January 17, 2017
Categories: Evolution of the No-Kill Movement
L-R: Rich Avanzino, Ed Duvin, Lynda Foro

Lynda Foro, who in 1995 created the original No Kill Conference, passed away on December 27, 2016.

Foro was an animal lover and not part of the humane movement when she first heard of the concept of “No Kill” in 1992. After visiting an animal sanctuary and educating herself on what was then only a nascent No Kill movement, Foro decided that what its advocates needed was to connect with each other.

“Lynda Foro was one of the first champions of the No Kill movement and a pioneer advocate for the cause,” said former Maddie’s Fund® President Rich Avanzino. “Linda started the first and only No Kill Conference at a time when few believed that we could guarantee, as a nation, that all healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats could be adopted. She initiated the development and publication of the nation’s only No Kill Directory, demonstrating the number of organizations committed to saving shelter pets.  Linda accomplished all of her achievements primarily as a devoted animal loving volunteer, and she will always be remembered as one of our heroes.”

Foro first created the national No Kill directory in 1994, followed shortly after by the creation of a nonprofit group, Doing Things for Animals, to produce a national No Kill Conference. Held in Phoenix, Arizona, 75 people from 18 states attended. It was followed a year later in Denver, Colorado, where 125 people came together for two days to discuss a revolution in animal sheltering. By 1999, when the conference was held in Chicago, attendance hit 300 people.

“Before Lynda, everyone was working in their own silo and had no idea they could connect with their colleagues around the country,” said Maddie’s Fund Assistant Director of Education Lynne Fridley. “Her conferences pulled in people from traditional shelters, too, and started a dialogue there. It was the baby steps that were needed to get the No Kill movement going.”

Bonney Brown of Humane Network called Foro a hero. “I think few people realize what a key figure Lynda was in those early days where an idea was becoming a movement,” she said. “Lynda really was the first person to fully understand the importance of networking – connecting like-minded people in the field and getting them all talking and sharing. Before that people were, for the most part, toiling in their own communities with little sense of the power of working together and sharing what was effective and supporting each other.”

Foro left the movement in the early 2000s. Shortly before that, she told Maddie’s Fund:

In our advancement towards becoming a no-kill nation, caregivers can look forward to a time when homeless animals are reduced to a steady, predictable number. It will always be the case that animal control has work to do, but in time, they will return to their original task of providing for public health and safety, law enforcement and animal regulation. They will focus on humane education, spay/neuter and finding homes for adoptable animals. No-kill terminology will fall into disuse, since the concept will be commonplace. The no-kill movement will have had its day.

That day owes much to the work of Lynda Foro, and her influence will not be forgotten.