No-Kill Holland?

I’ve wanted to write about the shelters in Holland for a while. Especially because I wasn’t so sure whether Holland was no-kill or kill.

Rules in Holland

The rules for shelters in Holland say that animal shelters are not allowed to kill animals unless they are a threat for the staff or when the animals are very, very sick. This means that even when the shelters have no space left for animals they are still not allowed to euthanize animals to make space, old or young, it doesn’t matter. That’s why many shelters here in Holland try to make a lot of use of people and families who are willing to take care of animals until they are old enough to be adopted, or until they have found another home.

A dog or cat can end up in a shelter, he can stay there for one year, maybe two, maybe even more, but that still isn’t a reason to euthanize him or her. Those are the laws, and if someone breaks the rules, they might lose their shelter and their rights. Dutch citizens are required to get their animals spayed or neutered.

Shelter 'de Swinge' in Drachten.

Shelter ‘de Swinge’ in Drachten.

What If The Shelter Is Full?

Every year there will be a time when the shelter is full. You can create extra spots, but when it’s full, it’s really full and the shelter has to make the best of it with what it got. They can try to find a spot somewhere else, but that won’t always happen. So there always will be a time when they have to refuse taking in more animals. A lot of animals in one place will create more stress and more chance of infection. In 2007 there was a skin fungus/molt outbreak in several shelters in Holland. So they had to treat every animal which costs thousands of money that they don’t have. Or there will be a cat flu or other cat diseases outbreak which often gets to the younger animals that have yet to be vaccinated.

Young Kittens

The problem with shelters will probably be the kittens, puppies or other young animals that are younger than one month, that come in without mother and still need to be fed with the bottle. This is going to be tough because kittens need to be fed by bottle every few hours day and night. This is physical and emotional very hard, because you don’t get enough sleep, and there will be a chance the kitten won’t survive, or there just aren’t enough volunteers, and the costs of the milk can be very expensive. Kittens can only be taken into the shelter when there is enough staff or volunteers. So when there are stray kittens that are brought to the shelter without mom, they sometimes are euthanized.


Shelters in Holland get money from the community, through gifts and donations, organisations and more options. For example upcoming weekend a shelter in a town not far away from me is having a christmas market. Every penny will be used in the shelter.

Communities are legally required to take care of the shelters for stray animals. This means that they have to pay for two weeks of care. There are communities that pay more, but there also communities that sadly only pay the minimum.

People that give their animals away to the shelter have to a pay a small amount. It’s not a big amount, or else they will dump the animals somewhere else because it’s too expensive. The same goes for adopting an animal. You have to pay for the animal that you want to adopt, but it’s not too much or else people will find it too expensive to adopt an animal. Even though the animals are often neutered or spayed, checked by the vet, vaccinated, and they get a chip. Shelters won’t get this money back from the community. But this doesn’t count for every shelter. Some shelters give the animals away not spayed or neutered. And some shelters offer to get the cat spayed or neutered for free when the cat is old enough.

Not No-kill Out of the Shelter

In some parts of Holland wild cats that are roaming free can be shot. They are so-called “bullet free”. But it’s hard to see whether a cat is a feral or not and most cats aren’t even checked for a chip after they have been shot. The Animalprotection organisation in Holland is working on this situation, and they think that most hunters are doing this illegal. They are only allowed to be shot if the government of that town can proof that they bring damage to their surroundings, or when they are a threat for other animals. People who do shoot cats, feral or not, will be punished.


The Animalprotection organisation is working on a campagne every year since 2006. Translated it’s called “I’m looking for a owner”. They advertise throughout the country, with their goal to get the attention of people who are looking for an animal. They advertise through TV spots, radio, posters and much more.


Related posts
Cats & Co | How to trap feral cats
Cats & Co | Feral Kittens
Cats & Co | The Importance of Spay and Neutering
Cats & Co | National Feral Cat Day

So is Holland really No-Kill?

14 Responses to “No-Kill Holland?”

  1. Janis Felidae

    oh, you live in Holland? *waves* hello neighbour :) I live relatively close to Holland´s border, North Rhine Westphalia, Arnhem is about 100 km away from me.

    I live half a cat´s life on the internet, on twitter to be specific or as we say in “Anipal Kingdom” (really a great community,with lots of charity events for animals and no-kill shelter) There I´ve first heard about “kill shelter”, this is absolutely unknown in Germany, we have the same rules as Holland. To be honest I was shocked to learn about kill-shelter and read shocking stories … some really made me cry.

    • Dianda

      Hi! I think I live about 100 km from Arnhem as well. Not sure tho, haha!

      Yea, I have read horrible stories as well, just like pictures. It’s really shocking. :(

  2. angelswhisper2011

    Only when the animal is very ill and can’t be helped anymore, or when they have behavior disorders that not can be helped, then they can’t be replaced into a forever home and have to be euthanized :(

  3. alienredqueen

    I love that Holland is no-kill! And I will never understand why cats seem to be a target for bullies. Here too SOME people seem to think it’s okay to hurt cats that are running around outside.

  4. heyitsjethere

    Hey Hiro, Hey Suki, Jet here. Hi Miss Dianda.

    Thank you for sharing Holland’s policies, we would never have known otherwise. You did a thorough post and we really appreciate it. :)

  5. Elizabeth Benoit

    Thank you for writing such an enlightening post. It is definitely thought-provoking. I will never understand how anyone could harm an innocent animal. I hope their campaign is successful.

  6. Long Life Cats and Dogs

    Fantastic and incredibly interesting post. I am glad to hear that the shelters are no-kill, although I do realise the problems that arise with regards to over-crowding. You somehow have to find homes for the ones you’ve got in order to allow others in. That’s really why I started my blog, in the hope that people would adopt from no-kill shelters, thereby making room for additional animals. Of course I’m horrified that people are allowed to shoot “stray” cats. I would have thought with the laws the government has put in place, they would abhor such a thing. What a pity that they don’t very strongly recommend the TNR policy there.

    • Dianda

      While there are ALOT of people working with TNR, but mostly volunteer organisations who are working their asses off.


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