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

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.

*

*

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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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.

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

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

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

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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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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BARC’s kill rate has steadly risen since 2010

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

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

That is up from 56.20% in 2011. 

It is also up from 55.33% in 2010.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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