The AmPA! Lifesaving Recipe: No Kill is for Everybody Part 1

By Dr. Ellen Jefferson

Dr. Ellen Jefferson | February 3rd, 2020

When we first started our work in Austin we faced a common struggle. We tried to use lifesaving checklists, we checked the boxes for "foster program" and "volunteer program,” but the reality was that even though our city already had these programs in place, we were only saving 45% of homeless pets. The programs existed but were not achieving lifesaving results. It was then that we realized that there was no way to talk about the quality or quantity of the programs, without measuring the boxes on the checklist.

At American Pets Alive! we work with thousands of people each year, providing No Kill advice and teaching strategies across the country. Every community has its own unique set of struggles and roadblocks, but the most common challenge we see is that No Kill leaders and advocates are confused about where to start. Another common confusion is how to keep increasing lifesaving, once you get started. There are so many lifesaving programs and policies out there, but there is a lack of clarity on how to put these programs together to save greater than 90% of the homeless pets in each community.

In many communities today, lifesaving programs are being implemented and changes are being made, but animals are still dying. This struggle is frustrating and for many, it makes saving >90% seem intangible, out of reach and possible only in cities with the ‘right’ leadership and the ‘right’ community. What we have learned through our work with other communities, as in Austin, is that there is a recipe for No Kill. The recipe is a mix of ingredients with measurable goals that all add up to a greater than 90% live release rate.



The 12 Ingredients of Lifesaving

  1. Lifesaving Vision
  2. Immediately Make ALL Animals Available
  3. Targeted Safety Net Programming for At-Risk Populations
  4. Population-Based Foster Programs
  5. Proactive Adoption Policies
  6. All Outdoor Healthy Cats
  7. Intake Diversion and Triage
  8. Proactive Return to Owner Policies
  9. Large Scale Transfer/Transport to Partner Organizations
  10. Disease Prevention
  11. Appropriate Capacity for Large Adult Dog Population
  12. Euthanasia List Scrutiny and Sharing


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