Is it ethical to transport thousands of pets to communities with kill shelters?

Houston, TX – There is an odd myth among a lot of people in the south that communities in more northern states do not have kill shelters.  Some southerners have said that communities up north are literally begging for more dogs and cats and that their shelters have empty cages because there is such a shortage of companion animals there.

I’ve heard many stories about southern rescuers transporting animals up north to what they believe is “mecca”; the magical northern state where no shelter pets are killed.   Unfortunately, this belief is fiction.   If it were true, No Kill advocacy groups like No Kill Colorado, No Kill Wisconsin, No Kill New York, No Kill New Hampshire, No Kill New JerseyNo Kill Ohio and Animal Ark in Minnesota, would not exist. There would be no need.   But they do exist because there are kill shelters in northern states who are killing shelter pets just like in the south.   Those northern kill shelters are killing for the exact same reasons that kill shelters in the south are killing….. shelter management  refuses to implement the No Kill model of sheltering.

Recently, I was contacted by Davyd Smith, who runs No Kill Colorado.   Just like in the south, they are working to end shelter killing in Colorado.  Davyd was concerned because he had heard that a Houston group was shipping hundreds of animals to CO.  He was also concerned because he heard that Houston city council was considering giving this group more than $400,000 to ship thousands more BARC animals to their communities while they are fighting their own battles to end shelter killing.

It turns out Davyd was right.  I later received BARC’s proposed budget confirming that BARC was asking for $415,000 to pay Rescued Pets Movement (RPM) to transport BARC animals to CO.

Obviously, it is a good thing when animals are pulled to safety from BARC, which is Houston’s pound that killed/lost 12,500+ shelter pets last year.   Over the years, I’ve pulled a lot of animals out of BARC either by adoption or by fostering and believe me, I understand the desperation of rescuers who stand in front of perfectly wonderful, adoptable animals that are slated for death at BARC the next day if no one pulls them.  I’ve looked into those innocent faces and I understand the sadness and frustration of not being able to save them all because Houston’s pound in run by management that absolutely refuses to implement the No Kill model of sheltering that has been proven to save lives.

And, I’ve seen the pictures with all the cute shelter pets being loaded onto vans headed for that promised “mecca”.    I understand how some rescuers would be desperate to believe in that mecca.   But, we cannot look at transports in a vacuum.  We cannot turn a blind eye to what is  happening at the other end of the transports.   To do so would be, at the very least, unethical.

If we ship  hundreds or thousands of shelter pets to other communities with kill shelters, that means that rescuers in those communities will not be able to pull animals off the kill lists.  Therefore, animals in those kill shelters are killed.  

Can we really call this saving lives?   Isn’t this  just exchanging one life for another?   

Do Houstonians have the right to “dump” the problems of our high kill shelters on other communities who are also struggling to save lives? 

Is it ethical to make Houston’s kill shelter’s numbers look better at the expense of animals in another community?  

I do not believe it is ethical, nor is it a viable humane solution.Animal shelter

It is not fair to the rescuers in Colorado who now have to scramble even harder to save Colorado shelter pets lives because some of their foster parents and rescue groups are loaded up with Houston pets.   It is not fair to the shelter pets in Colorado who are on death row but will not be pulled to safety by a rescue group or foster parent because those rescuers are full with Houston pets.

Mike Fry, the director of Animal Ark, wrote about the problems associated with the transport of shelter pets from the south to kill shelters in his community and other northern states.  He wrote:

A logical person would be inclined to ask, “If the transports result in no net life-saving (and they don’t), then why do they happen?” It was a question I was able to ask the director at a southern shelter that regularly ships dogs to New York.

The shelter in question was the Huntsville, Alabama animal control facility. The shelter’s director, Dr. Karen Sheppard, has maintained a miserable save rate. She is currently saving only about 25% of the cats for which she is responsible, for example.

During a recent phone conversation with Sheppard, we talked about these transports. Almost immediately, she acknowledged that the New York shelter system was very broken, resulting in a lot of needless killing. When she said this, I immediately asked her, “If you know about all the killing going on in New York, why are you shipping so many animals there?”

Sheppard laughed and simply exclaimed, “You KNOW [emphasis her’s] why we are doing it!”

In fact, I DO know why she, and others like her, are shipping animals to communities that are still killing large numbers of their own animals:   It makes all of the shelters look like they are doing better than they actually are.   Sheppard herself has recently been credited with “improving” the “save rate” for dogs to nearly 50%.   However, a careful look at the statistics shows that nearly all of the “improvement” is the result of the transport of dogs to New York.

This seems to be a very controversial and heatedly debated topic here.  In fact, I posted questions on RPM’s Facebook page asking them if they knew that  communities that they are transporting thousands of animals to are NOT No Kill communities meaning these transports could very well cause CO shelter pets to die.   I even posted some of the Colorado statistics.   No answer was forthcoming from RPM, but some RPM supporters immediately jumped in and called me a liar.

There was no attempt to even look at facts; just the immediate spewing of lies and vulgarity.

AroutyComment

I have records from Colorado that rescue groups and shelters are required to file with the state.   It clearly shows that the communities where RPM is shipping BARC animals DO have kill shelters that are killing shelter pets.  Sometimes, more than one kill shelter.  The numbers are there.  Yes, they have lower kill rates than BARC, but they are still killing adoptable shelter pets.   But, apparently RPM and supporters, do not want to look at facts about the cities where they have sent over 2,600 animals, and the consequences they can cause.

To add to my concerns of Colorado shelter pets being killed because of these transports, additional very troubling information was forwarded to me.   I received copies of a Complaint filed against one of the rescue groups in Colorado (New Hope Rescue) where RPM shipped BARC pets.  The investigation of New Hope includes pictures of animals being kept in absolutely filthy conditions.   The house where many animals were roaming free, shows feces and urine all over the house; not just in cages as BARC’s director, Greg Damianoff, told a reporter;  it is EVERYWHERE.   It looks like a hoarding house.  (The Complaint and investigative reports are linked at the bottom of this blog and pictures from the investigations are posted below).

The investigation report shows multiple visits to the New Hope house with multiple problems noted on multiple dates.  The report says that the ammonia level in one room was so high that the animals in the room were confiscated and taken to animal control…..a KILL shelter in Colorado Springs.   These were animals shipped to New Hope by RPM.   So, BARC animals were pulled from one kill shelter and ended up in another kill shelter in another state.   Look at the pictures, and read the Complaint and investigation report.  Ask yourself if you would be concerned to know that BARC shelter pets were being shipped there.  Ask yourself if you would be concerned when the photos and investigation are shown to RPM and BARC director, Greg Damianoff but are simply dismissed as “just mess in a puppy cage”.   Ask yourself if you think this whole situation is a good solution.

One of RPM’s founders, Laura Carlock, recently told a reporter, that she personally visited all of the locations where they are transporting BARC animals.  RPM also issued a statement saying “We have VERY close relationships with the groups in Colorado with whom we work. Very close. We correspond with them no less than 15 times a day“.  This causes me great concern because I have trouble believing that the New Hope hoarding house got in that condition overnight.

Included in the Complaint is a handwritten letter from a former New Hope foster parent complaining of the conditions.   She stated that New Hope was having spay/neuter surgeries performed in a trailer that was someone’s home, not a vet clinic.   She also stated that New Hope refused to use any of the $50 per pet that RPM paid them on vet care for foster animals.  The New Hope foster animals she was caring for were sick, but she was told New Hope would not pay for medical care.   It seems to me that New Hope was using this RPM transport situation as way to make some money.  Colorado records show that most of the animals that New Hope took in were from out of state;  263 out of 307 dogs and 65 out of 76 cats taken in were transports from out of state    If all of the out of state animals New Hope took were from RPM, then New Hope made $16,400 from that deal and used none of it to provide vet care for those animals.   That is quite a racket.  (Records do not indicate where New Hope got all of their  transported animals, and RPM has been less than forthcoming when questions have been asked).

After a local news report recently aired about this serious situation, RPM sent out an emailed statement claiming that the “Colorado community is furious”.  I have to think that the people who are furious are the people that RPM has been paying $50 per animal to take BARC animals.   Raising awareness of the situation is a threat to their money train.

The people in Colorado who are genuinely concerned about shelter killing in their community and who are working to end it, are upset that Houston is transporting thousands of shelter pets to their communities (over 2,600 shipped by RPM).  In fact, they have asked Houston/RPM to stop transporting animals there until they end shelter killing in their communities.  I think it is a reasonable request.  But, it appears that the city of Houston, RPM, and the CO rescuers getting paid, are willing to turn a blind eye and ignore the serious issues they are causing.   This week, the mayor agreed to give RPM $265,000 tax dollars for thousands more transports to Colorado.   This will, of course, artificially improve the appearance of BARC’s save rates.  Apparently, the promise of big bucks, and inflated live release rates are blinding them all to the killing of shelter pets that are already in Colorado.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

In RPM’s recent email, they make a number of false statements.   I would like to clear up a few of the false statements that were made about me and No Kill Houston.

1)  I never told the reporter that spay/neuter was the only answer.  I don’t believe that it is and I have said this repeatedly.  Free and low cost spay/neuter is “part” of the No Kill solution but it is one of several solutions that I offered to the reporter that would save more lives and not burden another community with Houston shelter pets.  I told the reporter about many of the programs and services of the No Kill Equation that must be implemented to end shelter killing.  I even gave her a brochure explaining all of the programs of the No Kill model of sheltering.  I gave her a lot of information, but most of it did not air because of time constraints.

I did tell the reporter that part of that $330,000 additional money that the city just agreed to give to BARC for “live release initiatives” could be better used for more free spay/neuter for low income people, just like the free spay/neuter event held in which people lined up at 5:00 am, walking in the dark with flashlights to get there.  There are people in Houston who are desperate for these services and will use them, if offered.  Why isn’t BARC/city of Houston using this money more wisely and spending it right here in our city where it will make a longer term impact?  Instead of taking in litter after litter after litter and shipping them to other communities over and over or killing them, BARC could say “We’ll take that litter from you but you must bring in the momma cat or dog and we will spay her FOR FREE.”

2) I also told the reporter that part of that $330,000 would be better spent on offsite adoption locations all over the city.  I have been saying this years.  In fact, in 2009, No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd told BARC that offsite adoptions were essential to raising save rates.  No Kill shelters have found this to be critical in many cases because some people absolutely will never, ever go to a facility like BARC because they kill animals there.  They cannot take it.   The problem is compounded because BARC is hidden away, on a dead end street, in an industrial part of town where no one would ever just drive by and see them.

Houston is also 600 square miles, so there are many people who live so far away that they would never drive to BARC to adopt, even if they know where it is.  Offsite adoptions, in high traffic, highly visible areas, all over the city are CRITICAL to saving more lives at BARC.

This was proven to BARC management when they organized a very successful, well marketed offsite adoption event in 2011.  I wrote about it here.  At that adoption event, BARC actually ran out of animals!  They had to go back and get more BARC animals; they told their foster parents to bring their fosters and sent some of the people to BARC to adopt.   It was July and the temperature had been around 100 degrees but people waited in long lines in order to adopt. (See a picture at the link above).   By the end of the weekend, BARC had adopted out more than 400 animals It was more than BARC had adopted out in the entire previous month.  It literally cleared out the kennels at BARC.

Since BARC management has personally experienced how successful this offsite adoption event was, a rational person would expect to see more of them, if not every day, at the very least, every weekend. 

But that is not happening.

3) I also told the reporter that if BARC would implement the same successful Return to Owner program that Washoe County animal control uses to return 60% of their animals to owners who want them back (vs. BARC’s 7% Return to Owner rate) that it could save the lives of more that 8,000 lost pets per year, empty out more than 8,000 kennels per year and SAVE over $900,000 per year in the process.  I gave her this article.  This program would be easy to implement and not require a lot of additional funding, but the returns would be enormous in both life saving and money saved.   Nathan Winograd told BARC/city of Houston leadership this in 2009, but, they have yet to implement it. 

In short, we talked about a lot of life saving alternatives that could be implemented that would not involve dumping Houston’s pets on other struggling communities.  But, none of that made it to the air, or even the online version of the report.

4) Ms. Carlock’s statement to the reporter that the only 2 options for death row BARC animals is transporting them to another state or death is absolutely and demonstrably false.   As I stated above, there are  a lot of alternatives.  There are ten programs and services that are being implemented by hundreds of communities that have been proven to save all healthy and treatable pets i.e. 90% to 99%.   None of those programs include transporting thousands of pets to other communities with kill shelters.

5) RPM stated that “No Kill Houston has not saved one single dog from BARC”.  This was used as some sort of argument that No Kill Houston should not be allowed to express concerns about serious issues involving BARC pets.  Apparently, RPM does not comprehend that No Kill Houston is an advocacy group.   It has never claimed to be a rescue group and therefore does not pull animals from kill shelters under No Kill Houston’s name.   However, I  have personally pulled more animals than I can count from BARC to foster, or adopt, both dogs and cats.    I have also fostered for a number of the rescue groups who pull animals from BARC.

But, regardless of those facts, contrary to RPM’s statement, concerned citizens are not required to have a BARC dog in their home in order to be “allowed” to express concerns about BARC animals.    We are not required to have a BARC dog in order to speak out for animals about serious issues that we see, or when animal lives are in jeapardy.   We are not required to have a BARC dog in order to advocate for the solutions that have been proven to work to save 90%+ of all shelter pets all over the country.

If that ridiculous argument were true, few people would be able to speak out and effect changes in other situations where animals are in danger such as puppy mills, inhumane zoos or circuses, inhumanely treated lab animals or endangered wildlife.   If we paid attention to RPM’s senseless argument, we would all have to have puppy mill dogs, elephants, lab animals and wild life in our homes in order to have the privilege of speaking out for animals.  It is absurd.

6) RPM stated that No Kill Houston and No Kill Colorado are “fringe” groups.  That statement would be comical if it wasn’t coming from a rescue group who say that they are working to save shelter pets.

The fact that RPM board members are apparently unaware that there are more than 500 cities and towns with Open Admission No Kill shelters is tragic

The fact that  RPM board members have not educated themselves on exactly what these communities are doing to become No Kill communities is even more tragic.  

The fact that RPM is trying to recreate the wheel, using hundreds of thousands of tax dollars and using a program that has not created a single No Kill community…. a program that, in fact, puts lives in other communities in jeopardy, is shocking. 

That fact that the city of Houston, and therefore, we are funding this smokescreen to cover BARC’s high kill rates, is appalling.

Just as there are kill shelters in across the country, there are also Open Admission, No Kill shelters across the country.   In fact, there are at least 8 Open Admission, No Kill shelters/communities right here in Texas.   All of those No Kill shelters have one thing in common.   They have leadership who is dedicated to saving lives.  They have compassionate hardworking leadership, who are willing to do what has been proven to work.

If you are not familiar with how hundreds of Open Admission shelters have stopped killing shelter pets, I urge you to do some research.  You can start at the webpages for No Kill Houston and the No Kill Advocacy Center.

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Click here to read the Investigation reports regarding New Hope Rescue: NewHopeCrueltyInvestigation-Seizure

Below are pictures taken during the investigation of New Hope Rescue and the seizure of BARC animals from New Hope’s property.

 

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Repeating the Lies from Kill Shelters Harms Shelter Pets

CrossFingersFotolia_13943038_XS-EX

Houston, TX – I recently wrote about the claim that BARC management (Houston’s pound) made that there are 1.2 MILLION strays on the streets of Houston  I’ve seen this claim repeated by several reporters lately and  BARC continues to repeat this claim as an excuse and as political cover for the high kill rate that continue year after year at BARC’s facility (almost 51% of all animals at BARC were killed or lost in 2013 i.e. 12,596 in 2013 alone).

If we take a moment to really think about BARC’s claim, we can clearly see that it cannot possibly be true.   If it were true that there are “1.2 million strays” on the streets of Houston, that would mean there are 2,000 stray animals PER EVERY SINGLE SQUARE MILE of Houston.   We would not be able to walk out of our doors without stumbling across a stray pet.  As a long time resident of Houston, I can assure you that this is not the case.

Even in the low income areas of town, where the most strays are picked up by BARC, there are not 2,000 stray animals per square mile.  

Are there a lot of stray, or free roaming, animals in those areas?  Yes.  

Are there 2,000 stray animals per square mile in those areas?  No.

Are there 2,000 stray animals per square mile in the rest of Houston?  No, absolutely not.

In an attempt to learn how BARC management arrived at the astronomical “1.2 million strays” number, I sent a public information request to BARC asking for “documents which support, corroborate and/or validate recent statements made by city of Houston and/or BARC employees, to citizens and various media, that there are 1.2 million stray animals in Houston.

BARC’s response? “…there are no responsive documents for your request“.

Let me repeat that: BARC / City of Houston stated that there are no documents to support BARC’s claim of 1.2 million stray animals on the streets of Houston.

When pressed again for the source of the “1.2 million strays” number by another skeptical citizen, BARC’s manager, Greg Damianoff, cited a “pet population calculator” on the AVMA website.   I looked at the website and found that it clearly states that their calculations are based on no actual, provable data in Houston.   It uses estimates based on some survey information from vets in other communities and is multipled by guesses as to how many strays there are based on how many owned pets there are.   In fact, the website states,  “… because these formulas use sample survey data, they should not be considered 100% accurate.”   And it is not accurate for Houston.

A look around the city, by the average person, would confirm that the “1.2 million strays” i.e. 2,000 strays per square mile number cannot possibly be true.  It is absurd.   The fact that this claim is being made repeatedly by the person who is responsible for managing the city’s pound i.e. responsible for “sheltering” strays impounded by BARC is, to say the least, irresponsible.

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, just as 500+ cities and towns have done.

The No Kill Advocacy Center has just produced a new publication that breaks down the real facts, in detail.   It is a very interesting publication and I highly recommend that everyone read it.   Click here to read it. 

Learn the truth and repeat that information, then demand better from our city leaders who control BARC.

If you want to end shelter killing at Houston’s tax payer funded pound, then demand that Annise Parker keep her No Kill promises to do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill city.  

It has been four and half years and it is long overdue that she actually work to keep her promises to citizens and voters.

The first and most CRITICAL thing Annise Parker  must do to keep  her promises is to hire a director for BARC who is dedicated to saving lives.

Contact information for Parker and city council members is listed on No Kill Houston’s website here.

If you are unable to call or write them, No Kill Houston has created a petition which will send an email to them each time someone signs.   Find one petition here or, if you have already signed the first petition, find a new petition here .

DogSigningPetition2

 

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If you wish to receive an email notification each time I post a new blog here, please click the small Follow link in the bottom right corner of your screen. (Note: you can only see the link if you are reading this from my blog site. The link does not show if you are reading this blog in an email.)

Friend me on Facebook and Pinterest.

Follow No Kill Houston on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their email list.

Follow No Kill Texas Advocates, a No Kill political advocacy group, on Facebook and Twitter, and register to receive their newsletter.

Follow these stories and writing by other Texas writers on “Texas Animal Writers” on FaceBook.

 

BARC would rather KILL this kitten than accept offers of foster and adoption

Kitten

Houston, TX – The email chain below illustrates another instance of BARC & City of Houston management creating IDIOTIC rules that cost animals their lives.

Stacy emailed me because she offered to foster this kitten but BARC management (Amneris Diaz) told her no. Stacy then offered to adopt the kitten, but BARC again told her no because the kitten is 5 weeks old.

So, the 3 day hold period for this kitten expires today meaning that BARC can either choose to kill this kitten or work to find an alternative such as a foster home or adopter. In this case, BARC does not even have to work. An offer to save her is already there, yet BARC has REFUSED offers of adoption and foster care. So that means that BARC would rather kill this kitten. If another rescue group doesn’t offer to take this kitten, which isn’t likely since it is kitten season and most rescues are very full, she will be killed.

A beautiful, perfectly adoptable kitten will be KILLED by BARC…. while an offer to save her is in BARC’s lap.

How many times a day is this happening?!   How many adoptable pets are KILLED by BARC even when people have offered to save them?   Dozens?  Hundreds?  Thousands? 

How long does this have to go on before the citizens of Houston finally say ENOUGH!    How long will our tax dollars pay to KILL perfectly adoptable pets who have a place to go?

This is yet another example of why BARC is still a high kill facility.

 SHAMEFUL!

If you are as outraged at this horrific insanity, tell Annise Parker that it is not acceptable to kill animals that have a place to go.  You can contact her at: 832-393-1000 or mayor@houstontx.gov.  Tell her:

Annise Parker, when will you keep your promises and do everything in your power to transition Houston to a No Kill facility? Continuing to KILL kittens that have a place to go is NOT the way to get there.

Not only are your employees NOT working hard to save lives, they are actually turning down the public’s offer to save them.

You should also tell BARC’s shelter manager, Greg Damianoff.  His contact information is here


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From: “stacey@com”
To: nokillhouston@yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2014 2:18 PM
Subject: Re: Kitten – Ragdoll Himmie Mix At BARC – due out date today. HELP!!!

he’s too small they said to adopt out. 5 weeks so they said I could foster to adopt but only if in the city limits. They don’t have space to hold her until she is ready to be adopted out and so she probably won’t be put up for adoption and put down. So sad because I have experience with these breeds and have rescued and vetted many of them.
Stacey
From: No Kill Houston
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2014 2:10 PM
To: stacey@.com
Reply To: No Kill Houston
Subject: Re: Kitten – Ragdoll Himmie Mix At BARC – due out date today. HELP!!!
They won’t let you adopt her if you live outside the city limits??  I knew that they had an insane rule that people could not foster if they lived outside the city limits, but I thought that you could still adopt.  Randy Wallace (reporter with Fox TV) did a story on this topic a year or so ago, and the rescuer was forced to adopt some animals to save them when BARC would not allow him to foster since he was outside the city limits.   I would double check that.

From: “stacey@***com”
To: NoKillHouston@yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2014 1:30 PM
Subject: Kitten – Ragdoll Himmie Mix At BARC – due out date today. HELP!!!

This little girl is at BARC in Houston. Due out date is today 5/29. ID is A1238418 under LOST and listed as Himilayan Mix. Since I live outside the city limits. They won’t let me foster or adopt. However a rescue group can pull her. Let me know. She is just precious and a shame to be put down. I have attached a picture.

Kitten-PetHarbor

Annise Parker refuses to implement the No Kill model of sheltering, then claims that Houston’s pound cannot be No Kill

Houston, TX – A concerned citizen, Trina, recently emailed me because she, like thousands of people in Houston, is concerned about the sky high kill rates that continue at Houston’s pound.  She wrote Annise Parker asking when she will keep her promises to do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill community.

Annise Parker sent a letter to Trina stating in part “Because BARC, unlike other shelters, cannot turn down any animal brought to it no matter its condition, it will never be a 100% No Kill.”

My question is “How could Parker possibly know if BARC can be No Kill?”  She has not required BARC employees to implement the No Kill mode of sheltering.   She cannot state that it cannot be done, when she has not even bothered to attempt it.

Personally, I find Parker’s response incredibly repulsive on so many levels, not the least of which is that her statement is entirely false.    In 2009, Parker promised to do everything in her power to ensure that BARC became a No-Kill shelter.   However, after 2 terms and four years of broken promises and complete and utter failure, Parker now conveniently claims that BARC cannot be 100% No Kill.  This is despite the fact that there are now more than 200 Open Admission, No Kill shelters/communities in the US.  Most of them became No Kill communities while Parker has been mayor.

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What is certain is that, as long as Parker continues to claim that No Kill cannot be achieved at Open Admission facilities like BARC, it absolutely will not be achieved at BARC.  She is giving BARC management a free ticket to just keep on killing thousands of pets.  BARC management can continue to just skate by, doing a half-way job instead of working hard to implement the programs and services that have been proven to work.

And, the claim that BARC cannot turn down any animal is also not true.   A couple weeks ago, I talked to a man who recently visited BARC.  It was a Monday and BARC was closed to the public, so he drove to the back gate.  In front of him was a person in a car who was trying to surrender an animal.  BARC turned them down and turned them away.  So BARC can, and does, turn down animals.  This is just another excuse for her failure.

Parker’s letter also claims that they want to meet with Trina to “hear your ideas about how to achieve No Kill at BARC”.   The kicker is that city of Houston and BARC leadership already know what is necessary to achieve No Kill.   They do not need citizens to continue to tell them.  They have already heard it from the people who are actually doing it every day.  No Kill Houston brought No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd to Houston twice to teach his “Buidling a No Kill community” workshop.  Nathan Winograd is the first person to create an Open Admission, No Kill community and he has taught thousands of others how to copy his success.

Employees from the ARA Dept (the Dept over BARC) attended Winograd’s 2011 workshop. In addition, shelter manager, Greg Damianoff and several other ARA Dept employees, also attended the national No Kill conference in Washington DC last year.  This is the premier No Kill conference in which hundreds of people, who are already achieving No Kill, gather to teach others exactly how they are accomplishing it.

So Parker, and the people she hired to manage BARC, know exactly what needs to be done to stop killing shelter pets at BARC, but they have chosen to ignore it.  They have chosen to continue doing the same thing that they have always done, even though it has been a colossal failure for 4 years.

When I wrote about this issue, and the litany of lies coming from the city in November 2011, there were 27 Open Admission, No Kill pounds and shelters (just like BARC) saving 90% to 99% of all animals.  Today, less than 2 years later, there are more than 200!   There is absolutely no good excuse that BARC is only saving 42%.

I want to know exactly how many other Open Admission shelters/communities will reach the No Kill goal before Annise Parker admits that No Kill IS possible at BARC as well, with the right leadership?   I really want to know what that number is?   Apparently, 200+ of them is not enough to convince her to even try.

How many other communities will pass by Houston on the way to No Kill before Parker admits that she has not even attempted to implement the No Kill model of sheltering at BARC?

How many thousands of shelter pets must be killed by BARC and the city of Houston before Parker admits that she has failed to demand that BARC management, such as Greg Damianoff, actually do their jobs and work hard to save lives?    

How can anyone, with a conscience, stand by and do absolutely nothing while people, under her direction and control, KILL tens of thousands of pets every single year?

Ostrich-HeadInTheSand

How long will Parker keep her head in the sand, ignoring what is going on in the world around her, at the expense of tens of thousands of shelter pets who will be killed on her watch?

How many sweet, loving, adoptable pets will be killed before Houston gains leadership who will truly work on this issue?

Parker stated, in her letter to Trina, that BARC “will never be 100% No Kill”.  I agree that, under Parker’s administration, BARC will never be a No Kill shelter.  We have 4 years of proof of this fact.

Houston desperately needs city leaders who will make life saving in our shelters a priority, not just an afterthought while running for re-election.

The only way that BARC will make any positive improvements in life saving is after pink slips are issued at city hall.    We voters have the power to write those pink slips on November 5th.    It is up to we citizens to elect city leaders who actually care about saving lives. 

simple pink slip

Learn about the candidates on No Kill Texas Advocates’ website.

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A BIG day is coming up!

Houston, TX – A BIG day is coming up soon and  in more ways than one.  November 5th is my birthday.  This birthday will be one of those “milestone” birthdays.  You know, the ones that slide you into a new category on those lists that we fill out with the checkboxes.  I’m now going to have to check a new box.

Every time I pass one of these milestones, I realize how fast time is passing.  This year I realize how fast time is  passing without significant changes to Houston’s high kill sheltering system.  I first learned about the successful No Kill model of sheltering about 5 years ago when I read Nathan Winograd’s book, Redemption.   At that time, I was thrilled to learn that someone had finally figured out how we could end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets.   Five years ago, I could have never imagined that people would actually fight the efforts to stop killing shelter pets.  So, the last five years, although it seems like they have flown by, have certainly been a long, hard, very stressful and eye opening experience.   I have certainly become wiser and more educated to the shocking realities of the animal sheltering industry.

As you might imagine, my house has been, and still is, home to many rescued and homeless pets; a couple of them were found lost, alone and scared but most were pulled from Houston’s high kill pound, BARC.   When I pulled them out, most of them were on the “kill list” because they were either sick, infants or simply because they had been there longer than the 3 day hold period.

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*Marley

I pulled Marley, who was skinny and had become very sick at BARC, but now looks like the Pillsbury Dough Cat.

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Conan*

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I pulled Conan, along with his mother and 4 siblings.  He is my gentle giant with a tiny meow too small for his body.

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Penelope&Jezebel

I pulled Penelope, the sweet kitty who opens her mouth to meow, but no sound emerges.

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Sebastian*

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I pulled Sebastian, my 20lb moose of a cat who sits up and “begs” for attention or treats.  He was on BARC’s kill list because he had been adopted and returned because he didn’t get along with the adopter’s cat.

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All of my sweet babies, with wonderful, loving and individual personalities each deserving of the right to live their lives.

I still remember the day that I pulled each cat out of BARC.  I remember standing in front of cat cages trying to decide who to take, knowing that those I did not take, would probably be killed soon.  It is one of the most horrible decisions I’ve ever had to make.   Therefore, years later, those memories are still burned into my brain like it was yesterday, along with the faces of those I could not take.  It is a choice that I do not wish on anyone, but one that is made by rescuers and adopters each day at BARC.

This is why I am determined the change the system that forces this horrible choice on the animal loving public.

As I look into the eyes of the wonderful, loving, quirky pets who now share my home, sometimes it brings me to tears because I think of the nearly 15,000 animals, just like them, who entered BARC last year and were KILLED by BARC instead of being rehomed or returned their owners.

Those pets were killed for one simple reason; because LEADERSHIP has, for almost 4 years, REFUSED to implement all of the programs and services that would have saved them.

For almost 4 years, city leadership has REFUSED to implement the recommendations of the leading No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd.

For almost 4 years, leadership at BARC has not cared whether they continue to kill tens of thousands of animals; they do care enough to work hard and change their procedures to make the killing stop.

Leadership.  That is why BARC continues to kill.  Plain and simple.

Folks, we have the opportunity to change that leadership in just a couple weeks.

My birthday, November 5th,, is also Election Day this year.  On that day, we will have the opportunity to change the leadership in our city….. we have the chance to elect a new mayor and city council members who can then change the leadership at BARC.

We hold the power to make changes that will save lives.

Even though this birthday is a “big” one for me, I do not want to celebrate with presents.

The only thing that I want for my birthday is for every single person in Houston to stand up for the animals.  I want every single person to use your right and this opportunity to vote for new leadership in Houston.

We already know what the incumbent leadership will do (or more accurately, WILL NOT do).  We’ve seen the mass killing continue and we’ve seen the ridiculous waste of precious dollars that could have been used to save lives. We’ve seen that, for almost 4 years, BARC’s kill rates have risen.

If we ever hope to change the culture of killing in our city pound, we must change the leadership.

I am asking each of you to please grant my wish and vote for change.

No Kill Texas Advocates has sent questionnaires to the mayoral and city council candidates regarding sheltering issues. They will post the candidates’ responses on their website.  They will also endorse the candidates that they believe will make a difference in the lives of shelter pets in Houston.

For me, this is a one issue election.  Yes, I am concerned about pot holes, taxes and crime, but all that pales significantly in comparison to my concern for the mass slaughter of adoptable animals that our city pound performs daily….. and on my dime (taxes).

Personally, I am voting for Ben Hall for mayor I had the opportunity to meet with him recently and I believe that he is genuinely concerned about the horrific sheltering situation in Houston and that he is committed to creating a better, more humane, more financially responsible, life-saving method of sheltering in Houston.

I believe that he is our best shot to drag Houston out of the dark ages of “catch and kill” sheltering and our best shot to save the lives of Houston’s shelter pets.

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BARC proposing revisions to city ordinances that are detrimental to animals

jeune fille pull rouge négatif

Houston, TX – On October 1, 2013, there will be a meeting to discuss BARC’s (Houston’s high kill pound) proposed revisions to Houston city ordinances.   I am still reading the proposed revisions (since it is such short notice, I wanted to get this information out ASAP) but I have already seen that many of the proposed revisions would be very deterimental animals in Houston, such as lumping feral cats into the same category as “wounded” animals and stating that they should be killed immediately (Section 6-7).

Some of their proposals are just lipstick on a pig such a changing their name to try to fool the public into thinking that they are a “shelter” not a high kill pound.

And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that none of what I’ve read so far creates legislation that would help save more lives as the Companion Animal Protection Act does in the cities and states where it has been passed. 

No, in fact, most of what I’ve read of BARC’s proposed revisions gives BARC more authority to impound animals. 

Considering that BARC is already a very high pound, had a kill rate of over 57% in 2012, and their kill rate has increased every year for the last 3 years, more power to impound animals is the LAST thing that we, and the animals of Houston, need.

Please read BARC’s proposed revisions (click here) and compare their proposals to legislation that would actually help save animals (click here) , then please attend the meeting.  RSVP information is listed in the email below that was sent out to a select group of people notifying them of the meeting.

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“BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions administers regulations concerning animals within the City of Houston through Chapter 6 of the Code of Ordinances. Currently, BARC is considering revisions to Chapter 6.  While some of the changes are administrative, others warrant feedback from stakeholders like you.

On Tuesday, October 1, BARC invites you to join a discussion among local pet businesses, rescue groups and other interested individuals regarding the new revisions. This meeting precedes a City Council Committee meeting on Chapter 6 scheduled to take place in the coming weeks.

WHO: The City of Houston’s BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions

WHAT: Stakeholders meeting on revisions to Chapter 6 in the City’s Code of  Ordinances

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday,  October 1, 2013

WHERE: Houston Permitting Center: 1002  Washington Avenue, Basement Training
Room B2

Parking: There is free parking in Permitting  Center lots.

You can find a current “redline” draft of the ordinance by visiting this link: http://www.houstontx.gov/barc/chapter6draft.pdf.

Please feel free to review the document prior to the meeting to prepare questions or comments relating to the ordinance. The majority of the conversation will likely surround pages 39-48 in the draft.  Please note that items in the draft that are crossed out indicate language that is removed in the revised ordinance and items underlined are additions.

This meeting will help us ensure that the changes reflect the goals of rescues groups such as yours, especially as it relates to the health and well-being of animals.  We welcome any and all feedback you may have on the proposed changes.

If you have any questions prior to the meeting, please feel free to call 832-393-8503 or email Christopher.Newport@houstontx.gov.  If you plan to attend the meeting, please RSVP by sending an email to Chris.”

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Forty thousand opportunties to save Houston shelter pets

Houston, TX – The Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows will be in Houston starting July 17th.    This is one of the largest dogs shows in the country.   If you are a dog lover, it will be THE place to be (Cat lovers, don’t despair.  You will find many kitty related items there as well).

No Kill Houston will have a booth at the Dog Show again this year.  Forty thousand people are expected to pass through the doors each year, so it is the ideal location to reach thousands of animal lovers.

Today, there are over 160 OPEN ADMISSION, animal control facilities and shelters, representing approxmiately FIVE HUNDRED cities and towns, who are saving 90% to 98% of all animals entering their doors.   There is a successful, No Kill model of sheltering that, when rigorously implented, DOES work to save all healthy and treatable pets even in Open Admission shelters.  That is the good news.

Protest

The bad news is that  3 1/2 YEARS after the international No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd, gave Houston’s city council a step-by-step guide detailing how to stop killing pets at Houston’s pound, in 2012 they saved only 42% and killed nearly 15,000 pets. 

In fact, BARC’s Save Rate has DECREASED every single year for the last 3 years…. every single year that Annise Parker has been in office.

Enough is enough.  Houston’s pound desperately needs leadership who is dedicated to saving lives, and who willing to work hard, to save all healthy and treatable pets.   Saving a measly 42% of animals is just not good enough.

The only way Houston’s pound will get the leadership that it needs is if animal lovers (and voters) in Houston join together demand better for Houston’s pets.

knowledge is power

No Kill Houston needs volunteers to help in their booth at the Dog show in order to help raise awareness regarding the pathetic state of Houston’s “shelter” system and what can be done to transform Houston to a No Kill community………… just like the hundreds of No Kill communities across the US.

They need you to help them help Houston’s shelter pets.

Volunteers are needed Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 19-21, from 8 am to 5 pm.  There are morning and afternoon shifts.  

If you are able to help out, even for a few hours, you could help in Houston’s transformation.

Please contact No Kill Houston at NoKillHouston@yahoo.com if you help us help Houston’s shelter pets.

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Annise Parker’s Bait and Switch attempts to cover her No Kill failures

Hear speak see no evil

Houston, TX – As reported by the Chronicle, Mayor Annise Parker recently hired some Rice students to come up with solutions to BARC’s miserably low Save Rates.   ARA spokesperson, Christopher Newport is quoted as saying “It’s going to be useful for the council members. What they want to know is, ‘What can we do?’ You can’t really start grappling with that until you’ve got a tool in your hands like what these students provided”.

Apparently, Mr. Newport and Annise Parker have chosen to forget about the 2005 Mayor’s Task Force report which pinpointed many problems at BARC and offered many good solutions.  This lack of memory is stunning considering Parker actually served on the Task Force and she reminded animal lovers and voters many times of this fact while running for election to the Mayor’s office the first time  — for instance in her Policy Brief (see it at this link AnniseParkerPolicyBrief-2009)

Newport and Parker have also chosen to forget that in September 2009, the international, No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd came to Houston and assessed BARC.   Mr. Winograd prepared a 200 page report which details EXACTLY how BARC can stop killing healthy and treatable pets and achieve 90% or more Save Rates.  That was 3 ½ YEARS ago.  Remarkably, Parker even recommended that the city “Listen to the Experts” including Nathan Winograd, in her Policy Brief (linked above), yet she has failed to take her own advice.

If Annise Parker had hired leadership dedicated to saving lives when she first took office and required that BARC vigorously implement expert, Nathan Winograd’s recommendations, BARC would be well on its to No Kill by now.   Instead, BARC’s Save Rates have DECREASED every single year that Annise Parker has been in officeEVERY SINGLE YEAR.

For those who are not familiar with Nathan Winograd, he created the first Open Admission, No Kill shelter in the US, which saved all healthy and treatable animals entering their doors.   Only the irremediable suffering were euthanized (this is the true definition of euthanize).   His shelter was responsible for animal control for 8 municipalities, yet they still saved 90% or more of all animals entering their doors.

Since then, 90+ other Open Admission facilities, representing approximately 300 communities, have followed the same No Kill model of sheltering (called the No Kill Equation) and those shelters have achieved the same successes.   When shelters vigorously implement (i.e. not half-assed as is the case at most kill shelters) all of Winograd’s  recommendations, they stop killing too.knowledge is power

Many of those 90+  Open Admission shelters have reached No Kill while the city of Houston has had Winograd’s assessment report in their hands.   More than 80 Open Admission shelters have passed Houston by on their way to No Kill, while the Kill Rates at Houston’s pound continue to rise, year after year.

In addition to having a step-by-step No Kill guide for BARC, BARC employees attended the national No Kill Conference in Washington DC in 2012.   Present at this conference were people who have actually stopped shelter killing in their communities, and they taught classes on how they achieved their successes.

So, Annise Parker and BARC leaders know EXACTLY what needs to be done at BARC to stop the killing  — the tools are already in their hands, and have been there for over 3 1/2 years. 

But, instead of using those tools, as Parker promised and recommended, she has chosen to ignore them and asked some college students to come up with “more” solutions.

The sheer insanity of choices made for BARC is simply stunning.

Don’t get me wrong,   I’m sure the students’ motivations were well meaning.  But did they research the many other Open Admission shelters that have already reached No Kill?  I have not seen the report, but the Chronicle article does not mention many of the crucial components of the successful No Kill model of sheltering, so it does not appear that the students researched what is already working.  So, essentially the students’ solutions are merely a guess.    

Why did Parker even ask college students to come up with solutions in the first place, when she already has the solutions and all the tools necessasry to stop shelter killing?  

The answer?  Asking the college students to come up with solutions is just a “bait and switch” charade and nothing more than the Mayor’s attempt to divert attention away from the fact that she has totally failed keep her No Kill promises.   She has never bothered to require that her employees do their jobs well and implement the solutions that have already been proven to work and already in her hands, so she asks someone else to come up with “other” solutions.

Annise Parker has repeatedly promised that she would do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill city.  

Nathan Winograd gave Houston detailed solutions in September 2009. 

The only thing that Annise Parker has to do is DEMAND that her employees do their jobs and vigorously implement all of the recommendations in Nathan Winograd’s assessment report.

For almost 3 1/2 years, she has failed.

It is foolish, wasteful and dishonest to squander time, money and lives by continuing to refuse to implement proven solutions, and by asking others, with absolutely no life-saving shelter experience, to “guess” about solutions.  It a reprehensible and reckless use of our tax dollars and a reckless loss of precious lives that:

  • she has allowed BARC’s kill rates to INCREASE every single year that she has been in office;
  • she has allowed BARC to continue to ILLEGALLY ban volunteers;
  • she allows BARC to continue to kill animals that others have offered to save;
  • she allows BARC to make it harder for foster parents and rescuers to pull animals from BARC to safety;
  • she has not hired a director for BARC that is dedicated to saving lives—one willing to work hard to implement the programs that are saving 90% of animals in shelters all around us;
  • she has hired a director for BARC that does not even work onsite all day, but only makes a short appearance periodically;

There are a lot of things that BARC leadership and Annise Parker could be doing at this moment to save hundreds more lives every month, that would literally cost the city absolutely NOTHING, yet the Mayor and BARC leadership continue to refuse to implement these programs and services.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where BARC’s problems lie.  It is the same problem that has plagued BARC for years — LEADERSHIP.  Annise Parker and BARC manager, Greg Damianoff that just do not care if BARC stops killing.  

As I have said before, that problem could be solved with a pink slip.

I urge everyone to demand that Annise Parker (and your city council member) require BARC to vigorously implement the recommendations in Nathan Winograd’s 2009 assessment report.  Call, write letters, fax and/or email them.   (Their contact information is linked here.)

If you just don’t have time to call or write, I have created a petition that will send them an email each time someone signs.  You can find the Petition here.    Please SHARE it with all of your friends and family. 

If we all do not speak up and demand better, BARC and city of Houston will continue the “business as usual” as a high kill pound forever.    This is an election year for the mayor and city council members, so remind them that you vote.

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The earth is flat, pet overpopulation exists and other myths we’ve been told

truth or lie

Houston, TX – For years, most people in the United States have been told that that there are “too many pets and not enough homes”.  We have been told that there is a pet “overpopulation” problem.  We have been told that the reason that America’s animal shelters are killing millions of pets every year is because of this “overpopulation”.   We’ve heard this over and over and we have accepted this as truth without question.

Until a few years ago, I too believed that there was a pet overpopulation problem.  After all, I have seen the large numbers of animals at shelters, and who would believe that an animal shelter would kill thousands of animals every year if there actually were enough homes for all of them?  The caring and rational people who work at animal shelters would not do such a thing……. would they?

The truth is that pet “overpopulation” is actually a myth.  It does not exist.  I know this sounds heretical to many people especially to those who have fostered many animals, or to the people who watch animals being killed by the thousands at shelters every year. The first time that I read that pet overpopulation was a myth on a book cover, I thought it was crazy.  I am sure that people felt the same way the first time someone suggested that the earth might actually be round, not flat.  It is hard to change our belief system when we’ve been taught one thing our entire lives.  But, people finally realized that the earth really was not flat after all, that people were not sailing off the edge of the earth and people will soon realize that pet overpopulation is a myth as well.

But, let’s look at the numbers to make some sense of what the true facts are.   According to a national study done by Maddie’s Fund and the Humane Society of the United States, 23.5 million people in the US will get a new pet each year.  Some of those people have already decided where they will get that pet i.e.  they will adopt from a shelter, go to a breeder or get a pet from free to good home ad etc.   However, 17 million of those people have not yet decided where they will get their new pet.  So these “undecideds” are the homes that are up for grabs.  These 17 million people could be convinced to adopt.*

Today, between 3 and 4 million animals are being killed in “shelters”.   So it’s pretty clear that the “demand” for pets each year (17 million) far outnumbers the “supply” of animals being killed in shelters (3-4 million).

And the supply of adoptable shelter pets each year is actually even less because a large portion of that 3-4 million being killed are actually lost pets that should be reunited with their owners.   For example, Washoe Co., NV animal control returns 65% of pets to their owners.  Conversely, most shelters in the US average a return of only about 5%.  If Houston’s animal control i.e. BARC would utilized the same Return to Owner program as Washoe Co. with the same success, it would save the lives 8,100 more animals every year; that’s 8,100 animals that BARC would not need to adopt out or put in foster care and 8,100 empty kennels for the animals that truly are homeless.  It is also a savings of $972,000 every year which could then be directed to programs like free spay/neuter or a Help Desk to keep animals from being relinquished by their owners.

In addition, that 3-4 million “supply” could be further reduced if all shelters TNR’d (trap, neuter, released) feral cats instead of killing all of them, as many shelters do.

That 3-4 million “supply” could be reduced further still if shelters had pet retention programs that kept many of those animals out of the shelter in the first place, as mentioned above.

So we can see that adopting out all animals entering shelters is doable.  And the fact is that it is already being done in many communities.  If pet overpopulation really existed, there would be no open admission, No Kill shelters.  They could not exist. But, they do exist.

So let’s break these numbers down and get a perspective on what it means for Houston.

According to the U.S. census, there are 310,895,000+ people in the U.S.  As we discussed above, 17 million people who will get a new pet each year, have not yet decided where they will get that pet.  Those “undecided” new pet owners equal about 5.4% of the U.S. population.

The latest census shows that Houston has just under 2.2 million people.  The “undecided” new pet owners in Houston would equal about 118,800 people.  That is 118,800 people who could be convinced to adopt their next pet.

We also know that approximately 80,000 pets are being killed in Houston’s five kill shelters each year.   Again, we can see that the “demand” for pets by the “undecideds” in Houston (118,800) far outnumbers the “supply” of pets being killed in Houston’s shelters (80,000).

This means that there is no pet “overpopulation”.  It just means that the 80,000 pets being killed in Houston shelters each year could be saved if they were better introduced to the people who would be willing to adopt them.

And the numbers above are a worst case scenario because again this does not take into consideration the feral cats that should be TNR’d; it doesn’t take into consideration the number of pets that “should” be returned to their owners but who are not (see above); it does not take into consideration the number of animals that could be kept out of the shelter entirely with a proactive “help desk”.

I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of pets entering Houston’s shelters each year.  Of course there are.  And I’m not saying that there aren’t irresponsible people in Houston.  Of course there are.  I am saying that just because 80,000 pets are being killed in Houston shelters each year does not equate to “too many pets and not enough homes”.  The numbers prove that this is false.  It is myth and propaganda perpetuated by kill shelters.

I’m also not saying it is easy to save all healthy and treatable pets entering shelters.  To the contrary, it is hard work.  But therein lies the true heart of problem ….. saving all healthy and treatable pets is hard work and most shelter directors in the U.S. still refuse to do everything necessary to save them.  Continuing on the same path of “save a few and kill the rest” is easier.  Continuing to blame the public for pet “overpopulation” is easier.

So while I will admit there is an overpopulation problem, it is not a pet overpopulation problem.  The problem is an overpopulation of ineffective shelter directors who refuse to join the 21st century and put into place the programs and services that we know will save all healthy and treatable pets.

That overpopulation problem could be solved fairly quickly…. with a pink slip.

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Ask Mayor Parker why she has not kept her No Kill promises LIVE MONDAY online

Wa&Cat2009-05-01 041-1

Houston, TX – According to CultureMap Houston, Mayor Annise Parker wants to answer our questions on any subject we choose.  We will have the opportunity to ask our questions during a live web chat with Mayor Parker on Monday, April 29 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

You can submit your questions now in the Comments section of this story;  Tweet them using the hashtag #askannise; record them in a YouTube video; or ask them LIVE by going to this article on  Monday.

Considering BARC’s ever increasing KILL RATES (see below), I have a few questions for Parker about her No Kill promises that she has yet to keep (read more about her promises here): 

In 2010, BARC had a 55.33% Kill Rate 

In 2011, BARC had a 56.20% Kill Rate

In 2012, BARC had a 57.27% Kill Rate  

Here are a few  of my questions for Annise Parker:

1)  You have made repeated promises to citizens, including during your election campaign, that you would do everything in your power to transition Houston to a No Kill city.  Yet, after 3+ years in office, records show that the KILL RATE at Houston’s taxpayer funded animal control (i.e. BARC) has actually INCREASED every single year that you have been in office.   I would like to know when you plan to keep your No Kill promises to citizens?

2)  In 2009, the international No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd, gave you a 196 page step-by-step guide which tells you exactly how to increase BARC’s Save Rates.   Why have you completely ignored Mr. Winograd’s recommendations for more than 3 years and allowed BARC’s Kill Rates to INCREASE every year that you have been in office?

3)  You know that the most important element to stop the killing of shelter pets is a hard working shelter director who is dedicated to saving lives and who will vigorously implement all of the steps of the No Kill model of sheltering.   So, why have you hired a shelter director who is not dedicated to saving lives?   Why have you hired a shelter director who does not even work at BARC’s facility full time?   Why have you hired a shelter director who has been responsible for BARC’s ever increasing Kill Rate, yet you have done nothing to rectify this problem?

4) Volunteers and rescuers are the backbone of shelters and absolutely necessary to saving lives.  Yet, at least five volunteers and rescuers have been banned from BARC since you have been in office. Some have been banned for simply asking questions.    I would like to point out that not only is this a huge waste of resources i.e. tax dollars and free labor, but it is also illegal.   Why have you allowed this wasteful and illegal activity, that costs lives, to continue under your administration?

5)  Considering that you have totally and completely failed to keep your promises to citizens and voters during 2 terms in office, why should we vote for you again this November?

I sincerely hope that everyone will ask Mayor Parker serious questions about her failures regarding BARC as well*.   She needs to hear from all you. 

It is imperative that she knows how many of us care deeply about this issue and that we have not forgotten her No Kill promises. 

She also needs to know that we all VOTE.  

The lives of the animals at BARC depend on us. 

*You can copy my questions if you wish, but please try to change them so they are not the exact same questions over and over.

Thank you for standing up for the animals.

****************************************************************

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Rescuers, your input is needed to convince Texas legislators to save lives

ATTENTION TEXAS ANIMAL RESCUE GROUPS!!!  A version of the Companion Animal Rescue Act may be filed in Texas this session.

If passed, this bill would make it illegal for an animal shelter to kill an animal if either:
(1) a qualified rescue group is willing to save it, or
(2) a qualified adopter is willing to adopt it.

One of the things that opponents of the bill (i.e. kill shelters and their supporters) have said is that shelters NEVER turn down qualified rescue groups in Texas.   I know, for a fact, that this is a lie.   I have seen this happen dozens and dozens of times over the last few years.  In fact, I have written about this very thing many times here.

I know that any dog that remotely looks like a Pit Bull is particularly vulnerable as they are many times denied adoption, and killed more often, simply because of the way they look.  The Houston SPCA, Houston Humane Society and Harris County animal control all have policies to NOT adopt out dogs that “look” like Pit Bulls or Pit mixes.

The “shelters” choose to kill them all instead.

Also, I know that the kill shelters are lying to legislators because BARC (Houston’s animal control), killed animals that I, myself, offered to save.  I placed Holds on animals because I had found homes for them, but BARC killed them before I could travel there to get them.   I was told that BARC employees did not bother to check the computer for Holds before killing animals.

A sweet, healthy cat killed by BARC even though I had found a home for her and placed a "Hold" on her.

A sweet, healthy cat killed by BARC even though I had found a home for her and placed a “Hold” on her.

Also, a kitten that I had put on Hold somehow “vanished” from BARC before I could return for her.  I was told that BARC “could not find her”.  This was just a day or two after I took the below picture of her.   I have since learned that “cannot find” usually means “already killed”.

Kitten2-042 (Small)

A sweet, healthy kitten allegedly “lost” by BARC even though I found a home for her and placed her on “Hold”.

I was told that a third cat, an adult Tortie Point Siamese, that I had also placed on Hold, could not be found in her kennel either.   Luckily, dedicated volunteers were at BARC that day and searched the facility for the cat.   She was located sitting in a kennel outside of the Kill Room, next in line to be killed.  On top of her kennel was the kennel card for a 6 week old, solid black kitten.   So, not only did the shelter employees not bother to check the computer for Holds, they couldn’t even be bothered to verify that they had the correct animal.

Tortie224

Although, I had found a home for this cat, and placed a Hold on her, she was found in a kennel outside of the Kill Room with the kennel card of a 6 week old, solid black kitten. Shelter employees didn’t even bother to verify that they had the correct kennel card and animal before carting her off to the kill room.

RESCUE GROUPS, your input is needed to help get this bill passed to make these actions illegal.  It is vital that legislators  hear from you so that they know how often animals are killed that we have offered to save.   I know you have war stories just like I do.

If this has happened to you, or someone you know, please contact Ryan Clinton  ASAP at Ryan@FixAustin.org.  You can also contact him through his Facebook page.

Time is of the essence, as there is only a short window of time to convince legislators to file this bill.  If it is not filed within the next few months, it will be 2 more years before anyone can try again.

I realize that some rescuers are afraid of speaking publically about their experiences for fear of being banned by those kill shelters so, at your request, your identifying information will be kept confidential.

Thank you for standing up for the animals.

**************************************************************************

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

CityofHouston-1

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.

jeune fille pull rouge négatif

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.     

Protest

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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Citizens for Animal Protection; not the “shelter” they claim to be

CrossFingersFotolia_13943038_XS-EXHouston, TX –  I just read an online article from a local news agency regarding one of the Kill shelters in Houston.   I was really amazed at how many complete falsities and very disturbing statements were contained in just one article.   I am quite often amazed at the information that is put out by some media because it seems that information that could be easily fact checked, never is.  Perhaps in the age of online, “news at a moment” journalism, fact checking has become a lost art.

The article is about Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) and its director, Kappy Muenzer.  The article proclaims that “Finding homes for animals still CAP’s primary mission”.  CAP is one of the five Kill Shelters in Houston.  It is a misconception among quite a few people in Houston that CAP is a No Kill shelter.  They are not.  In fact, far from it.  Their own 2010 BBB report states that CAP had a 52% KILL RATE.  Keep in mind that CAP is NOT an Open Admission facility, meaning that they can say no to intakes when they get full.   So, if “finding homes for animals” really is CAP’s primary mission, I’d say a 52% Kill Rate means that they are failing miserably at this mission.

Below are a few more false and/or disturbing statements that were printed in the article.

1) “With the highest adoption rate in the country according to its website, CAP is quickly becoming a driving force in animal protection and humane education.”

Highest adoption rate in the country?  This is absolutely untrue.   There are currently 83* Open Admission shelters (again, CAP is not even Open Admission) that are saving 90%-98% of all animals.  These are the shelters with the highest adoption rates in the country.  It is not CAP.  Not by a long shot.

As I said above, according to CAP’s 2010 BBB report, their Save Rate was a measly 48%.   And, that is a DECREASE from 2005 when they reported a 54% Save Rate.   Over the last couple of years, I have twice asked CAP’s director for their current intake and outcome records so that their current Save Rate could be calculated, but Muenzer refuses to be honest and produce this information.  Citizens should be very worried when a KILL shelter will not release their records as that means they have something to hide.  It would have been great if the reporter had asked for this information as well before printing that very false statement.

2) “I really believe CAP was the leader in reforming the shelter system”.   CAP reports a 52% KILL rate.  That KILL rate is only 6% less than Houston’s pound that Muenzer said is horrible in this article.   That is a serious disconnect in that she does not recognize her own massive failure.  (BTW: Houston’s pound is still just as “dingy and dark,”  and there are still “row after row after row of cages” as Muenzer describes in the article i.e. not much has been “reformed” there.  And certainly none of any reformation that has taken place at BARC in the last few years has been because of anything that CAP or Muenzer has done.   Seventy plus HORRIBLE city pound employees were fired after the true animal advocates spoke out about the atrocities there and convinced the city to take action.   Muenzer had nothing to do with this.)

In addition, there are FIVE kill shelters in Houston, including CAP, who are still killing approximately 80,000 animals every single year.   That is not a “reformation” by any stretch of the imagination.

3) “We have a general goal in all the presentations: to educate the public about pet overpopulation and what they can do about it,”  Pet overpopulation means too many pets and not enough homes.  It has been proven that pet “overpopulation” does not exist.

Just because “shelters” are still killing animals, does not automatically mean that there are not enough homes for them.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  A study by HSUS and Maddie’s Fund showed that 27 MILLION people will bring new pets into their homes each year.  17 MILLION of those people have not decided where they will get their pet and “could” be convinced to adopt IF they were better introduced to the pets who need homes. 

Conversely,  3-4 million pets are being killed in “shelters” each year. 

Clearly, there are many more MILLIONS of new potential adoptive families each year than there are pets being killed by shelters in the U.S.    (I’ve calculated the numbers for Houston here.)

Also, there are now 83 Open Admission, No Kill shelters in the US (See the list here)  If pet overpopulation really existed, there would be no way that these shelters could have stopped killing.  Yet, they have.

So why are the Kill shelters, like CAP, still killing healthy and treatable and adoptable pets when so many others have stopped it?  The reason is that the shelter directors refuse to implement the successful No Kill model of sheltering that is working across the country.   Obviously, if other shelters can save all healthy and treatable pets, so could CAP.  But they CHOOSE to ignore what is working across the country and they CHOOSE to continue killing.  It is, in fact, a choice.

4) “Children are they key to the future for animals,” Muenzer says. “We must educate our children about proper animal care so that abandoned animals and the city of Houston continue to benefit from our work.”

Again, this is absolutely false.  The 37 YEARS that CAP and Kappy Muenzer have been killing healthy and treatable pets should be more than enough proof that “educating children about animal care” has done absolutely nothing to lower their Kill Rate.   They have seen it first hand for 37 YEARS.  In fact, as I said above, CAP’s Kill rate has actually risen over the last few years.  Even the slowest of learners should be able to deduce that what they are doing is not working if their goal truly is to save lives.

The “we must educate the children” mantra does absolutely nothing to save the tens of thousands of animals entering Houston kill shelters today.   The only thing this mantra does is attempt to pacify the public into believing that, at some magical point in time, decades down the road when these children grow up, everything will be great because the public will magically change.

It doesn’t work that way.   37 years have proven that it has not worked at CAP.  It never has, and it never will

We now know that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that shelters will stop killing animals when the LEADERSHIP becomes dedicated to stopping it.  Not only that, but it can be stopped immediately.  It has been done for years now, and it is being done every day across the country.

To add insult to injury, No Kill Houston brought the leading, international No Kill sheltering expert, Nathan Winograd, to Houston in 2009 and 2011 for a “Building a No Kill Community” seminar so that he could teach everyone how we can stop sheltering killing.   No Kill Houston sent FREE tickets to the directors of all FIVE kill shelters in Houston, including Muenzer, yet NONE of the kill shelter directors bothered to attend.

As an aside, this fact has always puzzled and saddened me.   Let’s pretend that you are the director of a kill shelter that is killing 52% of the animals that enter your door.  You believe that you are doing everything right, and you are doing everything that you can to save as many as possible.   But, you hear that someone else has figured out how to do it much better.  Someone else is saving every single healthy and treatable pet.  All of them.   Even if you think that you are doing everything right, wouldn’t you be interested to know what the more successful person is doing differently?   After all, we are talking about alternatives to killing innocent animals.

Would your ego be so huge that you could not admit that someone else might doing it better and that person might actually teach you something so you could stop killing animals too?

Would your ego be so huge that you would not be the slightest bit interested in what this person has to say?

What if someone gave you free tickets so that you didn’t even have to pay for it?  The only thing you had to do was show up.   What then?   Would you show up and listen?

The directors of Houston’s five kill shelters did not show up in 2009 or 2011.

5)  “Muenzer caught a stray cat that had been meandering through her neighborhood and exchanged it with the pound for her personal cat.”   This statement absolutely stuns me.  Muenzer actually took a cat to the pound knowing full well that the cat would be killed.  This is simply beyond belief.   Why didn’t she just go to BARC and get her own cat back (and maybe save a few more from the slaughterhouse while she was there?)   Why in the world would she take another cat to a high kill pound?    Did she think there was some type of macabre exchange of bodies that must be met?  If BARC could not kill her cat, she had to give them another cat to kill instead?  Even at BARC’s worst, I’m pretty sure it never worked that way.

Who would do such a horrible thing to an innocent animal?

Perhaps this attitude explains why CAP’s KILL rate is within a few percentage points of the city’s high kill pound?

6) “We also try to have a target message for different types of audiences. A low income audience would benefit from lessons on proper animal care and the importance of spaying and neutering.”

Wrong again.   If a person can’t afford to spay/neuter their pet, then all the “lessons” in the world will not change this fact.   If they can’t afford it, they can’t afford it.  If it is a choice between buying groceries and getting Fluffy fixed, Fluffy will not get fixed no matter how many messages of “proper animal care” that CAP sends out.

Also, studies have shown that most people will voluntarily spay/neuter their pets IF it is free or low cost.   So, considering this, does CAP provide free or low cost spay/neuter for the companion animals of low income people, to go along with those “lessons”?   According to their website, they do not.  They simply list spay/neuter clinics in Houston.  The only animals that CAP spay/neuters for free are feral (unowned) cats.  Not that spaying/neutering feral cats isn’t needed; it is.  But it certainly does not help those low income people that CAP claims to be targeting.

There are so many things that could be done to end the killing of healthy and treatable, adoptable pets at CAP, and the other 4 kill shelters.   I would urge everyone to become familiar with the No Kill model of sheltering that has allowed 83 Open Admission shelters to stop killing.

I would urge everyone to visit No Kill Houston’s and the No Kill Advocacy Center’s website to find out exactly how we can end the killing of healthy and treatable companion animals in shelters.

This is a very solvable problem, but it will be up to us to solve it.   All of the kill shelters in Houston have proven that they will not stop killing voluntarily.

So, it is up to us.

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*83 is as of today’s date.  That number is increasing constantly.

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.

Follow Nathan Winograd on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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