In Their Own Words

More from the Redemption archives

The second edition of my book, Redemption: the Myth of Pet Overpopulation & the No Kill Revolution in America, has just been released. In it, I discuss the changes in the movement since the book first appeared two years ago. I ask and answer questions such as:

  • Is HSUS changing in deed as well as word?
  • Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, what if pet overpopulation is real? Does that change the calculus of killing or our advocacy?
  • Do shelter animals have a right to live?
  • How can we dismantle the killing paradigm?
  • Should we regulate shelters the way we regulate other institutions that have the power of life and death? And how?

Since its release in September 2007, Redemption has become the most critically acclaimed book ever written on its topic. The book has won five awards. It has been positively reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle (, Sacramento Bee, and over fifty newspapers nationwide. And it was named an Editor’s Choice must-read by The Bark magazine.

In doing research for the first and then the second edition of the book, I amassed a large body of historical archives about the movement. And as I indicated in two prior posts, here and then here, once the second edition was completed, I began packing away the material used to write the book. But as so often happens when you go through old items, you begin re-reading them. I also wrote that periodically, I’d release some of the material for posterity.

In the first post, I released some letters from HSUS telling a prosecutor that feral cat caretakers should essentially be arrested for animal abandonment, and calling TNR “inhumane” and “abhorrent.” I also released a postcard written by Ingrid Newkirk stating that PETA doesn’t believe in “right to life” for animals.

In the second post, I released:

  • a letter from PETA applauding a Mayor’s decision to round up and kill feral cats and suggesting they kill the kittens also,
  • a letter from the AKC arguing that it should be illegal to feed feral cats,
  • a Washington Post article about HSUS using donor funds to buy beach-front property for its executives, and,
  • an ASPCA letter saying No Kill success in San Francisco is because it has a large gay population.

Here’s more:

Want to Stop Killling? Hell no, says PETA.

Charlottesville, VA is one of the safest communities for homeless animals in the U.S. Its shelter director is hailed as a leader in the No Kill movement. Its rate of killing and care of animals demonstrates a deep commitment to saving homeless animals.

But when she first began at the Charlottesville SPCA in 2005 and declared her intention of making the community No Kill, she experienced intense opposition from PETA, which tried to thwart and undermine her efforts. At the time, Killing apologist and Newkirk cultee Teresa Lynn Chagrin of PETA lambasted Charlottesville’s decision to end the killing. Citing a disgruntled employee who was fired and then claimed animals were dying in their kennels (not so, Charlottesville publishes all statistics annually), PETA writes a letter to the Board of Directors of the Charlottesville SPCA expressing shock that the new director “publicly stated that she wants to stop the euthanasia [killing] of healthy animals: The simple fact is that all open admission shelters must euthanize [kill] healthy animals. According to the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) Seven Basic Policies for Every Animal Shelter, ‘Euthanasia [killing] of shelter animals to make room for others is a tragic necessity that prevents animal suffering.'”

Chagrin then goes on to say that killing is “often the kindest option for animals admitted to sheltering facilities.” Ironically, even though the prior administration in Charlotteville killed animals rescue groups were willing to save, killed animals while rescue groups were en route to save them, and had staff which kicked and abused animals but did not fire them (the same sorts of staff members who then complained about conditions at the shelter after they were fired), she called the shelter under the killing regime, a “safe haven” for animals.

Chagrin also opposed a No Kill resolution introduced by a Michigan lawmaker who stated that, “Killing healthy cats and dogs is an extremely cruel and wasteful practice” and wanted to encourage all pounds in Michigan to adopt a No Kill philosophy. She called the resolution to end killing “disastrous.” Despite the fact that Tompkins County NY has saved at least 92% of animals every year for the last seven years, while PETA routinely kills 90% of animals they actively seek out in order to kill, Chagrin also attacked No Kill in Tompkins because during a very short period one summer, they had to be flexible and creative by putting animals in other rooms of the shelter until space was available. She is still with PETA, still fighting No Kill, and by now, I would think she would be sufficiently hydrated after years of drinking the Newkirk Kool-Aid. Maybe it’s time to stop?

Speaking of killing them all, in a 2000 San Francisco Examiner article, The Butcher of Norfolk calls for the automatic destruction of all dogs someone says looks like a Pit Bull. Read Newkirk’s article by clicking here.

Work with rescues? Kill ’em instead says HSUS.

In this 1990 letter from HSUS’ Director of Sheltering, HSUS says not to work with other shelters or transfer animals to rescue groups because transport would stress the animal, even when the alternative is death! HSUS also argues that increasing save rates by working with rescue groups would “contribute to the destruction of an agency’s public image.”

Read the letter by clicking here.

Though HSUS says it is changing (how long does it take to change? It’s been 50 years!) despite recent mass killing support in Tangipahoa, Wilkes County, and elsewhere, just a couple of short months ago, killing apologist Wayne Pacelle wrote San Francisco telling them:

  • if they mandate No Kill, the end result will be warehousing and animal suffering (essentially likening No Kill to the Lied Animal Shelter fiasco in Las Vegas),
  • it is wrong to regulate shelters even though we regulate pet owners, and,
  • that despite a per capita intake that is at the bottom of national rates and despite the fact that even the local SPCA says it has no choice but to import thousands of animals into San Francisco because of an inability to meet adoption demand, San Francisco is suffering from “pet overpopulation.”

This from someone who is asking us to get in bed with a monster by embracing the most notorious animal abuser of our time as a spokesperson for the animal protection movement.

Filthy Ferals?

When is it ok to kill? According to Sacramento Animal Control’s director, apparently it is when they are worthless and unworthy of our compassion. Here, she says that killing healthy animals is a tragedy, but not so when it comes to “filthy, feral animals.” Are feral cats really filthy and not worthy of our compassion? Outrageous! It is also worth noting that at the time, Sacramento Animal Control was doing very little to stem the tide of killing of even the healthy animals she claimed are worthy.

Read the article by clicking here.

The Anti-No Kill Mob

After San Francisco ended the killing of healthy dogs cats, the sheltering establishment, led by HSUS, the ASPCA, the California Animal Control Director’s Association, and others went on the attack, arguing that No Kill is little more than “public deception,” “con artist rip-offs,” “gimmick,” “hype,” “turns their backs” on animals, “slam the door in the pet owners’ face,” “kill animals surreptitiously, behind closed doors, and hope their supporters never find out,” and “danger[ous].”

Read excerpts from dog and cat killers, killing apologists, and hitmen-for-hire like Pat Miller attacking San Francisco and No Kill following the birth of the modern No Kill revolution, by clicking here.

The anti-No Kill mob included Bill Garrett, the former head of the Atlanta Humane Society (AHS), a member of HSUS’ national sheltering committee, and an executive at SAWA, who would go on to liken No Kill advocates to 9/11 terrorists who slam airplanes into buildings. As director of the AHS, Garrett ran Fulton County Animal Services, which killed the vast number of animals entering its facility. A small group of animal lovers began attending County Council meetings in order to educate the community about the mass killing and move Fulton County, GA toward greater lifesaving. In fact, they would ultimately succeed when AHS surrendered the animal control contract. One of the headlines that followed the takeover by the Southern Hope Humane Society says it all: “The First kittens to Leave Alive!” What was the name of one of the groups that Garrett likened to 9/11 terrorists? It’s nefarious so be prepared to quake in fear:. Are you ready?

“Kitty Village.”

Yup, it can’t get more nefarious than that. Read the e-mail by clicking here.

Next up: In a statement reeking with racial overtones, the American Humane Association cautions against adopting animals to “ghetto” areas where they claim these animals end up attacking children in schoolyards; AHA, HSUS & ASPCA embrace a policy that says all kittens under six weeks of age in shelters should be killed; and they vote against high volume, low-cost spay/neuter for the pets of low-income people who would not otherwise spay/neuter, in deference to the profit-focused American Veterinary Medical Association.