PETA Rattles Its Sabers

May 26, 2012 by  

Many animal lovers who have publicly condemned PETA for their killing have received a letter from the PETA legal department, threatening a lawsuit. However, because a lawsuit would allow for subpoenas of PETA employees both past and present—leading to under-oath testimonies about the grisly reality of what has and is going on at PETA headquarters—it is unlikely that PETA would ever follow-through with these empty threats.

Their donor-funded attorneys rattle their sabers, but know they have a lot more to fear from the public disclosure that would result from a lawsuit than the activists who are truthfully—and, given PETA’s threats and intimidation, bravely—reporting on PETA’s atrocities against animals in the hope of bringing them to an end.

When you donate to PETA, you not only fund the killing of animals, you fund the intimidation of animal lovers.

(Note: Though my letter is a couple of years old, others have received similar letters this month.)

 

Learn more: The Truth About PETA

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It’s Even Better Than You Think

May 17, 2012 by  

Today, there are dozens of communities representing roughly 200 towns and cities across the U.S. saving better than 90% of the animals at their “open admission” animal shelters. There is, quite simply, no excuse for others not to do the same.

Williamson County, TX, is made up of many towns and cities. There’s Anderson Mill, Bartlett, Bushy Creek, Cedar Park, Florence, Georgetown, Granger, Hutto, Jarrell, Jollyville, Leaner, Liberty Hill, Round Rock, Serenada, Sun City, Taylor, Thrall, and Weir. Georgetown and Taylor have their own shelter, of which the former also claims save rates of 90% or better. Other than those and Sun City which sends its animals to Georgetown, Williamson County’s animal shelter takes dogs and cats from all of them.

Washoe County, NV, is also made up of many towns and cities, too. Seventeen to be exact, including Reno and Sparks. When Washoe County created a joint powers agreement for animal services and merged into one large entity, it was an agreement with three separate municipal governments: the City of Sparks, the City of Reno, and Washoe County, representing all the unincorporated towns including Empire, Sun Valley, and others. As a result, Washoe County Animal Services became Washoe County Regional Animal Services servicing all of them and the others ceased doing their own animal control. Granted some of those communities are really small. Empire, NV, was a company town and the company shut down. It has just a few hundred residents, so maybe it is misleading to call that its own No Kill community. Maybe. But Washoe County is certainly not one No Kill community, it is at least three—Reno, Sparks, and the County—and as many as 17!

Berkeley, CA, not only has maintained a roughly 93% save rate, but it also takes in animals from outside the city under contract: for the cities of Piedmont and Emeryville.

But when we talk about the number of communities with save rates greater than 90%, we treat Williamson County as one. And when we talk about Washoe County, we also treat it as one. And when we talk about Berkeley, should that count as one community or three?

Of the roughly 70-plus “communities” we know of with save rates better than 90%, some of them are individual city shelters, like Seagoville, TX, which only services that one city in Dallas County. That is appropriately considered one No Kill community, because other cities in Dallas County, TX, have their own shelters and they are most definitely not No Kill. But that is not true in Williamson County and that is not true in Washoe County and that is not true in Berkeley. Those three “communities” actually represent as many as 35 cities and towns.

In some cases, a town or city within a county might have different policies. For example, one such city might only impound dogs, but not cats. Another town may only accept strays, but not animals relinquished by their families. We need to be careful as not all towns and cities within a county might have the same policies. But when I spoke to Cheryl Schneider, the director of the Williamson County shelter, she explained to me that while each town has their own animal control officer, they all take them to her shelter, and she takes dogs and cats from all. In Washoe County, all those towns and cities are serviced the same: they are “open admission” as to all of them.

So how many communities are there with save rates exceeding 90%? It all depends on what your definition of “community” is. To compare Williamson or Washoe to Seagoville, the former two servicing over 30 cities and towns and the latter just one, perhaps we are doing ourselves a disservice. Perhaps we shouldn’t sell ourselves short in terms of how far we have truly come. Rather than talk about the 40 or so communities which are saving more than 90%, maybe we should be talking about what potentially are hundreds of cities and towns across America. Hundreds!

That is, after all, the truth.

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Tragedy in Austin

May 15, 2012 by  

“After celebrating the achievement of no-kill status this year, the Austin Animal Center euthanized 17 dogs Friday and might kill another 20 today to make space in the shelter…” –Austin Statesman, May 14, 2012.

Austin’s monumental lifesaving success over the past year-and-a-half has inspired communities across the country and given a much needed boost to the No Kill movement. At one time, the City was saving only four in 10 animals. Last year, it saved 91% despite intakes of over 25,000 animals per year. It was not only one of 36 known communities with save rates in excess of 90%, it was the largest one. And there were many who considered Austin one of the crown jewels in the ever-growing No Kill crown.

But after maintaining a 91% save rate last year and 93% last month, the City of Austin began killing dogs for space on Friday. Another 23 were being threatened with death today, but they are now safe after the Austin Humane Society and Austin Pets Alive combined to pull over 50 dogs. Nonetheless, the news that 17 dogs were killed for space has shocked animal advocates across the country. And it has emboldened anti-No Kill (and therefore anti-animal) critics. Moreover, the City added fuel to the fire by posting a notice that the 90% save rate threshold for the near future remains in doubt:

“Since February 2011 the City has been able to maintain its No Kill goal of saving 90 percent or better of the animals. This year because of the high level of animal intakes versus those animals that are being adopted and rescued the City’s No Kill goal will be difficult to maintain for May and possibly into the summer months.”

Why did this happen?

Naysayers who are committed to a paradigm of killing will argue that No Kill is not sustainable. Naysayers who want it to fail will argue that No Kill inevitably leads to overcrowding. Naysayers who want animals to be killed will argue that there are too many animals, not enough homes. You can practically see them salivating, privately celebrating the deaths of dogs. They want animals to die and they are going to exploit Austin’s missteps to advance their pro-killing, killing-apologia agenda. But they are wrong on all counts.

Of course, no one said No Kill would not be the hard work it is. It is especially hard work when you take in 25,000 animals a year, a per capita intake rate higher than the national average. It is also hard work when your population spikes due to things beyond your concern, such as the rash of thunderstorms they’ve experienced which spook dogs and cause a rise in stray intakes. But the recent kills are not the result of No Kill being too hard, not sustainable, a rash of intakes, or thunderstorms. And while Austin Animal Services has been diligent in reaching out to the community and asking for additional help from its adoption partners, the killing of those dogs, notwithstanding that, was their own failure to fully implement the No Kill Equation and to plan ahead. It is also the result of one decision the City Council did wrong, amid all the others they did right. While it may be impolitic to tell the City Council—which correctly has been supportive of No Kill, correctly mandated the 90% save rate and correctly passed a moratorium on convenience killing—that they made a terrible mistake when they voted to relocate the shelter; that is the truth.

On March 27, I posted a blog about the Austin City Council’s decision to move the shelter to an out of the way, remote part of the city. I wrote,

In 2007, Austin had what other communities coveted: a centrally located facility in an area that is a daily destination for thousands of Austinites. And while most communities were struggling with trying to increase foot traffic to their shelters through offsite adoptions, satellite adoption centers, and other strategies because they were located in remote parts of their community and were not designed with lifesaving in mind, plans were underway to do the opposite in Austin. Supporting the then-shelter director regardless of the outcome, the ASPCA took on the role of spearheading the effort to move Austin’s shelter from its centrally located facility to a remote part of the city, far away from where people live, work, and play.

 

There was no doubt that the existing facility was run down and needed significant capitalization. But instead of embracing improvements to the existing facility or building a new one at the existing location, Dorinda Pulliam, the then-shelter director, enlisted the support of anyone who would listen to move the shelter, pushing for the remote location with fewer cages and kennels, even in the face of rampant killing, which was at the time the status quo in Austin. It was a call that would be answered by Karen Medicus, the ASPCA’s bureaucrat whose legacy in Austin includes one failure after another, and Ed Sayres, her detached boss who rubber stamped her actions, including those which cost animals their lives. Medicus and Sayres urged the city of Austin to do Pulliam’s bidding and take a giant step backward; fighting No Kill advocates … who were against the plan of taking the shelter from its prime location and placing it in a more remote location. HSUS chimed in, telling Austin officials that locating a shelter in areas where the shelter is likely to see the most adoptions should not be the primary factor in considering a shelter’s location. In other words, HSUS supported the move, not because logic compelled it, but because a kill shelter asked them to.

It wasn’t the first time I wrote about this. Back in 2007, when FixAustin was fighting the relocation, I wrote,

One of the primary inhibitors to maximizing adoptions is the location of the shelter. Shelters tend to be placed in outlying parts of a city such as in industrial areas, away from the centers of commerce, retail and prime residential neighborhoods. In other words, away from where the vast majority of adopters, volunteers, and other members of the community work, live, and play…. [T]his results in failing to meet the community’s adoption potential—resulting in missed opportunities and lives needlessly lost.

I discussed how most communities were trying to relocate from remote areas to more populated centers, while Austin was considering taking a step backward by doing the exact opposite, “taking the shelter from a prime location and placing it in a more remote location … an action which is contrary to the prescription for a No Kill Austin.”

I debunked the arguments made by those urging the move including the ASPCA, HSUS, and the pound’s notorious former director who killed 100,000 animals during her tenure that the location of a shelter should not be based on adoption potential or that fewer kennels in the new shelter were acceptable because the animals themselves weren’t adoptable, and I concluded with what turned out to be a prophetic warning,

[I]t is clear that the relocation is not in the best interests of saving the lives of animals. I have no doubt that due to the surrounding publicity, there will be a momentary spike in adoptions regardless of where the new shelter is built. But that spike can only be maintained by rebuilding the animal shelter on its existing location. In my opinion, relocating Austin’s animal shelter would be a death sentence for dogs and cats who would otherwise find loving homes.

Despite the admonition, the City approved the relocation. In March of this year, with adoptions not keeping pace at the new shelter, I asked,

Will Austin’s animals ever become the ones who pay the ultimate price? They shouldn’t, so long as the Austin shelter comprehensively implements the programs of the No Kill Equation. But as the rumblings in the press are becoming more common, it appears that is the one question which threatens to haunt Austin for many years to come.

Less than two months later, they have. Adoptions are suffering because of it. And now dogs are dead.

When City officials talk about lower adoptions, they talk about it as if it was imposed on them from outside: if the public would just step up, if rescue partners took more of our animals, we would not have to kill. Technically, those things are true, but those claims obscure more than they illuminate because they are always true by definition. But behind those narrowly true claims is a larger falsehood: a blaming of the public for their own failures.

To hear old arguments in a city which supposedly embraced a new paradigm is disconcerting. And it is disconcerting because they caused the current crisis with their own poor decision-making. So the City needs to do something about it other than post a notice that if the public doesn’t adopt more or local rescue groups don’t take more animals, more will die. They need to overcome the challenges and that means adoption events, daily offsite adoptions, a satellite adoption center, or—in what would be an act of supreme courage—admitting they made the mistake and moving back to the location of the old facility. There is no doubt that the old facility needed capitalization, but better a scruffy looking cage for a dog, than a body bag.

I’ve always said the buck stops with the shelter and shelter leadership. Austin Animal Services does not do offsite adoptions and that is not acceptable, especially since many of the other No Kill communities which exist across the country also have shelters in a remote location, which they compensate for by doing so. After killing the 17 dogs, a City spokesperson said they would “accelerate” plans to do a better job marketing animals, to open up satellite adoption centers, to boost adoptions, and today they are staying open until 9 pm and waiving adoption fees, but for those dogs already dead, it is too little, too late. They should have done this from the beginning, when the reality of lowered adoptions as a result of the remote location was becoming evident. While it was easy to ignore in months past because intakes were lower and save rates remained above 90%, the impending summer months should have been planned for well in advance.

In the Statesman article, Austin Pets Alive indicates it has taken in 261 dogs and cats from the pound over the past two weeks and is working to have more transferred. That is laudable. It agreed to take another 22 today. And thanks to their efforts and those of the Austin Humane Society which agreed to take the dogs, the 23 dogs threatened with killing are now safe. But both are also importing dogs from San Antonio and other communities and at least some of the dogs are tying up foster homes and kennel space. And while both have agreed to a moratorium on doing so until the current crisis is resolved, it won’t bring those dogs back.

I don’t necessarily blame APA or AHS. As I wrote in Redemption,

[E]very No Kill shelter that exists subsidizes the work of the local animal control agency by reducing the number of impounded animals in that community, and thus reducing the number of animals killed. But rather than receive praise and gratitude for their work, many private shelters are the subject of relentless attacks by animal control groups and their national allies…

 

By way of contrast, imagine hypothetically a Department of Social Services director attacking a private soup kitchen or homeless shelter for not having enough beds or serving enough meals, meaning the department itself has to feed or house the remainder. Every homeless person the private soup kitchen feeds or houses is one less homeless person for which city taxpayers are required to provide care. Our hypothetical director would be grateful and thankful for the private support. As a private agency, the soup kitchen or homeless shelter does what it can. The mandate to care for homeless people, by contrast, belongs with the city department.

In Austin, the mandate not to kill belongs to the City. But saying there are not enough kennels or homes for dogs when some of those kennels are being given to dogs from outside Austin is misleading. And saying that it is difficult to keep up with Austin intakes when you are importing dogs is also. And it isn’t fair to Austin animals or the Austinites who donate money to help Austin sustain a 90% save rate, an achievement that has already had a profound impact on neighboring communities by proving what is possible and inspiring them to reach higher for the animals, too.

For that reason, I would like to see AHS and APA fully focus on making sure no healthy or treatable Austin animals are killed before importing out of county dogs. When I was in San Francisco, I pushed to close the borders. In Tompkins, I did the same, except as space allowed. I never wanted to sacrifice local animals for easier-to-adopt out of county ones. And it is my belief that this philosophy should govern Austin. But it is not a tenet of the No Kill Equation and ethically, it is an open question.

Here’s why: In the mid to late 1990s, San Francisco was trying to become the first city to end the killing of sick, injured, unweaned, and traumatized treatable dogs and cats. As we got closer to the goal, the types and cases of animals, behaviorally and medically, were becoming more challenging, though reduced in number. They needed surgery, medicine, foster care, and cage rest. They would require more resources and a longer length of stay. (I had not yet understood that pet overpopulation was a myth and that a community could and should achieve No Kill overnight. There was no playbook, no historical antecedents, and no other communities to look to for guidance. It was all trial and error.)

The question was whether it was more ethical to save the treatables or import out of county animals who were more easily placeable. The San Francisco model was the lodestar of the former at the time. The latter was epitomized by North Shore Animal League. In the mid to late 1990s, NSAL was saving more animals than we were: 15,000 to our 5,000-plus by trucking in healthy puppies and kittens from all over the South. Their shelter was filled with the pitter-patter of little feet. We had our share of kittens and puppies (we imported some, too), but we also had a shelter with adult dogs and cats, and many with impediments to adoption. I recently wrote about one on my Facebook page, a 9-year old terrier mix with degenerative spinal disk disease requiring corrective surgery, as well as chronic dry eyes and irritated skin. Dogs like that were not uncommon. Sometimes, they tied up kennel space for weeks and months. Could we have saved a dozen puppies in the same time by not focusing on dogs like Daisy?

That was NSAL’s theory. But while they were importing animals into New York, New York dogs and cats were being killed at the pound en masse. But I never criticized NSAL as others did because they were saving a lot of animals. All animals deserve life regardless of zip code and it was just a different model to do so. They chose to focus on saving three puppies for every one dog we saved. We chose to focus on dogs like Daisy. While that might mean saving less dogs (and cats) overall, if we succeeded in creating the first No Kill community, we believed it would have had a profound impact nationally. We would start a revolution which would save more animals over the long term in more places and I believe we were right. But not right as in NSAL was wrong. They saved lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of animals. And all I have is gratitude for that.

Of course, the ideal is that a community saves all the lives at risk locally and then imports or exports to meet demand as is needed. And I believe that is what APA was trying and is trying to do. But whatever the intentions, something went wrong, and some reevaluation and more refined line drawing needs to be done. I hope it is. And I expect it to be.

Unfortunately, the City does not expect to maintain a 90% save rate during the next few months. This is tragic. They can and they should if they hold daily offsite adoptions, if they better market animals, provide more incentives to adopt, and even open up a satellite adoption center where (drum roll please) people live, work, and play. In short, if they compensate for what they gave up when they embraced a poor, remote location which is out of sight, out of mind for many Austinites. And if they won’t, I truly hope APA and AHS do it for them, as they stepped up today, while they work to hold them accountable.

And while I in no way want to minimize the tragic killing of even one savable dog, with a 93% save rate last month, and a 91% save rate all of last year, the claims that No Kill has failed in Austin being sounded by naysayers is greatly exaggerated. The question is whether the City rises to the challenge and commits itself to avoiding these problems in the future as it has proved time and time again in the past, it can. I’m betting that Austin’s No Kill advocates will see to it.

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Note: City officials claim that no healthy or treatable dogs were among those killed. Though the claim is hard to believe because the article specifically points to overcrowding, high intake, and low adoptions, not medical hopelessness, for the recent kills and it was the City itself that sounded the alarm, the Statesman has to be read with a grain of salt as they’ve been fear mongering about overcrowding and the demise of No Kill since Day 1—their reporting has been schizophrenic at best. If it is true, the claims of Austin’s No Kill demise are even more premature.

Protecting Your Pets

May 12, 2012 by  

We thought we were safe from recalls and tainted food because, although Pickles’ breakfast was a commercial dog food, it was vegan. But one of the brands we used to feed our dog was on the list. Like others who share their lives with dogs, we’ve decided to cook for him from now on (see the seitan and faux-chicken gravy dish we’re cooking up minus the kibble!). But not everyone is going to do that.

If you feed your animals—dogs, cats, hamsters, and others—commercial food, you need to take some precautions to protect them. The latest recall of so far 14 brands of foods has not only sickened countless animals, but it has sent five people to the hospital from salmonella. It’s not the first recall and it certainly won’t be the last. But animals are being made sick. Sometimes they die. And to add insult to injury, many of those could have been prevented.

Long before “voluntary” recalls were initiated in the latest round, the companies peddling their poisoned food knew about the problems. The FDA also knew. As Christie notes below, “The only ones who didn’t know were us. In fact, we still don’t know if there are other brands … that have chosen not to issue a recall, or are hoping no one will ever find out the truth.” As a result, you might be feeding your companion animals tainted food right now.

I asked Christie Keith to put together a short post on how to protect your loved ones from harm, including an “early warning” alarm system so you’ll have the information about future recalls as soon as possible. Christie is a journalist, blogger, and communications consultant who was one of the main sources of coverage for the 2007 pet food recall. She reported on it for the San Francisco Chronicle and for Pet Connection, a nationally syndicated pet feature and blog. She keeps an eye on pet food safety issues, No Kill, and other pet related issues at HonestDog.com

Protecting Your Pets From Tainted Food

By Christie Keith

Who can you trust when it comes to the safety of your pets’ food? Yourself.

That’s the hard lesson learned since 2007’s four-month, 1000-brand pet food recall, and from all the smaller recalls since then. The current rolling recall of (so far) 14 different brands made at Diamond Pet Food’s salmonella-contaminated South Carolina manufacturing plant is serving as a painful reminder. (To find out if your brand of pet food is on the list click here.)

One of the hardest things to cope with when we try to protect our pets from contaminated or mis-formulated foods is that getting information about how and where those foods are produced can be almost impossible. For example, during the 2007 recall, pet owners were shocked to learn that the pet foods they were buying were all made by one company no one had ever heard of, Menu Foods. The same thing is happening now, as we find out the foods we were buying for our pets under a variety of labels—some of them the highest-priced brands on the market—were all made by a single company, Diamond Pet Foods.

Since there’s no law requiring pet food products to be labeled with the name or location of their actual manufacturer, you have no way to know if a recall of one brand might affect a completely different brand. That’s why even though Diamond announced a salmonella-related recall in early April, it wasn’t until more than a month later that we started hearing about all the other brands that were involved—after 14 people were sickened, and five people and an unknown number of pets were sent to the hospital.

But here’s the thing: the pet food companies knew all along, from day one, that their foods were being made at that plant. They knew salmonella had been found in products made there. They knew the plant had been closed down. But for weeks, none of them did anything, not until further testing by the FDA started finding salmonella in those other foods, too. Then one by one they started issuing very limited recalls, several weeks after the first recall. For more than a month, people were buying pet food—sometimes very expensive pet food—that had the potential to make their dogs and cats sick, as well as themselves.

To make matter worse, the FDA also knew which brands of food were manufactured in that same plant, but they, too, did not make a timely public announcement. The FDA knew. Diamond knew. All the individual companies knew. The only ones who didn’t know were us. In fact, we still don’t know if there are other brands manufactured at that plant that have chosen not to issue a recall, or are hoping no one will ever find out the truth.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Set up a Google alert for the phrase “pet food recall” and the name of the brand or brands you feed your pets. (Improve the results of the Google alert by enabling blog and news searches, not just web searches. Bloggers may report a problem with food that doesn’t pan out, but they are often the first to break legitimate recall stories.)
  • Keep an eye on websites that monitor recalls such as HonestDog.com. Blogs like this are often first with recall news.
  • Follow the FDA’s recall Twitter feed
  • Subscribe to the FDA’s email recall alert system
  • Track #petfoodrecall on Twitter

Sadly, the information you get from these sources may be days old. So add these steps to your pet food safety to-do list:

  • Find out where your pets’ food is actually manufactured. Don’t let pet food companies blow off your questions. If they say they don’t know, or they can’t tell you, seriously consider whether that’s a product you want to give to your pets.
  • Don’t feed one brand all the time. Some recalls are not for contamination with industrial toxins or bacteria, but for improperly formulated foods. Feeding a variety of different foods from different sources—including manufactured in different plants, once you get them to give you that information—may protect your pet from the most serious effects of under- or over-supply of certain nutrients. It can even protect against contaminants, because many of them are not as dangerous if consumed in very low levels.
  • Adopt a one-strike rule. Even good food companies may be affected by a recall, but if they handle it badly, announce late, don’t implement immediate and transparent changes to prevent a repeat of the problem, find another pet food company.
  • Report problems to the FDA. You can report problems with pet and human foods and drugs directly to the FDA. You don’t have to go through your veterinarian. Just fill out the form here. It may take weeks or months, but they do investigate these reports.
  • Get active. Keep pressing the FDA to stop protecting industry’s interests and privacy above the health of you and your families of all species. They can be contacted through their website. Tell them, and tell your congressional representatives, too, that you want country of origin of all ingredients and address of manufacture on every pet food label.
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Neither the FDA nor the pet food companies involved are aggressively looking out for your companion animals. You have to do it yourself.

For further reading:

Friends Don’t Let Friends Kill Dogs

A National Day of No Kill

May 11, 2012 by  

The No Kill Advocacy Center and Animal Ark are trying to create the safest day for animals in U.S. shelters ever on June 11, 2012 by declaring a national day of No Kill. Roughly 500 shelters and rescue groups have pledged so far, including animal control facilities in Sacramento, CA, Houston, TX, Manatee County, FL, Independence, MO, and elsewhere. Shelters normally closed on Monday, like the shelter in Houston, are going to stay open to adopt animals. Others are bringing rescuers in to teach them how to take good pet photos for adoption. Still others are hosting a pet parade to highlight available animals. All will focus heavily on adoptions. We have the power to end the killing, and it can start with Just One Day. And if they can do it then, they can also do it on June 12 for Just Another Day. . .

We need your help:

  1. If you are a rescue group, even if you are already No Kill, take the pledge at www.justoneday.ws and do an event or adoption campaign on that day to increase the number of adoptions you normally do and pull those extra animals from the pound;
  2. If you are a shelter, take the pledge as well. To help you succeed, we’ll provide you a model press release and promotion plan, a guide to adopt your way out of killing, adoption promotion posters, and more.
  3. Everyone, please contact at least one rescue group and one shelter in your community and ask them to take the pledge;
  4. Ask your city council/county commission to pass a resolution naming June 11 a day of No Kill in your community.

More info, including a list of participating groups, at www.justoneday.ws

Why June 11: http://bit.ly/kinJqY

A map of participating shelters: http://on.fb.me/KMBVrB

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Here’s the email to send to the local shelter/rescue:

Dear Director,

Animal shelters and rescue groups across the USA have taken a pledge not to kill any savable animals on June 11, 2012. For Just One Day, “Euthanasia Technicians” will put down their syringes and pick up cameras. Instead of injecting animals with lethal doses of sodium pentobarbital, they will photograph them and post them on the Internet, on Facebook, on twitter. On June 11, 2012, they will market their animals to the public, they will reach out to rescue groups, they will host adoption events with discounted rates, they will stay open for extended hours, and they will ask their communities to help. At the end of the day, the shelters will be emptier than when the day started. And, no one will have had to die in order to make that happen.

To help them succeed, the “Just One Day” campaign is offering shelters that take the pledge the tools they need to be successful: a model press release and promotion plan, a guide to adopt your way out of killing, adoption promotion posters, and more—all sent free of charge to those organizations that take the pledge.

On June 11, the USA can become a No Kill nation, even if it is for Just One Day. And if we can do it then, we can also do it on June 12 for Just Another Day…

Will you please take the pledge on www.justoneday.ws?

Thank you.

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Here’s the email to send to your local city council/county commission (with a sample resolution):

Dear Council Member (Commissioner, Supervisor, etc.),

Animal shelters and rescue groups across the USA have taken a pledge not to kill any savable animals on June 11, 2012. For Just One Day, “Euthanasia Technicians” will put down their syringes and pick up cameras. Instead of injecting animals with lethal doses of sodium pentobarbital, they will photograph them and post them on the Internet, on Facebook, on twitter. On June 11, 2012, they will market their animals to the public, they will reach out to rescue groups, they will host adoption events with discounted rates, they will stay open for extended hours, and they will ask their communities to help. At the end of the day, the shelters will be emptier than when the day started. And, no one will have had to die in order to make that happen. On June 11, the USA can become a No Kill nation, even if it is for Just One Day. And if we can do it then, we can also do it on June 12 for Just Another Day…

Will you please join your colleagues across the country by introducing a resolution in Council officially declaration June 11 a day of No Kill in our community? A sample proclamation is available at http://bit.ly/Jihmh3.

To learn more about the Just One Day campaign, visit www.justoneday.ws.

Thank you.

In the Arms of the Angel of Death

May 8, 2012 by  

The healthy 3-week old kitten was delivered to the ASPCA, probably by a Good Samaritan who found him. Perhaps, they saw the commercial, heard the Sarah McLachlan song “In the arms of an angel,”

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold … room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You’re in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here;

knew that by taking him to the organization that bills itself as the animals’ “voice,” whose revenues exceed $140,000,000 a year making it one of the wealthiest overall charities in the nation and the single richest SPCA in America, the kitten would be safe.

After all, the ASPCA has more resources than it knows what to do with. So many resources, in fact, that they could afford to pay their CEO over half a million dollars a year, even provide him a driver to get him around Manhattan. And only a few short days away from eating on his own, with a full-service medical hospital named after the great Henry Bergh staffed by a team of veterinarians and hundreds of employees, the kitten was surely safe.

Maybe the Good Samaritan even wrote a donation check, to thank the ASPCA for taking in the kitten. It is not uncommon. And the ASPCA could then use that money to buy formula, the bottle, some cotton balls to help stimulate the kitten to go to the bathroom if he was not yet doing so on his own. It was just one kitten. Even if he didn’t write a check, no matter, the ASPCA could afford it. It would cost peanuts:

  1. Bottle of powdered KMR: $12.99
  2. Kitten bottle: $5.19
  3. Cotton balls: $1.39
  4. Heating pad: $13.49
  5. Towel: donated

Only $33.06 to save this kitten’s life; a mere fraction of the revenues: 0.00000002% to be exact. They’d make that back in interest before the kitten needed his next feeding. Yes, the kitten was safe. And not only did he have the animals’ “voice” protecting him, he had a veritable army: the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful army in the animal protection world.

According to Maddie’s Fund, New York City and its shelters are a “national model.” They’ve given over $25,000,000 to arm it. Best Friends also claims it is a model of compassion, “well on its way to meeting its no-kill goals.” They opened up an office in New York City. The Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals boasts that the City does not kill healthy animals—under “Health Issues,” the kitten’s record is marked “None”—and claims they are “on track” for achieving No Kill. And since they’ve been “on track” for 11 years, surely they’ve built the ultimate safety net for healthy motherless neonatals with all those tens of millions they’ve taken in. Even HSUS has an office there. Combined, the four organizations with fundraising offices in New York City—ASPCA, HSUS, Mayor’s Alliance, and Best Friends—take in over $320,000,000 per year. The kitten just needs 0.00000001% of the total take. In fact, they could fundraise off the kitten and make that back ten fold; a hundred fold; even a million fold.

And why shouldn’t that kitten be safe? After all, there are No Kill communities which have per capita intake rates ten times higher than the City. Add the largest adoption market in the nation to one of the lowest per capita intake rates; add to that that the City is the center of the nation’s wealth; top it off with New York City being the most cosmopolitan and progressive community in the U.S. and the center of the Western World, and there is absolutely NOTHING that could and would stand in the way of the bright future this kitten has to look forward to.

The sky has parted, providence is bathing the world in sunshine, and one tiny little kitten is in the arms of an angel. Check that. He’s not just in the arms of an angel, the entirety of the heavens has opened up to protect him. He’s got a fleet of angels—Maddie’s Fund, the ASPCA, HSUS, Best Friends, the Mayor’s Alliance, even the “model” city shelter—all there to protect this little baby kitten because he is healthy, has his whole life ahead of him, and all of them are in New York City raising money promising to protect little kittens like him. They all tell us they believe in No Kill and they all tell us they are No Kill “experts,” and they all tell us that every single last one of them is dedicated to saving lives. And this one is easy, a no-brainer; saving-lives-for-dummies. No surgery, no heroic efforts, just your run of the mill, garden variety need for a volunteer, some powdered milk, a five-inch plastic bottle, and a little TLC.

Two hours later, the kitten is dead.

Under orders from Ed Sayres and his team, the kitten was taken to the city pound to be killed. The pound would oblige. Less than one hour after he arrived (41 minutes to be exact), he was scheduled to be killed. Why? “No placement.” The Mayor’s Alliance was busy fighting legislation that would save animals to actually save him themselves. Best Friends was too busy coming up with magical five year plans in other cities based on the very same Mayor’s Alliance model. HSUS, of course, was not interested. The ASPCA pleads lack of resources. Maddie’s Fund would like to refer all concerns about what is happening in New York back to the Mayor’s Alliance, who is also too busy fighting legislation to save animals to respond to your questions.

One hour and 27 minutes later, he was given a fatal dose of poison. He was tossed on a pile of other dead animals. His kennel number was updated to “Freezer.” There he sits, awaiting transport to the crematory.

***

Although this is not him, this is what a 3-week-old kitten looks like. How could they possibly kill him?

 

No Kill Numerology

May 7, 2012 by  

In 2003, surrounded by fanfare and what would eventually amount to tens of millions of dollars flowing into their coffers, the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals announced a plan to make New York City shelters No Kill by 2008. This was not the first time it had been promised. Earlier, New Yorkers had been promised a No Kill city by 2005. Within a few years, the Mayor’s Alliance realized they were failing. Publicly, they assured everyone they were “on track” to achieve it.

In 2007, they announced a new five-year plan, promising No Kill by 2012. And, yet again, despite public assurances they were “on track,” in 2010—as if the previous five-year plans were never announced—they rebranded the current one as a “ten-year” plan, promising No Kill in New York City by 2015. Once again, they claim to be “on track” to achieve it, even while the New York City municipal shelter system was then and is now a den of rampant neglect, abuse, and systematic killing.

Anyone familiar with the systematic culture of failure (by design) of the New York City pound system, and the callous indifference of groups like the Mayor’s Alliance and ASPCA, knows that 2015 will also come and go, and far from No Kill, the groups will announce a new five year No Kill plan; and whatever the results, the private acknowledgment of failure will be ignored in favor of the public claims that they will be “on track” to achieve it at some new date in the future. No matter, with resources coming in from the ever-willing-to-help animal-loving American public, to groups like the Mayor’s Alliance and ASPCA there’s no downside.

In fact, while the Mayor’s Alliance is taking in millions by claiming a serial string of five year plans, other groups are realizing that claiming a five year plan to No Kill will not only fend off criticism about killing today—kicking the can of accountability into the future—but is very lucrative. As a result, they are announcing five year plans of their own, promising the public that the light is at the end of the five-year tunnel, if the public just digs deeper and donates more. Not to be outdone, Maddie’s Fund is also claiming—as part of its own cycle of fail-to-deliver five year plans—that the whole nation will be No Kill by 2015; that every single shelter in every single community in every single state will have ended the killing of healthy and treatable animals by achieving save rates of roughly 95%.

Like New York City (as well as Contra Costa County in California, the entire state of Utah, the City of Los Angeles, San Antonio, Texas, Maricopa County in Arizona, and everywhere else that we’ve been promised a five year plan to No Kill), it won’t happen. It won’t happen in New York City (at least under the current leadership), it won’t happen in other communities promising five year plans for success, and it won’t happen nationally by 2015. In fact, it has never happened.

Not because it can’t happen; it can. We can be a No Kill nation today. Five year No Kill plans don’t work because they are not supposed to. They are nothing more than a means of stifling criticism or raising money by creating the impression that plans are underway that will someday bring the killing to an end. Meanwhile, the action necessary to actually make No Kill happen—reforming the shelter—is never taken. People are asked to spay/neuter more, to adopt more, not to surrender their animals, and here’s the rub—to donate a lot more—but the shelter is let off the hook. In fact, as part of the five year collaboration, you can’t even criticize or ask for policy, program, or personnel changes at the shelter, because even though this is very place where the needless killing occurs, we are now told they are a “partner” in the five year No Kill plan. And so the five years come and go and the killing continues, while those involved keep their fingers crossed that everyone has forgotten the empty promises that made them very rich in the process, so at the end of five years, they can start the whole process over again.

The truth is it doesn’t take five years to implement alternatives to killing. It doesn’t take five years to set up a foster program, to recruit volunteers, or to set up offsite adoption venues. All of these things can be done in a matter of days, weeks, months, whatever needs dictate to prevent killing. No Kill requires action, not endless planning and five years of fundraising. In fact, the communities across the country that have ended the killing of healthy and treatable animals, saving well in excess of 90% of all intakes, did so virtually overnight; as new leadership took over the shelter and did what the former refused to do: comprehensively implement alternatives to killing.

Austin, Texas, for example, has a higher per capita intake rate than Los Angeles which recently embraced yet another five year plan to No Kill. Unlike Los Angeles, city council members in Austin gave shelter leadership a maximum of two years, removed the director who was the primary roadblock to No Kill success, and unanimously embraced a shelter reform plan to mandate the programs and services of the No Kill Equation. It took a few short months following the forced departure of the ASPCA-backed regressive director to achieve a better than 90% save rate. Not five years. Not even the two years allotted by the Austin City Council. It happened virtually overnight because a great thing happens when you remove a regressive director, reform the shelter, and put in place alternatives to the killing: the killing stops. And it has happened across the country.

Los Angeles has a per capita intake rate that is one-fourth that of Washoe County, Nevada, which achieved No Kill within a year of its initiative. New York, with its endless parade of failed five year plans, has still not achieved it despite having the single largest adoption market in the nation and a per capita intake rate one-eighth of Washoe County. Unlike Los Angeles and New York, Washoe County is not the center of our nation’s wealth. It does not have organizations taking in tens of millions of dollars per year. But New York does. And so does Los Angeles. Like New York, Los Angeles is home to tremendous wealth and resources. And Los Angeles has one of the most generously funded shelter systems in the nation. With 9,452 dogs killed and 13,467 cats killed in 2011 in a city of 3.8 million people, the achievement of a No Kill Los Angeles should be achieved this year. In fact, comparing adoption rates with Reno and adjusting for population, Los Angeles City shelters should be adopting out 87,000 animals a year, more than total impounds. So why should it take five times as long with a fraction of the problem?

Because five years is a mighty long time—just long enough for memories of bold promises of No Kill to fade and be forgotten; and just long enough for the needless body county of animals to sew such despair that another promised five year plan will again be greeted with enthusiasm and support; enthusiasm and support that will result in lots and lots of money.

For further reading:

Atten-Hut: Sgt. Bailey in Command

Just Another Day? Hardly.

Midland County Turnaround

 

Building a No Kill Community

May 1, 2012 by  

In the last four years, I’ve traveled all over the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Canada speaking to thousands of people from all walks of life and hopefully inspiring them to join the No Kill revolution. In some communities, as many as 500 people packed the room. In others, it was more modest. But in the end, over 10,000 people have participated in a Building a No Kill Community seminar and over 100,000 copies of Redemption have been put into the hands of animal lovers.

This year, I’ve traveled to Toronto, New York City, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque.

Here are the final six speaking engagements for me this year:

  • Topeka, KS, May 5 for “Building a No Kill Community.” For more information, click here.
  • Maui, HI, August 25 for “Building a No Kill Community.” For more information, click here.
  • Cincinnati, OH, September 16 for an all-day No Kill workshop. For more information,click here.
  • Lansing, MI, September 20 for the Michigan No Kill Conference. For more information,click here.
  • Bloomington, IL, October 16 for “Building a No Kill Community.” More information coming soon.
  • And, of course, the national No Kill Conference in Washington, D.C. on August 11-12:

No Kill Conference 2012: Reaching Higher. Because saving 90% of all the animals is not enough. With new workshops on redefining “adoptable” to mean 98% of all dogs and better than 95% of all cats, and workshops on sanctuary and hospice care to save “the other 5%,” we are striving to save them all. And to do that, the No Kill Advocacy Center is bringing over 30 of the nation’s top shelter directors, animal lawyers, shelter medicine veterinarians, and shelter reformers to one place, to help you save lives and create a No Kill community in your own hometown.

Registration includes two days of workshops, breakfast, lunch and a hosted-bar evening reception on Saturday, lunch, snacks, and coffee on Sunday, a tote bag filled with books, a CD, and other goodies, and much, much more. Join over 600 animal lovers from 40 states and four nations by registering today.

For more information: www.nokillconference.org
Speakers: http://bit.ly/wBsx6l
Workshops: http://bit.ly/yWWTQT
Venue: http://bit.ly/A73fEb
Register: http://bit.ly/yrgeF7