KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville's Young-Williams Animal Center (YWAC) has achieved a huge milestone.

They announced Thursday that the shelter had achieved "no-kill" status for the first time, saving 8,311 pets in 2018. 

The "no-kill" status means that at least 90% of the animals they take in leave the shelter for new homes or rescue organizations. Euthanasia is usually reserved for animals that can't be saved, for medical or behavioral reasons.

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But they want to do even more.

"The euthanasia of even one animal that could have had a positive outcome is one too many," said Janet Testerman, CEO of YWAC.

More than 10,000 animals come into Young-Williams every year. It is the official intake center for Knoxville and Knox County, and they cannot turn any stray animal away. That makes this achievement ever more remarkable.

"We really feel like we're on the front end of it, there's still so much work left to do but we're just working to do this every day." Testerman said.

They've worked with rescue groups to find placement for some animals, and have expanded the shelter's foster program to help even more pets get ready for a forever home.

In 2018, Testerman said they had 5,772 animals adopted. 1,102 went to rescue groups. 

"It is a community effort, this is not just a Young-Williams celebration this is a true celebration for everyone across this community because we exist because of everyone in this community," she said.

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