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Delaware still the only no-kill state in the country

Delaware Public Media

Best Friends Animal Society has released its 2020 pet lifesaving findings, which gives a national view of dogs and cats entering and leaving shelters.

The most important news coming out of the report is that Delaware was once again named the only no-kill state in the country.

Linda Torelli is the marketing director for the Brandywine Valley SPCA (BVSPCA).


She says Delaware is pretty unique in having a statewide view of animal welfare.


“A lot of states across the country have fragmented animal control; they’re not tracking their statistics as tightly," said Torelli. "There’s been some great leadership in Delaware. We have the consolidated Office of Animal Welfare (OAW). We also have limited admission shelters that have reached no-kill.”

Torelli notes the challenge for the First State has been in the open-access shelters, a shelter taking in all the lost and stray animals.


“When you’re taking in an animal that may have been hit by a car, or an animal that may have had behavior issues in a home - it’s a little harder to get to no-kill. So we at the Brandywine Valley SPCA taking that contract - have been able to put programs in place to help bridge that," said Torelli. "So Delaware’s actually been no-kill for the past four years.”

A state is considered to be no-kill when every shelter within the state finds a home for at least 90% of animals that come into the shelter; Torelli says Delaware currently has a save rate of 93.9%.


She notes one of the keys to sustaining the no-kill rate and helping other state is really the support of the community.“


"We’re depending on everyone choosing adoption and helping to spread the word with their family and friends. This is really a community achievement, not just a sheltering achievement," said Torelli. "We need folks to stay vigilant for the animals and also to support legislative advocacy work that’s taking place for the animals.”

She says the BVSPCA is continuing to do what it can to make sure the First State remains a no-kill state, by offering cat lifesaving programs, intake intervention programs and humane education. 

Torelli says the organization has also been able to help communities in other states, like Florida and Louisiana, which are not as fortunate and are among the top five states for euthanasia. 


Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.