Houston, TX – A concerned citizen, Trina, recently emailed me because she, like thousands of people in Houston, is concerned about the sky high kill rates that continue at Houston’s pound. She wrote Annise Parker asking when she will keep her promises to do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill community.
Annise Parker sent a letter to Trina stating in part “Because BARC, unlike other shelters, cannot turn down any animal brought to it no matter its condition, it will never be a 100% No Kill.”
My question is “How could Parker possibly know if BARC can be No Kill?” She has not required BARC employees to implement the No Kill mode of sheltering. She cannot state that it cannot be done, when she has not even bothered to attempt it.
Personally, I find Parker’s response incredibly repulsive on so many levels, not the least of which is that her statement is entirely false. In 2009, Parker promised to do everything in her power to ensure that BARC became a No-Kill shelter. However, after 2 terms and four years of broken promises and complete and utter failure, Parker now conveniently claims that BARC cannot be 100% No Kill. This is despite the fact that there are now more than 200 Open Admission, No Kill shelters/communities in the US. Most of them became No Kill communities while Parker has been mayor.
What is certain is that, as long as Parker continues to claim that No Kill cannot be achieved at Open Admission facilities like BARC, it absolutely will not be achieved at BARC. She is giving BARC management a free ticket to just keep on killing thousands of pets. BARC management can continue to just skate by, doing a half-way job instead of working hard to implement the programs and services that have been proven to work.
And, the claim that BARC cannot turn down any animal is also not true. A couple weeks ago, I talked to a man who recently visited BARC. It was a Monday and BARC was closed to the public, so he drove to the back gate. In front of him was a person in a car who was trying to surrender an animal. BARC turned them down and turned them away. So BARC can, and does, turn down animals. This is just another excuse for her failure.
Parker’s letter also claims that they want to meet with Trina to “hear your ideas about how to achieve No Kill at BARC”. The kicker is that city of Houston and BARC leadership already know what is necessary to achieve No Kill. They do not need citizens to continue to tell them. They have already heard it from the people who are actually doing it every day. No Kill Houston brought No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd to Houston twice to teach his “Buidling a No Kill community” workshop. Nathan Winograd is the first person to create an Open Admission, No Kill community and he has taught thousands of others how to copy his success.
Employees from the ARA Dept (the Dept over BARC) attended Winograd’s 2011 workshop. In addition, shelter manager, Greg Damianoff and several other ARA Dept employees, also attended the national No Kill conference in Washington DC last year. This is the premier No Kill conference in which hundreds of people, who are already achieving No Kill, gather to teach others exactly how they are accomplishing it.
So Parker, and the people she hired to manage BARC, know exactly what needs to be done to stop killing shelter pets at BARC, but they have chosen to ignore it. They have chosen to continue doing the same thing that they have always done, even though it has been a colossal failure for 4 years.
When I wrote about this issue, and the litany of lies coming from the city in November 2011, there were 27 Open Admission, No Kill pounds and shelters (just like BARC) saving 90% to 99% of all animals. Today, less than 2 years later, there are more than 200! There is absolutely no good excuse that BARC is only saving 42%.
I want to know exactly how many other Open Admission shelters/communities will reach the No Kill goal before Annise Parker admits that No Kill IS possible at BARC as well, with the right leadership? I really want to know what that number is? Apparently, 200+ of them is not enough to convince her to even try.
How many other communities will pass by Houston on the way to No Kill before Parker admits that she has not even attempted to implement the No Kill model of sheltering at BARC?
How many thousands of shelter pets must be killed by BARC and the city of Houston before Parker admits that she has failed to demand that BARC management, such as Greg Damianoff, actually do their jobs and work hard to save lives?
How can anyone, with a conscience, stand by and do absolutely nothing while people, under her direction and control, KILL tens of thousands of pets every single year?
How long will Parker keep her head in the sand, ignoring what is going on in the world around her, at the expense of tens of thousands of shelter pets who will be killed on her watch?
How many sweet, loving, adoptable pets will be killed before Houston gains leadership who will truly work on this issue?
Parker stated, in her letter to Trina, that BARC “will never be 100% No Kill”. I agree that, under Parker’s administration, BARC will never be a No Kill shelter. We have 4 years of proof of this fact.
Houston desperately needs city leaders who will make life saving in our shelters a priority, not just an afterthought while running for re-election.
The only way that BARC will make any positive improvements in life saving is after pink slips are issued at city hall. We voters have the power to write those pink slips on November 5th. It is up to we citizens to elect city leaders who actually care about saving lives.
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The goal of No Kill may be 100%, but almost all the No Kill shelters achieve something slightly less than 100%, isn’t that true, after untreatable and terminally dangerous dogs are put to sleep. But isn’t 98% saved considered No Kill? Just trying the NK model and getting to 80% save rate would be better than BARC’s status quo.
No Kill is generally defined as saving 90% or more of all animals. True No Kill shelters have found that 10% or less of all animals are so irremediably injured or sick that they have no hope of having a life without pain. Also included in that 10% are dogs that are so vicious that they cannot be safely adopted to the public. Of course, with advances in medicine and advances in behavioral training, and the increase in sanctuaries, there will soon come a time that the amount of animals that cannot be saved, will be only a tiny amount.
Regarding Parker’s “100%” statement, she knows exactly what No Kill is. I have given her Nathan Winograd’s book when she was still controller, and her assistant reported that she read it. She knows what it means. I think that it is an attempt to confuse people and make it seem like No Kill is an unreasonable goal. But even if No Kill meant 100% animals were saved and rehomed, a measly 42% Save Rate is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE.
We have a serious problem here in our community just next door in San Antonio. Austin changed their City Council folks, seems that’s what needs to happen there in Houston as well as here. If only the Right Candidates filled those positions more would be accomplished!!!