DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The Dubuque Regional Humane Society is starting a "no kill" policy. That comes after getting criticism over the years about the number of dogs and cats it was killing.
In 2014, the shelter put down more than 1200 animals. That was 16 percent of the more than 1500 dogs that came in. That was half of the more than 2000 cats it received.
The following year the shelter euthanized drastically fewer animals. That trend continued in 2016.
Over the past couple years, directors at the Dubuque Regional Humane Society starting moving towards a 'no kill' philosophy.
"No kill, doesn't necessarily mean "no euthanasia." Euthanasia is reserved solely for animals who are suffering from illness or injury and for animals who pose a danger to the community," said Maria Benham.
That practice is a big shift in culture for the Dubuque Regional Humane Society. In 2014 and in years prior, the shelter killed many healthy cats simply because they didn't have the space for them.
That practice wasn't sitting well with many community members or with directors themselves. So directors made some big changes.
"We've been able to shave about a week off of a cats stay in the shelter, so we're able to get them adopted faster, less stress and less illness," said Benham.
Benham says that practice saves the shelter money which allows them instead to use the funds to give more animals the medical treatment they need.
The shelter also drastically reduced its adoption fee for cats.
All of that, Benham says, has helped drop the shelter's euthanasia rate by 87 percent since 2014.
"It is more animals that have a second chance at life. It's more people in our community that can complete their family with a furry friend," said Benham.