Taking an animal into a shelter is among the most traumatic experiences an animal lover can encounter. In many cities, bringing in a stray animal as an act of kindness could very well lead to that animal’s death.
But in the past few decades, the tides have turned toward shelters across the country striving to save as many animals as possible rather than euthanizing.
Jacksonville has emerged as an unlikely leader for this movement over the past few years. The city is among the largest in the country to gain “no-kill” status, with its shelters sustaining a 90% live release rate for its animals.
It gained this designation in October 2014 as a direct result of No Kill Jacksonville, a coalition formed between Jacksonville Humane Society, Animal Care and Protective Services, and First Coast No More Homeless Pets. The organizations came together to create the resources needed to attain no-kill status.
There are several factors that allow a city like Jax to achieve and maintain its standing as a no-kill city. Regular adoption events, such as FCNMHP’s three yearly Mega Pet Adoption events, are crucial in allowing the city’s shelters to regularly clear out space to bring in new animals. Also vital are local spay and neuter programs that help prevent stray animals from mating and creating even more strays.
Local shelters do still euthanize at times, like in cases of particularly sick animals. And if an animal comes in pregnant, that pregnancy will generally be terminated.
The main drawback to being no-kill is that sometimes the local shelters will have no space available. And while their staff will attempt to find a solution, sometimes that animal just ends up right back on the street as a result.
Still, it’s hard to argue that Jax’s status as a no-kill city isn’t a positive, progressive step for the city. Only a few dozen communities nationwide have attained no-kill status – and certainly none as large as Jacksonville.
Thanks to No Kill Jacksonville, the city is helping to lead the way for the future of animal shelters.