Many animal lovers are puzzled that not all animal shelters are no kill. Some people even refuse to donate to shelters where pets are euthanized. What a shame, since without support those poor animals suffer even worse. Let us look at the facts around why not every shelter has the luxury of being a no kill animal shelter.
There are basically two types of animal shelter, no kill, and open admission.
The no kill animal shelters have the option of refusing to accept animals when they are full, or if it is not an animal they are particularly interested in helping. You may note that some no kill shelters focus only on helping highly adoptable animals, while others tend to take only those who are less adoptable the ones that would not get adopted from an open admission shelter and would probably be euthanized. Some no-kill shelters are breed specific or focus on special needs animals, such as senior pets. The majority, however, often focus on taking adoptable pets and trying to rehome them so they can save others.
All shelters have limited capacity, the no kill shelter simply refuses to take in any new animals when they are full. They often have a waiting list for people who wish to surrender their pets. They may have many pets living in foster home situations, but ultimately when they do not have room to accept more pets they do have the option of turning pets away.
Author's cat, adopted as a 1-year old cat from an open admission animal shelter.
The open admission shelters cannot turn away any pet that is brought to them. With limited space, and animals being admitted daily, they are often forced to euthanize some animals every week, or more often.
The United States Human Society has reported that shelters in the USA are forced to euthanize over 4 million pets every year simply due to the fact that more are brought into the shelters than are adopted out. If every shelter in the US were to become a no kill shelter that would mean they would need to have spaces for more than 4 million more animals. This means that each state would have to have housing for more than 90,000 animals than they already do. With most animal shelters only having room for 80-200 pets at a time, this would mean thousands more animal shelters would be needed in each state. Money would be needed, and so forth. Every year another 90,000 shelter spaces would be needed per state. It just is not realistic.
Until people are more responsible as owners, having their pets spayed or neutered, there will continue to be more pets than there are homes for, or spaces in animal shelters. As it is not practical to warehouse an additional 90,000 pets each year, every year. As such shelters are forced to euthanize the excess animals to make way for the flood that come into their care on a weekly basis.