter in northern Texas. Since its founding in 1976, the nonprofit shelter has relied on the skills of advocates like Stacy Cary to rescue more than 80,000 animals.

No-kill shelters like Operation Kindness are nonprofit organizations run separately from traditional municipal animal shelters, sometimes called kill shelters. There are distinct differences between kill and no-kill shelters.

Municipal shelters are government funded and are generally run in conjunction with local animal control services. Accordingly, these shelters are a government service and must take in all animals brought to them, regardless of temperament or space available. Animals in these shelters are euthanized if they are deemed unadoptable or to make room for pets with a better chance of being adopted. Euthanasia is performed humanely and as a last resort.

No-kill shelters are not government funded. Because they operate independently, each shelter may set its own rules about the number, age, health, and temperament of pets it takes in. When a no-kill shelter runs out of room in its facility, it temporarily turns away all incoming animals instead of euthanizing current residents to make room. While no-kill shelters will never put a pet to sleep to make space, they do sometimes need to perform euthanasia for humane reasons, or in circumstances where an animal is extremely dangerous or contagious.

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