No-kill: Best Friends is the leader of the movement

Around 625,000 homeless dogs and cats are killed annually in America’s shelters. That means more than 1,700 dogs and cats are killed every day. They are being killed simply because they don’t have safe places to call home.

Understanding no-kill

At Best Friends and in many animal welfare organizations throughout the country, euthanasia is defined purely as an act of mercy. Euthanizing a pet is considered only when veterinary or behavioral experts determine that an animal’s condition is untreatable, and the animal has little or no chance of an acceptable quality of life.

This is why Best Friends and other organizations purposefully describe themselves as being dedicated to no-kill. No-kill organizations euthanize animals who are suffering irremediably. They do not kill healthy animals and label it “euthanasia” to make it more palatable.

The no-kill movement started as a radical notion, but today it is becoming mainstream. The goal is to correct our collective failure to value and protect the lives of homeless pets — lives that matter.

Those dedicated to no-kill want to end the killing of animals in shelters. To be considered no-kill, a shelter must be saving 90 percent or more of the animals it takes in.

Getting to the goal

Best Friends is leading no-kill efforts around the country through lifesaving programs designed to help stop the killing of animals in shelters. These programs include national advocacy initiatives focused on shutting down puppy mills, fighting breed-discriminatory legislation, and keeping community cats safe and out of shelters. To accomplish its objectives, Best Friends has formed coalitions of animal welfare groups and a national network of animal welfare partners, all unified under a distinct call to action: Save Them All. 

Promoting pet adoption: By encouraging people to adopt rather than buy their pets, we help increase the number of pets leaving shelters.

Supporting spay/neuter: By promoting sterilization and providing spay/neuter resources wherever they are needed, we help decrease the number of animals entering shelters.

Hosting lifesaving events: Through local and national events like super adoptions, Strut Your Mutt and the Best Friends National Conference, Best Friends brings together community members, volunteers, animal welfare professionals, policy makers and representatives from animal rescue organizations and shelters who are committed to helping homeless pets.

Regional programs

Best Friends leads no-kill initiatives in Los Angeles and Utah, and operates pet adoption centers in all its regional programs, as well as spay/neuter clinics in L.A. and Salt Lake City.

No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA)

In Los Angeles, Best Friends leads the NKLA Coalition, which comprises more than 100 local animal organizations working together to transform the nation’s second-largest city into a no-kill community.

No-Kill Utah (NKUT)

In Utah, Best Friends has created a statewide coalition of animal rescue and shelter partners who, together, helped the state reach a 91.6 percent save rate for dogs in 2014, making it a no-kill state for dogs.

Best Friends Lifesaving Center in New York

In New York City, Best Friends has established critical partnerships with Animal Care Centers of NYC and animal rescue organizations to help them pave the way for making the Big Apple a no-kill community.

Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Atlanta

Best Friends Animal Society has merged with Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption (APRA), to serve as a lifesaving hub for animals and build a coalition to help the metro-Atlanta area in its final push to no-kill.

National advocacy work

To help reduce the number of animals entering and being killed in shelters, Best Friends advocates nationally for the following:

Community cats

To keep community cats (stray, ownerless cats) safe, healthy and out of shelters, Best Friends promotes and implements trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs in municipalities around the country.

Pit bull terriers

To encourage the adoption of pit-bull-terrier-like dogs and help keep them in their homes, Best Friends is fighting breed discrimination through legislative efforts nationwide.

Puppy mills

Best Friends works to shut down puppy mills by helping to pass laws that ban the sale of pets from mills, educating the public about mill-bred pets and encouraging pet lovers to adopt instead of buy.

Best Friends Network

The Best Friends Network, made up of thousands of shelters, rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations in all corners of the country, is committed to saving the lives of homeless pets through collaboration and implementation of effective adoption, spay/neuter and intake prevention programs. We are leading the way by implementing proven methods and inspiring communities to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. Together, we will Save Them All.