Everybody thinks "no kill shelters" are great. Simply by the phrase, " no kill" who would disagree?
Let me just fill you in on some information, because quite frankly, my money and time is going to go to rescue groups and animal control. This is where the real difference can be made. The following are just examples, I'm sure there are exceptions and I'm not painting everyone with a broad brush.
There are even some rescues who will "cherry pick" which pets they take from the shelters, there is a bias against animals that are black (black cats are typically not adopted in October out of concern for their well-being as there are all sorts of weird people who will do things to black cats in October). Pure-bred animals are also more likely to be picked out of shelters by rescue groups.
No kill shelters simply means that that particular shelter won't kill the pet. What this could mean is when the no kill shelter gets filled and there is no more space, they send their "unwanted" pets to local animal control where hundreds of animals can be killed in a day. One person I worked with had worked in an animal shelter where this happened. She later went into treatment for "Compassion Fatigue", the caretakers' version of PTSD. So basically, the no kill shelters are the Pontius Pilate of "animal rescue." I've also known some shelters that put restrictions on who can adopt pets and what type of household they have. I understand the reason behind this, everyone wants the most ideal situation for everyone, but that's not possible, and frankly, I would rather a person live in an apartment, or declaw a cat than for the cat to be euthanized. If it's going to come down to restrictions and regulations, I choose giving the pet the opportunity to live.
One of the reasons I am writing this is because of what happened last week. I was at a clinic that is heavily involved with rescuing feral and other types of kittens. The woman in charge of the foster program was called and told, "if you don't pick up 20 kittens in the next hour and a half, they are going to be sent to animal control and killed." That's a nice friendly conversation. So next time you see an ad on TV, or hear about a wonderful no kill shelter, ask them if no kill means once an animal walks through their doors they are safe or if it means they just kick the can down the road...