What Does a “No-Kill Shelter” Really Mean?

Since 2013, Calgary Humane Society is proud to be one of the only open admission animal shelters in North America able to say this simple phrase:


“At Calgary Humane Society, every single healthy and adoptable animal is able to stay until they are adopted.”


Calgary Humane Society is an open admission shelter. This means one simple thing: We never say no. We never turn an animal away. We have many supporters ask us if this means Calgary Humane Society is a “no kill” shelter. The reality is this: If a shelter is a “no-kill” shelter, then they must turn animals away. The animals typically turned away from “no-kill” rescues are animals that are too sick or injured to be treated or too dangerous to safely be rehabilitated and placed in a home.




Calgary Humane Society is the only open admission animal shelter serving Calgary and the surrounding area. Without our open admission mandate, these animals would have nowhere to go. Does this mean there are sometimes difficult decisions to be made? Yes. But thanks to the generosity of our incredible community of supporters, these decisions must be made only in the most extreme of cases.


Our Services at Work

Tova came to the shelter in 2012 after she was abandoned. Tova’s previous owner had moved to Ontario and never returned for her. As admissions staff researched Tova’s past, they discovered that in just seven years Tova had been through at least five homes.

Our staff worked exhaustively with Tova in those first days. Tova had issues with other dogs, but was sweet and affectionate to people. We knew her perfect home was out there. In fact, Tova waited eight months to find her perfect home. 299 days. It was April 15, 2013 when Tova finally met her perfect family.

After an incredible 14 months at Calgary Humane Society we are happy to report that Simon, our longest-ever shelter resident, has found a great home! Simon’s new family is familiar with snakes and will continue working to get Simon familiar with regular handling.


Thanks to the ongoing support of the Calgary community, Calgary Humane Society has become one of the first and only open admission shelters in North America that does not euthanize for time. Just a few years ago, the animal welfare world said this was an impossible dream, yet Calgary proved them wrong.


At Calgary Humane Society we are proud of who we are, and we are proud of the community that has allowed us to make history. Each year our community takes one step further towards a future where no animal is abused, neglected or abandoned. We have come a long way since 1922, and together, we will continue to make history.