Will Houston shelters join the rest of the nation and stop killing for Just One Day?

JODL

Houston, TX – Just One Day is a national event in which organizers ask animal shelters across the country to stop killing on June 11 of every year.  Thousands of groups, across the nation, take part. And the results have been dramatic.  One shelter with high rates of killing stayed open for 11 hours.  Roughly 100 animals found homes, one every seven minutes the shelter was open, its most successful adoption day ever.

Another shelter opened on a day it was normally closed and placed 231 animals as a result. In still another, the director of animal control who once said that he would not hesitate to kill every community cat in the world, reported that, “The parking lot has been full since 10:00 this morning, it continues to be full. I’ve never seen so many people come out here all at one time, in one day.”

In an Arizona animal control shelter, 88 out of 100 dogs and 28 out of 30 cats were adopted by 11 am. In another community, they ran out of animals.

Yet another reported staff crying….. because they had never seen so many animals going out the front door in the loving arms of families.

For many of these shelters, it was a watershed moment. Not just because animals who would have normally been killed were saved, but because of the valuable lessons hundreds of traditional shelters across the country learned.  

One of the primary goals of the Just One Day campaign is to not only save animals through adoption on June 11, it is to get shelters resistant to the principles of the No Kill model of sheltering — of marketing animals, of asking the public for help, of being open for adoptions at times that are more convenient for the working public and families, of using the media to save lives and of partnering with rescue groups — to commit to trying these ways of operating.

JODMap

So far, 95 shelters in Texas, such as Friends For Life Animal Rescue and Adoption Organization – Houston have made the pledge.

Open Admission facilities such as Houston’s animal control facility, BARC, Pearland Pets – Animal Servicesand League City Animal Shelter have taken the pledge.

However, Limited Admission facilities such as Houston SPCA, Houston Humane Society and Citizens for Animal Protection have NOT pledged to stop killing shelter pets for JUST ONE DAY.  

I have to ask why not? Shouldn’t the animal loving public and donors EXPECT them to join the nation and work to stop killing shelter pets?

Will you ask them to take the pledge?

They can take the pledge here:http://bit.ly/1sw5aq0

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Please Stop Serving the Kool-Aid

Re-printed with permission by Paw4Change

I genuinely do not seek out conflict. I am not one of those people who thrives on crisis and seeks to create drama. I know that my belief system causes me to be in conflict with others. I understand that is unavoidable. You cannot be vocal about your beliefs in the midst of people who do not agree and expect that we will all just get along without a degree of friction.

I’ve been in conflict with volunteers at high kill animal shelters for a very long time. A lot of people think I’m intolerant and I’m perfectly fine with that because I am intolerant when it comes to having my tax dollars and donations used to kill healthy and treatable animals. Although people from outside animal welfare circles may presume that we all stand for the same thing, that we all champion the cause of saving lives, that is not always the case.  As was said by one of my mentors during a radio interview last November.  No.  We cannot hug it out and just all get along.  We are two separate factions of people and we often share little in common in terms of what we value.

If you are a volunteer at an animal shelter that routinely and systematically destroys healthy and treatable pets, I will applaud you for your efforts to help animals based on a few conditions. I want you to educate yourself on programs being used across the country to save shelter pets. I want you to question why it is that the shelter in which you volunteer destroys animals when other places across the country are saving animals.  I want you to voice your protests over the destruction of animals which could and should be saved.  I want you to speak loudly and with a sense of urgency when you know that animals in the shelter have veterinary care delayed or denied, get sick due to lack of vaccinations and proper cleaning protocols or are allowed to kill each other because they were not properly housed or supervised.  I consider those acts to be criminal in nature because they amount to neglect and cruelty even if they take place inside a public building.  If you think you can do good from working inside the shelter, by all means continue to do so.

If you are a volunteer at an animal shelter that routinely and systematically destroys healthy and treatable pets and you remain silent, go along to get along or, worse yet, you defend the killing of healthy and treatable animals, you are an enabler. You are helping to perpetuate the destruction of the very animals you say you want to help. You may tell yourself that you are doing good because you are helping to care for animals in their last hours, as if their death is some foregone conclusion. That may be the case for animals which are suffering or which are so sick that they simply cannot be saved. But do not sugar coat your volunteerism and make it seem like you are rendering compassion and love to a healthy and treatable animal which is about to be destroyed for no good reason at all. And believe me, there is no good reason for that animal to be destroyed in spite of what you may have been told.

I have heard volunteers say that people who advocate for animals outside of the shelter are not “in the trenches,” do not see what they see and are part of the problem as opposed to part of the solution.  But, here’s the thing. I am working to save the lives of animals by resolving systemic issues.  I would no more set foot in a high kill shelter than I would help hunt coyotes or work in a stockyard. I do not need to be in the shelter to know that what takes place there is wrong.  I know I cannot be there because then I, too, would be complicit in the killing.

And to those volunteers who think it is appropriate to defend killing savable shelter pets, I say this: you are not only part of the problem but you are actively working to prevent the solution.

 

It has been said that some in the sheltering industry have “drunk the Kool-Aid.” That they are so close to the destruction of animals that they simply cannot see any other way to think or function.  That they believe that animals simply must die and that they are performing some morbid public service.  If you volunteer in a shelter, please.  Focus on helping animals and advocating for them from inside the system.  

Just don’t serve the Kool-Aid.

Animal shelter

Read more on this topic here:  Can’t We All Get Along, by Nathan Winograd

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Houston Election Results and the effects on sheltering issues in Houston

Houston, TX –  On November 3, Houston held elections for mayor and all city council positions.   Houston Voters For Companion Animals prepared a Voters’ Guide which rated the candidates who responded to our Candidate Survey and/or participated in our Candidate Forum on September 29th.  The Voters’ Guide focused solely on sheltering issues.  

The candidates that we believe truly care about the high kill rates in Houston shelters and who are willing to work on this issue, using the programs and services that are already working across the country, were rated highest in the Voters’ Guide.

I am extremely happy to report that one of our highest rated candidates, Greg Travis, won his race for City Council District G. 

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  • Rated 5 out of 5
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? YES
  • Attended Candidate Forum? YES

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From the Voters Guide “Mr. Travis agrees that BARC should be a No Kill shelter and said that he will roll up his sleeves and tackle this issue.  He will be the liaison with city hall to get the lifesaving programs in place. 

We are really impressed with Mr. Travis’ responses to our Survey and at the Candidate Forum.  He had some very thoughtful and innovative ideas regarding implementing various programs of the No Kill model of sheltering that would increase life saving. 

We believe that Greg Travis truly cares about animals and animal sheltering issues and that he will work hard to help end the needless killing of shelter pets in Houston.  Mr. Travis is the type of advocate for pets that Houston really needs on city council if we hope to end sheltering killing in Houston. 

He would be an extraordinary asset to city council.”

Greg Travis

In addition, a couple candidates that Houston Voters For Companion Animals rated nearly as highly have made it to the run-off elections which will be held on December 12, 2015.  Notably, Roy Morales is rated 4 ½ out of 5 and is in the run-off election for Houston City Council At Large Position 4 (more info below). 

Unfortunately, several other candidates that we rated 5 out of 5 did not win their seats.   I am very disappointed about that as I really believe that they would have been great assets on city council and wonderful advocates in our fight to end the killing of shelter pets in Houston.  And Houston could certainly use as many animal advocates on city council as possible considering the mind numbingly slow progress that has been made in the last 6 years in increasing Save Rates.  

I hope that these candidates run again in the future and I hope more animal loving voters pay attention when they do.

Below I have listed the candidates who are in the run-off elections.   If they responded to our Candidate Survey and/or participated in the Candidate Forum before the general election, their ratings are shown by their names.  

If the candidates did not respond to our Candidate Survey, they were previously rated 0 as we had no information available to rate them. However, we recently sent another opportunity to these candidates to respond to the Candidate Survey.   Their responses will be posted on Houston Voters For Companion Animals’ website as they are received.  

A new Voters’ Guide will be created for the run-off election.  

Make sure that you take our Voters’ Guide with you to the polls.

Before voting for candidates who are not yet rated, I urge you to contact them and ask them to respond to our Candidate Survey.  It is crucial that we know their stance before giving them our votes.  

The candidates are listening to what voters want right now because they know that every vote counts.  Our votes are POWERFUL.  (One race was won by only FIVE votes, so every single vote counts).  

The contact information for all of the candidates is listed on Houston Voters’ For Companion Animals website here.

Remember that 65% of Americans have pets, yet only about 13% of Houstonians voted in the last election.   I predict that even fewer Houstonians will vote in the run-off elections, making each of our votes more powerful.

If we animal lovers joined together and voted for the right people, we could swing an election in favor of shelter pets this year.

MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT FOR SHELTER PETS!

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Turner

SYLVESTER TURNER

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  • Rating 3 Out Of 5
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? YES
  • Attended Candidate Forum? No

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From the Voter’s Guide: “We disagree with Mr. Turner’s statement that improvements at BARC have been impressive considering BARC’s high kill rate. 

Mr. Turner made some interesting comments regarding solving some issues such as breed bans in rental housing, however we would have liked to have seen more research into this topic. 

There is a solution that been proven to work to end shelter killing.  If elected, we hope that Mr. Turner will be willing to learn how other communities have ended shelter killing and not just repeat what the kill shelter directors have told him. “

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King

BILL KING

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  • Not Yet Rated
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? No
  • Attended Candidate Forum? No

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES

District F

STEVE LE

STEVE DUC LE

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  • Not Yet Rated
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? No
  • Attended Candidate Forum? No

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RICHARD NGUYEN

RICHARD NGUYEN

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  •   Not Yet Rated
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? No
  • Attended Candidate Forum? No

District H

KARLA CISNEROS

KARLA CISNEROS

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  • Not Yet Rated
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? No
  • Attended Candidate Forum? No

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JASON CISNEROZ

JASON CISNEROZ

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  • Not Yet Rated
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? No
  • Attended Candidate Forum? No

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District J

JIM BIGHAM

JIM BIGHAM

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  • Not Yet Rated
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? No
  • Attended  Candidate Forum? No

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MIKE LASTER

MIKE LASTER

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  • Not Yet Rated
  • Responded to Candidate Survey? No
  • Attended Candidate Forum? No

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At Large Position #1

Knox2

MIKE KNOX

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  • Rated 1 out of 5
  • Responded to Candidate Survey: YES
  • Attended Candidate Forum: No

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Continue reading

Will you support No Kill efforts?

KittensatBARC

Houston, TX – No Kill Houston is an advocacy group who is working to transform Houston to a No Kill community. This is no easy task since Houston has the distinction of having 5 kill shelters that are killing approximately 80,000 shelter pets each year.   There are now approximately 500 cities and town who have become No Kill communities, meaning their Open Admission pounds and shelters are saving 90% to 99% of all animals entering their doors.   No Kill Houston wants this for Houston.  We know that it is possible, but we need the support and advocacy of Houston animal lovers to move the No Kill goal forward in Houston.

Since Houston is a huge city of over 1 million people and is spread out over 600 square miles, it is extremely tough to try to reach all Houstonians to educate them regarding what is going on in Houston “shelters” and also educate them on how Houston can end the killing of shelter pets.

2015 is an election year for mayor and city council positions, so it is a critical time to raise awareness about how the right LEADERSHIP in Houston could make all the difference in the lives of Houston shelters pets. If we animal lovers band together, I have no doubt that we can swing the elections, and elect people who will actually work to transform Houston to a No Kill city. 

No Kill Houston is currently running photo contest/fund raiser which will allow them to do more “advertising” in 2015 to reach more animal lovers.  The top 13 photos with the most votes will be featured on the cover and pages of No Kill Houston’s 2015 calendar.  Entering the contest is only a $5 donation and votes are a $1 each donation. If you want to make sure that your pet is shown in the calendar, you may also “Reserve a Day” meaning your pet’s picture will be shown on the day that you choose.   Donations are tax deductibleClick here to go to the contest web page.

If you do not want to enter the contest, but do want to make a donation to support No Kill efforts, you can do so by clicking here.  Please donate generously.

No Kill Houston is also allowing rescue groups and animal friendly businesses the opportunity to market their organizations on the pages of their calendar.   The sponsor’s name, logo, website address and/or any other requested information will be listed across the bottom of a calendar page below the winning monthly photo.   To sponsor one month in the calendar is only a donation of $125 for 501(c)(3)s or $225 for businesses. (Individuals may also sponsor a month at the non-profit rate).

If you are interested in this marketing/sponsorship opportunity, please email No Kill Houston at NoKillHouston@yahoo.com ASAP as the contest ends on January 1st at midnight.  Calendars will be shipped out in early January and sold at various events.

scam alert yellow sign - rectangle sign

BTW: If you are considering a donation to local or national animal related charity, I would strongly suggest that you do some research first.   I say this as someone who has, in the past, donated to, and volunteered for, local shelters thinking they were No Kill shelters, but found out later that they were actually high kill shelters.  Just because an organization may have the word “animal”, “humane”, “protection”, “ethical”, “prevention of cruelty” or “shelter” in their name does NOT mean that they are actually working to save animals.  There are a lot of frauds out there, and in the past, I have been duped by some of them as well.

Houston has five kill shelters/pounds.  Many people believe that the 3 limited admission “non-profit shelters” i.e Houston SPCA, Houston Humane Society and Citizens for Animals Protection (CAP) are No Kill.  They are NOT.  Far from it. The kill rates of these 3 facilities are as high or even higher than Houston’s high kill pound (BARC) or Harris county’s high kill pound.

I would never tell anyone to not adopt from these facilities.  Obviously, the animals there need out. Their lives depend on it.  However, be aware that if you send them money, that money could very well be used to buy the poisons they use to kill animals.

Perhaps do a Google search with the charity’s name & the word “kill”. You might be shocked at what you find.  Or, check No Kill Houston’s site.  There is a lot of information there about what these “shelters” are actually doing.

Or read this blog regarding CAP;

Or read this page about the Houston SPCA;

Or read this blog about the Houston Humane Society;

And or this page.

CarMagnet3

If you are considering donating to a national animal related charity such as HSUS, ASPCA or PETA, please do some research as well.  I have personally donated my hard earned dollars to PETA and ASPCA only to find out later that they fight against everything I believe in.  Not only that, they are kill shelters as well.  Also, although the HSUS claims to “rescue” various animals, they actually have no shelter.  And the HSUS has historically fought against No Kill efforts.  They have fought hard to kill some animals such as the victims rescued from Michael Vick’s house of horrors.  These organizations rake in millions of dollars in donations, but do little to nothing to actually help pets.

You can start your research about these national organizations here.

bulldog laughing at another dog dressed up with clown wig

In the meantime, have some fun and enter No Kill Houston’s photo contest.   Your companion may just become a 2015 calendar Pin Up!  Click here to enter and vote in the contest!

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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.