A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jul 24, 2017

"No-Kill" does not mean no death - It's often worse

A puppy is born with a swollen head and no chance of survival as so decreed by a veterinarian. Because the shelter alleges that it is "no-kill", a shelter employee, a "no-kill" ideologue, insists on fostering the puppy with hopes that he will be all right. This employee has no medical knowledge or ability to soothe this baby as there is no treatment for the condition and his system is too frail to survive pain killers. The puppy, however, is suffering horribly. He screams when touched and his breathing is labored. The zealot, bathed in self-righteous glory, watches the puppy die slowly, unable to touch him, for 15 tortuous hours, proud to worship at the "no-kill" ideology altar. The employee returns the little body to the shelter, where his death is classified as "died in care", or lack thereof, rather than "humanely euthanized".

"Died in care" has become the new statistical catch-all for permitting animals to suffer in agony and die while perpetuating the lie that the euthanasia rate is low or non-existent. In other words, if cages are overloaded and animals kill each other, if animals are allowed to die like this puppy, if animals are given to hoarders or incompetent/fake rescues in an endless game of three card monte where they live for years cramped into feces filled airline crates, the shelter administration can statistically present the shelter to the public as "no-kill", thus turning their back on the suffering thereby condemning these pets to a fate worse than death. It is shameful, cruel and conscience shocking.

Of course, the politicians want the lie and demand to be lied to, psychopathic fanatics monetize their no kill behavior to fund themselves and shame others, and the public begins to believe that all is well with the world while also withdrawing support from shelters who won't play this game, classifying them as pro-kill. Shelters themselves have become the hoarders and as such can neither prosecute a hoarder who they continue to supply with animals nor rescue animals from harm because of lack of space.

It is quite clear what the result of this diplo-feculence means. Our pets our being victimized both by animal abusers and those charged with protecting them. How would you feel if your pet ended up grieving and pain ridden in an environment like this? How can the same person claim to be an advocate for life while compliant in such misery and anguish?

I, for one, am sick of this. We need to expose this for what it is and stop the enabling.


  1. Thank you for posting this. This no kill phenomenon is often cruel and not based in true compassion.

  2. I’m not sure what your culture is like in LA, but it’s clearly not the same culture I live in here in northern Alabama. Here, the phrase “no kill” means you don’t destroy healthy and treatable animals for space, but it doesn’t mean that animals are kept alive at all costs. I work in a community which has a live release rate of above 90% and has for years. I can assure you that animals who are suffering or hopelessly ill or injured are euthanized and that animals are not warehoused, neglected or abused.

    Yes, there are those who have tried to co-opt the phrase “No Kill” to suit their purposes when it has nothing at all to do with animal welfare. It’s unfortunate that you are so angered by those people that you seemingly brand the phrase destructive or dangerous when it is both empowering and amazing. There are many positive things taking place in the No Kill movement nationally and I am proud to be a No Kill advocate.

    1. i agree with you and wish that such a sensible approach were the norm. Sadly for the animals - not so.

  3. This article is all too true. Crowded kennels and limited space forces situations that predispose animals for medical euthanasias and or suffering before death. Disease needs contact, and contact time, compromised immunity or stress, and density, all which are maximized by no kill shelters. In fact Best Friends the most prominent no kill advocacy in LA is not no kill when considering cats alone. It's "died in kennel" is six times as high as Los Angeles Animal Services, a public/ open shelter. The money being made by non-profits that fund political campaigns is never discussed in mainstream media but is huge part in what's happening in animal care. Passion is displacing purpose and it's a shame.

  4. Agreed! I want them all to live and have a wonderful home. But kenneling for years on end is just torture. You outlined it very well.

  5. Agreed. You outlined it very well.

  6. Please join CHULA on Facebook. We have been the stand for reform of LA Animal Services.