Delaware was the first state to ratify the US constitution, and they’ve long embraced their status as “The First State.”
Recently, they honored that heritage by achieving another historic first… one that’s a big milestone for our country’s many shelter animals.
According to the ASPCA, about 6.5 animals are brought to shelters every year—and 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized. Many shelters have limited space and resources, and have to put down pets at a certain point to make room, even if they’re in fine health.
Other shelters are designated “no-kill shelters,” which do not put down animals for space reasons, saving euthanasia as a last resort for those who are untreatable or terminally ill.
Now, Delaware is being celebrated as the first state to be no-kill. According to data from Best Friends Animal Society, the state has a 92.9% save rate, and every one of its 59 shelters qualifies as no-kill.
The declaration was made by Best Friends Society at their national conference. The society has an ambitious goal of making the entire country no-kill by 2025.
“Back in 2016, Julie Castle, who is now our CEO, put Best Friends’ stake in the ground to lead the country to no-kill by the year 2025,” chief mission officer Holly Sizemore told Today. “It was a pretty bold, brave stake to put out there.”
Their benchmark for being “no-kill” is a 90% save rate, taking into consideration that shelter animals may need to be put down for humane, ethical reasons, making 100% impossible. “We recognize that, for some animals, euthanasia is the most compassionate choice,” their site reads.
While Delaware is currently the only state to hit the benchmark, they’re proof that it can be achieved through community effort and programs designed to clear the shelters.
The Brandywine Valley SPCA, who has three locations in Delaware, was honored by Best Friends for their efforts in reaching the no-kill goal.
They’ve implemented programs to prevent overcrowding, from efforts to reduce the stray population (like trap, neuter, return programs for cats) and programs encouraging more people to adopt from shelters, including an expedited, inexpensive adoption process.
“The community in Delaware is very oriented to pet advocacy, so we had their support,” director of marketing Linda Torelli told Today.
Best Friends Society has been closely analyzing the kill rates of the nation’s animal shelters, using data to reveal which states are close to no-kill status and which ones are further off.
They have an interactive data map on their site, revealing the nation overall has a 76.6% save rate. While the map is promising—most states are in the green, meaning they’re less than 13,000 animals from no-kill designation—it also reveals states like Texas, Louisiana and Florida have higher rates of euthanasia, due to limited resources and pet overpopulation.
But as part of the no-kill initiative, shelters like Brandywine Valley are helping them out, partnering with other states to take in some of their pets.
“We not only receive highly adoptable animals that would otherwise be euthanized, we help communities make sustainable change through mentorship and resources,” Brandywine Valley SPCA wrote on Facebook.
The data is open to anyone, so you can see how your local shelters are doing—and which ones might need your help clearing the cages.
Who knows, maybe you can help make your home the second no-kill state.
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