We are thankful for…

via No Kill Houston

Thanksgiving Pet Celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are helping to save lives every day.

Crazy Alert! “No Kill can’t be done here”

Houston, TX – I am continually perplexed and saddened by people who continue to say that No Kill is not possible or can’t be done, despite the fact that it IS already being done.  And it is being done not by just one Open Admission shelter and not just by two…..  there are now over one hundred Open Admission, No Kill shelters which represents about 500 cities and towns.

How can people continue to claim that “it can’t be done” when it already IS being done?

From the creation of the very first No Kill community in San Francisco, there were naysayers who made up excuses why it couldn’t be done.   They said it can’t be done because  “there are too many gay people in San Francisco”.   When the San Francisco SPCA started proving them wrong, the naysayers then said it is being done in San Francisco “because” of the large gay population and because “San Francisco is “surrounded by water” —- but it can’t be done in other communities.

common sense public information sign

Nearly 2 decades later, hundreds of communities are proving these excuses are absolutely false.  These excuses have no basis in reality.   I’m sure there were naysayers in every single one of those No Kill communities who said that “No Kill can’t be done here”…… until someone else did it and proved them wrong.  [I’m sure glad that No Kill advocates in all of those communities did not listen to the naysayers and kept on pushing for No Kill in their communities.]

Even the HSUS and ASPCA have FINALLY admitted what the HSUS/Maddie’s Fund study showed 5 YEARS ago…. that “pet overpopulation” does not exist.   There ARE enough homes for the number of pets being killed in “shelters” and pounds; in fact, the number of homes that will get a new pet each year far exceeds the number of pets being killed in “shelters” each year by many million.

We can create Open Admission, No Kill pounds and shelters in every community and we can end shelter killing once and for all.  It CAN be done.

The true problem is an overpopulation of shelter directors who refuse to do their jobs and implement the programs that will end shelter killing.  That is the reason that shelter killing still exists.  That overpopulation problem could be solved fairly quickly…. with pink slips.

Still, nearly every day I hear or read that “No Kill can’t be done in my community because“:  

  • “there are too many irresponsible people”; or
  • “too many people don’t spay/neuter”; or
  • “we have too many pets of a X, Y or Z breed”;  or
  • “our city is different from everyone else”; or
  • “other cities are more progressive”; or
  • “our city is too small”; or
  • “our city is too big”; or
  • “our community is surrounded by swamp land”.

These are all excuses that I have heard people use an excuse why certain shelters or communities can’t stop killing shelter pets.

These excuses are all demonstrably false.

What is perplexing and very sad is that instead of saying “I’m going to study what all of those communities have done to stop killing shelter pets and then I’m going advocate for the implementation of those same programs in my community”, those people just keep claiming that “it can’t be done here”.

 It is crazy when you think about it.

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A BIG day is coming up!

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

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

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

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*Marley

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

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Conan*

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

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Penelope&Jezebel

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

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Sebastian*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BARC proposing revisions to city ordinances that are detrimental to animals

jeune fille pull rouge négatif

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parking: There is free parking in Permitting  Center lots.

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

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

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

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

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ACTION ALERT! Please take a few moments to help save shelter pets in Texas

patriotic bucky

Texas – Hundreds of thousands of healthy and treatable animals are killed by Texas “shelters”.   At least 80,000 are killed in Houston area shelters alone.   Texas House Bill 2981  aims to help rescuers save more lives while saving the state tax dollars.   HB2981, also called the Tax Saving Pet Adoption, Sterilization, and Transfer Act requires that government run animal shelters collaborate with qualified 501(c)(3) animal rescue groups who are willing to save animals at risk of being killed.

The passing of this Bill into law would mean that kill shelters would no longer be legally allowed to kill an animal that a qualified rescue group has offered to save.*

The average citizen would be appalled to know that “shelters” frequently kill pets that others have offered to save.   But, just about any rescuer, who has worked to pull animals from a kill shelter, can attest to the fact that it does happen, either by accident and many times on purpose.   It is a dirty little “secret” that is happening all over Texas, all of the time.  It has happened to me.   Houston’s city pound i.e. BARC has killed cats that I offered to save.

Appallingly, but not surprisingly, several weeks ago, many of the directors of kill shelters gathered in Austin to oppose this life saving Bill.   They even told legislators that the Bill is not needed because they never turn down rescue groups.  (I suppose that it should not be a shock that some of the opposition of this Bill includes Patti Mercer, director of the Houston SPCA [65% KILL rate], Sherry Ferguson, director of the Houston Humane Society [89% KILL rate], Greg Damianoff, shelter manager of BARC [57% KILL rate] and Joanne Jackson from Citizens for Animal Protection [52% KILL rate].  Revolting, yes.  Shocking, no.)

Best Friends Animal Society and FixAustin.org are asking Texas rescuers to talk about their experiences with Texas animal shelters.  Rescuers know what is really going on in shelters, because they there day after day scrambling to save as many as they can.

Below is a link to a short on-line survey that Best Friends and Fix Austin have prepared to collect data from rescue groups regarding their experiences. (Note: They only want data concerning TEXAS shelters since HB2981 will affect only Texas shelters).

If you rescue animals in Texas, please take a moment to answer the survey.  Please do it  RIGHT NOW while you are thinking about it.  It only takes a few minutes to complete and you can remain anonymous, if you wish. 

Click here for the survey  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ShelterAccessSurvey

**A hearing on this Bill is expected to be set very soon so your survey responses are needed ASAP.   Legislators need to be aware of what rescuers face while trying to save shelter pets so that they will make the right decisions regarding this important Bill.** 

If Rescuers do not speak up NOW, then the kill shelters may win this battle and could retain their “right” to kill animals that others have offered to save.

If you would like to provide more information than requested in the survey, or if you have any questions, please contact Ryan Clinton at Fix Austin at ryan@fixaustin.org

*****Please share this survey with other Texas rescue groups.*****

Also, whether you are a rescuer or not, please contact your state representative in and tell him/her that you support HB2981, the Tax Saving Pet Adoption, Sterilization, and Transfer Act.

Click here to go to a site provided by Best Friends that makes it easy to contact your elected representative by typing in your name and address.

Please speak up for shelter pets TODAY.   It only takes a few minutes but it could help save thousands of shelter pets in Texas.

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*HB2981 also gives shelters the right to administer vaccinations on intake to protect shelter pet populations.

It also prohibits shelters from refusing to adopt out dogs or cats based solely on an animal’s breed (i.e. no breed discrimination).  It also and requires rescue groups to spay or neuter adopted pets.    HB 2981 is authored by Texas Representative Eddie Rodriguez.

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