An Epic Failure of Oversight in Virginia

March 26, 2015 by  

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 by  

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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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Maya Wasn’t The Only Animal PETA Killed That Day

March 17, 2015 by  

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).

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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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Let the Sun Shine In

March 14, 2015 by  

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The current kill room at PETA’s headquarters. 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.” It’s time to force open the doors and let the light of public scrutiny in.

On behalf of the No Kill Advocacy Center, I have asked the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture to issue regulations requiring shelters in Virginia to maintain and provide records to the public that cover when and how each animal was taken in, why the animal was taken in, the condition of each animal, what attempts were made to reunite the animal with the family, the kinds of care and treatment each animal received, the disposition of each animal, and if the animal was killed, when and why the animal was killed.

A copy of the petition is available by clicking here.

The petition is in a response to PETA—which is licensed in Virginia as a shelter—killing over 90% of the animals, with no effort to find them homes, stealing Maya, a happy and healthy dog, from her porch while her family was out, and killing her that very day, and a history of lying to people in order to acquire and then kill their animals.

As I write in the petition for rulemaking,

“We believe that by passing the requested regulations, organizations will be less likely to abuse state benefits—benefits such as their ability to acquire the controlled substances used to kill Maya and others—to the detriment of the animals of the Commonwealth and the people who love them…

 

“We are asking you to pass regulations that will protect families in Virginia, protect animals, assist state regulators in monitoring the activities of its licensees, and provide taxpayers with the information they need to be informed citizens… As Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote, ‘sunlight is… the best of disinfectants.’”

The Commissioner of VDACS “directed staff to prepare and submit” the petition for consideration. If you live in Virginia, you have until Monday to write in support of the No Kill Advocacy Center petition. Your voice makes a difference.

You can do so by clicking here.

If you do not live in Virginia, please share it with those who do.

For those who want to learn more about why PETA kills, click here.

TNR: Good News & A Cautionary Tale

March 13, 2015 by  

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A new computer modeling study adds to an already significant body of literature showing that neuter and release of community cats is effective at reducing the number of community cats over time. This is important for free-living cats living in communities where entering the local shelter is a death sentence. The modeling done was complex, accounting for “dispersal,” cats going in and out of the colonies, including abandonment of house cats who join feral colonies. Perhaps the most interesting part of the study is that it lowers the threshold at which animals must be sterilized to see population reduction: about 30% of the population on a sustained basis. It also finds that if money is tight for sterilization, if you just focus on the females only, you “can achieve more substantial population reductions.” In short, TNR works fairly easily and the authors embrace it.

One disappointing aspect of the study is the lip service it pays to those who claim community cats cause problems. In the introduction, the authors write that, “[Free Roaming Cat] populations prompt concerns about animal welfare, human public health, and threats to native wildlife from predation and disease transmission” (note: they don’t actually state these concerns are valid). These “concerns” are cautionary tales of junk science promulgated by agenda-driven biological xenophobes. The idea that community cats are a danger to themselves, to public health, or to wildlife in the continental United States is without scientific foundation, as is the notion that the value of animals comes down to whether humans classify them as “native” (and therefore good) or “non-native” (and therefore do not belong). Over 20 years ago, the Stanford Department of Environmental Safety, the Santa Clara County Health Department, and the Stanford University School of Comparative Medicine (the number two ranked medical college in the country) found no health or safety risk from community cats, and since then, the conclusion has been echoed by health departments across the country, by medical and scientific journals, and of course, by decades of experience.

We need to stop pretending that such views have scientific legitimacy and we need to recognize that our perpetuation of these ideas undermines the well-being of cats. If we do so, we’ll eliminate the philosophical and pseudo-scientific foundation upon which the killing of community cats now rests. When that happens, the entire (false) rationale for their round up and kill efforts will be eliminated and we’ll be fighting them purely on the basis of whether cats should be killed because some zealots hate them. And, on that score, we’ll win. Over 80% of Americans surveyed think community cats should be left alone if the alternative is impound and killing and three-fourths believe it should be illegal for shelters to kill cats (and dogs) if they are not suffering.

The study, “Simulating Free-Roaming Cat Population Management Options in Open Demographic Environments,” can be read by clicking here.

Two other studies of note for those trying to win support of TNR efforts from public officials:

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D.I.Y. Tour 2015

March 11, 2015 by  

DIY-Guide

The No Kill Conference is an annual event that occurs every summer in Washington, DC and is hosted by the No Kill Advocacy Center (my organization), the George Washington University Law School, and is generously sponsored by No Kill Nation. Drawing well over 800 animal lovers throughout the United States and the world, this conference arms activists with the knowledge and tools they need to end the killing of animals in their own hometowns. We are immensely proud of the impact of our conference, which has resulted in clusters of No Kill communities across the nation as animal lovers who have attended take home their know-how and get busy impacting change, particularly on the East Coast where travel to the conference is not only more convenient, but more affordable. To ensure that our message, our tools, and our vision for a No Kill nation reaches as many activists as possible, this year, we decided to try something different: we decided to bring our message to YOU.

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Instead of one conference on the East Coast, we will be hosting events throughout the United States. Each will include a screening of my film, Redemption, followed by presentations on what you can do to save animals and end killing in your community. This nationwide “Do It Yourself” Tour seeks to empower activists to put away those checkbooks and roll up their sleeves.

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Everyone who attends will receive a copy of the film on DVD, a 200+ page film companion, three books (Redemption, Irreconcilable Differences, and Friendly Fire), 14 step by step guides to reforming your local shelter, and our newest publication: “How To Be a Superhero For Shelter Animals.”

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We’re finalizing cities, dates, and locations, but so far we’re going to Dallas, Orlando, Philadelphia, Omaha, and Los Angeles. We’re also working on identifying a city in South Carolina, Idaho, Mississippi, and potentially, in Canada. If you want to learn more, sign up for the No Kill Advocacy Center’s email listserve by clicking here.

Emails only go out one time per month. Please note: must click “No Kill Advocates” box to receive emails.

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Just The Stats

March 10, 2015 by  

New Website Demonstrates the Myth of Pet Overpopulation by Highlighting Success

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Whenever I post about the needless killing of animals in shelters—such as my post on Saturday which discussed the decision by leadership at the pound in Pima, AZ to no longer send pregnant animals to rescue but to kill the unborn puppies instead—invariably one of the most common responses by those who defend killing is to claim that the animals are better off dead because there are already too many animals and not enough homes and no one wants the animals anyway. Sadly, these excuses often come from people who claim to love animals, even though they proceed to ignore my pleas that they take some time to educate themselves about why what they are arguing is not only contradicted by both fact and experience, but enables great harm.

For though the existence of pet overpopulation has been pedaled by the animal sheltering industry and sadly, the animal protection movement itself, for decades, in truth, it is simply does not exist. Citing statistics that show that there in fact plenty of homes available (ten times more, in fact, than the “supply” of animals in shelters)  while trying to expose the true causes of shelter killing—primarily habit and convenience and despite existing life affirming alternatives collectively called “The No Kill Equation,”  I recognize that while this information is important, nothing exposes the lie of pet overpopulation better than proof of those communities which have radically transformed themselves, which have rejected the excuse and the killing it enables and instead, have chosen to adopt out, rather than continue slaughtering, the animals in their care. And what these communities have discovered is that indeed there are plenty of homes available after all—a fact that even the regressive leadership at HSUS, at their last national conference, admitted to be true.

An exciting new website — Saving 90 — tracks just how many American communities have adopted their way out of killing or are very nearly there, a website that conclusively proves what can be accomplished when hand-wringing over the necessity of killing and promotion of the myth of pet overpopulation are replaced with determination and a can-do attitude bent on bringing such sordid killing to an end. Over 8,000,000 people live in communities saving 90% or more of dogs and cats in their shelters. Over 35,000,000 live in communities saving 80% or more of dogs and cats. And the numbers continue to grow.

Right now, this website tracks progress toward ending the killing of dogs and cats in our nation’s pounds and shelters. It will soon be updated to include rabbits and other animals. For those who want proof—just the stats and nothing else—demonstrating that many communities across the country are saving 95%, 99% and in a few cases 100% of the animals, here it is:

www.saving90.org

Please note: A 90% save rate does not mean No Kill, but it’s a big step in that direction. For more information, click here.

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U.S. Sheltering At A Glance

March 9, 2015 by  

From the No Kill Advocacy Center

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  • About 7,000,000 animals enter shelters every year.
  • Approximately 40% of shelter animals are killed.
  • Roughly 30,000,000 acquire a new companion animal every year.
  • 95% to 99% of shelter animals are healthy and treatable.
  • Some shelters save 99% of the animals. A few save 100% of dogs and cats.
  • Over 8,000,000 people live in communities saving between 90% and 99% of dogs and cats in their shelters.
  • Over 35,000,000 people live in communities saving at least 80% of dogs and cats in their shelters.

For those of you wanting to keep up with progress toward a No Kill nation, visit www.saving90.org

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Sterilization is a tool to save lives, not end them

March 8, 2015 by  

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Sleeping puppies in foster care. Pregnant mothers should be sent to foster care to give birth and wean their puppies. Their lives matter, too.

Pima County, AZ’s animal shelter will no longer allow pregnant dogs to go to rescue groups so that the puppies can be born and weaned before the mother is spayed. Instead, the mother will be spayed and the puppies will be killed. Whether it is ethical to spay a pregnant dog is not an “abstract” discussion (and for me, it is not a religious one either). It is simply about life and death consequences.

Not only is the surgery harder and more risky for the mother, but if the kittens or puppies are viable, they must be individually killed, usually through an injection of sodium pentobarbital. Even when they are not, when a mother is spayed, the kittens or puppies die from anoxia (oxygen deprivation) due to lack of blood supply from the uterus once the vessels are clamped. They suffocate. That is not consistent with the No Kill philosophy.

Shelter leadership is claiming that this is being done for two reasons: the numbers of dogs already born and allowing the puppies to be born “increases the likelihood of disease” for the mom and puppies. As to the former, such an argument condones killing and while I support high volume, low cost sterilization and it is a core program of the No Kill Equation model of sheltering I champion, sterilization is a tool to save lives, not end them. Moreover, it is not an either-or proposition: for it is untrue that either unborn puppies (and presumably kittens) must die or those already born must. We can save them both. (See http://bit.ly/1zVEagB and http://bit.ly/198sATv.)

Second, killing puppies to reduce “the likelihood of disease” is an inherent contradiction and an obscene inversion of priorities. Not only can the stress and complications of doing a late term spay on the mother in the shelter increase the likelihood of her falling ill, but the argument that “having puppies in the shelter is really dangerous for them” is true because of the risk created by the people in the shelter itself. The argument amounts to this: it is dangerous for them because they might get sick and if they get sick, we might kill them. How much sense does it make to kill them to prevent that very thing—death—from happening? We kill them to prevent them from being killed. Moreover, advocates are asking that they be sent to rescue or foster care, not live in the shelter. Finally, killing puppies in utero actually causes suffering and it contradicts the very mission of a shelter.

The fundamental mission of a shelter is to save lives. Everything a shelter does should be a means to stop killing. But too many shelter directors and shelter veterinarians have forgotten this core principle; killing has simply become one more tool in the “medicine cabinet” of these managers. It sits beside the vaccinations, the parvocides, the cleaning solutions, and the antibiotics. But those other things are tools to keep animals alive, to reduce “the likelihood of disease.” One of the primary reasons shelters should vaccinate, clean, disinfect, socialize, foster, and implement all those other programs is so that animals do not get sick to the point where they are killed. Everything they are claiming to try to achieve is a means to the end of not killing. And so while vaccinations, parvocides, and antibiotics help us reach the goal of not killing, killing—by its very act—does not. It is an inherent contradiction to use “killing” as a means to “not killing.” If we could kill our way out of this problem, we would have been a No Kill nation many generations ago.

While Pima’s shelter has been making headway in saving lives, noting that their save rate has almost doubled (something I applaud), the puppies to be killed matter, too. And when statistics are reported, the puppies will be nowhere to be found. Because they are not yet born, even when they are viable and full term, even when they are removed from the mother and killed one by one through an overdose of barbiturates, their deaths will not be entered into the statistics. They simply will not count. Instead, their little bodies will be discarded in the trash as if they were nothing more than garbage, even when rescue groups are ready, willing, and able to save them.

(Thank you No Kill Revolution for forwarding me this.)

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HSUS and PETA Fight Vital Animal Protection Laws

March 6, 2015 by  

Animals in Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, and Minnesota To Die

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The Companion Animal Protection Act is model legislation written by my organization, the No Kill Advocacy Center, that would make it illegal to kill animals in shelters when rescue groups are willing to save them, would make it illegal to kill animals if there are empty cages and kennels, would ban the gas chamber in those states that still allow it, would require shelters to provide quality care, and would mandate that shelters make their statistics public. Similar laws in other states save tens of thousands of animals every year, have reduced killing statewide by 78%, and have cut millions of dollars in wasteful spending. Such a law is not only necessary, reasonable and an effective means of saving lives, its passage would also bring sheltering procedures more in line with the humane, progressive values of the American public.

But the large, national groups that should be championing CAPA are trying to defeat it. Time and again, these organizations behave as lobbyists not for the animals being killed, but for those killing the animals.

Florida: Legislation currently pending in Florida would end convenience killing (killing when there are empty cages or rescue groups are willing to save them), it would end retribution killing (killing animals who rescuers want to save because they spoke out publicly about inhumane conditions in the shelter), it would encourage TNR for community cats, and would allow animals to be adopted out more quickly. Florida CAPA has been introduced in both the House and Senate, but it is already being opposed by regressive shelter directors. The director of Tallahassee Animal Services has argued that CAPA is a bad idea because it would require her not to kill if there are empty cages, something she insists he should have the right to do. In her view, these animals are better dead than fed.

Maryland: Legislation currently pending in Maryland would do the same. The Maryland Companion Animal Protection Act would end convenience killing, retribution killing, and end the killing of community cats who are part of managed colonies:  It is being opposed by PETA which insists that communities should round up and kill community cats because those cats might kill people.

Connecticut and Minnesota: Legislation being considered by a Task Force in Connecticut would end convenience and retribution killing, as well. It is being opposed by the Humane Society of the United States, which last year helped kill a similar law in Minnesota. HSUS has stated that it will “actively fight” CAPA, that animal rescuers are hoarders in disguise, and that these animals are better off dead.

If we are to succeed at reforming our nation’s kill shelters, if we are to end convenience killing, retribution killing, cruel methods of killing, and neglect and abuse in shelters, we are going to have to do it ourselves.

  1. Learn more about CAPA by clicking here.
  2. Learn why groups like HSUS oppose it by clicking here.
  3. Bring CAPA to your state. Download a copy of the law and a guide to getting it introduced by clicking here. (this is a zip file so will not download to a mobile device)
  4. If you live in Florida, Maryland, or Connecticut, lobby your legislators to cosponsor CAPA.
  5. Stop making excuses for those who kill animals.
  6. Stop supporting these groups with your philanthropic dollars. Your donations are being used to thwart lifesaving reform.

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