No Kill – Achieving Success Despite The Obstacles!

May 4, 2012

No Kill: It’s not easy, but the rewards are incomparable!

Building a no kill community … is not easy. Maintaining a no kill community … is not easy. But, no kill communities do not do it because it is easy. They do it because it is the right thing to do. As Pam Kitkoski, Rockwall Pets, says “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said it would be worth it.”

The Austin and Rockwall communities were transformed to no kill by volunteer groups. Williamson County and Seagoville were transformed by their shelter director. Below, they each tell the obstacles they faced and continue to face in their commitment to saving the animals in their care.

When you make the commitment that life is immeasurably more important than obstacles, you find that success can come, despite the roadblocks you encounter along the way.

 Austin’s Obstacles to No Kill – Dr Ellen Jefferson

“APA has run into obstacles along the way. Working with city staff to be the most effective and efficient at saving lives is not always easy. There are rescue groups who don’t agree with our adoption policies or don’t like our operational methods (i.e. off site, same day adoptions) and working with them is not easy at times. Data efficiency and high volume adoptions can be hard dealing with at times. With rescuing from shelters, there are disease issues that cause barriers sometimes. It is also difficult to not have more resources to save as many as you know you can save.

Austin City Council voted last week to allow us to move into TLAC. We are moving all of our operations into TLAC, which will provide us the space and capacity to save more animals. We have until the end of the month to move out of headquarters, so it is a time crunch. We are needing to clean, sterilize, paint, and repurpose TLAC, while we also need help to pack up and move out of headquarters. We need manpower, we need support, and we will be sending out more information on facebook, our blog and our website!” To donate, volunteer, or foster with Austin Pets Alive, click here.

Williamson County’s Challenges to No Kill – Cheryl Schneider

“No kill is way harder than killing. When you run out of room, you walk the doggie or carry the kitty to the eu room and you are done. If you decide to save them, you have to work and worry on how to get them out when you are full (which is every day). The biggest obstacle, in my opinion, is the rescue groups. Maybe obstacle isn’t the right word. Maybe frustration. For me, I am close to Travis County (Austin) and the rescue groups are really trying to help them out as much as possible so that leaves us without a lot of resources. It is very frustrating to contact them and get the answer all the time, “we are full.” Many of them will not take older or big dogs and that is what shelters have an abundance of. In our area, they will go a long way (mileage) to pull adoptable dogs from shelters (puppies and cute little ones) and then boast they are No-Kill (these are limited admission).

The other hardest challenge is owner surrenders. I know we are supposed to embrace them and welcome them, but we have made it far too easy for pet owners not to take responsibility for their pets. It places a burden on an already burdened system. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather they are here than put out on the side of the road. But as I always say ‘can’t control how they get here, but once they are here, I can control how they get out.’

We have to be very creative at our shelter because we have very few pulls. ”

To adopt, rescue, volunteer, foster, or donate to the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, click here.

Seagoville’s Success Works Against No Kill Status – Sgt. Karl Bailey:

“Our biggest challenges were to get rescues to pull when they think the animals are “safe.” When they hear you are “no kill” they move on to a kill shelter. The problem being, the only way we remain no kill is with the help of rescues pulling animals.

Other challenges are funding, shelters are always the last division in the city to get funds and it’s always pot holes before pups. We live and die (pardon the expression) on monetary and material donations. It’s how we buy vaccines, medications, microchips and how we get animals veterinary care when they need it. It also helps pay for spay/neuter which helps make the harder to adopt animals more adoptable. I think another one would be volunteer recruiting. We have 5-7 hard core volunteers that are there every weekend and several times during the week, but most come once or twice per month and some even less.

Right now our biggest need is monetary donations to purchase vaccines and microchips. The money has seemed to dry up and we are way behind on donations from this time last year. It takes about $6500 per year for just vaccines and microchips.”

To volunteer or foster with the Seagoville Animal Shelter, click here. To make a monetary donation, send to:

Seagoville Animal Services
600 N .Highway 175
Seagoville, TX 75159

If writing a check, please write “Animal Shelter Donation” on the memo line to assure the funds go to the proper account.

To adopt, volunteer, rescue, or foster for the Seagoville Animal Shelter, click here. 

Rockwall’s Rocky Road to No Kill – Michael Kitkoski:

“To be honest, we had so many roadblocks thrown in front of us – large and small – that we quit being surprised by them. We just knew we had to find some way to get over, around, under or through the obstacles. When the lives of animals are at stake, there’s a sense of urgency. We refused to be slowed down by an obstacle if it meant that lives were in peril. It really is true: “Love conquers all.”

The most disappointing obstacle was when we discovered the City of Rockwall had hired an attorney to look into filing charges against us for “harassment.” We had never hired an attorney before, so it was a shock to have to enlist one just in case our own city filed a suit against us.

The biggest thing for us in overcoming obstacles was a rapid retooling of our mission during the first three months of this year. As shelter volunteers, we felt like we were in a position of weakness…we could only do what the shelter allowed us to do. We preferred to be in a position of strength to be able to fully help the animals. In three months, we transformed Rockwall Pets into a high-volume rescue. That allowed us to do two things: 1. We’re a backstop for the shelter pets of Rockwall. If it looked like lives were in danger, we’re there to get the pets out of harm’s way. And 2. We were able to expand our mission throughout Rockwall County.

I’ll be honest. It takes hard work, commitment and a huge time commitment. Pam has adopted this saying as her motto: “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said it would be worth it.”

To foster, volunteer or donate to support Rockwall Pets, click here. To volunteer, foster, or donate to support Dallas Pets Alive, click here.

To learn more about the no kill equation to save the lives of shelter pets, click here.

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no kill obstacle animal rescue photo


  1. After seven years in the ‘trenches’ taking in strays at my boarding kennel, shuffling dogs here and there, no kills, foster programs, finding homes, healing and training the homeless and ignored, I came to the conclusion that we have to stop this where it begins. The root of the problem is us. Too many people abuse the privilege of owning a pet and breed. Everyone thinks they’re a breeder and they certainly have a right to breed any dog they want, as many times they want, as crazy and bad as the dog is. You should SEE some of the dogs people want to breed. Unreal. I think we should pass a law and enforce it that only serious breeders who show their animals are allowed to breed their dog. A huge fine ought to help stop the rampant breeding. Killing ten million dogs a year has to stop. Nobody hears that number. And when they do, it’s hard for them to comprehend. Building more shelters is good for now but it’s like the little kid sticking his finger in the hole of the damn. We just can’t keep up with the tsunami of dogs being born. EVERYONE in the business of saving dogs should be focused on that; spaying and neutering. Ads should run on tv about how irresponsible it is to breed their dog when we are killing so many. It should be government sponsored because in time they will reap the monetary rewards of not having to pay for all the state run shelters. That day will come if we all want it to.

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