An open-intake shelter is a haven for the hundreds of dogs and cats in our community that, through no fault of their own, find themselves neglected, unwanted or homeless. Open-intake shelters accept every animal received. Closed-intake facilities, sometimes referred to as no-kill shelters, do not.
While the idea of closed-intake or no-kill animal facilities seems ideal, they cannot care for an entire community’s needs. A closed-intake or limited-admission shelter does not create a community where no animals are euthanized. This practice simply shifts the burden to nearby traditional open-intake shelters.
The movement to support shelters that do not euthanize is well-meaning, and we all share the goal of no more homeless animals. However, use of the term no-kill can be misleading. Open-intake and closed-intake are alternative terms that define a shelter’s admission procedures and capacity to provide care for all animals in need.
Limited-admission shelters across the United States can turn away sick, stray and unwanted animals because they do not have to take every surrendered animal. That sends thousands of animals to open-intake shelters, which already are overcrowded with stray, abused and other unwanted animals.
The open-intake facilities shelter and feed the animals; rehabilitate and treat as needed; spay or neuter; and seek adoptive homes or placement with a rescue. Some of these animals ultimately may have to be euthanized due to sickness, traumatic injury or untreatable behavior or medical conditions. Shelter workers and veterinarians must make those difficult decisions.
Each employee, volunteer and supporter of Young-Williams Animal Center works, gives and advocates tirelessly to find homes for the many stray and surrendered animals; to promote compassionate care of all animals; and to advocate spay/neuter of all dogs and cats with the ultimate goal of assuring a home for every adoptable pet.
However, this goal only can be accomplished by the shared efforts and commitment of every person in Knoxville and Knox County to change the state of animal welfare in our community. And that starts with the greatest issue of all – pet overpopulation.
While the debate continues between limited-admission and open intake facilities, pet overpopulation remains the biggest reason for euthanasia. Without effective spay/neuter programs, millions of puppies and kittens, for which there simply are not enough homes, will continue to be born every year in this country.
Spaying or neutering pets is the single most effective, most humane solution. Young-Williams Animal Center strives to reduce the number of unwanted animals in our community through public education and an aggressive spay/neuter program.
The Spay/Neuter Solutions clinic at Young-Williams Animal Village, located at 6400 Kingston Pike on Bearden Hill, offers low-cost options for every pet owner. It’s only $45 for cats and $70 for dogs. Community members can call 865-215-6677 to make an appointment. We also have a mobile Spay Shuttle that makes regular visits into the community.
Since the clinic opened in 2007, our staff has spayed or neutered more than 62,000 animals. This number does not include the additional hundreds of dogs and cats who are altered and then adopted from the shelter each year. At the same time, we’ve seen a decrease in the total intake of animals to our organization by more than 50 percent.
We are fortunate to live in a place full of people who are passionate about animal welfare and want the very best for our community’s animals. We feel the same way. Thank you to every individual, family and business who supports us through volunteering, donating or being an advocate of our shelter. The staff, our board of directors and the animals are grateful.