Noted: The Pet Overpopulation Myth

As someone who spent 3+ years as a volunteer for the SF SPCA, I am a strong supporter of no kill shelters. There’s a great piece in the SF Chronicle today that addresses some of the issues around why there aren’t more no kill shelters in the US. Here’s an excerpt. Go read the rest:

“If a community is still killing the majority of shelter animals, it is because the local SPCA, humane society, or animal control shelter has fundamentally failed in its mission,” he writes. “And this failure is nothing more than a failure of leadership. The buck stops with the shelter’s director.”

Redemption makes the case that bad shelter management leads to overcrowding, which is then confused with pet overpopulation. Instead of warehousing and killing animals, shelters, he says, should be using proven, innovative programs to find those homes he says are out there.


“If … motherless kittens are killed because the shelter doesn’t have a comprehensive foster care program, that’s not pet overpopulation. That’s the lack of a foster care program.

“If adoptions are low because people are getting those dogs and cats from other places, because the shelter isn’t doing outside adoptions (adoptions done off the shelter premises), that’s a failure to do outside adoptions, not pet overpopulation.

And yes, I’m aware that calling a shelter “no kill” is somewhat of a misnomer. Incurably ill or incurably aggressive animals are put down even in no kill shelters, and I’m completely OK with that. It’s the killing of otherwise adoptable animals that I have an issue with.