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Taking a long look at No Kill

Move to ACT (MtA) had the pleasure of meeting many caring folks at the recent Gift and Hobby Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Many expressed interest in the No Kill movement and the performance of their local animal shelters. Folks from LaPorte, Anderson and Lafayette have especially expressed concern for animal sheltering in their communities.

MtA has also visited with many who attended the Nathan Winograd presentation on October 8 and left with inspiration and excitement, but have not had a chance to read REDEMPTION: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America.

For those who have not yet finished this enlightening book, we decided to devote this newsletter to some bits of valuable information from it. REDEMPTION is definitely the consummate work on the animal sheltering industry and why many shelter leaders resist embracing life-saving measures and perpetuate the killing of animals.

re- demp-tion
1: to get back; 2: to free from what distresses or harms; 3: to change for the better; 4: to make good; 5: to atone for

"Shelter killing is the leading cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in the United States: some five million animals are killed in our nation's shelters every year. For far too long, we have been led to believe there is no other way. More than that, we have been told that this killing is the right thing to do." —Nathan Winograd

How do shelters respond to such statements? The humane society local to Indianapolis had this comment on “No Kill”:

Q. Are you a ‘No Kill” shelter?

A. No and we don’t use that language to describe other shelters, regardless of their operational policies. Shelters that perform euthanasia do so for many reasons; often it’s because the animals they receive cannot be moved into homes. [HSI FAQ's Website]

This information is wrong and misleads the public by confusion. Let’s take a closer look. Euthanasia — by its true definition — is performed in an animal shelter for one reason only: putting to death a hopelessly sick or injured individual in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy (see Webster).

Calling it what it is

“Ethics and honesty demand avoiding euphemisms. The challenge is not to do away with the troubling words “No Kill” and to whitewash the killings; rather, the challenge is to do away with killing, which requires ceasing to pretend to oneself and to the public that it amounts to anything else.” —Merritt Clifton, Editor, Animal People (1997)

What’s in a name? Playing the Orwellian card.

Shelters that refuse to put into place life-saving programs and services kill animals. It’s that simple. These shelters kill for population control, using the term “euthanasia” to make it sound acceptable, … kill because an animal requires adequate staffing to clean and care for it and volunteers to help with socialization… kill because it requires creative and enthusiastic effort to find homes for animals by out-marketing the pet stores, puppy mills and breeders that are populating the community with 85% of the pets in six out of ten homes. These shelters kill for convenience. Empty cages mean less cleaning, less feeding, less work.

Many shelter directors confuse the No Kill paradigm as being a one-shelter agenda. That notion is myopic and also wrong. The No Kill revolution is about an entire community rising into the humane spirit where agencies do not kill animals for any reasons other than mercy.

Communities with shelters that feels threatened by saving animals’ lives
with No Kill programs and services experience a desperate delivery
of confusing misinformation.

What can be done to stop the killing?

To bring killing to an end, alternatives to “adopting some and killing the rest” have been laid out with proven success by Nathan Winograd. It has happened in Charlottesville, VA., Reno, NV., King Co., WA. [No Kill Advocacy Center] The focus must be on efforts to create proactive programs and services that get this done.

Misplaced priorities

When a shelter makes one of its key focuses “branding” to help central Indiana better understand how it is serving the community (more), is their priorities on the animals? When we hear on National Public Radio an advertising message that “…you can love them all like you love your own by supporting the (agency),” is our attention being directed to an image with an invitation to open up our wallet to perpetuate a status quo sheltering operation?Do listeners know that this is an agency whose representatives clearly rejected the invitation to hear the No Kill message delivered by the national sheltering leader right in its own back yard? Are listeners aware that the agency behind this “brand promotion” chooses to cloak the dark truth with euphemisms like “euthanasia” and “depopulating” (more)?

"What is unconscionable, abominable and outrageous is that animals, healthy and well-behaved, are being killed because someone says there are too many. That is something we do not accept. That is something we find intolerable.” — Richard Avanzino President, Maddies Fund (1997)

"If you blame the public for killing, the shelter shields itself from the public scrutiny and accountability, but the question of how to stop the killing is never asked." —REDEMPTION, p. 47

“In shelters throughout the U.S it doesn’t matter if dogs are healthy, friendly, scared, sick or injured, they can be classified as ‘unadoptable’ and killed. Shelters are defining ‘adoptable’ based on their ability or failure to find the animal a home.” —REDEMPTION, p. 143

"Shelters (have) had the leeway to kill most of the animals in their care and are doing little to change this policy, while directors continue to be paid handsomely." — REDEMPTION, p. 47 [Charilty Navigator]

"In other words, animals are dying in shelters based on the arbitrary criteria determined by the director, who chooses not to implement the proven life-saving programs and services of the No Kill equation." (more) —REDEMPTION, p 120“

The bottom line is that too many animal control departments and humane societies have a vested interest in doing what they have always done. Going a different and more successful route would mean accepting some of the blame for causing barrels to fill, day after day, with furry bodies. Complain though many animal control and humane society people might about the stress of killing, they still find killing easier than doing what is necessary to stop it.” —Merritt Clifton, Editor, Animal People"

The incentive-based and community-based approaches of the No Kill Equation are the keys which will forever slam shut and lock the door of population killing." —REDEMPTION, pg. 129

What you can do:

It is not a question of whether No Kill will be realized in each of our communities; it is only a matter of when. And until that time, we must not be fooled by the attempts to obstruct achieving that goal with twisted thinking and manipulative rhetoric. In your own community, how many animals will be loaded into barrels before you sleep? In Indianapolis, it’s anywhere from 40 to 50+.

Think about the behavior of your community’s animal agencies and be sure you and anyone you know who contributes to an animal service organization are not rewarding the wrong behavior. (more)

Oh, and don’t forget the fund-raising event (Mutt Strutt) that generated $250,000 last year for an agency that defends the practice of killing ("euthanizing") animals for population control. Be an informed donor and help others do the same. (more)

On an uplifting and progressive note…

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control took to heart Nathan Winograd’s encouragement to provide animals with an environment that is as natural and stress-free as possible by creating a 440 sq ft open space cattery with 30 individual “cat cubbies,” a play bed and play castle in (and on) which to frolic. Be sure to stop by and visit the most relaxed and happy cats ever seen in an animal control facility.

These adoptable cats would welcome a touch of “jungle magic” from a mural artist. If anyone with such a gift would want to consider such an opportunity, please contact ACC volunteer coordinator Adam Garrett at 317-327-1384.

If you live in a community where adoptable animals are being killed in shelters, Move to ACT.

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." —Albert Einstein



Thank you for all you do for those who have no voice.

Warren G. Patitz
Move to Act
email: info@movetoact.org
phone: 317-641-9300
web: http://www.old.movetoact.org