What is Open-Admission vs. Limited-Admission or “No-Kill”?

The unwanted pet overpopulation problem in our country is tragic.

Organizations across the country are working toward a common goal: to reduce the number of unwanted pets through education, adoption and spay/neuter programs. Each year in this country millions of animals are euthanized because owners allow their pets to reproduce. They then find themselves with litters of animals that they don’t want and can’t care for.

There are also times when owners find themselves in unexpected situations that force them to surrender their companion. We are grateful when individuals choose to give their animal or a stray animal a chance by bringing it to the APA Adoption Center rather than letting it loose in a park, dumping it on the side of a highway or disposing of the animal in some other inhumane way. Because we recognize these things can happen, the APA feels obligated to never turn away any animal in need.

There are two main types of animal shelters: government agencies and non-profit agencies. Government agencies, often referred to as Animal Control or “the pound” are tax-based organizations that provide safety and control disease in the community. These government agencies are funded by tax dollars. Non-profit animal shelters, like the APA, rely solely on donations to fulfill their mission and provide services to the community.

The non-profit agencies fall into two main categories: limited admission (a.k.a. “no-kill” shelters) and open-admission (such as the APA). Unfortunately, limited-admission shelters are often forced to turn helpless animals away when they are considered “unadoptable” because of the animals’ age, health or behavior. It could also be because the shelter is simply out of space.

So where do people go when the limited-admission shelters are full?

The APA is proud to be an open-admission shelter. Simply stated “open admission” means we never turn away an animal in need. We offer assistance to every animal that comes to our door and do not choose who gets help based on adoptability, age, health, or other characteristics of the pet. We do everything we can to place animals in safe, loving, permanent homes. While we seek to help every pet who comes to us, there are instances when humane euthanasia is the only option. When an animal is considered a danger to the community or is suffering due to a medical condition, we believe the most responsible and compassionate option is humane euthanasia.

The APA receives more than 4,500 animals each year. In 2021, 97% of the animals we received found homes, were returned to their owners or went to rescue groups for rehabilitation. While we don’t define ourselves as “no kill” we far exceed the criteria for doing so. You can read more about that here. We are very proud of the success our adoption center has in placing pets. We always hope to see a reduction in the number of animals that need our assistance, but until then the APA will continue to provide shelter and find homes for unwanted dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, as we have since 1922.

If you are reading this, you must care about the welfare of unwanted and mistreated animals. Please help them by committing to the following:

  • Make the choice to adopt from a shelter rather than buying a pet.
    Have your companion animal spayed or neutered; it is the only way to win this battle.
  • Encourage everyone you know to do the same.
  • Be an advocate for the animals; share your knowledge. Make a difference.

Thank you from all of us at the APA Adoption Center.

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