The Candidate Forum focused on sheltering issues was a HUGE success!

Houston, TX – On September 29th, Houston Voters For Companion Animals and No Kill Houston presented a Candidate Forum focused solely on animal sheltering issues in Houston.  It was the ONLY Forum to focus solely on animal welfare and No Kill topics and there was a great turnout.  More than 300 people registered to attend, and more impressive was the 15 mayoral and city council candidates who participated.

Some of the candidates at the Forum on 9-29-15

The high kill rates in Houston’s 5 kill shelters are a serious issue; one that has been mostly ignored by politicians in the past.   In fact, the first time I went to speak at the public session at city hall about problems at Houston’s taxpayer funded city pound, I looked up from my speech to find that then mayor, Bill White and several city councilmembers, had left the room. They didn’t bother to wait the short 3 minutes it took me to finish my carefully written speech.  Several other council members were talking or texting on their cell phones.  No one on city council was listening and it was clear that no one cared that BARC then had an 80%+ Kill Rate and was a complete house of horrors with employees who regularly starved and tortured shelter pets for fun and games.  

So, for so many candidates to attend a Candidate Forum focused solely on this issue, is a 180 degree about-face from a few years ago.  

And not only did they attend, it was obvious that most of the candidates there were honestly concerned about this issue.  I could tell that many had done research on the topic and had great, thoughtful answers.  It was obvious that many were ready, willing and able to work on ending shelter killing in Houston. 

I had timed the questions and answers and thought that the Forum would actually end 15 minutes earlier than the 1 1/2 hours that we had alotted.  But the candidates were so interested in many of the questions that they wanted to jump in and add their comments to questions to other candidates.  They WANTED to talk about this issue.  I actually had to exclude 3 planned questions because we just ran out time. That is the kind of Forum that I absolutely LOVE!

Randy Wallace, a reporter with Fox 26, was the Forum Moderator and he did a wonderful job.  Randy has reported on a lot of animal sheltering issues over the years and has been a great animal advocate. Considering the loud applause and cheers that erupted when I introduced him, he is also a favorite among animal lovers.  

Fox 26 also livestreamed the entire Forum on their website.  I hadn’t known that they were going to do this, so it was another wonderful surprise.  

A great Houston photographer, Jack Opatrny, volunteered to tape the Forum for us, so we can post it online for those who were unable to attend.  That should be uploaded to the web this weekend.    

There were so many animal lovers who came together that night in order to make positive changes for shelter pets in Houston.  I cannot find words that fully express how wonderful it was to witness.       

Ending shelter killing is a very solvable problem.  So many communities have already ended the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets and I have no doubt that Houston can do it too.  We literally have a step by step guide in our hands, and we can follow the examples set by so many successful communities.  

What we now need is leadership who truly cares about the issue and who is willing to work to implement the programs that are already working across the country, and there were really GREAT choices present at our Forum Tuesday night.


We will soon be posting a Voter’s Guide rating the candidates’ responses at the Candidate Forum and to our Candidate Survey, so make sure that you check our website before you vote; or register for our e-Newsletter so that you will receive a notice when the Voter’s Guide is posted.

A few people have commented to me that they are confused about which races they can vote in, so I wanted to clarify.   If you live in Houston (and are registered to vote), you can vote for the candidates in running in the District race that you live in i.e. Districts A through K.  Click here to find your District, if you do not know it.  

In addition, all Houstonians can vote in ALL of the At Large races i.e #1 through #4.    You can also vote in the mayoral race. 

For instance, I live in District K, so I can vote for a city council candidate in the District K race and I can also vote for city council candidates in all of the At Large races, positions 1 through 4.  And I can vote in the mayoral race. 

Vote for candidates who will protect shelter pets

If you have not yet registered to vote, you have until October 5th to register in order to be able to vote in this November’s election.  Click here to register.  

Make your vote count this year!   Vote for the candidates who will protect shelter pets!


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Houston animal sheltering issues discussed on the radio!

pug in a wire dog crate looking out a viewer

Vote for the candidate who will protect shelter pets

Houston, TX – On September 15, I was on Vegan World Radio discussing the upcoming Candidate Forum on animal sheltering issues in Houston, and regarding the candidates views on transforming Houston to a No Kill community.

This is the ONLY Candidate Forum which will focus solely on this topic.  You can listen to the interview by clicking THIS LINK.

If you would like to attend the Candidate Forum, please Register.  There are links to register on our WEBSITE HERE.  

We will be posting a Voter’s Guide after the Candidate Forum, so make sure you check our website before you vote.   Or REGISTER FOR OUR E-NEWSLETTER so that you will receive a notice when the Voter’s Guide is posted.

Make Your Pet A Pin-up Photo Contest!

Since it was so successful last year, we are doing another Make Your Pet a Pin Up contest! It costs just $5 to enter your favorite photo of your pet, or even a foster pet.

Each vote is just $1. You can vote for your pet, or multiple pets

The top 12 winners will be featured in our 2016 calendar and receive free calendars.

I entered my dog, Crickett, into the contest.  It’s going to be hard to beat this kind of cuteness, but I know you all are for a challenge.


Crickett says “I’m so darn cute, I’m sure to win the top spot! Is there anyone out there who thinks that they can beat me?”

All entries/votes are donations to No Kill Houston that help to continue advocating for No Kill sheltering in Houston, and are tax deductible.

Click here to go to the contest.

HAPPY VOTING and please SHARE with your family and friends!

Exposing excuses for killing as lies

truth or lie

Houston, TX – I first learned that pet overpopulation is a myth about 8 years ago after reading Nathan Winograd’s book, Redemption.   Pet “overpopulation” means too many pets and not enough homes.  But, No Kill shelters across the country have found that pet overpopulation does not exist because they are saving all healthy and treatable pets.  If “overpopulation” was real, they would not be able to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets.  It would be impossible.   But, these shelters have done just that.  Just because some “shelters” are still killing pets does not mean that there aren’t enough homes. 

Other myths/excuses for killing pets such as “shelters can’t adopt their way out of killing” have been proven to be false as No Kill shelters continue to do exactly that. 

I recently uncovered that yet another excuse used by kill shelters, and their defenders, is a myth as well.  This is an excuse frequently made by kill shelters in the south.   I was as astounded when I uncovered this myth as I was when I learned that pet overpopulation is a myth. 

More kill shelter lies

More kill shelter lies

A lot of people in the south say that kill shelters, like Houston’s pound (BARC), cannot stop killing shelter pets because their intakes are so much higher than other shelters, particularly those shelters in the north.   Honestly, even I assumed that southern shelters probably had higher intakes per capita than northern shelters because of the near year round warm temperatures, which would lead to near year round breeding.  I did NOT believe those kill shelters’ excuses that they could not stop killing pets though.  I just assumed it would be more work to do so.

But, as I researched this topic, and as I calculated “intakes per capita” (IPC) for various shelters around the country, what I found is that temperature/climate has absolutely nothing to do with per capita intake rates.  And climate has absolutely nothing to do with whether a shelter can, or will, end the killing of shelter pets. There is no correlation whatsoever.  

I compared BARC’s IPC to Open Admission shelters with Save Rates of 90%+ or more listed on the Saving 90 website.  (Note:  A lot of the shelters listed on this site are No Kill shelters.  However, some may not be “No Kill” if they are not saving ALL healthy and treatable pets yet.  But, all of the shelters that I researched are saving at least 90% of all animals.  I’ll call them the “90% Club” here). 

A lot of people assume that BARC’s IPC would be much higher than any of the shelters in the 90% Club.   But, it turns out that this assumption is completely wrong.  In fact, the exact opposite is true.

I calculated BARC’s IPC to be 11.35 in 2014 (i.e. 11.35 pets taken in by BARC for every 1,000 Houstonians).  I have been told that national average is 14.5 IPC and some say it is as high as 30 IPC.   Either way, BARC’s IPC in 2014 was well below the national average.

For the eleven 90% Club shelters that I researched, all but one, (Austin’s animal control with 9 IPC) had HIGHER intakes per capita than BARC.  Higher intakes per capita would, of course, mean that those shelters have to work harder to get all healthy and treatable pets out alive.  But the 90% Club still saved 90% and more, while BARC saved only 60%*.  

Below are examples of what I found.  Reminder:  BARC; 11.35 IPC in 2014; 60%* Save Rate

90% Club shelters

1)    Williamson County, TX animal control. This shelter provides animal control services for all of Williamson County and all its cities, except for Georgetown and Taylor.

15.83 intakes per capita.  Their current save rate is 95%.  This shelter has been saving over 90% of all shelter pets since 2010.

2)    Nevada Humane Society; works in conjunction with Washoe County animal services. 

       19.48 IPC; 94.7% Save Rate in 2014.

3)     Allegany County Animal Shelter.

        22.3 IPC;  98% Save Rate for dogs and 90% Save Rate for cats.

4)     Duluth, MN animal control. They also contract with Superior, Hermantown, Proctor & St. Louis County. 

         24.8 IPC in 2013.  95% Save Rate.

5)     Los Alamos County, New Mexico. 

        25 IPC; 98% Save Rate for cats and 99% Save Rate for dogs.

6)     Barry County, MI;

        30.7 IPC; 97% Save Rate

7)    Humane Society of Fremont, CO which provides animal control for Fremont County, CO as well as the cities of Canon City, Florence, Williamsburg, Rockvale & Westcliff.

       34 IPC;  This facility used to save only approximately 50% of shelter pets.  But, within 3 months of the new director coming on board, this facility saved up to 100% of all animals entering its doors.  The new director has not completed an entire year at this facility yet, but I have no doubt the year end Save Rate will be impressive.

8)     Rockwall, TX animal control.

        40 IPC in 2014. 96% Save Rate.

9)     Brown County, IN;

        41 IPC; 98% Save Rate

10)   McIntosh, GA.

        57.92 IPC;   91% Save Rate.

11)   Kirby, Texas animal control.   This shelter had the most astonishing IPC rate that I found.  

        130 intakes per capitaYet, they saved 93% in 2013.

Kirby, TX is a remarkable example of an extraordinary job by a shelter director who faces incredible odds.  This facility had intakes of 1,040 in 2013.  One might think that 1,000+ intakes in a year is small when compared to BARC’s 24,989 cat and dog intakes.

However, when you consider that Kirby has a population of only 8,000 people, that means their animal intakes to human population was 1 pet intake to every 8 people. That is astronomically high intakes per capita compared to any other shelter that I found.

For example, if BARC had the same proportional intakes, i.e. 1 pet intake for every 8 Houstonians, BARC would have taken in 275,000 dogs and cats last year.   BARC’s intakes per capita were only a tiny fraction (9%) of that of Kirby animal control.   Yet Kirby’s animal control saved 93% while Houston’s BARC saved only 60%*.  

The excuse that so many people have made i.e. “BARC can’t stop killing shelter pets because their intakes are higher than other shelters because Houston is “warm” or “tropical” is just that; and excuse.  That excuse has no basis in fact.

Whether a shelter stops killing shelter pets has nothing to do with climate and it has nothing to do with whether a shelter has larger intakes per capita than another. 

Whether a shelter stops killing depends entirely on the director of that “shelter”.   Again and again, we have seen that when a shelter hires a director who is hard working, compassionate and dedicated to implementing all of the programs and services of  the No Kill model of sheltering, the killing  of shelter pets will end.  

No Kill Works

If you are sick and tired of the mass killing of pets in Houston and if you are sick and tired of excuses, then please contact the candidates running for mayor and city council.   These are the people who can choose life or death for thousands of shelter pets because they determine who runs BARC. 

I can’t stress enough to animal lovers how important that it is that EVERY ONE OF YOU talk to the candidates and ask them if they plan to ensure that the No Kill model of sheltering is implemented in Houston, if they are electedYour vote is powerful.  Before you give a candidate your vote, make sure that he/she represents your values.  It will only takes a few minutes of your time but could mean life or death for thousands of shelter pets in Houston.

I recently wrote a blog saying that the most important thing you could do to help shelter pets was to contact the candidates about their plans to end shelter killing.   I’ll say it again because it is SO important.  Contact them.  Let them know that this issue is important to you.

I have made it really easy for you to contact all of them at once because, I have collected all of their email addresses to make it really easy to copy and paste into an email at once.  See below.

Make sure that YOUR vote helps end the killing of shelter pets.

Houston Voters For Companion Animals has sent Candidate Surveys regarding shelter issues to all of the candidates running for mayor and city council.   You can see their responses, as they are returned, by clicking here.

A Candidate Forum on sheltering issues will be held on September 29th.   Please attend and let the candidates know just how many people care about this issue.   You can register for the Candidate Forum by clicking here.

Email Addresses of the candidates are below.  You can also find links to their Facebook and Twitter pages by click here:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


*This Save Rate does not reflect the litters of puppies and kittens that BARC killed but did not count.  (i.e. when BARC kills a mother dog or cat and her 5 babies, they count it as 1 killed instead of 6.  This artificially increases their Save Rate, but it is a lie). 

This Save Rate also does not reflect the animals shipped to other communities that are still killing shelter pets too.  I do not consider it a “save” when shipping thousands of animals to other communities causes animals in those kill shelters to be killed.  It just exchanges one life for another.   


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.

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You are invited to a Candidate Forum regarding saving Houston’s shelter pets

Vote for the candidates who will protect shelter pets!

Vote for the candidates who will protect shelter pets!

Houston, TX –  Since so many animal lovers stated that they would attend, Houston Voters For Companion Animals and No Kill Houston have organized a Candidate Forum regarding animal sheltering issues in Houston.  

There are five kill shelters in the Houston area that, together, kill 80,000 pets every year.  Houston’s taxpayer funded animal control facility (BARC) killed more than 10,000 pets in 2014 alone.  Conversely, there are hundreds of Open Admission, shelters/communities who have ended the killing of shelter pets.  They have  implemented the No Kill model of sheltering in order to save all healthy and treatable shelter pets.  

Animal lovers in Houston are tired of the large numbers of pets being killed year after year, and they are frustrated with the minuscule increases in Save Rates at BARC each year; especially when there are life saving alternatives which have been proven to dramatically increase life saving in a short amount of time.  

We are providing this opportunity for animal lovers to hear the candidates plans to end shelter pet killing in Houston, if any. 

The Forum will take place on September 29th at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Road,  Houston, TX 77055.

The Forum will begin at 7:00 pm and end at 8:30 pm.   Social Networking will begin at 6:30 pm in which attendees are welcome to speak to the candidates in person. 

All the details are at the link below.  

The Forum is FREE, but we are asking the people who want to attend to please REGISTER so that we can make sure that we have an accurate head count and enough seats.  

Our Poll indicated that over 565 people said that they would like to attend this type of event so it may be a packed house. 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER, then SHARE this with your animal loving friends and family in Houston.


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.)

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Questions About Its Shelter that PETA Can’t Seem to Answer


It always seems the more I think about PETA the more questions surface. The other day I had an exchange on Twitter with Mary Tully, who claims not to work for PETA, just to know a lot about them. She even has a website dedicated to them, with a special category for those who are telling the truth about their killing practices. I’ve linked to it once in the past but I’m not going to do that again because I don’t want to give her any more air and energy than is absolutely necessary. The only reason I’m writing about her now is because I asked her a number of questions during our Twitter exchange — despite claiming to have done an enormous amount of research on PETA, despite being someone PETA consistently refers people to when they have questions about their shelter, she was unable to adequately answer any…

View original post 1,287 more words

When it comes to animal sheltering, Houston is the Biggest Loser

Houston, TX – Not too long ago, someone asked me which city killed the most shelter pets.   I know, a macabre question.   Unfortunately, considering my advocacy work at No Kill Houston and Houston Voters For Companion Animals, I am forced to consider these types of macabre questions way too often.

Over the last 7+ years, I’ve done some research into the kill rates and numbers in other communities, so my first thought was that the answer is Houston is the Biggest Loser when it comes to the sheer numbers that our “shelters” kill.  (I should say that shelter pets in Houston are the biggest losers since they are being killed in astronomical numbers).

But, was my guess right?  I decided to research the numbers to find out.

Houston has, within its city limits, FIVE kill shelters who, according to the most recently available statistics, kill approximately 80,000* pets every year.   I actually believe that the number is probably higher than 80,000 because I’ve talked to many former Houston SPCA employees and volunteers over the years and I believe their kill rate has increased to around 80%** now.   Also, some animal advocates, with access to more information than I have, estimate the number of pets killed by Houston area kill shelters to be closer to 100,000 now.  But, we’ll use 80,000 since it includes the numbers produced by the “non-profit” kill shelters**.

I am assuming that cities with larger human populations would mean a larger number of pets in those cities as well. And a larger number of pets would mean increased opportunities for pets to get lost or be abandoned etc. and therefore end up entering shelter systems and therefore at risk of being killed.

So, I researched the three US cities with populations higher than Houston i.e. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

What I found was startling.

Close up of dog's face behind wire mesh

Houston, we have a problem…. a deadly problem

Houston, TX.  Population: 2,239,558.  Killed 80,000+or- shelter pets

Houston has 5 kill shelters killing approximately 80,000* pets per year.  There is a taxpayer funded city pound i.e. BARC; a taxpayer funded county pound i.e. Harris County animal control; and 3 “non-profit”, Limited Admission, “shelters” i.e. the Houston SPCA; the Houston Humane Society; and Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP).

Cities with higher populations than Houston:

1) New York City, NY.  Population: 8,491,079; Killed 5,700 shelter pets in 2014

New York City has 3 “full service” shelters/pounds and 2 receiving stations (intake only) stations, one in each of the 5 boroughs.    New York City “shelters” took in approximately 30,000 pets in 2014 and killed 5,700.

New York has 6,251,521 MORE citizens yet they killed 74,300 FEWER shelter pets than Houston.

2) Los Angeles, CA. Population: 3,928,864; Killed 16,798 shelter pets

Los Angeles has six kill shelters/pounds. The number of shelter pets killed during their fiscal year of July 2013 to June 2014 was 16,798.

Los Angeles has 1 more kill shelter/pound than Houston.  LA has 1,689,306 MORE citizens yet they killed 63,000 FEWER pets than Houston.

3) Chicago, IL. Population: 2,722,389; Killed 9,817

According PawsChicago’s website, Chicago is home to “three large traditional kill shelters” i.e.  Chicago animal Care and control and 2 other facilities.  These 3 facilities killed 9,817 pets in 2014.

Chicago has 482,831 MORE citizens yet they killed 70,000+ FEWER pets than Houston.

So, all of the cities, with higher populations than Houston, killed fewer shelter pets.  And not just a few.  We are talking tens of thousands FEWER shelter pets killed in each. 

And if we look at pets killed per capita, the numbers are equally stark:

1) New York, NY – .67 shelter pets pets killed per capita

2) Los Angeles, CA – 4.2 shelter pets killed per capita

3) Chicago, IL – 3.6 shelter pets killed per capita

4) Houston, TX – 36 shelter pets killed per capita

As I have said before, Houston We Have a Problem…. a big, big problem.  

That problem is regressive “shelter” directors in Houston who refuse to implement the life saving programs of the No Kill model of sheltering, and who continue to make Houston the pet slaughtering capital of United States.

Note:  I do not normally like to compare Houston kill shelters to other kill shelters.  If the intention is to improve, why compare a kill shelter to other kill shelters, who are performing horribly by killing thousands of shelters pets as well?   If shelters hope to become successful, they should compare themselves to the best performing shelters.  However, I did this comparison as way to emphasize just how horribly Houston kill shelters are performing.

Even compared against other kill shelters, Houston is literally the worst


*It’s impossible to know the exact number of pets killed in Houston, at this time, because the three “non-profit” kill shelters i.e. Houston SPCA, Houston Humane Society and Citizens For Animal Protection (CAP) refuse to be transparent and refuse release their intake/outcome records (I’ve asked them for this information twice).

**If the Houston SPCA’s Kill Rate is now lower than the 65%, as reported in the Mayor’s Task Force Report, and a number that we post on No Kill Houston’s website, it would be logical to think that this organization would jump at the chance to report lower kill rates to us.  But, they don’t.  They won’t even respond to me.


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The MOST important thing you can do to help shelter pets and it takes only a few minutes!

Houston, TX – via Houston Voters For Companion Animals

This November, Houston will have elections for mayor and all city council positions. In order for Houston to end the killing of shelter pets, it is crucial that we elect people who care about this issue, and who are willing to work to solve it.

So, it is very important that we question the candidates about their plans to end shelter killing in Houston. In order for them to take this issue seriously, WE ANIMAL LOVERS AND VOTERS, need to make sure that they know how many people care about the issue.

The most important thing you can do to help save shelter pets

The most important thing you can do to help save shelter pets

So, the one thing we are asking you to do today is: 


We have made it very easy to contact them as we have collected all of their email addresses. The only thing you have to do is copy and paste them into an email.

Feel free to use the sample question below, or one of questions on the Candidate Survey ( or create your own question(s)..  


Then please SHARE this with your friend and ask that they do the same.

Sample question:

Houston’s taxpayer funded city pound (BARC) killed more than 10,000 pets in 2014 alone. Yet, other communities have figured out how to end shelter killing.

If elected or re-elected to city council, what are your plans, if any, to end the killing of shelter pets at BARC?

Candidates’ email addresses are below (copy and paste them all into an email):,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Houston, TX  – via Houston Voters for Companion Animals

This November, Houston will have elections for mayor and all city council positions.  Many Houstonians are not aware that Houston shelters kill approximately 80,000 pets every year. They also may not know that THERE IS A SOLUTION to end shelter killing that is working across the country.

Houstonians may not realize that the people in the mayor and city council seats have the power of life and death for thousands of shelter pets — because they decide who runs BARC, Houston’s city pound, and they are the people who could pass life saving shelter reform legislation, like that passed in Austin and in other states.

Last week, we sent out CANDIDATE SURVEYS to every candidate running for Mayor and City Council to understand their stances regarding animal welfare issues and related to Houston becoming a No Kill community. 

As part of a voter awareness campaign, the candidates’ responses will be posted on our website, rated and compiled as part of a VOTERS GUIDE that will be distributed to Houston voters.

This November, vote for the candidates who will protect shelter pets

In order to elect more animal lovers to office, it is crucial that we raise awareness among Houston voters so that they will know to check our Voters Guide before they vote. THAT IS WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP. It is a big, big job to try to reach 2.2 million Houstonians before the November election, so we need as many people as possible helping us spread the word.

We are planning a volunteer meeting to discuss how to REACH MORE ANIMAL LOVERS. We would like to make the meeting as convenient as possible to attend, so we offering a choice of dates and we will try to pick a location that is central to all attendees. If you would like to attend the Volunteer Meeting, please email us and let us know which date/location is best for you. (It will likely be held in a restaurant so we can eat while talking.)

Please vote by Monday, August 10th.  

After everyone votes, we will email attendees with the details.

Tuesday, August 11 at 7:15 pm
Wednesday, August 12 at 7:15 pm, or
Thursday, August 13 at 7:15 pm


North side of Houston
South side of Houston
East side of Houston
West side of Houston

Email your votes to:

PLEASE SHARE THIS with your Houston area friends and family who might want to attend.


via No Kill Houston 

We need your opinion on a 1 question survey. 

This November, Houston will have elections for mayor and all city council seats. As we have seen across the country, in order to make positive changes that will save the lives of shelter pets, we need elected officials who are willing to work to make sure that lifesaving programs are implemented in shelters.  For too many years, Houston has had many elected officials who do not care about sheltering issues and who have been willing to continue with “save a few and kill the rest” sheltering.

We believe that animal lovers should discuss sheltering issues with the candidates to make sure that we vote for the people most likely to make positive changes for shelter pets.

No Kill Houston and No Kill Texas Advocates are considering whether to organize a Candidate Forum so that animal lovers can talk to the candidates to learn their plans to fix Houston’s broken sheltering system.

The question to Houstonians is:  



(If you do not see this poll after clicking the link, press F5 to Refresh your page)


NOTE: This poll is ONLY for people who can vote in Houston.

(If a large number of people vote Yes, we will then survey people regarding where and when such a Forum should take place).

Damianoff agreed to allow experimentation on BARC pets

Houston, TX – I recently sent a Public Information Request (PIR) to the City of Houston for several years’ worth of minutes of meetings of Houston’s Animal Shelter Advisory* (ASA) committee.  I was curious about what this committee actually did for shelter pets.   I assumed that the purpose of this “Animal Shelter Advisory” committee is to come up with ideas to help Houston’s shelter pets; as in how to save more of them from being killed at Houston’s five kill shelters.**  At the very least, I expected the ASA committee to work on programs and services to help save more lives at Houston’s high kill pound, BARC .

As an example of what other cities have accomplished, Austin’s Animal Advisory Committee worked with their city council to create ordinances which mandated that their pound save at least 90% of the animals…. a Save Rate that Austin’s pound has met or exceeded every year since the ordinances were passed.   However, as I was reading through the minutes of a January 2013, Houston ASA committee meeting, I came across information that was shocking beyond belief.

The Minutes state that Houston ASA committee member, Chris Souders (Associate Medical Director-Houston Fire Department), requested an “arrangement” with BARC to allow Houston Fire Dept. personnel to practice doing intubations on cats at BARC. 

And as utterly appalling as that agreement is, it is equally appalling that not one Houston ASA committee member had any objections to Souders’ ghoulish request. In fact, the Minutes say “Action: Neil [Sackheim] will get back with Chris Sounders re: numbers of euthanasias and the general schedule so HFD can see if it can be incorporated.” (AnimalShelterAdvisoryCommMeeting2013-01-30).   So, another member of Houston’s ASA committee thought this idea was just peachy and even offered to help make arrangements.   Not one person on Houston’s Animal Shelter Advisory committee actually stood up FOR the cats at BARC.   Not one.

Houston Fire Department memos indicate that, after that January ASA committee meeting, HFD-EMS personnel then discussed the shelter pet experimentation arrangement in meetings on at least 6 occasions.   On December 20, 2013, an HFD memo states “The department will support a program to allow paramedics (both interns and veteran) to intubate recently euthanized feline as a proxy for pediatric intubation”.

So the program to experiment on BARC cats was approved by HFD. (See HFD-Memos here)


Let’s think about this scenario. Imagine that your pet accidentally got lost.   Imagine searching frantically for your pet for days, maybe weeks or months, but you could not find your pet. (Considering the fact that there are five Houston area kill shelters spread out over 600 square miles and a lot of people would have no idea where to look for their lost pet, never finding a lost pet is not an uncommon occurrence.)   Imagine discovering that BARC had had your pet, but because you did not find your pet at BARC within Houston’s measly 3 day stray hold period, BARC killed your pet.  (Believe me, it happens.  With BARC’s low 7% Return to Owner Rate, it happens A LOT.)

Now imagine that you discover that not only did BARC kill your pet, but BARC’s director allowed his cronies to experiment on your pet.  This scenario is repulsive and literally makes my skin crawl, but that is exactly what BARC, Houston’s Animal Shelter Advisory committee and HFD have been planning.

The experimentation agreement between these people is beyond repulsive.  Instead of working to try to save shelter pets, like Austin’s Animal Shelter Advisory committee did, Houston’s Animal Shelter Advisory committee uses shelter pets for their own personal unlimited supply of bodies.

Also, not only is this agreement reprehensible, but this type of animal experimentation is entirely unnecessary as there are non-animal alternatives which are far superior.  Dr. John Pippin, with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), said that “Using cats is an antiquated and discredited practice that persists in fewer than one percent of training programs in the U.S. and Canada. In the past, cats have been used to teach neonatal and pediatric intubation, but this has been replaced by simulation and using animals is now considered substandard training.” [Emphasis added]

Two hundred and fifteen (215) facilities currently have non-animal simulators which can be used for intubation practice. 2 of those facilities are right here in Houston and 1 is in Galveston. (See “Pediatrics Survey Results 2014-11-13”). 

Besides being heinous and entirely unnecessary, I believe that this ghoulish experimentation agreement also violates Houston ordinances. Section 6-138 states “Under no circumstances may an animal be sold or donated for research or teaching purposes to a medical school, licensed hospital, or nonprofit university or college.  It is against the law because the animal loving public does not want shelter pets used for experimentation.

Dr. Pippin also sent a letter to BARC, HFD and ARA Dept personnel informing them of far superior non-animal alternatives in 215 facilities in the country. (See Dr. Pippin’s letter here DrPippinLtrToHoustonFD) To date, no one from the city of Houston has responded to Dr. Pippin.  If those experiments never took place, why didn’t any of these people immediately respond to Dr. Pippin and say so?

This arrangement is also a huge conflict of interest on the part of Chris Souders and Greg Damianoff. Since BARC continues to kill thousands of pets year after year, Damianoff can provide a never ending supply of pets to Souders to be used for HFD experiments. There is no incentive for Souders, as a member of the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, or Damianoff as BARC Director, to do anything that will lead to the end of killing pets at BARC.

Are you are curious about the rest of the members on Houston Animal Shelter Advisory committee? According to the City of Houston, below are the names of the people who were on the ASA committee at the time the January 2013 meeting took place.   All of these people, except Ms. Gebhardt, are still on the Houston Animal Shelter Advisory Committee today.

Tippit, Taffi 04/21/2010 12/31/2015 Council 01 ACTIVE
Souders, Chris 10/21/2009 12/31/2015 Council 02 ACTIVE
Muenzer, Kappy 03/05/1998 12/31/2015 Council 03 ACTIVE
Sackheim, Neil 10/21/2009 12/31/2015 Council 04 ACTIVE
Mantor, Michelle 08/15/2012 12/31/2015 Mayor CC 05 ACTIVE
Gebhardt, Deborah 03/30/2011 12/31/2013 Mayor CC 06 REPLACED

The below information was online concerning these members:

* Taffi Tippit – Veterinary, Bissonnet Southampton Vet Clinic

* Chris Souders – Associate Medical Director-Houston Fire Department

* Kappy Muenzer – Director of Citizens for Animal Protection

* Neil Sackheim – Board Member, SNAP

* Michelle Mantor – Publisher/Editor at Houston Pet Talk magazine

Looking at these names and positions of these people, it is simply mind boggling that not one of them stood up to protect BARC pets. .

Reporters have recently begun asking the City of Houston questions about this ghoulish agreement. Not surprisingly, personnel at HFD now claim that they have not actually done experimentations on BARC cats. (At least, not yet.)  However, IF they have not begun their experimentations, it is not because Greg Damianoff, or anyone on the Houston ASA committee has ever attempted to stop it.

In fact, Damianoff told Randy Wallace with Fox 26 news that he had no idea why HFD didn’t follow through with the experiments.  

And, if all of that isn’t bad enough, BARC i.e. Greg Damianoff has lied about the existence of documents in connection with this grisly agreement.  In February, 2015, I sent a PIR to BARC asking for “all documents between the City of Houston and/or BARC and the Houston Fire Dept. and/or Chris Souders and/or any other Fire Dept personnel or city personnel, in connection with any agreement, plan, proposal or discussion to allow paramedics to practice intubation techniques on any animal in the possession of BARC and/or located at BARC’s facility.”

The reply? “BARC does not have any responsive information”.

But, that statement is a lie because I have the January 2013 meeting minutes in which this very agreement is discussed. BARC should have produced that document in response to my PIR, but they instead lied. I’m sure there are more documents which BARC is legally required to produce, but city of Houston employees continue to lie in an attempt to hide the details of their experimentation agreement from the public.

More attempts at coverup:  I sent anther PIR to the Houston Fire Dept. asking for additional documents concerning HFD’s use of animals for training purposes.  The city attorney has written a letter to the Texas Attorney General claiming that documents that I requested should not be produced to the public and the reasons are beyond ridiculous. The city attorney claims that the records that I requested are “highly intimate and embarrassing, such that its release would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person, and it is of no legitimate concern to the public”. The city also claims that documents responsive to my request contain “medical requests of a patient”. See the city attorney’s letter here. COH-ReqToWithholdDocs  

Again, my PIR concerned only HFD’s use of animals for training purposes.  I’m sure that since reporters are now asking questions about their experimentation plans, the city is trying to keep this ghoulish, and possibly illegal, agreement hidden from the public.

Houstonians, sadly this is what is running Houston’s taxpayer funded “shelter” and this is who is making decisions affecting the lives of shelter pets.

Even Annise Parker’s campaign promises that “Houston can do better than this” and after all of BARC’s claims of “transformation”, BARC still has a director who would actually agree to allow shelter pets to be used for experimentation. 

BARC still has a director who is obviously satisfied to “save some and kill the rest”.

With this type of person as the shelter director, I do not believe that BARC will ever stop killing pets.

The type of person, who would make such a heinous agreement, should NOT be running an animal shelter.  Damianoff should be moved to another city department, just like Austin’s regression pound director was moved to another dept. (After she was moved, the Save Rates at Austin’s pound skyrocketed)

Act Now - Red Button

If you are sickened and outraged about Greg Damianoff’s agreement to allow shelter pets to be used for experimentation and if you are sick of the continued killing of thousands of shelter pets month and month, year after year, then please speak up for the animals of Houston.  Their lives are in your hands.

Please call or send a letter or email to the mayor and city council and tell them you are an animal lover, a taxpayer and a voter and Enough is Enough.  It is time to hire someone to run BARC who actually cares about saving lives….. not someone who would make such a grisly agreement.

It’s an election year, and the city council members who are running again, will need your votes. So make sure you tell them exactly how they can get your vote.   Click here for their contact information


It has come to my attention that BARC’s director, Greg Damianoff, and Houston’s Animal Shelter Advisory committee, made an agreement to allow Houston Fire Dept personnel to experiment on BARC pets.  Not only do I find this ghoulish agreement absolutely heinous, but I believe it violates Houston ordinances and federal animal welfare laws.   This does not represent the type of person that I believe should be managing the care of shelter pets in Houston.   After five years of killing thousands of pets, and macabre deals to allow experimentation on shelter pets, it is clear that Greg Damianoff is NOT the type of person who should be running an animal shelter.

BARC’s Save Rate was only 61% in 2014, while hundreds of Open Admission facilities and communities across the country are SAVING 90% to 100% of all animals.  BARC’s 61% Save Rate is ludicrous.

BARC killed or lost 10,050 animals in 2014.  That is 838 pets KILLED BY BARC every single month in 2014.

BARC KILLED 28+ pets every single day in 2014 under Greg Damianoff’s management.

Enough is enough.  BARC’s continued killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets, under Greg Damianoff’s management, is not acceptable.  I expect a shelter director who is willing to work hard to save all animals; not a director who is satisfied with saving some and killing the rest, or someone who would allow shelter pets to be used for experimentation;

I ask that you work to hire leadership for BARC who is dedicated to saving all lives, and who is willing to work hard to rigorously implement ALL of the programs and services of the No Kill model of sheltering so that BARC can stop killing shelter pets.

This is an election year, and I vote!

If you can’t call or write an email or letter, I have created a petition which will send an email to the mayor, all city council members and the director of the ARA Dept (over BARC) every time someone signs.  

Please sign the petition, then forward it to all of your friends and family.  Click here for the petition.

* An animal shelter advisory committee is mandated by both Houston city ordinance and Texas state law. Members of Houston’s Animal Shelter Advisory committee are appointed by the mayor and city council.

**When Houston’s ASA committee was first being formed five years ago, under Annise Parker’s direction, I contacted several city council members asking to be nominated for the committee. But, I got the run around from several council members saying that another council member was going to make the nomination even Houston ordinances state that any of them could nominate for that committee position.   It was quite clear that the mayor and city council did NOT want a person on that committee who would actually advocate FOR the lives of shelter pets.  And considering the experimentation agreement that these people made.  Mission accomplished.


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Houston’s problem is not 1.2 million stray dogs

Houston, TX – In 2013 and 2014, I wrote about BARC’s ridiculous claims that there are 1.2 million strays roaming the streets of Houston.

You can read the blogs here: Repeating Lies from Kill Shelters Harms Shelter Pets and,

here:Repeating Misinformation Does Not Help Shelter Pets

The No Kill Advocacy Center wrote about the myth of pet “overpopulation” and how BARC’s absurd claims of 1.2 million strays simply cannot be true.   Click here to read more.  (Houston is discussed on pages 12-14)

Many media outlets have continued to repeat the “1.2 million strays” number over and over but have apparently failed to do any fact checking whatsoever to find out where that number came from.  Apparently, no one even pulled out a calculator to find out that “1.2. million” strays in Houston would equal 2,000 stray pets in every single square mile of Houston.

As I wrote in my blog post, “The ‘1.2 million strays in Houston’ claim is yet another fabrication spread by management of a kill shelter in order to defend and excuse their mass slaughter of shelter pets.

Not only should we animal lovers reject this absurdity, but we certainly should not repeat it. When we repeat ficticious claims, such as this number, we provide them an excuse as to why BARC is still killing over ten thousand pets per year. It allows BARC/city of Houston leadership to continue to refuse to do the work necessary to implement the programs and services that have been proven to work to save 90% to 99% of all pets in hundreds of communities. Repeating fictious information such as the “1.2. million strays” claim allows them to continue to take the easy way.

They can continue to save a few and kill the rest, and animal lovers won’t complain because they think that the situation is hopeless and they believe that BARC’s only option is to kill thousands of shelter pets. It is not hopeless and we can end shelter killing in Houston.”

Finally, a reporter has done some fact checking into BARC’s “1.2 million strays” claim!   I am grateful that Ken Hoffman actually researched BARC’s fabricated claim before printing it.

By Ken Hoffman. Reprinted with permission.

From the city that once gave us “400,000 spectators attend Thanksgiving Parade downtown” – a number that city officials now admit was ridiculous – more headlines:

“Houston’s 1.2 million stray dog problem”

“One million stray dogs in Houston”

“Houston’s dirty, furry secret”

It’s a headline that’s been out there for years – we have 1 million, or 1.2 million (do I hear 1.3 million?) stray dogs roaming our streets, wreaking havoc in neighborhoods, making residents prisoners in their homes, creating health problems.

Say something enough times, and people will accept just about anything as fact.

Houston isn’t alone.

In 2012, a Rolling Stone headline declared, “City of Strays: Detroit’s Epidemic of 50,000 Abandoned Dogs.”

Let’s crunch some numbers. Detroit covers 139 square miles. If there were 50,000 stray dogs, that would have been 360 stray dogs per square mile. It wouldn’t have taken until 2012 to cry epidemic.

That’s when Tom McPhee and World Animal Awareness Society entered the Motor City. Using scientific survey methodology, including sending volunteers into the field, McPhee studied and counted stray dogs for two years. It was the first time anybody had done a responsible, accountable census of stray dogs there. His findings:

There were – and this is stretching it – 3,000 stray dogs in Detroit, a figure that may be knocked down to 1,000 by the time McPhee concludes his research.

A Detroit columnist jumped on McPhee’s report:

“Hey, guess what? Turns out there aren’t 50,000 stray dogs roaming the streets of Detroit. It seems the number is closer to 3,000. It’s a far cry from 50,000, a figure that a host of national publications swallowed with an embarrassing gullibility. Folks in the city would hardly be able to step outside without being surrounded by a dog pack.”

The thing is, 3,000 stray dogs, or 1,000, that’s a major problem. Especially when it’s your neighborhood with the problem.

But let’s get a grip, Houston, 1.2 million stray dogs?

Houston covers 600 square miles. We’ll be nice and use the lower number. One million stray dogs are marauding our streets?

Houston would have 1,666 stray dogs per square mile. And that’s every square mile in Houston.

Including River Oaks, Tanglewood, Memorial and many more well-maintained, patrolled areas that virtually have NO stray dogs. I’m not talking about Scruffy getting out of the backyard for an hour, until he’s picked up by a friendly neighbor.

Put it this way, if Houston really had 1.2 million stray dogs, many neighborhoods would look like the migration scene from “Lion King.” There would be an army of dogs, 100 across and 100 deep, pouring down Westheimer.

Hey, guess what?

The 1.2 million stray dog figure makes 400,000 people at the Thanksgiving parade look like a lowball estimate.

Why do we constantly hear that there are 1.2 million scavenger mutts on Houston streets? Where did this number come from? Why isn’t anybody challenging it?

It came from the city a few years ago. And to be fair, the city originally said “1.2 million stray animals” – dogs and cats. The media is to blame for headlines and reports repeating the number as “1.2 million stray dogs.

“We’ll go with dogs and cats here. I asked the city’s Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, how on earth did you come up with 1.2 million stray animals in Houston? A spokesperson said that BARC has never conducted a physical survey of Houston’s homeless animal population. It just doesn’t have the budget for that. Instead, it used a math formula hodgepodged from a couple of sources.

Here’s the explanation from BARC: “The North Shore Animal League is the self-proclaimed world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. The North Shore Animal League says that each day 10,000 people are born in the U.S. and each day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born. Animals are reproducing at alarming rates. If half of these animals live, that’s 12,775,000 animals born in the U.S. each year. Even if only 33 percent survive, that is still a whopping 8,431,500 animals born in the U.S. each year.”

The ASPCA says: “It is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.”

BARC, which takes in about 2,000 animals each month, concluded, “4.25 million people live in Harris County, which is 1.36 percent of the total population of the U.S. If the stray cat population (70 million) mirrors the U.S. population, that’s 952,000 cats. If you add about 300,000 stray dogs (or owned dogs allowed to roam) then Houston has over 1.2 million stray animals.”

BARC said its 300,000 stray dogs figure is an estimate.

Houston is about to find out how many stray dogs really roam our streets.

McPhee and World Animal Awareness Society, as they did in Detroit, are here counting stray dogs in all far reaches of Houston. This time, in addition to sending teams of volunteers from local animal welfare groups into neighborhoods, McPhee is using a high-powered, camera-equipped drone to fly above areas most troubled by stray dogs.

McPhee is gathering footage for a proposed TV series called “Operation Houston: Stray Dog City.”

I know, Space City or Bayou City or Clutch City or H-Town, heck, even Screwston sound a whole lot nicer than “Stray Dog City.”

McPhee will be here for about 10 more days, doing research and counting dogs. In early June, he will hold a press conference, show the pilot episode of “Stray Dog City” and announce a real number of stray dogs in Houston.

I asked him, are we going to have another Detroit, where you come up with a figure way, way lower than what’s been used for years?

He said, “I believe the number will be demonstrably different than the number that you’ve seen in headlines.”

Why are you making my job hard? Will the number be demonstrably higher or demonstrably lower?

“I don’t suspect that it will be higher.”

McPhee wouldn’t give me his early guess on the number of stray dogs in Houston. He doesn’t pull numbers out of thin air – where his drone will operate. But …

“I’ve found that, when a resident sees a stray dog, and tells other people, who tell other people, it becomes 100 dogs,” he said.

Read Ken Hoffman’s article in the Houston Chronicle here.


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Photos from Ken Hoffman’s article:

My Letter to Virginia Delegates



Tomorrow I will be e-mailing all one hundred Virginia House members, asking them to vote yes on SB 3181. The following is the letter I’ve written to them — I wanted to share it on my blog as well. I’m giving my perspective not just as a former PETA employee but as someone who has experienced animal rescue overseas, and someone who has seen how shelters and rescuers have done so much with so little in order to help the sickest animals I’ve ever seen. Keeping that in mind, I know PETA, with its incredible resources, is capable of more — SB 1381 would require them to rise to that.

Dear Delegate,

I am writing today to ask you to please pass SB 1381. As a former PETA employee who worked in the Community Animal Project (the division that does field and shelter work), I know from firsthand experience that…

View original post 569 more words

Rescued by Black Boy: how a neglected dog set me back on my path, away from PETA

This is an important (and SHOCKING) blog by a woman who used to work at PETA. It confirms so many horrible things we have heard about PETA and so much more. It is a chilling account of what goes on behind closed doors at the slaughterhouse that is PETA.


There was a time when I was a True Believer and a very good little soldier, I did what I was told to do, when I was told to do it, I didn’t question orders and if I did it was never to the face of the one giving them. Then, one stormy and snowy evening, I stopped by an abandoned house to check on a dog I’d been feeding and caring for. I pulled up in front of the home and saw him huddled on the open porch, under cover as much as his short chain would allow, his thick fur encrusted in ice. In that moment I made the decision to unchain him and usher him into my van and, unlike past days when he’d been slightly timid and unwilling to trust me completely, he followed me. I rubbed him with towels to dry his soaked fur, wrapped…

View original post 3,114 more words

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