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Shelter "No Kill" Policies -- What Do You Think?

bds1960to
January 24th, 2009, 08:02 PM
In December, I adopted a cat from the Toronto Humane Society. THS has a "no kill" policy applying to the animals in its temporary care that are available for adoption. They will euthanize only if an animal becomes unadoptable by virtue of health or behavioural problems.

Having browsed THS's website as a first step to adoption, I found there are several cats listed as having been there for anywhere from 18 months up to 2 years. I questioned the staff about living conditions. I was told that some of the very longterm residents may "occasionally" be allowed out of the cage to wander around an office. Otherwise, they are spending every hour in cages that, by my reckoning at 2.5 X 2.5X 3 feet. The longtimers, as you might guess, are older cats.

The 'no kill' policy, as you also might suspect, leads to overcrowding problems in the shelter. In Toronto, the cats are housed on the 2nd floor of the building. The rooms for cat cages are full, stacked 3 high. And that's not enough. Cages are stacked 3 high in all the hallways as well.

When I adopted mine, who had been there 3 months, there wasn't a litter box in the cage. I asked about that. Apparently, it was gone for cleaning when I was there. From the description, it was a paper tray and sounded to be about the size of an ashtray. And given what else I'd been told, the girl I'd adopted had not been out of that cage in 3 months.

All this has left me with very mixed feelings about shelters with "no kill" policies. I think it's noble philosophically but has to be inhumane for the long term residents. Living longterm virtually 24/7 in such a small space has to f-up a cat's mentality. Not to mention the physical deprivations. How can a cat maintain proper physical and mental health, trapped in such a small space for months, if not years?

The fault for this situation's existence lies with us humans, of course. Allowing urban cats to roam outdoors freely while fertile, creating an overpopulation that leads to unwanted animals and overburdened urban shelters.

What do you think about "no kill" policies at shelters?

Stacer
January 24th, 2009, 08:22 PM
I'm not quite sure what to think. You bring up an interesting problem, a sad problem.

I don't think euthanising cats who live in small cages long term is a good solution, if there's at all a possibility of adoption the cat deserves a fighting chance.

There always seems to be huge cat population problems, so maybe we need to look at cat only facilities where cats can be a little more free to exercise. Larger rooms that can house several cats and allow them to walk around. I guess that's ideal but not reality due to financial contraints of such organizations.

I don't know what a good answer is. I know I can't fathom killing hundreds of cats just so they don't have to sit in small cages.

TacoGrl
January 24th, 2009, 10:19 PM
I strongly believe in the no-kill philosophy...I tend to not support places like the Calgary Humane Society who has the space in their new building, but yet they still euthanize after four months...when you go in there, you see a lot of wasted space that with the right planning, could be wonderfully used.

There has to be infrastructure in place to effectively meet the cats' needs. Take the SPCA for example, they do have rooms where they put several cats together (if they used their space more efficiently, they could definately have more)...they could double decker these rooms and have two layers=space saving while having a positive enviroment for the cats. Plus, if they have these rooms, the volunteers could visit with more cats longer for the human touch. Being cooped up in a cage definately does nothing for the cat and in the end turns them into what is classified as unadoptable.

If over-crowding becomes an issue, public awareness campaigns will attract people who where "thinking about adopting" to come out.

My Seth was up for euthanization at the SPCA before he was rescued and I am sooooo happy he was rescued!

14+kitties
January 24th, 2009, 10:29 PM
I think for right now no kill is the best shelters can do. Yes, they live in cages. Yes, they probably aren't happy. On the other had, what is the alternative?

Having a large room for cats so they can "be free" may not be a viable solution. In most cases there would be far too many fights. Cats tend to form colonies. It takes a long time for them to accept a newbie. I have one who was put in with my others last year after she was taken off the road. They still have issues. Of course it doesn't help that she is a crank in the first place. :rolleyes: I will be trying to integrate another one in the spring. I know it is not going to be easy with him. I can tell by his nature he is a scrapper. Cats are more territorial than some people think. They protect their "home".

What would happen when someone came to adopt one? Would they be allowed in with all of the cats? I think probably not. Too much of a chance of injury to both the person and the skittish cats.

Not to mention the fact that there would be shared diseases if cats were allowed freedom in one room. All cats would have to be tested and tested free of everything before being allowed into the free room. I just don't think most shelters are prepared to, or can, do that.

I guess what I am trying to say in a round about way, at this moment the way it is is probably as good as it will get. At least until people learn how to spay/neuter their cats and be responsible! Educate, educate.

lUvMyLaB<3
January 24th, 2009, 10:31 PM
I don't think that is a good reason to start pts... Maybe they need to think about changing the facilities, hopefully i am wrong but I don't see it changing in the near future, instead of lots and lots of cages, maybe smaller 'rooms' that can house several cats, like 8 or something, room doesn't have to be huge, as it can go upward with climbing room and shelves to sit on, with a window in the door to see on and maybe photo/info page posted so all would be owners can see what is in each room, the pick one to meet with in another area. Thi way if a couple cats come in and they are full, really they could house it.

What if they make the time line 4 months, and a kitty family that would have been perfect for a certain kitty comes in at 4 months and one day? No No, that is the point, that these animals should not have their lives ended because there is no place to go. I understand that many months in a cage is far far from ideal.. but there has to be a better solution.... otherwise the problem gets worse and kitty'd will be pts more often, and that is terrible... aww poor kitty's... SpAy and NeUtEr your CATS please?!!!?! there needs to be a law.. u get kitty... u get vet appt... u go to vet or public with intact kitty.. u go jail FOREVER!!

bds1960to
January 24th, 2009, 10:40 PM
I strongly believe in the no-kill philosophy...I tend to not support places like the Calgary Humane Society who has the space in their new building, but yet they still euthanize after four months...when you go in there, you see a lot of wasted space that with the right planning, could be wonderfully used.

There has to be infrastructure in place to effectively meet the cats' needs. Take the SPCA for example, they do have rooms where they put several cats together (if they used their space more efficiently, they could definately have more)...they could double decker these rooms and have two layers=space saving while having a positive enviroment for the cats. Plus, if they have these rooms, the volunteers could visit with more cats longer for the human touch. Being cooped up in a cage definately does nothing for the cat and in the end turns them into what is classified as unadoptable.

If over-crowding becomes an issue, public awareness campaigns will attract people who where "thinking about adopting" to come out.

My Seth was up for euthanization at the SPCA before he was rescued and I am sooooo happy he was rescued!

There is only so much money for infrastructure. Shelters tend to rely on donations.

Hyper-advertising campaigns do increase adoption rates temporarily. THS does it frequently. But it'll be the younger, cuter cats who will be adopted. So this does not address the fact that a 'no kill' policy keeps older, less adoptable cats alive in tiny quarters.

bds1960to
January 24th, 2009, 10:50 PM
I'm ok with a No Kill policy up to a point in time. I'm not sure what that point in time should be. But an unlimited time seems to me to become cruelty rather than a humane effort.

Under the conditions that I've recorded: caged 24/7.

How do I come to this conclusion?

Let's be real. Living in a 2X2X3 cage is a life of suffering.

So, much the same as ending any suffering of any cat, how long do you prolong it before saying, "OK, enough. It's time."

14+kitties
January 24th, 2009, 11:15 PM
I'm ok with a No Kill policy up to a point in time. I'm not sure what that point in time should be. But an unlimited time seems to me to become cruelty rather than a humane effort.

Under the conditions that I've recorded: caged 24/7.

How do I come to this conclusion?

Let's be real. Living in a 2X2X3 cage is a life of suffering.

So, much the same as ending any suffering of any cat, how long do you prolong it before saying, "OK, enough. It's time."

But saying that.... if the THS had got past that "point in time" with your girl you wouldn't have her. Who decides what that time is? I sure hope it wouldn't have to be me.
So, maybe the solution is a multi tiered space where they can have larger areas. Not together but with their own little "rooms". Unfortunately the time and effort to clean those "rooms" and the staff needed would probably be too expensive to maintain for long either. :shrug:
It's a hard call.

badger
January 24th, 2009, 11:24 PM
You put your finger on the heart of rescue, and that is that we are constantly struggling to do the right thing, even if the means to do it are never enough. In a way I agree with you but it is cowardly to kill off the lifers without working on the real problem - human stupidity - which is much more complex and even more expensive to solve than keeping a cat in a cage with a handful of cheap kibble and a litterbox the size of an ashtray. You remind me why even standing at the front counter of the Montreal SPCA is a nightmare for me, because I can only imagine what goes on in those back rooms.

otis'mom
January 24th, 2009, 11:34 PM
I'm ok with a No Kill policy up to a point in time. I'm not sure what that point in time should be. But an unlimited time seems to me to become cruelty rather than a humane effort.

Under the conditions that I've recorded: caged 24/7.

How do I come to this conclusion?

Let's be real. Living in a 2X2X3 cage is a life of suffering.

So, much the same as ending any suffering of any cat, how long do you prolong it before saying, "OK, enough. It's time."

I tend to agree with this, as hard as it is for me to think that an animal is being put down because of owners not spaying or neutering. I think that sitting in a cage in a room full of other caged animals to get very little affection or attention is an act of cruelty itself!

lUvMyLaB<3
January 25th, 2009, 01:02 AM
i know my humane society lets cats run free around the building almost all day, the ones that don't get along are let out too, without the others.. It is not fair to punish the cats like that, it is not their fault, i know the cage is not good, but there has to be something done. There needs to be something done about the number that is born to begin with! Maybe they need to do a whole lotta publicity and cry out for fosters, let the older cats go to foster, show the tragic story about a life in a small cage, make it kinda graphic to pull at heartstrings, and maybe some people will come forward and volunteer to foster, say 6 months to foster, then kitty can go somewhere else? not fair to kitty but maybe people will be willing and it IS better than 24/7 in a small cage... my humane society just got built bigger and still is only supposed to house 25 cats... they have 40 right now... all the good get a long kitties do not even have a cage.. they are loose

Etown_Chick
January 25th, 2009, 02:43 AM
Unfortunately there is no cure for human stupidity and cats breed at an alarming rate.
We have a no-kill shelter here (Humane Society). The cats are housed in cages,for the reasons mentioned above.
Volunteers do their best to take the cats out for some lovin' but there's no real way to exercise them.
Maybe when the new shelter is built..as this one is too overcrowded.
The EHS does things like pair up older kitties with seniors at no cost; they have two-for-one cat adoption days, they do what they can to get the kitties adopted. Meanwhile it's just sad.

Rottielover
January 25th, 2009, 07:30 AM
I believe in Quality of life rather than quantity. If the animal is miserable, losing spirit, why allow them to go through this.
I have worked at a no kill shelter, mind you it was for dogs, and it is something I could NEVER do again. Many of the animals there did not even get happy to see a person.
To be left alone cowering the rest of its life in terror, I do not see that as being humane.


JMO

chico2
January 25th, 2009, 08:35 AM
At the Oakville HS,there are cat-cages even out in the reception-area,so you cannot avoid seeing them:sad:
They have a couple(maybe 3)cat-rooms with regular volunteers taking the cats out.
A friend of mine was in charge of one cat-room for about 15yrs and he built a cat-run outside for them.

He quit several years ago,because every cat in one room were put down,due to an infectious disease,he himself had 5 cats with the same disease(FIV,I think it was)he always adopted the cats that had been there the longest.
I really don't know what the right thing to do is,but I bet if we could ask the cats,if they would rather die,they'd want to take a chance that some good soul would adopt them.

sugarcatmom
January 25th, 2009, 03:17 PM
Ya, it's a tough call. For some cats though, I do think death is kinder than wallowing in "jail" for their entire lives. But who decides? What's the criteria? There are no easy answers. Maybe if there could be more rescue facilities like this one in Chicago: Felines Inc. (http://www.felinesinc.org/) or The Cat House on the Kings (http://www.cathouseonthekings.com/) in California, we wouldn't be having this debate.

(Also wanted to say that I love the "2 kitten" policy at Felines Inc., where they won't let you adopt a kitten unless you take 2).

14+kitties
January 25th, 2009, 05:23 PM
Now, if I were on my own I would want to be doing what Felines Inc. and The Cat House on the Kings are doing. But I am not and hubby would have my hide!
It is too bad that they are working so deeply in debt though. At least the Cat House on the Kings is. Let's hope she manages to find a way out.
In the meantime... I try to do my small part. But that doesn't help the situation in shelters.

BenMax
January 26th, 2009, 10:46 AM
All I can say is thanks to no kill shelters, I adopted (in the past) a 10.5 year old Black Lab.:rip:. A gorgeous X shep X amstaff :rip:, a wonderful Rottie :rip:, and now my four cats (all alive, young and healthy). Had it been otherwise I am certain that none of them would have made their way to me. The Shep X (Max) was at the facility for 2 years. The Rottie (Ben) was there for 6 months and Blackie (Lab) ...well he was just really old and no one was interested.

As for the cats, I have taken all four because they were ill. Now - they are all healthy and full of beans.

The no kill shelter here does take their cats to adoption days and also have a place where they get exposure for adoption.

poodletalk
January 26th, 2009, 01:54 PM
I only had positive experience helping a no-kill facility for many years, my dogs are from a no-kill facility.

Clyde an Irish Wolfhound mix, came in at eight weeks with his siblings. He was born on a farm, the farmer had no desire to pay for sterlization for the Mother dog so the shelter sterlized her for free.

When we adopted him at six months, he was perfectly trained to walk on a leash thanks to a dog trainer who volunteered her time regularly at the shelter. He was also well socialized, he has no problems getting along with other dogs and cats.

Maggie my husky mix, Mother was a stray dog who gave birth on someones lawn. Her Mom Janice gave birth to 12 pups! The lady whose lawn Janice give birth on kept Janice and the pups until they were six weeks and brought them to the shelter.

One of the pups Maggie, had a severe case of kennel cough plus she was underweight. I fostered her, she was barely kissing the five pound mark and today she's approx 75 pounds. All the pups found great homes, Janice the Mother dog got sterlized and now she's living in the West Island.

chico2
January 26th, 2009, 04:34 PM
Honestly,although I know the shelters are in dire straits with too many animals,what right do we have to kill healthy animals,there is always a chance they will get adopted.
Many people,I know two families who only adopt older cats,knowing they would not have much of a chance.
Some shelters give the animals a week at the most,I find that sickening:sad:
Humane Societies are there to help the animals,not kill them..
I don't hesitate to hand over a little stray cat to our HS,I know he will be vetted and cared for.
Many stores and vets display cats for adoption,my other vet,adopted out more than 35 cats one year.
My new vet has a few cats always,they run around in the clinic,much to my Rockys horror:yell:
They've adopted one and he is always around greeting people,a real sweet-heart.

bds1960to
January 28th, 2009, 07:59 PM
Hey chico2,

I just want to make sure I understand your position. Remembering that I started this thread specifying where cats are caged 24/7, as I was told happens at Toronto HS.

Are you saying that no length of time being so caged is, to your way of thinking, worse for the cat than death?

chico2
January 29th, 2009, 08:48 AM
I am not sure I completely understand your question,I am a bit slow;)
But I believe in no-kill shelters 100%,except for extreme circumstances where an animal is suffering from an untreatable disease etc...
A shelter should ideally be a shelter,where an animal can be safe,not a deathrow sentence.
In a perfect world no animal should suffer because of peoples ignorance,but unfortunately for thousands of animals that is not the case.

Chris21711
January 29th, 2009, 12:36 PM
I wish all shelters were no-kill. Just recently at our local shelter one of the cats a tabby called Thomas who had been there for 1 1/2 yrs got adopted :lovestruck: He wasn't locked in a small cage, he was in the adoption centre in a multi-cat room.

Not all cats at the THS are in small cages, generally they are housed in a cage until one of the bigger rooms becomes available. Just in the last couple of years they built a "Cat Sky House" with large windows and multi-cat rooms.

As long as an animal is in a no-kill facility they stand a chance...if pts then they have no chance :sad:

THS Cat Sky House47621

BenMax
January 29th, 2009, 12:52 PM
Animals adapt usually very well to their surroundings and circumstances. Cats more so than dogs. It's called survival and adaptation to their surroundings.

As long as the animal is safe, healthy, warm, food and some contact with humans and hopefully other animals then I say why not.

I think of myself for instance. If I was 'homeless' and 'unwanted' (which apparently I am:laughing:) - and I was given the option of being in my room for X amount of years or euthansia by lethal injection which would be the most 'humane' (even though it would be done through the rib cage and then to the heart - which if I may add is not an instant death).....I would opt to live in my room and wait to see if I would ever find a forever love.

That's my spin on it.

(I think that finding forever love is not in the cards...but my survival to stay alive are much grander in wishes)

Rottielover
January 29th, 2009, 01:15 PM
That is an interesting way to look at it Benmax
I would have to say I am the opposite. I would prefer not to live in that kind of environment, but hey that is me.
Too many people have called me spirited.
Everyone has their opinion on this matter, there is no right or wrong answer.

BenMax
January 29th, 2009, 01:19 PM
That is an interesting way to look at it Benmax
I would have to say I am the opposite. I would prefer not to live in that kind of environment, but hey that is me.
Too many people have called me spirited.
Everyone has their opinion on this matter, there is no right or wrong answer.

To me 'spirited' is those that survive. They kick, scream and fight to be seen, heard, recognized and will not take no for an answer - an will NEVER go down without a fight.

My opinion is that 'hope' is something that is not ridiculous. There is always hope that we are chosen to be apart of someone or something.

You and I both know of no kill shelters. We are also aware that many of those animals that once did not have hope now do. Some are still there, but many are placed. Now that is spirit!

chico2
January 29th, 2009, 04:55 PM
Chris,I read about that sky-house,when it was being built,glad it's done for the kitties:thumbs up

Chris21711
January 30th, 2009, 10:07 AM
Chris,I read about that sky-house,when it was being built,glad it's done for the kitties:thumbs up

If you go to their website Chico, there are several photos of it :thumbs up

chico2
January 30th, 2009, 04:57 PM
Thank's Chris,will do:thumbs up