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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The Candidate Forum focused on sheltering issues was a HUGE success!

Houston, TX – On September 29th, Houston Voters For Companion Animals and No Kill Houston presented a Candidate Forum focused solely on animal sheltering issues in Houston.  It was the ONLY Forum to focus solely on animal welfare and No Kill topics and there was a great turnout.  More than 300 people registered to attend, and more impressive was the 15 mayoral and city council candidates who participated.

Some of the candidates at the Forum on 9-29-15

The high kill rates in Houston’s 5 kill shelters are a serious issue; one that has been mostly ignored by politicians in the past.   In fact, the first time I went to speak at the public session at city hall about problems at Houston’s taxpayer funded city pound, I looked up from my speech to find that then mayor, Bill White and several city councilmembers, had left the room. They didn’t bother to wait the short 3 minutes it took me to finish my carefully written speech.  Several other council members were talking or texting on their cell phones.  No one on city council was listening and it was clear that no one cared that BARC then had an 80%+ Kill Rate and was a complete house of horrors with employees who regularly starved and tortured shelter pets for fun and games.  

So, for so many candidates to attend a Candidate Forum focused solely on this issue, is a 180 degree about-face from a few years ago.  

And not only did they attend, it was obvious that most of the candidates there were honestly concerned about this issue.  I could tell that many had done research on the topic and had great, thoughtful answers.  It was obvious that many were ready, willing and able to work on ending shelter killing in Houston. 

I had timed the questions and answers and thought that the Forum would actually end 15 minutes earlier than the 1 1/2 hours that we had alotted.  But the candidates were so interested in many of the questions that they wanted to jump in and add their comments to questions to other candidates.  They WANTED to talk about this issue.  I actually had to exclude 3 planned questions because we just ran out time. That is the kind of Forum that I absolutely LOVE!

Randy Wallace, a reporter with Fox 26, was the Forum Moderator and he did a wonderful job.  Randy has reported on a lot of animal sheltering issues over the years and has been a great animal advocate. Considering the loud applause and cheers that erupted when I introduced him, he is also a favorite among animal lovers.  

Fox 26 also livestreamed the entire Forum on their website.  I hadn’t known that they were going to do this, so it was another wonderful surprise.  

A great Houston photographer, Jack Opatrny, volunteered to tape the Forum for us, so we can post it online for those who were unable to attend.  That should be uploaded to the web this weekend.    

There were so many animal lovers who came together that night in order to make positive changes for shelter pets in Houston.  I cannot find words that fully express how wonderful it was to witness.       

Ending shelter killing is a very solvable problem.  So many communities have already ended the killing of healthy and treatable shelter pets and I have no doubt that Houston can do it too.  We literally have a step by step guide in our hands, and we can follow the examples set by so many successful communities.  

What we now need is leadership who truly cares about the issue and who is willing to work to implement the programs that are already working across the country, and there were really GREAT choices present at our Forum Tuesday night.

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We will soon be posting a Voter’s Guide rating the candidates’ responses at the Candidate Forum and to our Candidate Survey, so make sure that you check our website before you vote; or register for our e-Newsletter so that you will receive a notice when the Voter’s Guide is posted.

A few people have commented to me that they are confused about which races they can vote in, so I wanted to clarify.   If you live in Houston (and are registered to vote), you can vote for the candidates in running in the District race that you live in i.e. Districts A through K.  Click here to find your District, if you do not know it.  

In addition, all Houstonians can vote in ALL of the At Large races i.e #1 through #4.    You can also vote in the mayoral race. 

For instance, I live in District K, so I can vote for a city council candidate in the District K race and I can also vote for city council candidates in all of the At Large races, positions 1 through 4.  And I can vote in the mayoral race. 

Vote for candidates who will protect shelter pets

If you have not yet registered to vote, you have until October 5th to register in order to be able to vote in this November’s election.  Click here to register.  

Make your vote count this year!   Vote for the candidates who will protect shelter pets!

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If you wish to receive an email notification each time I write a new blog post here, please click the blue Follow link at top right corner of your screen. (Note: The link may not be visible if you are reading this blog in an email. If you cannot see the link in an email, click the title of the blog to be taken to my blog’s website.)

Friend me on Facebook and Pinterest.

Follow Houston Voters For Companion Animals, a political animal advocacy group, on Facebook and Twitter, and register to receive their newsletter.

Follow No Kill Houston on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their email list.