Goodbye Lynda

Lynda Foro, the founder of Doing Things for Animals (DTFA), has died.

Foro launched the first “No Kill Conference” in 1995, was the first to create a directory of No Kill shelters in the U.S., and steadfastly promoted the No Kill philosophy in the face of entrenched and ugly opposition by groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA. In the 1990s, while these groups were calling No Kill a “cancer” and vowed to stop “what was happening in San Francisco”–a revolution in sheltering–“from happening in your community,” Foro unapologetically promoted our success in San Francisco to a national audience.

I had the pleasure of holding a workshop advocating TNR for community cats (we called them “feral cats” back then) at Foro’s conference at a time when HSUS was calling TNR “subsidized abandonment,” “abysmal,” “abhorrent,” and called on criminal prosecutors to arrest and jail cat caretakers.

Unfortunately, Foro left the movement feeling betrayed. On or about 1999/2000, Foro contacted me and asked that I review a contract she was contemplating signing with North Shore Animal League, which by then had started to become much more conservative and was moving closer in philosophy to the large, national groups than with the grassroots, No Kill advocates which it was previously aligned. She was considering the merger of  DTFA and her “No Kill Conference” with NSAL. They offered to keep her on as an advisor. I reviewed it both as an attorney and as a No Kill advocate. I told her not to sign.

I told her that the contract was poorly written, favored NSAL, did not define the terms of her advisory role adequately, and felt–given the direction they were going–that they would betray her vision. As a counselor at law, you can only advise, not compel. She signed anyway.

Within a year or so–if memory serves–she was out at DTFA and her “No Kill Conference” was rebranded the Conference on Homeless Animal Management & Policy. Thus, a gathering of visionary, innovative rescuers, and shelter directors became a conference of dinosaurs that was traditional, typical, conservative, and mired in bureaucratic inertia. Foro was not the only victim; the animals came away the losers, too.

CHAMP folded for lack of interest, DTFA was dissolved, and Foro became bitter. The last time I spoke with her, several years ago, she was still upset at how she was treated. I invited her to give the keynote at the No Kill Conference in Washington, D.C. which the No Kill Advocacy Center, my organization, now hosted (and had been since 2005). She declined citing retirement, poor health, and continuing anger. She was not the first to be betrayed by the false promise of “collaboration” with organizations that fail time and time again to stand up for the animals.

I thanked her for her contributions to the movement in general and the animals in particular. It was the last time I would ever speak to her.

Foro was 75 years old, much too young to lose her life, though I am grateful she got to see the immense changes she helped spawn.

Rest in peace Lynda, and thank you.


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