Saturday, August 11, 2012

A No-Kill Conference - What's On The Agenda?

With the No-Kill Conference under way, I thought it would be interesting to look at a few of the items on their agenda and see how it relates to the last year.  Usually annual conferences for organizations are a celebration of the year that past, and a time to map out the strategy for the year to come.  While I have no doubt that the "no-kill" advocates will be mapping out their sinister plots to create chaos in more communities in the year to come, but I can't imagine they have a whole lot to celebrate from the past year.

Shelter Access Laws

The core concept that "no-kill" has tried to inflict on communities is CAPA (Companion Animal Protection Act or Animal Rescue Act), and it's many variations from state to state. CAPA itself is a variation of the California Hayden Act. While their advocates proclaim the success of Hayden, it has been anything but a success.  It has been nearly 14 years since it was signed into law, and despite millions spent, California's euthanasia rate is no better than the national average.   If it hasn't worked yet, you would have to be delusional to think that it will suddenly work now with the economic strain that California is under.
"For example, California has perhaps the most extensive and productive network of rescue organizations in the country, supported by provisions of the 1997 Hayden Bill that mandated shelter access and extended hold times for strays, but it has a weak network of low-cost or free spay/neuter services. Between 2004 and 2008, the state saw a rise of 54,000 in the number of animals killed annually in shelters (from 378,445 to 432,412) while shelter intake jumped by 106,404 (from 729,238 to 835,642)." - Best Friends Blog
So how has the "no-kill" community made out with their goal of inflicting the same CAPA mess here in Delaware onto other states?  Well, I will give them credit for getting legislation proposed in a number of states - FL, MN, NY, TX, WV, and even a different strategy of mandating the one city of Baltimore in MD.  But it was also encouraging to see that so many states had the good sense to realize that the claims of cost savings, mandating collaboration, and protecting public safety were fiction, and the section below highlights just how far they are willing to go to ignore the safety of the public.  So while the "no-kill" community may have been able to celebrating the chaos that they were inflicting on Delaware at last years conference, there was not one state above that they could claim as a success this year.

Litigating No-Kill

This must be one of the most attended seminars at their conference based on the actions in recent years, especially since attorneys seem to be at the forefront of the movement.  It certainly makes one wonder whether the law industry is looking for revenue sources .  Whether it's here in Delaware, or communities across the U.S, the movement has certainly managed to clog up the legal system.  I may be a numbers person, but I couldn't begin to estimate the millions being wasted across the nation on official complaints, lawsuits and investigations across the country.  Here is just one example:

Stockton Animal Shelter, CA - Pat Claerbout
For those that don't watch the business news, Stockton is a municipality in California that filed for bankruptcy in recent months, so the shelter has had to dealing with budget cuts and furloughs in recent years. Pat Claebout has been operating the shelter for the last year, and she has been under fire since taking over.  Note the progression of this story and how the "no-kill" movement will go to great lengths to harass directors, and the political powers that oversee them.  It's apparent that the activists are throwing one accusation after another to see if they can get at least one to stick.  
"The city of Stockton's animal services is overseen by the police department. Police spokesman Pete Smith said the department was aware of the online petition and the chief supported Claerbout's decision.  "It was a situation where, unfortunately, they were overpopulated out there," Smith said. "They simply had too many animals at that time."
Make sure to read the comments on this story.  There are rescues that defend this director, so there are transfers being done.  And I tend to believe that the more professional tone of the rescues dealing with the shelter vs. the comments like "are you okay with killing animals" and "I guess I can copy and paste too" show the lack of professionalism and maturity of the rescues that were probably justifiably banned in most cases.
Note the appearance of the same attorney shown in Story 2!!  Apparently the attorney wasn't getting anywhere in Stockton, so decided to dredge up some story from the director's previous shelter from 2 years earlier, and filing a lawsuit on behalf of a rescue that claims to have wanted a dog named Zeus.  Here's the kicker, according to the story, this attorney Jill Telfer is representing Susan Wallace of Scooter's Pals, and I'll be darned, this same pair has also filed a lawsuit against Placer County regarding a dog named Charlie, a dog that bit a child requiring dozens of stitches. I'll let you judge whether this is ambulance chasing or a political agenda, but with thousands dogs dying everyday that this rescuer could have taken that day, "no-kill" advocates don't seem to be too concerned about public safety to me.  And how sad is it that the reporter of this story didn't address this other lawsuit.  It's shoddy reporting at best.
The police have begun an investigation due to the political pressure.  I certainly hope they take a look at the multiple lawsuits and the history of these complaints.  Maybe the Stockton Police need to investigate those making the complaints as well, and whether the group Central California Pets Alive who also commented on these cases has had any part in both the Stockton and Placer County lawsuits.
Just what we all need, more attorneys taught how to go after animal shelters who care for the animals dumped in communities.  Rescues could accept those animals directly, but it's easier to file lawsuits against cities and counties to make these governments submit to the movements demands, whether it's in the public's best interest or not.  It's clear from their analysis that the intent of these suits is to circumvent current laws and force municipalities to hold owner relinquished animals longer, whether or not the city can afford to.  Clearly a city like Stockton who just filed bankruptcy cannot afford budget increases that cities like Austin have endured.

Rethinking Hoarding

There wasn't a description for this seminar, but I find the implication of the name a little scary.  As many times as we've heard "no-kill" justify CAPA, and state that there isn't a concern with handing out animals like they are election leaflets, I can't imagine where they are going with the hoarding issue next.  I think this is one where it would be interesting to attend, and hear whether they will be stating it isn't a problem.  Whether it has been individuals or rescues that got out of hand, we've all seen to many cases recently, and the hoarding issue is becoming far too common.

The Austin No-Kill Plan

I have discussed the fact that the Austin model  is unsustainable on several occasions.  It should be interesting to see how the "no-kill" plan will work out for them after the grim budget news came out yesterday.  The one advantage that Austin has it that they have far more funding than many shelters handling a similar intake.  While I'm sure national leadership will blame the community for not continuing to throw more money at the shelter, we will get a chance to see how long this can last when you don't have an unlimited budget.  I can't imagine that "no-kill" will be celebrating the budget news at their conference either.

It will be interesting to see what the next year will bring on all these fronts.