Saturday, April 21, 2012

CAPA - An Example of "The Delaware Way"

While I'm sure most Delaware readers understand the underlying meaning of my title reference to "The Delaware Way", I just want to explain it for readers from other states.  Recently, a liquor distributor in our state was prosecuted for making illegal campaign contributions.  He made contributions to politicians in the name of his employees to skirt contribution limits.  Tigani had ties to our previous governor and other politicians, and his company received land under a deal negotiated with our Delaware Department of Transportation at a price considered to be well below market value.  At the sentencing hearing, and at the press conference by the U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the term "The Delaware Way" was used in reference to the backroom dealings and the excercise of political influence. 

Although I don't believe CAPA was enacted to gain contributions as in the Tigani case above, I do think it's just as inappropriate and possibly illegal to enact a law like CAPA that restrains competition by placing barriers that are costly, restricts their ability to continue to operate effectively, and provides a competitive advantage to their friends.
"We took the model legislation known as the Companion Animal Protection Act as a starting point and approached the same Senator who helped us in 2006 with the spay-neuter law.  We were also fortunate that an attorney who was on our board of directors was now a policy advisor to the new Governor--Governor Jack Markell (also a pet lover), and she was able to help us negotiate with all the stakeholders and come up with a good bill that we could get passed into law this year.   And we did." - Examiner Article called A Faithful Friend from the First State: Interview with Jane Pierantozzi
So as you can see, Delaware CAPA was not only written by someone who was on the board of director for a no-kill organization that wanted to eliminate or severely restrict another shelter's (KCSPCA) ability to continue to perform their duties handling nearly 3/4 of the animals taken in for Delaware, but this CAPA writer was also a policy advisor to the governor.  The Senate majority leader that sponsored CAPA was also listed as an advisor to this same no-kill organization.  As with any non-profit sector, animal shelters are competing for the same donor dollars, and obviously CAPA is not going to have the same impact on an organization that takes in 712 animals, as it is going to have on an organization that takes in 15,388.
"Two years ago, we invited Nathan Winograd,  the Director of the National No Kill Advocacy Center to come to Delaware to present a workshop during our week for the Animals to educate the public and policy makers about the No Kill movement and his success in turning around high-kill shelters in other communities.   He also agreed to come and meet with all the shelter directors in Delaware along with board leaders to discuss where are our state was and what we could do to advance the no kill cause."
"After Ann Cavanaugh took over as Director of the DESPCA we discussed the fact that a passionate, committed Director really makes or breaks the care and outcome for the animals and is crucial to continue to provide excellent care and a high save rate for the animals.  Nathan recommended that we consider pursuing the creation of a bill that he had outlined on his website to ensure in law that shelters meet certain standards so if leadership changes the same basic standards are required for shelters."  -  Examiner Article called A Faithful Friend from the First State: Interview with Jane Pierantozzi
I think the quotes above make it pretty clear that one of the ultimate goals was leadership change at Kent County SPCA. That's why the decision to pursue CAPA didn't come about until there was only 1 director left to push out.

And that's just what was done.  From the start of CAPA, a group called No-Kill Delaware who is directly linked to another no-kill organization began their assault of constant complaints, despite the fact that everyone was aware that there wasn't any enforcement powers under those complaints. As a result, the previous director went on to pursue an opportunity in another state.  Unfortunately the "Delaware Way" resulted in uprooting a family from their home state near their family to get away from the nonstop bullying and ganging up on the director for performing his job under the burdensome law.  A law that makes it impossible for a shelter to work within the confines of contracts that were enacted prior to CAPA, thereby guaranteeing the animal control shelter would start hemorrhaging funds. 

So now let's fast forward to a recent letter posted by the organization that brought us CAPA. The letter was written after Delaware SPCA announced their choice to give up their animal control contract with the city of Wilmington. 
Dog control contracts are a serious responsibility and come with many burdens. The government must prioritize fully funding these contracts if they expect nonprofits to bear this responsibility. Governments that choose to provide dog control services themselves must fully fund the service to ensure a humane system for the dogs who rely on us for their safety.  -  Faithful Friends Letter Regarding Wilmington Animal Control
Isn't it amusing that when it's a no-kill group that gives up animal control, it was because there wan't enough funding, but the animal control shelter that handles nearly 75% of the animals throughout the state should be sending the no-kill groups money according to No-Kill Delaware.  It would be comical if it wasn't for the questionable alliances against one shelter. 
Also note that Safe Haven, a no-kill organization in Sussex county, has the following reference on their website. 
The transport also included other Safe Haven dogs as well as dogs from our partner shelter, Faithful Friends of Wilmington, DE. - Safe Haven website
So this leads us to the most current situation.  Safe Haven considers themselves a "partner" of Faithful Friends who brought us CAPA.  Now that Kent County SPCA is exploring terminating their animal control contracts, look who's ready to step in and grab some dough, none other than Safe Haven.  Now that's truly  the "Delaware Way".  Bully the competition to the point they want out, so you can swoop in and get the funds needed to operate their new shelter and pay their debts.  And I can only imagine how much contracts will go up in the years to come by getting the competition out of the way with CAPA. 
The contract, currently valued at $600,000 and held by the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, would aid Safe Haven’s expansion to accommodate more animals, subsequently reducing the likelihood of their euthanization, said Anne Gryczon, sanctuary executive director.

“We’re still looking at bidding on the contract,” Gryczon said. “We offer a sanctuary for life, although our mission is not to (permanently) take in every single animal. We want to keep pets together with their owners. To save the life of an animal is complicated.” - Delmarva Now Article
Where Does Delaware Go From Here?

I wish I knew.  I think everyone knows that CAPA is a disaster.   In some ways it fortunate that it's an election year, because fiscal conservatives can point out the ridiculous situation that Delaware's state government put our counties in, and we can point out the various state and county politicians that have played out the games on behalf of activists exacerbating the situation.  But the unfortunate part of being in an election year is that the politicians are less likely to aggravate the vocal minority by admitting it's a disaster, or admitting that they've placed a large financial burden on the county taxpayers going forward.
As for any investigation into whether the affect CAPA has had on eliminating competition, we can only keep our fingers crossed that the Department of Justice was sufficiently appalled by the Tigani investigation where not one government official has been prosecuted yet, and consider the CAPA situation as a means to stopping the backroom deals and favors that are so prolific here in Delaware.


Hillsborough County, FL
 It was unfortuate to see the events in Hillsborough County Animal Services, an organization that had made such great progress with their spay neuter initiative who went from a 34000 intake in 2003 to 16500 intake in 2010.  Now, they are also being hijacked by a County Commissioner under similarly questionable circumstances.  It's obvious that everyone needs to keep an eye out for their local shelter and start to questioning these actions.
County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan addressed the Save 90 group last weekend in remarks posted to YouTube. He voiced support for the cause and foretold changes in Animal Services management. "The killing must stop," said Hagan, who could not be reached late Thursday.

Members of the Animal Advisory Committee said they were caught off guard by changes within the department, finding out about them through Hagan's video clip.

Veterinarian Michael Haworth, a member of the committee, described McCullough as a "stand-up guy" who succeeded in helping to reduce the number of animals killed each year. He said he doesn't understand why the county's main sounding-board for issues relating to animals hasn't been consulted. - Tampa Bay Times
Mr. Winograd seemed to take great pleasure in this on his FB page:
And a big thank you to Hillsborough County, NJ which took an important step in that direction by announcing its lifesaving ambitions and getting rid of the biggest obstacle to a No Kill Tampa Bay: their regressive shelter director. ( Though defended and protected by the ASPCA in this failed "mission (agent): orange" city, he is gone. And, like in Austin where the same thing happened and where the ASPCA defended not just the killing but the director who continued killing in the face of alternatives, we are told it was "voluntary." ( Let them have their "graceful" exit. Either way, he is gone, he is gone, he is gone.
I guess it's understandable why he seems to take issue with too many people mentioning spay neuter as the best solution.  If lowering intake and subsequently euthanasia is considered "regressive", then I guess maybe the issue is a dislike of a fiscal responsible and sustainable solution.  I'd bet that Dennis McCullough saved more animals than Mr. Winograd probably saw in his long career (eyeroll) in shelters.  Based on his statement about whether or not Mr. McCullough left voluntarily and a graceful exit, maybe the Department of Justice should do an investigation into No-Kill Advocacy's role with politcians here and Hillsborough.  If Mr. McCullough was forced out, hopefully he will put up a fight and the truth will come out.  Maybe it's time for ASPCA to protect our shelters and help fund legal actions in these cases.

"The best example that can be given as to the way in which the activists support “killing” is the manner in which they remain silent regarding the 74% euthanasia rate at San Bernardino City’s animal shelter. The City euthanized more than 6,000 additional animals in 2011 compared to the County’s three (3) animal shelters during the same time period (County euthanized 7,304 and the City euthanized 13,369 in 2011). The County participated in the challenge and ranked #8 in the nation, the City didn’t even attempt to participate. The County is planning a Mega Pet Adoption Event in June the City doesn’t participate in off-site adoption events.
Again, you have to question their motives. Why not support the County’s life-saving efforts and attempt to help the animals? Why not support such a positive program? Maybe someone could ask the activists and let us know." - Devore Shelter Friends
Devore, the answer is simple.  No-kill activists prefer to take over shelters that are already making progress like Devore.  Hillsborough was making progress, Delaware lowered the euthanasia rate in 2006 with mandatory pre-adoption spay neuter.  Washoe County had funding provided by their referendum.  It's much easier to piggyback on someones elses success than to start from scratch.  Not that there aren't activists elsewhere, but that sees to be where they make the biggest effort.

To those who commented and emailed me about the previous post being passed on to officials in you area, I hope this has been helpful in some of the items you might want to keep track of in you situation. Just try to connect the dots.  Obviously, I have no way of knowing whether anything will come of investigation requests, but at the very least, the information tracked can also be helpful in educating others in your area on election day.

And a reminder to Delawareans - let your legislator know that "The Delaware Way" is unacceptable.  Ask your legislator to repeal this mess called the "Shelter Standards" (CAPA), because it doesn't contain real standards and for the most part doesn't include enforcement.  Your tax dollars are being wasted performing investigations that have no consequences anyway.  Tell them your tired of the never ending investigations and that you don't want to see the continued financial losses at our shelters due to CAPA.