Redemption, a key component to reduce shelter killing

Houston, TX (Reposting my article which originally appeared in Examiner.com on 5/13/2010.  Examiner.com has shut down it’s website and the article is no longer available there, so I am re-posting it here.)

According to the No Kill Equation, “one of the most overlooked areas for reducing killing in animal control shelters are lost animal reclaims.  Sadly, besides having pet owners fill out a lost pet report, very little effort is made in this area of shelter operations.” This is deplorable because, when shelters aggressively pursue this opportunity, they are able to return a large percentage of lost animals to their families.
 
A prime example of the enormous impact that reclaims can have on life saving is Washoe County, (Reno) Nevada whose shelters reunite approximately 60% of dogs with their owners. In fact, Washoe County has one of the highest returned-to-owner rates in the nation.  They accomplished this by being proactive in their efforts, rather than blaming the community
 
Let’s compare Washoe County to BARC (Houston’s animal control facility). At the time of Nathan Winograd’s assessment of BARC in September 2009, it had 1% redemption rate for cats and a 7% redemption rate for dogs.
 

Repeat: That is a 60% redemption rate for dogs at Washoe Co. animal control, but only 7% at BARC.   

The following story is a perfect example of why BARC returns only 7% of lost dogs to owners.  Unfortunately, this example is repeated every day.
 
On March 14, 2010, Brian Simon lost his Chihuahua, Nino.  On March 15, Mr. Simon went to BARC to search for Nino. He did not find his dog so BARC’s kennel supervisor told Mr. Simon to leave his “Lost” flyer on BARC’s bulletin board. 
 
Mr. Simon was told that BARC employees looked at the bulletin board regularly to match up lost pets.  He relied on BARC’s assurances and unfortunately that was a big mistake. Those familiar with BARC know that the bulletin board is rarely, if ever, reviewed before animals are killed.
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Picture of BARC’s “lost pet” bulletin board in May, 2010 taken by Fox 26 Houston

Even if BARC employees were checking the bulletin board regularly, it is absurd to think that anyone could match up animals against the mountain of paper hanging there. See the picture above. It is more sickening that Nathan Winograd’s assessment report includes instructions on how to set up a lost and found program that actually works (see page 37-39), yet BARC has not even attempted to institute this program.

On March 17, two days after Mr. Simon reported Nino lost, a Chihuahua matching Nino’s description was brought to BARC.  (See below. Nino is on the left. The Chihuahua brought to BARC is on the right)  The Chihuahua at BARC had been picked up very close to the location where Nino was last seen, yet no one contacted Mr. Simon to tell him that a Chihuahua matching Nino’s description was at BARC.  

Nino-SidebySide

Dog on Left:  Picture of Nino that his owner posted on BARC’s “lost” bulletin board — Dog on Right:  Stray/lost dog that was picked up in the same area where Nino was lost, 2 days after Nino went missing

On March 21, four days after arriving at BARC, the Chihuahua was killed. It is appalling that no one attempted to find his owner and he was never considered for adoption.  See the Fox 26 news report here. 
 
Below is a picture of the bulletin board taken by Nathan Winograd in September 2009.  Compare it to the picture of the bulletin board above taken by Fox 26.  With BARC’s measly 1% redemption rate for cats and a 7% redemption rate for dogs, why has absolutely nothing changed in the last 8 months? 
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BARC’s “lost pet” bulletin board in September, 2009

If we take Washoe County’s 60% percent reclaim rate for dogs and apply it to BARC’s intakes, it would translate to a staggering 8,100 dogs that are killed at BARC who are actually lost with families who want them back.* 

That is 8,100 cages, that are being used, that could instead be freed up so truly homeless pets would have more time.

This means BARC would kill 8,100 fewer animals which would also save $972,000 because it costs roughly $120 to house an animal for 3 days then kill him/her and dispose of the body.

The only reason that those 8,100 lost dogs (and many more thousands of lost cats) are being killed each year is because BARC has not instituted an effective program that would reunite these animals with their owners even though instructions for an effective program are literally sitting at BARC and at city hall.

Nino

Nino

 

So, when shelter directors or city politicians tell people that there are “too many pets and not enough homes” or claim that shelters “must” kill because irresponsible people have caused pet overpopulation, remember this story.  

Remember little Nino, and the other 8,100 dogs just like him, with families who want them back, but who will be killed at BARC this year. 

As I’ve said in previous articles, whether a shelter stops killing depends on the shelter director.  So, I have to ask, when will the Mayor and city council hire a shelter director for BARC who will pursue every avenue that has been proven to save lives?  

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Note 07/05/17:  Although the above blog was written more than 7 YEARS ago, BARC leadership still has not implemented an effective Return to Owner program. BARC’s Return to Owner rates have been appallingly low every year since this blog was written.  BARC’s Return to Owner rate was only 6.88% in 2016 — 9.68% for dogs and only 1.1% for cats. 
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An effective Return to Owner program would cost little to nothing to implement but could save literally thousands of lives, and would actually SAVE money for BARC/City of Houston because of reduced intakes.  Yet BARC’s leadership has not attempted to implement such a program.  
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This is horrendous and inexcusable.  And again, this is a shelter leadership issue.

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But, this issue has a solution….. a pink slip.

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Please SPEAK OUT for the pets at BARC and demand shelter leadership who will work hard to save lives.   Click here for an easy way to speak out for shelter pets.  It takes only seconds, but could help save thousands of lives.  

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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?   

도둑

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AroutyComment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that is not happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A BIG day is coming up!

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

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

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

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*Marley

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

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Conan*

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

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Penelope&Jezebel

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

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Sebastian*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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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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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, it is up to us.

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

The biggest hypocrisies of the sheltering industry–Exposed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*ended the inhumane gas chamber and heart sticks;

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

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

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

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

*prohibited selling shelter animals to research labs;

*protected feral cats and feral cat caretakers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friendly Fire*** is available exclusively on Amazon.

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

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

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

Follow Nathan Winograd on Facebook and Twitter.

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