Fixing America's Broken Shelter System

How can we help the shelter system work better? There are many people working on helping shelters operate better.

There’s the No Kill Advocacy Center, whose solution involves hiring compassionate shelter directors who are committed to implementing ideas that have worked all over the country to reduce the number of shelter deaths.

Some of those ideas include keeping shelters open at least one day on the weekend. Keep them open in the evening – employed people aren’t available to come see adoptable animals during the workday.

Implement a foster care program to reduce the number of kittens and puppies who are killed. Send the little ones out to foster families so they can grow up to be adoptable pets.

Other ideas include partnering with local pet stores to stop selling purebred dogs from breeders and instead feature shelter pets ready for adoption. The stores make money, a percentage goes to the shelters, and the animals find homes. It’s a win for everyone.

Another idea is to do outreach programs where the shelter takes adoptable pets to places like PetSmart and Petco for adoption events. The shelters that have implemented these techniques have low kill rates. But according to Ted’s research, many, many more shelters need to adopt these ideas.
Maddie’s Fund, helps shelters and animal welfare organizations that are trying to reduce the kill rate. Maddie’s Fund sponsors a massive ad campaign, The Shelter Pet Project, to convince prospective pet owners to adopt a shelter animal.


According to Nathan Winograd, the head of the No Kill Advocacy Center, out of 3,500 shelters across the country, only about 200 have become no-kill, meaning 90 percent of the dogs and cats who come into the shelter are adopted, fostered, or find other suitable living arrangements.

We are working on the problem of homeless pets. In my opinion, it boils down to how committed and passionate each shelter is to becoming a no-kill facility.

*This is a partial interview with Bestselling Author Ted Kerasote 
by Dr. Karen Becker

Recommended Reading:

Animal Shelters See Too Many Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas CBS NEWS
(view the video)

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