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The Definition of No-Kill


The use of the term no-kill has been controversial ever since its inception. Does no-kill literally mean saving every life that is received by a shelter, regardless of the expenditure of resources that might require? Or does it mean saving only the adoptable or treatable animals, with euthanasia reserved only for non-rehabilitatable animals? What about animals with injuries or diseases that can be treated, but at a tremendous, perhaps even crippling, cost to the shelter’s resources? Clearly, animals that are unhealthy or temperamentally unsound should not be adopted to the public.


Compounding the issue is the meaning of the word adoptable. Does adoptable only refer to animals that are healthy and old enough to be adopted right now, or does it include animals that may be made well or will become old enough regardless of the cost to the shelter?


While these definitions will undoubted change with time, for now, the animal rescue community commonly understands no-kill to mean that no adoptable animals are euthanized and defines adoptable to mean an animal that is currently healthy and temperamentally sound, such that it can be adopted to the public. In practice, however, euthanasia may be prescribed for animals that, while treatable and hence restorable to adoptability, would require an excessive expenditure of resources such that the impact on the organization is unjustifiable. Furthermore, an adoptable animal can become unadoptable if it becomes ill or temperamentally unsound while in the shelter’s care.


Within these definitions, Claws & Paws is a no-kill animal rescue organization. Claws & Paws only euthanizes an animal upon the advice of a veterinarian or if it has or develops a behavioral or temperamental defect that could pose a health or safety risk to the public or otherwise make the animal unsuitable for placement as a pet.


Claws & Paws, however, goes even further in that we will not euthanize any animal that can be treated with the expectation of a good quality of life after recovery (giving due consideration to the reasonableness of the expenditure of resources) and/or will care for an animal until it is old enough to be considered adoptable. Additionally, Claws & Paws Rescue’s definition of adoptable animals frequently includes animals that are old, deaf, blind, disfigured or disabled

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