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Open Admission Policy & Role of Euthanasia


Open Admission Policy 

The Bermuda SPCA is an open admission—or open door—humane society. This means that we will not turn away any animal that comes to our doors. Many of these animals are healthy, good natured dogs and cats who go up for adoption—and there are no time limits on how long they can stay up for adoption.

It is unfortunate but not all animals that come through our doors are healthy.  Many of the animals that come to a shelter are sick, severely injured, or too aggressive or behaviorally unsound to be placed up for adoption. 

It is the Bermuda SPCA’s belief that no animal should be turned away.  Sometimes, these animals can be rehabilitated but sometimes they cannot. In this case, we strongly believe that euthanasia is the most humane alternative to an existence of suffering and pain or being limited to life in a cage or with limited human contact.

Terminology “No Kill” “Limited Admissions” “Open Admissions”

While the phrase “no-kill” can stir many emotions in people, it can also be very confusing and misunderstood.  Much of the confusion about “no-kill” stems from the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of the term.  One organization’s idea of no-kill can vary widely from another’s. Therefore, it is important to look into the issues surrounding the idea of no-kill in order to understand the ways in which organizations help animals.

Here is one set of definitions for how shelters are ranked, in the end, it is not words or phrases that help animals but actual efforts, programs, and initiatives that set shelters apart:

No-kill Shelter 

Is an animal shelter that does not kill healthy or treatable animals even when the shelter is full, reserving euthanasia for terminally ill animals or those considered dangerous to public safety. Where the definition varies from shelter to shelter is do these shelter turn away terminally ill or aggressive animals keeping their euthanasia rates low.

Limited Admissions Shelters 

Are those that that pick and choose the pets they admit may (sometimes refer to themselves as “no-kill” shelters), because they are not taking in the animals that are being euthanized in their community. However, in every community there are a number of pets (approx. 25% of the pet population in any community) that will NOT be candidates for re-homing due to major medical issues or aggression. So those “no-kill” shelters are simply shifting the euthanasia of animals in their community to another entity.

Open Admission Shelter

As an Open Admissions shelter, the Bermuda SPCA does NOT turn any animal who comes to our door away based on old age, health issues, behavioral problems, or tendencies toward aggression, which make an animal harder to adopt.  The sad truth is that all too often, pets end up dumped like garbage when they become old or ill.  At a time in their lives when they need us the most, we’ve become a society that believes it is okay to get rid of the old and bring in the new.

Taking in every animal in need seems like a noble way to operate, right?  We believe so.  In our community there is no other shelter for stray and abandoned animals, so we are serving a much-needed purpose and if we chose to be “Limited Admissions, ” in which we only took in highly adoptable pets, then there would be nowhere for the others to go.

The Bermuda SPCA believes in helping the greatest number of animals possible.  As such, we will accept any animal that comes to our doors. But with this there are tough decisions to be made as not every animal is adoptable and we are a shelter (take in animals with the ultimate goal to find them new homes) not a sanctuary (where animals live out the remainder of their lives).

We do provide rehabilitation for animals that may need some extra care and attention before they are adoptable.  However we do euthanize animals that are so sick or behaviorally damaged that they would not become adoptable. The Bermuda SPCA’s goal is no euthanasia for all adoptable or treatable animals. 

Why don’t you rehabilitate EVERY animal and simply end euthanasia?

The Bermuda SPCA is proving its commitment to providing rehabilitation to as many animals as possible. Dogs and cats who can be rehabilitated include those who are not healthy but who are likely to become healthy if given medical, foster, behavioral, or other care. 

Unfortunately the reality is that some animals are unhealthy and untreatable. As an open-admission shelter we take in every pet brought to us, regardless of health issues, age, disposition, tendency for aggression, or any other factors that can decrease adoptability. Due to this structure, some percentage of the SPCA’s population will be too aggression or face major medical issues that preclude them from placement/adoption.  And the most responsible and humane action is to euthanize.

I can’t support an organization that encourages euthanasia!

We fully understand your position - the Bermuda SPCA does not encourage euthanasia!  What we do encourage are adoptions, responsible pet ownership, and rehabilitation to save lives.  We make every effort to find new homes for the dogs, cats and other animals that have already been born. 

Unfortunately, until there are enough homes for all the animals who are born each year, and until there are no longer any sick, injured, aggressive, or unpredictable animals, euthanasia will still be the humane reality.  It is this reality that is the responsibility of an open admission shelter.  Simply turning a back on these animals and merely pronouncing that euthanasia shouldn’t exist won’t make euthanasia go away: tirelessly working toward more animal adoptions, further pet pregnancy prevention, animal rehabilitation, and educating the public will reduce the necessity.

In order for the Bermuda SPCA to reduce the number of euthanasia’s and successfully rehome Bermuda’s unwanted and neglected animals, we must provide a a full range of services such as the Inspectorate department that will investigate accounts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect; a 24hr after hours Hotline and our Education department which brings our message of respect and humane treatment to school children and adults each year.  It is these additional service which we hope you will support as we work together to reduce the number of animals entering the Shelter.

©2017 Bermuda SPCA