Hampton Roads No-Kill Philosophy

We Cathope that all shelters throughout Hampton Roads will embrace the No-Kill Hampton Roads philosophy statement and declare a commitment to achieving No-Kill status. We are also counting on Hampton Roads citizens to politely and persistently let their local leaders know that they want their shelters to become No-Kill.


No-Kill is a term describing the philosophy of eliminating euthanasia of healthy and treatable (medically and behaviorally) companion animals. It is a commitment to ensuring that every healthy and treatable dog and cat has the opportunity to live in a safe, loving home for its lifetime. No healthy, adoptable animals will be killed simply because there is a lack of cage space or as a means of population control.

Healthy – The term “healthy” means and includes all weaned dogs and cats that, at or subsequent to the time the animal is taken into possession: (a) have manifested no signs of a behavioral or temperamental characteristic that could pose a health or safety risk or otherwise make the animal unsuitable for placement as a pet, and (b) have manifested no sign of disease, injury, a congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the health of the animal, or that is likely to adversely affect the animal’s health in the future. Healthy animals may include old, deaf, blind, disfigured or disabled.

Treatable – The term “treatable” means and includes all dogs and cats (including feral cats) that are “rehabilitable” and all dogs and cats that are “manageable”.

Rehabilitable – The term “rehabilitable” means and includes all dogs and cats who are not “healthy” but who are likely to become “healthy” if given medical, foster, behavioral, or other care equivalent to the care typically provided to pets by reasonable and caring pet owners in the community. “Non-rehabilitable” candidates are animals that (a) are suffering from an incurable, painful disease or injury that no reasonable amount of care possible would give them a reasonable good quality of life and/or (b) have a history of unprovoked vicious behavior so severe and irreversible that they pose a public health or safety risk.

Manageable – The term “manageable” means and includes all dogs and cats who are not “healthy” but who would likely maintain a satisfactory quality of life, if given medical, foster, behavioral, or other care (including long-term care), equivalent to the care typically provided to pets by reasonable and caring owners in the community. The term “manageable” does not include any dog or cat that is determined to pose a significant risk to human health or safety, or to the health or safety of other animals.

Our guiding belief is:

  • Euthanasia of companion animals should not be used as a form of population control. Companion animals in shelters should not be killed because of lack of space, passage of time, or lack of resources.
  • Killing healthy or treatable companion animals sends the message that pets are disposable.
  • A No-Kill community is attained by providing non-lethal solutions to the community. In addition to educating the community on responsible pet ownership, all the following components are essential to ending the killing of healthy, adoptable and treatable animals: Feral Cat/TNR Program, High-Volume/Low-Cost Spay/Neuter, Rescue Group Partnerships, Robust Foster Care Program, Comprehensive Pet Adoption Program, Pet Retention Program, Medical & Behavioral Rehabilitation, Public Relations/Community Involvement, Volunteers, Proactive Redemption Program, and a Compassionate Director.
  • The success of the No-Kill philosophy is contingent upon the partnership of animal welfare organizations and the community, and not simply by ending the killing of animals within an organization.
  • No-Kill does not mean that no animal is ever euthanized in the shelter. For “non-rehabilitable” animals, euthanasia may still be the most humane alternative.