BARC’s numbers are in…. and it’s not good


Houston, TX – I recently received the intake and outcome reports for BARC (Houston’s taxpayer funder, city animal control) for the last half of 2012.  Unfortunately, the numbers are not good.

As a reminder, before Bill White left office in 2009, he hired a Gerry Fusco calling him a “change agent” that would turn around BARC.  Fusco managed to fire about 70 bad employees including some really horrible people who got their jollies from torturing shelter animals.   Fusco also wrote new procedures for BARC.  He did not work on increasing adoptions as we were told that this would come later.  Taxpayers footed the $280,000 bill for Fusco’s 6 month contract.

Also, in September 2009, international No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd, performed an assessment of BARC and produced a 196 page guide which detailed exactly what BARC leadership needed to do to decrease BARC’s kill rate.   Citizens stepped up and donated all of the money to pay for Winograd’s assessment when the city claimed that they did not have $5,000 to pay Winograd.

So, when Annise Parker took office in 2010, BARC should have been poised to make dramatic increases in life saving.  They had all of the tools necessary and new employees to carry out the new procedures.

In fact, when Parker was campaigning for Mayor, several times she promised voters that, if elected, “I would do everything in my power to ensure that Houston transitions to a no-kill community”.

In 2012, BARC leadership attended the No Kill conference in Washington, DC. Leadership from many communities, who have already transitioned to No Kill communities, were there teaching attendees exactly how they reached No Kill status.  There was no shortage of information for those who were truly dedicated to making life saving changes.

So, call me a Polly Anna, but considering all of the above, I was expecting BARC’s Kill Rate to decrease in 2012.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed yet again.

BARC’s Kill Rate for 2012 was staggering 57.27%!  This is an INCREASE from 56.20% in 2011. (See the records here)

In fact, for the third straight year in a row, i.e. every single year that Annise Parker has been in office, BARC’s kill rate has increased.

Every single year.

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During 2012, dozens of Open Admission shelters and animal control facilities reached the No Kill goal line i.e. saving 90% or more of all animals handled.  In fact, an average of one new shelter reached this goal every single week in 2012.   Every single week.   Yet in Houston, our city’s animal control facility is firmly rooted in the dark ages of catch and kill sheltering.  They have consistently refused to join the 21st century even when all of the tools necessary to transform themselves has been handed to them on a silver platter.

There simply is no excuse that BARC’s kill rate should still be rising every year.  No excuse.

There is a better, more efficient, more compassionate, more humane and more cost effective model of sheltering available today. The only thing BARC leadership has to do is open the instruction manual and implement it.  But, in order for that to happen, BARC must have leadership who is dedicated to saving lives and who is willing to work hard to accomplish this goal.   More than three YEARS after Annise Parker promised to do everything in her power to transform BARC into a No Kill shelter, BARC still does not have the leadership in place that is necessary to make this happen…. and the BARC animals continue to suffer and be killed at an ever increasing rate.     


If you are sick and tired of the mass slaughter in your taxpayer funded city “shelter”, then please tell the Mayor and your council member that you are a voter and you expect better.  

Tell the Mayor to keep her promises and hire leadership that is dedicated to saving lives.   Click here for their contact information.

It is up to us.


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The biggest hypocrisies of the sheltering industry–Exposed!

FF imageHouston, TX – I just read Nathan* and Jennifer Winograd’s new book, Friendly Fire.   When I read the last page and put the book down, the sole word that kept going through my mind was WOW.   Even though I was already familiar with some of the stories, this book is still so stunning that I had trouble forming any other words but wow for some time.

The Winograds’ absolute honesty about the shocking state of our nation’s sheltering system makes this book, in many places, a hard read for anyone who cares about animals.  It is a hard read for anyone with a conscience, for that matter.  You cannot read this book and not be shocked, stunned, enraged and moved.  I read Nathan’s first book, Redemption over 4 years ago and was shocked and also moved to act.  It literally changed the entire way I thought about animal sheltering and quite literally changed the direction of my life.   And, even though I have personally experienced much of what is described in Friendly Fire within Houston and Texas’ broken shelter system, I was still just as stunned reading this book as the first time I read Redemption.

Friendly Fire is the biggest, most thorough, expose of absolute corruption and hypocrisy that the “humane” industry has ever seen.   It is methodical, like a criminal indictment.  Step by step;  one mind boggling story after another; one betrayal after another;  failure upon failure;  and lie upon lie perpetrated upon animal lovers who spend their very last dimes to donate to the “humane” organizations who have promised to save the animals that we love.  The proof is all there.

The massive lies perpetrated on animal lovers and the mass death and horror supported, and actually committed, by the “humane” organization is simply mind boggling.   The lengths that the multi-million dollar “humane” organizations have gone to sell out companion animals, and fool the animal loving public is in a word revolting.   It is particularly maddening to me as I have been fooled into donating to almost all of the “humane” organizations described in Friendly Fire before I learned that they are fighting against everyting that I believe in.

Others within the animal sheltering industry have been afraid, or simply unwilling, to speak about the atrocities and betrayals, but the Winograds are not.  They are not content to keep the lies a secret any longer.  They turn over all the rocks and expose the ugliness to the light of day, so it can be reformed.

This book also examines the excuses that kill shelters, and their defenders, use to continue killing even when faced with proven life-saving alternatives.  The absurdity of the arguments in favor of killing animals is beyond rational comprehension.  Arguments such as “an animal is better off being killed by a “shelter” rather than released to a rescue group because transporting might be stressful to the animal.”  You think that surely this must be some kind of sick joke.  But it isn’t.  The leaders of the “humane” organizations actually tell us that it is better to kill animals than allow rescue because a car ride might be stressful.  It is simply insane.

The “humane” organizations’ fight to maintain the horrible, sadistic status quo is so irrational as to be unbelievable.  But I do believe every word because, unfortunately, I have seen and experienced some of it personally.  Some of the stories in this book come from the kill shelters, and their defenders, right here in my community.

I live in a city with a non-profit kill shelter that claims to be “humane” and even has the word in its name, but that also has an 89% Kill Rate.  Pit Bulls or Pit mixes never leave this facility alive regardless of temperament and adoptability.  They are not Open Admission, meaning they can so no to intakes, yet they continue to kill the vast majority of animals that they take in.

I live in a city with a city pound that allowed puppies to be washed down kennel drains for years by abusive pound employees, and was only stopped after massive negative attention by reformers.  A pound that has killed cats that I offered to save.  A pound that, to this day, still kills animals that rescuers and the public have offered to save.  This is more than 3 years after our Mayor promised to do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill city.

I live in a county with a county pound that has an 85% Kill Rate.  A pound that the County Attorney confirmed has broken state humane laws for years, maybe decades.  A pound with a director who forces severely injured animals to suffer for days with no medical care. A pound who has killed animals, out of spite, that rescuers offered, and even begged, to save.   Yet the pound director still has her job.

I live in a city with multiple kill shelters that kill all Pit Bulls or mixes, and who even label other breeds as Pit Bulls to have an excuse to kill them.

I live in state with a self-labeled “humane” organization who has taken donations from animal lovers and promised to protect animals by fighting for humane legislation.  Yet, they instead fought against critical, life-saving Texas state legislation in 2011 with ridiculously feable and egocentric excuses such as 1) the bill is 30 pages long and 2) they were not notified before the bill was filed.

This so-called “humane” organization joined with the sell-out HSUS and fought against proposed legislation that would have:

*ended the inhumane gas chamber and heart sticks;

*banned “convenience killing” (killing when there are empty cages);

*mandated collaboration by requiring shelters to work with non-profit rescue organizations to maximize lifesaving;

*mandated transparency by requiring shelters to report how many animals they kill;.

*banned the killing of animals based on arbitrary criteria such as breed, age or color;

*prohibited selling shelter animals to research labs;

*protected feral cats and feral cat caretakers.

Instead of supporting our efforts to pass legislation that would have prevented immense suffering and death of animals in Texas, the self-proclaimed “humane” organizations instead fought against our efforts.

The stories like this are absolutely astounding and sound too ludicrous and macabre to be true, but every word is true.

I think Friendly Fire is one of the most important books on animal sheltering issues that has been written to date.  It blows the lid off of the industry’s tightly held, horrible, secrets.  The Winograds expose a corrupt industry that, in many cases, has become very wealthy from the deaths of the companion animals that they have promised to save.  Once animal lovers read this book, it will leave the high kill shelters and the corrupt, self-proclaimed “humane” organizations that defend them, scurrying for cover.

This book also answers some of the questions that have perplexed me for a number of years, such as why do some self-proclaimed animal lovers and rescuers fight No Kill efforts?  Why do they continue to claim that the No Kill model of sheltering does not or cannot work even when it already is working in 82** Open Admission pounds and shelters.   It has been truly mind boggling to watch the “No Kill naysayers” fight efforts to reform high kill shelters in Houston, Harris County and Texas even when the animals in those “shelters” are subject to the most horrific treatment imaginable.

Just as described in Friendly Fire, the naysayers have gone so far as to personally attack me and even my family in their desperation to defend the kill shelters.  They have blamed animal advocates when the kill shelters continue to kill and commit unspeakably inhumane acts against the animals they proclaim to care for.   One Houston naysayer actually said that we were causing “Dr. Death” to kill more animals.  They claimed that Dr. Death was killing animals out of spite because we are speaking out, so we should just stay quiet about the atrocities that we witnessed.  (Dr. Death was the nickname given to the city pound’s horrible vet by volunteers.  She has since been fired because we kept speaking out).   Even after the naysayers have seen improvements such as puppies no longer being washed down kennel drains by cruel shelter employees and animals no longer being purposely starved for the entertainment of a psychopath shelter employee, the naysayers still support the kill shelter and fight reform efforts.   The positive changes that have occurred, such as dozens of horrible and inhumane  employees being fired, occurred solely because of our reform efforts.   Yet the naysayers still attack No Kill advocates and continue to defend the high kill shelter.   Their absurd reasoning and their fight to maintain the status quo of a high kill, inhumane “shelter”, is beyond all logic and beyond my comprehension.   But, Friendly Fire explains their motivations.

If we want to end shelter killing, and I believe the majority of us do, then we will be the ones that will have to fight for it.  The kill shelters have proven that they will not stop killing voluntarily even when we literally hand them the solutions.  The  wealthy, national “humane” organizations have proven that they will fight our life saving, shelter reform efforts.  So, it is up to us.   Luckily, Friendly Fire gives us the tools to reform an industry that has become the antithesis of everything that it proclaims to be.   If I could place this book in the hands of every animal lover in the America, I would.

The most important thing that you can do for companion animals is to read this book… then pass it on to everyone you know.

Friendly Fire*** is available exclusively on Amazon.

* For those who are not familiar with Nathan Winograd’s work, he can arguably be called the father of the No Kill movement.  He was the first person to take over a high kill shelter and transform it into a No Kill shelter, saving all healthy and treatable pets.  And he is the person who has pushed the No Kill model of sheltering farther than anyone else in history.   His work has, no doubt, made more of a difference in the lives of companion animals than anyone else.

** This number is as of today’s date.  The number of Open Admission shelters and pounds that are saving 90% or more of all animals is growing constantly.

*** To the No Kill bashers, and Winograd attackers, who have claimed that the Winograds are only in it for the money or to sell their books, I would like to point out that the Winograds are selling Friendly Fire at their cost.  Friendly Fire is being sold with the Winograds’ altruistic goal of ending shelter killing.

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Houston’s miniscule life saving goal

Houston, TX –  Over the last few weeks, BARC (Houston’s high kill animal control) has been advertising that they are a contestant in the ASPCA/Rachael Ray contest.  This is a contest in which shelters can win cash for increasing adoptions.  Increasing adoptions at a kill shelter is a good thing, considering the most often used alternative at kill shelters is to kill adoptable pets.   But a few things concern and puzzle me about BARC’s participation in this contest.

BARC’s press releases state that their goal is to increase adoptions by 300 animals from August through October.  In other words, their goal is to increase adoptions by only 100 animals each month.   BARC killed or lost almost 1,100 animals every single month in 2011.   BARC killed 7,336 animals in January through June of this yearThat is an average of 1,223 animals killed by BARC each and every month in the first 6 months of this year alone.

Considering the mass slaughter STILL taking place at BARC, my question is why is BARC’s goal to increase adoptions by only 100 animals per month?

Why is BARC’s life saving goal so absurdly low?

A goal of 300 more animals might be adequate, and even admirable if Houston were a small town and if BARC took in a few hundred animals per month.  But, Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. and BARC took in an average of 2,200 animals per month in the first 6 months of this year.   BARC’s goal of adopting only 100 more animals per month is a ludicrously tiny fraction of the number of animals that BARC is killing every single month.  It would be absolutely laughable if the results were not so macabre.

Why is BARC’s goal so miniscule and why did they set a goal only large enough to help them win money?   Mayor Parker promised voters that she would do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill community.  So, why isn’t BARC’s goal to increase lifesaving by a large enough number to STOP KILLING?  Why do BARC’s actions never reflect the “We care deeply” rhetoric and spin plastered on their website?

The fact is that they just do not care whether they continue killing adoptable animals or not.  Saving lives is not important to them.  Only the money is important.

My second question is, why do BARC leaders never recognize that adoptions are hampered by BARC’s physical location?  The Mayor  said herself that BARC’s location DETERS adoptions, so why does BARC leadership continue to organize most of their adoption events in the very same location that has been proven to deter adoptions?   The intelligent thing to do would be to organize offsite adoption events in high traffic, highly visible locations, every single week, if not every single day.   Why not copy successful adoption events like this one in which BARC adopted out 400+ animals in just one weekend.  That is more animals adopted in one weekend than BARC generally adopts out in an entire month.  One would think that it would finally dawn on BARC leaders that what they have been doing has been an abysmal failure.  Killing over 1,200 animals month after month after month should drive this point home quite clearly.

But, as I said, it is clear that BARC leadership just does not care if they continue killing over 1,200 animals every month.  It does not matter enough to them to hire leadership who will work hard to save 90% or more of all animals just like the 69 Open Admission, No Kill shelters across the country.

BARC’s press releases also state that, if they win the contest money, they will use it to buy a “Mobile Adoption Center” (a van to take animals to adoption events).   Considering BARC’s horrible location, getting animals offsite is critical to save their lives.

But here is the puzzler:

In early 2010, I attended a volunteer meeting at BARC in which a volunteer made a presentation regarding a bus that she had worked to have donated to BARC … to be used for mobile adoptions.   We saw pictures of the donated bus.  It was huge–a Greyhound-sized bus so there would be plenty of room for lots of animals.  A local, well known, artist had even volunteered to paint the bus for free.

Since that meeting, I have never heard about the bus being used.  So, I emailed Christopher Newport, BARC’s PR person, and asked why they planned to spend $100,000 to buy a mobile adoption van when one was donated to them in 2010.  I received no response.

Newport was probably trying to hide the embarassing fact that, it turns out that BARC and city of Houston leaders could not figure out who would pay for insurance or who would drive the bus.  Folks, we are talking about the city that is home to NASA, but it should not take a rocket scientist to figure insurance and drivers.  The city pondered these “difficult” decisions so long that the bus company pulled their offer.  What a waste of a huge, life saving donation and a complete waste of that volunteer’s time.

Now BARC says that they intend to use the contest money to purchase the same thing that was donated to them 3 years ago.  Hopefully rocket scientists will not be needed to put this bus on the road to offsite adoption events.   If BARC hadn’t recklessly lost the bus donation in 2010, the Rachael Ray contest money could be used on additional life saving efforts such as to rent or buy permanent offsite adoption space that could be used every single day.

These are more idiotic decisions and wastefulness that seem to be a constant from the decision makers for BARC… all of which cost more animals their lives.

If you are tired of waiting for the Mayor to keep her No Kill promises

If you are tired of the Mayor wasting your tax dollars on ideas that she has admitted are proven failures …

If you are tired of the Mayor wasting precious, life saving donations because BARC/city of Houston employees don’t care enough to get their act together to figure out who will drive a bus….

If you are tired of the Mayor hiring people who absolutely do not care whether they stop killing animals or not….

If you are tired of spin instead of actual life saving action…. then TELL her and your city council members.

If city council members do not hear from you, then the only thing they will hear are Alfred Moran’s lies about how great BARC is doing great and how hard they are working hard to save lives.  It is a lie and they need to know that you know truth and that you care.  Here is their contact information.


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BARC’s kill rate has steadly risen since 2010

Houston, TX –  In response to my public information request, I recently received intake and outcome records from BARC (Houston’s animal control) .  Considering all of the rosy Press Releases and statements from the Mayor and Alfred Moran, I actually expected BARC’s kill rate would have decreased since last year.   Sadly, I was mistaken.

BARC’s records show that for January through June 2012, BARC’s kill rate was 57.90%.  

That is up from 56.20% in 2011. 

It is also up from 55.33% in 2010.

So, despite Annise Parker’s promises to citizens that she would do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill community, the truth is that during the entire time that she has been Mayor, BARC’s kill rate has steadily risen….. every single year.

In addition, BARC’s Return to Owner rate is  a measly 7%.   The Return to Owner rate has consistently stayed around 7% for the entire period of time that Parker and Alfred Moran have been in charge of BARC.   This is despite the fact that Nathan Winograd, the international No Kill sheltering expert, gave BARC and City of Houston leaders detailed instructions on how to create a successful Return to Owner program…. 3 YEARS ago.    I noticed that  BARC’s report has no category listed for animals returned in the field.  Considering the Animal Control Officer notes that I found and reported here, I suppose it should not be a shock that BARC is not trying to return animals to their owners in the field.   It is despicable, but not surprising.

There really is no excuse for refusing to implement a Return to Owner program.  It could literally keep thousands of animals from entering BARC.   It would not cost BARC extra money to have Animal Control Officers knock on doors and try to find the owners of stray animals out in the field instead of taking them to BARC.   In fact, it would save money if thousands less animals entered BARC.  Nathan Winograd has said that “one of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims”.   I calculated that if BARC worked as hard on this program as animal control does in Reno, NV, BARC would SAVE over 8,000 more lives and it would also save over $970,000 every year.   As I said, there really is not excuse that this program has not been implemented at BARC, 3 full years after Winograd gave BARC and City of Houston detailed instructions.

Alfred Moran and his spin doctors are busy telling everyone how great BARC is doing, but the fact is that BARC’s kill rate has steadily risen since he and Parker have been in charge.  All the whitewash and pretty pictures does not change this fact.

The question is, when will Annise Parker keep  her promise?   When will she hire someone who will actually work hard to save lives, instead of just spinning out more fanciful tall tales?

You should ask her these questions. She is your elected official.   Click here for her contact information.

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