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ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres Issues Statement Clarifying Position on "No-Kill"

August 28, 2007

NEW YORK, August 28, 2007—Following an Associated Press article by Elizabeth White on the “merits of no-kill shelters” which focuses on the plight of animals at the San Antonio, Texas, shelter, and which has been extensively picked up around the country, ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) President & CEO Ed Sayres today issued this statement:

“I appreciate the extensive time Ms. White spent on the telephone with me while she was researching her story. However, concluding “Merits of No-Kill Shelters Questioned” (USA Today, August 13, 2007) with the following statement: “there is no room for no-kill as morally superior” attributed to me, misrepresents not only the content of our discussion, but both my personal philosophy and the position of the ASPCA.

“‘No-kill’ shelters (shelters that do not take in more animals than they have the resources to treat) are the philosophical foundation of ASPCA® Mission: Orange™—the signature campaign launched by the ASCA in 2007. Since 1999, I have been president of two of the most prominent agencies in America which adhere to that philosophy: the San Francisco SPCA and the ASPCA—because I believe in it.

“My philosophy and that of ASPCA Mission: Orange is that private, 501[c][3] donor-supported animal shelters, humane societies or SPCA’s should not take in more animals than they have the resources to treat. The terminology for that philosophy, be it ‘no-kill,’ ‘limited admission’ or ‘adoption guarantee,’ is up to the specific organization.

“Much like the San Francisco model, ASPCA Mission: Orange is based on an intensive partnership between no-kill or ‘limited admission’ agencies, and ‘open admission’ animal care and control agencies. In fact, the dialogue in these partnerships in San Francisco and New York City literally occurs on an hourly basis to maximize resources for the animals at risk in the community. Moreover, the no kill agencies in the community are completely committed and dedicated to assisting the open admission agency in every possible way to save more lives on a daily basis—after all, regardless of which community facility they are in, the animals are the communities’ animals.

“This partnership model has yielded the most statistically successful and sustainable results to date. The July/August 2007 issue of Animal People Magazine shows that the cities with the lowest euthanasia rates per capita in the United States are New York City (2.0) and San Francisco (2.2)—thus reinforcing my philosophy—when the national euthanasia rate per capita is 12.5, and in the South Atlantic Region (which includes San Antonio) is 22.3.

“Without such a partnership, and when agencies act competitively and not collaboratively, the life-saving results possible are severely compromised. One of the primary disputes in communities that lack this vital partnership is that one agency declares ‘moral superiority’ over a neighboring agency based on its intake philosophy, be it no kill or open admission. This rhetoric creates barriers to partnerships, and compromises resources for the animals at risk, to the detriment of the animals themselves.

“Semantics should be the least of our worries when trying to save lives—it is the level of commitment to the spirit of partnership among all the agencies in the community that is vital. That is how the most lives are saved. That is the philosophy today that has brought New York City and San Francisco sustained success, and it will be the philosophy that will replicate that success throughout the country via ASPCA Mission: Orange.”