Houston, TX – I just read Nathan* and Jennifer Winograd’s new book, Friendly Fire. When I read the last page and put the book down, the sole word that kept going through my mind was WOW. Even though I was already familiar with some of the stories, this book is still so stunning that I had trouble forming any other words but wow for some time.
The Winograds’ absolute honesty about the shocking state of our nation’s sheltering system makes this book, in many places, a hard read for anyone who cares about animals. It is a hard read for anyone with a conscience, for that matter. You cannot read this book and not be shocked, stunned, enraged and moved. I read Nathan’s first book, Redemption over 4 years ago and was shocked and also moved to act. It literally changed the entire way I thought about animal sheltering and quite literally changed the direction of my life. And, even though I have personally experienced much of what is described in Friendly Fire within Houston and Texas’ broken shelter system, I was still just as stunned reading this book as the first time I read Redemption.
Friendly Fire is the biggest, most thorough, expose of absolute corruption and hypocrisy that the “humane” industry has ever seen. It is methodical, like a criminal indictment. Step by step; one mind boggling story after another; one betrayal after another; failure upon failure; and lie upon lie perpetrated upon animal lovers who spend their very last dimes to donate to the “humane” organizations who have promised to save the animals that we love. The proof is all there.
The massive lies perpetrated on animal lovers and the mass death and horror supported, and actually committed, by the “humane” organization is simply mind boggling. The lengths that the multi-million dollar “humane” organizations have gone to sell out companion animals, and fool the animal loving public is in a word revolting. It is particularly maddening to me as I have been fooled into donating to almost all of the “humane” organizations described in Friendly Fire before I learned that they are fighting against everyting that I believe in.
Others within the animal sheltering industry have been afraid, or simply unwilling, to speak about the atrocities and betrayals, but the Winograds are not. They are not content to keep the lies a secret any longer. They turn over all the rocks and expose the ugliness to the light of day, so it can be reformed.
This book also examines the excuses that kill shelters, and their defenders, use to continue killing even when faced with proven life-saving alternatives. The absurdity of the arguments in favor of killing animals is beyond rational comprehension. Arguments such as “an animal is better off being killed by a “shelter” rather than released to a rescue group because transporting might be stressful to the animal.” You think that surely this must be some kind of sick joke. But it isn’t. The leaders of the “humane” organizations actually tell us that it is better to kill animals than allow rescue because a car ride might be stressful. It is simply insane.
The “humane” organizations’ fight to maintain the horrible, sadistic status quo is so irrational as to be unbelievable. But I do believe every word because, unfortunately, I have seen and experienced some of it personally. Some of the stories in this book come from the kill shelters, and their defenders, right here in my community.
I live in a city with a non-profit kill shelter that claims to be “humane” and even has the word in its name, but that also has an 89% Kill Rate. Pit Bulls or Pit mixes never leave this facility alive regardless of temperament and adoptability. They are not Open Admission, meaning they can so no to intakes, yet they continue to kill the vast majority of animals that they take in.
I live in a city with a city pound that allowed puppies to be washed down kennel drains for years by abusive pound employees, and was only stopped after massive negative attention by reformers. A pound that has killed cats that I offered to save. A pound that, to this day, still kills animals that rescuers and the public have offered to save. This is more than 3 years after our Mayor promised to do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill city.
I live in a county with a county pound that has an 85% Kill Rate. A pound that the County Attorney confirmed has broken state humane laws for years, maybe decades. A pound with a director who forces severely injured animals to suffer for days with no medical care. A pound who has killed animals, out of spite, that rescuers offered, and even begged, to save. Yet the pound director still has her job.
I live in a city with multiple kill shelters that kill all Pit Bulls or mixes, and who even label other breeds as Pit Bulls to have an excuse to kill them.
I live in state with a self-labeled “humane” organization who has taken donations from animal lovers and promised to protect animals by fighting for humane legislation. Yet, they instead fought against critical, life-saving Texas state legislation in 2011 with ridiculously feable and egocentric excuses such as 1) the bill is 30 pages long and 2) they were not notified before the bill was filed.
This so-called “humane” organization joined with the sell-out HSUS and fought against proposed legislation that would have:
*ended the inhumane gas chamber and heart sticks;
*banned “convenience killing” (killing when there are empty cages);
*mandated collaboration by requiring shelters to work with non-profit rescue organizations to maximize lifesaving;
*mandated transparency by requiring shelters to report how many animals they kill;.
*banned the killing of animals based on arbitrary criteria such as breed, age or color;
*prohibited selling shelter animals to research labs;
*protected feral cats and feral cat caretakers.
Instead of supporting our efforts to pass legislation that would have prevented immense suffering and death of animals in Texas, the self-proclaimed “humane” organizations instead fought against our efforts.
The stories like this are absolutely astounding and sound too ludicrous and macabre to be true, but every word is true.
I think Friendly Fire is one of the most important books on animal sheltering issues that has been written to date. It blows the lid off of the industry’s tightly held, horrible, secrets. The Winograds expose a corrupt industry that, in many cases, has become very wealthy from the deaths of the companion animals that they have promised to save. Once animal lovers read this book, it will leave the high kill shelters and the corrupt, self-proclaimed “humane” organizations that defend them, scurrying for cover.
This book also answers some of the questions that have perplexed me for a number of years, such as why do some self-proclaimed animal lovers and rescuers fight No Kill efforts? Why do they continue to claim that the No Kill model of sheltering does not or cannot work even when it already is working in 82** Open Admission pounds and shelters. It has been truly mind boggling to watch the “No Kill naysayers” fight efforts to reform high kill shelters in Houston, Harris County and Texas even when the animals in those “shelters” are subject to the most horrific treatment imaginable.
Just as described in Friendly Fire, the naysayers have gone so far as to personally attack me and even my family in their desperation to defend the kill shelters. They have blamed animal advocates when the kill shelters continue to kill and commit unspeakably inhumane acts against the animals they proclaim to care for. One Houston naysayer actually said that we were causing “Dr. Death” to kill more animals. They claimed that Dr. Death was killing animals out of spite because we are speaking out, so we should just stay quiet about the atrocities that we witnessed. (Dr. Death was the nickname given to the city pound’s horrible vet by volunteers. She has since been fired because we kept speaking out). Even after the naysayers have seen improvements such as puppies no longer being washed down kennel drains by cruel shelter employees and animals no longer being purposely starved for the entertainment of a psychopath shelter employee, the naysayers still support the kill shelter and fight reform efforts. The positive changes that have occurred, such as dozens of horrible and inhumane employees being fired, occurred solely because of our reform efforts. Yet the naysayers still attack No Kill advocates and continue to defend the high kill shelter. Their absurd reasoning and their fight to maintain the status quo of a high kill, inhumane “shelter”, is beyond all logic and beyond my comprehension. But, Friendly Fire explains their motivations.
If we want to end shelter killing, and I believe the majority of us do, then we will be the ones that will have to fight for it. The kill shelters have proven that they will not stop killing voluntarily even when we literally hand them the solutions. The wealthy, national “humane” organizations have proven that they will fight our life saving, shelter reform efforts. So, it is up to us. Luckily, Friendly Fire gives us the tools to reform an industry that has become the antithesis of everything that it proclaims to be. If I could place this book in the hands of every animal lover in the America, I would.
The most important thing that you can do for companion animals is to read this book… then pass it on to everyone you know.
Friendly Fire*** is available exclusively on Amazon.
* For those who are not familiar with Nathan Winograd’s work, he can arguably be called the father of the No Kill movement. He was the first person to take over a high kill shelter and transform it into a No Kill shelter, saving all healthy and treatable pets. And he is the person who has pushed the No Kill model of sheltering farther than anyone else in history. His work has, no doubt, made more of a difference in the lives of companion animals than anyone else.
** This number is as of today’s date. The number of Open Admission shelters and pounds that are saving 90% or more of all animals is growing constantly.
*** To the No Kill bashers, and Winograd attackers, who have claimed that the Winograds are only in it for the money or to sell their books, I would like to point out that the Winograds are selling Friendly Fire at their cost. Friendly Fire is being sold with the Winograds’ altruistic goal of ending shelter killing.
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