Getting a leash on no-kills

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

PHOENIX, Arizona––”As a volunteer at a no-
kill animal sanctuary in Utah,” Lynda Foro wrote to 230 no-
kill shelter directors last summer, “and as a supporter of no-
kill sanctuaries in the Phoenix area, I believe a directory of
the no-kill animal sanctuaries in the U.S. will be a useful
tool for communication and support.”
Foro compiled her mailing list from a combination
of personal contacts and responses to a classified ad in ANI-
MAL PEOPLE. About half the addressees responded,
enabling her to publish the 1994 No-Kill Directory i n
January. Sales were brisk enough, at $10 apiece, to meet
most of her expenses. (Order from POB 10905, Glendale,
AZ 85318-0905.) Already she’s assembling a 1995 edi-
tion––and is attracting notice from those who research trends
in humane work. Stereotypes of no-kills abound, but hard
data is lacking, largely because no one has had the roster of
such facilities necessary to do serious surveying.

Definitions are the first difficulty, for Foro as well
as others. No-kills are as large as the North Shore Animal
League, which adopts out 44,000 pets a year, and as small
as unincorporated facilities that house a few dozen strays for
life, doing no adoptions whatever. They may be as old as
the San Francisco SPCA, founded in 1868 and no-kill for a
decade, but most have begun, according to Foro, within
the past 12 years. Indications are that the number of no-kills
could multiply exponentially over the next decade. As neu-
tering drives reduce the need to euthanize adoptable animals,
many conventional shelters are moving toward no-kill,
which is usually interpreted to permit euthanasia of sick and
injured animals. The aging human population is meanwhile
increasing demand for care-for-life facilities to take animals
after their owners’ death. Since euthanasia is unpopular with
donors, while providing care-for-life tends to win bequests,
shelters have a financial incentive to convert to no-kill––
especially if they don’t have an animal control contract.
Meanwhile, many humane workers mix their
image of the no-kill shelter with the feces-filled homes of
animal collectors, who often pretend to be sanctuarians.
Statistics (see page 13) suggest that no-kills run into trouble
markedly more often than conventional shelters––but most
of the troubled no-kills are essentially one-person opera-
tions, which typically hit difficulties when that one person
becomes incapacitated, accepts too many animals, and/or
loses a major patron. When no-kills establish a fundraising
base and grow from personal project to institution, their
longevity and reputation is often excellent.

Foro’s first directory listed any self-defined no-kill
that answered inquiries, without imposing further criteria.
However, she says, “I do see value to establishing criteria,
and to establishing a certification program. The creation of
standards would improve the image of no-kill shelters in
general and be a great service to the humane community. I
can see myself playing a part, if I can get funding to offset
my expenses and time spent. Pet-sitting is my income-earn-
er right now, besides my fulltime job, and I depend on that
money. When I am away from home on pet-sitting assign-
ments, I cannot work on my projects, so it is lost time.”
Now in the process of incorporating under the
name Doing Things For Animals, Foro, 52, says she has
“always been a cat lover,” but has “only in the past few
years decided what I want to be.” She has been pet-sitting
for nine years, sharing a home with her mother and daugh-
ter, who are also pet-sitters, as well as their own six cats.
“I feel a piece coming on about three generations
of pet-sitters under one roof,” Foro laughs.
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