No-Kill Shelters—Know Your Options Before You Adopt, or Surrender, a Pet

. August 14, 2018.

The term “no-kill” is defined differently, depending on who you talk to. Because pet-owners, or those hoping to adopt a pet, might not realize the difference, Toledo City Paper examined the policies of local shelters. While approaches may vary, all shelters agree: it is much better to find a pet at a shelter than to support the often inhumane and shockingly unregulated puppy mill industry.

Some pet stores sell dogs from these mills, so do your research to avoid supporting a practice that may not be good for the animals involved. If you are looking to adopt a pet, or are forced to surrender a pet, you can rest easy that these five area shelters, and one clinic, do everything they can to help.

Toledo Animal Rescue

The oldest no-kill shelter adds new servicesXandercamebacktovisit

Formerly known as the Toledo Animal Shelter, Toledo Animal Rescue is Toledo’s oldest no-kill shelter, founded in 1927.

Board President Kate Kelley said, “We are a true rescue in that we will care for any animal indefinitely.” There are euthanizations for animals that are sick or suffering when treatments don’t help, but that is at the discretion of a licensed veterinarian.

Toledo Animal Rescue offers some unique services, including training their dogs to make them more adoptable. They are also working with an organization in Akron to “match runners with the dogs who volunteer to take the dogs out and get them exercise,” Kelly said.

The Rehome Program will help families of pet owners who have passed away or have to go to a nursing home. Toledo Animal Rescue will care for the animals so that “family members can move on to what they need to do without fear of what will happen to the family pet,” Kelley said.

Kelley stressed that it is typically much better to adopt than to go to a pet store. “A lot of times pet stores don’t really know where the pets are coming from,” she said. “Sometimes they do, and they turn a blind eye to it. They may advertise that they don’t deal with puppy mills…there are so many layers that it hides the fact that they’re still dealing with them.”

Visit to learn more about their adoption process. Cat adoptions range from $20 to $50, and dog adoptions range from $85 to $95. The fee includes the cost of spaying and neutering.

640 Wyman St | 419-382-1130 |

Noon-4pm, Monday-Tuesday & Thursday-Saturday

Lucas County Canine Care & Control

Over 80 pups in need of homes

This dog shelter takes in Lucas County strays and also accepts owner surrenders, but there are instances where they will euthanize other than due to the health of the animal.LC4---Laura-Simmons-Wark-

Community Outreach Coordinator Laura Simmons-Wark (pictured above) said, “We don’t do it [euthanize] for space. That’s a lot of people’s definition of no-kill, that you don’t euthanize for space.” They sometimes have to euthanize a dog due to severe human aggression and aggression with other dogs. If a dog has a bite history, LC4 is upfront about their policy that they can’t put the dog in the adoption program, and that it will be put down for public safety. They provide owner-requested euthanasia for these dogs, saving people money when they would otherwise have a bill from their vet. LC4 does work with other shelters (like MVSAP) who take some of the dogs with behavioral and medical issues.

Other than aggression and veterinarian-recommended euthanasia, “we have no time limit on our adoptable dogs,” Simmons-Wark said. “We have over 80 dogs looking for homes right now.”

Their adoption fee is $125 for a spayed or neutered dog. Find out more about the adoption process on their website.

“When you adopt, you’re not only getting the benefits of having an amazing pet,” Simmons-Wark said. “You’re saving a life.”

410 S Erie St | 419-213-2800

11am-7pm, Monday-Friday
11am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday

Toledo Area Humane Society

Fighting against cruelty for all animalsTAHS--DOG---butter

While the Toledo Area Humane Society (TAHS) does not identify as no-kill, its euthanasia rates are very low at approximately four per month, according to Marketing and Events Coordinator Abbey Hall. TAHS only euthanizes if there is no medical hope for the animal or if there are behavior issues that render the animal unadoptable (severe aggression). Hall explains that some animals simply “aren’t able to overcome the trauma they incur from cruelty. We work with them as long as we can, but when they’re a threat to people or other animals, it’s not an animal that we can safely place in the community.” The predominant example of this are dogs that have been used for fighting.

What sets TAHS apart, according to Hall, is that they have “legal jurisdiction to prosecute” in cases of animal cruelty. We have cruelty officers; that’s an important part of what we do as a whole.”

In the shelter’s fights to do whatever they can to address animal cruelty, they take in more than just cats and dogs, including “pocket pets”—rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rats —and livestock ranging from chickens to horses. “You name it, we take it,” Hall said.

Another service that TAHS provides is to temporarily hold animals for pet owners who have had to relocate because their house burned down, or they have had to enter a domestic abuse program. “Sometimes people have apprehension toward leaving because of an animal,” Hall said.

Adoption fees include spaying, neutering, and age-appropriate vaccinations. The prices range from $35 for senior cats to $100 for kittens and $75 for senior dogs to $325 for puppies.

827 Illinois Ave | 419-891-0705 |

Noon-6pm, Monday-Friday
Noon-5pm, Saturday-Sunday

Maumee Valley Save-A-Pet

Working with other shelters to save livesMVSP---PETS-1

This no-kill shelter takes in animals from the public, as well as from some other area animal shelters, including Wood County Animal Shelter and Lucas County Canine Care & Control (also known as LC4). They also get animals from Kentucky and even work with a group that brings animals from Qatar.

“A lot of groups have been pulling animals from other places,” board member Lisa Giles explained. “We always try to help out the community, but sometimes we’ll go outside the community.”

If an animal comes in with a treatable illness like parvo, Giles said that they treat them and put them up for adoption. “For cats, if they’re FIV or feline leukemia positive, we’ll put them in a foster home, and place them in Best Friends (a non-profit animal sanctuary in Utah).”

There is a $25 special for kitten adoptions right now, it is $250 to adopt a dog, $75 to adopt a cat, both of which include spaying and neutering.

One thing that sets MVSAP apart from many shelters is that they have a fund dedicated to helping pet owners keep their pets when they have financial hardships. “That money we raise actually goes to help the community take care of their animals so they can keep them in their homes,” Giles said.

MVSAP has a screened in area for their cats to roam, and they always try to gauge how the dogs and cats interact with other animals. It’s a good time to see how the animals interact before putting them in a home that already has pets.

5250 Hill Ave | 419-537-9663 |

Noon-5pm, Wednesday-Saturday

Paws and Whiskers

Kitten season is upon usP_W---cat

Paws and Whiskers is the only no-kill feline-only shelter in the Toledo area, and they have their job cut out for them with kitten season now in full swing. The shelter has been around for almost 23 years.

“We have a huge cat problem in Toledo. Dogs have multiple places to go,” Shelter Manager Christine Barton said. “I’ve had them (cats) dumped here in boxes.” Barton says drop-offs like these are problematic because cats may escape from the box before the shelter opens and be hit by a car. “My advice is to keep them as safe as possible until you can get them to one of the shelters.”

This can be difficult when there is such an overpopulation problem. Paws and Whiskers has a three-month waiting list for taking in cats right now; however, they are doing their best to adopt out as many as possible, adopting out more than 35 in July.

When it comes to euthanizing, Paws and Whiskers will do everything medically possible to save a cat. “The only time we euthanize is for medical reasons (if the cat is suffering). If there is a chance that cat can thrive, then we do not euthanize,” says Barton.

To push more adoptions, the shelter always has a buy-one-get-one-half-off special. The price of adoption is $75 cash or check and $80 with a credit card. It includes spaying or neutering, the medical exam, shots, and they will soon add microchipping.

As with all of these shelters, Paws and Whiskers is a non-profit that needs volunteers, particularly for fostering. “Every day there’s at least 20 calls (about dropping off cats). If cats were spayed and neutered, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

32 Hillwyck Dr | 419-536-1914

Noon-7pm, Tuesday-Thursday
Noon-5pm, Friday-Sunday

Humane Ohio

A low-cost option for pet owners

Though Humane Ohio is primarily a low-cost spay/neuter clinic, it offers other services to support community pet owners as well. The clinic operates as Toledo’s largest food bank, they run a foster program, and they rent traps to assist with TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) that addresses cat overpopulation.

“The goal of everything we do is to reduce the pet homelessness problem,” Development and Marketing Coordinator Kaylie Spotts said. They keep their prices low to help limit overpopulation, preventing animals from ending up on the streets.

For spaying/neutering, it costs $70 for a dog under 100 pounds, $110 for dogs over 100 pounds, and $45 for “owned cats” (cats that are not strays or ferals).

If volunteers are interested in helping with TNR, they can pay a deposit of $60 to get a trap (it will be refunded when the trap is returned), bring the cat to the clinic, and pay $27 for it to be fixed.

Fosters are always needed, especially during kitten season, and volunteers can fill out an application online to participate in this program. It helped over 230 cats be adopted last year.

Humane Ohio’s pet food bank serves around 600 families who, for $1 a month, can get enough pet food to feed up to two pets. People who want to benefit from the program must show proof of financial need. “We rely entirely on donations and kind-hearted people across the community to donate food,” Spotts said. “We’re really appreciative of the community that supports us and makes this possible.”

To learn more about Humane Ohio’s spay/neuter services, the pet food bank, the TNR program, or becoming a foster, visit

  • LovesDogs2016

    I would NEVER support a shelter that calls itself “no-kill.” This term and this idea is causing animals to suffer fates worse than a humane death by euthanasia. Full “no-kill” facilities turn animals away and those animals don’t just magically vanish–they are abandoned to die on the street after being hit by cars, attacked by other animals and cruel people, or slowly starve and die from infections and injuries. “No-kill” facilities that don’t turn away animals either send them to unregulated “rescues” which are raided every week in this country when animals are found starved to death, diseased and hoarded, even sexually abused. If you care about animals, don’t support this cruel “no-kill” idea–it’s a marketing scam for donations.