July 19th, 2018

SPCA announces official ‘no kill’ policy

By Collin Gallant on October 26, 2017.

NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT Katie Ayres, executive director at the Medicine Hat SPCA, holds five-week-old kittens Black Beard, Ragetti, and Tia on Wednesday. The shelter announced this week that it has officially adopted a no-kill policy. This means that the shelter will not euthanize healthy or treatable animals even when the shelter is full.


The Medicine Hat SPCA says it has officially instituted a “no kill” policy at its animal shelter in Medicine Hat, meaning that dogs, cats and other pets will not be euthanized simply due to space concerns.

It made the announcement Wednesday in its monthly newsletter, saying that for years the agency had worked toward such a policy, but is now able to formalize it.

“We’re making the commitment public,” said executive director Katie Ayres, stressing that animals that are injured, suffering or too aggressive to treat may still be humanely put down.

“No one likes to have to euthanize animals for space — it’s the most terrible reason.”

For years the group argued that fulfilling a large city pound contract at its small, older facility stretched resources and partly obscured its mandate to operate as a humane society.

“We’ve practised informally since January 2016, but it wasn’t written into policy until last month,” said Ayres.

“We weren’t in a situation to do so based on the amount of animals coming in.”

In late 2015, the SPCA terminated its pound contract with the city, and the resulting capacity allows the shelter to expand adoption programs and partner with veterinary clinics to lower the cost of animal treatment. A foster family program also helps, as does a program to help animal owners explore other options — such as finding friends or family members who want pets — before dropping them off.

“We’re only dealing with half the number of animals but we’re still full,” said Ayres. “We have a bit more time and ability to implement different programs to get us to this point.”

Ayres said low-cost spay and neuter programs are also impacting the number of animals brought in, and generally, the community is positive about adopting animals.

“People will seek out animals from a shelter,” she said. “They’d rather adopt one than buy one. That’s a cultural change.”

Ayres also stressed that the group is currently in the middle of major renovations that will limit available space in the building in the new year. That could limit the number of animals it could accept.

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