Sweeps = more killing of Houston pets

StrayDog2

Houston, TX – Last Monday I wrote about Houston city councilman Boykins’ plan to pay Houston’s pound $50,000 to do more “sweeps” i.e. round ups of stray dogs in District D.   Those people who are familiar with BARC, or kill “shelters” in general, are understandable very concerned to hear this news because we all know what this usually means.    It means the killing of additional pets by BARC.  

Randy Wallace with Fox 26 news reported on this issue, and what sweeps will mean for pets in Houston.  You can watch the report here.

I wrote to Councilman Boykins and asked him to consider non-lethal alternatives for dealing with this problem such has high volume, free, spay/neuter services for the effected areas.   S/N will make dogs less likely to roam (males won’t be chasing females) and it also reduces dogs’ propensity to bite.

I received an email from an un-named staffer in District D which stated:

Please be advised that the allocated funds will cover the costs to intake an animal, care for it at BARC for the average length of stay, market it and find a live release home for it. The cost is approximately $180 – $200/per animal for these services, thus allowing the animal control officers to pick-up and secure the adoption of approximately 250 – 270 dogs. Adoption is an integral part of this initiative and our office is not advocating, nor supporting any lethal solutions.”

My response to the staffer was:

“You may not be advocating for it, but that is exactly what will happen with this plan for increased sweeps.

As you may know, BARC is a kill shelter and the city mandated stray hold period is only 3 days before animals can be pulled by rescues, adopted or killed.

Since BARC does not have an adequate adoption program for a facility that takes in 20,000+ pets per year, BARC is perpetually full and they do kill animals every single day of the year; thousands of them every year.

Increasing intakes by ramping up sweeps absolutely will cause kill rates at BARC to increase, either to the dogs that are brought in during the sweeps or the dogs that will be killed to make room for the increased intakes.

This “catch and kill” method has been tried over and over and it has never worked. In 2009, Annise Parker advocated for increasing sweeps in the “Corridor of Cruelty”. This did nothing to save pets, nor did it decrease the strays there.

In 2010, after a report showed that Houston was #1 in bites to postal workers, and again BARC’s “solution” was to increase sweeps.  Since we are still talking about bites to postal workers now, it is obvious that this “solution” did not work either. (You can see both documents linked here: http://bit.ly/1KAixrM )

As I said below, there is a better solution that does not involve increasing the killing of pets at BARC which Councilmember Boykin’s plan will cause. How about trying a different approach vs. the knee jerk “solution” that has repeatedly failed?

How about using that $50,000 wisely to implement proven, long term, solutions that do not involve slaughtering hundreds of animals?”

I received no reply to my email.

But, it appears that Councilman Boykins is not interested in the spay/neuter release option, as he told Randy Wallace that “it will take too long”. 

So my next non-lethal suggestion is that he should, at the very least, use some of that money to create at least one offsite adoption facility so that the hundreds of dogs that will be picked up in these sweeps will actually have a chance of adoption;  and so that hundreds of additional dogs won’t be killed at BARC to make room for the flood of dogs from these sweeps.

TAKE ACTION

I am again urging animal lovers to contact Councilmember Boykins and BARC management and even Mayor Turner, and ask them to make non-lethal arrangements for the dogs that will be picked up during these sweeps.

Calls are best.  If you can call, I suggest stating the following (you will probably speak to a staffer and may be asked for your address):

“I would like to tell Councilman Boykins that I oppose his plans to pick up hundreds of homeless dogs in his District if he does not also make plans to insure that those dogs will actually be seen by the people who would adopt them.   This simply will not happen if the only option is BARC’s overcrowded facility that already kills dogs every single day. 

Please use some of that $50,000 to create offsite adoption opportunities so that these dogs will have a chance at adoption and so that your plan will not be a death sentence for these dogs and the hundreds of dogs already at BARC who will be killed to make room.

Public safety and saving the lives of homeless pets do not have to be mutually exclusive. They can work together hand in hand.”

If you can’t call, letters, faxes and emails are good too.

Below is a copy of my letter to Councilmember Boykins.  Feel free to copy and paste any part of it for your own letter. 

Councilman Dwight Boykins

900 Bagby, 1st Floor

Houston, TX 77002

Phone: 832.393.3001

Fax: 832.393.3201

districtd@houstontx.gov

Re:      Public safety and saving the lives of homeless pets do not have to be mutually exclusive. They can work together hand in hand. 

Councilmember Boykins, 

In connection with your plans to pay BARC $50,0000 to pick up hundreds of dogs in District D, one of your staffers stated that “Adoption is an integral part of this initiative and our office is not advocating, nor supporting any lethal solutions.” 

Your office may not be “advocating” for a lethal solution, but that is exactly what will happen with your plan for increased sweeps if you do not also have legitimate plans for increasing adoptions. 

As you know, BARC is a kill shelter and the city mandated stray hold period is only 3 days before animals can be pulled by rescues, adopted or killed. 

Since BARC does not have an adequate adoption program for a facility that takes in 20,000+ pets per year, BARC is perpetually full and they do kill animals every single day of the year; thousands of them every year. 

Increasing intakes, with additional sweeps, absolutely will cause more killing of dogs.  The dogs that are brought in during the sweeps will be killed and/or dogs that are already at BARC will be killed to make room for the increased intakes. 

Since you stated that you do not to want to use any of that $50,000 for free spay/neuter services for that area, you should use some of that money to create at least one offsite adoption facility.  This would help ensure that the hundreds of dogs that will be picked up in these sweeps will actually have a chance at adoption and so that hundreds of dogs will not be killed at BARC to make room for the flood of dogs from these sweeps.  

It does no good to pay BARC $180-$200 per animal to get them ready for adoption, if you do not also insure that they will actually be seen by the people who would adopt them.  This simply will not happen if the only option is BARC’s overcrowded facility. 

Public safety and saving the lives of homeless pets do not have to be mutually exclusive. They can work together hand in hand.

cc: 
Mayor Sylvester Turner
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX  77251
Phone: 832-393-1000
Fax: 832-393-1084
mayor@houstontx.gov
BARC Shelter Manager
Greg Damianoff
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX  77251
Phone: 713-837-9630
Fax:  713-837-0631
greg.damianoff@houstontx.gov
ARA Director (over BARC)
Tina Paez, Director
611 Walker, 13th Floor
Houston, TX  77002
Phone:  832-393-8501
tina.paez@houstontx.gov

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More sweeps and killing is not a solution

Houston, TX – City Councilman, Dwight Boykins recently announced to the media his plans to spend $50,000 for BARC employees to work overtime doing more “sweeps” in neighborhoods with stray dog problems.  Click here or here for the news stories. 

StrayDog

The city has done “sweeps” like this before. This was Annise Parker’s “solution” for strays as well.  Click here (BARC’s 2010 intention to do more “sweeps” as a solution for bite cases)  and here (Parker’s 2008 Policy Brief on BARC) for examples.  Clearly, simply picking up strays or abandoned pets have done nothing to address the issue.  So, why continue to repeat the same failed “solutions”?     

More sweeps are a temporary patch that does not solve the stray problem, but will cause BARC’s kill rate to skyrocket because most of the dogs picked up in these sweeps, will end up dead — killed by BARC along with the thousands of animals that BARC is already killing every year.  

This situation is just like when the city picked up and killed all feral cats… other cats move in to fill the void, so they never solved the feral cat problem. It was a vicious cycle of killing that never ended. Catch and kill solves nothing. TNR works to reduce the population.

The same thing happens with stray dogs. The neighborhoods that have the most strays are low income neighborhoods. This is because these people generally do not have the funds to spay/neuter and probably lack adequate fencing to keep their pets in. So you have females in heat running the streets and males chasing them. If you pick them up and kill them, other dogs just move in to fill the void left. And people in those neighborhoods will get more pets, that won’t be sterilized, and the cycle of breeding, roaming and biting will continue.

How about a more permanent, non-lethal solution?  How about investing that $50,000 in aggressive FREE spay/neuter services for these areas?  Use that overtime that Boykins was going to pay BARC employees to catch and kill animals to instead perform aggressive spay/neuter services?  Instead of picking dogs up, impounding them and killing them.  How about pick them up, spay/neuter them and return them, just like feral cats?  And if BARC cannot perform that many spay/neuter surgeries, then the city should contact SNAP, Emancipet and/or Texas Litter Control for help.  The city already has a contract with Emancipet and, according to a recent city council agenda, Emancipet has not been fulfilling their quota of pets that are supposed to be spay/neutered under the contract.  So, why not let them fulfill that quota on this project?   Our tax dollars have already paid for these services that have gone unused.

Not only will these dogs not be reproducing, but sterilized dogs are much less likely to bite and roam. So if these dogs are sterilized and they get out of their yards again, they will be less likely to be running the streets or biting anyone.

How about, this time, Houston implement proven, long term solutions that do not involve slaughtering hundreds of animals simply because they are homeless?

TAKE ACTION

I urge animal lovers to contact Councilmember Boykins and ask him to make proven, long lasting and non-lethal plans for the strays in District D. 

Below is a copy of my letter to Councilmember Boykins.  Feel free to copy and paste any part of it for your own letter. 

“Re:     Your plan for strays will cause kill rates to skyrocket. There is a better way

Councilman Boykins,

This article was just sent to me regarding your plans to pick up more stray dogs: http://htownxchange.com/2016/01/25/council-member-boykins-to-announce-initiative-targeting-stray-dogs-in-community/

This plan will result in the killing of hundreds more dogs at BARC.  I would like to suggest better, non-lethal solutions.

The city has done “sweeps” like this before.  This was Annise Parker’s “solution” for strays too.  Obviously, it did not work.   It is a temporary patch that nothing to get at the root of the stray problem.  But this plan will cause BARC’s kill rate to skyrocket because most of the dogs picked up in these sweeps, will end up dead; killed by BARC after they are picked up.   

This situation is just like when BARC used to pick up and kill all feral cats… other cats moved in to fill the void, so BARC never solved the feral cat problem.  It was a vicious cycle of killing that never ended.  Catch and kill solves nothing.  TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) is proven to reduce the feral cat population.

The same thing happens with stray dogs.   The neighborhoods that have the most strays are low income neighborhoods.  This is because these people generally do not have the funds to spay/neuter and probably lack adequate fencing to keep their pets in.  So you have females in heat running the streets and males chasing them (and likely fighting over females).   If you pick them up and kill them, other dogs just move in to fill the void left.    And people in those neighborhoods will get more pets, that won’t be sterilized, and the cycle of breeding, roaming and biting will continue.

I would like to suggest a more permanent, non-lethal solution.  How about investing that $50,000 in aggressive FREE spay/neuter services for citizens in those areas?    Use that overtime that you planned to pay BARC to catch and kill dogs to instead perform aggressive s/n services.  

Instead of picking dogs up, impounding them and killing them.  How about picking them up, spay/neuter them and return them, just like feral cats. And if BARC cannot perform that many spay/neuter, then the city should contact SNAP, Emancipet and/or Texas Litter Control for help.    The city already has a contract with Emancipet and, according to a recent city council agenda, Emancipet has not been fulfilling their quota of pets that are spay/neuter.  So, let them fill that quota on this project.

Not only will these dogs not be reproducing, but sterilized dogs are much less likely to bite and roam.   So if these dogs are sterilized and they get out of their yards again, they will be less likely to be running the streets or biting anyone.  

Let’s implement real proven, long term, solutions that do not involve slaughtering hundreds of animals.

Thank you,”

Councilmember Boykins’ contact information:

Dwight Boykins
900 Bagby, 1st Floor
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: 832.393.3001
Fax: 832.393.3201
districtd@houstontx.gov

Click here to find the mayor, city councilmembers and BARC management’s contact information.

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Revisionist History

Houston, TX – The Houston Chronicle recently published an article talking about Annise Parker’s “legacy” after 6 years as Houston’s mayor.  The article was filled with a lot of “inaccurate” statements, especially concerning BARC.

If we are going to talk about legacies, it is important that we look at actual history.  And since it appears some people have conveniently forgotten what has taken place in the last 6 years, I’d like to recap.  

First, Parker claims in the article that she loves animals.  Really?  This is the person who admitted to trapping feral cats and taking them to BARC at a time when BARC killed ALL feral cats (or any cat that BARC claimed was feral even if he/she was just scared).   When Parker trapped the cats, she knew that BARC killed all feral cats, because she was part of the 2005 Mayor’s Task Force report which reported on BARC and Houston’s other kill shelters.  Yet, Parker took those cats to their deaths anyway.   

What kind of “animal lover” does that?

gattoSecond, the article claims that Parker started BARC’s “transformation”.  Actually, BARC’s “transformation”, if you want to call it that, began in Bill White’s last term in 2009.  After many, many demands from animal lovers, Bill White hired the “change agent” who fired 75+ truly horrendous, animal abusing, employees at BARC.   At the same time, citizens demanded that the city hire international, No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd to assess BARC.   After the public donated the money to hire Winograd, he wrote a nearly 200 page, assessment, telling the City and BARC how they could stop killing healthy and treatable pets.    

All of this took place before Parker even took office.  

So, the day Parker took office as Mayor, BARC was perfectly poised to stop killing shelter pets.   They had better employees, and a step by step guide showing them exactly how to do it.   But, Parker did not require her employees to actually implement what Winograd recommended.  

Therefore, BARC kept killing huge numbers of animals every year:   

At least 15,088 killed in 2010;  

13,060 killed in 2011;

14,530 killed in 2012;

12,596 killed in 2013; and

10,050 killed in 2014.   

That is 65,324 pets killed, or who died in BARC’s “care”, during Parker’s first 5 years in office.  (Of course, the total number killed during her entire 6 years in office is much higher with 2015’s numbers that I don’t have yet).   

In fact, BARC’s Kill Rate INCREASED every year for the first 3 years that Parker was in office.   

And all this happened after she promised voters to do “everything in her power” to transform Houston to a No Kill city.  If Parker had kept her promises, and if she had actually required that her employees rigorously implement all of Nathan Winograd’s 2009 recommendations, BARC would, no doubt, be a No Kill facility by now.  But, she didn’t.    Instead, she left the same management in place, year after failed year, doing the same failed jobs over and over…. and the results were disastrous.  
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Parker waited 5 years and 11 months to even require that her employess save at least 90% of BARC pets for just 1 month.   A nice little PR stunt, but what kind of “legacy” is that?

More kill shelter lies

Parker also kept Greg Damianoff in charge over BARC year after year, even though he totally failed to even try to end shelter killing.  He does not even work at BARC full time.   He shows up once a day for an hour and goes back to city hall.  You cannot turn around a facility like BARC by not even working there all day.  But, Damianoff and Parker were not trying to end shelter killing. 

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And let’s not forget that Damianoff, and the Houston Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, that Parker appointed, made a deal with HFD to allow them to EXPERIMENT on BARC cats.  

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And Damianoff  is the person who allow(ed) his employees to violate city ordinances and kill pets before the city mandated 3 day stray hold period expired.   

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In addition, over the years, I have received numerous emails from people saying that they offered to foster pets that were at risk of being killed by BARC, but they were turned down. BARC management i.e. Damianoff, chose to kill those pets even though people offered to save them. Click here and here.     

Another great “legacy”.  Not.

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Many people will never go to BARC to adopt.  1) Because of the horrible location and inconvenient hours — Houston is 600 square miles and it simply is not convenient for a lot of Houstonians to go there;  2) People know that BARC is a kill shelter and they simply cannot stand to go and stare into the faces of animals that they know will be killed.   

That is why offsite adoptions are CRITICAL to ending shelter killing. Parker knows this.  BARC management knows this.  Nathan Winograd told them this in 2009.  In fact, BARC experienced how successful offsite adoptions can be in 2011. The one, very successful, offsite adoption event that BARC organized was located in a HIGH TRAFFIC, HIGHLY VISIBLE location. This event was so successful that BARC had over 400 adoptions that weekend alone.    As a comparison, BARC had only 343 adoptions during the entire previous MONTH.) 

So, considering how many lives were saved at this successful offsite adoption event, logic would dictate that BARC leadership would organize many more just like it.  But, logic does not come into play when BARC leadership makes decisions.  That event took place in July 2011, and I have yet to see a similar event.    

Another failure on the part of BARC management and Parker who left him in charge for 6 years.

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And who can forget Keiko, the horribly injured dog that entered BARC in 2010.  She had serious head/eye injuries that so obviously needed specialized care, that BARC  was not equipped to handle.  (At the time, BARC was doing x-rays in a closet and had no specialized equipment for anything other than spay/neuters). Rescuers raised thousands of dollars to have Keiko cared for by a specialist, but BARC management refused to release Keiko to rescuers.   BARC and ARA Dept employees lied many times about the state of Keiko in order to keep her there.   This was not done in Keiko’s best interests.  This was all done as a PR stunt.  Despite not having adequate diagnostic or operating room equipment, BARC choose to operate on that poor dog.  Not surprisingly Keiko died.    

Big, fat, horrendous failure/legacy.

No Excuse Sad Embarrassed Person Isolated from Group

Under Parker and the ARA Dept, BARC illegally banned volunteers because those volunteers spoke up about problems at BARC. The last ARA Dept Director also threatened to ban volunteers who were trying to network and save death row pets, because he didn’t like words like “last chance” posted on the volunteers’ own Facebook page.  

And BARC ticketed rescuers who spent their last dime trying to save homeless animals. 

And BARC killed animals even when alternatives were literally standing right in front of them.

And Parker claims to have done a good job at BARC just because she took some pictures with BARC pets?  She does not mention that she did not bother to require her employees to actually market those pictures to the adopting public.  Personally, I have never once seen them marketed publically in a place where a large number of potential adopters would actually see them.  The only time I’ve seen the pictures is when I have been searching the city’s website or when they rarely turn up in one of my Google searches. But how many other people are doing this?   Very, very few from the results…

What Parker conveniently did not mention is that many of those same pets ended up on death row at BARC.  RESCUERS then saved those pets.  Not Parker. 

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And let’s talk about that white elephant, multi-million dollar, “shelter” that she built with our tax dollars.   She did not decide to buy some land “right after she took office” as she claimed in the article.   Bill White had already designated a horrible piece of property off of Wayside for more kennel space.   There were many problems with that property.  1) it was on the same property as a sewage treatment facility;   2) it was in a flood plain; 3) endangered birds were nesting in the trees there; 4) the neighborhood is in a zip code where BARC picks up the most strays i.e. that location is not conducive to high volume adoptions when there are so many strays already there.  

People from that neighborhood told me that they met with Parker and asked her to build the facility somewhere else, but she told them that she couldn’t.  She told them it was a done deal.  But, miraculously after thousands of people complained and no one wanted to donate to build in that foolish location, THEN Parker decided to build kennel space right next to BARC’s old facility.    This did not occur “right after she took office” and it was not of her own volition. 

And, let’s remember that when she was trying to sell people on donating to build that sewage treatment adjacent facility on Wayside, she said that BARC’s current location DETERS adoptions.   So why did she then turn around and spent millions of dollars to build in the exact location that she had earlier said deters adoptions?  More revisionist history at work.

BARC’s current location does deter adoptions.  So, building more kennel space/an adoption facility there is a waste of tax dollars and donor dollars because few people will go there to adopt.  That means fewer adoptions, so more animals losing their lives as well as fewer adoption fees (i.e. smaller return on that investment).  And it means higher costs (it costs MORE to kill animals than to save them).   That facility will waste money and hamper life saving efforts for decades to come.  Thanks for that “legacy”.

Burning dollar

And it gets worse, if you can believe it.  After the white elephant was built, BARC/city of Houston can’t even use it fully because Parker failed to budget money to actually pay employees to work there.  Dogs are taken to the new facility during the day, but have to be taken back to the old facility at night, if they aren’t adopted.   This means BARC has to leave the kennels in the old building open, in case the dog has to come back. 

And cats were completely forgotten during any plans.  They aren’t housed in the new facility at all.

Parker spent $12 million on a facility and it essentially added NO additional kennel space.  Not only that, but before that thing was built, she said it would cost $12 million to build.  That $12 million is gone and in the last report that I saw, she said it will cost another $20 million to finish.   How can anyone be off by $20 MILLION dollars? 

So let’s recap:  tax payers and donors are supposed to spend $32 million to build more kennels in a horrible location that DETERS adoptions and adds that no new kennel space.

Awesome “legacy”.

In addition, in 2009 Bill White set aside millions of dollars that were supposed to be spent to renovate the horrendous North Kennels.  Click here to see pictures of the nightmarish, dungeon-like, North Kennels. Architects were paid hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to come up with plans yet, 6+ years later, those kennels still have never been renovated.  What did Parker do with all of those millions that were dedicated to BARC?   

도둑

And let’s talk about BARC’s recent claimed 80%+ Save Rate.  I’ve caught BARC/COH lying about their Save Rates at least a ½ dozen times over the 6 years of Parker’s terms. Here is must one instance.   So, I absolutely do not believe their claims now.  BARC management uses a lot of “fuzzy math” to come up with their Save Rates. 

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In addition, a new “program” that BARC recently started includes dumping friendly cats in BARC’s parking lot.   This is a perversion of a program that was created to save more cats’ lives at kill shelters i.e. the shelters are supposed to spay/neuter friendly, healthy, adult, free roaming (non-feral) cats and return them to the location where they were picked up.  If the cats look healthy/well fed, they are most likely someone’s pet and will find their way back home.  If not owned, the cats are obviously finding food somewhere in the area and should be returned. 

But, BARC does not return the cats to the location where they were picked up.   BARC is dumping them in their parking lot.  Two cats were attacked and killed by dogs a few months ago in BARC’s parking lot.  I believe that these were most likely indoor only cats that didn’t know to be afraid of dogs and didn’t know how to survive “in the wild”.

And an email was recently forwarded to me about a group cats that were friendly, perhaps indoor only cats, that had been up for adoption at BARC. But the BARC employee said the cats were “out of time”, and they were going to “ear notch” them and release them.   If they are released in BARC’s parking these cats would never find their way home, nor would their owners ever them.  I supposed this is better than killing them, but it is not a good solution for these cats and this is not how this program is supposed to work.  If BARC had leadership that actually cared about saving lives, this program would never be perverted in this manner.

This is just a way to count “Saves” instead of “Kills” so Parker could claim that 94% Save Rate last November.  They are risking cats’ lives just to make a better Save Rate claim to the media. 

KittensatBARCIn addition, BARC/COH is paying a group literally millions of dollars to ship animals other communities.  The problem is that those communities also have kill shelters. This means that even if those BARC pets are going to No Kill rescue groups in those communities, pets on death row there will not be saved because the rescue groups are full with BARC pets. 

Causing the death of pets in another communities is not a “Save”. It is just transferring the killing somewhere else to make BARC “look” better.  It is trading one life for another.  This is not a solution.

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Further, a 94% Save Rate is not “unheard of” in a big city as Parker claimed.  Animal control in Austin and Williamson County, both very large communities, have been saving over 90% for years now.   And, there are hundreds of Open Admission animal control facilities doing the same all over the country and have been for 15 years.  Click here for a list of those communities.  

There were Open Admission, No Kill facilities when Parker took office.  In fact, the number of Open Admission, No Kill communities increased from about 5 to hundreds after Parker took office.  The only thing she had to do was require that BARC management copy their successes. But, she didn’t. For six long deadly years, she didn’t.  And BARC is still killing thousands of pets. 

Yea, that is quite a “legacy”.

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And Parker did absolutely nothing to try to end shelter killing in the other four kill shelters that are located in Houston’s city limits either.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  In fact, she did the exact opposite.   She fought others’ efforts to end shelter killing… 


In 2011, No Kill Houston got the Companion Animal Protection Act filed at the state level.  This was lifesaving legislation that would have done the following across the state of Texas: 

1) abolish the gas chamber;

2) abolish “heart sticks” as a method of “euthanasia” except under certain specific circumstances;

3) ban “convenience killing” (killing when there are empty cages);

4) mandate collaboration by requiring shelters to work with non-profit rescue organizations to maximize lifesaving;

5) mandate transparency by requiring shelters to report how many animals they kill;.

6) ban the killing of animals based on arbitrary criteria such as breed, age or color;

7) prohibit selling shelter animals to research labs;

8) protect feral cats and feral cat caretakers; and more….

Yet Parker opposed the bill.  

And true to form, BARC management fought life saving, shelter reform legislation again in 2013.  Click here and here

Parker’s opposition against state wide, shelter reform legislation is worse than her failure to act.   She actively fought against those life saving efforts.

That is nothing short of an atrocity.

Animal shelter

And during Parker’s terms, BARC and the other kill shelters in Houston, killed tens of thousands more pets than all of the cities with larger human population. When it comes to animal shelters, Houston is literally the Biggest Loser.

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Here are some more of Parker’s promises to animal  lovers the first time she ran for office.   She has totally failed to do most of what she promised voters.  

Considering the above, I’d say that the word “legacy” is accurate only if we use the dictionary definition which is associated with something that is outdated or discontinuedand perhaps if we add the description complete and utter failure“.   

Parker’s legacy does not include an attempt to push Houston into the 21st century of sheltering.  She did little to nothing to “transform” BARC and she allowed it stay in the dark ages of catch and kill sheltering for 6 long years. And she made irresponsible and wasteful use of taxpayer and donor dollars to build a facility that has not, and will not, measurably increase life saving vs. had it been built in an intelligent location.

That is Parker’s legacy.  And it is a “legacy” that Houstonians will be stuck with for decades.

dirty toilet with money close up, lot of cash uselessYou might wonder why I bothered to recap some of Parker’s failures.  After all, she is term limited out and Houston recently elected a new mayor and some new city council members.

The reasons are:

1) It is important to remember history accurately.  Revising history to suit one person’s agenda, does nothing to help the rest of us in the future.  

2) Like Bill White, Parker may run for another office.  The Chronicle article stated that she was considering running for Harris County Commissioner or County Judge.  We need to remember the true history of Parker’s 3 terms so we can make wise decisions at the polls in the future.

I hope that Houston’s new mayor and city council members are forward thinking and will be willing to think outside the traditional sheltering “box” and that they are willing to make decisions, even the difficult decisions, that are required to move Houston into the 21st century.  

change management

If they are, then Houston will truly have a legacy that is worth boasting about.

best friends

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Lack of transparency in Houston

Houston, TX – I’m posting a link to a great article written by Craig Malisow with the Houston Press.  In it he exposes huge problems within Annise Parker’s administration, and what I feel is the city/Annise Parker illegally withholding documents from the public.  

Click here to read the article.    It is shocking.  

I am mentioned in the article because I am one of many people who have been experiencing the same problems when I have requested public records relating to BARC (Houston’s pound).   I have been fighting with the city over documents related to pet transports, and the MILLIONS being paid to RPM, for over 1 1/2 years.  The city is using our tax dollars to pay for these transports and I believe that these are public records. But, the city attorney’s office is using every trick they can find to try to hide these records.

After my first Public Information Request (PIR), Tonia, the person who handles PIRs for the city, claimed that the city did not have any relevant records.  None.  I knew that this was not true because any city expenditure over $50,000 has to be approved by city council.  So, there had to be documents that were given to city council so that they could vote on it.  I explained this to Tonia and explained that she must not haved searched in all of the locations that records would logically exist—as Texas law requires.   I went round and round with Tonia about this.  I also explained that I had seen relevant documents, so I knew that city employees did, in fact, have relevant documents in its posession.  But, Tonia kept telling me that Greg Damianoff said that there were no records.  
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So, contrary to what Texas law requires, Tonia asked only ONE city employee if records existed.  Then, that one employee, i.e. BARC’s director, Greg Daminaoff lied and said no records existed.
So, I ended up appealing the city’s denials/lies 3 times to the Texas Attoney General’s office.   BARC/COH sent 1 or 2 documents after each of my appeals, and they were only documents that I had already told them I had seen.
Later, a reporter gave me a number of RPM invoices.  These documents were clearly relevant to my PIR, yet the city had not produced those documents to me.  So, I filed another appeal with the Texas AG’s office.  The city attorney’s office claimed that they did not have the records at the time that they received my request.  I believe this was a lie because 2 of the invoices were dated 2 months earlier than my original PIR and many were dated after my many appeals to the Texas Ag’s office.
So, I later did another PIR for the same records.  Then, Tonia sent me an estimate saying that it would cost $3,800 to produce the records to me.  This amounts to THIRTY ONE eight-hour days’ worth of work to gather the documents.  This is utterly absurd even for the slowest of city employees.
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The next day I got a copy of letter from the city’s legal dept. to the Texas AG saying that documents responsive to my request related to “bioterrorism”, among other things, and should be exempt from the public.   Clearly, the city attorney was throwing everything but the kitchen sink into their quest to withhold the documents from me.  

A few days later, I got a letter from the city’s legal dept saying the documents were “attorney-client privilege” and should be exempt from production to the public.

If the city is so proud of this transport program, as they claim, then why are they working SO hard to keep records hidden from the public?  

Why shouldn’t the public have a right to know exactly how their tax dollars are spent?  
And why shouldn’t we animal lovers have a right to know what is happening to the thousands of pets that are being shipped off to other states? 
 
Apparently, Annise Parker and her administration didn’t think that the public has the right to know about anything going on at the city….. even pet transports that our tax dollars are funding.
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The Texas Attorney General ruled that the City of Houston must produce most of the records that they claimed were “attorney/client” privileged.  
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I’m still waiting on a ruling regarding the absurd $3,800 estimate to produce the rest of the documents.
Parker, and her administration, did not know the meaning of the word transparency and the public’s right to know.   Unfortunately, some of those same people still work at the city.  
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And unfortunately, Parker will likely run for another office.  A Chronicle article recently reported that she was considering running for Harris County Commissioner or Harris County Judge, if Ed Emmett retires.

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Heaven help the shelter pets at Harris County animal control if that happens.  We have 6 years of proof that she will not make wise or life saving decisions when it comes to shelter pets….. and that she will work really hard to cover up that fact, even if it means skirting the law.  

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If you wish to receive an email notification each time I write a new blog post here, please click the blue Follow link at top right corner of your screen. (Note: The link may not be visible if you are reading this blog in an email. If you cannot see the link in an email, click the title of the blog to be taken to my blog’s website.)

Friend me on Facebook and Pinterest.

Follow Houston Voters For Companion Animals, a political animal advocacy group, on Facebook and Twitter, and register to receive their newsletter.

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PETA Equals Death

Reblogging. Please stand up for the animals and fight PETA’s efforts to undermine life saving shelter reform legislation!

mom2nomads

There is a new law in Virginia, one countless people fought hard for. It solidifies that a private animal shelter is “a facility operated for the purpose of finding permanent adoptive homes for animals.” Nothing terribly revolutionary about that, right? It’s pretty much the definition of a shelter. So why did Virginia need this law? Why did it pass the House and the Senate with overwhelming support? Why did animal welfare advocates breathe a collective sigh of relief when this happened? Because People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia and, at those headquarters, they kill thousands of animal each year.

In 2014 PETA received 2,631 animals — 2,324 of them ended up dead. Let that number sink in for a minute. 2,324animals dead at the hands of PETA in one year. PETA fought hard against SB1381, the now law that defines what…

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