Huntsville City Leader Confirms Research Underway to Become a No Kill Community

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  Animal advocates in Huntsville who are opposed to euthanizing healthy animals are enjoying an extra burst of hope and energy, after learning a key city official revealed to WHNT NEWS 19 that steps are underway to see if Huntsville could become a No Kill community.

No Kill Huntsville is a commitment local animal advocates have been pushing since 2012.  Simply put, it means finding homes for all healthy animals to avoid euthanasia.

"Studies have shown that it costs between $100 and $106 per animal to kill animals," said Jane Jattuso, a board member for the North Alabama Spay/Neuter Clinic.

She and other advocates got an extra burst of hope from a top city leader this week.

"I really think that it is possible," said Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton.  "This is the kind of community that can achieve that, but we've gotta make sure that we put our energy and our resources in to find those solutions and we're working through those things."

Hamilton confirmed the city is now strategizing to see if, how and when Huntsville could adopt the No Kill Equation.  They've sent a Huntsville Animal Services staffer to Jacksonville, Florida to learn how that city implemented one key aspect of the approach.

Hamilton explained, "We are looking at a specific program Jacksonville implemented that has improved their live release rates for cats. Definitely not an overall solution but one important component of the whole.  So we are not looking at Jacksonville as a model for No-Kill. Just looking at the one program."

Hamilton emphasized all pet owners can immediately help the situation by spaying or neutering their pets.

That's something Jattuso said is as easy as water.

"It's like a faucet," said Jattuso. "And you've got puddles of water and you don't stand there and ring your hands about what am I going to do with these puddles of water?  The first thing you do is go turn the faucet off."

"We feel like we're making progress," said Hamilton. "You want to be done right now.  That's not realistic for us but getting there pretty quickly, I think, is realistic.

In less than two weeks, No Kill Communities across the country will hold a nationwide movement called "Just One Day."

On June 11th, they'll challenge all communities to go without euthanizing a healthy pet for just one day.


  • Mike

    One would have to wonder why Huntsville would send a staffer to Jacksonville, Florida to learn about no kill when that is not a no kill community, and when there are actual no kill communities that are closer to Huntsville.

    • Beth Jett

      Hi Mike — please check the web story again for further clarification about the program Huntsville will be inquiring about in Jacksonville Florida. Thank you. And thank you for watching WHNT NEWS 19. Regards, Beth Jett, WHNT

      • Mike

        Thanks, Beth Jett. It is probably a subtle distinction that they sent someone to Jacksonville to look into one part of the no kill equation. But, the fact of the matter remains… there are no kill communities that are closer and that are doing all of it. One would and should wonder why they focused on one community doing only one part…

      • Diana Crawford

        Part of the problem is that some people will never be happy. You can put certain steps in place and call them something else. But if you aren’t using the same terminology of this so called movement then you aren’t doing it right. If you don’t send officials to where they think they should be sent, then you aren’t doing it right. because in their opinion different equals wrong. Many of the steps of no kill movement have been implemented in Huntsville. Not because of the movement but because shelter leaders, workers, and volunteers do not want to see healthy animals euthanized and are and have been actively and physically doing these things. Some of NKH will never know or believe this though because they don’t actually go and DO SOMETHING. Whnt and Beth, I challenge you to spend time with a shelter worker or volunteer for a few days to see what is being done to save lives. The people in the trenches are the true animal advocates. Laws and ordinances also have to be changed so that Animal Control CAN do something when they need to. For the NKH members that are actively involved in savin lives, I salute you. Unfortunately, others involved in this movement have hostile environment by calling shelter workers and volunteers murderers, and insulting their efforts, and blaming them for the situation as it is today. Huntsville/Madison county can and should do better. And WE should be a community that doesn’t need to euthanize healthy animals. The community needs to be educated and needs to own some of the responsibility of being not only part of the problem but part of the solution.

  • Jeremy Smith

    In an ideal world..OOPS.. MY BAD.. THIS ISN’T AN IDEAL WORLD.
    Reality= As long as ignorant humans indiscriminately breed animals because puppies and kittens are SO cute…euthanasia is the only outcome for population control of the result of the equation.
    Sorry No-Kill advocates..unless you open your own homes to thousands of unwanted pets.. not happening

    • Aubrie Kavanaugh

      We disagree that this problem cannot be overcome here, Jeremy. If you look at the number of healthy and treatable animals destroyed in our shelter in recent years, as compared to the populations in Huntsville and Madison County, you may see there are more than enough homes for these animals. Sure, some people are irresponsible but the vast majority of our community is smart and quite responsible. We do not blame the public for the situation and we seek to make the public part of a long-term solution.

      • Adrian Sanders

        Aubrie YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. You dont blame the public for this problem? Thats because you sit around jabbering on your little website and facebook to blame the shelter itself. Funny how those who do so little place so much blame in the wrong place. I hope one day you see the light and place your support where its most needed.

  • Sky Wallker

    The water analogy is a good one. Instead of spending all your resources on mopping the floor, it’s far better to stop the leak.

    Jacksonville has reached no kill status and their program has a strong spay/neuter base.

  • Randy Carothers

    Waco is another City to look at. It is close to home and has gone with a spay neuter approach as well as adoptions. Their program received strong support from rescues and the citizens. Austin is also close to home but has spent a fourtune and is spedning more for shelter space because they did not have their poulation under control before they started. “The faucet was not turned off”. It might be one to look at too with that caveat. The NKE contains most all know techniques for helping to reduce euthanasia and is not original. Many times however the supporters have focused primarily on adoptions and that has proved challangeing if intakes are not controled. Hopefully for the animals sake that intake control takes the form of spay and neuter efforts not just “gimmicks” to reduce intake by making it harder to bring an animal in.

  • Sally Witherspoon (@SallyWitherspoo)

    Some food for thought! I’ve adopted 5 cats and love them all. The only thing that keeps me from adopting more is the cost of food and the cost of veterinary services. If Huntsville were to help defray these costs (for vets and food), I would adopt 40 cats. I would think that vets and pet food companies would be eager to reduce animal care costs for people (like me) willing to adopt pets and I would think the city would help pay these costs instead of euthanasia.

  • Aubrie Kavanaugh

    As a member of No Kill Huntsville, I would like to thank Beth for this story. We have actually made a number of suggestions to city officials regarding networking and were surprised to learn of the Jacksonville visit since it is not an existing no kill community. If you would like to read about our philosophies, our vision and what we have suggested to our officials to fast-track this process, please visit our web site. We are hopeful that some grant money received by the city last October will be used to consult with subject matter experts and really help us make this transition quickly. We do not need to figure this out by ourselves. We learn from those who have taken these steps before us and who can help us with nuts and bolts input on what looks good on paper v. what works best realistically. Help is but a phone call away. But the city must make the call and say, “we are ready. Please help us.”

  • Kim Pertuit

    Im from Louisiana .I would donate alot more if we had a no kill shelter they deserve better .need to stop outside breeders and have a license to have them and a good home to keep them .

  • Benji'sMom

    I moved here from New England, where shelters are routinely No Kill. Many, many of the animals in the shelters up there have actually been transported there from the South.

    Imagine my dismay to get down here and find out that animals are routinely killed here. So I am glad so many of them are sent north where they will be adopted or at least fostered.

    Our dog came from a shelter, and I would take in a hundred if I could. But we have to TURN OFF THE FAUCET! Close the puppy mills. I don’t know if spaying/neutering is a requirement for adopting an animal here, but it is in New Hampshire and should be everywhere.

  • Randy Carothers

    Having watched what shelters and municipalities do for a number of years I find these comments very encouraging. Their seems to be a realization that untill you can “Turn off the faucet” then it is near impossible to save most the animals as you simply don’t know how many there are or will be comming! I will contrast that with other attempts that have been made by shelters that never really addressed the “faucet” problem with mostly disasterous results for the animals.

  • Nuclear Mike

    Feral cats & dogs are wreaking havoc on our natural wildlife & livestock here. Surrounding cities & towns are having to cope with packs of wild vicious dogs as a real threat to our children, pets & ourselves. Dogs are interbreeding with coyotes and producing a particularly dangerous animal hybrid.

    These domestic animals that are now feral can only be killed and not returned as domestic pets.

    So this “no-kill” only addresses the pets that can be directly taken to a shelter without being “dumped” to become feral & bred more feral animals.

    “Kill” remains as the only option to remove the now feral animals that once were or came from pets.

  • J Jacob Carter

    Affordability and sustainability are crucial. New Hampshire provided a model for shelters that cost efficient, is more effective, and doesn’t require abandoning animals on the streets as Delaware has seen what can happen with the “No-Kill” effort here. The shelter is less likely to go up in financial flames as we saw with the “No-Kill” shelter here that only survived less than 18 months before they bankrupted. Here is a comparison of the costs between a couple of the highlighted “No-Kill” communities of Washoe County and Austin versus New Hampshire.

    And Nevada Humane can only continue to remain a viable entity for another 5-6 years based on the the losses they’ve sustained since the no-kill effort began.
    Washoe/NHS – Intake 15,000.
    2005 Combined Expenses – $5,347,996.
    2010 Combined Expenses – $7,816,195.
    Note – Nevada Humane has lost nearly $4 million since no-kill began.

    Nevada Humane
    $4 Million in Deficits Since No-Kill Effort Began 2006
    2004 403,343.00
    2005 2,168,793.00
    2006 (1,000,367.00)
    2007 (855,614.00)
    2008 (237,365.00)
    2009 (1,000,164.00)
    2010 (293,971.00)
    2011 (749,016.00)
    2012 182,030.00

    Austin Animal Services
    2008-09 $ 5,397,428
    2009-10 $ 6,008,659
    2010-11 $ 6,883,679
    2011-12 $ 7,612,186
    2012-13 $ 8.2 million
    2013-14 $ 8.9 million proposed ($714,000 increase)

    New Hampshire’s statewide spay neuter program cost $300-350,000 a year in comparison, and they import dogs, while Austin has closed doors when they have overcrowded. Thank goodness for the enlightened veterinary community in New Hampshire.

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