Not long ago, animal shelters were simply thought of as ‘kill houses’ for a community’s homeless and abandoned animals. In 1984, over 17 million animals were being euthanized in shelters across the country. Fast forward to 2018, when this statistic had drastically decreased to approximately 1.5 million animals. In just 33 years, animal shelters went from kill operations to lifesaving organizations thanks to the ‘no kill’ movement.
If you have supported, volunteered for or adopted from the SPCA Albrecht Center, you may have done so because you support us as a ‘no kill’ shelter. We subscribe to the ‘no kill’ philosophy and are a resource partner for Charleston Animal Society’s “No Kill South Carolina” initiative, assisting state shelters in their journey to save every healthy, adoptable animal they can. Though the phrase is undoubtedly appealing, not everyone understands the root of what ‘no kill’ means in the world of animal welfare.
There is still some ongoing debate as to what the term truly means. Some shelters believe to be a ‘no kill’ shelter they must save 100% of the animals taken in. Though their intentions are pure, this typically involves attempting to rehabilitate severe behavior issues (putting shelter workers at risk), adopting out potentially dangerous animals (putting adopters at risk) or hoarding emotionally distressed animals at the shelter for their whole life (putting animals at risk).
However, this is not what the movement called for, but rather to save every healthy, adoptable animal. This includes both physical and mental health, which is evaluated by a trained professional. As stated by the leader in the movement, Best Friends Animal Society, “No kill pet shelters and organizations only euthanize animals who are irremediably suffering and cannot be rehabilitated.” If an animal’s life cannot be saved from an injury, illness, aggression issue, or mental suffering, and therefore has no quality of life, they are humanely euthanized.
What it means for an animal to have a quality of life from physical and mental suffering (The 5 Freedoms): letlovelive.org/single-post/2019/01/25/Pet-Care-Golden-Standard
The SPCA Albrecht Center adopted this philosophy in 2008, and, today, we are saving over 90% of our animals – 96.21% in 2018 to be exact. To remain transparent, our ‘Lifesaving Statistics’ are published to our website every year: www.LetLoveLive.org/news. Here, supporters can see the source and outcome of every animal we cared for. These statistics are not just numbers, but the stories of 1,215 homeless and neglected animals that came through our doors in 2018.
The journey to where our country’s shelters are today didn’t happen overnight, but began as grassroot efforts. Advocates understood that the solution wouldn’t be giving away shelter animals to any and every home, but to get to the root of the issue – pet overpopulation – and this would take a community taking action every day to solve.
This remains true today. Yes, we are a ‘no kill’ shelter by definition, but we were only able to accomplish this because of a ‘no kill’ community – a community that is in the trenches of the animal welfare world every day to prevent pet overpopulation.
It’s the pet owner that decides to spay or neuter their pet and the person that dedicates their time to a neighborhood TNR (trap-neuter-return) program for community cats. It’s the shelter worker or volunteer that spends countless hours caring for the shelter animals and the adopter that opens their heart and home to an animal in need. It’s the friend educating a friend about animal welfare issues and the citizen speaking with legislators about laws that protect animals. It’s the work of all of our animal-loving advocates that give a voice to the voiceless that keeps animals out of shelters and gives our community’s animals the life they deserve.
We could never thank the CSRA enough for their incredible support of our animals and the animals in shelters across the area. YOU are the heart of animal welfare. YOU are the heart of the ‘no kill’ movement.
For more information about the SPCA Albrecht Center: LetLoveLive.org
For more information about the “No Kill South Carolina” Movement: NoKillSouthCarolina.org
For more information about the U.S.’s no kill status: BestFriends.org/2025-goal
An Aiken native and self-proclaimed cat lady, Claire Grimes is the SPCA Albrecht Center’s Development Director. She attended College of Charleston, where she graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Business and interned with Charleston Animal Society, the leader in No-Kill South Carolina. She is excited to now be working in animal welfare in her hometown and is proud of the community's robust efforts to better the lives of Aiken’s animals. Her family includes her husband, adopted black lab Ozzy, and two always-hungry kitties, Anakin and Luna (plus, in spirit, her late pup Sophie).