This Is the Man that Turned the U.S. Into a “No Kill” Nation

By Anne Cacherell

Meet Richard Avanzino, also known as the father and the pioneer of the “No Kill Movement,” which promotes a revolutionized form of animal sheltering. This strategy does not kill healthy or treatable animals in shelters; instead it follows a guiding philosophy that provides comfortable housing and medical care to homeless cats and dogs. It also reserves euthanasia for terminally ill animals and for those considered dangerous to public safety.


During his 22-year tenure (1976-1999) as the President of the San Francisco SPCA, Avanzino created several animal welfare programs that brought euthanasia rates down dramatically. In 1999, he joined Maddie’s Fund, a nonprofit organization that offers grants towards lifesaving community programs that support the status and well-being of companion animals.


After 17 years of outstanding leadership and remarkable dedication with Maddie’s Fund, the 72-year old “no kill” visionary stepped down in June 2015 to retire from day-today operations. With over 39 years of service in the industry, Avanzino has successfully turned the U.S. into a “No Kill” nation and has become an inspiration to the entire animal welfare movement.


Do you agree that companion animals should be treated as sentient beings and not as properties? Let’s honor Avanzino’s work by sharing his story.

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