Friday, November 11, 2011

First Year Recap - Why Hide Now?

I thought it was amusing that as soon as other states such as Minnesota (HF 1735), Florida (SB 818), and New York (CAARA) began their lobbying effort for legislation comparable to the Delaware decided to do a sudden cleansing of their website.  I suppose they wanted to make sure other states don’t see the constant barrage of complaints and investigations since the law was signed in our state, particularly since so many activists claim that the legislation does not have a fiscal impact as was noted on the Delaware legislation.  Some even try to proclaim it will save their state money. 

While may want to hide their efforts during the first year, I think it's important to show that Delaware CAPA does have a fiscal impact on not only the state, but also the counties in Delaware since they contract for animal control and their contract renewals will no doubt include some of the administrative burden that this places on any shelter that handles animal control going forward.. 
State of Delaware taxpayers have already paid for the various investigations that have taken place since the CAPA went into effect.  There have been individuals in Dept of Agriculture, the Governor's office, and currently the Attorney General office that have been involved to date, and according to the No-Kill Delaware FB page, Delaware's courts will also be dealing with this legislation as well.  In the case they highlight on their previous homepage, the salary costs have probably cost the the taxpayers in the tens of thousands of dollars in regard to one dog.  If the cost was as low as $10,000, that's potentially 200 cats that could have been spayed to prevent countless deaths in the future.  So, yes, there is not only a fiscal impact on state taxpayers, but also the diversion of resources that could have been saved may more animals lives.
Below is the a screenshot of part of the first page of the site before the scrub for your reference:

Disappeared 11/8/11
Cleansed Version 11/8/11 - 11/11/11 - Old Version Reappeared after this post on 11/11.
Obviously I won't bore readers with the full content, nor expose myself to their penchant for litigation by reprinting the complete document.  You can see from the menu on the left of the screenshot the previous menu that includes some of the cases that they have written about, and encouraged the individuals involved to file complaints and lawsuits for.  In some cases like the one about Cody, it wasn't even a CAPA issue, it was merely a dog custody issue, but in that case a State Senator was also burdened with responding to the issue.  The case highlighted on the front page they previously included the investigation report and the rescue's response to the investigation, but apparently No-Kill Delaware no longer wants to air Delaware's dirty laundry in the public. If their point of view is so reasonable and valid, why are they now hiding it???

Tactic From The National No-Kill Playbook
I guess the answer to my question above can be answered by the watching how the national players play the game.  Animal Ark and the MN Capa page encouraged their readers to post to the Animal Humane Facebook page and amusingly had to remind their readers to be polite.  I assume this tactic was chosen in part because Animal Humane has more people that Like their page, than Animal Ark and AnimalWise Radio and MN CAPA combined. It's unfortunate that they feel the need to hijack Animal Humane's page since the tactic obscures life saving posts about adoptable animals or upcoming events that help find homes for pets.  
At one point, a great deal of discussion moved over to the MN Capa Facebook page, where the discussion should take place.  In the case of the thread shown in the screenshot below, which in part also discussed Delaware, this became a 215 comment thread of which I am just including the beginning in the screenshot. 
Shortly thereafter, the discussion above was deleted, and MN CAPA fans were again encouraged to go over to the Animal Humane page and spam the Animal Humane page that should be used for encouraging adoption.
Again, the no-kill community wants to sanitize the Delaware CAPA experience so legislators in other states don't become aware of the how divisive, expensive, and time consuming this legislation has become for state agencies, legislators being asked to intervene, the state's top law enforcement agency, and eventually the courts.

Any legislator considering support of similar laws need to be aware of the fact that groups like NKD continually try to disparage other shelter's workers and board members, animal control groups, and state agencies with comments about them being Nazis, or snide comments like the one about our Attorney General office and "phone call, that seem to go nowhere".  In a state that has had to deal with a huge sexual predator case over the last year, do these "squeaky wheels" really believe their complaints about a stray kitten should take precedence over other cases in that office?

No-Kill Delaware even allowed a comment to stay on their Facebook page  for 8 days that said a shelter director "should IMMEDIATELY be executed".  Any representative or senator that supports similar legislation, needs to understand the consequences to not only their state's reputation, but also the dangerous situation you may create.   In the case of the above threat, this director has small children so it wasn't just his safety that was jeopardized, but also his family's.  To support a law that stimulates such dangerous rhetoric is just irresponsible.  Below are just a few examples of how No-Kill Delaware has continually disparaged state agencies:

Comments about Dept of Agriculture

Comment about Attorney General Office

Comments against County upset by state unfunded mandate

Legislators also need to be aware that passing CAPA is just the beginning.  Are you also prepared to setup a complete agency to handle the complaints.  This is what No-Kill Delaware is now demanding in Delaware.  At a time when states are forced to make difficult decisions and cuts, are you really prepared to create a whole agency to deal with the constant onslaught of complaints about stray cats and in many cases will include animal custody cases that aren't even under the jurisdiction of CAPA?  Below is a quote from one of the pages that No-Kill Delaware did not want you to see:
"A REAL investigation of KCSPCA and the cases of Neo and Cody needs to be conducted by some department in the state governmen other than the Ag. Dept. In addition, responsibility for enforcement of the Shelter Standards law should be transferred to another Department in state government. Just because historically the Ag Dept. has had functions related to pets does not mean that it is the best agency for that job. In fact, we would argue that the Ag Dept. has plenty of work to do with agriculture programs and just cannot handle enforcement of the Shelter Standards law.

If there is not another Department that has the capability to enforce the Shelter Standards law, then new resources must be provided to create that capability. Functions are transferred within government all the time. New governmental organizations are created when the existing ones demonstrate that they cannot perform adequately. It is time for that kind of organizational change to ensure that the Shelter Standards law is enforced.

The Shelter Standards law is not worth the paper it is written on if it is not enforced by the state. The state must ensure that KCSPCA complies with the law."
One Final Note - Legal Skills of the No-Kill Movement
Anyone who has actually read Delaware's version of CAPA will understand why I find the following quote from Nathan Winograd so amusing.
"This morning, the Governor of Delaware signed into law the most sweeping, progressive companion animal protection legislation in the United States.
While the law is now the most progressive companion animal protection legislation on record in this country, and can only be considered an unqualified victory for the No Kill movement, some of the No Kill Advocacy Center’s recommendations were not accepted. Nonetheless, Delaware, the first state to ratify our nation’s constitution, continues to lead the way in embracing the legislative framework necessary to ensure justice. And we will build upon this framework in the coming years to strengthen protections for animals even more."
After reading the quote above and then looking at the law, you will be amused to find this section regarding enforcement reads as follows:

§ 8006. Violation constitutes class A misdemeanor; civil remedy; jurisdiction of Superior Court.

(a) Failure by any person employed by, volunteering at or an agent of any private or public animal shelter to comply with § 8004(d) of this title regarding euthanizing animals shall constitute a class A misdemeanor and shall be punishable as provided by law.

(b) Any person may maintain a civil action to enjoin the continuance of the violation of § 8004(d) of this title. If the acts sought to be enjoined are determined by the courts to violate § 8004(d) of this title, a permanent injunction against such acts shall be granted. The violation may also be abated by any public body or officer authorized to do so by law.

(c) The Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of misdemeanor offenses under this section.
If you don't get the punchline, note the highlighted sections and you'll realize that the Delaware CAPA only includes enforcement language for one section of the law which has to do with the Euthanasia Method and Procedure.  This violation section does not apply to the rescue registry, the website statistics, or even the vaccination section.  While I've read that Mr. Winograd is an attorney, I think he made a good career move by getting out of the legal profession and into animal welfare, especially if he believes Delaware CAPA is "sweeping " legislation. 

Of course the fact that No-Kill Delaware thought it could hide their history is amusing as well.  Fortunately Google cache allowed me to download their full history in case legislators ever want printouts of the real story in Delaware.  And a proud history it is not.

UPDATE - NKD brought back the old site after this post.  I have added the cache which shows the cleansed version that was out there this week.  Too funny.