If a person were taking in 10 pets a day and killing 7 or 8 of them every night, then taking 10 more in the next day, would you call them an "open admission pet-owner," or a serial habitual animal abuser?
Seriously -- if I see one more "shelter" defend their killing rate by proudly pointing out they're "open admission," I'm going to scream. I think continuing to take in animals you have no room for is stupid and immoral, and ten times more so when you then turn around and kill them. And to brag about it? Are you nuts?
Take the Michigan Humane Society, which kills nearly three-quarters of the animals it takes in, does not hold an animal control contract, and proudly brags that it's "open admission." I have a suggestion for you, MHS: Close your freaking door and stop killing all those animals.
That goes for Memphis Animal Shelter, too. They recently justified their kill rate, also around 75 percent, by saying they are the only "open admission" shelter in their entire region.
Using the term "open admission" this way is the latest iteration of the "there's no such thing as 'no-kill,' it's just 'someone else kill'" defense. Essentially it's the implication that as long as strays are taken in and people are given the option of seeking shelter for a pet anytime and for any reason, the only possible outcome is that some -- often most -- of those animals will be killed by the very organization that takes them in. If they were "no kill," by this logic, they'd say "no" to some pet owners, who would just head for the "shelter" up the road that would say "yes" and then kill them.
Why do they think it's moral to take in animals you're only going to turn around and kill? Because of the "fate worse than death" defense.
Essentially organizations like this contend that an "open door" to animals who will be killed is preferable to an uncertain fate on the other side of that door.
Are there really only two options for these pets, death or "a fate worse than death"? Of course not.
Just look at Washoe County, Nev., and Calgary in Alberta, Canada, where innovative return-to-owner programs have reduced the intake and sheltering of stray dogs to such low numbers that the community can save the few who aren't able to go back to their families.
And look at shelters experimenting with making appointments for owner surrenders, places like PAWS Chicago. They save enough space in their program so they can take in urgent cases on the spot. However, they ask other pet owners to make arrangements for a future surrender date.
What they've found is that that most people are fine with that, knowing that if things become urgent the door is open, but happy to know that their pet will be given the shelter's full attention and a careful, loving re-homing at a planned, future moment.
Anecdotally, and this is something I think most rescuers have seen, I've observed that once a person knows there is an "out" from the pressure and stress of whatever is leading them to give up their pet, they sometimes see their way clear to keeping the pet, or become more able to find the pet a home themselves, or at least, they get enough relief from the stress of worrying about it that they're okay waiting for a little while.
Since there's no data that I'm aware of -- and if you know of some, I'd like to see it! -- demonstrating that the "open door" does a better job of preventing these pets from being abandoned than programs like that do, you'd think it would be a moral imperative for self-described "shelters" to not take in animals they're going to turn around and kill, and give those programs a try.
Instead, they keep that damn door open as wide as possible and then brag about it -- even though what they're really bragging about is bad management, a lack of planning, and a failure to implement creative alternative strategies that are working in other communities.
All in the name of finding a scrap of moral high-ground to stand on while taking another pull from the bottle of Fatal-Plus.