One thing opponents of No Kill love to do is try to twist the definition of the term, so a quick and easy note to get us all on the same page. If you’d like a longer answer you can read Redemption and everything published since.
The term first must be used in a context of honesty by reclaiming the true definition of “euthanasia” and “kill”. Many shelters have adopted a twisted version of the definition of “euthanasia”, turning it from a release of suffering to a term applied to the death of any animal they find inconvenient. It is no wonder, in this context, that the term No Kill is clearly understood by most of the public but so often misunderstood (or intentionally twisted) by shelter professionals. So the first step is the understanding that causing the death of animals who are not suffering irredeemably is killing and applying your language appropriately. You can’t get to No Kill without the admission that you’re currently killing.
No Kill is the effort and practice of saving every healthy and treatable animal who passes through your doors. The sole exception, at this point, is dogs who are irredeemably violent for the obvious purpose of public safety, and we learn more about ways in which to help them every day. Euthanasia, of course, is permitted – but actual euthanasia of the kind that would be chosen by a caring owner, a merciful act in an effort to end irredeemable suffering – not, as so many shelters use the term, a death of convenience. No Kill is the commitment to save animals like him, infected with in-shelter disease, and her with a broken leg.
In the past a save rate of 90% was considered “shorthand” for No Kill achievement, when that number was arrived at in the 1990s it was theorized that about 10% of shelter animals would prove unhealthy and untreatable. While that number is still used by many as a guideline, we now know that higher sustained save rates are possible as more No Kill shelters blaze the trail, even in open-admission municipal shelters, some of whom have sustained save rates of 95% or higher.
So that’s what we’re talking about.