Our Philosophy

Each year, an estimated 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters and other animal rescue organizations for a multitude of reasons. Some are stray or feral, some are from “accidental” litters, some are relinquished from irresponsible owners or even from loving homes, and still others are confiscated from neglectful or abusive situations. In all cases, the animals are homeless through no fault of their own, but because some person failed his/her duties as a responsible pet owner.

Sadly, there are not enough funds or resources available for animal welfare organizations to rehabilitate and place all 6-8 million animals into loving homes, and roughly half of those animals are euthanized each year. In recognizing the need to prioritize the allocation of limited resources, organizations generally adopt one of two approaches to combating the pet overpopulation tragedy: the “Open” and “No Kill” approaches.

CARE embraces the philosophy of “No Kill” animal welfare organizations by striving to find suitable homes for all the orphaned and injured animals that pass through our doors and foster homes. However, we also acknowledge the incapability, due to our limited funds and resources, to accept all animals in need. Please read the sections below for an in-depth discussion that explains our role in solving the Greater Boston pet overpopulation problem as a “No Kill” animal rescue organization.

What is an “Open Door” or “Open Admission” philosophy for animal welfare organizations?

“Open Door” shelters emphasize the need for facilities where animals can be safely placed, away from undesirable circumstances (e.g. abuse/neglect, stray, abandonment, etc...). Therefore, “open” shelters accept all animals, regardless of available resources.

Though these organizations strive to find loving homes for all animals, the number of incoming animals inevitably exceeds the number of available adoptive homes. In order to keep their doors open for the never ending influx of animals, these organizations believe that euthanasia is the only humane course of action for some animals, and therefore a necessary evil.

The types of animals euthanized vary widely from shelter to shelter, and depends heavily on the amount of available resources, as well as the demographics and attitudes of the community that the shelter serves. In all cases, however, the first animals to go are ones that are too sick or mentally disturbed to ever become adoptable. Then come the animals that are not adoptable at intake, but have potential. Following that, are animals with fairly treatable conditions such as ringworm. Finally, it is not too uncommon for shelters to begin euthanizing adoptable animals when space and/or resources become very scarce.

What is a “No Kill” philosophy for animal welfare organizations?

“No Kill” shelters prioritize the needs of each individual animal that seeks refuge in their facilities. These organizations strive to meet the needs of all resident animals until a permanent home is found. Therefore, euthanasia is only employed for animals with terminal illnesses or uncorrectable and dangerous behavioral issues. Instead of euthanizing ‘surplus’ animals, “No Kill” organizations will admit animals up to its capacity to house them (temporarily or permanently) while upholding their standard of care.

Though limited in the number of animals they can serve, “No Kill” shelters provide a safe-haven for deserving animals that may take longer to place into adoptive homes than others. They also provide comfort to the people surrendering their companions to an organization for one reason or another, with the guarantee that the animal will be given a chance. By not taking in animals that must be euthanized, “No Kill” shelters are also able to focus their limited resources on animals that will be going up for adoption.

What is the Relationship between “Open Door” and “No Kill” Animal Welfare Organizations?

It has been said by many, “There are no ‘No Kill’ shelters, only those organizations that kill very few and the others that kill the rest.” This is a common criticism of the “No Kill” philosophy and one that serves often as a divisive and derisive point of contention between these two types of animal welfare organizations. However, we at CARE would like to emphasize that both types of organizations are striving towards the same goal – ending the suffering of animals in our communities – and should not be at odds with each other. We also emphasize that the strengths and weaknesses of the two types of organizations complement each other well, and hope that open dialogue and joint efforts by these two models will result in a synergistic relationship that will ultimately ensure the protection and advocacy of all animals in need.

Entering the Dialogue to Seek Solutions

One common problem that all animal rescue organizations face, regardless of their operational philosophy is the explosive number of animals that need help, with the underlying problem being animal neglect and overpopulation. Pets who are discarded and remain un-neutered/spayed can increase the population exponentially; thus, an aggressive spay and neuter program is the first and most important step for any possible solution.

Secondarily, we recognize that this is not a contained problem specific to one neighborhood or community; it is a situation of international expanse, and one that desperately requires the unified commitment of any and all animal welfare organizations as well as individual animal advocates.

We see this joint effort by all individuals and organizations to focus on common problems as a “Win-Win” situation: for the progress and success of these efforts are measured not by whether it is right to euthanize but rather by the number of those lives that are saved.