November 27, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
Happy holidays to you and yours, including the fuzzy and furry ones.
Between a very sick doggy, family visiting, and a couple of projects, I am going to take some time off.
Gift-wrapped signed copies of my books, DVDs including the four paw Hotel for Dogs, eco-friendly coffee named after a one-of-a-kind dog: click here for some great gift ideas for your favorite No Kill advocate and animal lover on your list.
November 25, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
Following the tragic killing of an abused dog by the ASPCA in New York City, despite the offer of a No Kill sanctuary to guarantee her lifetime care, two New York State legislators have introduced a bill to prevent this from happening again. Named after the dog sacrificed to expediency by the ASPCA, “Oreo’s Law” would make it illegal for a shelter in New York State to kill an animal if a rescue group or No Kill shelter is willing to save that animal’s life.
Modeled after a successful California law, Oreo’s Law would save animals who are healthy and friendly but who shelters are threatening to kill. It will save sick, injured, or traumatized animals like Oreo in cases where No Kill shelters and rescue groups have the ability to rehabilitate them or provide lifetime care. It will save animals who a shelter claims are “aggressive” even though they are not or may be rehabilitatable. It would save feral cats at shelters which oppose TNR programs and which are determined to kill them. And it will provide a form of whistleblower protection for animal rescuers by protecting their right to continue to save animals when they expose inhumane conditions at shelters. Currently, shelters can retaliate by barring them and killing the animals they want to save if they go public with concerns.
By seeking to limit what is now the almost unrestrained power to kill animals by shelters, and because it empowers those who want to save animals from those who are threatening to kill them, Oreo’s Law is central to the fight for a No Kill nation.
To learn more, click here.
November 23, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
It’s here! The follow-up and companion to Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & The No Kill Revolution in America, the most acclaimed book on animal shelters ever written.
Irreconcilable Differences is a collection of essays that challenges us to push the envelope even further as we battle to save the lives of our animal friends against local shelters and the large national organizations which continue to thwart progress. It is also a celebration of the great love people have for companion animals and of how that love is pushing the fight for a No Kill nation toward its inevitable victory.
Irreconcilable Differences is exclusively available through Amazon.com.
To purchase, click here.
November 17, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
Over the last several days, the ASPCA’s killing of a dog named Oreo has ignited a furor among animal lovers nationwide. The ASPCA tried to justify it by claiming she was aggressive. But the question of whether or not Oreo was beyond rehabilitation is merely a side story to the most significant issues raised by Oreo’s execution. And while Oreo’s killing by those who were supposed to be her protectors has left too many questions unanswered, what has emerged as the most significant one is why did Ed Sayres, the President of the ASPCA, rush to kill an abused dog when the public demanded that she be saved and a sanctuary had offered her lifetime care?
Read the following articles:
- The Meaning of Oreo by me (Examiner) – includes a slideshow
- Unsaved by Christie Keith (Pet Connection)
- Killing of Miracle Dog by Matt DeAngelis and Kerry Clair (Pets Alive)
- A Story about Oreo by Brent Toellner (KC Dog Blog) – also links to other stories about Oreo
‘Oreo’s Law’ Would Give Dogs a Second Chance at Life
MANHATTAN — A bill to allow animal welfare organizations the right to request animals be given to their care when a shelter is planning to euthanize them will be introduced in the State Legislature this week by Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner and State Senator Thomas K. Duane.
The bill is named Oreo’s Law in memory of a pit bull mix who became well-known after she survived abuse at the hands of her former owner, including a fall from a six-story building, but was eventually euthanized after the ASPCA determined she was untreatably aggressive. Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill animal shelter located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, specializing in the rehabilitation and care of abused animals, offered to take Oreo, but the ASPCA refused the request.
“As a dog owner and a foster parent for an animal rescue group, I was heartbroken to learn that Oreo was euthanized. When a humane organization volunteers their expertise in difficult cases, a shelter should work with them to the fullest extent possible.” said Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner. “I am hopeful that Oreo’s Law will ensure that no animal is ever put to death if there is a responsible alternative.”
“The humane treatment of animals in the care of shelters is an issue about which I feel very strongly,” said Senator Thomas K. Duane, who will introduce Oreo’s Law legislation in the New York State Senate. “No animal should be put down by a shelter if a reputable humane or rescue organization is willing to assume responsibility for its well being. Oreo’s Law would make sure that in instances where animals aren’t rabid or physically suffering, such organizations have the authority to take possession with the payment of the normal adoption fee, and that Oreo’s sad plight will not be repeated.”
“We are deeply moved that Assembly Member Kellner and Senator Duane have taken up Oreo’s cause. We all need to be the voice for these innocent animals,” said Kerry Clair and Matt DeAngelis, Executive Co-Directors of Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary. “We have asked our local legislators to support the bill and we hope that Oreo’s tragic and unnecessary death will offer life to thousands of others.”
Oreo’s Law is modeled after a provision in California state law, adopted there in 1998 as part of a general animal welfare reform package known as the Hayden Law (named after the Senator who authored it).
Read the No Kill Advocacy Center’s letter of support for Oreo’s Law by clicking here.
November 14, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
I received a letter in the mail today from a shelter director who attended one of my seminars. There is a lot of commentary I can add to the letter, but I am going to just let it speak for itself:
I spent four years working at a humane society… I was a caregiver and euthanasia [sic] technician. Sixty-four animals have died at the end of my needle. When I was killing animals, I stepped outside of myself and was a different person. I held it together all but one time.
While killing a mother and her five two-day old children, I broke down. At the time I did not know what set me off. I had always been in control of my emotions and remained focused. Now I can look back and realize I lost it because I let myself feel what I was doing.
Until hearing you speak, I never blamed myself for what I did. I played it off as doing what my manager had told me to do and it was how I played my part in animal welfare. I believed that these animals martyred themselves for the movement. That their deaths were not in vain because it would… lead to the end of suffering. How very wrong I was…
As a shelter director now, did some of your comments piss me off? Absolutely… But I got what you were saying… I want to believe I am this progressive person, but my life’s passion was based on an old model that did nothing but fail.
Will I ever go back to being the person I was at [my old humane society]? No, I just cannot.
I want to let you know you opened me up to a new train of thought. One I am dedicated to sharing with my community.
November 13, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
No Kill, Marriage Equality, Karl Rove, Cross Dressing, and the Fly. What’s all the Fuss?
It won’t come as a surprise to my readers that I have had my share of negative “feedback” over the years. Thankfully, it is much less than the positive feedback the message I advocate receives, but it is there. Some of it comes from those with ugly personal agendas. But for the most part, all you have to do is follow the sodium pentobarbital to understand where the bulk of the criticism is coming from. And not surprisingly, it is mostly driven by killing shelters and their apologists. I am touching the raw nerves of those who engage in untoward actions because they know what they are doing and supporting is morally reprehensible, and they lash out in anger.
I also have had some negative feedback that is well-intended and equally well-accepted. I don’t mind criticism, because criticism helps me grow. And when it is on issues regarding which reasonable people can differ on, I’ve accepted some; I’ve agreed to disagree on others. I recently read a blog post where someone asked the question of why I spend so much time talking about “reforming HSUS.” Why I keep saying that when they lead on the issue of No Kill, I’ll follow. And I gave it a lot of thought and realized they were right. While historically, I have made that claim because HSUS is so large and influential that their leadership on the issue could make immediate and widespread change, I think the person who posted his frustration with my approach was correct. And I actually found it refreshing to read that someone thought I was being too moderate. So I’ve stopped speaking this way and no longer will. Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of HSUS, is inherently incapable of leadership and is, in fact, a roadblock. He can best serve shelter animals by resigning or being fired. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, not HSUS (or ASPCA or AHA for that matter).
But there is one type of criticism—though it occurs very infrequently—which I want to put to rest once and for all. Whenever I go “off topic” such as when I make comparisons to the movement for marriage equality, or when I bring in political references such as linking the tactics of character assassination by killing apologists to the strategy Karl Rove used against those who opposed the Bush administration’s agenda, I usually get one or two very emphatic e-mails of condemnation. Not because they agree with the shelter killing crowd—they do not—but because they disagree on those other issues. They don’t want me to say anything political in nature or on other topics they don’t agree with me on.
And recently, it happened again. On my twitter page last Sunday, I posted a blurb about a New York Times article on children in school who cross-dress. The article was about dress codes and how school administrators were trying to formulate policy around the boy who feels more comfortable in a skirt, or the girl who wants to wear a tuxedo to her prom. As usual, administrators of my generation were mostly confused, unable to see the forest through the trees, blinded by religious dogma, or just plain out of touch—trying to “protect” kids who cross dress from peers who have moved beyond such prejudices. By contrast, the students quickly got to the heart of the matter: Who cares? Who does it hurt? Why can’t we let them be who they want to be?
When I was in school, it would have been a source of taunting and worse. At other times and places, any behavior that opened a student up to suggestion of being gay would have been a lynch mob. But, increasingly, not so anymore. And then I got to the part in the New York Times piece about Jack:
One student … born male and named Jack, has long, straight hair and prefers to be referred to with a female pronoun. Jack is careful not to violate the dress code. She favors tops that are tapered but not revealing, flats, lip gloss.
“One day I heard a student say, ‘Man, there was a girl in the guy’s restroom, standing up using the urinal! What’s up with that?’ ” Mr. Grace [an administrator overhearing the conversation] recalled [in surprise]…
But the other student replied off-handedly, “That wasn’t a girl. That’s just Jack.”
And I found myself welling up with tears. That’s just Jack. And I thought of a new generation of kids growing up free of the small mindedness that defined previous generations. I thought of a new generation of kids for whom tolerance and acceptance of those scorned by previous generations is natural and second-nature: what’s all the fuss?
That’s good stuff and I wanted to share it with my readers. Not just because of the obvious value in and of itself, but because what this has to say about the social issue I do blog day in and day out about. Doesn’t this article give us hope for the future for all progressive social movements? Aren’t there parallels here we can take solace in about the future for shelter animals? Indeed, for all animals?
And so I wrote that the future looks bright because the fact that Generation Z kids are rejecting the intolerance of our generation and embracing all their classmates shows, once again, how humans have a remarkable capacity to change for the better. It shows that we will leave the cave if someone just shines a path for us to see the opening. And that with the right information, we will quickly emerge into the light. There are few things in this life that leave me feeling as hopeful, as inspired, and downright euphoric as evidence of this fact, and I wanted to share it.
But then it came, as I knew it would: the condemnation. The same criticism I’ve received whenever I make allusions to other social movements. I am told I should not talk about those other issues in my blog or on my twitter posts because it dilutes the support I receive for the No Kill message. I am told it upsets my readers who might disagree with the politics, those who do not support marriage equality, or those who do not accept the Jacks of the world and expect people like Jack to change, instead of what the situation demands: that we change our attitudes toward them. Once again, that is a very small number. I can count the complaints on my fingers, so I could have easily just ignored them. I also thought that responding will just open up Pandora’s Box. It is certainly easier not to make these references. But, then my dog started barking.
Not my actual dogs, though they bark too whenever something is “wrong” such as when the UPS guy thinks he can actually come onto our porch and deliver a box (the hubris!), or when our neighbor has the audacity to walk his dog by the front of our house. Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark. I am talking about the “barking dog” in the back of my mind: my conscience. Unlike my flesh and blood dogs, who I affectionately call “Tom” and “Ridge” whenever they needlessly increase the threat safety level to orange, I ignore the barking dog of conscience at my own peril. And I’ve come to learn that that dog is always right in the long term, even if he causes me short term problems. When my inner dog says, “Jump!” I say “How high?” And, on this issue, my inner dog refuses to compromise.
The crackpots, I can handle. The killers and killing apologists, I can handle. They are par for the course and I write about them extensively in my upcoming new book. But these latter criticisms, which come from people who clearly see how wrong it is to kill animals and who embrace the No Kill philosophy, I can’t and won’t abide.
The idea of social media is that it levels the playing field in that voices on any side of any issue can be broadcast to the world and people can opt in or opt out in terms of getting the information at their leisure. In an age when we have seen the increasing consolidation of the mass media by a relatively few corporate entities that have limited our ability to get the truth, the ability to get information around the country and world without interference from bean counters, political ideologues, and corporate interests is a breath of fresh air. In the animal protection movement, the dialog about shelter killing has been so completely controlled by HSUS & Company that social media allows us to share our point of view on par with the media muscle of organizations with $100 million dollar annual budgets. In 2008, I was the third most cited person on animal sheltering issues in the U.S., without the financial wherewithal of an HSUS. But thanks to the social media, unencumbered by the almighty dollar, my voice can still be heard. And so any interference of my prerogative to share my beliefs, I simply cannot accept. But that isn’t even the core reason I reject those criticisms.
The real reason comes down to this: I am not asking anyone to support or embrace me. I am asking people to embrace the compassion of the No Kill philosophy because the animals deserve it. Once again, as I write in Irreconcilable Differences:
I could go away tomorrow and that wouldn’t change the facts, or the inescapable conclusion. The cat is out of the bag, and is never going back in.
The No Kill message I advocate is powerful because it is the truth and because it resonates so strongly with the experiences that animal lovers have with their own brutal and regressive shelters.
So, while 99.99% of my writings deal with the single issue of No Kill, I am a human being with a strong sense of right and wrong, and those larger beliefs will continue to inform my writings. I believe in No Kill. But I also believe in animal rights, human rights, gay rights, gender equality, and racial equality. I believe that rights are essential for all these groups and I’ve argued that repeatedly because, in a legal republic, rights ensure the fair, thoughtful and compassionate society we all deserve. And I laud those who fight for them because history always vindicates them. Always. No matter how uncomfortable they made their contemporaries; in fact, because they did.
I believe that you must embrace compassion wherever and however it presents itself. That is who I am. And that is what I will promote publicly and privately. Compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion. For animals, for cross dressing kids, for that fly that President Obama should have left alone rather than killed. It is the unending drumbeat I will play until my time on this Earth is finished.
I know we can do better; that we can construct our communities in a way that is truly kind, fair, and compassionate to everyone—regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or species; that we can bring to our society the fullest expression of our common pledge to promote the general welfare for ourselves and our posterity, and I do not doubt that ultimately that pledge will be interpreted in ways which we—trapped in our own time—cannot even begin to imagine. History reveals this to be the case. From the moment we came together to form civil societies: from Hammurabi putting down the first known written codes in human history, to the Magna Carta, to the Enlightenment which includes the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, all the way to the progress of our time on civil rights, environmentalism, and animal rights, the arc of history not only bends toward greater compassion, but for greater compassion to a wider circle of groups; indeed, to include the planet itself. From that perspective, the No Kill movement is an extension of all that historical progress that has come before it, and will be an extension—and a part—of those movements yet to come that will push the envelope even further. Taking the long view, the issues are the same. I am not “off topic.”
And that is why when I see an injustice, as I see in shelters every day, I clench my teeth and then I fight back with an opposing force of compassion equal—and hopefully surpassing—the forces of cruelty; that they would dare subvert the goals of kindness, fairness, and compassion or forestall progress along the journey we are all on to build a better world. And so I speak out, whenever my conscience demands it, with the wise words of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison playing deafeningly in my ears:
I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation… I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch…
Of course, it is up to you whether you choose to listen.
November 12, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
Please join me as I deliver the keynote at Animal Ark’s Holiday Gala in the Twin Cities. Proceeds benefit the programs and services of Minnesota’s premier No Kill shelter. Everyone who attends will receive a free copies of both of my books: Redemption and Irreconcilable Differences.
Not only will it benefit a good cause, not only will it be educational, not only will it be tremendous fun, not only will there by great prizes to bid on, and not only will you be surrounded by true animal lovers like yourself, but the event marks the official national release of Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart and Soul of America’s Animal Shelters. Be the first to get a copy!
For more information, click here.
November 7, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
As scandals involving abusive animal control officers and shelter workers erupt nationwide, HSUS calls for “National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week.”
Dedicated to abuse and neglect? HSUS demands that we appreciate the “dedicated” staff of shelters who cause this, and then turn around and fight efforts when animals lovers call for reform. At this shelter, state inspectors found: “severe fly and maggot infestation,” “overwhelming maladorous smell,” “large amount of blood was found splattered on the floor, walls, and viewing window,” sick and injured animals “not being treated.”
Last week was “National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week,” the Humane Society of the United States’ celebration of animal shelters and the “dedicated people” who work at them. According to the press release, HSUS is “the strongest advocate” for shelters.
At the same time as HSUS was proclaiming itself the Number 1 cheerleader for shelters in the country, there has been a significant amount of nationwide media coverage revealing widespread animal neglect and outright abuse at these very institutions. These exposes show a strikingly different reality than the fantastical and mythical description of shelters portrayed by the very agency that is supposed to be their watchdog. These stories include:
In Memphis, TN, shelter workers not only intentionally starve animals to death; they take animals who are still alive to the incinerator where they burn the bodies of the animals they kill.
Puppy when he entered the Memphis shelter.
Same puppy after being intentionally staved by shelter workers, before he died.
In King County, WA, an animal control officer turns whistleblower and not only confirms the neglect and abuse uncovered in three independent assessments (click here and here and here), but that things are worse than ever for the animals, despite the denials of the guild/union that blindly defends itself and its members. The whistleblower describes “cats dying in their cage for lack of treatment, a dog so sick [he] nearly drowns in a stream of water in its kennel and animals of all types in need of veterinary attention, but not getting it.”
A sick cat in the infirmary goes without food, water, or litter during a holiday weekend. Take a photo tour of King County Animal Care & Control by clicking here.
In Lucas County, OH, the dog warden—an incompetent hack given the job out of nepotism—routinely allows dogs to get sick and then slaughters them despite readily available lifesaving alternatives.
In Los Angeles County, a news investigation team uncovered officers physically abusing animals. In Tulare County, CA, officers were convicted of criminal offenses. The list goes on and on and on and on.
These stories describe shelter workers and Animal Control Officers who kick, beat, baton, and kill puppies.
Blood splattered on kennel in this San Bernardino County shelter after an animal control officer beat a puppy with a baton. He was not fired.
Those who cause animals to suffer and die.
Those who cause animals to cannabalize other animals in their cages because they go unfed.
And the very animal control officers who cause this suffer no repercussions because they are “supervised” by their fellow union and bureaucracy-protected shirkers.
The Status Quo
All of these scandals beg the obvious question raised by HSUS’ “National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week”: What is it about animals shelters that we are supposed to appreciate? As I argued in Redemption, underperformance, neglect, uncaring and even cruelty have long been epidemic and endemic to animal control shelters. And while the last several weeks have seen much abuse uncovered, it isn’t necessarily because such abuse is on the rise. More of it is making headlines these days because more people are now aware of the neglect, calling attention to it, and demanding change—even in the face of absolute entrenchment by the animal sheltering industry and their allies in the large national “animal protection” organizations. Organizations which continue to ignore the obvious and parrot tired and disproven clichés that these shelters are doing the best they can, the killing is inevitable, no one wants to kill, and that we should regard the animal control officers and other shelter staff with respect and gratitude.
HSUS’ latest public relations gimmick is part of a larger attempt by the very animal control officers responsible for this neglect and abuse to reform their image from one of “dog catcher” to “humane law enforcement.” They are trying to change the image of their agencies from “pounds” to “shelters,” from “animal control” to “animal care and control,” even while they refuse to reform their regressive and abusive practices which—were they to end—would naturally lead to the respect and gratitude they claim to be seeking.
The issue was brought into stark relief for me at a recent city council meeting I attended on a matter related to the local shelter. Before the issue I was there to discuss came up on the agenda, the fire chief spoke to the city council. He talked about the goals for his agency during the coming fiscal year. He spoke of his agency’s response times compared to the best performing departments in the country. He admitted that his Fire District lagged behind the very best. He spoke of how he was going to close the gap, by implementing a series of short, medium, and long term goals with measurable results. He was aspiring for his department to be the best, he admitted they fell short, and he had a plan to correct that. It was the mark of the true professional.
In sheltering, we have the exact opposite: animal control “professionals” denying reality, shunning accountability, aspiring to mediocrity and failure, all while betraying the animals (and the citizens) they are pledged to serve.
In Austin, Texas, for example, the director of the shelter defrays criticism for her appalling kill rates by telling the City Council that she is doing better than the worst shelters in Texas, by comparing herself to agencies where employees are convicted child molesters, have been witnessed abusing puppies, where kittens do not get fed, and puppies get flushed down trench drains. By that standard, everyone is doing a good job. But why does the animal control chief of a major city aspire to compare herself to the worst of the worst?
In the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, the director of the large humane society which performs animal control for the region defends her 42 percent killing rate for dogs by saying it is better than the national average. It is, in fact, actually worse than the national average, but the question is the same: why do she and her agency aspire to mediocrity?
In one of the largest cities in the United States, applicants who apply for a city job are placed in the animal control department if they score the lowest on the city aptitude test, proving that animal control in many communities has become a jobs program for those who are unemployable in either the private sector or any other government agency deemed more important, despite the fact that these under-achievers are given the power over life and death by being put in charge of the most vulnerable of victims. Why?
As I was listening to the fire chief, I was struck by the contrast between how staff in his department approached their responsibilities by being accountable to results, and how shelter staff continues to avoid accountability at all costs, even in the face of rampant neglect and abuse. It is this very attitude that is at the heart of why our nation’s sheltering system is so tragically broken: How can you fix a problem you refuse to admit exists? How can animal control officers reform their practices when they refuse to have standards and benchmarks that would hold them accountable to the best performing shelters in the nation? How can they be expected to be taken seriously, to be respected, when they refuse to acknowledge failures and refuse to correct even the worst of their deficiencies? How can an agency dare to demand respect when they not only refuse to keep pace with the dynamic and innovative changes in their field as a result of the No Kill movement, but actually fight those changes? And how can they do a good job when they are staffed by those who have no skills, training, or desire to do a good job even as they are entrusted to do so by an animal loving public which pays their salaries?
They can’t. Indeed, to be a firefighter often requires a degree in Fire Science, rigorous training, a competitive process, and a sound psychological profile. The same is true of police officers. Even librarians, public servants we rely on to deliver professional, high quality service to the community which funds them, require a bachelor’s degree in Library Science. But “animal control officers” require none of this. Many are not even certified. Others take a one week certificate course from the National Animal Control Association, a regressive organization whose members kill millions of animals every year. Then, they put on a tin badge and a store bought uniform, and give themselves titles like “Sergeant,” in an attempt to demand a legitimacy and stature they do not deserve, nor faithfully represent.
Cheerleaders Instead of Watchdogs
How did this happen? And why do the large national organizations continue to defend these regressive agencies, to be the “strongest advocate” for these agencies, but not the actual animals mistreated and abused by the animal control officers who staff them—even as animal activists in virtually every U.S. community deplore the state of their shelters and find them hostile to change?
As I write in my upcoming book, Irreconcilable Differences, the reason groups like HSUS support the status quo in animal shelters:
Is not based upon any coherent philosophy but arises from the simple fact that some of the leaders of these organizations worked at shelters that killed animals. In fact, many of them killed thousands of animals themselves. HSUS leadership often comes from animal control organizations that kill animals, and these individuals carry that mindset to HSUS, even though it claims a different mission. And so they denigrate the animals they are supposed to protect, and use HSUS to veil their reactionary animal control agendas under the cloak of “animal welfare.”
The result: unregulated, regressive shelters that are defended at all costs by HSUS and others with a series of excuses (pet overpopulation, public irresponsibility) to defray criticism from the public who would otherwise demand better.
They neither work hard to protect animals from abuse, nor do they care about saving their lives. In fact, too many offer only an extension of the abuse these animals faced before entering the shelter. And much more often, the first time animals entering shelters experience abuse and neglect are at the hands of these officers who are supposed to be their protectors.
Standing Up to Bullies
Thankfully, many animal activists and No Kill advocates are well past the point where they believe that just because these agencies come with the name “Humane Society” or “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals” or “Animal Care & Control” that they are staffed with animal lovers. Activists also realize that given that many of these shelters are committed to remaining little more than assembly lines of death, animal lovers would not work there, and those that do are quickly driven out by the institutional inertia and uncaring that prevents them from reforming practices and saving more lives. They are also driven out under threats:
In Philadelphia, just a few short years ago, reformist-minded staff had the tires on their cars slashed, sugar poured in gas tanks, windows smashed, and were threatened with physical violence by union thugs who were aided by health department bureaucrats intent on protecting shirkers.
In Indianapolis, the reformist director had the window smashed and dog food smeared on his car before union thugs colluded with politicians and others to drive him out.
A reformist director is greeted by shelter thugs with smeared dog food, then a smashed windshield, and fimally threatening letters on his car.
In King County, WA, those who come forward to reform the abusive shelter are the subject of character assassination, aided by a corrupt county executive. The whistleblower—whose conscience apparently got the better of him/her—sought “whistleblower protection” because of fear for his/her job and safety.
In a rural Georgia pound, cats were found dead (a necropsy determined they had been poisoned by antifreeze and only staff had access to these animals), which outspoken volunteers who had convinced the county to investigate conditions at the shelter believe was retaliation for their going public.
While the recent exposes are less and less surprising to animal activists and No Kill advocates, they are helping to inform the larger animal-loving American public of this widespread abuse and neglect, which cuts through the fog of misinformation peddled by guilds/unions, bureaucrats, and the large national organizations that shelters are humane and that their staff are caring. As I write in Irreconcilable Differences:
Most people believe that animal shelters find homes for as many animals as they can, and gently “euthanize” the rest because there is no other choice. Many people believe that if there were alternatives, shelters would not kill because they are staffed with benevolent animal lovers, laboring against overwhelming odds and offering a humane death only when necessary. Because we could not do it, we assume they do it because they have no choice.
These shelters and their large national allies—the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, and the National Animal Control Association—encourage this belief. Accordingly, they claim that leadership and staff at every one of these agencies “have a passion for and are dedicated to the mutual goal of saving animals’ lives.”
It is this portrayal that silences criticism of shelters, the vast majority of which have a paltry number of adoptions and staggeringly high rates of killing. The public is told, “We are all on the same side,” “We all want the same thing,” “We are all animal lovers,” and criticism of shelters and staff is unfair and callous because “No one wants to kill.”
The facts, of course, tell a tragically different story. But there is light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. HSUS knows it. NACA knows it. The guilds and unions know it. Even the abusive staff knows it. We—animal activists, and increasingly, the media and your average animal loving American—are on to them. We see through their tin badges, store brought uniforms, and their made-up titles. And together—whether they like it or not—we will bring these agencies kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
Then—and only then—will we have something authentic to appreciate during what is now, nothing more than a thinly-veiled sham.
What You Can Do:
Get informed: Click here.
Fight back: Click here.
November 2, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd
The Nevada Humane Society, one of the most successful No Kill shelters in the country, is reopening its search for an Associate Director.
If you have strong leadership skills, a passion for saving lives, and a commitment to the No Kill philosophy, NHS invites you to apply to become a key player at one of the leading No Kill animal shelters in the country.
This is a unique opportunity to become a key player in leading a No Kill organization with a community campaign, and to work closely with a skilled and dedicated team of paid staff, large volunteer base, and committed board of directors in a very civic-minded and engaged community.
Since 2007, NHS has achieved dramatic results:
- Increased the adoption rate 53% for dogs and 84% for cats in 2007 (compared to 2006), a higher increase than any other community in the nation.
- Decreased the number of dogs killed by 51% and the number of cats killed by 52% in Washoe County animal shelters in 2007 (compared to 2006). This was the greatest decline of any community in 2007.
- Achieved a county-wide save rate of 90% for dogs and 82% for cats despite a high per capita intake rate, effectively making Washoe County one of the safest communities for homeless animals in the United States.
- Found loving, new homes for over 8,600 animals in 2008.
- As of September 30, 2009, NHS is leading the initiative saving 93% of dogs and 88% of cats countywide.
The Associate Director of Nevada Humane Society (NHS) is responsible for assisting the Executive Director in overseeing the organization’s consistent achievement of its vision, mission, and financial objectives. This includes taking responsibility for specific aspects of organizational planning, program implementation, and operational supervision, as well as the achievement of fundraising and lifesaving goals.
This is the number two position in the organization and reports directly to the Executive Director. For a job description and application instructions, click here.
Please note: The deadline to apply is November 27, 2009. Interested candidates should send a one-page cover letter and one-page resume. (There is no exception to the one-page limit. Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will not be considered.)