No Hope for Hope’s Law
May 13, 2011 by Nathan J. Winograd
Who could possibly be against collaboration, transparency, decency, and fairness? Wayne Pacelle, for starters. “The Bond” author is breaking bonds in Texas where his Humane Society of the United States led a group of pro-killing supporters to defeat “Hope’s Law,” the Texas Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA). Named for a dog that was cruelly denied needed care and refuge despite offers from a rescue group, CAPA would have transformed the kill-oriented pound system of Texas.
Yesterday, Public Health Committee Chair Rep. Lois Kolkhorst let the bill die, despite over 5,000 letters and hundreds of telephone calls in support. The reason? Opposition from the Humane Society of the United States, the Texas Humane Legislation Network, the Texas Animal Control Association, Houston Humane Society, the Texas Municipal League, and a whole host of killing apologists. And although Houston Mayor Annise Parker was elected on a shelter reform platform, the City of Houston also opposed the measure. The ASPCA was deafeningly silent, although its “Mission/Agent: Orange” supporters such as the Austin Humane Society, participated in a meeting of opponents to ensure CAPA would not be passed.
Initially ambitious, the bill was subsequently amended to do four simple, common-sense things. “Hope’s Law” would have mandated:
- Collaboration: Texas pounds would not have been able to kill animals if rescue groups were willing to save them;
- Transparency: taxpayers and donors would have had a right to know how the shelters they fund are doing by requiring them to post their statistics;
- Decency: would have made it illegal to kill animals using the cruel gas chamber; and
- Fairness: would have made it illegal to kill animals based on arbitrary criteria (breed, color, age, etc.).
Thanks to opponents, pounds* in Texas will continue killing animals cruelly (gassing them to death). Thanks to these groups, they will continue turning away rescue groups and then killing the animals those rescue groups offered to save. They will, like the Houston Humane Society, systematically slaughter dogs they claim are “pit bulls” for just being dogs. And they will continue to lie to the public, claiming they are doing all they can to save lives; even as they have shown they will do whatever is necessary to defend their ability to kill animals and to protect that ability for others, even in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives they simply refuse to implement.
* On my Facebook page, I wrote:
A shelter is a refuge, a haven. Given that many U.S. animal “shelters” are little more than assembly lines of death; given that many animals experience neglect and cruelty for the first time in the so-called “shelters” that are supposed to protect them from it; given that these shelters not only kill animals in the face of readily available alternatives they simply refuse to implement, but they fight to defend their ability to do so; we need a new name to describe them. I prefer “pounds.” But I am open to other suggestions.
The suggestions, though colorful were not inaccurate. A pound is “an enclosure maintained for confining stray or homeless animals.” To impound means to “imprison.” Act like a dog catcher, and you are a dog catcher. Act like a pound, and you are a pound.
I will no longer use the word “shelter” to describe these facilities. It is merely one more euphemism that obscures what we are doing to animals as a society and legitimizes abuse. It is also offensive to true shelters. It will join “euthanasia” in the dustbin of my vocabulary. Except, of course, when describing those that truly live up to its meaning.
Art imitates life. Walt Disney pulled no punches when it came to depicting dog pounds and the cruel dog catchers who staffed them. Lady’s captor could have easily been a card carrying member of the Texas Animal Control Association.