Muncie Animal Shelter lowers euthanasia rate, sets example for other municipalities

<p>The Muncie Animal Care &amp; Services is at maximum capacity again. The shelter offers special adoption deals for the cats and dogs to find forever homes. <strong>Reagan Allen, DN File</strong></p>

The Muncie Animal Care & Services is at maximum capacity again. The shelter offers special adoption deals for the cats and dogs to find forever homes. Reagan Allen, DN File

Muncie Animal Shelter Location: 

  • 901 W. Riggin Road
    Muncie, IN 47303

Phone Number:

  • 765-747-4851


  • Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Closed for lunch between noon and 1 p.m.)
  • Saturday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, Closed

Adoption Fees: 

  • $65 for cats 
  • $90 for dogs without a rabies shot
  • $100 for dogs with a rabies shot

The Muncie City Council recently passed an ordinance to decrease the euthanasia rate at the Muncie Animal Shelter.

The ordinance, which was drafted by lawyer and founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center, Nathan Winograd, mandated the save rate of all the animals in the shelter can’t drop below 90 percent.

“Mandating, by law, that those alternatives be used instead of killing is the goal of laws that address shelter performance,” Winograd said in an email. “Though not as expansive as the law recently passed in Muncie, legislation by this design has been successfully employed to reduce killing in other municipalities.”

Though the Muncie Animal Shelter was once like many across the nation, Winograd said it recently posted a 95 percent live release rate for dogs, 97 percent for cats and 98 percent for rabbits and other small animals making Muncie one of the safest communities for stray animals.

“Fortunately, for Muncie, the legislation was not necessary to achieve success. Instead, it was passed to sustain the success the Muncie has already experienced under progressive, committed leadership,” Winograd said in an email. 

The law has now created a model for other communities with higher euthanasia rates.

“Already, activists and legislations in several communities are asking their own communities to pass the ‘Muncie ordinance’ and we expect it to be introduced in several cities and at least one state this coming legislative year,” Winograd said.

However, the euthanasia rate at Muncie Animal Shelter wasn’t always this low. When director Phil Peckinpaugh started working at the shelter in 2012, the euthanasia rate was at 49 percent.

“Four or five out of every ten animals were going to be put down,” Peckinpaugh said. “I don’t know if my goal was at first to become no kill, however, my goal was to drastically reduce the needless euthanasia that was happening.”

Needless euthanasia occurs in animal shelters due to overcrowding, having too many of one breed and when animals are treatable but are still killed.

According to American Humane, 56 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. 

Currently, the shelter’s euthanasia rate is “about three percent in cats and two percent in dogs,” Peckinpaugh said.

Peckinpaugh says the shelter now only euthanizes animals who are irredeemably suffering. 

“If you’re not providing a kind death to eliminate suffering,” Peckinpaugh said, “then you’re not really euthanizing. You’re killing.”

The shelter hit 90 percent save rate about half way through 2013 and stayed there through 2014. In 2016, the shelter reached its goal of a 97 percent save rate and a 3 percent euthanasia rate.

“It’s important to keep our numbers at a pretty steady rate, and in the summers we always see a giant spike in our intake,” Peckinpaugh said. “This summer has definitely been an unusual one with the large amounts that we’ve gotten, and we hope that that trend begins declining.”