I think this is super important to remember.


I once volunteered at a no-kill shelter and while I’m definitely not saying all are like this the director there was insane.

She was so selective about dogs that the shelter was at somewhere under a quarter capacity, maybe closer to an eighth, and swarming with volunteers daily (by swarming I mean there were at least 6 of us that I knew of taking care of about 40 animals, both dogs and cats, and that’s just on the 3 days a week my mom and I volunteered).

She was also intensely selective about potential homes, demanding things like 6 or 8 foot fences and sometimes privacy fences. It lead to the reason I left.

A dog, less than a year old, came in and was named Dirty because he came in covered in mud. Super cute, looked like a real Scooby Doo if Scooby was a yellow lab cross. I was I think 13 or 14, which is important to the rest of the story. My aunt, who also volunteered there with a cousin, found Dirty a home. Single guy, just bought a house with a fenced in yard, loved Dirty and wanted him desperately. Great fit, right?

Wrong. Director says Dirty is an escape artist and he needs to put in a taller fence (I don’t remember how tall it was to begin with). Then she amends it must be a privacy fence because Dirty was teased by children (how we knew when he was a stray I don’t know for sure unless someone caught the kids) and therefore because dude has neighbors who have children Dirty is going to rip their faces off.

Remember how old I was? At 13 I looked more like 10 or 11 because I’m short and have a rounder face. I’d been taking Dirty for walks to the run yard (with a 4 foot fence, imagine that) for weeks and had never had one incident with him being at all aggressive, not even with visitors coming up to greet him. He was a typical dog.

So dude says “let me think on it” because installing a new fence is fucking expensive much less privacy fence. He comes back four or five days later and says he talked to all his neighbors and got a date to have it installed, he’d still love to have Dirty but its just going to be a week maybe until the fence is replaced. But Dirty isn’t there anymore.

Did he get adopted by a family that wanted him and already had the means? Nope.

The director took him to the county shelter, told them he was completely non-adoptable, relinquished him to them, and had them put him down on the spot.

She relinquished him so that the “no-kill” part of their reputation was intact, technically it was county who had possession of him before she had him put down.

When we visited the shelter later, overcrowded and with employees doing their best with a scattering of volunteers, they said this wasn’t unusual for the director, that she had brought animals to them before to relinquish and euthanize.

I did a school report maybe a year later about adoption volume vs euthanasia or “relinquishment” by both shelters. I don’t remember the results aside from sheer numbers being drastically different but I remember the no-kill director asking me to volunteer again as she printed off a single page of hand typed results (ie not printed from a spreadsheet or other database, but she typed up the page while chatting to me), volunteers swarming over the half empty building.

The director of the county shelter? I sat on the floor of her tiny office helping bottle feed a box full of abandoned kittens she’d been taking home with her while she printed me something like 10 pages of statistics from a spreadsheet and fielded phone calls.

Support your local shelter, guys, they’re doing their best with what they have. And no-kill doesn’t always mean what you think it does.