While we're still arguing up here in Toronto about whether or not no-kill is a fairy tale, some American cities are already doing it and now an article on MSNBC talks about the possibility of achieving a no-kill nation in 5 years.
Okay, I think that might be a bit of a stretch but, hey, I hope they prove me wrong. However, the article does bring up pertinent points about some of the steps needed to make no-kill possible. First and foremost is the concept that no-kill can really only be achieved as a community. It doesn't count if one shelter calls itself no-kill and stops its open admissions policy forcing all the other shelters and rescues to take in, and possibly euthanize, the remaining homeless animals. The killing still goes on. It's just being done by someone else. It may be good bragging rights for the self-labeled "no-kill" shelter but animals are still dying in equal numbers in the community so nothing's really been accomplished from the animals' perspective.
That doesn't mean no-kill isn't possible. It means no-kill must be done right and that means working with the community at large. This concept is discussed in a post on KC Blog, No Kill Communities vs No Kill Shelters -- and why confusing the two endangers the movement. If you go and read his post and the comments on his post, the rest of this post will hopefully make more sense.
While having some informal discussions recently about a vision for the Toronto Humane Society, it's come up a few time that some people are against the idea of no-kill - except I get the feeling they're not really and that maybe it's just misunderstandings about what no-kill really means.
I would urge anyone who thinks the no-kill philosophy is naive or idealistic or unattainable in our community to go read about it first. Read about what it really is and about where it has been achieved and what communities are successfully transitioning into it. Then, if there is still doubt or argument, at least we can all discuss it from the same page.
Some people would still prefer the term "low-kill". That's fine. Whether it's called no-kill or low-kill or no more homeless pets or silly chubby pets in every lap, as long as we can agree to work towards the goal of not euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals then we can all work together at creating a better Toronto Humane Society. However, if that isn't the goal, then I have to ask: why bother? It will be too much effort and work just to recreate another mediocre animal shelter whose long term vision is to pick off the low hanging fruit.
On the flip side, no-kill is not a switch that can just be turned on, no more than someone can just declare himself a brain surgeon and start cutting heads open. It's going to take more than waving placards and joining facebook groups. It's going to take much planning, work and commitment. In the end, that's what gets an animal saved: a lot of hard work and commitment, and you can call that whatever you want.