We are thankful for…

via No Kill Houston

Thanksgiving Pet Celebration

We are thankful for those who work to save lives. Whether they are:

Shelter leadership that works to comprehensively implement the programs and services of the No Kill Equation that saves the lives of shelter animals and serves the community; or

Public officials who support the will of their constituents by implementing No Kill policies and legislation; or

The No Kill advocates, who refuse to stay silent in the face of shelter killing and abuses, and who work to help their shelters and communities in the continual journey towards No Kill;

The rescue community who pull shelter pets to safety; or.

Foster parents who keep pets out of the shelter system and provide a safe haven; or

Shelter volunteers who provide free labor to shelters and love to homeless pets; or

Community cat caretakers that practice Trap-Neuter-Return and keep feral cats out of shelters and out of harms way; or

Voters who research politicians and vote for those who are willing to do what is necessary to save shelter pets in their communities; and

We are thankful for YOU. The public, the animal lovers, the voters, who support all of the above with your time, your money, your homes and your votes.

You are helping to save lives every day.

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Houston Humane Society; not humane after all

*This is a reprint of my article that appeared on Examiner.com.   Examiner.com has shut down its website, and articles are no longer accessible, so I am moving my articles to my blog site here. 

(Originally printed December 8, 2011)  Houston, TX-  I recently received a disturbing from a heartbroken woman. I’m printing her email below exactly as she wrote it (except for removing a rescue group’s name) because it so clearly illustrates the serious issues plaguing so called “shelters” that are costing thousands of animals their lives.

“I made a terrible horrible mistake. I found a beautiful black and tan healthy Cocker Spaniel mix with a red collar no tags on an extremely busy road very close to the Humane Society. Stupidly I thought the best way for her to be found by her owners was to take her to the HUMANE Society. I told them I would be back to get her with the group I foster with (___) on day 3 which I was told she would be evaluated. I have 5 dogs, 2 which are fosters. I was not prepared to take her home. It takes some time to get these things worked out. So, when I called today I was told I would have to adopt. I said I was pulling her through a rescue and we could handle any treatments and neutering. She said they wouldn’t do that. I asked if she was still there. Did her owners come and find her? She said couldn’t give out that info. I said I am trying to help this dog what is your problem. Isn’t this the HUMANE Society? She said you signed a contract. She said this about 5 times. After about 15 minutes of this crap, she finally told me they had already euthanized her. This dog was sweet and fat and beautiful and obviously someone’s dog. When I took her through the clinic part 4 people said how cute she was. They did not even give her 2.5 days. Even BARC gives them 3 full days and allows rescue groups to take the dogs. They were not interested at all in me trying to come and get her. In fact, she pretty much discouraged me trying to help this dog in any way. This is just so wrong. I am sick that I did this. Please write about this in your news paper. I thought i was helping this dog to reunite with her people and I killed her. Never in a million years would I have thought they would euthanize this dog. Jennifer __”

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Jennifer is a kind hearted person who tried to help Bella*, a little lost dog that she found on the side of a busy street*.  Jennifer did what most people think is the best thing to do when they find a lost or stray pet…. she took Bella to an animal shelter. After all, animal shelters are supposed to be just that… shelters. They are supposed to be a place of refuge and safe havens where shelter workers work hard to make sure that lost animals find their way back home and homeless pets find new homes.

And Jennifer did more than the average person who finds a lost or homeless pet. She didn’t just drop Bella off and expect the shelter to do all of the work. No, she told the Houston Humane Society (HHS) that if Bella’s owner did not find her during the 3 day hold period, she would pull Bella from the shelter, through a rescue group, and foster her in her own home while she tried to find Bella’s owner herself. Jennifer talked at length with a HHS employee regarding the exact date and time that Bella’s 3 day hold would expire. The only thing that the Houston Humane Society had to do was hold Bella for 72 hours and hope that her family thought of looking for her there.

Jennifer took Bella to the Houston Humane Society on November 1 at 10:00 am. She was told that Bella’s 3 day hold period would expire on November 4 at 10:00 am. But, when Jennifer called HHS on November 3 at 3:00 pm to make arrangements to pick up Bella the following day, she was horrified to discover that the Houston Humane Society had already killed her. How long did the HHS wait before they killed Bella? Did they kill her the same day, as soon as Jennifer left the building? We don’t know exactly when the Houston Humane Society killed Bella because they consistently refuse to be honest with the public and release their intake and outcome records. However, we do know that Houston Humane Society killed Bella before Jennifer called to check on her, which was within 53 hours, or barely over 2 days.

Now a little dog, who was obviously someone’s loved lost pet, is dead and Jennifer blames herself for taking her to this “shelter”. But it is not Jennifer’s fault that Bella was killed. Jennifer, and thousands of other people, have been told that shelters are doing everything that they can to save animals. People believe that everyone who works at an animal shelter works hard to save their lives. They believe the “shelters’” claims that they do not want to kill animals, but they have no choice because the so called “irresponsible public” forces them to kill animals. Many people are not aware that some “shelters” are hiding hideously dark and nefarious secrets.

Of course, “shelters” like the Houston Humane Society do not tell the public or donors that they are actually little more than assembly lines of death, killing thousands of healthy and treatable, adoptable and even owned pets, even when alternatives are standing right in front of them. And unfortunately, it took the Houston Humane Society’s killing of an innocent little lost dog, to make Jennifer painfully aware of the reality of what is really going on at the Houston Humane Society.

It is despicable and immoral that a self-proclaimed “animal shelter” and “humane society” would kill an obviously owned, healthy pet within 53 hours, especially when a rescuer was begging to save her. Bella’s owner is probably still searching for her believing that she might one day return home. Bella’s family will probably never know that she even entered Houston Humane Society because Houston Humane Society could not be bothered to care for Bella long enough for her owner’s to find her. HHS could not be bothered to even offer Bella for adoption. And Houston Humane Society could not be bothered to try to find a foster home or rescue group to take Bella instead of killing her.

To make matters worse, Houston Humane Society didn’t even have to lift a finger to find a foster home because a rescue group had already offered to save Bella. But the Houston Humane Society couldn’t be bothered to hold her for the full 3 day hold period.

Houston Humane Society couldn’t even be bothered to call Jennifer and tell her that they planned to kill Bella before her 3 day hold expired to give Jennifer a chance to pick up Bella earlier. No, the Houston Humane Society killed Bella even when alternatives were beating down their door begging to save her life. How many thousands of animals have suffered the same fate as Bella at this so called “shelter”?

The above is not the definition of an animal shelter. This is a revolving door of death where thousands of animals go in, but only ELEVEN PERCENT of them make it out alive. **

And to add insult to injury, Houston Humane Society charged Jennifer $20 to leave Bella there. (Reminder: Jennifer was a Good Samaritan just trying to help another person’s lost pet.) In addition, when Jennifer called back to make arrangements to pull Bella through a rescue group, Houston Humane Society told her that she would have to adopt Bella in order to get her out of Houston Humane Society alive (this was before she discovered that Houston Humane Society had already killed Bella).

According to the Houston Humane Society’s website, their adoption fees for dogs range from $90 to $200. This means that, in addition to the $20 that Jennifer paid to leave a lost dog at a “shelter”, she would also be required to pay another $95 – $200 for the “privilege” of rescuing that same dog 3 days later from a “shelter” that is killing 89% of all animals entering their doors.

In addition, according to the citizen reviews on the websites here and here, it appears that Houston Humane Society does an incredibly horrible job at encouraging adoptions and has atrocious customer service, both of which are significantly important factors in getting animals out of shelters alive. In fact, after reading these reviews, it appears that most of their rules or procedures are geared towards making sure that animals never leave Houston Humane Society alive.  It is no wonder that only 11% of animals make it out of the Houston Humane Society alive.

In addition to the above issues, “According to Texas statutes, shelters like the Houston Humane Society, Houston SPCA, Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) or any other mom and pop shelter, do not have the legal right to impound animals, without a contract with a local government.” said Zandra Anderson, Houston trial attorney and founder of the Texas Dog Commission. The Houston Humane Society, Houston SPCA and CAP do not have government contracts for animal control duties in Houston. In fact, the city of Houston and Harris County both operate their own animal control facilities. (I also recently sent a public information request to the city of Houston asking for all contracts with Houston Humane Society, Houston SPCA and CAP. The city of Houston reported that there are none.)

The above means that the only animals that the Houston Humane Society, Houston SPCA and CAP have the legal authority to admit to their “shelters” are those relinquished by their owners. Admitting strays and lost pets, whether from a citizen who drops them off or whether the “shelters” pick up strays themselves, is impounding animals and they do not have the legal right to impound animals. So these facilities are breaking the law every time that they take in any animal, other than an owner relinquished pet.

The above is true regardless of whether the “shelter” forces a citizen sign a bogus “contract” such as the contract that Jennifer was forced to sign in order to leave Bella at the HHS. Anderson states that “Someone who finds an animal at large, a stray, is not the legal owner of that animal so does not have any ownership rights to convey to a private shelter. Any document that a finder of a stray animal signs purporting to extinguish ownership rights or to convey them, is worthless since this person has no rights to transfer or give up.”

I previously wrote an article asking what right these so called “shelters” have to kill animals. Texas has anti-cruelty laws prohibiting people from killing companion animals, but if some people get together and proclaim themselves a “shelter”, they suddenly have the right to kill companion animals any time that they choose? Obviously, laws in Texas that would actually protect animals from being killed by “shelters”, when alternatives exist, are non-existent. Every heartbreaking story like Jennifer’s that I hear, and I hear a lot of them, makes it abundantly clear that animals desperately need legal protections from the very institutions that proclaim themselves shelters or “humane” societies.

The Companion Animal Protection (CAPA) would provide such protections for shelter animals. CAPAwas filed in the Texas state legislature earlier this year. It was supported by animal lovers and rescuers because of stories like Jennifer’s, and equally repulsive stories, that are coming out of kill shelters far too often. It should come as no surprise to learn that Sherry Ferguson, the director of the Houston Humane Society, opposed Texas CAPA. After all, if Texas had shelter reform laws like CAPA, then Ferguson could not kill thousands of pets each year behind closed doors and in secret. Just like any other business which has the power over life and death, Ferguson would be required by law to be transparent with the public. But Ferguson does not want that.

If Texas CAPA had passed, Ferguson could no longer kill a pet after only 53 hours. She would be required by law to hold a pet longer to give the owner a fighting chance of finding and reclaiming his or her lost pet. But Ferguson does not want that.

If Texas CAPA had passed, Ferguson could no longer kill a pet when a qualified rescue group offered to save that pet, as in Bella’s case. But Ferguson does not want that.

If Texas CAPA had passed, Ferguson could no longer kill animals for arbitrary reasons such as color, breed or age. But Ferguson does not want that. No, she wants to continue to kill all Pit Bulls, or Pit mixes, that enter the Houston Humane Society’s doors, instead of adopting them out.

If Texas CAPA had passed, Ferguson would have to stop blaming the public for the fact that the Houston Humane Society, under her direction, kills 89% of all animals entering their doors and has done so for decades. Ferguson would have to face the fact that the Houston Humane Society does very little to save lives, and in fact hampers the life saving efforts of the community. But Ferguson does not want that.

If Texas CAPA had passed, more people might discover that the Houston Humane Society is not really humane after all, and Ferguson does not want that.

*We don’t know this dog’s real name since she was killed by Houston Humane Society before her owners could be found, but I’m going to call her Bella for this article. (See more pictures of her in the Slideshow posted on this article. If you, or anyone you know, has lost a dog fitting “Bella’s” description, in the Almeda Genoa area, please contact me.

**According the 2005 Mayor’s Task Force Report. This was the last time that the Houston Humane Society was transparent with the public. At that time, they were killing 89% of all animals entering their doors. They were even killing animals from other cities and counties FOR A FEE. That’s right, the Houston Humane Society was taking money to kill animals for others. They may still being doing this today. We don’t know if they still are because they currently refuse to be transparent with the public and produce their intake and outcome records.

***Earlier this year, the HHS told Texas state representative, Jessica Farrar that they were designing their own reports and didn’t want it to conflict with state laws. They “said” that this was the reason that they were opposed to Texas CAPA. I’ve looked at their website, and 8 months after their statement, they have yet to post any intake and outcome reports on their website. They continue to hide the number of animals that they are saving or killing from the community. So much for honesty, even when they are talking to a Texas state representative.

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Revisionist History

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

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

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

What kind of “animal lover” does that?

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

All of this took place before Parker even took office.  

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

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

At least 15,088 killed in 2010;  

13,060 killed in 2011;

14,530 killed in 2012;

12,596 killed in 2013; and

10,050 killed in 2014.   

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

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

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

More kill shelter lies

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

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

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

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

Another great “legacy”.  Not.

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

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

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

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

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

Big, fat, horrendous failure/legacy.

No Excuse Sad Embarrassed Person Isolated from Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burning dollar

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

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

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

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

Awesome “legacy”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yea, that is quite a “legacy”.

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


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

1) abolish the gas chamber;

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

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

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

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

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

7) prohibit selling shelter animals to research labs;

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

Yet Parker opposed the bill.  

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

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

That is nothing short of an atrocity.

Animal shelter

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reasons are:

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

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

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

change management

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

best friends

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BARC proposing revisions to city ordinances that are detrimental to animals

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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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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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