How to Tell If a Shelter is No Kill | PAWS Chicago

How to Tell if a Shelter is No Kill

We are often asked by people in other states how they can best find No Kill animal organizations like PAWS Chicago in their community so that they can help end the killing of homeless pets.


Animal advocates tell us that they have trouble discerning who is really No Kill and deserving of their support. Below are three key indicators that we advise all animal welfare donors consider when planning their charitable giving:

  1. Organizations that are committed to lifesaving are proud to not only call themselves No Kill but also embrace the No Kill movement. Look to see if the organization refers to No Kill in their materials. For the most part, when organizations say “we are like a No Kill, but don’t like the terminology,” they are not committed to No Kill. If you dig deeper, you will likely see they do not have the programs to treat every animal in their care. Because No Kill means saving all treatable animals, most traditional shelters need to reformulate their operations, and, in most cases, their physical facility, to make the transition.
  2. Leading No Kill organizations embrace transparency and publish their statistics visibly and comprehensively. Every organization worthy of support will be proud to show you the results of their efforts. When you calculate the Save Rate, ensure that the organization is saving more than 90 percent of their animals, the baseline rule of thumb to determine No Kill. In the No Kill movement, numbers matter. Every number is important because every life counts. The Save Rate is a ratio that takes all “Live Outcomes” (typically adoptions, transfers out to No Kill shelters, redemptions by owners) and divides it by “Total Outcomes” (Live Outcomes plus deaths in shelter and euthanasia). To give you context, PAWS Chicago had a 97.87% Save Rate in 2015.
  3. Do your diligence to see whether the shelter seems to be a good steward of resources and utilizes volunteers throughout the organization. Charity Navigator and other charity watchdogs are good resources to determine fiscal responsibility. The presence of an engaged volunteer force shows programmatic depth and effective use of funds. Alternatively, shelters that prohibit volunteers from certain areas or limit their role within the organization are giving warning signs.