Taxpayer funded extortion in Harris County

Harris County, Texas – Randy Wallace with Fox 26 news recently reported that Harris County animal control killed a woman’s dog  even though they knew that she was on her way to retrieve her pets.  

Harris County Animal Control (HCAC) had taken Diesel, Chelsea and a puppy because someone had complained about them “running loose”.  However, when the animal control officer (ACO) showed up, the dogs were inside their fence, on their own property.   The ACO told the daughter of the dogs’ owner, Amy Kroll, that she would be fined $500 PER DOG ($1,500) because the dogs had been reported as “loose”. No one reported them as aggressive. They did not try to harm anyone. No, someone allegedly reported that her dogs had been outside of their fence, and Ms. Kroll was told that she had to pay the ACO $1,500 or he would take her pets.  

Ms. Kroll did not have $1,500.  As it happens, the dogs belonged to Ms. Kroll’s mother, Cathy Foster.  Ms. Foster has suffered some serious losses recently.  Her husband died and her house was recently destroyed in a fire, so she had been living with her daughter.  Her dogs were normally inside only dogs, but after her house burned down, they had to stay in the fenced yard temporarily.

But, instead of talking to Ms. Kroll to find out why the dogs might have been “loose”, and maybe even helping her to rectify any issue that might have allowed the dogs outside their fence, the ACO forced Ms. Kroll to relinquish the dogs—to a high kill pound.

Charging rexhorbitant fines and fees, that few people can afford; forcing people to relinquish their pets; and holding a person’s beloved pets for ransom, in a facility that kills thousands of pets every year, is the equivalent of EXTORTION.    

It should be noted that the fines/fees that Harris County employees told Ms. Foster and her family that they owed, changed a number of times over several days, and no one at HCAC could give a clear explanation of what the fees were for.

At one point, HCAC told Ms. Foster that she would have to pay an “extra” fee because the address listed on Diesel and Chelsea’s microchip was in Montgomery County (Ms. Foster’s house that burned down.)  This is insane.  People should not be charged more fees because the address on their pet’s microchip is in a different county than the pound where they were taken.   And it’s not like they even needed the microchips to contact Ms. Foster or Ms. Kroll, since the ACO took the dogs from her own front yard. 

Even HCAC’s director, Michael White, could not explain why his own employees told Ms. Foster that she would have to pay “extra” fees.  Nor could he explain why his own employees told her different amounts on multiple occasions.   

This whole thing sounds like a big SCAM.  It sounds like some Harris County employees are overcharging distraught pet owners, while holding their pets for ransom, and pocketing the excess “fees”. 

Ms. Foster and her family, did not have $1,500, $900, $700, $600 or any of the other ridiculous charges that HCAC employees claimed that she owed, so she was forced to  give the puppy to a rescue group to avoid paying HCAC’s ridiculous fine.  She told HCAC employees that they would pick up Diesel and Chelsea in 2 days when she got paid again. This time HCAC told her that she owed $200 EACH for Chelsea and Diesel.  

Even after Ms. Foster, and her family, called HCAC multiple times about her dogs; and even though she called HCAC before she left her house to pick up her dogs from HCAC; and even though Chelsea and Diesel’s kennel cards allegedly say that their owner was going to pick them up…. HCAC employees KILLED Chelsea.  

Diesel was next in line.  If Ms. Foster had arrived minutes later, HCAC would have killed Diesel too. Chelsea was the only thing that Ms. Foster had left that had belonged to her and her deceased husband.  She has lost everything else, and now this facility has killed her beloved pet.  


And over what?  What exactly did taking these pets to the pound solve?  These dogs were not dangerous.  They were beloved family pets that may, or may not, have been outside of their yard at some point in time.  If the issue was an inadequate fence, this family sure could not afford to repair it now, after paying HCAC’s ransom.  

HCAC’s actions solved absolutely nothing, other than to enrich their own employees.    

When HCAC’s director, Michael White, was made aware of this horrendous situation, one of his responses to Ms. Foster was “we can give you another dog“. Seriously? He actually thinks that giving this woman another dog will make everything OK?  
The fact that he thinks that a pet lover can just exchange one dog for another, like he/she is a piece of furniture, is a clear example of an extreme issue with the director of this facility.

The employees at Harris County claim that killing Chelsea was an “accident”.   But, this facility killed a horrifying 9,562 animals in 2016.  That is an average of 26 animals killed every single day of the year.

Considering that they are open 5 hours or less per day, that is 5+ animals killed EVERY SINGLE HOUR, of EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR.

Let’s face it, it is not really an “accident” when this facility is an assembly line of death, day in and day out.   

And this is not a “shelter” when there is very little actual sheltering going on. That facility is a revolving door of death.  Slaughterhouse would be a more accurate description.

And to add insult to injury, HCAC was on the local news about a week ago, saying they were “overcrowded” and asking people to adopt or foster etc.   So the HC animal control officer, knew that if he took Ms. Foster’s pets to the pound, that other dogs would be killed to make room.   He knew this and yet he coerced Ms. Kroll into relinquishing her mother’s pets to the high kill pound anyway. 
It costs money to intake pets, “shelter them”, kill them and dispose of their bodies.   The No Kill Advocacy Center estimates that it costs shelters/pounds approximately  $106 to intake, house, then kill one animal.  
It actually costs more to kill pets than it does to save them. 
So, in their extortion of Ms. Kroll, it actually cost HCAC (i.e.  it cost Harris Co. taxpayers) $106 to intake and kill a loved and WANTED pet.  It also cost HCAC money to intake and “shelter” Diesel and the puppy, when it was totally unnecessary.  These pets HAD homes.   The heartache that they have caused Ms. Kroll and her family is immeasurable.

HCAC’s director should be comprehensively implementing programs that reduce intakes.  He should be working hard to find ways to keep pets out of that high kill pound.   He should be working hard to comprehensively  implement the programs that have been proven, for years, to both decrease intakes and increase live outcomes.

He, and his employees, should not be intimidating and coercing people into relinquishing their beloved pets, especially for something as trivial as “some dogs” were reported as being loose.  Not only is this cruel, inhumane and costly, but doing so only drives up intakes and drives up the killing, as this horrific story clearly illustrates.

I have to wonder if Dr. White has even bothered to visit any Open Admission, No Kill shelters to find out how they ended the killing?  There are 200+ of them now, including 6 right here in Texas, including 2 entire Texas counties. Has White even bothered to research any of them?  
I’m going to guess that he has not, since he has not bothered to comprehensively implement well known, common sense, cost effective, life saving programs. Apparently, remaining in the dark ages of catch and kill sheltering is simply easier.

Folks, this is your taxpayer funded animal control facility.  Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett and the 4 Harris County Commissioners should be ashamed that they have allowed a county dept to function like a third world country.  These people are ultimately over this facility, and the leadership and employees working there.  Yet they have not required that their employees implement the programs and services which have ended killing all over the country.  

If you are sick and tired of the horrendously high killing at our animal “shelters”, then speak out to your elected officials.   Tell them that this issue matters to you and that you expect better from your taxpayer funded departments.  

Tell them that you will not vote for people who do not represent your values.  And if they do not represent your values, then VOTE THEM OUT OFFICE during the next election. 

Click here to SPEAK OUT for shelter pets at Harris County Animal Control.


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Save Rates for Harris Co, TX animal control; better than 2015, but not great

Houston, Harris County, Texas – I received the 2016 intake and outcome records for Harris County Animal Control (“HCAC”).   I calculated the Save Rates, and although they are better than 2015, they are still not great by any stretch of the imagination.

Here is a breakdown for 2016:

48.93% Total Kill Rate / 51.07% Total Save Rate

75.44% Kill Rate for Cats only

32.43% Kill Rate for Dogs only

19,544 Total Intakes (including 121 classified as “Other”)

 12,091 Dog Intakes

   7,332 Cat Intakes 

  3,485 Adoptions – 18% Total Adoption rate

  2,705 Dogs Adopted – 22% Adoption Rate for dogs

     778 Cats Adopted –  11% Adoption Rate for cats 

 9,562 Total animals were killed/lost/died in care

 3,921 Dogs killed or lost

 5,531 Cats killed or lost

1,309 Total Pets Returned to Owners – 9.36% Return to Owner Rate

1,234 Dogs & puppies Returned to Owners –  14.66% RTO Rate for Dogs only

     75 Cats and kittens Returned to Owners – 1.35% RTO Rate for Cats Only

If you would like to view the intake and outcome reports (gathered thru a Public Information Request), I have posted them on No Kill Houston’s website here.   


A dog killed by Harris County animal control

Here is a comparison of 2016’s numbers to 2015


So,  Intakes decreased and their Save Rate increased, which are both good, however, HCAC killed or lost a horrifying 75.44% of all cats!  

Cats lost out in every category compared to dogs.  Their adoption rates are far less; the numbers returned to their owners are shockingly low; and even though the number of cat Intakes decreased by 1,114, Harris Co AC still killed 5,531 cats.   

Clearly, there is a lot more that could be done to save the pets entering HCAC, especially for cats. 

One program that would be easy, and cost effective, to implement is a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program for feral cats.   Pretty much every community, that I have ever studied, has a TNR program.  TNR is supported by every national humane organization as a humane and cost effective means of population control.  And yet shelter leadership in Harris County, which is the most populous county in Texas, and the 3rd most populated in the US, still has not implemented a TNR program. 

Shelter leadership at HCAC has remained in the dark ages of catch and kill sheltering for feral cats.   That is disgraceful, to say the least.

Another program that would increase adoptions dramatically, and also bring in revenue for HCAC, is an effective and comprehensive offsite adoption program.  Harris County spans an enormous 1,777 square miles.  It should be clear to anyone that their facility on Canino Road is not convenient for a huge number of Harris County residents.  In addition, some people will absolutely never, ever, go to a kill shelter.   That is why offsite adoption locations are critical to saving enough lives to end shelter killing. 

Yet, I searched the website for HCAC, looking for any offsite adoption locations and could find only one, for cats only, mentioned i.e. “PETCO River Oaks”.   While this is a great location, to my dismay, it appears that HCAC leadership has made it incredibly difficult for people to adopt a cat from this location. 

This is what is posted on their website: 

You need to fill out our adoption application and return the application to HCPH Veterinary Public Health either in person or by faxing to (281) 847-1911.  The application will be reviewed and then you will have 24 hours to come and pay the adoption fee, in person at our shelter during regular adoption hours.  The cats located at our adoption partner PETCO River Oaks are ready for adoption.  Adopters will be considered on a first come, first served basis.  Please note the name and animal identification number (AID) on the application.  It is important that you bring your application to our shelter during regular adoption hours as soon as possible. Once you have completed the application process and paid the adoption fee, you will be given paperwork to take to the PETCO River Oaks to pick up your new pet.”

It should be noted that, according to HCAC’s website, the “adoption hours” referenced above, are from 1:00 to 5:30 Monday – Friday, and 11:00 to 3:00 on Saturday and Sunday.  So, if a person found the cat that they wanted to adopt on a Sunday, most working people would not be able to drive to HCAC’s facility on Canino Rd within 24 hours… because they have jobs.  So HCAC’s target potential adopter i.e. people with jobs, will not be able to take advantage of these offsite adoptions in any great number.   

It doesn’t make sense to make people jump through multiple hoops, and drive across town in Houston traffic, to another location (a kill shelter), just to pay the adoption fee so that they can drive back across town again, to the first location to adopt.   This is ridiculous and defeats the whole purpose of “offsite adoptions”.  A lot of people are likely to just give up and go somewhere else that is less hassle, including breeders. 

Since HCAC KILLED 5,531 in 2016, the intelligent and compassionate thing to do to decrease shelter killing would be to make it as easy as humanly possible for people to adopt.   

One idea to increase adoptions would be for volunteers to either volunteer at that the PETCO location, and/or to take calls to immediately interview potential adopters.  In a county with 4.5 MILLION residents, it shouldn’t be hard to find enough volunteers to help with this.    This is so common sense to me.  So, why hasn’t shelter leadership seen this barrier to adoptions, and rectified it? 

Another issue is that, after some searching, I found mention of a Mobile Adoption event on “Harris County Animal Shelter’s” Facebook page.  But, I couldn’t find any mention of mobile adoption events anywhere on HCAC’s web site.  Why not?  

Marketing adoptable pets is a crucial part of saving lives.  It is a program that is so simple and, with a little work, pretty much free to implement, but I could not find any mention of a mobile adoption at all on their website. 

So, the bottom line is that the Save Rate at Harris County animal control has increased from 2015 to 2016, which is good. 

But many thousands of adoptable pets are still being killed while simple, cost effective, programs that would save their lives, are not being comprehensively implemented.  This is very bad.

As we have seen so many times before, this is a shelter leadership issue.

Please SPEAK OUT for shelter pets.  If we do not demand better from our shelters, the killing will never end.  No Kill Houston has made it very easy for you to contact your elected officials, who could increase the Save Rates.  

Click here to SPEAK OUT for shelter pets at Harris County Animal Control.


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Animal advocates PLEASE apply for this job

Harris County, Texas – I have written several blogs and articles about the House of Horrors that was directed by Dawn Blackmar for decades.

I recently reported that Blackmar finally retired (and the world rejoiced).


Blackmar’s vacated position is now posted on the Harris County job board.

I implore all animal lovers, who want to make a difference in the lives of shelter pets, to please apply for this job.  

Harris County is the fourth largest county in the US, and it is also home to some of the most generous animal lovers on the planet.   If Harris County animal control had the right leadership who were truly dedicated to saving lives, I have no doubt that the entire county would come together to help make it happen, myself included.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I think that this will be an easy job, but I do believe that there are so many simple things that could be done that would save thousands of lives IMMEDIATELY.   And I do believe that community will wholeheartedly support this type of leadership in droves!

Here is a link to the job posting

Please pass this information on to every person that you know.   In order to drag Harris County out of the dark ages of “catch and kill” sheltering, it is critical that Harris County animal control obtain new leadership who is dedicated to saving lives!

Act Now - Red Button

Ding Dong, the witch is dead!

Ding dong, the witch is dead!  The wicked witch is dead!  

Randy Wallace, with Fox 26 news, reported that Dawn Blackmar has retired as Director of Harris County animal control…. and all over Texas rescuers, and animal lovers, are rejoicing.


A person who directed the torture and deaths of hundreds of thousands of helpless animals, during her decades long tenure, is finally gone. 

This is a good day for lost and homeless animals in Harris County, Texas!

Personally, I am THRILLED that Blackmar is out.  Some of the most horrific stories of abuse that I have ever heard have come from Blackmar’s vile leadership of Harris County animal control.   For those who are unfamiliar with Dawn Blackmar and the House of Horrors that she ran in Harris County, please read my blog here.

Nathan Winograd also gave Blackmar his Phyllis Wright “award” for being one of the worst of the worst in the entire country;  someone who epitomizes everything that is wrong with our broken animal “shelter” system.  Considering the horrific shape our sheltering system is in, that is saying a lot and Blackmar beat out a lot of heinous people to win.  Winograd even dedicated a page in his new book, Friendly Fire, to the atrocities at Harris County animal control.

You would be hard pressed to find a facility in the entire country with a worse reputation than Harris County animal control under Dawn Blackmar’s direction. 

So, today is a good day and I am celebrating.

But we all need to remember that, even after the Harris County Attorney’s investigation confirmed that Blackmar and her employees had been committing absolutely heinous and torturous acts against helpless animals;  and that she and her employees, had been breaking state humane laws for YEARS, the Harris County Commissioners did nothing.   The Commissioners allowed Blackmar to keep her job for over a year, and they allowed her to retire from that job.   I am assuming that she will receive a nice, fat pension from Harris County in payment for her decades of running the animal version of Auschwitz.

Folks, these are our ELECTED officials who have done nothing while humane laws were broken in the most horrific ways imaginable by county employees, and it is our tax dollars that is paying for it.  

We all should remember this when we go the voting booth in November to vote for County Commissioners.

And, although we are celebrating today, if the past at other kill shelters is a guide, the Harris County Commissioners are not likely to hire someone with a better track record than Blackmar.   What we have seen is city and county officials who hire the same types of people over and over again.  They hire people with experience in high kill shelters who just continue the slaughter.

We cannot sit by and wait for this to happen in Harris County again.  

We must tell County Commissioners that we expect them to hire someone who will allow Harris County join the other 200+ communities (and counting) who are saving 90% to 98% of all animals

We must tell them that killing 89% of all animals is not acceptable.

We must tell them that we are voters and this matters to us.  

We must continue telling them this until they do what is right, and hire a leader who is dedicated to saving lives.   Only this will turn around Harris County animal control.

The contact information for your County Commissioners is listed here.

Thank you for standing up for the animals.


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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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The upcoming Harris County elections

Save shelter pets by exercising your right to vote!

Houston, TX – As I’ve written previously, the upcoming elections for Harris County are really a one issue election for me.  The most important issue for me is who will step up, do their jobs, and fix the broken animal control system in Harris County.  Who will work to transform the House of Horrors known as Harris County animal control?

The Harris County Attorney’s office issued a report last February which confirmed that the Harris County animal control has been breaking state humane laws for years.  For instance, it was confirmed that Harris County animal control employees:

1) Killed animals in view of other animals.

2) Re-used euthanasia needles.

3) Placed live animals in freezers.

4) Performed painful heart sticks on fully alert and conscious dogs, cats, kittens and puppies

The report also confirmed sky high kill rates of over 82% and no effort to stop, or even slow, the killing.

Since the report was issued, over 8 months ago, not one elected Harris County official has recommended the firing of employees who broke state humane laws.   Not one elected official has shown even the slightest interest in trying to fix problems in this department.   In fact, they have done absolutely nothing.

No Kill Texas Advocates sent all of the incumbent candidates a candidate questionnaire so that voters could learn their position on Harris County animal control.  Not one of the incumbent candidates responded.

Chuck Maricle is the only non-incumbent candidate who responded to the questionnaire.  See his response here.

In addition, Chuck Maricle and Glorice McPherson are the only candidates who showed an interest in talking about these issues in a candidate forum.   All of the other candidates refused.

Maya Angelou is credited with the quote that “when someone shows you their true colors, believe them.” 

I think this is a valuable piece of advice.

Since the confirmation of inhumane and criminal activity in Harris County animal control, not one of the incumbent candidates has shown the slightest interest in fixing Harris County’s taxpayer funded House of Horrors.  I believe they have shown us their true colors, and I plan to vote accordingly.

I believe that every voter should be as educated as possible about the candidates.

Before you go to the polls, I urge you to contact those candidates who have refused to speak openly and honestly about the serious issues that are important to you i.e. transforming the House of Horrors that your tax dollars are funding.  Your vote matters and you need to know which candidates are worthy of your vote.

To make it really easy for you to contact the candidates before you vote, I have listed all of their contact information in this blog post.  I’ve even listed a few sample questions.

Make your vote count.  Vote for the candidates who will protect the defenseless animals in Harris County.


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Tell your candidates that you care about animal issues

Houston, TX – The elections for Harris County candidates are this November.  Early voting starts in just a few weeks.  Do you know the positions of the candidates on animal issues?

If you vote for a candidate, will he or she then work to protect shelter pets?   

Will he/she support the No Kill model of sheltering in Harris County or will they simply allow the House of Horrors that is Harris County animal control to continue indefinitely? 

Do the candidates know that this issue matters to you, the voter? 

It is critical that we have elected officials who will work to fix the broken animal control system in Harris County.  As I have written previously, last February, the Harris County attorney’s office completed its investigation of Harris County animal control. Our tax dollars paid  for 11 employees to work on the investigation for 8 months.  The investigation confirmed what former employees, volunteers and rescue groups had alleged… that Harris County employees, under Dawn Blackmar’s direction, had been breaking Texas humane laws for years.  It confirmed that the employees consistently carried out very inhumane acts against the defenseless animals who were unfortunate enough to enter this facility.

The County Attorney’s report also confirmed that Harris County animal control had a horrific 83% KILL rate in 2011.  Yet, after confirming all of the above atrocities, Harris County officials have taken absolutely no action whatsoever.  None. There has been no attempt to discipline employees who broke the law and who tortured animals on the job, and there have been no changes that would increase the miniscule save rate.   

It is time for this House of Horrors to be reformed, but, it is clear that Harris County employees and elected officials will not do what is necessary to accomplish this.  The only way that positive changes will be made at this facility will be for us to elect candidates who will do it.  Harris County needs leaders who actually care about this issue and who will not continue to sweep it under the rug.    And, we need the candidates to know that voters care about this issue. 

That is where you come in.

It is imperative that all of the candidates hear from you about this issue.   It is critical that they know that voters are outraged about the House of Horrors in Harris County and that you want to know what they will do about it, if you vote for them in the upcoming election.

Right now, it appears that a lot of the candidates do not believe that voters care about animal issues as most of them are not paying attention to it.  No Kill Texas Advocates sent Candidate Questionnaires to all of the candidates several months ago, but Chuck Maricle is the only candidate who has responded.  See his responses here.     

In addition, over the last couple of weeks, No Kill Texas Advocates has contacted many of the candidates regarding attending a Candidate Forum (see my previous blog post) in order to answer the voters’ questions.  Yet only 2 of the candidates have indicated an interest in attending such a forum. 

Personally, the upcoming elections in Harris County are a one issue race for me.   Potholes or opening the next park are not high on my priority list.  

The main issue that I care about is which candidate(s) will work to stop the inhumane treatment, lawlessness and mass killing of pets at Harris County animal control.   

I care about knowing which candidate(s) will step up and help implement the same model of sheltering that 62 other Open Admission shelters (  and animal controls have implemented to stop shelter killing, just like Austin Texas did.  

I care about knowing which candidate(s) will help drag Harris County out of the dark ages of catch and kill and help us join the 21st century where 90% or more of all shelter pets make it out alive.  

But, since some of the candidates are not responding to No Kill Texas Advocates’ request for a Candidate Forum on these issues, it is apparent that these candidates do not think that we voters care about animal issues.   

We need to prove them wrong. 

Therefore, I am asking each of you to contact the candidates and ask them about their views on Harris County animal control.  Let them know that this issue matters to you and that you will vote accordingly.   Please call the candidates and email them.   Also, post questions and comments on their Facebook pages and Tweet them, so that others will see your questions as well.  Ask your friends and family to do the same.

Let’s prove to the candidates that we voters DO care deeply about this issue 

I am providing the candidates’ contact information below.  I have even provided some sample questions, if you need help.   

Questions for the candidates:

 1) Are you aware that Harris County animal control has an 83% Kill Rate?  If you are elected, what will you do to reduce this rate?

2) Are you aware of Vince Ryan’s report confirming allegations that Harris County employees, under Dawn Blackmar’s direction, broke several state humane laws over a period of years?

3)  To date, no action has been taken regarding any of the employees who violated state laws.  Likewise, no action has been taken by the District Attorney to file criminal charges against employees who violated state laws.  What is your position regarding county employees who break the law while on the job?

4)  Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering has been successfully implemented in at least 62 Open Admission shelters/animal controls across the country and they are now saving 90% or more of all animals?

5) Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering not only saves on the cost of killing animals, but it brings in additional adoption revenue and other user fees and also provides an economic boon to local business?

6) Are you aware that Austin’s city council passed the Companion Animal Protection Act in 2010 and subsequently Austin’s Open Admission, animal control facility began saving 90% or more of all animals (their Save Rate was 93% for 2011)?

7) If elected, will you support the No Kill model of sheltering by passing the Companion Animal Protection Act in Harris County?

Here are the candidates’ contact information

Harris County Attorney – Robert Talton
Phone: 713-944-4005
Harris County District Attorney – Lloyd Wayne Oliver
Facebook: None that I can find
Phone: 713/542-1818; 281/796-7731; 713/382-8009
Harris County District Attorney – Mike Anderson
Phone: 281-310-1201
County Commissioner Precinct 3 – Glorice McPherson
Phone: 281-741-7922; 281-670-8817

Note from No  Kill Texas Advocates:   Ms. McPherson has agreed to be part of our Candidate Forum and is open to discussing reform at Harris County animal control.  She has not responded to our Candidate Questionnaire as yet, but we hopeful that she will so that we can include her in our endorsements.
Ms. McPherson’s opponent, Steve Radack has not responded to our Candidate Questionnaire and thus far, has refused to be part of our Candidate Forum.
County Commissioner Precinct 4 – Sean Hammerle
Phone:  832-691-0816
Email addresses together to copy and paste into an,,;,
Note from No Kill Texas Advocates:   
We are happy to report that Chuck Maricle is the ONLY current Harris County candidate who responded to our Candidate Questionnaire.  See his responses posted here: (scroll towards the bottom of the page) 
He is also 1 of only 2 candidates who agreed to be part of our Candidate Forum to discuss these important issues that matter to voters.   So far, the other candidates, including Mr. Maricle’s opponent, El Franco Lee, have NOT agreed to be part of the Candidate Forum.  In addition, Mr. Lee has not responded to our Candidate Questionnaire.

We believe that Chuck Maricle could help us make great positive changes at Harris County animal control.

Mr. Maricle has our FULL SUPPORT.

Please THANK Mr. Maricle for taking voters concerns about animal issues seriously and for supporting the reform of Harris County animal control.

County Commissioner Precinct 1Chuck Maricle

Phone: 713-240-4929


Below are the incumbents running for re-election in Harris County.

Sample questions for the  incumbents:

1) Why have you taken no actions toward the Harris County employees that the County Attorney confirmed broke state laws on the job?

2)  What is your position regarding county employees who break the law while on the job?

 3)  If re-elected, will you do anything differently?

 4) Are you aware that Harris County animal control has an 83% Kill Rate?  If you are re-elected, what will you do to reduce this rate?

 5) Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering has been successfully implemented in at least 70 Open Admission shelters/animal controls to date across the country and those shelters are now saving 90% or more of all animals?

 6) Are you aware that the No Kill model of sheltering not only saves on the cost of killing animals, but it brings in additional adoption revenue and other user fees and also provides an economic boon to local business?

 7) Are you aware that Austin’s city council passed the Companion Animal Protection Act in 2010 and subsequently Austin’s Open Admission, animal control facility began saving 90% or more of all animals (their Save Rate was 93% for 2011)?

 8) If re-elected, will you support the No Kill model of sheltering by passing the Companion Animal Protection Act?

 9) Explain to voters why we should vote for you again when you have not listened to your constituents’ wishes in the past?

 Here are the incumbents contact information

Harris County AttorneyVince Ryan
Phone: 713-942-5816; 713-755-5101
Harris County District Attorney – None
The incumbent, Pat Lykos, lost the primary election.
County Commissioner Precinct 1El Franco Lee
Phone: 713-739-1111; 713-755-6111
County Commissioner Precinct 3 – Steve Radack
Facebook: None
Phone: 713-465-8000; 713-755-6306
Website: None
County Commissioner Precinct 4 – R. Jack Cagle
Phone: 713-838-8553;  713-755-6444
 Email addresses together to copy and paste into an email:;,,,;