Houston does NOT have 1.2 million stray dogs

April 1, 2015

“[T]he inner workings of a shelter are more complex than they may appear from the outside.” – Excerpt from a 2012 statement released by the HSUS Companion Animal Division defending the widespread practice among shelters of killing animals even when there are empty, available cages.

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For many decades, shelters and their allies at national organizations made bold claims about the necessity of shelter killing without providing any hard evidence to back up their assertions. Why? They didn’t need to. Their successful portrayal of sheltering as an industry beyond the laymen’s understanding and requiring special “expertise” meant that few dared to challenge their authority or the validity of their claims. Animal lovers, adverse to working in facilities that kill animals and therefore lacking firsthand experience to the contrary, were misled into believing these rationalizations because they falsely believed these groups were trustworthy, knowledgeable of the most up-to-date sheltering protocols, dedicated to innovation, and committed to the cause of animal protection. As a result, shelters directors and their allies at national organizations were, until very recently, never asked to provide evidence beyond the anecdotal and circular logic (shelter killing is necessary because otherwise shelters wouldn’t be killing) to prove the authenticity of their claims. Tragically, as the No Kill movement increasingly exposes the facile nature of their self-professed expertise, in some cases the audacity of their claims have become even more pronounced, not less, with some shelters and shelter killing apologists making claims about pet overpopulation that even quick back of an envelope calculations reveal to be not just false, but utterly absurd.

Under continued scrutiny for its high rates of killing, leadership at the Houston pound has repeatedly claimed that they must kill animals due to an overpopulation problem so severe, that there are 1.2 million stray animals wandering the streets of Houston. Putting aside the fact that the number of dogs and cats on the streets doesn’t mean the shelter has to kill animals in the shelter, how can that possibly be true? If it was, that would be one stray animal for every two people in Houston or 2,000 per square mile, an absurdity. Such a claim defies experience and credulity, but that hasn’t stopped the city from making it or newspapers from printing it.

After the city made the claim, this figure has been reprinted over and over in the Houston media with jaw dropping headlines: “Houston’s 1.2 million stray dog problem,” “One million stray dogs in Houston,” and “Houston’s dirty, furry secret.” But a reporter finally did the math and called the figure “ridiculous” in an article, “Houston’s problem is not 1.2 million stray dogs”: “if Houston really had 1.2 million stray dogs, many neighborhoods would look like the migration scene from ‘Lion King’. There would be an army of dogs, 100 across and 100 deep, pouring down…”

So if millions of animals roaming the streets aren’t Houston’s problem because there aren’t that many, what is? The problem with Houston is Houston leadership. By pessimistically portraying the problem of shelter killing as inevitable and insurmountable, lies such as these have historically enabled the atrocity of shelter killing in Houston and other communities across the nation whose shelters are staffed by leadership more interested in excuse making than embracing solutions to bring the killing to an end. Thankfully, this article pokes holes in that thinking. And that is a step toward public realization that Houston is not “unique” or beyond the same sort of transformation that has allowed community after community to save the vast majority of animals once the leadership at their shelters commits to change: www.saving90.org

Read the article by clicking here. (If it requires a subscription, it has been reposted here.)

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An Epic Failure of Oversight in Virginia

March 26, 2015

Celebration & Sober Reflection on the Passage of SB 1381 (& What You Can Do)

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Photo: A shelter is a refuge. But for the vast majority of cats rounded up or otherwise impounded by PETA, the only thing PETA staff offer them is an overdose of poison to satisfy Ingrid Newkirk’s dark impulses. In 2014, PETA took in 1,605 cats and killed 1,536 (a kill rate of 96%). They transferred another 43 to kill shelters. If they were killed or displaced others who were killed, that would put the cat kill rate as high as 98%. They found homes for only 16, an adoption rate of 1%.

This week, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed SB 1381, a law which requires shelters in Virginia to be “operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes.” In other words, SB 1381 does what the public already thinks shelters do and what the dictionary says they do, even though PETA, which is located in Virginia, does not. In fact, the bill was introduced in a response to PETA—which is licensed in Virginia as a shelter—killing over 90% of the animals, with little to no effort to find them homes and their stealing Maya, a happy and healthy dog, from her porch while her family was out and killing her that very day. Since its passage, we’ve also found out that they killed five other animals that day, including two kittens and a six month old puppy, also in violation of state law.

Despite PETA’s intense lobbying effort to derail the vote which became known among legislators as the “anti-PETA killing bill,” despite PETA hiring a professional lobbyist with donor funds to kill it, despite manipulating their supporters to urge its defeat by lying to them, the votes were not even close: 95 to 2 in the House and 35 to 1 in the Senate. Not only does the outcome prove that participating in the political process—as thousands of Virginians did by writing, email and telephoning their Delegates urging a “yes” vote—can have a profound impact, but it shows that PETA has lost all credibility with the Virginia legislature and the governor who signed it into law.

Not only was a law just passed to protect animals from PETA, but the bill also forced PETA to further reveal its true colors: that an organization claiming to represent the “ethical treatment of animals” would hire a lobbyist at donor expense to defeat an important piece of animal protection legislation demonstrates once again that PETA is not committed to furthering the rights of animals, but rather, to actively subverting them, as more and more people are finding out.

In fact, the Governor’s signing of the bill comes just days after the State of Delaware, through the head of one of its agencies, wrote a letter to PETA asking them to stop lying about their shelter standards law. In 2010, Delaware legislators unanimously passed the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA), an important piece of animal protection legislation based on a model law authored by my organization, the No Kill Advocacy Center. By eliminating the ability of shelters to kill animals out of habit and convenience, the law has been wildly successful, reducing killing in Delaware shelters by nearly 80%.

Despite its success in Delaware and other places, PETA has vilified this law, saying that it has been a disaster there, forcing shelters to turn animals away. As I have long argued, none of it is true. In keeping with their many efforts over the years to derail laws nationwide which protect shelter animals, PETA has even written public officials in other communities debating the implementation of CAPA-like laws, urging them to reject such laws which they misrepresent and malign. In short, they do what they have always done: they lie.

Thankfully, the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) has recently weighed in to respond to PETA’s misrepresentations, chastising PETA for lying. The OAW is a state agency that oversees implementation of Delaware’s shelters, including CAPA, through the Department of Health and Social Services. In their response to PETA, they write that what PETA is claiming “is simply not true. PETA does not have local representation in Delaware and is obviously not familiar with our sheltering system.” They also go on to explain the incredible success of the law, how it has saved countless lives, and prevented emotional heartbreak for the families and caretakers and rescuers of those animals.

From that standpoint, the passage of SB 1381 is incredibly good news. However, we fought for the bill not to simply force PETA to reveal its true colors, but to actually save lives, and if history is any indication, our next battle is getting the agency in charge of enforcing this new law to actually do so.

Given that PETA has always admitted it does not operate a shelter for the purpose of finding homes, given that the evidence is clear they do not, and given that Ingrid Newkirk once stated, unapologetically, “We are not in the home finding business, although it is certainly true that we do find homes from time to time for the kind of animals people are looking for. Our service is to provide a peaceful and painless death to animals…. ”, VDACS has no choice but to remove their shelter designation and eliminate PETA’s ability to round up animals and to purchase the lethal drugs used to poison them. That is, it has no choice if it is committed to doing its job. But so far, it has refused to do so.

For Maya, PETA’s crime resulted in her death. For her family, it has led to immense heartbreak. Maya lived with a nine-year-old girl who, according to the family’s spokesperson, was utterly devastated by her killing. But the agencies which are supposed to protect dogs like Maya and the people who love them have turned a blind eye. Although two PETA employees were arrested and charged with larceny by the Accomack County sheriff, the Commonwealth attorney refused to prosecute. Despite video evidence that they stole Maya and an admission that they killed her, the prosecutor claimed he could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite clear evidence that PETA has violated the law on multiple occasions, the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS) refuses to pull PETA’s “shelter” license. It chose to fine it $500, a mere fraction of the $52 million it took in last year. Despite calls for investigations by state senators, county attorneys, national organizations, and the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies which believes PETA to be operating to “the detriment of animals in the Commonwealth;” despite violating the law, lying to people, stealing pets, and killing them; despite the Virginia legislature and governor speaking with one, nearly unanimous, voice that they want PETA’s killing to stop, PETA continues operating as before, killing thousands of defenseless animals with virtual impunity.

Ironically, it is the very double standard between humans and non-humans that most people erroneously believe PETA exists to overcome that has allowed PETA to get away with the harms they have inflicted. And it is the false perception that they exist to protect, rather than imperil animals (which is what they actually do) which causes reluctance on the part of public officials tasked with oversight.

So while I celebrate SB 1381’s passage for all it does mean, and I am immensely grateful to Senator Bill Stanley who introduced this bill, to all the legislators who voted for it, and to the Governor who signed it, and while I understand that as we move the pieces on the chess board, we get closer and closer to checkmating PETA out of the killing business, let’s understand where the challenge now lies: with Virginia law enforcement agencies, most notably VDACS. We must realize that getting VDACS to enforce it will likely involve an additional fight and potentially, litigation. Already, VDACS is stalling, claiming—in typically bureaucratic fashion—that it may take two years to issue regulations for SB 1381. And even as PETA now claims it “has always operated to find adoptive homes and will continue to do so as stated in Senate Bill 1381” in direct contravention of all their prior statements and actions before SB 1381 and which begs the question, “why fight it then?”, my faith that VDACS will do the right thing and honor the intent and desire of the people of the Commonwealth, as they spoke in near unanimity through their elected representatives, could hardly be more lacking. The leadership and staff at VDACS has so far proven itself to be typically bureaucratic, tragically indifferent, fundamentally uncaring, and as is so typical of oversight agencies, willing to overlook PETA’s criminal conduct by bending over backward for the entity they are supposed to be regulating.

While VDACS sits on its hands for the next two years, an additional 4,500 animals will be needlessly butchered at the behest of Ingrid Newkirk’s dark and disturbing impulses and the families of the animals they round up and kill across Norfolk and surrounding areas will be left heartbroken. We must not allow PETA to get away with murder.

What You Can Do:

Don’t let VDACS continue to get away with turning a blind eye and foot dragging. Please send a polite, but emphatic, email to both Sandra Adams, the Commissioner of Agriculture, and to Dr. Carolynn Bissett, the State Veterinarian, that you expect them to do their jobs and honor the intent of the legislature and the will of the people. Tell them that PETA kills 90% of the animals it takes in, that it steals people’s animals and puts them to death in violation of state laws and regulations, that it has always maintained it is “not in the home finding business” and has made virtually no effort to do so, and that it has a history of criminal conduct and lying to people in order to acquire and kill animals. As such, it cannot legally be licensed as a private shelter under SB 1381. And while you are at it, tell them that we should not have to wait two years for VDACS to act while PETA kills an additional 4,500 animals.

Dr. Carolynn Bissett: Carolynn.Bissett@vdacs.virginia.gov

Commissioner Sandra Adams: sandy.adams@vdacs.virginia.gov

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Delaware Tells PETA to Stop Lying

March 23, 2015

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In 2010, Delaware legislators unanimously passed the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA), an important piece of animal protection legislation based on a model law authored by my organization, the No Kill Advocacy Center. By eliminating the ability of shelters to kill animals out of habit and convenience, the law has been wildly successful, reducing killing in Delaware shelters by nearly 80%.

Despite its success in Delaware and other places, groups like PETA and their pro-killing enablers have vilified this law, saying that it has been a disaster there, forcing shelters to turn animals away. As I have long argued, none of it is true. In keeping with their many efforts over the years to derail laws nationwide which protect shelter animals, PETA has even written public officials in other communities debating the implementation of CAPA-like laws, urging them to reject such laws which they misrepresent and malign. In short, they do what they have always done: they lie.

Thankfully, the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) has recently weighed in to respond to PETA’s misrepresentations, chastising PETA for lying. The OAW is a state agency that oversees implementation of Delaware’s shelters, including CAPA, through the Department of Health and Social Services. In their response to PETA, they write that what PETA is claiming “is simply not true. PETA does not have local representation in Delaware and is obviously not familiar with our sheltering system.”

They go on to state that the law “established common-sense statutes to improve the health and wellbeing of animals temporarily housed in shelters,” including “vaccination upon intake,” “veterinary care for sick or injured animals,” and “holding periods to allow owner reunification or transfer.”

It notes the law requires that animals must be held and given to rescue groups rather than killed. And then states that it “has improved the quality of care animals receive in shelters and has saved thousands of animals that would have otherwise been euthanized due to outdated policies and practices. Prior to this law, healthy dogs and cats were euthanized very quickly, sometimes while their owners were looking for them.”

It has also saved community cats: “Cats that free-roamed, either as outdoor pets or managed cat colonies, were indiscriminately rounded up by animal control and euthanized, much to the dismay of pet owners and colony caretakers.” No more.

To read the letter, click here.

Don’t expect PETA to stop lying about it, however. PETA’s mission seems to be that animals are better dead than fed, a campaign of extermination that includes the theft and killing of people’s companion animals, the round up and killing of community cats, the killing of all pit bulls, and the killing of over 90% of animals they take in, including healthy puppies and kittens.

Click here for step by step guides and model language for those who want to bring CAPA to their state.

Photo: A community cat. PETA wants him dead.

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Welcome to Piedmont Stumps

March 19, 2015

Plan to Decimate East Bay Forests Scheduled to Begin This August

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By Jennifer Winograd 

FEMA has just announced a grant of nearly $6 million dollars in federal funding to pay for an environmentally catastrophic plan by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks District to decimate the forests of the Oakland and Berkeley hills in California. When implementation of this plan begins at the end of summer, 100,000 majestic, towering, shade-giving, habitat-creating, greenhouse gas eliminating trees will be clear cut and reduced to mere stumps. In order to prevent regrowth, clear cutting sites will be repeatedly soaked in toxic herbicides for an unspecified number of years to come; chemicals officially classified as “hazardous” which will poison the food and water supply for local wildlife – including several endangered species – and threaten the health and well-being of the people and animals visiting and residing in the region.

Dangerous to Wildlife & Pets
Included among their chemical arsenal is Garlon Ultra 4, an herbicide OSHA defines as “hazardous.” Made by Dow Chemical, Garlon 4 has been demonstrated to cause damage to the kidneys, blood and liver of dogs. Garlon is also a tenacious chemical that can persist in dead vegetation for up to two years after application. Not only will wildlife residing in the areas be subjected to repeated and prolonged exposure to a chemical known to be toxic to acquatic species, birds and other wild animals, so will the many dogs visiting the parks with their families, especially those at the EBRPD off leash areas.

Destroying Our Historical Heritage
While fear mongering about fire is being used to justify this assault on nature, the plan will actually increase the risk of fire. Healthy, green trees are to be chopped down and turned into wood chips which will be spread around clear-cut hillsides at a depth of several feet, creating thick beds of highly combustible dried wood. In reality, this plan has nothing to do with fire abatement and everything to do with promoting the agenda of a small group of irrational, tree hating zealots who are using fire abatement as publically palatable excuse to masquerade their true agenda: returning the region’s public lands to their bleak, barren, clear cut appearance at the end of the 19th century after timber hungry fortune seekers who arrived in the region during the Gold Rush decimated the hillsides. It was at that time that a plan to beautify the hills by planting Eucalyptus, Monterey Pine and Acacia trees was undertaken by celebrated poet and naturalist, Joaquin Miller, and other early Oakland settlers over a century ago. The beautiful, now towering trees they planted, which create shady, other worldly Edens beneath their canopies, provide vital habitat for the millions of animals residing in the East Bay hills, and which have become so iconic and defining of the region, are now the target of deliberate extermination. As FEMA notes in its Environmental Impact Statement about the plan they are funding, the EBRPD’s goal is to destroy eucalyptus and pine forests in order to “promote conversion to grassland with islands of shrub.”

If allowed to proceed in August, this plan will not only displace and poison wild animals, it will radically transform the character and appearance of one of the most beloved natural treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area. Not since the Firestorm tragedy of 1991 has the region been under a similarly devastating threat but for one, crucial difference: this time, the danger to the well being of those residing in the hills and the scars upon the landscape will be deliberately inflicted by elected officials.

Please contact the following Oakland politicians to voice your opposition to this environmentally catastrophic plan to destroy the beauty and historical heritage of the East Bay:

Mayor Libby Schaaf
(510) 238-3141
officeofthemayor@oaklandnet.com
twitter.com/libbyformayor
www.facebook.com/pages/Libby-Schaaf-for-Mayor-of-Oakland/297953162283

Oakland City Council Members

Dan Kalb: (510) 238-7001
dkalb@oaklandnet.com
twitter.com/dankalb
www.facebook.com/dankalbcitycouncil

 

Abel Guillen: (510) 238-7002
aguillen@oaklandnet.com
twitter.com/Abel_Guillen
www.facebook.com/abelguillencinco?fref=ts

 

Lynette Gibson McElhaney: (510) 238-7003
cfarmer@oaklandnet.com
twitter.com/lynettegm
www.facebook.com/Lynette2012

 

Annie Campbell-Washington: (510) 238-7004
acampbell-washington@oaklandnet.com
twitter.com/annieforoakland
www.facebook.com/anniewashington?fref=ts

 

Noel Gallo: (510) 238-7005
ngallo@oaklandnet.com
www.facebook.com/noelgallodistrict5

 

Desley Brooks: (510) 238-7006
dbrooks@oaklandnet.com
twitter.com/desleyb
www.facebook.com/pages/Desley-Brooks/135189713236208

 

Larry Reid: (510) 238-7007
lreid@oaklandnet.com
www.facebook.com/LarryReid4District7

 

Rebecca Kaplan: (510) 238-7008
atlarge@oaklandnet.com
twitter.com/kaplan4oakland
www.facebook.com/rebecca.kaplan.336?fref=ts

For further reading:

Biological Xenophobia

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Maya Wasn’t The Only Animal PETA Killed That Day

March 17, 2015

Records from VDACS show that at least two kittens, one puppy, and two other dogs were also killed.

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As many of you now know, on October 18, PETA was captured on film stealing Maya, a family’s young, healthy dog, a dog they later admitting to killing that very day. They killed her not only after stealing her from her home—a violation of Virginia’s larceny law—but in defiance of state regulations governing animal shelters (which PETA is registered as) and laws requiring that shelters hold all animals they impound for five days. Records submitted by PETA to the Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (VDACS) showed that they also lied to that agency in recording the dog as having been “owner surrendered.” Although two employees were arrested for larceny, they were never charged and PETA was fined the paltry sum of $500, which PETA paid using donor funds (in 2014, they took in $52 million).

PETA check

Today, I reviewed documents submitted by PETA to the VDACS showing that in addition to Maya, several other animals were also impounded by PETA from the same trailer park and on the same day as Maya, animals which, likewise, PETA killed within minutes of arriving at PETA headquarters.

They include:

  • Two four month old kittens

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  • A six month old puppy

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  • A one year old Lab-mix

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  • Another Chihuahua

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All of them, dead at the hands of PETA the day they were taken in, with no effort of any kind made to adopt them.

For four months PETA remained silent as to why they took and killed Maya, but then broke their silence, claiming it was a “mistake.” (To find out why this is a lie, click here.) Was it likewise a “mistake” that five other animals ended up dead from the same location and on the same day, too?

Moreover, we still do not know if these animals were surrendered (which would not excuse their immediate killing), stolen, or if there are other animals they stole. PETA refuses to release the records in violation of state law. But according to a spokesman for Maya’s family, “They were waiting until they [the residents] weren’t home. One of [the] neighbors actually saw them taking another resident’s pet. They waited until that resident left… They had actually learned everyone’s schedule. They pulled in, they take the guy’s dog, a next door neighbor saw the whole thing.” In fact, in Maya’s case, PETA paid neighborhood kids to leave the area so there would be no witnesses, never knowing their sordid actions were being caught on video surveillance.

Currently sitting on the desk of the Governor of Virginia is SB 1381, a law designed to put PETA out of the killing business. This bill, which PETA has hired a lobbyist with donor funds to defeat, would clarify existing law requiring that shelters in Virginia operate for the purposes of finding homeless animals adoptive homes and not, as PETA does, for the purpose of killing. Having passed overwhelmingly in the state’s legislature (95 to 2 in the House and 38 to 1 in the Senate), it is now awaiting action by the Governor.

If you live in the Virginia, please call Governor Terry McAuliffe today, at 804-786-2211, and politely urge him to sign Senate Bill 1381 so that no more healthy, and in the words of PETA employees, “perfect” and “adorable,” animals fall prey to their needles. PETA is continuing to lobby hard to have this bill vetoed.

If you don’t live in Virginia, please share this with people who do.

For those who are new to this issue:

Though PETA now claims that Maya was killed “by mistake,” the death of Maya and now these additional animals are is entirely consistent with reports from former PETA employees who state that PETA routinely kills healthy animals, including litters of puppies and kittens, without ever trying to find them homes. One such employee recently admitted that when she worked at and killed for PETA, she was encouraged to lie to people in order to get them to surrender their animals to her so she could kill them. She stated that such behavior was encouraged by PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, stating, “It was what she told us to do—it was standard operating procedure.” She also stated that when PETA claims that the only animals they kill are those who are mortally suffering, they are lying, saying that, “Contrary to what PETA maintains, the majority of animals it takes in are not beyond hope, in my experience many would be considered highly adoptable by a shelter, the ‘better off dead’ line is one that is dragged out in order to excuse what they do—and it’s a lie.”

As former employees have testified about other animals killed by PETA, the animals are taken off the vans which pick them up and they go straight to the room where they are killed. The room is euphemistically called the “exam room” by PETA leadership. No exam is done for purposes of placement or, if they are sick, treatment. No animal who enters the exam room ever comes out alive. As a PETA employee told me, “They would take the animals into that room and they would be euthanized… A litter of kittens, sometimes a mother with kittens… they were put in that room and once you went in that room, you never came out.”

Why?

Employees who have spoken out about PETA’s killing say it is the result of the deeply disturbing version of animal activism promoted by PETA founder and President, Ingrid Newkirk. They explain how employees are made to watch “heart wrenching” films about animal abuse to drill into them the belief that people are incapable of caring for animals and that “PETA was doing what was best for animals” by killing them. PETA tells its employees that people can’t, don’t, and won’t take care of animals, that the lives of animals with people is one of neglect and abuse and that living with dogs and cats violates their rights. PETA also claims that animals cannot live without human care, which is why they do not support letting free-living cats continue to be free-living. The animals are, in short, damned either way and thus killing them is a “gift.”

PETA is letting loose upon the world individuals who not only maniacally believe that killing is a good thing and that the living want to die, but who are legally armed with lethal drugs which they have already proven—31,250 times in the last 12 years—that they are not adverse to using.

For more information/evidence, click here.

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