I normally don’t feel the need to respond to letters written to the editor. However, when a letter contains factual errors about the Animal Care League, I feel it is my responsibility to set the record straight. In her letter to the editor [Why isn’t ACL a no kill shelter? Viewpoints, May 16], Gloria Ryan incorrectly assumes that the ACL doesn’t practice no kill policies simply because we have chosen to use different terminology on our website. The truth is that the ACL has always practiced no kill policies.

The Animal Care League was founded in 1973 under the guiding principles of the no kill movement, whether they knew it at that time or not, in that no animal would be euthanized due to lack of space or the length of time they were in our care. We adhered to those policies then, we follow them now, and we will continue to practice them in the future. Why then would we not plaster our website with NO KILL? There are two reasons we have chosen to call ourselves Limited Intake vs. No Kill.

First, even though the definition of “no kill” does not say animals will never be euthanized, many people take this term literally and assume that animals are never put to sleep in a no kill shelter. The truth is that, while infrequent, there are instances where the humane action is to euthanize an animal. These instances are not due to space or time, but do include untreatable illness and aggression.

The ACL believes that even though we follow no kill policies, the term “limited intake” eliminates this potential confusion. Secondly, it is widely believed that the only way we will truly end our homeless pet situation is for all animal welfare groups to work together. Unfortunately, the term “no kill” has become the line in the sand between many groups and the ACL would rather work with other animal welfare agencies than against them.

The Animal Care League is proud of the care we provide to our animals and adheres to no kill policies and practices, yet we also know there is a long way to go to end animal suffering. If using the term “limited intake” instead of “no kill” on our website helps us takes steps down this path, thus helping save more lives, we feel this is what we should do.

Tom Van Winkle
Executive director, Animal Care League

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