The relationship between humans and non-human animals in the United States has evolved from the capturing and impounding of stray livestock found in colonial times to the billion-dollar industry supporting companion animals that exists today (Irvine, 2002; Zawistowski & Morris, 2013). As people's perceptions and attitudes about the treatment of non-human animals have evolved over time, so have the expectations of the organizations that are in place to care for them. A current movement exists to end the killing of healthy and treatable pets within the United States. Known as the no-kill movement, shelter directors and community stakeholders around the country are working to ensure that their communities are supporting the lifesaving of their shelter pets. Using a qualitative methodology, this study aims to uncover the best practices of animal shelter directors that have successfully achieved no-kill in their communities. Based on the findings, an animal services leadership competency model is introduced.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Animal shelters -- United States -- Management; Leadership -- United States -- Case studies; Animal welfare -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Farzin Madjidi