Why ‘no-kill’ shelters can be misleading

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A group of former volunteers from the Oahu S-P-C-A and animal lovers protested outside the Hawaii State Capitol on Saturday after they say the “no-kill” shelter euthanized two dogs last week. 
“They are claiming to be a ‘no-kill’ shelter but they euthanized two of our animals—one of which had a home the day before she was to be euthanized, she had an adopter,” said Cyn Okido, former OSPCA volunteer of nine years. 

Okido and several others had been volunteers at OSPCA up until last week. 

Many of them got to know the two dogs, Nikki and Mama Mia, and would take them on walks.

Although most of the protesters agreed the dogs were old in age, they were surprised when OSPCA decided to euthanize them. 

“Initially they said they had severe arthritis and that it wasn’t treatable,” Okido said. 

“I did not see any hint of arthritis or any behavioral issues that indicated that [either dog] was unadoptable,” said former volunteer Jordon Ching. 

According to the Oahu SPCA website from 2016 to 2017, two animals were euthanized for health and/or age related issues.

While all SPCA’s are different and individually owned, certain no-kill shelters can and do euthanize. 

“It can be very confusing people talking about ‘no-kill’ and a lot of people don’t know what that means in animal welfare,” said Dawn Hall, co-founder and executive director of Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation.

Hall says for a group to keep the ‘no-kill’ name, the group must save 90%or more of the animals it takes in. 

“Euthanasia policies vary shelter to shelter,” she added. 

“It typically indicates an animal may be euthanized because it’s sick and injured and cannot receive medical care that will give animal a good quality of live or the animals just so vicious it can’t be re-homed to a home so that’s what no kill technically means.” 

We reached out to OSPCA for comment, but didn’t hear back. 

Sanctuaries are the only place an animal would not be euthanized no matter the circumstance.

Oahu SPCA sent an e-mail on March 31, responding to the incident.

The mission of the Oahu SPCA is to serve and protect animals with a strict no-kill policy. We would never euthanize an animal because of lack of space, the age of the animal, because of an illness that is treatable or the cost of treatment.

The decision to euthanize any animal is heart-breaking, agonizing and made with great care by a group that includes licensed veterinarians and their staff.  An extensive review of the medical history and dangerous behavior if applicable is conducted.

The only time euthanasia is even considered is when an animal is terminally ill with severe pain that is untreatable or if the animal repeatedly shows that it is a danger to humans even after multiple attempts using professional behavioral therapy.

In this case, even after multiple attempts with professional trainers both dogs were involved in multiple, unprovoked attacks on humans – some of them serious enough to be life-threatening and to require hospitalization. Needless to say they could not be safely adopted out to anyone.

Both animals also suffered from painful, advancing arthritis that required daily treatment for pain by our veterinary staff. Because of the threat of attack by both dogs it was determined by our veterinarians that treating them would be too dangerous for our staff, leaving them to suffer with severe pain.

After having them at our shelter for over 7 years we all formed strong emotional bonds with Mama Mia and Nikki.

Although our hearts are heavy – we stand by our decision and look ahead to continuing our mission to protect and make life better for all animals.

Sincerely,

The Oahu SPCA

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