Tonight, I was supposed to debate Monica Hardy, Executive Director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network on 90.1 FM out of Houston (and nationally, online) about my support and her group’s opposition for Texas legislation that would have abolished the gas chamber, ended convenience and retribution killing, mandated transparency, and ended breed bias in shelters.
Hope’s Law, named after a dog who was denied treatment in a Texas shelter and ultimately died despite a rescue group’s offer to pay for her care and/or take her to their own veterinarian, would have made it illegal to kill animals by gassing; would have made it illegal for shelters to kill animals based on breed, age, color, or other arbitrary criteria; would have made it illegal to kill animals when qualified rescue groups were willing to save them; and would have required shelters to report how many animals they take in, adopt, transfer, reclaim, and kill or have die at their facility. THLN, in partnership with the Humane Society of the United States, the Texas Animal Control Association, and regressive kill shelters statewide opposed the bill and the bill failed to pass. At THLN’s insistence, we were given the questions ahead of time:
- During the last Texas Legislative Session, a controversy arose over the introduction of House Bill 3450, known as (CAPA) The Texas Companion Animal Protection Act. Please explain your understanding of the meaning and significance of this bill and what sparked the controversy?
- What are your feelings about this bill and legislation similar to it?
- Why did CAPA fail to pass in your opinion, and can you offer any suggestions regarding this bill and others which would most help the animals for the next legislative session?
- In the interest of benefiting the animals, please offer any constructive suggestions you may wish to share with each other, as well as any ideas regarding animal legislation.
After receiving these questions, THLN withdrew from the debate. Given that the questions were innocuous, softballs even, why would they back out? It isn’t hard to figure out. Even though they were written in a neutral manner, the real questions could not be avoided and the real meaning could not be hidden:
- Why did they oppose a bill which would have ended the cruel gas chamber?
- Why did they oppose a bill which would have saved tens of thousands of animals who have an immediate place to go?
- Why did they oppose a bill which would have given pit bulls, older animals, and other animals killed for arbitrary reasons a new chance at life? And,
- Why did they oppose a bill which would have allowed animal lovers and taxpayers to know how and what shelters are doing with their tax and philanthropic dollars?
The answer was equally obvious: when it comes to the lives of animals, they just don’t care. Rather than protect animals, as their name implies, they defend those who kill them. Rather than watchdogs, as their mission would indicate, they have become cheerleaders for regressive shelters. Rather than humane legislation, they protect the inhumane status quo.
Tragically, as No Kill advocates seek to pass progressive shelter reform legislation in communities and states throughout the country, time and again our fiercest opponents are organizations with names that allow them to masquerade as something they are not. Those of us who embrace a brighter future, those of us who seek to finally bring some accountability to a field that has historically lacked it, have found we must work to overcome the false perceptions the public, legislators, and the media have regarding these individuals and the groups they are associated with, simply because they have the names “humane” or “SPCA” or “animal control” in their titles: The Florida Animal Control Association, the Animal Law Coalition, the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals, the New York State Humane Association, and of course, the Texas Humane Legislation Network. All organizations that seek to promote killing in shelters (the animal control associations), defend killing in shelters (THLN and NYSHA), protect those who kill animals (Animal Law Coalition), or allow killing to continue in order to defend narrow interests like their own power (the Mayor’s Alliance).
Unfortunately, legislators believe these organizations speak for the animals, even though they are little more than the equivalent of a corrupt labor union—protecting incompetence and fighting innovation at all costs. Legislators believe they are run by “experts” even if all they have to substantiate their alleged “expertise” is letterhead that looks legitimate, but nothing else—no experience creating No Kill communities and no experience reforming regressive, high-kill shelters. And in the end, these individuals masquerading as legitimate groups, with views so out of touch with the majority of people, succeed in defeating legislation which would mandate reasonable, common-sense provisions that almost every American would be stunned to learn are not being voluntarily implemented in the first place.
And when THLN is asked, Why? They stick their head in the sand, unable or unwilling to defend themselves publicly. Cowards.