New Hampshire is a Zero Kill State. Will Your State be Next?

The small state of New Hampshire has big answers to stop the senseless killing of 2-4 million healthy pets that enter American animal shelters each year. While most states struggle to end pet overpopulation, New Hampshire has successfully reduced their euthanasia rate to zero. A free downloadable book that explains how they achieved this goal is now available. Everyone involved in animal rescue should have a copy.

Getting To Zero: A Roadmap To Ending Animal Shelter Overpopulation In The United States, was written by attorney/activist and director of Shelter Overpopulation Solutions, Peter Marsh. His group has been leading New Hampshire to the day when cats and dogs would no longer die in shelters just to make room for other homeless pets, since 1994.

Shelter Overpopulation Solutions (STOP) grew their plan out of common sense and analyzing the data around them; something few other nonprofits or municipal animal shelters were doing at the time.

Here are some key facts the data revealed:

  • Shelters had increased the adoption rate of homeless pets, but euthanasia rates had not gone down.
  • Targeted spay and neuter programs for low-income areas decreased euthanasia rates.
  • Targeted spay and neuter programs during kitten season decreased euthanasia rates.
  • Low-cost spay and neuter clinics decreased euthanasia rates.
  • Low-cost spay and neuter clinics had to have legislative backing be publicly well-funded.
  • Low-cost spay and neuter clinics had to be well-coordinated with all entities doing them, well-designed and readily available.
  • An education and outreach component was essential. A study by Gary Patronek DVM, PhD found households with an income less than $40,000 were at a greater risk of relinquishing a pet.
  • A call-in hotline to solve pet behavior issues resulted in fewer surrendered cats and dogs.

STOP knew they had to hit the pet overpopulation problem in two ways: “by reducing the number of pets who entered shelters and increasing the number who left alive.” A toll free information line was set up and brochures and posters widely promoted the program. The entire state worked as one unit to achieve the zero kill rate. The goal was won in 1999.

Since 2000, no cats or dogs have been euthanized in New Hampshire simply to make room for new homeless pets. Each year a small number are destroyed due to illness or aggression.

STOP is not done yet. They would like to launch a national public awareness campaign about shelter overpopulation, establish training and assistance programs for local advocacy groups and secure adequate funding to subsidize spay and neuter programs.

The New Hampshire model has been endorsed by Spay USA and nonprofits around the country are beginning to implement it.


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Photo: sportreporting/flickr


Ben Lagos
Ben Lagos1 years ago

Cesia Ovando
Past Member 2 years ago


Anna Wang
Anna Meng Wang2 years ago

So proud of NH!

Dave Klinch
David Klinch3 years ago

This is baffling and NOT TRUE ! Just ask the NH Humane Society, or ANY NUMBER of municipal pounds. WE ARE EUTHANIZING DOGS IN NH RIGHT NOW - THAT'S 2014 FOLKS !



Lotta D.
Lotta D.3 years ago

Well it would be nice if this was not a big fat lie.
From one shelter's listed policies "Owners who hope their pets will be adopted need to know that in the eventuality that the animal is not placed, it may be euthanized. "
From another shelter
" Your answers help to determine whether or not your animal should be put up for adoption. It is unfair to pass on severe behavioral or medical issues to another family."
Severe has a very wide interpretation.
NH shelters routinely kill animals.
Some routinely kill based on age, breed of animal, and on treatable health issues simply due to cost of care.
Others refuse shelter to local animals while reserving kennel space for out of state animals to be resold. Should those animals not work out they may also end up refused shelter or killed.
Most that will take owner surrenders (and many do not) charge local owners a fee to surrender even a pleasant healthy animal while purchasing out of state animals for resale.
Limited admissions is not the same as no kill - limited admissions simply means the buck is passed to someone else to do the killing whether it be a car, wild animals, starvation due to abandonment or an owner's veterinarian.
NH is not a no kill state and it will likely never be one as long as there are owners who choose pets unwisely or who have drastic changes in their life circumstances.

Pam S.
Pam S.3 years ago

This is a template for all of us. We need to get organized (in each state) and copy what they have done! There is no need to reinvent the wheel!

Talia Lisi
Talia Lisi3 years ago

Question... how long did it take to become a no kill? Because in FL we are spreading the word on spay/neuter...And we are still so overpopulated with animals who die everyday :( It is getting better but.....

diana Parker
diana P3 years ago

and they did it in only FIVE years!! wow.
just imagine if the whole country did this.

yes, it cost some money. but i bet they're saving more money now per year than it ever cost (probably in total). (that was for the folks who need to hear the money part of it, 'cause the suffering and dying is inconsequential to them.)

MK Ahlsen
MK Ahlsen3 years ago

Thumbs up to New Hampshire. It would be wonderful if this was nationwide.

Ritva J.
Ritva J3 years ago

Kudos to New Hampshire! Well done!