Tell your candidates that you care about animal issues

Houston, TX – The elections for Harris County candidates are this November.  Early voting starts in just a few weeks.  Do you know the positions of the candidates on animal issues?

If you vote for a candidate, will he or she then work to protect shelter pets?   

Will he/she support the No Kill model of sheltering in Harris County or will they simply allow the House of Horrors that is Harris County animal control to continue indefinitely? 

Do the candidates know that this issue matters to you, the voter? 

It is critical that we have elected officials who will work to fix the broken animal control system in Harris County.  As I have written previously, last February, the Harris County attorney’s office completed its investigation of Harris County animal control. Our tax dollars paid  for 11 employees to work on the investigation for 8 months.  The investigation confirmed what former employees, volunteers and rescue groups had alleged… that Harris County employees, under Dawn Blackmar’s direction, had been breaking Texas humane laws for years.  It confirmed that the employees consistently carried out very inhumane acts against the defenseless animals who were unfortunate enough to enter this facility.

The County Attorney’s report also confirmed that Harris County animal control had a horrific 83% KILL rate in 2011.  Yet, after confirming all of the above atrocities, Harris County officials have taken absolutely no action whatsoever.  None. There has been no attempt to discipline employees who broke the law and who tortured animals on the job, and there have been no changes that would increase the miniscule save rate.   

It is time for this House of Horrors to be reformed, but, it is clear that Harris County employees and elected officials will not do what is necessary to accomplish this.  The only way that positive changes will be made at this facility will be for us to elect candidates who will do it.  Harris County needs leaders who actually care about this issue and who will not continue to sweep it under the rug.    And, we need the candidates to know that voters care about this issue. 

That is where you come in.

It is imperative that all of the candidates hear from you about this issue.   It is critical that they know that voters are outraged about the House of Horrors in Harris County and that you want to know what they will do about it, if you vote for them in the upcoming election.

Right now, it appears that a lot of the candidates do not believe that voters care about animal issues as most of them are not paying attention to it.  No Kill Texas Advocates sent Candidate Questionnaires to all of the candidates several months ago, but Chuck Maricle is the only candidate who has responded.  See his responses here.     

In addition, over the last couple of weeks, No Kill Texas Advocates has contacted many of the candidates regarding attending a Candidate Forum (see my previous blog post) in order to answer the voters’ questions.  Yet only 2 of the candidates have indicated an interest in attending such a forum. 

Personally, the upcoming elections in Harris County are a one issue race for me.   Potholes or opening the next park are not high on my priority list.  

The main issue that I care about is which candidate(s) will work to stop the inhumane treatment, lawlessness and mass killing of pets at Harris County animal control.   

I care about knowing which candidate(s) will step up and help implement the same model of sheltering that 62 other Open Admission shelters (www.NoKillNews.com)  and animal controls have implemented to stop shelter killing, just like Austin Texas did.  

I care about knowing which candidate(s) will help drag Harris County out of the dark ages of catch and kill and help us join the 21st century where 90% or more of all shelter pets make it out alive.  

But, since some of the candidates are not responding to No Kill Texas Advocates’ request for a Candidate Forum on these issues, it is apparent that these candidates do not think that we voters care about animal issues.   

We need to prove them wrong. 

Therefore, I am asking each of you to contact the candidates and ask them about their views on Harris County animal control.  Let them know that this issue matters to you and that you will vote accordingly.   Please call the candidates and email them.   Also, post questions and comments on their Facebook pages and Tweet them, so that others will see your questions as well.  Ask your friends and family to do the same.

Let’s prove to the candidates that we voters DO care deeply about this issue 

I am providing the candidates’ contact information below.  I have even provided some sample questions, if you need help.   

Questions for the candidates:

 1) Are you aware that Harris County animal control has an 83% Kill Rate?  If you are elected, what will you do to reduce this rate?

2) Are you aware of Vince Ryan’s report confirming allegations that Harris County employees, under Dawn Blackmar’s direction, broke several state humane laws over a period of years?

3)  To date, no action has been taken regarding any of the employees who violated state laws.  Likewise, no action has been taken by the District Attorney to file criminal charges against employees who violated state laws.  What is your position regarding county employees who break the law while on the job?

4)  Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering has been successfully implemented in at least 62 Open Admission shelters/animal controls across the country and they are now saving 90% or more of all animals?

5) Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering not only saves on the cost of killing animals, but it brings in additional adoption revenue and other user fees and also provides an economic boon to local business?

6) Are you aware that Austin’s city council passed the Companion Animal Protection Act in 2010 and subsequently Austin’s Open Admission, animal control facility began saving 90% or more of all animals (their Save Rate was 93% for 2011)?

7) If elected, will you support the No Kill model of sheltering by passing the Companion Animal Protection Act in Harris County?

Here are the candidates’ contact information

Harris County Attorney – Robert Talton
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-Talton-For-Harris-County-Attorney/9865667370
Email: rtalton2@att.net
Phone: 713-944-4005
Website: http://roberttaltonforcountyattorney.com/
 
Harris County District Attorney – Lloyd Wayne Oliver
Facebook: None that I can find
Email: attorneylloydoliver@yahoo.com
Phone: 713/542-1818; 281/796-7731; 713/382-8009
Website: http://lwoliverda.com/
 
Harris County District Attorney – Mike Anderson
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/VoteAnderson
Email: campaign@andersonda.com
Phone: 281-310-1201
Website: http://www.andersonda.com
 
County Commissioner Precinct 3 – Glorice McPherson
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/mglorice
Email: info@glorice4cc.com; glorice4cc@gmail.com
Phone: 281-741-7922; 281-670-8817
Website:  http://www.glorice4cc.com/

Note from No  Kill Texas Advocates:   Ms. McPherson has agreed to be part of our Candidate Forum and is open to discussing reform at Harris County animal control.  She has not responded to our Candidate Questionnaire as yet, but we hopeful that she will so that we can include her in our endorsements.
 
Ms. McPherson’s opponent, Steve Radack has not responded to our Candidate Questionnaire and thus far, has refused to be part of our Candidate Forum.
 
 
County Commissioner Precinct 4 – Sean Hammerle
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/ElectHammerle
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/ElectHammerle
Email:  sean@seanhammerle.com
Phone:  832-691-0816
Website: http://www.seanhammerle.com/
 
Email addresses together to copy and paste into an emailrtalton2@att.net, attorneylloydoliver@yahoo.com, campaign@andersonda.cominfo@glorice4cc.com; glorice4cc@gmail.com, sean@seanhammerle.com
 
Note from No Kill Texas Advocates:   
We are happy to report that Chuck Maricle is the ONLY current Harris County candidate who responded to our Candidate Questionnaire.  See his responses posted here: http://www.nokilltexasadvocates.org/harris_co.html (scroll towards the bottom of the page) 
He is also 1 of only 2 candidates who agreed to be part of our Candidate Forum to discuss these important issues that matter to voters.   So far, the other candidates, including Mr. Maricle’s opponent, El Franco Lee, have NOT agreed to be part of the Candidate Forum.  In addition, Mr. Lee has not responded to our Candidate Questionnaire.

We believe that Chuck Maricle could help us make great positive changes at Harris County animal control.

Mr. Maricle has our FULL SUPPORT.

Please THANK Mr. Maricle for taking voters concerns about animal issues seriously and for supporting the reform of Harris County animal control.

County Commissioner Precinct 1Chuck Maricle

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChuckMaricle
Email:  chuck@chuckmaricle.com
Phone: 713-240-4929
Website: http://www.chuckmaricle.com/

***

Below are the incumbents running for re-election in Harris County.

Sample questions for the  incumbents:

1) Why have you taken no actions toward the Harris County employees that the County Attorney confirmed broke state laws on the job?

2)  What is your position regarding county employees who break the law while on the job?

 3)  If re-elected, will you do anything differently?

 4) Are you aware that Harris County animal control has an 83% Kill Rate?  If you are re-elected, what will you do to reduce this rate?

 5) Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering has been successfully implemented in at least 70 Open Admission shelters/animal controls to date across the country and those shelters are now saving 90% or more of all animals?

 6) Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering not only saves on the cost of killing animals, but it brings in additional adoption revenue and other user fees and also provides an economic boon to local business?

 7) Are you aware that Austin’s city council passed the Companion Animal Protection Act in 2010 and subsequently Austin’s Open Admission, animal control facility began saving 90% or more of all animals (their Save Rate was 93% for 2011)?

 8) If re-elected, will you support the No Kill model of sheltering by passing the Companion Animal Protection Act?

 9) Explain to voters why we should vote for you again when you have not listened to your constituents’ wishes in the past?

 Here are the incumbents contact information

Harris County AttorneyVince Ryan
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/votevinceryan
Email: vinceryanlaw@aol.com;  vince.ryan@cao.hctx.net
Phone: 713-942-5816; 713-755-5101
Website: http://www.votevinceryan.com/
 
Harris County District Attorney – None
The incumbent, Pat Lykos, lost the primary election.
 
County Commissioner Precinct 1El Franco Lee
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElFrancoLee
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/elfrancolee
Email:  info@elfrancolee.netelfranco.lee@hctx.net;  janet_duran0402@yahoo.com
Phone: 713-739-1111; 713-755-6111
Website: http://www.elfrancolee.net/
 
County Commissioner Precinct 3 – Steve Radack
Facebook: None
Email:  pct3@hctx.net
Phone: 713-465-8000; 713-755-6306
Website: None
 
County Commissioner Precinct 4 – R. Jack Cagle
Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Commissioner-Jack-Cagle/290644070998400
Email:  commissionerjackcagle@gmail.com;  jyounts@hcp4.net
Phone: 713-838-8553;  713-755-6444
Website:http://www.commissionerjackcagle.com/
 
 Email addresses together to copy and paste into an email: vinceryanlaw@aol.com;  vince.ryan@cao.hctx.net,info@elfrancolee.netelfranco.lee@hctx.netjanet_duran0402@yahoo.com,pct3@hctx.net, commissionerjackcagle@gmail.com;  jyounts@hcp4.net
 
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A Survey of Animal Lovers

Houston, TX – Over the past year, I have written several times regarding the horrific activities and sky high kill rates that have been a constant at Harris County animal control, under the direction of Dawn Blackmar.   After much negative news publicity and many complaints from the public, the Harris County Attorney, Vince Ryan, performed an 8 month investigation and produced a report which confirmed that the complaints were true.

The report confirmed that Harris County animal control has been breaking state humane and shelter laws for a number of years.

The report also confirmed that Harris County animal control has a shocking 83% KILL rate!

Yet, more than 6 months after the Harris CountyAttorney’s report was issued, there have been no repercussions to those employees who broke the law.  None.

The Harris County Commissioners’ Court did not fire or even reprimand the county employees.

The Harris CountyAttorneydid not fire or reprimand county employees, nor did he even recommend that they be reprimanded in his report.

The Harris County District Attorney has not filed criminal charges against those employees who have broken the law and treated animals inhumanely.

Absolutely nothing has happened.  Harris County officials are trying to sweep  it under the rug.

It is clear that the people running Harris County animal control, and the elected officials running our county, will not voluntarily make the changes necessary to stop the inhumane treatment and mass slaughter at Harris County animal control.

It is abundantly clear that, if we want changes in our shelter system, it will be up to us to force those changes.   That means making sure that Harris County has leadership dedicated to saving lives.  We have the power to accomplish this with our VOTES.

Therefore, No Kill Texas Advocates is considering organizing a Candidate Forum for the Harris County candidates who are ultimately responsible for Harris County animal control.  (The elections are in November, 2012.)

This would be an opportunity for you, a voter with the power to makes changes, to listen to the candidates and decide if they represent your values.

This would also be an opportunity for the candidates to see just how many people care about this issue and who will use their votes to make positive changes.

But, before we move forward and organize a Candidate Forum, I want to see how many people would be interested.

So, I am asking all animal lovers who are eligible to vote in Harris County to answer the below poll question.  Note:  The Candidate Forum would take place on a weekday evening after most people get off work.

 

 

A shelter pet advocate

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Houston, TX – Welcome to my new blog!   This blog is really just a continuance of the blog that I have been writing for several years as the Houston Animal Shelters Examiner.   Due to difficulties with their website, I’ve decided to continue writing here.   

If you have come across my blog for the first time, you should know that I write mostly about the animal shelter situation in Houston.  I live in a city that is very compassionate when it comes to animals, but this city also contains five kill shelters that are killing about 80,000 pets each year.  

As of this date, there are over 50 Open Admission animal controls and shelters that are saving 90% or more of all animals, but Houston’s kill shelters save only a measly 11% to 50%.  

I advocate for the implementation of the No Kill model of sheltering that is saving all healthy and treatable pets in those 50+ Open Admission, No Kill shelters.  If they can do it, so can Houston. 

I began this journey after reading Nathan Winograd’s book Redemption, and realizing that:

1) the horror that I, and others, had witnessed at BARC (Houston’s city funded animal control) was actually an epidemic all over the country; and

2) there was a common sense solution to stop shelter killing completely.   We no longer had to kill shelter pets for population control.  As someone who had been rescuing and fostering animals for some time, and as someone who had seen A LOT of healthy and treatable animals killed and treated very inhumanely in local “shelters”, this book was an answer to a prayer.

Someone had actually created a sheltering model that  saved all healthy and treatable pets and it worked everywhere it was implemented!

That was 2008 and, looking back, I can see that I was quite the Pollyanna because I thought that if I just told our city officials about this remarkable “new” model of sheltering, that they would jump to implement this model in Houston immediately.  Surely, any rational and compassionate human being  would want to try this model so that Houston could stop the mass shelter killing here.  

I bought a copy of Redemption for Mayor Bill White, all city council members and the city controller (Annise Parker) as well as the Director of the Health Dept, who was over BARC at the time.   If it helped to stop the shelter killing at BARC, I thought it was well worth the cost.  

But, to my shock and dismay, city officials and BARC leaders weren’t very interested in implementing the model that was working so well elsewhere.  It was apparent that they just wanted to continue business as usual, even if that business was the slaughter of 30,000 animals every year.

It is now four years later, and although a lot of faces have changed at the city of Houston and at BARC, and although a lot of No Kill promises have been made, BARC is still a high kill facility.    

In 2008, there were just a handful of Open Admission, No Kill shelters in North America, now there are over 50 and that number is increasing constantly.   America, and other countries, are on the way to No Kill, but Houston remains in the dark ages of “catch and kill” sheltering.   

I attended the national No Kill conference a couple weeks ago.  This conference has been growing by leaps and bounds each year since it began just 4 years ago.  This year it nearly tripled in size from 300 to 800 attendees, proving that many people — average citizens like you and me — are ready for change.  We are sick of the mass killing that is taking place in our “shelters” and we want to stop it.  The conference was very informative, thrilling and depressing all at the same time. 

It was informative because many of the people who have already stopped shelter killing in their communities were there explaining how they did it.

It was thrilling because, since the last time I attended 2 years ago, about 30 more shelters have crossed the No Kill goal line.  There were 800 people at this conference and many are working to replicate that success.

But it was also depressing because 3 full years after Houstonians paid to have the leading, international No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd assess BARC  and produce a 196 page report detailing how BARC could stop killing shelter pets, just like those 50+ shelters are doing right now, BARC is pretty much in the same place that it was 3 years ago.  

Thirty or more shelters have passed Houston by reaching No Kill since Winograd wrote his report for the City of Houston.  This is while few life saving efforts have been implemented at BARC.   Sure, Bill White hired a “change agent” to fix BARC before he left office in 2009.   And sure, the change agent fired about 70 employees,  but there has been little to no effort to stop the killing at BARC.  

For instance, in 2011 BARC killed or “lost” an average of almost 1,100 animals every single month.  

After Mayor Parker’s No Kill promises both in 2009 and 2010, BARC’s kill rate actually rose from 2010 to 2011.   And, after reviewing their current reports, it appears that BARC’s Kill Rate has been steadily rising in 2012.  

BARC’s Kill Rate reached a horrific 72% this past May.  

I guess it really shouldn’t shock us that BARC’s kill rate is not decreasing.  After all, BARC leaders have yet to implement all of the recommendations of Winograd’s 2009 assessment and Mayor Parker has yet to admit that there are still huge problems at BARC under her administration.   Yes, she admitted there was a problem under White’s administration (after he was gone), but she has refused to accept responsibility for continued problems, like sky high kill rates, under her administration.   Instead, she continues to blame the public and continues to allow the mass slaughter to continue under her watch. 

Even when BARC employees break the law;

or when they kill pets that people offer to save; and

even as BARC’s kill rate consistently climbs higher and higher under her watch, Parker still won’t admit that are serious problems and refuses to implement Nathan Winograd’s recommendations that she has had in her hands for 3 years.

The one thing that has become very clear is that, in Houston, the people running kill shelters will not voluntarily implement the No Kill model of sheltering.   Likewise, city officials, who ultimately control what takes place in our shelters, are not likely to voluntarily force shelters to implement the No Kill model.   Four years of dealing with BARC, Houston city officials and the other 4 kill shelter directors have confirmed this.   

No, if the killing is to end in our animal shelters, it will be up to us. 

The only way that the kill shelters in Houston will ever stop killing is if we demand it.   And we can’t just say it once and forget about it.  We have to continue to stand up for the animals in our community

Every day we have to tell Mayor Parker and city council to implement the No Kill model of sheltering at BARC — the very same model that is saving 90% or more in shelters all over the country.   We must tell city officials that if they will not take steps to make sure that No Kill model of sheltering is implemented, then we will vote for someone else next time around. The power to stop shelter killing is in our hands and we must use that power.

It is up to us —- average citizens — to make the killing stop in our community.

Contact the Mayor and city council and tell them to implement every single recommendation in Nathan Winograd’s 2009 assessment.  Tell them that we must have leadership that will rigorously implement every single program in the No Kill model of sheltering.   Tell them that you, as a voter, are sick of the mass killing in our shelters, and you expect that they will do what has been proven to stop it.  Houston should be a leader, not trailing behind 50+ communities in the country.

Calls are best, but if you can’t call, write them.  

Letters are better, but if you can’t write a letter, send an email.

Here is their contact information.  

Do it today and write it on your calendar to do it every week, until Houston joins the 21st century and stops killing shelter pets.

If we don’t do this, the killing in our city will never end.