• Susan Houser

No Kill Progress in 2014

2014 was the year when it became impossible for one part-time person to keep up with reporting on all the communities getting to No Kill — at least, it became impossible for this part-time person. I updated over 100 shelters in over 230 communities in 2014, plus several “Worth Watching” communities. I’ve also been watching lots of larger communities that are well on the way to No Kill. There’s been no time to keep track of all the small communities with No Kill efforts because there are so many of them.

I’ve been meditating what to do about the “Running Total,” now that it no longer provides a good snapshot of the true total of No Kill communities. I may change it to a population-based rather than community-based total, with a caveat that it includes only larger jurisdictions. With No Kill spreading so fast, the population total may give a better picture of the true situation. Or it might be better to switch to an emphasis on the number of animals killed in shelters each year, which has been steadily declining.

There is another trend that may be even more important than the number of new 90% communities, and that is that the median live release rate of shelters that are not at 90% seems to be going up. Just 3 or 4 years ago most knowledgeable people would have estimated that shelters were killing about 50% of intake nationwide. Today, HSUS estimates that we have a nationwide live release rate of about 60%.

Actual nationwide data on live release rates does not exist, so I have to go on impressions, but it seems to me based on what I’ve seen in my research for the blog that the HSUS estimate is close to the mark.

A 10% increase in the average live release rate may not sound like much, but it means about 700,000 more lives saved per year. If we get another 10% increase in the live release rate in 2015, and 200,000 or more additional lives saved by the Million Cat Challenge, we could easily be under 2 million euthanasias for shelters nationwide in 2015, for a live release rate of about 73%. And that is just if current trends continue. If current trends improve, the 2015 live release rate nationwide could be even higher. So all-in-all it’s a good picture. Not the overnight change we’d all like to see, but moving forward at a good clip on what seems to be a very sustainable path.

One caveat is that we may run into a slowdown in improvement when we hit the 70% or 80% mark nationwide. I’ve heard from many people that it gets harder to improve as the save rate goes up from 70% to 80%, and even more from 80% to 90%. One thing that may be key as shelters get to 70% is the aid and support they get from non-profit organizations in the community.


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