What does "no-kill" mean?

A community is considered to be no-kill when all healthy, treatable, and manageable dogs and cats are saved, and euthanasia is used only when animals are dangerous or suffering with untreatable illnesses/injuries.

Is there a lifesaving percentage that automatically means we are a no-kill city?

No. We embrace the national best practice of not using a percentage to measure when no-kill status is achieved.

While the common target – which lets communities know they’re close – is about 90%, the actual percentage will be different for each shelter and each community. For example, it is likely to be lower for an open-admission municipal shelter than for a limited-intake rescue organization. Rather than focus on a number, we believe it is most important to properly identify animals who are truly unsavable and find lifesaving opportunities for all the rest.

How do you determine which animals are "healthy," "treatable," and "manageable"?

There is a nationally accepted set of definitions, called the Asilomar Accords, that are used to classify animals. These definitions help ensure that shelters and rescues have a common understanding and take a uniform approach in evaluating and categorizing the animals in their care.

In 2018, Coalition members developed the first version of a Philadelphia Pet Evaluation Matrix, which reflects our common understanding of conditions that are considered healthy, treatable, and untreatable based on current community/shelter/rescue resources and standards. We reviewed and updated the Matrix in 2021, to reflect our growing ability to care for and manage more conditions.

Are you trying to save all "adoptable" animals?

We do not use the term "adoptable." While it is more challenging to find adopters for some animals than others, that should not determine whether they survive. Their status as healthy, treatable, or savable guarantees them a home in a no-kill community.

What is the difference between euthanasia and killing?

Animal welfare leaders nationwide make an important distinction between “euthanasia” and “killing.” Euthanasia is humanely ending the life of an animal that is irremediably suffering and cannot recover, or whose behavior cannot be rehabilitated and is a danger to human beings. Killing is taking the life of a healthy or savable animal due to a treatable medical condition, treatable behavioral issues, to make space in the shelter, or for some other manageable reason, such as age or special needs.

The Philadelphia No-Kill Coalition is working to end the killing of healthy, savable, and manageable animals in our city.

How can I help?

We are so glad you asked! There are many ways you can make a difference and bring us closer to becoming a no-kill city. Even if you already have a full house and cannot adopt or foster, the opportunities to help are limitless. Please visit our "Give Help" page to learn more.

I am having trouble caring for my pet. Do I have to take it to a shelter?

No! There are many services available to help you keep your pet, or to find them another home if that is what you need. Taking your pet to a shelter should be the absolute last resort, so that space is reserved for pets who truly have nowhere else to go. Visit our "Get Help" page for more details.