No Kill Policy

SPCA Westchester is recognized as “No-Kill” rescue center.  No animal is ever euthanized except in cases of extreme aggression, terminal illness or the inability to maintain a reasonable quality of life in a shelter environment. Regardless of how long it may take, the SPCA is committed to caring for all adoptable animals, until a loving new home can be found.    

What is “No-Kill,” and how does SPCA Westchester fit into that category?

“No-Kill” defines a movement, a goal, rather than being an absolute.  A decade ago, the term was coined as a barometer for measuring change, as just one piece of the larger puzzle. It was not meant to condone warehousing of animals or to be taken literally.  Today, “No-Kill” means the elimination of euthanasia for healthy, adoptable dogs and cats.

“No-Kill” doesn’t mean no euthanasia. A responsible “No-Kill” organization will euthanize an animal with an untreatable disease, who has lost the quality of life, or a dangerous dog who has a major potential for injury to the public or to another animal.

SPCA Westchester’s “No-Kill” policy:

SPCA Westchester follows the guidelines set up by Maddie’s Fund, established a decade ago in California: to make all reasonable efforts to find new homes for every healthy and/or treatable dog and cat who are ready to be placed when entering a shelter.

What is “healthy?”

On intake, the animal shows no signs of behavioral or temperamental characteristics that would pose a health or safety risk or otherwise make the animal unsuitable for placement as a pet.

What is “treatable?”

Animals who are not healthy but are likely to become healthy if given reasonable medical, behavioral, foster or other care. Animals who are not healthy and not likely to become healthy, regardless of care provided, but who would likely maintain a satisfactory quality of life if given reasonable care, including long-term care. This does not include any animal determined to pose a significant health or safety risk to humans or other animals.

SPCA Westchester takes the decision to euthanize an animal very seriously. Our “live release rate,” on average, is between 97-98%, meaning 2-3% or less of our animals are humanely euthanized each year for one of the reasons stated above. If you have any questions about our no-kill policy, please contact us.

View our 2023 Maddie’s Fund Asilomar Accords Report