Who Created No Kill?

Who created No Kill? There are several possibilities. Take your pick.

The first animal shelter in the United States to adopt and sustain a No Kill model was Bide-A-Wee Home, which was founded by Flora Kibbe in 1903 in Manhattan (it still exists and is now known as Bideawee). The term “No Kill” was not used in those days, but Bide-A-Wee established the principle that animals should not be killed merely because they are homeless. Bide-A-Wee found adoptive homes for its healthy animals, and it treated the treatable ones and found homes for them too when they recovered. Flora Kibbe had to fight very hard to protect Bide-A-Wee and make it grow, but by the time she died in 1943 the organization was thriving. Bide-A-Wee was what we would call today a “limited admission” shelter, and it did not make ts community (New York City) No Kill. Indeed, the ASPCA, which had the animal control contract for New York City at the time, was taking in and killing massive amounts of animals. Bide-A-Wee took in a relatively small number of animals.

Another era for No Kill started in the 1970s, when the North Shore Animal League started proudly calling itself “No Kill.” North Shore had a philosophy similar to Bide-A-Wee, but it added the idea of head-to-head competition with the commercial pet market. Mike Arms, who started work at North Shore in 1977, expanded on its practice of aggressive marketing of shelter pets. He and his staff found homes for tens of thousands of animals each year. The traditional shelter industry was horrified at the idea of marketing pets, arguing that pets were not toasters. Today, though, the idea of shelters capturing market share is a mainstay of No Kill. The percentage of pets that are adopted from shelters and rescues has gone up from about 10% in 1970 to close to 30% today, probably because traditional shelters have switched to Open Adoption procedures. That percentage may go even higher as No Kill marketing ideas spread.

The third era for No Kill happened in San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s. The San Francisco SPCA, run by Richard Avanzino, had Bide-A-Wee’s lifesaving ethic and North Shore’s marketing emphasis, and added the idea of an entire community being No Kill.

Avanzino stressed that although he was the leader of the SPCA, they worked as a team and the new ideas and development of ideas came from staff and volunteers. Avanzino mentions Lynn Spivak, the communications director, Pam Rockwell, the head of the Ethical Studies department, and Carl Friedman, who was operations manager at the SPCA and later became the head of the city animal control and sheltering department, as his closest allies in the effort to make San Francisco No Kill. check and see if you’ve done anything like this before. Mention influence from Kibbe to Sanders (maybe) and from Lewyts to Arms and from Arms to Avanzino. Lewyt hired Arms, Avanzino hired Spivak. So we have 1903, 1969, and 1989. Other dates were important too as with 1977 hiring of Arms, 1979 Sido case, and 1983 hiring of Spivak. And this development was not just a matter of the three organizations. We had crushing pet overpopulation in NYC when Kibbe and NS were developing their programs – by the time Avanzino put his program into full effect in 1994, the pet population crisis was starting to be over in some places, or at least reduced to the extent that be removing chokepoints the live releases could be raised to meet it.