Creating No-Kill Communities

Help your community become "no-kill" and save stray cats where you live.

By Jennifer Williams, Ph.D. | Posted: May 4, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Gray cat and white cat
No-kill coalitions can motivate towns to adopt no-kill policies and save stray cats.
If you live in a community that does not currently embrace the “no-kill movement” and would like that to change, you aren’t alone. Across the country, citizens are working to make their communities no-kill.

“It is a political process and, like all such endeavors, it requires lobbying for new leadership, new priorities, and new policies,” Nathan J. Winograd, founder of the “no-kill movement,” says. Although working toward a no-kill community can be hard work, the rewards are worth it: an end to euthanizing healthy cats.

The first step is to search for a no-kill coalition in your community. These coalitions work with local animal shelters, rescues, citizens and government officials to determine how to bring change to the community. Existing, active coalitions understand the political climate of the community, have established relationships with stakeholders and have done the research to understand what it will take to turn their community “no-kill.”

If you can’t find a no-kill coalition, consider creating one. Ryan Clinton of did just that. He started by rescuing dogs and cats one at a time, but says he began thinking that there must be a better way to help.

“I started reading as much as I possibly could about animal shelters and learned about the incredible turnarounds in San Francisco and Tompkins County, N.Y.,” Clinton said. After seeing a two-day presentation by Winograd, I was hooked.” strives to educate the citizens of Austin about the no-kill movement and to educate city council members about how to turn Austin into a no-kill community.

Before forming a no-kill coalition, Clinton advises that you first learn everything you can about proven no-kill communities — both the successes and the obstacles to success. “Once you've armed yourself, then set up a website and Facebook group, talk to local animal-welfare stakeholders and begin building a coalition of animal advocates from both inside and outside traditional animal-welfare circles. You've got to get to know policy makers and decision makers, get involved with politics, and whatever you do, don't give up.”

Winograd agrees with that advice and adds that, “It is a political process and like all such endeavors, it requires lobbying for new leadership, new priorities and new policies.”  If you are forming a no-kill coalition or getting involved in an existing coalition, review the No Kill Advocacy Center’s homepage. It includes a step-by-step guide for helping your community become no-kill, information on no-kill seminars and workshops and much more.
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Reader Comments

Debbie    Kapuskasing, ON

6/26/2011 2:00:43 AM

I think it is an excellent idea! It would be great to see more areas adopting this idea! Cities and little towns.

Kat    Saltillo, MS

5/28/2011 6:33:02 AM

@Sarita, you must take your cats to the veterinarian and get them fixed. That is the only solution to your problem.

Cat Lover    Ridgway, PA

5/27/2011 3:31:27 AM

A word of caution for those starting no-kill shelters. We started one several years ago, and although we constantly ran on a shoestring budget, the money always seemed to be there for food, medical bills, etc. Our numbers gradually increased to the point of "critical," but the major problem was another shelter in the same area. To them, we were a threat for money. Any donations tht came to us, they felt should have gone to them. We were incorporated with a constitution, an active board that met every month, multiple fundraisers, $1100 vet bills every month. You name it, we had it. We weren't fancy, but we were sufficient. My caution goes out because at the first chance it had, the other shelter contacted the ASPCA, and without so much as an investigation beforehand, they swarmed in without notice, took our cats, told us to leave, and invented information designed to make us look like sadistic fiends who sat around and pulled out cats' whiskers with tweezers. After 11 months, all is legally settled; but the trashing goes on. Even in this issue of Cat Fancy, we are trashed. Bottom line, I believe whole-heartedly in no-kill shelters, but make sure you don't rile the competition. And make sure you are clean at all times, even at 8:00 in the morning. Good luck to everyone who starts or runs a no-kill facility.

Doreen Bauer    Cedar Key, FL

5/24/2011 9:42:13 PM

Great article! My husband and I began a Trap-Neuter-Return program on our island community of Cedar Key Florida. We have 800-900 year round residents and have put 725 cats through the humane practice of TNR. Save Lives!!!!!

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