2019 was a pretty terrific year for the No Kill movement and next week, I’ll share some of the top stories, new studies, groundbreaking court cases, and more that not only helped fuel its success, but are laying the founding for our forward push towards a certain, and hopefully not too distant, victory. To paraphrase the No Kill Advocacy Center, a No Kill nation is truly within our reach. But it was not without its setbacks, some of them self-inflicted wounds.
- Best Friends falsely claiming Delaware is the first No Kill state;
- Michigan Pet Fund Alliance falsely claiming it is a No Kill state;* and,
- Animal Farm Foundation releasing a podcast that called for the killing of more dogs in “shelters” if they are the least bit “iffy,” the equivalent of insisting that dogs sit, fetch, stay, or die. The podcast went so far as to argue that even a 50% rate of killing was acceptable.
As the year comes to a close, add one more: Maddie’s Fund.
Maddie’s Fund (in partnership with the ASPCA) just released a video opposing transparency in shelter statistics, urging people to fight laws that require shelters to report how many animals they take in, adopt out, reclaim to their families, transfer to rescue, kill, and who died in their custody. They called legislation to require those numbers a “bad bill” (28:20 mark).
Transparency is the hallmark of accountability, the best disinfectant for corruption. And there is no better example than the No Kill movement itself. The only thing that has forced shelters across the country to embrace positive, life-affirming changes to the way they have long operated and to reduce the sheer number of animals they have long needlessly killed was the court of public opinion. Public access to statistics about how many and which animals are being killed, often at taxpayer expense, is a vital precursor to bringing that killing to an end.
Without transparency, the principles of compassion and decency get trampled. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once astutely noted, “Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”
Worse, they took a pot shot at the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA), the No Kill Advocacy Center’s legislation that is soon to be introduced in New York, and indicated their partners intend to oppose it. If passed, the era of convenience killing in pounds throughout the state would come to an end. Specifically, CAPA prohibits:
- Killing animals with no holding period of any kind. Currently, owner surrendered animals can be marched from the front counter to the back room, killed, wrapped in garbage bags, and discarded in landfills without ever being given a chance at adoption;
- Killing animals if qualified rescue groups are ready, willing, and able to save them;
- Killing healthy and treatable animals if there are empty cages;
And much more.
The Maddie’s Fund video turns their mission of protecting animals from those who harm them on its head by protecting the people causing the harm, stating: “We want to do everything we can to make sure the shelters don’t look bad.”
* The claim that Delaware and Michigan are No Kill despite the fact that animals are being killed in Delaware and not reported in statistics and there are shelters in Michigan killing seven out of 10 cats is not just dishonest, it is dangerous. Not only can it lead to animals losing their lives when people mistakenly believe that it is now safe to surrender animals, but it can lead to complacency, rendering those animals still being killed invisible because the public is falsely led to believe no further improvement is either necessary or possible.
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