Saturday, January 21, 2012

"No-Kill" - Can It Be Legislated???

Will passing a statewide law make animal overpopulation go away tomorrow?  History provides the answer for the various states considering such legislation - Florida, New York, Minnesota, and whatever state is next on the activist hit list. 

The "No-Kill" Models

The fact is the models that the "no-kill" movement claims as their successes like Washoe County NV and Austin TX, were not mandated under state laws, so they don't even have the costs associated with CAPA and it's derivatives.  So why did the national "no-kill" advocates decide to pursue legislation on the state level?  

Simple, because the politicians get to stand for a photo-op with the "no-kill" activists and act like they are doing something good for animals, yet they're not the ones who will pay the bill or deal with the endless games and complaints that result from the legislation.  As I've said before, if the state legislators truly believed in this cause, then they should do as the old saying and "put up or shut up".  That means:
  • Find the funding in their own budget to handle pay for the unfunded mandate placed upon animal control across the state
  • Pay for the hundreds of thousands of foster homes that would be required in a larger state (Austin has 900 in foster care and continues to grow)
  • Pay for all the medical expenses for those additional treatable animals in the shelter and foster homes, which for some animals will require thousands of dollars of care, while a pet in a good home may not get that level of care due to an individuals limited finances.
  • And provide full staffing to act as the playground monitor for the various complaints that will occur. 
Of course we all know the state legislators will never do that.  Many of them are currently cutting Medicaid for people due to budget constraints, so how do they tell their constituents they will pay be paying for medical care for homeless animals.  That's why the lawyers that lead the "no-kill" movement chose to go this route.  This way there would be no accountability for the costs placed upon the county and city taxpayers that fund animal control.  Consider that the budget for Austin's Animal Services went from $5,397,428 in 2008-09, and was recently approved for $7,612,186, an increase of $2,214,758 in only 3 years. 

In my opinion, the reason the advocates went to the state legislation strategy is because they knew that without a law on the state level, well intentioned cities like Austin will eventually have to make difficult choices.  Can they continue to fund the the steady large cost increases associated with the "no-kill equation" that require them to continue expanding their foster network infinitely, and the costs associated with the care of additional animals as they continue to be over capacity, even with the addition of a new $12 million shelter.  I think the "no-kill" leadership can see that their model communities may be short lived when local taxpayers have to choose between budget cuts at the animal shelter, or budget cuts at their children's school. 

Previous State Legislation

There are 2 models currently available for statewide legislation - California and Delaware.  Do either one of these states fulfill the "no-kill" criteria of 90% live release rate.  No, neither one does. 

California was enacted back in 1998.  After tens of millions being spent on the unfunded mandate each year by the citizens of of a financial strapped California, and overcrowded shelters that place lost pets at jeopardy, the law has still not accomplished the "no-kill" goal or for that matter even come close.  For additional reading on their law this article which provides an important perspective on the failure of Hayden.  I also embedded their YouTube video that everyone should watch before supporting similar legislation.  Thanks to HonestyHelps for the link.

With all the issues that occured with Hayden, it's beyond me why the legislators in my own state of Delaware chose to follow in California's footsteps, but they did.  The only difference here in Delaware is that the state doesn't pay for it's unfunded mandates.  Instead the animal control shelter, and eventually the counties will pay the cost.  From the start, we have seen divisiveness, illness, investigations, and most of the financial burden placed on the one open admission shelter in the state, which I suspect will eventually be placed on the county taxpayers that pay for animal control.  And no, we didn't become "no-kill" overnight as Mr. Winograd likes to proclaim can be done.  In my opinion, "no-kill" followers have focused on state politician friends to shove CAPA down the taxpaying publics throat, because they know that reasonable people don't actually believe their mantra that there isn't a pet overpopulation problem

Overpopulation Doesn't Exist - So Spay Neuter is a Dirty Word?

I was dumbfounded when I saw the No Kill Advocacy slap down their own followers on their Facebook page recently.  Here is part of the comment, and I have also included a screenshot of the episode since it was taken off a couple hours later. The statement was also still listed on Mr. Winograd's Facebook page as a post.
So let's stop deifying spay/neuter as the answer to how we save the lives of animals being threatened today in their local pound.  For that, we need adoption programs.  Let's stop saying spay/neuter is the answer to absolutely everything and let's stop pretending that shelter killing is the fault of anyone other those who kill because the evidence is clear and unassailable: there are dozens of communities who do not kill, even at their "open admission" shelters and they did not change the public. They changed their own previously untoward practices that favored death.....But we can create No Kill communities and we have created No Kill communities even before doing that and even before putting in place high volume spay/neuter. Once again, spay/neuter is important and a core program of the the No Kill Equation. But it is not the end all be all and certainly will not stop the killing of those animals facing death today. Let's stop pretending it will. - No Kill Advocacy Facebook comment & Nathan Winograd Facebook Post
Below is the screenshot of the comment from the No Kill Advocacy page for your amusement.  If that's the way Mr. Winograd treats his followers, I guess those of us that disagree with his proclamations should not be surprised by his negativity towards the various animal welfare groups like ASPCA, Best Friends, and any of us that don't subscribe to his belief that overpopulation doesn't exist.  I have to wonder if Mr. Winograd is concerned that state legislators will eventually realize that the only state that has come close to being "no-kill" is New Hampshire, and that they might decide to forego his proposed legislation CAPA and go for a proven product of a publicly funded spay/neuter programs.  Publicly funded spay neuter programs are not only far more cost effective, but also fiscally responsible if it is sufficiently funded to lower intake rates.  The same cannot be said for the "no-kill" models like Washoe and Austin that have had little if any impact on intake rates, and appear to be unsustainable in the long term as they cost taxpayers and donors more each year. 

Wow, think how Austin could have lowered the overpopulation if they spent that $2.2 million extra funding just this year on spay neuter, rather than using those funds to play musical chairs with animals in an ever expanding foster care network that doesn't get at the root of the problem.  The impact would have been amazing, and the collaboration between animal rescue, the veterinary community, and the community at large would have been awesome.