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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Mattfield

New Jersey: No-Kill in 2025? Some say yes.

One large nationwide advocacy group has designated Essex, Morris, Sussex, Cape May, Monmouth, Mercer, and Salem counties as "No-Kill" on this page. On the whole, NJ is considered a low priority for the organization's No Kill by 2025 initiative for the US.

While this at first sounds like misinformation, Best Friends is not telling a lie - their definition of "No-Kill" is stated on their website and explained in depth. They also define "No-Kill Communities:"

"When every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within a particular county has reached a save rate of 90% or higher, we designate that community as no-kill."

The organization has done considerable research and included infographics with clickable links and data sources. That said, it is downright deceptive to declare any NJ community "No-Kill."

  • Many NJ towns are not served by animal shelters. Many do not have any impound facilities for cats and simply list dog kennels (such as the recently troubled Aranwood Kennels) for dog impoundment. The kennels and impound facilities are frequently located many towns away from the contracted town. Some do not even have contracts in the the towns in which they are located. For example: if you find kittens in Plainfield, Plainfield Area Humane Society will not intake them. They do not hold a contract with Plainfield. Their impound facility is Aranwood Kennels, counties away in Mahwah.

  • Reporting in New Jersey is voluntary. Shelters do not have to report statistics to the state. Most records we have received through OPRA are woefully deficient and inaccurate based on checks of incidents we reported ourselves or witnessed firsthand.

  • No-Kill shelters are closed admission shelters. To avoid destroying animals for space, they simply refuse to admit cats.

    • Grandma died and left her 3 cats behind? No, we're full.

    • You were evicted or lost your home? Sorry, no room.

    • Your cousin is hoarding over 20 cats? We are at capacity.

    • This kitten was crying on your doorstep but you can't keep him? Just ignore him and don't feed. He'll go away. (Yes, one of our volunteers was told this by a municipal shelter)

    • You found kittens on the way to work? Sorry, we're full. Go dump them back where you found them.

    • Is any of the above what you would consider "No-Kill?" They are responses given by shelters and animal control officers all over NJ who have the audacity to declare low euthanasia rates while sending cats to horrific deaths outside by the thousands. Their weapons of choice? Apathy and avoidance.

  • When people are turned away, they are often told to "call a rescue" by ACOs or shelter workers so that the town will not have to log the refusal. Some shelters and animal control officers are so bold as to simply hand people lists of rescues instead of taking surrenders or impounding for stray hold. Rescues are by definition closed admission and when they are full, the animals in question are abandoned or handed off in desperation to unvetted rescuers, Craigslist, or any other number of dangerous ends.

As a rescue dedicated to helping New Jersey's most underserved residents control their outdoor cat populations, we see that the suffering of cats outside has origins in the "No-Kill Shelter" movement: Shelters were vilified as death machines, cats were turned away, and not an ounce of prevention was done.

In the age of "We're full, call a rescue," the people who call us don't have huge networks of rescues eager to take their unvetted, unfixed cats, immediately and for free.

Shelters turn guys like this away all the time, singlehandedly adding to the unfixed cat population.

They've been told by everyone on social media that shelters are slaughterhouses with no data to back it up, so many do not even try.

Recently we learned of several rescues who are actually "brokers--" they will not intake kittens until they're vetted and paid for by the finder, but then collect the adoption fee. How would any underserved resident do that? The cat is going to be given away unfixed or abandoned outside.

Even if New Jersey's few shelters are no-kill, they're also no-admit, no-help, and certainly not serving anywhere near the number of people and cats who desperately need them.

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