Goodbye Top Top

September 29, 2010 by  

Sir Topham Hat, 1999-2010

I have done mostly what most men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through —
Wherever my road inclined —
Four-feet said, “I am coming with you!”
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round, —
Which I shall never find —
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

On the Road and in Cyberspace

September 20, 2010 by  

I’ll be on the road and offline for much of the next few weeks: North Carolina this Saturday, Texas early next week, followed by Florida in early October. There is still space available to attend the seminar in Raleigh and the all-day No Kill conference in Florida. Click here for more information and to register. But if you can’t come to a No Kill conference or seminar, we’ll bring it to you.

As many of you know, the No Kill Conference sold out months in advance in 2009. This year, it sold out in about three weeks. The Austin, Texas day-long No Kill seminar is sold out. My two-hour Building a No Kill Community seminar originally sold out in Raleigh, NC, until they moved into a larger venue. And though there is space available at the Ft. Lauderdale, FL day-long No Kill seminar and I am finishing the year speaking in Farmington, NM in late-November, not everyone can come to a seminar or conference. So the No Kill Advocacy Center and Animal Ark No Kill Shelter are bringing the seminars to you—to your home or office, through your computer.

Hosted by myself and Animal Wise Radio’s Mike Fry, the online webinars will launch in October and focus on how to build a No Kill community, in order to help shelters, rescue organizations, private citizens, and municipalities learn more about and begin implementing the programs and services of the No Kill Equation. Topics will include turbocharging adoption programs, building a volunteer and foster care program, non-lethal community cat initiatives, using legislation and litigation to save lives, and much more.

The interactive sessions will also include some audience participation. You will be able to type your questions in for the guests to answer, time permitting, much as you would after a conference or live seminar’s Q&A session.

The first webinar is Reforming Animal Control with guest Ryan Clinton of FixAustin.

Learn how FixAustin changed the political landscape for companion animals through a long-term City-wide campaign.  Learn how they helped persuade a City Council to unanimously pass a No Kill ordinance reforming the City’s Animal Control and embracing the goal of a 90% save rate.  Learn how they overcame an oftentimes hostile media and opposition from powerful industry groups like the ASPCA to succeed at their No Kill initiative. Learn how their efforts culminated in implementation of the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, which last month, resulted in almost 8 out of 10 animals being saved.

Learn how YOU can reform YOUR local shelter through a campaign for change that includes public advocacy, lobbying and legislation, and harnessing the power of the public’s compassion.

You must register in advance. Click here for more information.

We’re Keeping Him

September 18, 2010 by  

The Amazing Kenny finds a home….  ours.

Building a No Kill North Carolina

September 15, 2010 by  

Join me Saturday, September 25,  in Raleigh, North Carolina, for an inspirational two-hour multi-media presentation followed by a book signing for Irreconcilable Differences.

The seminar has been called,

A prerequisite for rescue groups and organizations that are serious about changing their communities to No Kill.

Sales of books benefit local No Kill initiatives. Sponsored by Cat Angels Pet Adoptions and Wake Voices for Animals.

For more information or to register, click here.

This seminar originally sold out, but was moved to a larger venue so more space is available! It is free and open to the public.

Beyond the Pale

September 14, 2010 by  

I have never shied away from controversy because to do so is to accept the status quo. When you dedicate your life to a movement where saving lives is controversial, only an unethical person is uncontroversial.

Thanks to the paradigm of killing created by the Humane Society of the United States’ evil matriarch, the late-Phyllis Wright, and the embrace of that view by the ASPCA and others, foster care programs were called a “sham,” offsite adoptions were labeled “sidewalk giveaways,” TNR was “subsidized abandonment,” No Kill was called a “cancer.” Efforts to reform antiquated and regressive shelter practices were dismissed as “naïve” and “unnecessary” because the “public cannot be trusted,” “no one wants to kill,” “we all want the same things,” and, to paraphrase Wayne Pacelle’s bid to rebuff No Kill legislation in San Francisco last year, shelters have a right to kill animals and should not be mandated to save lives.

For over 15 years, I have reached out to people like Pacelle and to groups like HSUS in the hopes that we could move past these divisions and collaborate on moving the movement toward a humane orientation. They refused to collaborate, accusing me of the very thing they were doing: being divisive. And so I went over their heads to the very top: the people. I wrote a book for them because I knew that they loved animals and if they just knew the truth, if I could just help cut through the fog of misinformation peddled by the Wayne Pacelles of the world, the truth will out. I was right. And a revolution has ensued.

And like with every threat to the status quo, there is push back. A counter-revolution aimed at protecting and defending the status quo. The more successful we are, the harder and more desperate they become. I spent a half hour with hosts Mike Fry and Beth Nelson on Animal Wise Radio this past week where we discussed the great changes sparked by the publication of my first book, Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation & The No Kill Revolution in America. And the changes have been great, with No Kill initiatives and, more importantly, No Kill success all across the globe. One community is on pace for a stunning 99% save rate this year.

In the second half of our discussion, we talked about the increasingly personal nature of the attacks on me as a way to sabotage the movement. Initially, the attacks were on the No Kill philosophy itself and on those shelters and communities that were succeeding. In San Francisco, they claimed it was all “smoke and mirrors,” they trumped up false data to prove it, and when that failed, they tried to isolate the success as somehow unique to a very specific set of demographic and geographical circumstances that could not be replicated. They went so far as to say that lifesaving success in San Francisco was because of a large homosexual population and because the City was surrounded by water, an island, preventing an influx of animals into the community. Bizarre, irresponsible, pathetic, to be sure. But the focus was on No Kill itself, the shelter. Oh sure, when I was at the San Francisco SPCA, I was accused of killing animals in the parking lot so they would not count in the statistics because they were not “impounded,” but the focus was on how No Kill was not possible and, even if it was, San Francisco was unique.

But then came Tompkins County and then Charlottesville and Reno and Shelby County and Ivins City and now dozens of communities across the U.S. and across the globe and they can no longer make those arguments. So they have started to attack me personally, a classic case of attacking the messenger when you can’t attack the message.

Their first and primary argument is that I am in league with breeders because I was the first to suggest that pet overpopulation is a myth, a fact now embraced by even the Humane Society of the United States, even though they still use the term. The reality is that the latest data comes from a study commissioned by them (in conjunction with Maddie’s Fund). Are they in league with breeders too?

As proof of my nefarious intent, they cite a website that claims a breeding organization is promoting my first book. The truth is that I have never bred an animal, do not receive any fees from breeder groups, and in many respects, am at odds with positions taken by those in the breeding community. For example, I support laws banning the sale of puppy mill animals from pet stores and, in fact, have proposed to the California Governor’s office that they follow the lead of cities like West Hollywood and Austin by passing a statewide ban, although I’ve suggested a subsequent tax break for pet stores who open their facilities to the adoption of rescue and shelter animals.

I have also held workshops on closing down puppy mills, including the following from No Kill Conference 2009:

Legislating and Litigating an End to Puppy Mills Strategies to overcome institutionalized cruelty. This workshop will explore legal definitions of “puppy mills,” and offer both legislative strategies through anti-cruelty law reform and litigation strategies to combat this institutionalized form of cruelty.

It is not that I don’t support spay/neuter. I do. And when I was in charge of shelters, I supported it more than most shelter directors do. Spay/Neuter is one of the cornerstones of the No Kill Equation and a program I offered for free in both San Francisco and Tompkins County. My opposition to mandatory spay/neuter laws is because they increase the power of the animal control bureaucracy to impound and kill animals for violations, and that is what has occurred in municipalities which pass them. It also causes animal control to divert scarce resources from programs which save lives to enforcement of ordinances that result in higher rates of killing.

Now, even the ASPCA has come out against them for similar reasons stating that, “the ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law.” (By their logic, the ASPCA must be in league with breeders, too.)

In other words, my opposition is not philosophical. If mandatory spay/neuter worked to save the lives of animals being needlessly killed in shelters, I would support the laws. I would be the single, loudest voice in support of them. I’ve even told supporters that while I would not support them, I would not actively oppose them if they put in protections for animals in these laws, such as exemptions for feral cats, no impound provisions, free spay/neuter in lieu of a citation, and automatic repeal if impounds or killing subsequently increase.

The latest “smoking gun” is that I rent a house from my father-in-law who was once involved in a shareholder lawsuit when he ran a large company years ago. What that has to do with me and why they believe that the actions of my “landlord” are significant to understanding my support for No Kill is beyond me.

To be sure, I find it ironic that those making those allegations include:

  1. Pat Dunaway, an alleged animal abuser;
  2. Ardena Perry, an alcoholic suffering from chronic anxiety who obtained a shelter dog by fraud, drugged the dog, and had the dog killed, earning her a restraining order; and,
  3. The latest Winograd-basher, an Austin, Texas resident by the name of Delwin Goss.

Who is Goss? Goss is, drum roll please, a convicted felon, drug dealer, and drug addict who now allegedly does TNR. But wait, there is more. Goss has been convicted of felonies, not once, not twice, but three times!

Isn’t it ironic that those casting aspersions about my character are an alleged abuser, a dog killer, and a meth dealer?

And now they are being made on a website claiming an association with Best Friends Animal Society. Why? Because I’ve called Best Friends out on their unethical conduct as it relates to Oreo’s Law? I guess the enemy of my enemy is my friend—even when those “friends” kill dogs, neglect them, and peddle poison in our communities.

Desperate and pathetic. Those are the only two words to describe the lot of them.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished…. ASPCA-Style

September 12, 2010 by  

August is typically a shelter’s busiest month. Kitten season is in full-swing and kittens from early litters are reaching their adoption age and coming back from foster. As a result, August is usually a bad month in terms of killing, with killing rates higher than most other months… for those shelter directors who don’t care, don’t prepare, and don’t implement proven, lifesaving solutions.

It used to be like that in Austin’s pound: Town Lake Animal Center. But last month was a different. It was different because Dorinda Pulliam, who presided over the shelter for a decade, who killed over 100,000 animals during her tenure, who refused to implement readily available lifesaving alternatives, and who said she and her staff did not have time to do more adoptions because they were too busy (presumably killing them in the back), was no longer there. She had been forced out, a fact that animal lovers throughout the city rejoiced in, but the ASPCA, which backed her regime time and time again, lamented. The end result: roughly 8 out of 10 animals were saved, a rate of lifesaving on par with cities like San Francisco.

How they did it is no mystery. The City Council unanimously passed a lifesaving ordinance that requires TLAC to implement the programs and services of the No Kill Equation and it is starting to show results. They still have some work to do, the programs have not been fully implemented and some not at all, but if they continue on this path, Austin could easily become a No Kill city. And for the ASPCA and its acolytes, that is a threat. And they are fighting back.

Rather than celebrate the increased lifesaving, ASPCA President Ed Sayres, a con man whose tenure has been marked by unconscionable support for killing and killing shelters, who has made a name for himself by taking credit for the work of others and by derailing lifesaving legislation, appears committed to rolling back Austin’s impressive lifesaving gains. The ASPCA-led “Mission: Orange” coalition partners are asking the City Council to pass a mandatory sterilization law.

Never mind that the ASPCA itself states on their website that, “the ASPCA is not aware of any credible evidence demonstrating a statistically significant enhancement in the reduction of shelter intake or euthanasia as a result of the implementation of a mandatory spay/neuter law.”

And never mind that since the firing of the ASPCA-backed director, lifesaving is at an all-time high: 77% of animals entering the shelter in August being saved  through the implementation of some programs of the No Kill Equation, which the former director refused to do.  They cannot allow that success to continue because it will show they were wrong—wrong about the ASPCA’s “Agent Orange” program, wrong about supporting a mass killer of animals, and wrong about their embrace of poorly performing killing shelters.  And even if it means a rollback of the impressive lifesaving gains Austin is making, even if it costs animals their lives, they cannot allow that success to continue or other communities will start passing laws mandating the No Kill Equation.

One of the arguments being made in support of their bid to pass mandatory spay/neuter in Austin is that there is a “spay/neuter ordinance” in every major Texas city but Austin. This is, in fact, not true, but like other apologists for shelter killing and defenders of the status quo, facts do not get in the way of their agenda. Houston doesn’t really have one (they require shelters to spay/neuter before adoption or have adopters sign a contract requiring them to do so for pound-adopted animals), but even if they did, so what?

Every major city in Texas is slaughtering animals by the tens of thousands. Houston’s pound is killing nearly 7 out of 10 animals and collectively, roughly 80% of Houston shelter animals are being put to death. San Antonio is no better. And neither is Dallas. These communities are the mirror opposite of Austin which is saving 8 out of 10. Why would you look to some of the worst performing shelter systems in the country for a roadmap on how to save lives? They should be looking to Austin.

But this is not uncommon. When it suited them, when they were fighting No Kill advocates, they defended themselves by denigrating other Texas cities, telling the City Council they shouldn’t worry about how many animals are being killed in Austin because they were doing better than other cities in Texas. Now they are saying that those other cities have something to teach them. Which is it?

And that is not all. The ASPCA recently conducted an evaluation of shelter operations at TLAC. Most of the recommendations were boiler plate—have written protocols, clean and disinfect, etc.—though there were some that showed a proclivity to old-school dogma that has been rejected by modern, progressive shelters such as an “all in-all out” rule for communal cat housing and “engineering” standards for capacity.*

But one recommendation in particular showed a surprising level of archaic thinking: that owner surrendered animals should have an immediate disposition because they have no holding period. That means they can be killed right away, without any chance at adoption and without being made available to rescue groups. This is unethical and will lead to more killing, a course of conduct which most shelters and even California, the largest State in the Union, has rejected in law. In Reno, both stray animals and owner surrendered animals are treated equally and both given a full chance at life, regardless of how many there are or how long it takes to find them a home. The Nevada Humane Society does not kill owner surrendered animals right away just because the law says it can. And in California, owner surrendered animals have the same holding period as stray animals and the same chance at adoption/rescue. That is the kind of policy recommendations that shelter “experts” should be making. But the ASPCA is not. And Austin officials should take note. If the country’s largest state can do it for all cities, why can’t one city in the country’s second largest?

It is time for Austin to stop looking toward self-proclaimed “experts” who have NEVER succeeded. How can the ASPCA actually provide sound advice on what it takes to achieve a No Kill community, the official goal of the Austin City Council, when they themselves have never had success at it? Not only is their own community of New York City in chaos, with animals languishing in filth, going without care, being neglected and abused, but despite revenues of $128,000,000 per year, they have never helped any community achieve No Kill. Instead, they actively and vigorously fight against it in San Francisco, New York, and even in Austin itself.

Moreover, the ASPCA’s representative in Austin, Karen Medicus, promised Austin it would be No Kill ten years ago when she was running the Austin Humane Society and even secured a Maddie’s Fund grant to do so, but lost it due to mismanagement. She utterly and completely failed. Ten years later, Austin is finally making progress to the goal, by going against the advice and recommendations of Medicus and her current employer, the ASPCA.

Finally, the ASPCA’s veterinary “expert,” Sandra Newbury, who co-authored the TLAC evaluation, actually derailed the lifesaving progress being made for cats in her own community of Madison, Wisconsin, reversing a multi-year decline in cat killing. Her recommendations brought a return of policies from the dark days of “catch and kill” and, predictably, led to increases in killing (despite a decline in impounds which should have increased the number of cats saved).

Until very recently, the ASPCA enjoyed a privileged position as the unchallenged “expert” in a field that had become stagnant and complacent with the status quo it was founded to challenge, and in fact defended it. As the nation’s wealthiest and oldest humane organization, the ASPCA has long relied solely on its name and size to get the attention of those in positions of power within city councils, county commissions, boards of supervisors, and state assemblies. Since the advent of the No Kill movement and the lifesaving success nationwide it has resulted in, the ASPCA’s dogged determination to undermine those efforts reveal just how hollow and corrupted that organization has become.

Local policymakers throughout the nation weighing important life and death decisions should put aside the ASPCA’s storied 19th Century founding, its glossy brochures, and the siren song promised by a claimed expertise it does not possess, and put any advice from the ASPCA in its proper context: the ASPCA of today is simply a large, non-profit organization based in New York City which enjoys no jurisdiction, no public mandate, and certainly as a result of its sordid history fighting progressive reform efforts and the tragic state of the shelter in its own community, no credibility to suggest to any other community how shelters should operate.

The Commission on Animal Control and Welfare in San Francisco was taking testimony on whether it should follow the lead of the Austin City Council and pass a No Kill Equation-type ordinance. What proved to be non-controversial among legislators in Austin (they passed it unanimously) fell victim to the ASPCA’s lobbying: they called No Kill “radical” and insisted on the right of shelters to kill animals, even in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives. As a result, the Commission tabled the measure. Similarly, the New York State Assembly tabled a measure that would have saved 25,000 animals a year at no cost to taxpayers by mandating collaboration between shelters and rescue groups because of ASPCA opposition. And right now, in New York City, the shelter in the ASPCA’s own community is running out of food to feed the animals, animals are languishing in their own filth, mothers and kittens are going long periods with no food and water, injured animals are not receiving proper medical care, and the animal-loving volunteers who speak out against it are being threatened and intimidated into silence. Physician, heal thyself.

Under the Sayres regime, failure is the new success; which is why the City Council should instead allow the No Kill plan to continue and push TLAC to implement the programs more quickly and comprehensively. The should also send the ASPCA a short “thanks but no thanks” note with the following little ditty nestled within: Don’t mess with Texas animals.

———————–

* As long as the animals are clean, well cared for, staying healthy, and socialized regularly, fixed “all in-all out” rules or capacity requirements are counterproductive, causing killing rates to increase because of adherence to arbitrary rules. Progressive shelters have rejected these types of engineering standards in favor of performance standards that maximize lifesaving, while ensuring the animals are well cared for.

Lifesaving is Up!

September 11, 2010 by  

Austin, Texas has its highest save rate in August ever, thanks to the firing of the ASPCA-backed director and the move toward a No Kill Equation-based system: almost 8 out of 10 animals were saved. The Nevada Humane Society is breaking its own adoption records by doing the same. A shelter director in Australia which was saving 93% of all dogs and saved all baby kittens this year in the Australian Capital Territory takes over the shelter system in Tasmania, immediately dropping the kill rate by 38%. And an open admission shelter in New Zealand is on track to finish the year with a stunning 99% rate of lifesaving.

The Amazing Kenny says, “play ball!”

Me & My Cyberstalkers

September 10, 2010 by  

Dear Friends,

If you follow me on twitter, you may have been contacted by “Jason Todd” and “Not Pat Dunaway” pointing to their anonymous blog in order to try to convince you that I am corrupt. They are going through my list of twitter followers and those who have re-tweeted any of my blogs or posts. I want to let you know who they are and who is commenting on their blog.

One appears to be an alcoholic who committed fraud by getting a dog from the Nevada Humane Society under false pretenses, drugging and then killing the dog. That earned her a restraining order. Her name is Ardena Perry. Learn more by clicking here.

One is alleged to have abused her dog and perhaps even her children. I was brought in to change the killing culture in a city that contracted for animal control with a shelter she worked with and which she defends to this day—a shelter with algae covered water bowls, that returned a dog set on fire back to his abuser (they did not want to pay to board him pending the criminal case), and whose animal control officer beat a puppy with a baton (and was not terminated). Her name is Pat Dunaway. Learn more by clicking here.

Both defend the right of shelters to kill and are working to have them kill even more. And because I’ve dedicated my life to ending that killing, they are attacking me. By saying, alternatively, that I make a comfortable living consulting with shelters and that I don’t make much money so my father-in-law has to help support us; that I am a radical “animal rights extremist” who wants to spay/neuter animals out of existence and that I am a defender of puppy mills who hates spay/neuter. In other words, no matter how contradictory their claims, they are throwing any argument they can think of in the moment to see what sticks.

They also claim that No Kill equals hoarding. They claim all dogs labeled “Pit Bulls” are dangerous and should be killed. They defend PETA’s mass slaughter, the ASPCA’s killing of Oreo, Best Friends’ refusal to support Oreo’s Law so that they could raise money in New York City, and HSUS’ killing of the Wilkes County dogs.

For these reasons, they are not getting much traction beyond being a nuisance. Moreover, even though I know who they are because some of them have a long history of cyberstalking me, they blog and comment anonymously. That is the refuge of the coward and the liar. By contrast, I sign my name to everything I write. And while they defend killing, I have dedicated my life to ending it. That is also why their anonymous blog has a total of zero followers, while mine has 33,042 links to it (at least that is what my domain provider tells me).

You can learn more about them by reading my prior blog post, The Confederacy of Dunces, by clicking here.

I am sorry if you are being harassed. But if we weren’t making an incredible impact, if we weren’t winning the war to save the lives of animals they are determined to kill, if No Kill was not sweeping the nation thanks to all of our collective hard work, they wouldn’t feel the need to lash out as they are. This is what all social movements go through: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” So I hope you will choose to look at their harassment the same way I do: it means we are one step closer to victory.

——————

Read KC Dog Blog’s take on anti-No Kill anonymous blogs by clicking here.

The Long & Winding Road

September 8, 2010 by  

After three years of heavy traveling, after over 50-plus cities, and three nations, my speaking engagements are winding down and I will be taking a break to finish some projects.

If you are interested in hearing me speak, I have only four dates left in 2010:

  • Raleigh, NC, September 25. They sold out pretty quickly but moved into a bigger venue that can seat about 340 so additional seats have become available. The event is free. Register by clicking here.
  • Austin, TX, September 28. I will be speaking at the all-day No Kill workshop. There are only a few seats left. Register by clicking here.
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL, October 9. I will be speaking at the No Kill Nation’s all-day No Kill seminar. Register by clicking here.
  • Farmington, NM, November 20. I will finish up with a two-hour Building a No Kill Community seminar. Registration details will be available within two weeks. (I’ll announce on twitter.)

Webinars


If you can’t come to the seminars, I will be bringing them to your home/office. Starting October 22, I will be teaming up with Mike Fry of Animal Ark and Animal Wise Radio to offer a monthly series of low-cost webinars to help shelters, rescue organizations, private citizens, and municipalities learn more about and begin implementing the programs and services of the No Kill Equation. Topics will include reforming animal control, turbocharging adoption programs, building a volunteer and foster care program, non-lethal community cat initiatives, using legislation and litigation to save lives, and much more.

The interactive sessions will feature some of the most successful shelter directors, animal law attorneys, and advocates in the USA and beyond. One Friday afternoon each month, the webinars will be streaming live to computers worldwide.

Our first webinar is Reforming Animal Control with Ryan Clinton of FixAustin. Learn how to reform your local shelter through a campaign for change that includes public advocacy, lobbying and legislation, and harnessing the power of community compassion.

Ryan is a writer, appellate attorney, and civic advocate in Austin, Texas. In 2005, Ryan founded FixAustin.org, a non-profit animal-advocacy organization working to end the killing of animals in Austin shelters. He also serves on the board of directors of the Central Texas Animal Alliance and provides legal counsel to Austin Pets Alive. Thanks to FixAustin, in 2010, the Austin City Council unanimously passed a law that put Austin on the road to No Kill.

Ryan’s presentation is crucial for those who want to reform their medieval, regressive, killing shelters. I receive a lot of e-mails from people telling me their shelters are horrible and they want to change them. This is the webinar to attend. Learn more and register by clicking here.

Radio


As always, you can also join me every Sunday morning on Animal Wise Radio, where I discuss what is happening in the No Kill movement with hosts Mike Fry and Beth Nelson.

And periodically, I do interviews with others. If you were not able to listen live, I joined Alex and Brenda from the Dogs in Danger radio hour to talk about the ASPCA betraying the animals by defending poorly performing killing shelters. The latest salvo was their assault on accountability and transparency. According to the ASPCA, if shelters have to tell people how many animals they take in, adopt, and kill, people will realize shelters are killing and will be less sympathetic to them. In other words, keep the people in the dark so that killing can continue without public scrutiny. You can listen to the interview of September 5 by clicking here.

Read


Have you read Redemption and Irreconcilable Differences? Learn more by clicking here.

Are you signed up to receive the No Kill Advocacy Center’s free e-newsletter, The No Kill Advocate? Read the current issue and sign up to receive it by clicking here.

Stay Connected


Click here for other ways to stay connected.

But if you’d like to be notified in advance about No Kill news, upcoming events, and more, follow me on twitter by clicking here.

The Butcher Who Cried “Hoarder”

September 6, 2010 by  

Ingrid Newkirk is the Butcher of Norfolk. The whereabouts of this little dog are unknown. If his fate is anything like 97% of the animals PETA seeks out every year, his lifeless body is in PETA’s freezer.

Attention: Dog and cat killers. Ingrid Newkirk of PETA would like to protect you, shield you, promote you, and defend you. There is only one criterion: call yourself an animal shelter. It doesn’t matter if you kill in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives. Why should it? They do the same, every single day.

It doesn’t matter if you neglect and abuse them before you kill them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feed them, it doesn’t matter if you allow puppies to drown in drains, and it doesn’t even matter if you beat them to death. PETA will champion your cause.

They will write letters to the editor for you. They will write Op Ed pieces for you. They will attack anyone who criticizes you. They will threaten lawsuits. Whatever it takes. Because as long as you are needlessly killing animals and as long as you are claiming you have no choice but to do so because of “pet overpopulation,” you are providing Newkirk a valuable service. You are giving her political cover for her own dark impulses, which results in PETA seeking out and killing thousands of defenseless animals every year.

The latest salvo from the Butcher of Norfolk is an Op Ed piece in The Jersey Journal, in response to protests by animal lovers in that community, where she comes to the defense of the Liberty Humane Society’s (LHS) recent killing of animals. The Butcher cites Niki Dawson, the interim director at LHS, who stated that she arrived to find the shelter “abysmal, horrendous, shocking, horrifying… It’s difficult to put into words what it’s like to see 99 dogs crammed into a facility built to comfortably house only 50. What it’s like to witness 274 cats in a building meant for only 80. Perhaps the best description is a word we in this field know only so well: HOARDER.”

Dawson should know; she was accused of the same thing when she was forced out of Camden County’s shelter as the director. In fact, her successors used the same tactic in order to justify the killing of hundreds of animals there after she left. Dawson had more than the claimed capacity at Camden County, and the “excess” were simply executed. But the Dawson who was trying to save animals in Camden knew something that the one who was hired to kill them in Jersey City appears to have conveniently forgotten: it is not the number of animals in the facility per se, but the quality of their care.

The fact that a shelter was built for 50 dogs but has 99 means little if the dogs are kept clean, well-cared for, and socialized. And even if you were to accept her statement at face value, even if it was all true, LHS did not have to resort to the extreme, unethical, and cruel option of killing that the Butcher implies is the only logical recourse. They could have cleaned the cages they claimed were filthy. They could have socialized and fostered the animals they claimed were going crazy. They could have adopted out the ones they claimed were being warehoused. Dawson and I had an e-mail exchange over the numbers of animals at LHS. And in addition to sample flyers and promotions and a guide to increasing adoptions, I sent her the following on August 14:

While I see you have been reaching out to the rescue community, you need to reach out to the public. You are across the river from an adoption market of 8 million people, and Liberty’s surrounding suburbs are a good market for animals, and in that context, [finding homes for] less than 50 dogs and 200 cats is very doable. Keep in mind that in a community of 400,000 people, the [Nevada Humane Society is] adopting out 1,000 animals a month in Reno. The key is to reach out to the public in a positive, engaging way without the hoarder language you’ve been using to get the rescue community’s attention. There is no reason why you could not move the “excess” animals quickly through a positive marketing and adoption promotion, utilizing adoption venues in the shelter, throughout the community, and even, if need be, across the river. I am enclosing a packet of information which I hope will help. It includes adoption promotion ideas, marketing ideas, and more. It will come in two separate e-mails because of the size and amount of information.

Also, keep in mind that shelters can comfortably exceed capacity of design, as long as they do it smartly. There are over 500 animals on any given day at the NHS though the facility was not “built” to house that many but even veterinary critics who thought a shelter should not exceed design capacity changed their minds after visiting for themselves. As long as the animals are clean, well cared for, and socialized regularly, it’s not an issue. Most shelters, including all government agencies, have moved away from engineering standards toward performance standards. You can talk to Sue Cosby at the PSPCA how she comfortable housed animals in the garage, which was not built for animal holding, during a flu epidemic in the shelter so she did not have to kill. Again, the key is to use performance standards for animal well being.

You can literally see New York City, the largest City in the U.S. and a prime adoption market, from Liberty Park in Jersey City. That is eight million people on top of the 600,000 in Jersey City and Hudson County to appeal to for the adoption of 250 animals. They could have adopted all of them and more in a single weekend. But that is not what they chose to do. I went on Liberty Humane Society’s website today. They haven’t had an adoption promotion event since June, during the last administration. The next one is not until September 18, over one month after I suggested it. Feeble efforts lead to feeble results. But I guess it is just easier to scream “hoarder,” blame the past administration, and kill the animals. Just like Dawson’s successors in Camden County did to her.

The irony, of course, is that had anyone been protesting the Camden massacre, the Butcher would have condemned Dawson as a hoarder and come to their defense. But these are just facts. And, like I said, the Butcher is not going to let them get in the way of a sensationalist story. So what does the Butcher do? Lies to the readers of The Jersey Journal by suggesting homes are not available; that there are “far more dogs and cats than there are homes. Millions more.” To prove this, the Butcher of Norfolk does not offer statistics or data. She doesn’t even offer any analysis. How could she? It is, in fact, not true.

There are about 3,000,000 dogs and cats being killed because shelters do a lousy job at adoptions. In fact, some shelters don’t do any adoptions. Every year, however, over 21 million people are looking to bring home a new companion animal in the U.S., a number which is growing every year. Where will that new dog (or cat) come from? Some are already committed to adopting from shelters and they will do so. Others will go to a pet store, breeder, or other commercial-type source. But roughly 17 million people have not decided where their new pet will come from and studies show they have a positive view of shelters, are open to adopting from shelters, and can be convinced to do so. These are the people shelters need to reach to successfully adopt more animals to them. Even if roughly 80% of those people got a dog or cat from somewhere other than a shelter, we could still zero out the killing.

The problem is not a lack of homes, the problem is that the shelters the Butcher champions find killing easier than doing what is necessary to stop it. They simply refuse to innovate, modernize, and emulate the state-of-the-art sheltering protocols that progressive shelters have followed in order to revamp their adoption programs. Why? Because doing so takes dedication and effort, when it is so much easier to exploit the boogeyman of “hoarding” and use it to attack those who want to end the killing.

Never mind that the average length of stay for animals at the open admission animal control shelter I ran in New York was only eight days and that no animal ever celebrated an anniversary there. Never mind that the average length of stay at the open admission No Kill Nevada Humane Society, which adopts out 10,000 a year, is 14 days, or about a vacation-level stay for a dog in a boarding kennel. Are we really going to accept that these animals would be better off dead?

But, once again, don’t worry about the facts. They just get in the way. After all, the Butcher says, “PETA ran an ad pleading for homes for 28 cats. Three people responded.”  First of all, this never happened. It is made up. If PETA is saying that despite $30,000,000 in revenues, millions of animal-loving members (who falsely believe that PETA is an animal rights organization), and a powerhouse media reach, they could not find homes for 28 cats, we have no choice but to dismiss such a claim as an absurdity and a lie. There are countless examples of shelters emptying their facilities by adoption when they reached out for help. And they do not have PETA’s media savvy, millions of supporters, and unlimited resources.

There is no doubt that the facility in Liberty is run down. There is no doubt that it is need of significant capitalization. The animal holding spaces are inadequate and the shelter is in disrepair. That is the byproduct of the “catch and kill” paradigm that does not value animals. The No Kill movement has redefined not just sheltering, but the actual physical shelters themselves. The No Kill movement has created facilities that eliminate stainless steel cages and chain link kennels. These new shelters are the physical manifestation of the right to life and quality care ethic embodied in the No Kill philosophy.

Compare these No Kill shelters with two killing shelters championed by PETA:

Dogs wait for adoption in Animal Ark’s spacious “kennels.” The physical shelter is reflective of how caring the programs and staff are there.

It’s play time at the Charlottesville SPCA. Good care and socialization are synonymous with the No Kill philosophy.

Cats lounge about and enjoy the sun and fresh air in this cat colony room at the Nevada Humane Society: a clean, caring, comfortable No Kill shelter.

A dog and puppies at Houston’s animal control shelter. Diarrhea is all over the cage floor and in the water bowl but is not cleaned. Shelter staff have allowed puppies to drown in the trench drain, kittens to go without food and water, and one employee beat a dog but was not fired. Employees who scored the lowest on city aptitude tests were placed in animal control. Read a report of conditions by clicking here. PETA has defended this shelter.

A cat begs for food at King County’s abusive pound. Cats were not fed during a long holiday weekend. An employee who came forward as a whistleblower was threatened with violence by union-protected staff. Read a report of conditions by clicking here. PETA told the County Council not to listen to “radicals” who want to improve conditions.

Who really cares about the animals?

But despite the infrastructure challenges at LHS, they are not responsible for the recent spate of killings. Nor can the dirty shelter be blamed. All of that could have been addressed without the needle. It is a little something I like to call “cleaning.” And a little something else I like to call “adoption.” It means marketing your animals, not just once every three months as LHS is doing, but every weekend, every day, to the millions of people who surround you and love animals. You know, those Americans who spend $50 billion a year on their companion animals, who miss work when they get sick, who keep pictures of them in their wallets. The very people the Butcher accuses of being irresponsible and uncaring, even though they send her organization $30,000,000 a year in donations, falsely believing that she will use that money to save animals, not kill them herself and promote their killing by others.

Once again, it is so much easier to lie. To falsely claim, as the Butcher does, that most pounds in this country are good places, where animals receive loving care, and that the No Kill movement is a threat to these wonderful institutions. As the thousands of dedicated activists nationwide working to reform their community’s abusive, medieval shelters can attest, the reality is that “shelters” across the countries are not just needlessly killing; they are neglecting and abusing animals before they put them to death.

We have inherited a paradigm of neglect and killing, of built in excuses that have allowed governments to underfund their shelters, that have allowed wealthy humane societies to kill animals while hoarding the millions of dollars given by animal lovers to care for the animals, that have allowed cities like Houston, the fourth largest in the U.S., to appoint people who score the lowest on city aptitude tests to the animal shelter and then allow them to keep working even when they beat dogs to death (a shelter PETA has openly defended).  And in fact, the so-called “professionals” who work there are not only lazy and inept, they are ignorant of basic protocols: of how to clean and disinfect, of how to keep animals moving efficiently through the system and into loving, new homes, of how to keep them healthy. Even if they did know, many of them wouldn’t care. But the reality is that they do not know, because teaching them and then holding them accountable to those protocols are not a priority for uncaring government bureaucrats and were never a priority for the large national organizations which are supposed to provide oversight, but do not. Instead, they just legitimize the poor care and killing, by blaming the “irresponsible public” and “pet overpopulation.”

And PETA never says a word. Never complains. Doesn’t hold them accountable. In fact, when they do comment, it is to defend these facilities. It is only when someone takes over that kind of shelter and tries to end the killing that the Butcher stands up and says, “Look, the facility is dirty. No Kill is to blame.”  Her conclusion: “Municipalities need to stand firm.” They need to continue killing in the face of alternatives. They need to keep passing punitive laws that are not funded, that cause poor people to relinquish their animals, that cause killing to increase wherever they are passed. Because, in her warped, deluded, twisted way of thinking, the movement to end killing, to provide better care, to build more humane shelters, is the problem. And it is easy to see why she wants people to think so.

If the No Kill movement succeeds, and the killing of animals is no longer legitimized by blaming the public and overpopulation; if, in fact, it is no longer done, then her own killing of thousands of animals every year loses its political cover. It will be universally regarded as the needless slaughter it really is, and the sickening manifestation of a deeply disturbed individual. And how will she ever get away with it then?

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YesBiscuit! broke the story first. Read more by clicking here.

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