BARC UPDATE 8/31/09

The city of Houston announced that BARC would be removed from the Department of Health and Human Services.  It will be its own stand alone department.  We believe that this is a positive move for BARC that has been a long time coming.  Hopefully, BARC will get the attention it deserves from the city and not have to compete with health department attention and money.

BARC UPDATE 8/17/09

Gerry Fusco’s $208,000 consulting contract is on the city council agenda for Tuesday, August 18, 2009.   http://www.houstontx.gov/citysec/agenda.html

On August 3rd, city councilmember, Jarvis Johnson, told citizens that this contract would not be up for a vote until September. Apparently, they are trying to slip this contract through under the radar and at tax payer’s expense.

We intend to continue OPPOSING this contract as we do not believe Mr. Fusco has the background necessary to be able to turn BARC around. He has no idea what it takes to run a successful shelter (i.e. one where the kill rate and inhumane treatment actually drop). And, we don’t believe Mr. Fusco could ever turn around BARC if he won’t admit that MANY of BARC’s employees need to go. The employees who have abused animals cannot be rehabilitated enough to be good employees and the good employees will continue to be drug down to their level. BARC will never be able to pull itself out of the mire if these employees are not removed. In addition, $208,000 is a huge waste of our tax dollars for someone with absolutely NO experience in the subject.

We encourage everyone to FAX and CALL the mayor and all city council tonight and OPPOSE this contract. If you can only call a few council members, we recommend calling Pam Holm, Anne Clutterbuck, Ed Gonzales, Jolanda Jones, Sue Lovell, Jarvis Johnson–and whoever your own personal city council member is. Let them know that you DO NOT want Fusco but also let them know what you DO want i.e. someone who actually knows how to drop the kill rate. We do NOT need yet another consultant, facilitator or friend of the Mayor with absolutely NO idea how to drop the kill rate.

We have the report from MCV and we have the Mayor’s 2005 Task Force Report. We already know what, and who, many of the problems are. What BARC needs is a Bureau Chief who knows the strategies necessary to drop the kill rate and eliminate the inhumane treatment. Bonnie Ford is that person. The city needs to hire Bonnie Ford as Bureau Chief and save the $208,000 for programs that Bonnie can use to drop the kill rate, such as renting offsite adoption sites all over the city in highly visible locations; free spay/neuter services especially in low income neighborhoods; programs and services that keep pets in their homes instead of dumped at the shelter; a TNR program. All of these things have been PROVEN to drop the kill rate. Houston does not have to re-create the wheel. We can copy what other successful No Kill cities and counties are doing, but, Houston MUST HIRE PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW TO GET THERE.

All contact info for the Mayor and city council is on No Kill Houston’s website. There is also a link to find out who your city council person is. A form letter is also on our website if you need help with your letter. Make sure you remind this person that YOU VOTE.

BARC UPDATE 8/12/09

Mr. Fusco says that perceptions of BARC are worse than the reality.  I beg to differ.  See my response below

From: No Kill Houston <nokillhouston@yahoo.com>
Subject: Mr. Fusco’s perception of BARC
To: mayor@cityofhouston.net, atlarge1@cityofhouston.net, atlarge2@cityofhouston.net, atlarge3@cityofhouston.net, atlarge4@cityofhouston.net, atlarge5@cityofhouston.net, districta@cityofhouston.net, districtb@cityofhouston.net, districtc@cityofhouston.net, districtd@cityofhouston.net, districte@cityofhouston.net, districtf@cityofhouston.net, districtg@cityofhouston.net, districth@cityofhouston.net, districti@cityofhouston.net, Michael.Terraso@cityofhouston.net, Stephen.Williams@cityofhouston.net, Elena.Marks@cityofhouston.net, info@anniseparker.com, info@genelocke.com, contact@billwhitefortexas.com
Cc: Gafusco@aol.com
Date: Thursday, August 13, 2009, 3:00 AM

I heard Mr. Fusco’s interview on KUHF today.  Mr. Fusco stated that the “perception of BARC is worse than the reality”.  I’m curious, is the reality of Kennel Attendants punching puppies not bad enough for Mr. Fusco? How about the KAs who slam dogs’ heads in cage doors? Or how about the KA who starved dogs until one couldn’t even pick up her head up (and the vet who lied and said the dog had a neurological disorder)?  Or, how about Dr. O killing and beheading a cat because it scratched her?  Or an animal control officer who kicked a puppy until it was paralyzed and found dead in its kennel the next day?  How about all of the puppies that die because of no enforcement of disinfecting protocols?  All of these things and much more are realities that are being witnessed. Are none of these things a bad enough reality for Mr. Fusco?  What does he think people are “perceiving” that is worse than this?  The ignorance of this statement should make it obvious that either 1) Mr. Fusco does not have a clue about what is going on around him at BARC or what has gone on for years; or 2) he is merely the mayor’s spin doctor trying to convince citizens that things aren’t as bad as the volunteers and media have reported, while the mayor continues his senate campaign. 
 
Mr. Fusco’s statement is like a slap in the face to all of the volunteers who witnessed the above abuses and other abuses day after day and year after year.  It is a slap in the face to those volunteers and advocates who have been telling you about this abuse for years.  It is a slap in the face to the foster parents and rescue groups who have had multitudes of BARC animals die from diseases that could have and SHOULD be prevented at BARC.  It is a slap in the face to the citizens who have called, written and spoken to you in person at city council about their pets who have suffered greatly and died from preventable diseases from BARC.  It is a slap in the face to the citizens whose pets have died horrible, painful deaths from heatstroke on animal control trucks with no air conditioning—another citizen told you his story on 8/3/09.  It is a slap in the face to the volunteers who witness the “walk of death” of animals to the euthanasia room every single day 50, 80 sometimes 150 times per day to the tune of almost 30,000 animals every single year.  These deaths COULD be prevented but there has been no real effort by BARC leaders to stop it so far. 

To say perception is worse than the above reality of abuse and death is a slap in the face to all of us and we will not stand silently by while you do it.

We will continue speaking out.  And we will continue to make all 2.2 million citizens aware of what is going on at BARC, if we have to go door to door to do it.

You need to hire Bonnie Ford as the next Bureau Chief and you need to do it now.  Bonnie already knows “who” the problems are at BARC and she knows what the problems are.  She also knows the strategies needed to drop the kill rate and prevent the humane treatment and diseases that are rampant at BARC.  Just this week, she presented a proposal to BARC management that will greatly reduce the number of cats killed at BARC.  If she can do this as a volunteer, just think what she can do if she were Bureau Chief and could make sure the programs and services that will save lives are put into place and enforced.  Call her. 

Bett Sundermeyer, President
No Kill Houston
http://www.NoKillHouston.org

BARC UPDATE 7/27/09

No Kill Houston’s email to the Mayor and City Council: 

From: No Kill Houston <nokillhouston@yahoo.com>
Subject: Another puppy died in a drain at BARC
To: mayor@cityofhouston.net, atlarge1@cityofhouston.net, atlarge2@cityofhouston.net, atlarge3@cityofhouston.net,
atlarge4@cityofhouston.net, atlarge5@cityofhouston.net, districta@cityofhouston.net, districtb@cityofhouston.net,
districtc@cityofhouston.net, districtd@cityofhouston.net, districte@cityofhouston.net, districtf@cityofhouston.net,
districtg@cityofhouston.net, districth@cityofhouston.net, districti@cityofhouston.net, Michael.Terraso@cityofhouston.net,
Stephen.Williams@cityofhouston.net, Elena.Marks@cityofhouston.net, info@anniseparker.com, info@genelocke.com, contact@billwhitefortexas.com

I received information that another puppy died in a drain at BARC recently (you can confirm with Celina Garza Ridge). As you may or may not remember, several people spoke to City Council back in 2005 regarding puppies at BARC being washed down drains. The Mayor is on camera saying that there need to be changes at BARC. Yet, here we are in 2009 and this is STILL happening. Not only that but disease is STILL rampant and inhumane treatment by employees is STILL common place.

How long do we have to wait before the city and BARC provides even the most basic and humane care for pets who have the misfortune of entering its shelter?

How long do we have to wait until you all step up and do what is right?

As I have said many times, we do NOT need yet another consultant or facilitator with absolutely NO track record for saving animals in shelters. What we need is someone who has a proven track record of transforming high kill, atrocious facilities, such as BARC, into no kill shelters. That person is Nathan Winograd. Instead of spending $200,000 on someone with no clue how to stop
killing animals, spend $25,000 and get one of the top experts in the country on this topic. For $25,000, Mr. Winograd could do a top to bottom, thorough assessment of BARC and give step by step guidance on transforming BARC. This is so common sense. Why do you continue to fight it?

Houston does not have to re-create the wheel. We can copy what other successful No Kill cities and counties are doing. But, you must hire people who know how to take us there.

BTW: If you think that we do not know about the good ol’ boy/buddy deals struck with Mr. Fusco and others, you are mistaken. We do know and we are not happy. You should also know that all of the animal advocates in Houston have friends all over the State of Texas who are also animal advocates and who also vote. We will be making each and everyone of these people/groups are aware of Mayor White’s “solutions” for BARC.

BARC UPDATE 7/23/09

The Mayor approved “change agent”, Gerry Fusco, to “turn around” BARC.  This person has absolutely NO animal sheltering experience whatsoever.  We believe this is a complete waste of money and resources.  The city should hire people who actually have experience in transforming high kill shelters, such as BARC, into No Kill shelters……. eople such as Nathan Winograd who actually do have experience in the area and would charge the city almost 1/10 of the amount the Mayor has promised Mr. Fusco.

If you are as appalled about this waste of time and money as we are, PLEASE SPEAK UP TO YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER NOW. The Mayor has paid Mr. Fusco part of his fee, but city council has NOT yet voted to pay him the rest of the money.  Council has to approve the rest of this expenditure. This contract will likely be on the agenda in the next two weeks. The new agendas are posted on the City of Houston web site on Friday.

Please email, write  letters and CALL City Council Members.  Please ask them to vote AGAINST Gerry Fusco’s contract. We could get this voted down if enough noise is made.   FYI: You can leave voice mail at night that they will have to pick up the next day.

Talking points are below if you need them:
* You are appalled that the city would spend $200,000 on yet ANOTHER consultant who has NO ANIMAL SHELTERING experience whatsoever.

* How can Fusco turn BARC around when he has no experience in the subject matter at all?

* How about investing in someone who actually does have experience in successfully turning high kill shelters such as BARC into No Kill shelters?  They could hire Nathan Winograd for almost 1/10 of that amount and he actually HAS experience in successfully turning shelters like BARC around.

* Perhaps this is just another way to control what information gets out…just like MCV who said they were not allowed to say certain things in the meeting. This was obviously because of who was paying their tab.

* Some people have been trying to get a commitment from the city for just a few thousand dollars so that BARC could have an offsite adoption location in a high traffic retail space. Do you know how many locations that $200k would pay for? Do you know how many animals would get adopted if BARC had adoption sites in high traffic locations all over the city?

* Do you know how many spay/neuters $200k could pay for especially in impoverished areas like the Corridor of Cruelty?
 
* Do you know how much food, heartguard or other services $200k could buy that would help keep pets in their homes, instead of being dumped at a  shelter? (a friend said she kept 12,000 animals out of her shelter in one year by offering these types of services and other advice).

* The MOST IMPORTANT element of a successful shelter is a compassionate, hard working bureau chief.  The city needs to hire Bonnie Ford as the Bureau Chief and then wholeheartedly support her efforts at BARC.

*The city needs to remove BARC from the Dept of Health and Human Services. It should be its own a stand-alone department. The Health Dept has proven that it cannot run BARC effectively.

* And most importantly if they think that we are going to be quiet for the next 6 months while they spend $200k on this idea, they should think again.  We will be speaking out about BARC and the city’s failures right up until election day and beyond.

We must stand together and DEMAND change.
Contact City Council today.

Contact Info for City of Houston / BARC personnel

BARC UPDATE 7/2009

No Kill Houston has had many meetings with Stephen Williams and his Incident Command Team. We have heard many promises that gave us hope that Williams was sincere in his desire to make improvements at BARC.  But, after many months of working hard on various committees but seeing no real improvements in the kill rate, the inhumane treatment or disease prevention, we have given up hope.  On 6/29 I asked Mr. Williams point blank over and over what has been done to reduce the killing and the only answer I received was that it looks better and smells better.  So, just as many animals are dying horrible deaths in a building that looks and smells better.  We’re not impressed.

We believe hiring of Mr. Sim only proves Mr. Williams lack of committment to real life saving change at BARC.  Mr. Sim stays in his office with the door shut every day.  He is being “mentored” every single day by Dr. Terasso but is still failing to do the most basic things such as reaching out to the community.  Some of the kennel attendants are literally starving animals to death, yet there are no repercussions and these employees are simply moved to another Ward to torture a different group of animals. This must stop!

We must stand together and DEMAND change.
Contact the Mayor and City Council.  Send a letter to them today.
Click here for a form letter you can download and send. 
Feel free to add your own feelings

Contact Info for City of Houston / BARC personnel

BARC UPDATE 06/2009

Nathan Winograd has sent sent the city 3 requests for information.  The city said they will have all the information to respond to the 2nd request by the end of June.Winograd just sent the 3rd request last weekend.  It was pretty short.  As soon as the city gets all the requested information to Winograd and he has a chance to review, then he can schedule his visit.

BARC UPDATE 04/2009

Stephen Williams, Director of Health and Human Services  relayed the following information to me. 
Williams is talking to Winograd about perhaps being involved in a more ongoing fashion.  He said he was thinking about having Winograd on a retainer so that he could have him back in Houston periodically.
He said he was out at BARC recently and saw things he was not pleased with. He is seeing that there are supervision and accountability issues. I agreed because I’m still seeing issues that were supposed to be fixed some time ago. I’m not sure if this is something that Williams will ask Winograd to assist with, or if he will continue to try to solve it with his staff. I was just glad to hear that he is seeing some of the same things I’ve seen. BTW: I asked him what I should do when I saw issues a BARC and he said to report it to the manager on duty right then. If that didn’t fix it, then I should escalate it to the next level. You all can do this as well, if you wish.
Williams visited the San Francisco SPCA (where Winograd was director) and a couple other shelters when they were in CA last week. I asked him what he thought and he said the first thing he noticed was a different attitude with the employees. He said there is a different culture there. That is something he would like to change at BARC.  Last Monday, I had told him that one of the things that I heard from many shelter directors at the No Kill conference in DC was that once a no kill director got to a shelter, there was a always big turnover in staff. Either they left on their own or were fired. That was the one thing that they ALL said.
He said they have been frustrated trying to change the culture and attitudes of current employees, along with trying to hire new people with the right attitudes.

BARC UPDATE 10/2008

UPDATE 10/2008
In October 2008, the City of Houston agreed to hire Mr. Winograd to perform an assessment of B.A.R.C.
(Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care i.e. animal control or city pound). Citizens of Houston raised the money to pay for Mr. Winograd’s fees. 
After almost 4 months of negotiations, the city finally signed Mr. Winograd’s assessment contract. There is still quite a bit of information that the city must supply to Mr. Winograd before he can come to Houston for the assessment.  We will keep you updated. 
Click here to read Winograd’s Assessment Contract