Ending Euthanasia

The 11 Steps to End Euthanasia

These steps are well known in the No-Kill shelter world.  We believe all shelters should strive to reduce and eliminate euthanasia.  Only truly suffering animals with no cure or treatment to aid them, should be put down.  However, some shelters, including shelters in Iowa, deem dogs unadoptable for treatable conditions such as nails needing to be trimmed.  I kid you not!!

Please take a moment to learn these 11 steps, A.P.E. was the first non-profit in Central and Western Iowa to offer TNR and we are (as of Jan 2014) the only mobile TNR provider in the entire state of Iowa!

A.P.E. has always offered the services described below.  We are doing our part to End Euthanasia!


Repeatedly, it has been demonstrated that No-Kill can be achieved in every community, regardless of economic status, animal intakes, or geographic location through a series of programs collectively referred to as the No-Kill equation. When vigorously implemented together, these programs have been proven to eliminate the need for euthanasia as a means of population control in any kind of animal shelter. The factors in this equation include:

1.  Feral Cat TNR Program
Trap-Neuter Release (TNR) programs allow shelters to reduce death rates of free-living cats. Traditional methods of managing the feral cat populations have involved removing cats from their home territories and euthanizing them. Modern community cat management strategies involve neutering the cats and returning them to their capture site (TNR).  As a neutered community cat population ages, the number of cats will decrease by natural attrition and will not be replaced by subsequent generations. Numerous studies have shown that trap/neuter/return is the most effective way to reduce community cat populations over time, and it is the only successful method to keep feral cats from being euthanized.

2.  High Volume, Low Cost Spay and Neuter Services
No-and low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter reduces the number of animals entering the shelter system, allowing more resources to be allocated toward saving lives. These services should be readily available to targeted populations of people unable to afford the surgery at the normal rate and/or specific jurisdictions within a community known for having a large number of unaltered animals. These services have been proven to reduce shelter intake, making spay and neuter incredibly cost effective.

3.  Rescue Groups
Rescue groups provide a valuable resource to shelters. An adoption or transfer to a rescue group free up kennel space, reduce expenses, and will improve a community’s rate of lifesaving.  Partnerships between shelters and rescue groups are vital, and rare is the circumstance in which a licensed rescue group would be denied an animal.

4.  Foster Care
Volunteer foster care is a low-cost and often no-cost way of increasing a shelter’s capacity, caring for sick and injured or behaviorally challenged animals, and thus saving more lives. Providing temporary foster care to litters of puppies or kittens that are too young for adoption, animals who are shy, those that need some extra TLC, or animals who need special medical attention can dramatically increase the lifesaving capacity.

5.  Comprehensive Adoption 
Adoptions are vital to the lifesaving mission.  The quantity and quality of shelter adoptions is in shelter management’s hands, making lifesaving a direct function of shelter policies and practice.  If shelters better promoted their animals and had adoption programs responsive to community needs, including public access hours for working people, providing a welcoming atmosphere and excellent customer service, offsite adoptions, adoption incentives, and effective marketing, contrary to conventional wisdom, shelters can adopt their way out of killing.

6.  Pet Retention
While some surrender of animals to shelters are unavoidable, others can be prevented-but only if shelters work with people to help them solve their problems. Saving animals requires shelters to develop innovative strategies for keeping people and their companion animals together.  And the more a community sees its shelters as a place to turn for advice and assistance, the easier this job will be.

7.  Medical and Behavioral Programs
To meet its commitment to a lifesaving guarantee for all savable animals, shelters need to keep animals happy and healthy and keep animals moving efficiently through the system.  To do this, shelters must put in place comprehensive vaccination, handling, cleaning, socialization, and care policies before animals get sick and rehabilitative efforts for those who come in sick, injured, un-weaned, or traumatized.

8.  Public Relations/Community Involvement
Increasing adoptions, maximizing donations, recruiting volunteers and partnering with community agencies comes down to increasing the shelter’s public exposure.  And that means consistent marketing and public relations.  Public relations and marketing are the foundation of a shelter’s activities and success.

9.  Volunteers
Volunteers are a dedicated “army of compassion” and the backbone of a No Kill effort.  There is never enough staff, never enough dollars to hire more staff, and always more needs than paid human resources.  That is where volunteers make the difference between success and failure and, for the animals, life and death.

10.  Proactive Redemptions
One of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims.  Shifting from a passive to a more proactive approach has allowed shelters to return a large percentage of lost animals to their families.  

11. A Compassionate Director
The final element of the No Kill Equation is the most important of all, without which all other elements are thwarted–a hard working, compassionate animal shelter director who is willing to be accountable to results by implementing these programs.  Get the right people on the team who bring strong, knowledgeable, flexible, and inspired leadership!