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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PLEASE SPEAK OUT FOR SHELTER PETS!

Leah

Houston, TX – In response to Houston Voters for Companion Animals‘ Candidate Survey, Sylvester Turner stated “Implementing a no-kill policy should be the ultimate goal for Houston’s animal control. As mayor, I will champion policies in pursuit of that goal”.

Yet, during Mayor Turner’s 1st year in office, BARC KILLED or LOST 6,600+ pets.

During the same year, 200+ OPEN ADMISSION shelters, just like BARC, serving 500+ cities and towns,SAVED 90% up to 100% of all pets.

Many shelters are saving ALL healthy and treatable pets even though they have HIGHER Intakes Per Capita than BARC (meaning they have a harder job saving shelter pets than BARC’s director).

Those shelters accomplished their high Save Rates because of compassionate, hard working shelter LEADERSHIP who has COMPREHENSIVELY implemented the programs of the No Kill model of sheltering.

BARC could stop killing pets too IF it had the same type of leadership.

Please SPEAK for shelter pets and ask Mayor Turner to keep his campaign promises.  He could end the killing of shelter pets at BARC by instructing his employees, BARC leadership, to COMPREHENSIVELY implement proven solutions — or he could hire new leadership for BARC who will.

CLICK HERE EASILY SPEAK OUT FOR SHELTER PETS

It will open a pre-written email to the mayor and city council.  It takes only seconds, but could help save thousands of shelter pets.

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Councilman Boykins paid $50k to have BARC kill 74+ dogs and cats

Houston, TX – Last year, I wrote about Councilman Boykins’ plan to pay $50,000 to BARC (Houston’s animal control) for BARC to work overtime doing “sweeps” in his District.  Of course, we knew this would mean more death to more pets at BARC. 

Last year, I blogged about this issue here and here  and Randy Wallace with Fox 26 News reported on it here

Many people called and wrote Boykins and asked him to consider non-lethal options instead, but he refused to listen.  

One of Boykins’ staffers wrote me claiming “Please be advised that the allocated funds will cover the costs to intake an animal, care for it at BARC for the average length of stay, market it and find a live release home for it. The cost is approximately $180 – $200/per animal for these services, thus allowing the animal control officers to pick-up and secure the adoption of approximately 250 – 270 dogs. Adoption is an integral part of this initiative and our office is not advocating, nor supporting any lethal solutions.”

But BARC killed 7,715 pets in 2015 alone, so  everyone knew that BARC leadership would not require that his employees work harder to get these additional pets adopted, and Boykins did not require that BARC use his $50,000 to save those lives.  Boykins just wanted the pets picked up.  He didn’t care what happened to them.

Anyone familiar with BARC knew that these sweeps would result in mass slaughter, and we were right.

The kennel cards of those pets picked during Boykins’ “$50,000 sweep” show that, of the 224 pets picked up , 74 pets were killed by BARC.  10 kennel cards do not list an outcome, so I would bet that those pets were killed as well.  If those animals had been adopted out or sent to rescue, there would like be notations about it.

The above equals a 33% to 37.5% KILL RATE.  And, of course, that does not include the pets, that were already at BARC, and who were killed to make room for the increased intakes.

The kennel cards for the animals picked up in Boykins’ $50,000 sweeps are posted here.  

The pictures of the dogs and cat that BARC killed are posted below.  These are pets that Boykins paid BARC to kill.   And BARC leadership was happy to oblige because they  did nothing differently to make sure that these pets made it out alive.

It breaks my heart to look into all the faces that Councilman Boykins paid BARC to kill.

Remember, your tax dollars were used to kill these pets, instead of being used to save them.  Demand better than this from your elected officials.  Demand that the mayor require BARC to comprehensively implement all of the programs of the No Kill model of sheltering.

Click here to watch Randy Wallace’s recent report on this issue. 

From No Kill Houston: “To the animal lovers who want to help us help shelter pets in Houston, we need you SPEAK OUT in mass.  We do not want to see a repeat of Councilman Boykins’ & BARC’s $50,000 killing spree before the Super Bowl. 

We have made it very easy for animal lovers to SPEAK OUT for shelter pets by contacting the mayor and city council.  We have programmed a link on our web page that will open a pre-addressed, pre-written email to all.  

Here is the link. http://bit.ly/2iIvdXC   Please use it then SHARE.  Make this go VIRAL.

If people prefer to call, write a letter or fax the mayor and city council, we also have all contact information listed here: http://bit.ly/1twjKi3

Please also Follow our Facebook page and register for our e-newsletter here http://bit.ly/1VWic9C

We have big plans for this year but we need more animal lovers speaking out with us. Thank you.”

February – 27 pets killed by BARC.  5 with unknown or incomplete kennel cards, presumed killed.

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March – 28 pets killed by BARC.  4 pets with unknown or incomplete kennel cards, presumed killed.

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April – 19 pets killed by BARC.  1 with unknown or incomplete kennel cards, presumed killed.

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Humane organization gives award to person responsible for the deaths of ten of thousands of pets

Houston, TX – I recently ran across the below photo.  The caption congratulates “Sherry Ferguson from the Houston Humane Society who was recognized for her hard work fighting animal cruelty”. The recognition came from the Texas Humane Legislative Network (THLN).

fergusonaward3

The Houston “Humane” Society  is a facility that KILLS 89%* of all pets entering their doors, according to their last reported Save Rate.  

In other words, nearly 9 out of 10 pets that enter the Houston “Humane” Society are KILLED.  

I’ve previously written about the Houston “Humane” Society killing a beautiful little lost dog before the city mandated 3 day stray hold period expired, and in spite of the fact that a woman begged to save her.

bellakilledbyhhs1

I’ve also written about the fact that the Houston “Humane” Society kills ALL dogs that they claim are “Pit Bulls” i.e. they kill dogs that have white fur on their necks like Bella below. 

Bella-HM

The last time that the Houston “Humane” Society was somewhat transparent with their intake and outcome numbers, they reported killing more than 15,300 pets in one year.   If the Houston Humane Society has been killing the same number of pets every year since that time, that means more than 237,000 pets have been killed by the Houston “Humane” Society, under Sherry Ferguson’s direction.

And if the Houston Humane Society has been killing the same number of pets since Sherry Ferguson was hired in 1984, they have killed more than 489,600 pets under her direction.   

Let that sink in ….. 489,600+ pets KILLED by the Houston “Humane” Society under Sherry Ferguson’s direction.  

Of course, that number could be much higher now.

For a humane organization to give an award to the person who has been responsible for that kind of mass killing of animals is truly mind boggling to me.   Even though THLN fought against the Companion Animal Protection Act (a state law that would have saved thousands, if not millions, of Texas shelter pets every year), this macabre “award” still stuns me.

I do not understand how any person, or any organization that claims to be “humane”, gets to the point where they give awards to people who have been responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of animals instead of working to protect those animals’ lives.   

Thousands, if not millions, of animal lovers were outraged when they learned that a vet killed a cat named Tiger. 

Millions of people were outraged when they learned that a dentist killed a lion named Cecil.  

Where is the outrage among animal lovers and “humane” organizations when a person kills tens of thousands of shelter pets every year for decades?  Shouldn’t we expect more from the people who are paid to care for shelter pets?   Shouldn’t we expect shelter directors to, you know, actually “shelter” pets not kill them?  

Killing is the ultimate form of animal cruelty because it is a cruelty than animals can never come back from.  They can come back from other forms of cruelty and go on to live happy lives.  We saw this with Michael Vick victims who went on to live with families after their horrendous ordeal.  But, pets cannot recover after being killed.  

So then why would a “humane” organization give an award to the person who has carried out the absolute antithesis of “fighting animal cruelty” by perpetuating the worst form of cruelty herself hundreds of thousands of times for decades?    

Let’s think of this another way:  If Child Protective Services took children from cruel or abusive situations, then turned around and killed those children, would we congratulate them? Would we call that being rescued?  Would anyone claim that CPS had worked to fight against cruelty to those children?  Would any other child-protective organization give those killers an award for “fighting cruelty to children”?   Of course not.  

The animals have no voice.   We have to be their voice.   We must stand up for what is right, and we must fight against what is wrong.  We must have the strength of character to stand up to “friends” and “humane” organizations and say “Killing pets when there are life saving alternatives is wrong and it must end.”***   

We must protect shelter pets with our voices by constantly demanding better from shelter leadership.  And we must protect pets with our wallets by not funding kill shelters, or their defenders.

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*According to the Mayor’s Task Force report. I have asked the Houston “Humane” Society to voluntarily provide their current intake and outcome numbers, but they refuse.  I have to assume that their kill rates are currently just as high, or higher now.  If their kill rates had dropped, I have to assume that they would gladly provide information to show their improvement.

** The Houston “Humane” Society is Limited Admission, meaning they can say no to intakes when they get full. 

***The solution to end shelter killing has been know for more than 15 years.  It is working in 200+ Open Admission shelters, serving 500+ cities and towns.  It works everywhere when shelter leadership comprehensively implements it. 

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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One Step Forward….

Houston, TX – I recently wrote a blog regarding Bella, a dog that the Houston “Humane” Society claimed should be killed because of the way she looked i.e. she had white fur on her neck so she must be a Pit Bull (click here to read the blog).  

Bella-HM

Bella, in her new home

While posting the blog on Facebook, I wrote that 3 “shelters” within Houston’s city limits refused to adopt dogs that someone claimed was a Pit Bull or Pit mix* meaning all of those dogs were automatically killed if a rescue group could not pull them to safety i.e. Houston SPCA, Houston “Humane” Society and Harris County Animal Control.  

But, that list has recently changed.  Harris County Animal Control confirmed that there Harris County Commissioners voted to end the breed discrimination at that facility meaning they now adopt out “Pit Bull” type dogs, along with other friendly dogs. 

This is good news!    

Yes, Harris County AC still appears to be a high kill facility, but at least all dogs will now get a shot at adoption.  And in fact, someone commented on my Facebook page that she had just adopted a dog from Harris County AC that had been labeled a Pit Bull.

So, this is one step forward for Harris County Animal Control and for Pit Bull type dogs entering that facility. 

Now both Houston’s city pound and Harris County’s pound adopt out Pit Bull type dogs, but tragically two of Houston’s Limited Admission “shelters” i.e Houston SPCA and Houston Humane Society remain in the dark ages of “catch and kill sheltering” still refuse to adopt out any dog that one of their employees claims is a Pit Bull or mix, meaning those dogs are killed . **

Riley

Riley, a dog that the Houston SPCA said is a Pit Bull mix and should be killed

I congratulate the 2 pounds for being more progressive than the Houston SPCA and Houston “Humane” Society on this issue.  

I also ask people to consider which practices better represent your values as an animal lover.  We should support only the facilities which represent our values, and continue to demand only the best practices known when it comes to sheltering our homeless pets.

Petie

Petie, the “Pit Bull” with The Little Rascals

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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.

 

*”‘Pit Bull’ is not a breed of dog.  It is, according to a leading advocacy organization, “a catch-all term used to describe a continually expanding incoherent group of dogs, including pure-bred dogs and mixed-breed dogs. A ‘Pit Bull’ is any dog an animal control officer, shelter worker, dog trainer, politician, dog owner, police officer, newspaper reporter or anyone else says is a ‘Pit Bull.’”

** Studies show that shelter workers mis-identify dog breeds up to 87% of the time. 

 

 

The most important thing that you can do for shelter pets

Ad

Houston, TX – On December 12, Houston will have run-off elections for mayor and 7 city council positions.  In order for Houston to end the killing of shelter pets, it is CRUCIAL that we elect people who care about this issue, and who are willing to work to solve it.

So, it is very important that we question the candidates about their plans to end shelter killing in Houston.  Before the general elections, we sent all of the candidates a Candidate Survey on sheltering issues. However, some of the candidates in the run-off elections did not respond.

So, the one thing I am asking Houstonians to do today is:
ASK THE CANDIDATES ABOUT THEIR STANCE ON SHELTER ISSUES.

Houston Voters For Companion Animals has made it very easy to contact them as we have collected all of their email addresses. The only thing you have to do is copy and paste them into an email.

Feel free to use the sample question below or create your own question(s), just PLEASE DO contact them.

SAMPLE QUESTION:
Houston’s taxpayer funded city pound (BARC) killed more than 10,000 pets in 2014 alone. Yet, other communities have ended shelter killing entirely. If elected, what are your plans to end the killing of shelter pets at BARC?

The candidates’ email addresses are below (copy and paste them all into an email):
info@billkingforhouston.com, info@steveleforhouston.com, info@nguyenforhouston.com, admin@karlacisneros.com, info@jasoncisneroz.com, jgbigham@gmail.com, lasterfordistrictj@yahoo.com, gdprovost@hotmail.com, wrayd4@gmail.com, campaign@davidwrobinson.org

The following candidates have not responded to our Candidate Survey and did not attend our Candidate Forum on sheltering issues.

MAYORAL CANDIDATE – Bill King

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES – DISTRICT F
Steve Duc Le, Richard Nguyen

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES- DISTRICT H
Karla Cisneros, Jason Cisneroz

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES-DISTRICT J
Jim Bigham, Mike Laster

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES – AT-LARGE POSITION #1
Georgia Provost 

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES – AT-LARGE POSITION #2
Willie Davis, David W. Robinson

*Sylvester Turner, running for mayor and all of the candidates running for City Council At Large Positions #4 and #5 have already responded to our Candidate Survey and their responses are posted on HVFCA’s website here.

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VOLUNTEER MEETING! HELP US MAKE SAVING SHELTER PETS AN ELECTION ISSUE THIS NOVEMBER!

Houston, TX  – via Houston Voters for Companion Animals

This November, Houston will have elections for mayor and all city council positions.  Many Houstonians are not aware that Houston shelters kill approximately 80,000 pets every year. They also may not know that THERE IS A SOLUTION to end shelter killing that is working across the country.

Houstonians may not realize that the people in the mayor and city council seats have the power of life and death for thousands of shelter pets — because they decide who runs BARC, Houston’s city pound, and they are the people who could pass life saving shelter reform legislation, like that passed in Austin and in other states.

Last week, we sent out CANDIDATE SURVEYS to every candidate running for Mayor and City Council to understand their stances regarding animal welfare issues and related to Houston becoming a No Kill community. 

As part of a voter awareness campaign, the candidates’ responses will be posted on our website, rated and compiled as part of a VOTERS GUIDE that will be distributed to Houston voters.

This November, vote for the candidates who will protect shelter pets

In order to elect more animal lovers to office, it is crucial that we raise awareness among Houston voters so that they will know to check our Voters Guide before they vote. THAT IS WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP. It is a big, big job to try to reach 2.2 million Houstonians before the November election, so we need as many people as possible helping us spread the word.

We are planning a volunteer meeting to discuss how to REACH MORE ANIMAL LOVERS. We would like to make the meeting as convenient as possible to attend, so we offering a choice of dates and we will try to pick a location that is central to all attendees. If you would like to attend the Volunteer Meeting, please email us and let us know which date/location is best for you. (It will likely be held in a restaurant so we can eat while talking.)

Please vote by Monday, August 10th.  

After everyone votes, we will email attendees with the details.

VOTE ON A DATE
Tuesday, August 11 at 7:15 pm
Wednesday, August 12 at 7:15 pm, or
Thursday, August 13 at 7:15 pm

and

VOTE ON A LOCATION/AREA OF HOUSTON
North side of Houston
South side of Houston
East side of Houston
West side of Houston
Downtown

Email your votes to: HoustonVotersForCompanionAnimals@yahoo.com

PLEASE SHARE THIS with your Houston area friends and family who might want to attend.

Repeating the Lies from Kill Shelters Harms Shelter Pets

CrossFingersFotolia_13943038_XS-EX

Houston, TX – I recently wrote about the claim that BARC management (Houston’s pound) made that there are 1.2 MILLION strays on the streets of Houston  I’ve seen this claim repeated by several reporters lately and  BARC continues to repeat this claim as an excuse and as political cover for the high kill rate that continue year after year at BARC’s facility (almost 51% of all animals at BARC were killed or lost in 2013 i.e. 12,596 in 2013 alone).

If we take a moment to really think about BARC’s claim, we can clearly see that it cannot possibly be true.   If it were true that there are “1.2 million strays” on the streets of Houston, that would mean there are 2,000 stray animals PER EVERY SINGLE SQUARE MILE of Houston.   We would not be able to walk out of our doors without stumbling across a stray pet.  As a long time resident of Houston, I can assure you that this is not the case.

Even in the low income areas of town, where the most strays are picked up by BARC, there are not 2,000 stray animals per square mile.  

Are there a lot of stray, or free roaming, animals in those areas?  Yes.  

Are there 2,000 stray animals per square mile in those areas?  No.

Are there 2,000 stray animals per square mile in the rest of Houston?  No, absolutely not.

In an attempt to learn how BARC management arrived at the astronomical “1.2 million strays” number, I sent a public information request to BARC asking for “documents which support, corroborate and/or validate recent statements made by city of Houston and/or BARC employees, to citizens and various media, that there are 1.2 million stray animals in Houston.

BARC’s response? “…there are no responsive documents for your request“.

Let me repeat that: BARC / City of Houston stated that there are no documents to support BARC’s claim of 1.2 million stray animals on the streets of Houston.

When pressed again for the source of the “1.2 million strays” number by another skeptical citizen, BARC’s manager, Greg Damianoff, cited a “pet population calculator” on the AVMA website.   I looked at the website and found that it clearly states that their calculations are based on no actual, provable data in Houston.   It uses estimates based on some survey information from vets in other communities and is multipled by guesses as to how many strays there are based on how many owned pets there are.   In fact, the website states,  “… because these formulas use sample survey data, they should not be considered 100% accurate.”   And it is not accurate for Houston.

A look around the city, by the average person, would confirm that the “1.2 million strays” i.e. 2,000 strays per square mile number cannot possibly be true.  It is absurd.   The fact that this claim is being made repeatedly by the person who is responsible for managing the city’s pound i.e. responsible for “sheltering” strays impounded by BARC is, to say the least, irresponsible.

The “1.2 million strays in Houston” claim is yet another fabrication spread by management of a kill shelter in order to defend and excuse their mass slaughter of shelter pets.  

Not only should we animal lovers reject this absurdity, but we certainly should not repeat it.  When we repeat ficticious claims, such as this number, we provide them an excuse as to why BARC is still killing over ten thousand pets per year.   It allows BARC/city of Houston leadership to continue to refuse to do the work necessary to implement the programs and services that have been proven to work to save 90% to 99% of all pets in hundreds of communities.   Repeating fictious information such as the “1.2. million strays” claim allows them to continue to take the easy way.    They can continue to save a few and kill the rest, and animal lovers won’t complain because they think that the situation is hopeless and they believe that BARC’s only option is to kill thousands of shelter pets.   It is not hopeless and we can end shelter killing in Houston, just as 500+ cities and towns have done.

The No Kill Advocacy Center has just produced a new publication that breaks down the real facts, in detail.   It is a very interesting publication and I highly recommend that everyone read it.   Click here to read it. 

Learn the truth and repeat that information, then demand better from our city leaders who control BARC.

If you want to end shelter killing at Houston’s tax payer funded pound, then demand that Annise Parker keep her No Kill promises to do everything in her power to transition Houston to a No Kill city.  

It has been four and half years and it is long overdue that she actually work to keep her promises to citizens and voters.

The first and most CRITICAL thing Annise Parker  must do to keep  her promises is to hire a director for BARC who is dedicated to saving lives.

Contact information for Parker and city council members is listed on No Kill Houston’s website here.

If you are unable to call or write them, No Kill Houston has created a petition which will send an email to them each time someone signs.   Find one petition here or, if you have already signed the first petition, find a new petition here .

DogSigningPetition2

 

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

 

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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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.