National Animal Shelter Reform Week

October 30, 2012 by  

November 4 is the official kick off of “National Animal Shelter Reform Week.” It is a week dedicated to educating the American public about the rampant neglect and abuse in U.S. “shelters,” the systematic killing that goes on in them, and what we can do to bring this tragedy to an end. It is also a week dedicated to celebrating the many animal advocates across the country who are fighting to reform our shelters and winning, so that others can be inspired to emulate their success.

The week is sponsored by the No Kill Advocacy Center in response to the call by the Humane Society of the United States to “celebrate” those shelters and turn a blind eye to the neglect, abuse, and killing of animals in their custody. In a Memphis shelter, for example, abusive workers recently allowed a puppy to starve to death, and his littermate consumed his body to keep from starving himself. Animals lovers in Memphis and nationwide are expressing their outrage, but , as usual, there is no word of concern from HSUS, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the ASPCA and the individuals who act as shelter killing apologists.

In its call to celebrate shelters, HSUS claims to be the nation’s top cheerleader for shelters, rather than the animals’ top advocate. And PETA has vilified those working to reform our broken shelter system, promoting and defending some of the worst abusers in the country. It is this very mentality of celebrating shelters and fighting reformers in the face of epidemic cruelty and killing that has allowed shelters to remain unregulated. Although HSUS admits, “there is actually very little oversight of sheltering organizations,” they are working to keep it that way: fighting legislative reform efforts, defending abusive shelters, arguing that shelters should not be regulated, and even defending a shelter’s “right” to kill animals in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives. The lack of government oversight, combined with the support of groups like HSUS, has given shelters the hubris and the ability to neglect, abuse, and systematically put to death roughly four million animals a year without a hint of remorse. The No Kill Advocacy Center seeks to right this wrong.

This is also why my wife and I wrote Friendly Fire, exposing not only the war on shelter animals by these large national organizations, but the motivations behind their opposition to No Kill. Friendly Fire will go on sale this Thursday, November 1, just as HSUS ramps up its celebration of those abusive shelters.

From the No Kill Advocacy Center:

No Kill Advocacy Center Launches “National Animal Shelter Reform Week”

For over a decade, HSUS has promoted a campaign they call “National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week” which occurs the first full week in November. According to HSUS, which describes itself as the nation’s “strongest advocate” for shelters, we owe a debt of gratitude to the “dedicated people” who work at them. They claim that leadership and staff at every one of these agencies “have a passion for and are dedicated to the mutual goal of saving animals’ lives.” They tell us, “We are all on the same side,” “We all want the same thing,” “We are all animal lovers,” and criticism of shelters and staff is unfair and callous because “No one wants to kill.” The fact, however, tragically and frequently tell a very different story: roughly four million animals are needlessly killed at these institutions every year, while an epidemic of neglect and abuse goes largely unacknowledged and unchecked by the very organization that has the power and resources to do something about it: HSUS. That is why we are launching “National Animal Shelter Reform Week.”

Over the years, we’ve received reports of shelter workers burying animals alive, starving animals to death, animals cannibalizing other animals for food, shelter employees beating animals to death, using them for target practice, drowning them, and putting different species into the gas chamber to sadistically watch them fight before turning on the gas.

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. Rarely a day goes by that another incident of shelter mismanagement, killing, neglect, and/or abuse isn’t brought to our attention, highlighting and substantiating an epidemic crisis of neglect and cruelty, followed by systematic killing, in our nation’s so-called animal “shelters.” In fact, the first time many animals experience abuse and neglect is in the very institutions which are supposed to protect them from it.

National Animal Shelter Reform Week is designed to confront the tragic truth about how most shelters in this country operate and to increase public awareness about how animal lovers can fight back and reform them. Despite the uphill battle many shelter reformers face, they are succeeding through ingenuity, perseverance, and because the American public, which loves animals, is on their side. The No Kill Advocacy Center would like to support their reform campaigns and honor their tireless effort.

Every day during National Animal Shelter Reform Week, the first full week of every November, the No Kill Advocacy Center will confront poor and neglectful conditions at shelters around the country and contrast them with progressive and innovative No Kill shelters. We will also honor No Kill activists working to end the systematic killing of animals, so that others can be inspired by their efforts. Finally, we will strive to give animal advocates the tools they need to succeed.

For more information and to join the week-long discussion from November 4-10, 2012, click here.

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For further reading:

While Rome Burns, Emperor Pacelle Strums His Lyre

Images That Will Haunt You Forever

An Audio/Visual Tour of U.S. Shelters

Learn how you can fight back and win by clicking here.

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/nathanwinograd. Many people mistakenly believe that the Facebook pages at No Kill Nation and No Kill Revolution are my pages. They are not.

Putting the Animals First

October 28, 2012 by  

When Wayne Pacelle’s team perjured themselves in a Wilkes County, North Carolina courthouse, effectively condemning over 100 dogs, including puppies born in a shelter, to death, the condemnation among the grassroots across the country was swift and strong. But Julie Castle, the “expert” at Best Friends, told us all to shut up. She told us that we’ve said enough, that it was time to hit what she called “the reset button,” and that they were the experts and would take care of everything. Of course, they didn’t.

When Ed Sayres killed Oreo despite a rescue group ready, willing and able to save her, and when the ASPCA effectively condemned an additional 25,000 animals every year who have an immediate place to go to certain death by fighting Oreo’s Law (a law that would have made it illegal for shelters to kill animals when rescue groups were willing to save them), Francis Battista of Best Friends contacted supporters of the bill asking them to withdraw their support in deference to the ASPCA. He told them that Best Friends would never support a law if it was opposed by the ASPCA and neither should they. He also stated shelter directors should not be second guessed in their decisions to kill animals because they have an expertise others do not.

When Wayne Pacelle’s team claimed to have “rescued” dogs from what HSUS said was a “hoarder” only to send them to regressive shelters where they were killed in one of the most brutal ways possible, by gassing, and furor among the grassroots erupted, HSUS itself told us to settle down, assuring us that they hand-picked the shelters themselves and that their expertise showed these shelters went “above and beyond” the call of duty.

When the grassroots condemned Wayne Pacelle and HSUS after it was discovered that Michael Vick, the most notorious dog abuser of our generation, acquired a dog and that Pacelle himself “urged” him to adopt a shelter dog and told the press he would “dog a good job as a pet owner,” some “Pit Bull” advocates lashed out, effectively telling the grassroots that we have no right to criticize, that they—not we—know best because they handled some of the Vick dogs and we didn’t.

This is a recurring pattern within the animal protection movement. Over and over again, self-proclaimed “leaders” dismiss and reprimand the grassroots for questioning their actions, condemn those who do so as “divisive” and then assert their superiority by arguing that they have a knowledge and expertise that the average animal lover does not possess and that because of that “expertise,” the grassroots should defer to them, especially when it involves the “necessity” of killing.

Why do they do this? And where did this troubling viewpoint come from?

Defending killing equals power in the animal “protection” movement

At the turn of the last century, many animal protection organizations took over the job of animal control, agreeing to start killing the very animals they had been formed to protect. As a result, animal lovers fled from those organizations. Over time and as a result, the grassroots of the animal protection movement lost touch not only with what was really going on in our nation’s shelters, how poorly they were operating and how the killing occurring there was a choice rather than a necessity, they also came to defer to the people running them as “experts” with a knowledge and expertise beyond the grasp of the average person.* Our movement bought into a whole series or rationalizations and excuses to justify the killing simply because we did not know any better.

This point of view has created a hierarchical structure based on deference, unwavering allegiance, and unquestioning obedience to those who run these organizations and the large animal protection groups. Intolerant of dissent, the leaders of these organizations have historically maintained this preferential treatment by arguing that the ultimate crime in animal welfare is not the needless killing of animals or the philosophies and rationalizations built up over the decades to justify it, but rather, questioning those rationalizations and those who promote them. Until very recently, the cardinal rule in the animal protection world has been to promote “movement unity” rather than the very goals for which the movement was founded: the protection of animals.

It is not the questioning of the leadership of the animal protection movement that harms and kills animals, it is the failure to do so that does

For decades, the self-professed “leaders” of the movement have perpetuated the fiction that all is well in our nation’s shelters. They have assured us that they are overseeing these organizations, providing guidance and assistance to make sure they are run humanely and effectively: through their shelter assessments, their national conferences and their publications for sheltering professionals. In reality, they have failed to create substantive standards by which to measure success and hold directors accountable, and remained deafeningly silent regarding the cases of abuse proliferating at shelters nationwide. In short, they have failed us. We trusted them, content to write them checks to do the job while we look the other way because the “experts” were in charge, and in so doing, have allowed our shelters to remain virtually unsupervised and unregulated for decades, with devastating results.

Today, the biggest roadblock standing in the way of a No Kill nation is the animal protection movement itself. It is a broken, dysfunctional movement, plagued with a festering malignancy that we are not allowed to criticize those in positions of leadership, a philosophy which undermines the very cause it claims to be defending. In reality, movements for social justice are not about organizations or the individuals who work at them. They are, first and foremost, about ideals. Authentic and effective advocates are duty-bound to recognize that it is not who is right, but what is right that matters and orient their advocacy accordingly, regardless of what label an organization may claim: SPCA, humane society, shelter or animal rights group. Indeed, standing up to those who claim to be “friends”—the very shelters and animal protection organizations that kill, defend the killing and are working to thwart the reform that would end it—is the only way the No Kill movement can ever hope to fully succeed, and the only way the animal protection movement as a whole can ever reach its fullest potential, as the history of the No Kill movement thus far already demonstrates.

If we are to prevail, if we are to end the killing, that means fighting these groups out of dire and tragic necessity. As much as some people would like to believe otherwise, the No Kill movement and the animal protection movement as it now exists are not the same movement. We are, in fact, two distinct ones: one championing life; and the other, death. In short, we in the No Kill movement have no choice but to fight the animal protection movement because they fight us in our effort to reform our nation’s shelters.

If we did not fight, there would be no No Kill movement, no TNR, no foster care, no shelters working with rescue groups because all of these things were done over the opposition of the large national groups which denigrated those programs and vilified those who championed them. Well into the 1990s, it was still the official policy of HSUS that shelters should not work rescue groups rather than kill animals. And when California rescue groups were tired of being turned away and watching shelters kill the very animals they offered to save, they succeeded in seeking legislation to make it illegal for shelters to kill animals when they were willing to save them. HSUS fought it. Should we have deferred to them? If we hadn’t fought them, over 40,000 animals saved every year because shelters now have to work with rescue groups would still be being killed. Rather than 12,000 animals a year being transferred as was true before the law, there are now well over 50,000 animals being saved—animals HSUS wanted to see dead. Unfortunately, they successfully fought a similar law in Texas in 2011 and Florida this year.

If people like Castle, Battista, and others want to defend groups like the HSUS or the ASPCA and all the horrible things they have done to harm animals, there is nothing we can do to stop them from doing so. We can, however, render their point of view utterly irrelevant by continuing to build a movement that rejects it and which puts animals, and not the careers and reputations of people who sell them out, first. And, in so doing, we can send them this powerful message: evolve or get the hell out of the way, because you cannot be a leader in a movement that has moved beyond you.

 

* In truth, there is no special knowledge or expertise that makes the killing of dogs and cats or other animals acceptable.

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/nathanwinograd. Many people mistakenly believe that the Facebook pages at No Kill Nation and No Kill Revolution are my pages. They are not.

Understanding Friendly Fire

October 26, 2012 by  

When animal lovers learn about the cruelty and killing that are rampant in U.S. shelters, and that national animal protection organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) defend these shelters and thwart efforts at reform, the first and the most logical question they ask is: Why? Why are organizations which are supposed to protect animals the biggest defenders of the very shelters that systematically abuse and kill them?

During the first week of November, like they have done for so many years, HSUS will ask us to join them in their celebration of animal shelters in a campaign they call “National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week.” According to HSUS, which describes itself as the nation’s “strongest advocate” for shelters, we owe a debt of gratitude to the “dedicated people” who work at them. They claim that leadership and staff at every one of these agencies “have a passion for and are dedicated to the mutual goal of saving animals’ lives.” They tell us, “We are all on the same side,” “We all want the same thing,” “We are all animal lovers,” and criticism of shelters and staff is unfair and callous because “No one wants to kill.” That is why groups like HSUS can boldly publish, without the slightest hint of sarcasm or irony, a picture of a puppy—a young, healthy, perfectly adoptable puppy—put to death with the accompanying caption: “This dog was one of the lucky ones who died in a humane shelter… Here caring shelter workers administer a fatal injection.”

The facts, however, tragically and frequently, tell a very different story.

My book Redemption shows how the killing of roughly four million animals a year in our nation’s shelters is a preventable tragedy, a problem with a solution that is viable, affordable, and practical. Friendly Fire tells the corollary to that story: that the largest obstacles to that solution are the very organizations which should be leading the charge to implement it, organizations like HSUS, the ASPCA, and PETA.

When I left the Tompkins County, New York, after creating the nation’s first No Kill community, I did so in order to spread this new model of animal sheltering—what has since become known as “The No Kill Equation”—to shelters nationwide. As part of my work for the No Kill Advocacy Center, I traveled the nation, visiting hundreds of shelters, meeting tens of thousands of animal lovers, and empowering thousands of animal lovers who are fighting to reform their local shelters. And what I found shocked even me.

I had been aware that the killing in our shelters was entirely unnecessary and I fully expected that I would find in the shelters I visited practices and protocols which favored killing over lifesaving, sacrificing the animals to expediency and force of habit. And I was right. I found shelter directors that killed over 90% of the animals in their facility, claiming to do so due to “pet overpopulation” and “lack of space,” even though there were banks and banks of empty cages. I found shelter directors who refused to have foster care programs, choosing instead to kill neonatal puppies and kittens and treatable animals. I found shelter directors who refused to work with their local rescue groups who had offered to save the animals they instead chose to kill. And I found shelter directors who told me that “volunteers are more trouble than they are worth,” even though those volunteers would help them save lives.

What I was not prepared for as I visited shelter after shelter was the rampant neglect, abuse and sadistic cruelty that I found as well. I found shelters where animals were not fed or given fresh water, forgotten and left to starve in back rooms. I found shelter employees so callous that they did not remove animals from kennels while cleaning them, hosing those animals down with caustic chemicals and cold water, even flushing puppies down open drains where they drowned. I found sick animals in infirmaries not being fed, not being given medication, and left to die slowly and painfully. I found shelter directors who allowed systematic cruelty to occur in the shelter, who threatened whistleblowers with physical violence, and who retaliated against rescuers who refused to look the other way at inhumane treatment by killing the very animals those rescuers offered to save. I found shelter employees who took pleasure in causing the greatest amount of suffering to the animals before they killed them. And worst of all, I discovered that what I found was not unique, but corroborated by animal activists nationwide who were reporting similar atrocities occurring at their local shelter, too.

As the movement to end shelter killing has grown in size and sophistication, the networking made possible through the internet and social media has allowed animal lovers to connect the dots between individual cases of animal cruelty and neglect in shelters nationwide. These incidents reveal a distinct pattern. Animal abuse at local shelters is not an isolated anomaly caused by “a few bad apples.” The stunning number and severity of these cases nationwide lead to one disturbing and inescapable conclusion: our shelters are in crisis.

Frequently overseen by ineffective and incompetent directors who fail to hold their staff accountable to the most basic standards of humane care, animal shelters in this country are not the safe havens they should and can be. Instead, they are often poorly managed houses of horror, places where animals are denied basic medical care, food, water, socialization and are then killed, sometimes cruelly. The first time many companion animals experience neglect and abuse is when they enter the very place that is supposed to deliver them from it: the local animal shelter.

It is a tragic story true to cities and towns across this nation. And the large national animal protection organizations are as much to blame as the individual shelter directors themselves. For decades they have perpetuated the fiction that all is well in our nation’s shelters. They have assured us that they are overseeing these organizations, providing guidance and assistance to make sure they are run humanely and effectively: through their shelter assessments, their national conferences and their publications for sheltering professionals. In reality, they have ignored abuse, failed to create substantive standards by which to measure success and hold directors accountable and remained deafeningly silent regarding the cases of abuse occurring at shelters nationwide. In short, they have failed us. We trusted them, content to write them checks to do the job while we looked the other way because the “experts” were in charge, and in so doing, have allowed our shelters to remain virtually unsupervised and unregulated for decades, with devastating results.

The No Kill movement seeks to change this tragic reality by bringing standards and accountability to a field that has historically lacked it, by exposing the truth about our shelters, by calling for the replacement of poorly performing shelter directors and by seeking legislation that legally mandates common sense procedures that shelters should already be following.

Yet, whenever and wherever animal lovers mount campaigns for reform or seek legislation, the large national groups—primarily HSUS, PETA and the ASPCA—hinder their efforts. Too often, animal lovers, the media and legislators become confused and cannot see beyond the names and reputations of these organizations to discern their true motives. Too often, the opposition of animal protection organizations sows seeds of doubt regarding the need or nature of common sense reform and efforts falter or fail.

We are a nation of animal lovers, and we, and the animals we love, deserve better. We deserve shelters that reflect our progressive and compassionate values, not thwart them. We now have a solution to shelter killing and it is not difficult, expensive, or beyond practical means to achieve. Only one thing stands in the way of its widespread implementation: a deeply troubled and dysfunctional animal protection movement that undermines the effort at every turn. If we are to prevail, we need to understand the historical, sociological and financial motivations behind this paradoxical opposition so that we can neutralize its harmful and deadly effect.

My wife, Jennifer, co-founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center and a long-time animal advocate herself, and I wrote Friendly Fire not only to expose this crisis of cruelty, but to explain the nature of the opposition so that others—animal lovers, public officials, legislators, the media—can find the confidence and courage necessary to see through, and stand up to, those who seek to delay and derail urgently needed shelter reform.

To make that possible, Friendly Fire is being sold at cost and is available in three formats: full color, black and white, and as a Kindle e-book. The color version sells for $35.99. The black and white version is only $9.99. We wanted to provide an affordable version of the book as a tool for animal activists to use in their fight for No Kill; to distribute to local media, commissioners, council members, state legislators and others who are likely to be confused by the opposition to their efforts by HSUS, the ASPCA, PETA and the director of their local pound. Finally, an e-book will be available for only $3.99 (cost plus $1.00 to cover licensing fees for the many photographs in the book).

To purchase, click here.

Please note: Friendly Fire contains graphic photo images.

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/nathanwinograd. Many people mistakenly believe that the Facebook pages at No Kill Nation and No Kill Revolution are my pages. They are not.

Who Are the Nation’s Top No Kill Advocates?

October 25, 2012 by  

The No Kill Advocacy Center has issued a call for nominations for the Henry Bergh Leadership Awards. Who are the top No Kill advocates? They could be shelter directors or shelter reformers, rescuers or reporters, photographers or legislators or anyone else. Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized for their commitment to saving lives in 2012?

Henry Bergh was a 19th Century animal advocate who launched the humane movement in North America. He gave the first speech on animal protection in the U.S., incorporated the nation’s first SPCA, and enforced anti-cruelty laws with passion. Every night, Bergh would patrol the streets of his native New York City looking for animals in need of protection. To those who opposed Bergh’s attempts at saving the lives of animals, he was known as “The Great Meddler.”

The recipients of the No Kill Advocacy Center’s annual Henry Bergh Leadership Award epitomize the unwavering commitment of Bergh to save lives, even in the face of criticism and opposition.

To nominate someone, send the No Kill Advocacy Center an email by clicking here.

To see last year’s winners, click here.

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/nathanwinograd. Many people mistakenly believe that the Facebook pages at No Kill Nation and No Kill Revolution are my pages. They are not.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

October 22, 2012 by  

We do not need to all get along. We can’t all get along. And standing up for animals is not “divisive.” What is harmful to this movement is not dissent, nor people unflinchingly calling anti-animal positions for the betrayals that they truly are. What is harmful to the humane movement, and therefore animals, is the long and historic association between those who love animals and those who kill them and the deadly and illogical myth this contaminating relationship has fostered that we all want the same thing, even in the face of clear and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

There will come a day when No Kill is fully established, when we can gently agree to disagree on issues because we will all be on the same page—and the big question relating to whether animals should live or die will be put to bed once and for all, and the systematic killing of four million animals a year will be viewed as the cruel practice it always was; a national shame that is inconceivable to us as a people.

When that day comes, as it invariably will, and the voices championing killing are finally silenced, when the practices they condone are unequivocally rejected, when killing innocent animals is unthinkable, and when those who staff our nation’s humane societies, SPCAs, animal shelters, and large, national groups are truly committed to the best interests of animals; then we can shake hands across the aisles over our disagreements, because the stakes will be much lower—and no animal will be killed as a result of someone’s “differing” point of view.

For further reading: Legalized Torture

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The Kobayashi Maru

October 19, 2012 by  

“I don’t believe in no-win scenarios.” —Captain James T. Kirk.

This is what I received from a shelter employee:

[O]ur local shelters use all the fosters they can find, do off site adoptions, contact every rescue group they can- yet they are FULL! There are several dogs to each kennel (which is NOT healthy) Employees & the manager foster as many animals as they [c]an, as do the board members. The shelters can barely pay their bills & depend on Walmart for free food. We have low-cost clinics in every county, but we still have animals running stray & feral all over the country side & the shelters are FULL! The animals are well cared for- not abused as in Memphis! But what can you do with all these animals? Almost all need vet care & receive it as money comes in. Local vets donate as much as they can afford. This is a very poor & rural area! We also have stray donkeys & horses roaming around! Shelters are offering free adoptions, to keep from euthanizing, but still they are full! One manager spends hrs after her 10hr work day, doing transports to fosters & rescues! I’ve worked & volunteered in shelters- we do NOT enjoy putting any animal down, but what do you do when there are over 30 litters of puppies come in, during one day! Where do you put them? Every shelter is begging for fosters, but everyone I know has a house full already. We also feed the strays that there is no room for, taking money we don’t have to spay/neuter them. What is your answer? There are free puppies being given away on every street corner, radio talk shows, & newspaper. Most people can’t afford “low-cost”. Taking care of huge amounts of animals mean money for food, flea preventative (this is flea & tick heaven) and most all strays have mange. Where do we get the money to treat all these dogs? WHAT DO WE DO?

Welcome to the Kaboyashi Maru.

The Kobayashi Maru is a test in Star Trek. It is a training exercise designed to test cadets at Starfleet Academy as to how they would react in a no-win scenario. In other words, no one survives the Kobayashi Maru and it was specifically designed that way, by then-Commander Spock. But cadet James T. Kirk beats it because he reprograms it. In other words, he redefines the problem. And just like Kirk, if we are going to win the no-win hypothetical which is set up to “prove” the impossibility of No Kill, we too have to redefine the problem.

It is not uncommon for those who kill animals to offer their own Kaboyashi Maru hypotheticals because they do not want an answer, they do not want assistance, and they do not want real solutions to real problems. In other words, the person who sent this was not really interested in finding out what to do, but to “prove” No Kill was impossible: they already do everything, they try everything, but nothing works, no one cares, and killing is inevitable. What they want is absolution for the failure to save lives and I won’t give it.

When I followed up and asked her to contact the No Kill Advocacy Center in order to drill down the truth and offer solutions: What is the per capita intake rate? How many offsite adoption events do they do? Do they utilize Facebook and other social media? What kind of fundraising plan do they have in place? What kind of marketing have they engaged in? Do they have a pet retention program? Basic questions about cost effective, money-saving programs designed to separate exaggeration from truth, look at where the gaps in the safety net are to plug them up, and come up with real, workable solutions, I was accused of being a “politician” who refuses to answer the question. In other words, I didn’t say, “You are right, it is impossible, go ahead and kill with impunity” and so she was not interested. At the end of the day she did not care enough about animals to want to do anything to stop the killing.

Nonetheless, let’s look at the situation. Because though I do not know the answers to some of her questions because she refused to provide the information and data needed to answer them intelligently, I did my own research looking at the “local shelters” where she lives. And this is what I discovered about the very “local shelters” she claims are doing everything in their power to save lives under impossible odds.

I discovered that the animal control shelter in the county does not have a website, does not use Petfinder, Facebook or any social media. It is only advertised in the yellow pages which no one uses.

I discovered that another shelter in the county does have a Petfinder page with a feature on their 2006 pet of the year and they inform us that they have not yet picked the pet of the year for 2007. It is now 2012.

I discovered that another local shelter closes at 5 pm and closes every day for lunch during the week, meaning working people can’t come to adopt. They are only open for three hours on Saturday.

I discovered that yet another shelter is closed three days a week, closes at 4 pm on the days they are open, and also closes for lunch. In other words, almost no one can come to adopt.

I discovered that the “low cost” spay/neuter program which she claimed they have all over the place is actually not low cost. Not only can a basic spay cost over $100, but it includes a lot of add on fees, such as those for undescended testicles and being in heat. If residents are as poor as she claims, this is prohibitive. However, I also learned that the median household income was over $46,000 per year and median per capita income was $22,000, which was about the same and even higher than Ames, Iowa, which has a 90% save rate.

I discovered that the per capita intake rate is 27 animals per 1,000 people—which admittedly is well above the national average and a challenge, but it is less than many No Kill communities. In fact, it is almost three times less than some No Kill communities, so it is hardly impossible to end killing in a community with that intake rate since it has already been done.

And finally, I discovered that if you adopt an animal at one of the shelters and the animal is unspayed, they will hold that animal for as long as a week to spay her before sending her home, tying up cage space while killing others, when they could simply send her immediately home under a foster-to-adopt agreement, freeing up kennel space for a number of other animals they would otherwise choose to kill.

I discovered through a quick review that the truth is not the same as the hypothetical. I discovered that there are gaps in the safety net they appear to have no desire to fix. And I discovered the misrepresentation, the hyperbole, the over-the-top generalizations, and the wild exaggerations to justify the unjustifiable.

In short, I beat the Kobayashi Maru. And so can you, each and every time, if you take a cue from Captain Kirk.

When someone offers you a no-win scenario to justify killing, don’t play the game. It is rigged against you. You have to refuse, like Captain Kirk, to give in by redefining the problem.

Here’s how you determine if your shelter measures up:


How Does Your Community’s Shelter Measure Up?

And here’s what you can do about it if they don’t:

The No Kill Revolution Starts With You

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

 

The Cupcake Wars

October 17, 2012 by  

As the movement to end shelter killing has grown in size and sophistication, the networking made possible through the internet and social media has allowed animal lovers to connect the dots between individual cases of animal cruelty and neglect in shelters nationwide. These incidents reveal a distinct pattern. Animal abuse at local shelters is not an isolated anomaly caused by “a few bad apples.” The stunning number and severity of these cases nationwide lead to one disturbing and inescapable conclusion: our shelters are in crisis.

Frequently overseen by ineffective and incompetent directors who fail to hold their staff accountable to the most basic standards of humane care, animal shelters in this country are not the safe havens they should and can be. Instead, they are often poorly managed houses of horror, places where animals are denied basic medical care, food, water, socialization and are then killed, sometimes cruelly. The first time many companion animals experience neglect and abuse is when they enter the very place that is supposed to deliver them from it: the local animal shelter.

It is a tragic story true to cities and towns across this nation. And the large national animal protection organizations are as much to blame as the individual shelter directors themselves. For decades they have perpetuated the fiction that all is well in our nation’s shelters. They have assured us that they are overseeing these organizations, providing guidance and assistance to make sure they are run humanely and effectively: through their shelter assessments, their national conferences and their publications for sheltering professionals. In reality, they have ignored abuse, failed to create substantive standards by which to measure success and hold directors accountable and remained deafeningly silent regarding the cases of abuse occurring at shelters nationwide. In short, they have failed us. We trusted them, content to write them checks to do the job while we looked the other way because the “experts” were in charge, and in so doing, have allowed our shelters to remain virtually unsupervised and unregulated for decades, with devastating results. But not anymore.

As animal lovers nationwide turn their attention to their local shelters and uncover not only the needless killing of animals occurring there but frequently neglect and abuse as well, we are doing what the large, national groups have refused to: exposing to the American public how cruel and dysfunctional our animal shelters really are. As headlines in papers throughout the nation highlight this crisis and our cause, we are changing the climate of public opinion in which our large, national groups must operate. In the face of so much evidence of abuse and neglect, they can no longer pretend all is well. Kicking and screaming against their will, we are forcing these organizations to finally admit that problems exist.

But admitting to problems is not the same thing as working to fixing them. In fact, they continue to argue that the cause of this neglect, abuse and killing is the same one they have always blamed: the American public. And they continue to assert, along with other organizations such as Maddie’s Fund, that we can transform our nation’s shelters though friendly collaboration, even when shelter directors refuse, time and time again, to collaborate with us.

As the rest of us mount campaigns for reform through effective political advocacy, as we seek state and local laws to limit the unfettered discretion of shelter directors to kill, and as we work push the lifesaving envelope even further, what is the solution to shelter killing offered to us by multimillion dollar animal protection organizations? Their cutting edge solution to shelter abuse? Pastries. Show up at a shelter with baked goods, such as donuts and cupcakes, and then they will finally listen to what you have to say, they will implement your recommendations with integrity, and they will stop killing animals. According to these groups, it’s that simple.

The Hidden Meaning of Pastries

Imagine going to a shelter that kills 9 out of ten animals, one staffed by sadistic employees who puts animals of different species into the gas chamber so they can watch them fight before turning on the gas. Now imagine that when you arrive, you have accidentally brought a basket of cookies (meaning: “Thank you for killing”) when you should have shown up with a dozen donuts (meaning “Please stop killing.”) Make sure this never happens to you! Following is a handy guide that will prevent you from making a pastry faux pas when approaching the neglectful, abusive staff of your local shelter.

Pastry: Donut

Meaning: “Please stop killing animals”

Source: Maddie’s Fund

Does the shelter in your community kill healthy and treatable animals? When rescue groups call or email offering to help them save lives, do they ignore it, choosing to kill the very animals those groups offered to save? The solution? Take them donuts! According to an article posted on the Maddie’s Fund website,

“Email or call the animal control director and ask if you can come by for a short talk. He won’t answer your call or email? Stop by with a couple dozen donuts and see if you can catch him in his office. If you get to talk to him, great; if not, leave your business card with your cell phone number asking him to call you. Leave the donuts and spend some time talking to whoever you can, taking care not to get in the way of their work.”

Yes, be sure to not get in the way of their work. Bring treats, be brief, and then get the hell out of the way because they are busy killing animals.

Pastry: Cupcake

Meaning: “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

Source: HSUS

In North Carolina, advocates expressed concern to HSUS that their local shelter was killing seven out of 10 animals and doing so in one of the most brutal ways possible: by shoving them into a chamber, filling it with carbon monoxide, and then watching animals slowly die while they threw themselves against the side, went into convulsions, or frantically scratched at the door to escape. HSUS’ response? Shelter staff have a right to neglect, abuse and kill animals because people are critical of them:

“We cannot treat our shelter staff badly and expect them to be their best and care for the animals. It’s not fair.”

According to FixNC, HSUS believes that “If your pound staff is callous, uncaring, negligent or even downright cruel to the animals that have been entrusted into their care by taxpayers, it’s because people aren’t nice to them. They have every right to take it out on the animals.” You need to get along!

According to HSUS,

“I can’t tell you just how far it goes to just stop at the shelter with some cupcakes or cookies if you have an issue and say ‘let’s just chat.’”

Please note: HSUS is wrong. Cupcakes might mean we should all get along, but cookies have an altogether different meaning (see below).

Pastry: Cookie

Meaning: “Thank you for killing”

Source: PETA

When Shelby County, Kentucky officials announced they would start killing again after four years as a No Kill shelter, PETA sent them vegan cookies, with a note thanking them for their decision: “Thank you for doing the right thing” wrote PETA. (Thankfully, the community ignored PETA’s intention and found homes for the animals instead, giving the cookies to adopters and rescuers who saved all the animals PETA wanted them to kill. They remain No Kill.) If you hate animals and want them to die as much as Ingrid Newkirk and PETA do, sending a gift basket of cookies means “Thank you for killing.”

Shelter Reform for Serious Advocates

This, of course, was meant to be sarcastic. Why? Because how can we possibly take these organizations seriously? Willfully ignoring the solid brick wall the majority of No Kill advocates run head-long into when they try to reform their local shelters, the large national groups offer neither constructive guidance nor assistance, but an invitation to join them in Neverland—a fantasy world where shelters are run by good-hearted people who care about animals and can be convinced to embrace lifesaving innovation if we just sweeten the deal with a few pastries.

If you find that reform by pastries fails to deliver the results you are seeking (and you will), the No Kill Advocacy Center, an organization which truly cares, has a No Kill Advocate’s Toolkit, the only proven way to give our nation’s shelter directors their just desserts.

Learn more by clicking here.

For further reading:

We all want the same thing – but some need dessert too.

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

A No Kill Advocate’s Toolkit

October 16, 2012 by  

From the No Kill Advocacy Center:

Shelter killing is the leading cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in the United States. Today, an animal entering a shelter has only one chance in two of making it out alive, and in some places it is as low as one in ten, with shelters blaming a lack of available homes as the cause of death. And yet, statistics reveal that there are over seven times as many people looking to bring an animal into their home every year as there are animals being killed in shelters because they lack one. Half of all animals who enter our nation’s shelters go out the back door in body bags rather than out the front door in the loving arms of adopters despite the fact that there are plenty of homes available. And when animal lovers question the excuses used to justify this killing, shelters and their national allies respond, “We are all on the same side,” “We all want the same thing,” “We are all animal lovers” and insist that criticism of shelters and staff is unfair and callous because “No one wants to kill.” The facts, however, tragically and frequently tell a very different story. How can you fix a problem you refuse to admit exists? How can shelters reform their practices when they refuse to have standards and benchmarks that would hold them accountable to the best performing shelters in the nation? They can’t. They don’t. And they won’t. So you will have to do it for them. These guides will show you how.

Prepare

Educate

Fight

Win

Today, over 70 communities representing about 200 cities and towns across America, including those in Kentucky, Virginia, Indiana, Utah, California, New York, Texas and elsewhere, are saving upwards of 95% of all animals, ending the killing of all healthy and treatable animals. No Kill is a humane, sustainable, cost-effective model that works hand in hand with public health and safety, while fulfilling a fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. The animals deserve it. And so do the people who love them: people like you. Prepare, educate, fight, win.

To visit the No Kill Advocacy Center’s toolkit for No Kill advocates, click here.

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

Building a No Kill Community

October 14, 2012 by  

I’m heading to Bloomington, IL for my final speaking engagement of the year which will be this Tuesday, October 16, at Illinois State University. The event is free and open to the public. Come to the seminar that has been called “a prerequisite for animal lovers, rescue groups and organizations that are serious about changing their communities to No Kill.” For more information, click here.

Other than a preexisting commitment in Buffalo, NY this February, this is the last seminar I am scheduling for awhile as Mr. Picklechips is getting very, very old and suffers when I am out of town. I apologize for this and hope to see some of you there.

For those of you who have not attended a seminar, I invite you to celebrate the good news that we now have a solution to shelter killing and it is not difficult, expensive nor beyond practical means to achieve:

Watch this 12-minute trailer about the No Kill revolution in America: click here.

Learn more:

If your community is still killing healthy and treatable animals, fight back: The No Kill Revolution Starts With You!

For more information, click here.

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Have a comment? Join the discussion by clicking here.

The Monster Gets a Dog

October 12, 2012 by  

[click image for a larger view]

For years, the Humane Society of the United States accused No Kill advocates of lowering the quality of adoptive homes. Although we did no such thing, quantity and quality can go hand in hand, the truth is that no one can reduce the quality more than HSUS President Wayne Pacelle. How low can he go? To the very bottom.

Michael Vick beat dogs to death. He drowned them. He electrocuted them. He stomped on them. He hung them. He shot them. He buried them alive. And when some of his co-conspirators wanted to give away dogs who would not fight rather than kill them, Vick refused. In one case, a dog Vick tried to hang by placing a nylon cord over a board that was nailed to two trees refused to die. Wearing a pair of overalls he donned so he would not get blood from the dogs on his expensive, tailored suits, Vick took the dog down and drowned him. In the annals of history, Michael Vick will be remembered as the most notorious dog abuser and dog killer of our generation. But he didn’t stop doing those things because he realized they were wrong. In fact, he has never apologized for his crimes, claiming at one point that his “is a different kind of love” for dogs than most, and that he expressed that love in his own way—by hanging, drowning, electrocuting, beating to death and shooting them.

After the depths of Vick’s depravity and the extent of his crimes were fully revealed, he was convicted by the federal courts, sent to prison, banned from the National Football League (NFL), bankrupted and despised by the American people. His public image in tatters, nothing but a miracle could bring him back.

Against reason, compassion and decency, that miracle was delivered to him by a person who should have remained his most vocal and outspoken critic: Wayne Pacelle, head of the nation’s largest animal protection organization. Pacelle would embrace the person he simply calls “Mike” and fight to rehabilitate his image by arguing publicly that he deserved a second chance, even as he fought to have each and every one of “Mike’s” victims, the dogs who were still alive, killed. For Pacelle, Vick’s victims did not deserve the second chance their abuser did. And after Pacelle lobbied the court to kill the dogs, he then began lobbying everyone else to forgive the monster who abused them.

“We’re all sinners when it comes to animals,” explained Pacelle. Pacelle agreed with Vick’s statement that dog fighters express “a different kind of love” for dogs. And when Vick said he wanted to get another dog, Pacelle agreed, offering up the most stunning in a long line of stunning comments, “I have been around him a lot, and feel confident that he would do a good job as a pet owner.”

Michael Vick just revealed that he acquired a dog.

For further reading, “In Bed With Monsters”

Update: HSUS has issued a statement saying that Wayne Pacelle did speak with Vick about getting a dog, and “urged him” to adopt from a shelter or rescue group. Pacelle would go on to say publicly that he felt “confident [Vick] would do a good job as a pet owner.” They also claimed that a dog in the hands of a sadist who enjoys torturing and brutally killing dogs is not really “a major animal welfare issue.” In short, no big deal.

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