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Delaware Makes History As First No-Kill State For Animal Shelters

mason.zimmer 12 Aug 2019

Among animal lovers, the prevailing wisdom of the day is "Don't shop, adopt." This has to do with the fact that animal shelters throughout the country are full of animals who would love nothing more than to find a forever home.

And although shelter life and loneliness are certainly not ideal for dogs, there's a lot more to the passion behind that phrase from a human's perspective. After all, unlike the animals themselves, we know that in a lot of cases, a dog that doesn't get adopted is in danger of dying.

However, we may be starting to see a change to this sad reality if Delaware's recent achievements as a no-kill state provides lessons for other states.

To discuss what has happened in Delaware, we must first define what a "no-kill" state is.

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According to CNN, the animal shelters found in a given state must collectively maintain a 90% save rate or higher to earn this designation.

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One might wonder why a 100% save rate wouldn't be required for this, and the answer has to do with how complicated life can be.

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Best Friends Animal Society, the nonprofit animal welfare organization that gave Delaware this designation, made a statement saying, "We recognize that, for some animals, euthanasia is the most compassionate choice."

So in some unfortunate cases, a 100% no-kill rate would actually turn out more cruel than it sounds.

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Nonetheless, Best Friends Animal Society strives to see the whole country meet this no-kill criterion by 2025.

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And according to their website, the other 49 states have a long way to go before they get there.

As they wrote, "Last year, about 733,000 dogs and cats were killed in our nation’s animal shelters, simply because they didn’t have safe places to call home."

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And Delaware definitely seems to be setting a good example to reaching that goal.

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Not only are they the first state to earn "no-kill" status, but the Brandyville Valley SPCA has managed to exceed the no-kill requirements as they told CNN they've maintained a 95% live release rate despite taking in over 14,000 animals per year.

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That's impressive on its own, but their rate also has a significant influence on the state's save rate at large.

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That's because they take in 60% of the state's sheltered animals, which more than quadruples the number of animals the next largest shelter in the state takes responsibility for.

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Naturally, the biggest question that comes from news like this is how the Brandyville Valley SPCA keeps its kill rate down.

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As CNN reported, part of this has to do with large-scale adoption events and programs that involve trapping, spaying and neutering cats that wouldn't be acceptable for adoption.

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The organization also runs low-cost veterinary clinics.

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That and their education and behavioral programs for troubled dogs do a lot to prevent animals from reaching a situation where euthanasia seems like an unavoidable option.

So for other states that are striving to become no-kill, these programs might provide a helpful blueprint.

h/t: CNN

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