Once more with feeling: Save Them All!

The Best Friends call to action, Save Them All, is a statement of commitment and resolve. It is the flag that we wave to rally the public to our cause: ending the killing of shelter pets in this country. It is also a vision of our preferred future and a goal that will keep all of us striving to deliver compassionate, lifesaving outcomes for the most difficult cases well beyond the point at which we are able to declare that the entire country is saving 90 percent of the pets entering shelters (the commonly agreed upon no-kill threshold).

Save Them All is as much aspirational as it is inspirational.

Save Them All is not, however, a demand, an instruction or an exhortation for any individual or organization to become overextended. We understand the inclination to push the envelope and we hope that everyone will implement more efficient and effective programs and protocols. But no one should feel pressured to put themselves, their organizations or the animals they serve at risk.

It’s entirely understandable to want to do more and, of course, the needs of pets in shelters are many. But I hope that the last thing anyone will do is to hear the Save Them All call to action and to then start stuffing their home with incontinent poodles! Or for a local rescue group to take in more and more animals without a practical plan for placement and without any sustaining fundraising mechanism. Those kinds of misplaced good intentions don’t advance the no-kill cause and are just counterproductive.

Sometimes, it can only be a matter of time before overextended rescue groups and rescuers need saving themselves. That failed rescue story feeds the narrative of those looking to discredit the no-kill movement as a costly and impossible-to-achieve fantasy.

Of course it isn’t a fantasy. More than 200 communities across the country are already saving 90 percent or more of their local shelter pets and sustaining that level of lifesaving. Each year at the Best Friends National Conference, we profile eight communities that are either very close to achieving or have already achieved that 90 percent threshold. Their stories are instructive, powerful and inspirational. While their paths to no-kill vary, the one constant is their rallying cry to each other and their communities to Save Them All.

If you are somehow still on the fence about the reality of no-kill, I encourage you to check out the playbooks that we put together each year for the conference. They tell the story of the individual communities and the ways that each one is saving them all. They show even the biggest non-believer that no-kill is not a vague dream or unattainable goal. It is, in fact, what we owe every animal entering a shelter.

Our call to action of Save Them All is not a matter of individual heroics. Rather, it summons all of us to work together, to set aside the obstacles that stand in the way of a united front for shelter animals, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our commitment and to be open to new and effective ways of doing our work.

Don’t stress. Together, we will Save Them All.

Francis Battista
No-Kill 2025