PBS’s Mister Rogers was an incredibly influential man who was credited with dozens of insightful quotes, such as: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.”

This approach to re-focusing life’s troubling moments is exceptional, especially in our own uncertain time. Without a doubt, there are heroes out there fighting the good fight, raising us all up. To us, the most important are the thousands of pioneers, volunteers, and advocates for no-kill shelters.


A no-kill shelter takes in all homeless animals, regardless of age, overall health, disability, or adaptability. A minimum of 90% of all entering animals are expected to live, find forever homes, and receive compassionate care. Euthanasia is reserved only for animals that are terminally ill or considered a threat to public safety.

Urban Heroes

In 1994, the president of the San Francisco SPCA, Richard Avanzino, championed the concept of no-kill shelters alongside the city’s Animal Control Department. Their mission was to guarantee a home to every single adoptable cat and dog in the city; in 2015, their live release rate was 93%. This means that of all the animals they take in, almost all leave through adoption, return to owner, or transfer – not euthanasia.

Equation for No-Kill Shelters

Nathan Winograd is another hero in the movement toward no-kill shelters. Profoundly influenced by the success in San Francisco, he designed the 11-step no-kill equation that has impacted the release rate of numerous no-kill shelters around the country. The major elements of his equation include:

  1. Spay/neuter at reduced or no cost
  2. Foster programs
  3. Volunteers
  4. Adoption
  5. Rehabilitation programs (behavioral and medical)
  6. Retention (making sure animals will be successful in their homes)

In areas around the U.S., live release rates are climbing, thanks in part to the list outlined above. In Austin, Texas, euthanasia rates dropped from 85% to below 10%, making it the largest no-kill city in America, saving over 90% of homeless animals.

Dave and Cheryl Duffield established and endowed Maddie’s Fund with over $300 million to help animals find a home or healthy habitat, earning their rightful places as heroes of the no-kill movement as well.

Maddie’s Fund helped initiatives through Best Friends Animal Society come to fruition: No-Kill Utah and No-Kill Los Angeles. Both cities are slated to be no-kill by 2019 and 2017, respectively.

Ambitious, Yet Attainable

No-kill shelters across America are certainly gaining ground, but in order to save all the homeless animals out there, community members need to stand up, speak out, and support local no-kill shelters.

We can all play a part by:

  • Promoting pet adoption efforts
  • Raising money and supplies for no-kill shelters
  • Volunteering at events or behind the scenes
  • Donating to spay/neuter causes
  • Becoming a foster pet parent
  • Spreading news and information on social media
  • Checking out nokillnetwork.org for more information
  • Donating to the Fuzzy Fund

We are proud supporters of our local Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center and partner with them annually for their end of March event, Walk for The Animals. There are no greater champions of animal welfare than those who work in the shelter setting – those who, day in and day out, face the struggles of pet homelessness, the bleak corners of humanity but also the emotional joys of adoption & recovery. We are proud supporters of local rescues & the no-kill mission as we strive to make each and every pet owner a responsible, proactive and conscientious member of society. By diagnosing medical problems early and by keeping clients on a preventative track, we can help keep some animals out of the shelter when their families cannot afford care but as a community member, there is always something you can do to help your local animal community: Volunteer, Foster, Adopt, Advocate!

If you have any questions about no-kill shelters, please contact your friends at The Pets Place Animal Hospital.