Houston, TX – I just read an online article from a local news agency regarding one of the Kill shelters in Houston. I was really amazed at how many complete falsities and very disturbing statements were contained in just one article. I am quite often amazed at the information that is put out by some media because it seems that information that could be easily fact checked, never is. Perhaps in the age of online, “news at a moment” journalism, fact checking has become a lost art.
The article is about Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) and its director, Kappy Muenzer. The article proclaims that “Finding homes for animals still CAP’s primary mission”. CAP is one of the five Kill Shelters in Houston. It is a misconception among quite a few people in Houston that CAP is a No Kill shelter. They are not. In fact, far from it. Their own 2010 BBB report states that CAP had a 52% KILL RATE. Keep in mind that CAP is NOT an Open Admission facility, meaning that they can say no to intakes when they get full. So, if “finding homes for animals” really is CAP’s primary mission, I’d say a 52% Kill Rate means that they are failing miserably at this mission.
Below are a few more false and/or disturbing statements that were printed in the article.
1) “With the highest adoption rate in the country according to its website, CAP is quickly becoming a driving force in animal protection and humane education.”
Highest adoption rate in the country? This is absolutely untrue. There are currently 83* Open Admission shelters (again, CAP is not even Open Admission) that are saving 90%-98% of all animals. These are the shelters with the highest adoption rates in the country. It is not CAP. Not by a long shot.
As I said above, according to CAP’s 2010 BBB report, their Save Rate was a measly 48%. And, that is a DECREASE from 2005 when they reported a 54% Save Rate. Over the last couple of years, I have twice asked CAP’s director for their current intake and outcome records so that their current Save Rate could be calculated, but Muenzer refuses to be honest and produce this information. Citizens should be very worried when a KILL shelter will not release their records as that means they have something to hide. It would have been great if the reporter had asked for this information as well before printing that very false statement.
2) “I really believe CAP was the leader in reforming the shelter system”. CAP reports a 52% KILL rate. That KILL rate is only 6% less than Houston’s pound that Muenzer said is horrible in this article. That is a serious disconnect in that she does not recognize her own massive failure. (BTW: Houston’s pound is still just as “dingy and dark,” and there are still “row after row after row of cages” as Muenzer describes in the article i.e. not much has been “reformed” there. And certainly none of any reformation that has taken place at BARC in the last few years has been because of anything that CAP or Muenzer has done. Seventy plus HORRIBLE city pound employees were fired after the true animal advocates spoke out about the atrocities there and convinced the city to take action. Muenzer had nothing to do with this.)
In addition, there are FIVE kill shelters in Houston, including CAP, who are still killing approximately 80,000 animals every single year. That is not a “reformation” by any stretch of the imagination.
3) “We have a general goal in all the presentations: to educate the public about pet overpopulation and what they can do about it,” Pet overpopulation means too many pets and not enough homes. It has been proven that pet “overpopulation” does not exist.
Just because “shelters” are still killing animals, does not automatically mean that there are not enough homes for them. In fact, just the opposite is true. A study by HSUS and Maddie’s Fund showed that 27 MILLION people will bring new pets into their homes each year. 17 MILLION of those people have not decided where they will get their pet and “could” be convinced to adopt IF they were better introduced to the pets who need homes.
Conversely, 3-4 million pets are being killed in “shelters” each year.
Clearly, there are many more MILLIONS of new potential adoptive families each year than there are pets being killed by shelters in the U.S. (I’ve calculated the numbers for Houston here.)
Also, there are now 83 Open Admission, No Kill shelters in the US (See the list here) If pet overpopulation really existed, there would be no way that these shelters could have stopped killing. Yet, they have.
So why are the Kill shelters, like CAP, still killing healthy and treatable and adoptable pets when so many others have stopped it? The reason is that the shelter directors refuse to implement the successful No Kill model of sheltering that is working across the country. Obviously, if other shelters can save all healthy and treatable pets, so could CAP. But they CHOOSE to ignore what is working across the country and they CHOOSE to continue killing. It is, in fact, a choice.
4) “Children are they key to the future for animals,” Muenzer says. “We must educate our children about proper animal care so that abandoned animals and the city of Houston continue to benefit from our work.”
Again, this is absolutely false. The 37 YEARS that CAP and Kappy Muenzer have been killing healthy and treatable pets should be more than enough proof that “educating children about animal care” has done absolutely nothing to lower their Kill Rate. They have seen it first hand for 37 YEARS. In fact, as I said above, CAP’s Kill rate has actually risen over the last few years. Even the slowest of learners should be able to deduce that what they are doing is not working if their goal truly is to save lives.
The “we must educate the children” mantra does absolutely nothing to save the tens of thousands of animals entering Houston kill shelters today. The only thing this mantra does is attempt to pacify the public into believing that, at some magical point in time, decades down the road when these children grow up, everything will be great because the public will magically change.
It doesn’t work that way. 37 years have proven that it has not worked at CAP. It never has, and it never will
We now know that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that shelters will stop killing animals when the LEADERSHIP becomes dedicated to stopping it. Not only that, but it can be stopped immediately. It has been done for years now, and it is being done every day across the country.
To add insult to injury, No Kill Houston brought the leading, international No Kill sheltering expert, Nathan Winograd, to Houston in 2009 and 2011 for a “Building a No Kill Community” seminar so that he could teach everyone how we can stop sheltering killing. No Kill Houston sent FREE tickets to the directors of all FIVE kill shelters in Houston, including Muenzer, yet NONE of the kill shelter directors bothered to attend.
As an aside, this fact has always puzzled and saddened me. Let’s pretend that you are the director of a kill shelter that is killing 52% of the animals that enter your door. You believe that you are doing everything right, and you are doing everything that you can to save as many as possible. But, you hear that someone else has figured out how to do it much better. Someone else is saving every single healthy and treatable pet. All of them. Even if you think that you are doing everything right, wouldn’t you be interested to know what the more successful person is doing differently? After all, we are talking about alternatives to killing innocent animals.
Would your ego be so huge that you could not admit that someone else might doing it better and that person might actually teach you something so you could stop killing animals too?
Would your ego be so huge that you would not be the slightest bit interested in what this person has to say?
What if someone gave you free tickets so that you didn’t even have to pay for it? The only thing you had to do was show up. What then? Would you show up and listen?
The directors of Houston’s five kill shelters did not show up in 2009 or 2011.
5) “Muenzer caught a stray cat that had been meandering through her neighborhood and exchanged it with the pound for her personal cat.” This statement absolutely stuns me. Muenzer actually took a cat to the pound knowing full well that the cat would be killed. This is simply beyond belief. Why didn’t she just go to BARC and get her own cat back (and maybe save a few more from the slaughterhouse while she was there?) Why in the world would she take another cat to a high kill pound? Did she think there was some type of macabre exchange of bodies that must be met? If BARC could not kill her cat, she had to give them another cat to kill instead? Even at BARC’s worst, I’m pretty sure it never worked that way.
Who would do such a horrible thing to an innocent animal?
Perhaps this attitude explains why CAP’s KILL rate is within a few percentage points of the city’s high kill pound?
6) “We also try to have a target message for different types of audiences. A low income audience would benefit from lessons on proper animal care and the importance of spaying and neutering.”
Wrong again. If a person can’t afford to spay/neuter their pet, then all the “lessons” in the world will not change this fact. If they can’t afford it, they can’t afford it. If it is a choice between buying groceries and getting Fluffy fixed, Fluffy will not get fixed no matter how many messages of “proper animal care” that CAP sends out.
Also, studies have shown that most people will voluntarily spay/neuter their pets IF it is free or low cost. So, considering this, does CAP provide free or low cost spay/neuter for the companion animals of low income people, to go along with those “lessons”? According to their website, they do not. They simply list spay/neuter clinics in Houston. The only animals that CAP spay/neuters for free are feral (unowned) cats. Not that spaying/neutering feral cats isn’t needed; it is. But it certainly does not help those low income people that CAP claims to be targeting.
There are so many things that could be done to end the killing of healthy and treatable, adoptable pets at CAP, and the other 4 kill shelters. I would urge everyone to become familiar with the No Kill model of sheltering that has allowed 83 Open Admission shelters to stop killing.
This is a very solvable problem, but it will be up to us to solve it. All of the kill shelters in Houston have proven that they will not stop killing voluntarily.
So, it is up to us.
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*83 is as of today’s date. That number is increasing constantly.