Michigan 2014

July 2, 2015

What An “Average” State Shows us About Sheltering in the U.S.


Tsubuki, one of the little critters available for adoption at the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter. UPAWS has made Marquette, MI, a No Kill community.

Michigan’s 2014 statistics were released yesterday for reporting shelters. In many communities, lifesaving is up, up, up. There are new communities saving 95% or better of the animals and a fair number of cities saving 97%, 98%, even 99%.

Chippewa County, for example, saved 98% of dogs and 98% of cats in 2014 and adopted out the one pig who ended up at the shelter. As I have said before, pigs are people, too. The City of Madison Heights saved 99% of dogs, 98% of cats, and all the ferrets. Midland County saved 99% of dogs and 98% of cats. Alger County saved 100% of dogs and 99% of cats. The Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) which serves Marquette is one of the shelters highlighted in my documentary film, Redemption, about the No Kill revolution in America. It saved 100% of rabbits, 100% of guinea pigs, 98% of dogs, 98% of cats, and 94% of “pocket pets.”

Tragically, some “shelters” don’t deserve the name. Detroit Animal Control killed over 70% of all dogs and cats and the majority of other species. Kalamazoo County Animal Services killed more cats than they took in: taking in 1,378 and killing 1,391. They certainly do not, as their name falsely implies, provide any real “services” to cats or the people who love them.

Like other aspects of American society, shelters in Michigan are broken down into camps: the “haves” and “have nots” and some in the middle. But the difference between those succeeding and those that are failing isn’t about money; it is about their commitment to saving lives. Those that want to are saving animals in record numbers. Those that don’t are killing. Many are just “average” shelters killing an “average” number of animals, which is, given the still low industry standard, a lot of animals (compared to the best performing shelters, though admittedly better than it has been historically). How to change that? And what would it take?

Michigan shelters are saving about 6.5 of every 10 animals. They need to save three more to end the killing of healthy and treatable animals. By implementing the programs and services of the No Kill Equation, they would be able to increase reclaims, save “feral” cats, and reduce impounds by keeping animals with their responsible caretakers. Then they can focus on adopting out the remainder. How many more? They just need to reach less than 1/2 of 1% of Michigan residents. It is theirs for the taking.

For those shelters that do not want to change, the same way every social movement in American history has and does: 1. Advocacy 2. Legislation 3. Litigation.

Some other items of note:

  • None of the reporting shelters sold live animals for research. (The practice of shelters doing so should be banned nationwide.)
  • The vast majority of reporting shelters do not seem to provide any sheltering services to rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, and other non-dog/cat species. Only 36 of the 132 reporting agencies (27%) took in any animals besides dogs and cats and many of those only took in one or a few. It is worth noting that when you look at the overall numbers killed, perhaps the rabbits and others are the unwitting lucky ones. The reporting shelters killed 17,950 dogs and 24,623 cats, compared to 706 non-dog/cat species. We need to first reform shelters to make them the save havens they should and can be. Of course, while I have long maintained that “shelters” should not take in animals if all they are going to do is kill them, that need not be the choice.

In the next few days, Michigan should also report totals, including the percentage of shelters which reported as the overall number of reports is down (somewhere in the neighborhood of 66% of shelters by my back of the envelope calculations). About 132 agencies reported, which is less than the roughly 165 or so that reported in years past and represented about 83-84% of the total. When the comprehensive tally comes out, it will give us a better grasp of what progress Michigan has made, how many animals are still losing their lives, and what it would take to end the killing altogether.

In the meantime, here are the rough/preliminary numbers I came up with based on what was already released: Michigan’s reporting agencies took in about 58,550 dogs and killed 17,950, a save rate of 70%. They took in 63,706 cats and killed 24,623, a save rate of 61%. They took in 2,400 other animals and killed 706, a save rate of 70%. Overall, the save rate was 65%, about the national average.

The data for individual communities will be crunched and updated to saving90.org and will include not just dogs and cats, but all animals who entered the shelters because ferrets, pigs, rabbits, and other animals matter, too.


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PETA Joins Hunters in New York to Declare Open Season on Cats

June 30, 2015


PETA has once again shown its true colors, this time aligning itself with a hunting organization in order to promote the round up and killing of community cats. As New York State legislators this week were debating whether to provide funding for sterilizing “feral” cats in lieu of killing, two groups came out in opposition: the New York Sportsmen’s Advisory Council and PETA. One wants to hunt down and kill animals and PETA, well, they also want to hunt down and kill animals. The only difference is one shoots; the other injects with poison.

Since its inception, PETA has advocated for the round up and killing of homeless cats. In 1995, for example, over the objections of cat lovers pushing for a sterilization program, the Mayor of Miami Beach pushed a plan to trap and kill cats. PETA sent a letter to the Mayor applauding his decision. The Mayor, however, had also decided that kittens would be turned over to a rescue group for socialization and adoption. But PETA took issue with this part of the plan, arguing that all the cats, including the kittens, should be taken to animal control and “euthanized by sodium pentobarbital injection.”

More recently, the Pima County, AZ, Board of Supervisors were voting last year on whether or not to reduce the killing of “feral” cats by implementing TNR at the shelter. As the local news reported, “Saving thousands of cats from being euthanized every year sounds like a good idea, but a well-known animal rights group is completely against it.” PETA told legislators that the cats were better dead then fed and urged them to continue rounding up and killing them.

When they are not advocating that community cats should be killed, they are killing them themselves. In 2014, PETA took in 1,605 cats at its Virginia headquarters and killed 1,536 (a kill rate of 96%). They transferred another 43 to kill shelters where they were either 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%.

Thankfully, New York legislators ignored PETA. They voted 188 to 11 to pass the bill and send it to the Governor. Pima Supervisors also ignored PETA, embracing sterilization in lieu of killing. As to PETA killing animals themselves? Virginia lawmakers voted 130 to 3 (over PETA’s objections) to require private shelters, which PETA claims to be, to work to find homes for cats.

Please note: I do not criticize PETA because of what they are thought to stand for (animal rights), but because of what they actually do stand for (animal killing). I criticize them because they “do not advocate right to life for animals” (as Ingrid Newkirk herself has written), because they kill over 90% of the animals they take in, including healthy puppies and kittens, and because they also advocate that they be killed by others.

In the early 1990s, I was living in Wheaton, Maryland, a stone’s throw from PETA headquarters, before they relocated to Norfolk, Virginia. Because I love animals, am vegan, and did not want to see them killed, exploited, or abused, I became a PETA volunteer. And then one day, my roommate, a former PETA employee, found a dog in need of a home. We called him Ray. I asked her why we didn’t just take Ray to PETA. Surely, PETA, with its millions of dollars and millions of animal loving members, would find him a home. But she said no, that was a very bad idea, because PETA would just kill him. That is when I did what anyone who truly loves animals would have done, I walked away from them. It is what another PETA intern also did when he saw puppies and kittens in the kill room. He quit in disgust.

Learn more by clicking here.

Learn why by clicking here.


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They Did It; So Can You

June 27, 2015


In 2010, operating under the old adage that if you want something done right, do it yourself, a group of Alameda, CA, shelter volunteers banded together and told the City that they could not only run the shelter better (i.e., save more lives), they could save the City money in the process. They submitted a bid to run the shelter and got the contract. After 126 years of running the shelter, the City turned it over to the volunteers. In 2014, the shelter saved 92% of cats and 98% of dogs. You can read the inspiring story by clicking here. In Palm Springs, CA, under similar circumstances, the shelter now saves 95% of the animals. And in Petaluma, CA, a similar group saved 94% in 2013 and claims an even higher save rate in 2014 (See saving90.org).

“We figured out how to save over 97% of ALL our animals in an open admission city pound. By doing so, we have tons of donations, tons of volunteers, and tons of happy adopters. We run out of animals! In my experience, animal advocates arguing that we ‘have to kill’ animals (followed by the usual excuses…) is false… Kill shelters are on the way out. Modern, high achieving shelters are going to make sure of that.”

They are part of a growing number of shelters—run by newly formed groups—that wanted the shelter run right and decided to do it themselves. They have rejected the excuses of why ending the killing of animals is impossible, of why things have to be done the same way year after year, of why there is no choice but to accept the deadly results. And they are not alone. Similar examples exist in other states.

You can do it, too. Here are sample copies of their bids to take over the shelter for you to use and modify:

Other approaches to saving lives in the local shelter include waging a political campaign for reform, passing a law that requires shelters to save more lives, or making sure that the person running the shelter is compassionate, effective, and hard working.


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Pigs are people, too

June 26, 2015


Our little piggy boy, Oswald.

We like to call our dog Oswald our little “piggy boy.” It is a term of endearment, but it looks like it is also scientifically accurate according to a recent article in the International Journal of Comparative Pyschology.

Emory University Professors determined that pigs are “gregarious” by nature, “highly social,” have a “robust memory,” can retrieve a frisbee, play with a ball, sit, fetch, and jump when asked, and are highly motivated by food. In other words, they are just like dogs.

The authors also noted that pigs can play video games. Not really. But they do like to play and can move a modified joystick (no easy undertaking given the lack of opposable thumbs) and are aware that it impacts what is happening on a screen. And that makes them smarter than dogs.

In “Dogs Are People, Too,” a recent article in the New York Times, Dr. Gregory Berns indicated that “dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child.” And this, he writes, “suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.” Accordingly, Dr. Berns posits that the law should not regard dogs as property, but as legal persons, and that puppy mills, vivisection and dog racing should be banned. His research also demands that it should be illegal for “shelters” to kill them.


The latest review of the literature suggests that similar treatment for pigs is warranted. If dogs are people and pigs are dogs, then pigs are people, too. Some other findings:

  • Pigs are optimistic and agreeable;
  • They prefer familiar individuals of both the pig and human variety to strangers;
  • They can read human facial cues;
  • They are empathetic (they are sensitive to the experience of others);
  • They are altruistic (can make decisions based on empathy);
  • They have unique personality traits that overlap that of humans; and, not surprisingly,
  • They think more popcorn is better than less popcorn!

The article, “Thinking Pigs: A Comparative Review of Cognition, Emotion, and Personality in Sus domesticus,” can be found by clicking here.


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AHA’s Great Betrayals

June 24, 2015


A horse injured while filming for a movie. AHA certified that “no animals were harmed” even when they have been killed.

How do Americans feel about animals? In a national survey, 96% of Americans—almost every single person surveyed—said we have a moral duty to protect animals and should have strong laws to do so. Three out of four Americans believe it should be illegal for shelters to kill healthy and treatable animals. Specialization and advancements in the field of veterinary medicine have been driven by a population of Americans willing to spend and do whatever it takes to save the lives of the animals they love. In fact, spending on our animal companions is the seventh largest sector of the retail economy, showing steady annual increases even in the face of economic uncertainty. And giving to animal related causes continues to be a fast growing segment in American philanthropy.

And while we have a long, long way to go with regards to non-companion animals, in the last two decades the number of vegetarians has vastly increased. And with greater consumer demand has come more choices—more vegetarian restaurants and more natural food stores that surpass traditional supermarkets in terms of selection. According to a food-industry magazine, “Product innovation, media attention, and buyer demand are creating strong growth for the vegetarian foods market, and more companies are trying to profit from meat, egg, and dairy alternatives.” In fact, sales of ready-made vegetarian products are a billion-dollar industry in the U.S., and more Americans are eating soy-based meat substitutes than ever before.

In turn, our concern for animals has made some organizations very, very rich, but too often the animals no better off. By emotionally manipulating people with heart-wrenching commercials and appeals, Americans continue donating to the large national “animal protection” organizations in spite of their many failures. It is a great betrayal and perhaps none so wide ranging as that of the corrupt American Humane Association. They not only betray dogs and cats. They not only betray horses and other animals being used in movies. They also betray the billions of animals killed every year in factory farms. And they do this all for money.

How to Become an AHA Certified Killer of Dogs, Cat, & Other Companion Animals

The American Humane Association bills itself as “the nation’s ‘voice’ for the protection of animals.” And it claims that,

One of the important ways American Humane helps protect animals is by educating and training people how to provide the best animal care possible. Throughout the year, we host trainings nationwide for animal welfare professionals and for all people who love animals and want to make a difference in their well-being.

What kind of training does AHA provide for those who might want to “make a difference” in the “well-being” of animals? By teaching people to kill them. “Whether you’ve never performed euthanasia or have years of experience with it,” says AHA, everyone is welcome—including those who will use the knowledge to kill healthy and treatable animals. AHA holds the workshops at regressive shelters across the country—so there are plenty of animals on hand to kill. And even though it is not the job of an “animal protection” group to teach people how to kill, at this workshop, not only will AHA teach you how to kill real animals, not only will they “catch you up” on the “latest techniques and drugs,” they’ll teach you how to kill animals in a variety of ways, too. And what happens if you have a moment of clarity about what is actually happening—about how an organization that claims to be about helping animals is teaching you with precise detail how to kill them—and your conscience protests? What then? Not to worry. AHA will soothe your guilt by teaching you how to smother your compassion. With “an entire section” of the conference devoted to dealing with “the unique stress felt by those who perform euthanasia,” they’ll lull you back into a state of complacency and assure you that you are, in fact, a hero for helping create that pile of dead dogs and cats. They’ll teach you to regard any empathy you might have felt for your victims not as a plea from your better nature to reject killing, but as a pesky case of what they call “compassion stress.”

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Complicit in Animal Cruelty of Horses & Other Animals Used in Movies

“From being the protectors of animals they’ve become complicit to animal cruelty.” That is how a criminal prosecutor describes the American Humane Association which will sell out the animals for the almighty dollar. Movies where animals were injured and killed received an AHA certification that “no animals were harmed.” In one movie, 27 animals were killed, but AHA looked the other way. In another case, after an animal nearly drowned, the AHA inspector wrote: “I think this goes without saying but DON’T MENTION IT TO ANYONE, ESPECIALLY THE OFFICE! I have downplayed the f— out of it.”

Learn more by clicking here.

Calling Abuse of Animals on Farms “Humane”

For an undisclosed sum of money, American Humane Association is paid by companies like Foster Farms to label their factory farms and slaughterhouses as “humane.” But undercover videos show that at Foster Farms, workers throw bins of live baby chicks onto the ground. They show the bodies of chickens that were boiled alive after missing an automatic knife that’s supposed to slit their necks. They show live birds being slammed upside-down into shackles. They show workers burning the beaks and toes from baby turkeys.

When Foster Farms slits the throats of millions of chickens every year or puts live, baby male chicks into a giant grinder because they don’t lay eggs or grow fast enough to provide maximum profitability to the industry, AHA does not condemn it. Instead, they give it their seal of approval.

The exposé on abuse of chickens is here.

The exposé on abuse of turkeys is here.

Learn more by clicking here.


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