Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No-Kill - A Movement of Hate & Negativity

Lately there's been a tremendous amount of discussion by "no-kill" leadership and his cheerleader proxy about the growing number of people, like myself, who have questioned the validity and the tactics of the "No-Kill" movement.  I'm sure that's in part due to the fact that more and more of us are finally speaking up and saying their movement is expensive to communities, cruel to animals, and harmful to public safety.

Many of us used to believe that if we just went on and did our part for animals, that the nuisance movement which has come and gone in so many communities, including major failures in Philadelphia  and  Indianapolis  and  Las Vegas, that the public would eventually realize that a one size fits all solution is not realistic, feasible, or affordable.  Unfortunately most of us didn't take into account that there would always be a small number of people that would believe the excuses for failure, and that the vocal minority merely needed to find a couple of clueless legislators or county commissioners who either hadn't thought through the sales pitch, or were too afraid of ending up on the wrong side of "no-kill" activist's hateful rhetoric.

So eventually some of began to speak up, and despite the fact that the "no-kill" activists want to claim that there are only a few opposed to their horribly flawed legislation, we are not one person with various personas, we are a growing group of individuals who are willing to speak the truth regarding regarding the costs, both financial and to the health and welfare of animals.  We grew tired of watching their movement harm hard working animal shelter workers, of watching them create a constant revolving door of shelter leadership across the country, and seeing the resulting chaotic atmosphere that leads to mistakes and harm to animals.

As our ranks have grown, the "no-kill" movement apparently is beginning to feel pressured to justify their malicious behavior.  It seems ironic that as Nathan Winograd is about to release his book called Friendly Fire, which continues his ongoing blame of other organizations for the failure of his movement to pass their legislation in numerous states and more recently in Oahu, Hawaii, that we are now hearing stories of his opponents calling him vulgar names and threatening to harm his dog.
"When animal lovers learn about the cruelty and killing that are rampant in U.S. shelters, and that national animal protection organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) defend these shelters and thwart efforts at reform, the first and the most logical question they ask is: Why?" - Understanding Friendly Fire, Nathan Winograd
Now keep in mind that it has been his "no-kill" movement that has been on the offensive against almost every open admission shelter across the county, who has been writing incessantly about how the big 3 animal welfare organizations are to blame for communities not buying into his No-Kill Equation for YEARS, and has been deleting anyone from his Facebook page that didn't agree with him.  Just in the last year, we've seen a "flashmob" (or what I consider cyberbullying) against the ASPCA last Thanksgiving weekend, encouraged a similar cyber attack against a small vegan bakery Facebook page for "no-kill" followers to spew their hatred against PETA, has recently been using his proxy to go after PETA and HSUS in a series of articles on Huffington Post, and also encouraged followers to spam those organization's Facebook pages.

Do continual attacks and blame work?  They may work to excite the die-hard base, but it also pushes away those followers that may like the concept of no-kill, but also know the many contributions those other organizations have made.  As a result of the continual attacks, and the fact that the movement continually pushes spay neuter to the back of the pack in priority even though the majority of his followers considered it to be the top priority, we have seen more dissent on both Mr. Winograd's Facebook page and No-Kill Nations page recently.

Is this what led to the 2 recent articles referencing the claim of threats to Mr. Winograd's dog?  I can't say with certainty, but I do find it suspicious that the claim comes at a time when there has been a backlash against the movement for it's continual hateful message against so many, and I also find it strange that nobody else appears to have seen the threat.  In a day and age where one merely needs to hit the Print Screen button and paste, I find it odd that this threat was not substantiated.  For example, I've spoken in the past about a threat against a past shelter director by followers of the no-kill movement here in Delaware that was left on the No-Kill Delaware Facebook page for 11 days, and here it is.  Of course, when you post the screenshot as I did below, you also know that it can be tracked back for authenticity and where it originated.

So while both of the recent articles would like to paint those of us that disagree with Mr. Winograd's negative message as threatening or merely a couple of disgruntled people, they are sorely mistaken.  Remember that it has been the "no-kill" movement that has been using that very tactic for years, and trying to claim that others who offer alternative viewpoints and facts are threatening is not even in the same ballpark.  Unlike his page, I've never had a need to dredge through his past or make malicious references to his personal life to divert attention away from the real facts at hand, because I want the focus to be on the message.

If you go to Mr. Winograd's page, you can see how he has targeted individuals at the bottom of the page, and that he has subsections for each of the 3 animal welfare organizations that he has been attacking for years.

His proxy's article also shows that the author advocates for the same hateful message, with his role in a mean-spirited parody of someone else's blog, and his continual childish references to people as stalkers, trolls, sockpuppets, and toads. Maybe he and his followers think those references appear more intelligent with the signature sprinkle of Latin (ad hominem, ad nauseam, etc), and a dash of psychology references (cognitive dissonance, etc), but it really is just the same hate and blame message.

So, IF the threat against Mr. Winograd's dog Pickles was really on the Facebook page he referenced, I wonder if it was on there for 11 days?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Spay Neuter Before Adoption - It's The Law !!!

Since 2006, Delaware has had a law on the books that states shelters and rescues are REQUIRED to spay or neuter prior to adoption.
§ 8220. Preadoption spay/neuter mandate.
(a) Effective on June 29, 2006, it shall be mandatory for all cats and/or dogs of reproductive age to be spayed or neutered and inoculated for rabies prior to adoption from any of the following:
(1) A private animal welfare or rescue agency/group or organization;
(2) Any adoption clinic endorsed, operated, managed, or sponsored by an animal welfare or rescue agency, organizations, commercial enterprises or private parties or combination thereof; or
(3) An animal shelter as defined herein.
There are some minor exceptions for underage animals, and animals with health conditions that prevent the surgery from being done before the adoption. In those cases there is a deposit process prescribed within the statute to ensure followup of the cases where the exceptions take place.  If the animal is not done within the established timeline, the adopter loses the $75 deposit, pays the cost for the surgery, and incurs a fine up to $250 plus court costs.  If they still don't get the surgery done, the fine doubles to $500 plus court costs, and will be required to forfeit the dog or cat back to the original adopting agency.

The law also allows for adopting agencies who violate the mandate to be subject to a $500 dollar fine for EACH violation of this law.

Safe Haven Violations

This week it came to light that not only is Safe Haven violating this statute, but they are doing it with the blessing of our Kent County Levy Court Commission.
From Commissioner Sweeney  Oct 9th   6:05 Pm
I have spoken to a couple of families who adopted dogs from Safe Haven during their event this weekend.  Because Safe Haven does not have a vet on staff at this time, they offered to forego the adoption fee if the family would seek other means to alter their adopted pet.  Some have tried to make arrangements at the SPCA event and were refused because the adopted from Safe Haven.  THAT is no way to be!

I understand that you used to work for the SPCA, so I understand your bias toward Safe Haven.  However, we are not in a financial position to dump them for an issue that can be resolved just by talking to them, something the SPCA would never do with us.

Veterinarians are in short supply, and when a student does finish their residency, they can make a lot more money in private practice in place of a shelter.  Safe Haven is working very hard to find a vet for their staff.

She does believe in Spay and Neuter, and I have spoken with her many times about our similar views on this.

As for open hours, they will be open to the public for 3 days a week starting the week of the 26th. - Delaware Newszap Message Board 
It's unbelievable that Commissioner Sweeney implies that it is somehow another shelter's responsibility to spay neuter Safe Haven's animals, when Safe Haven has done nothing but bad mouth KCSCPA. Also, it's not true that KCSPCA is retaliating against them by not doing the Safe Haven adopter surgeries. KCSPCA's capacity is already stretched with doing the adoptable dogs from 2 other counties, the Petsmart grant for cats, and doing surgeries under the state program, so they haven't been doing surgeries outside of those areas due to cutbacks. So it appears he implying KCSPCA should pay for more veterinarian and support staff hours to subsidize Safe Haven and the county with the statement "THAT is no way to be!"  His statement is downright childish in my opinion. And it's equally ridiculous that the county is not only allowing their contractor to violate the law, but making excuses for them. Sadly, the silence of the other commissioners speaks to their complicity in this as well.  Not only are commissioners accepting the fact that Safe Haven is violating the law, the county commission is also complicit in placing adopters,of dogs under their contract in a position where they are also violating the law, and those adopters (resident constituents) could be subject to penalty and the forfeiture of their adopted pet.

I also think Mr. Sweeney's statement below was equally disrespectful of the veterinary community. At a median salary of $66,127, I wouldn't say most vets are raking in the big bucks, and they do have 8 years of schooling to pay for. So it seems once again that KCSPCA had a better handle on what costs are needed to fulfill state law requirements, which is what most of us suspected.
"Veterinarians are in short supply, and when a student does finish their residency, they can make a lot more money in private practice in place of a shelter."
It's unfortunate that state lawmakers are also sitting on their hands while this situation takes place. Senator Blevins was more than willing to go after KCSPCA with a FOIA request, and in that case the FOIA opinion was done twice to ensure no other shelter had to comply, but there hasn't been a word about the spay neuter  law she wrote being violated. I can only surmise that CAPA has become more important in her eyes than her spay neuter legislation.  It seems that this whole fiasco was always about a bunch of politicians, who don't have a clue how to run a business, but think that they can legislate "no-kill" and dictate how to run a shelter.  Obviously it's a failure considering we've stepped back in time to where adopted animals aren't spayed/neutered before being adopted.

It appears our no-kill shelters and our legislators have bought into statements by no-kill leadership that spay neuter should take a back seat to scrambling to get animals out the door, whether that be to an adopter, or whether it be to a private shelter where the animal will not have access to the socialization it needs to be a good adoption candidate.  Safe Haven would rather spend their resources warehousing animals at private kennels, than obeying the law and using those same funds to spay neuter before adoption..
"While spay neuter is important, our goal has never been no more births, even though reducing birth rates might help. Our goal has been and is, and has always been no more killing. And when you focus on the no more killing part, spay neuter actually takes a backseat to all those other programs like foster care, and adoptions, and helping people overcome the challenges they face that cause them to surrender their animals." - Nathan Winograd on AnimalWise Radio 4/22/12
So it seems Delaware will be going down the path of other communities that allowed spay neuter to take a backseat to their no-kill initiatives, and as a result will also incur MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in higher budgets, rather than the fiscally responsible alternative of targeted spay neuter.  By making spay neuter an afterthought, additional costs will be incurred because intake rates will now stagnate or increase, instead of intakes decreasing as occurred in communities with successful spay neuter programs like the State of New Hampshire and Hillsborough County Florida.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Complaints - The Solution Is Real Care Standards

It seems that every community is facing the same drama of never ending complaints about the conditions in shelters   While some may be valid, we also know that some have an ulterior motive to beat communities into submission so they will declare themselves "no-kill", no matter what that might cost the community and the animals.  Allegations about conditions, complaints about mistreatment, and it goes on and on.  The fact is, we know CAPA includes nothing that ensures healthy living conditions for the animals in our shelters, and it hasn't saved any lives either.  The complaints regarding the animal living conditions have been directed at every shelter in our state, including the "no-kill" ones, so there needs to be a mechanism for the public to be able to get a reasonable response if there are concerns at any animal shelter in our state.

There really is a simple solution to this issue - real animal care standards and inspections, similar to North Carolina enacted. If there is any one thing that should come out of the task force, it should be these kinds of standards.  This should be something BOTH sides of the no-kill argument should agree on.

§ 19A‑25.  Employees; investigations; right of entry.
For the enforcement of the provisions of this Article, the Director is authorized, subject to the approval of the Commissioner to appoint employees as are necessary in order to carry out and enforce the provisions of this Article, and to assign them interchangeably with other employees of the Animal Health Division. The Director shall cause the investigation of all reports of violations of the provisions of this Article, and the rules adopted pursuant to the provisions hereof; provided further, that if any person shall deny the Director or his representative admittance to his property, either person shall be entitled to secure from any superior court judge a court order granting such admittance. (1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1217, s. 6; 1987, c. 827, s. 63.)

The primary issue here in Delaware is that there is no direct oversight of animal shelters.  The counties aren't granted the right to inspect shelters under state law, although there is nothing that says they couldn't include that privilege in their contracts with the shelters handling dog control  for them.  I think they've chosen not to include that in their contracts because they just don't want that responsibility, and they would need someone on the county staff that had the ability inspect.  The Department of Agriculture has oversight over Title 3 issues, but they have no right to inspect.  I'm sure if it comes down to it, the Attorney General office could inspect if they believed the complaint rose to the level of cruelty statutes, but in most cases the complaints wouldn't rise to that level.

There's no doubt that there needs to be some agency that has the authority to respond to complaints in a timely fashion.  I don't think most of us care what agency that falls under. We merely want it to be an agency that isn't tied politically to ANY shelter.  The core element needs to be standards that govern animal care like those referenced by the The Association of Veterinary Care, or staffing level recommendations by  NACA, and animal/dog control contracts should compensate at a level that will ensure those standards are met.  Standards like these are what will help keep people coming to the shelters.  CAPA certainly hasn't done that with the constant griping and complaining that has resulted.

There are enough barriers to getting people to adopt animals, without the public hearing the constant negativity.  For every complaint that is aired in the public, there is likely an adopter turned away, and an animal killed as a result. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cease and Desist Adopting Out Dangerous Dogs

No-Kill Delaware appears to be upset that Kevin Usilton, Executive Director of the Kent County SPCA sent them a cease and desist notice to stop the slander and libel against himself and the shelter.  There is no doubt that a cease and desist was warranted.  NKD's post cited various court rulings concerning censuring public officials and charging official misconduct to parody.  Well unfortunately posts by NKD has a habit of stepping beyond those bounds over and over.


To understand why a cease and desist request was necessary, we have to start back on Monday, Oct 1st.  On that day, a dog under the care of Faithful Friends Animal Society was being walked by an employee of the shelter off leash in Canby Park, which is a regular park where dogs are required to be on their leash.  The dog named Paco darted after another dog once he was unleashed and attacked.
"After Howard unleashed Paco, the pit bull spotted a small 7-year-old terrier mix named Fitz being walked on a leash by his owner, and attacked the small dog, grabbing it by the neck and shaking Fitz from side to side, Whipple said." - DelawareOnline
The shelter employee and the resident who owned the victim dog tried to separate the dogs to no avail, so the resident who's dog was being attacked shot Paco.
"Police say Howard and Blythe tried unsuccessfully to separate the two dogs. Blythe then got the pit bull into a head lock, pulled out a .9mm handgun and shot the dog in the head. Paco died instantly." - 6abc.com
Needless to say, this was a tragic event for everyone involved.  I'm certain the shelter employee feels horrible that this occurred under his watch, and I'm sure the resident that shot the dog felt bad for Paco, but he did what was necessary to save the life of his own dog.  Fitz, the dog who was attacked was taken to a nearby veterinary practice and is expected to recover.  

What was concerning about the attack is the fact that the dog was offleash depite the following statement under it's profile on the shelter website.  
Paco is good with children
Paco does not get along with other cats, other dogs
I had spent the last weekend watching animal advocates beat up on a Tennessee family who asked that the dog who severely mauled their daughter be euthanized, so this local local story of a dog attack was another eye opener. In the Tennessee case, the activists believed this dog should be saved despite the fact that this beautiful 4 year old girl required 200+ stitches, 5 days in the hospital, and months to recover physically and emotionally, as a result of the attack.  The activists argued that this dog that attacked the little girl could go to an adult only household, but there is always the potential for a dog to get loose and place the public at risk.  The most disturbing part of the comments on that story was the number of people that said the child must have done something to the dog to provoke it.   But what the activists ignored was the fact that in that case the local shelter released the unneutered male dog to the family to provide foster care, and that shelter bears a great deal of the responsibility.  To place an unneutered male into a foster home with a child and a female puppy that had not been spayed does not make sense.  Shelters are supposed to be the professionals, should have known that 70 percent of all bite cases involve an unneutered male, and when you add in a female dog approaching puberty, it was a recipe for disaster.

So seeing the dog on dog attack in Delaware was another reminder that public safety standards are being set aside in the desperate scramble to increase live release rates across the country. I'm not saying it is limited to no-kill shelters.  In fact, my concern is that no-kill animal activists are harming animal welfare across the spectrum when they try to save aggressive animals, or shout down other shelters that euthanize dogs with questionable behavior traits.   We saw similar shouting by NKD regarding Peyton, a dog that Delaware Humane had concerns about after he tore part of the ear of another dog in a fight. Considering that thousands of dogs are euthanized in Delaware, I would think that there would be a higher priority placed on using our precious cage space for safe and well adjusted animals. 

Cease and Desist

So why would Kevin Usilton send a cease and desist request?  The fact is No-Kill Delaware has shown a disregard for the truth, and lack of basic decency from their start.  

For 11 days from December 22, 2010 until January 2, 2011, this group allowed a statement to stay on their Facebook page that said the previous director "should IMMEDIATELY be executed".  Wasn't that great Christian spirit during the Christmas holiday season.  And you didn't see one no-kill shelter in the state who spoke against it, which in my opinion says something about their values.  

I could go on and on, but we will jump ahead to this week.  The day after the Faithful Friends incident, No-Kill Delaware posted the following statement in the screenshot below.  As noted in the DelawareOnline story, KCSPCA responded to the scene, they didn't shoot the dog.  So the statement shown in the screenshot below is absolutely incorrect.  There is no parody in this statement or censuring of misconduct of the officer that responded to the scene, so I really don't think this is protected speech, and the Mr. Usilton had just cause to ask for the lies to be taken down.

Paco - Original Post

Ms. Meier of NKD did edit the statement hours later, but it's difficult to say how many read this lie before she corrected.  To establish libel, the KCSPCA merely needs to show that it was likely they lost some donors as a result of the incorrect statement being on the page for hours.  

Paco - Corrected Post

Other Statements KCSPCA Attorneys Should Investigate As Defamation

Ms. Meier also wrote a recent post called "One-Day Employee Tells of Sickness, Suffering and Death at Kent County SPCA".  Her post is based on a statement by one of NKD's followers Ms. Gannon.  

There are a number of issues with the Gannon statement that should have concerned the various no-kill advocates that have posted this persons statement or reference to it, like NKD site and FB page, Kent County Delaware Dog Control - Pro/Con FB Page, and even a local independent candidate.

The first sentence should have raised alarms.
"I was asked by a fellow vet tech to come work there..that they needed trained staff desperately. I was taken on a walk through" 
And here is the first line of the NKD post.
"This story was posted on Facebook today by a person who worked at Kent County SPCA for one day, January 3, 2012.  She quit immediately due to her horror at what she saw and refused to take pay for the day’s work."  
When I looked at this person's FB page, I saw that under the Work and Education section she listed Faithful Friends, and Ashworth College -Veterinary Technician Animal Care specialist.  So I decided to see when she was licensed as a veterinary technician in Delaware.  Obviously you don't do a walk through or work one day if you aren't licensed to do the job, so I searched Delaware's license verification system for Ms. Gannon, but she is not listed as a licensed veterinary technician.  So it certainly brings into question why she would be doing a this walk through or work day if she wasn't licensed.  And it also brings into question whether she is working at Faithful Friends as a veterinary technician without a license.  A person can be licensed through reciprocity, but even a temporary license should be showing as pending.  And the state's website makes it clear that a license is required, so this is also something that Delaware Division of Professional Regulation should investigate as well.
"Under no circumstances should you begin practicing as a veterinary technician in Delaware before the temporary license is issued." - State of Delaware   
It's ironic that the various no-kill advocates and KCSPCA haters page always seem to say they have documentation of wrong doing at the Kent County SPCA, but so much of it always ends up looking false, or at the very least questionable. It's especially questionable when you take into account that Ms. Gannon has been posting complaints on NKD for some time and you can see in the following posts that despite the various other complaints, there is no mention of the currently alleged work day.

It's especially concerning since it appears that Ms. Gannon was already working for Faithful Friends back in April 2011 when she mentioned the vet exams of these beagles below.  Since she appears to have such contempt for euthanizing animals in her other FB posts, I wonder why would she leave Faithful Friends to allegedly go to a shelter that has to euthanize animals due to their intake volume for a day?  And wasn't it nice of Faithful Friends to take her back if that occurred.

Considering the various pieces of the puzzle above, any reasonable person would find it suspicious that a Faithful Friends employee came out with such an elaborate story about the Kent County SPCA only 2 days after Faithful Friends ended up in the spotlight when one of their dogs attacked a local residents dog.

Of course I was not surprised that local no-kill advocates were willing to jump on the bandwagon and declare the allegations as fact.  From No-Kill Delaware with her blog post and Facebook posts, to the KCSPCA haters page, to a local State Senate candidate.  Not one of them have questioned whether the allegations are true despite the fact that it happens to be a Faithful Friends employee who is making this allegation only 2 days after her own shelter was in the news due to a negative incident, and that she could have a motive of trying to take attention away from from Mondays dog attack by a Faithful Friends dog.

I guess the Delaware Attorney General office will have yet another long drawn out investigation on their hands now.  Considering there are already cases that have been investigated for over a year, I certainly hope we don't have any murderers or criminals that need to be prosecuted in our state because eventually CAPA investigations with be the only thing the AG office will have time for.  The Division of Professional Regulation should also be investigating.  Hopefully other localities considering CAPA legislation, like Oahu and Norfolk, will see the drama and cost that CAPA and "no-kill" will bring to your area, and stay clear of the harm that it will present to your animal welfare community and the cost of it.

To the KCSPCA, the various posts of this week should be pursued legally.  These hate groups will continue making defamatory statements otherwise.  Yes there is free speech in our great country, but individuals must at least perform a reasonable level of due diligence to be protected from liability.  So whether it is claims of a shelter ACO shooting a dog, or other defamatory statements, it seems there are some individuals that need to be taught that there are consequences for running their mouths before they know what they are talking about.

There was one bright spot on the hate page shown below.  It's nice to see that the individuals that brought us CAPA are being dragged into the constant drama they created by this law that allowed the lunatics to take over the asylum.

Especially since I hear a few of those listed in the post above have been lobbying various factions with promises of a new agency under Public Health and $6 million dollars, which is a substantial amount more than the current $2.725 million currently paid towards dog control.  It seems strange that this lobbying effort is being done when the Animal Welfare Task Force has just begun, and as I've previously noted before, Delaware is one of the only states to not have a Public Health official on the task force.  It's too bad the other members of the task force are spending time analyzing the issues to only find out they are merely pawns to give credibility to some plan that was probably hatched long before the task force was even proposed.  As a voter, I have to wonder whether this is a sign that Governor Markell plans to go on a spending spree once he is elected to a second term and no longer has to worry about re-election.  It's certainly something his opponent Jeff Cragg should ask about.

Well at least if animal welfare does eventually go to Public Health, maybe there will be some concern about the public safety and ensuring that we don't adopt out dangerous dogs.  Hopefully Public Health will ensure that we don't end up with the same situation as Austin where their bite rate increased 35% from 2009 to 2011, despite the fact that their population only increased 4%. Improving live release rates is a great goal, but it shouldn't be done at the expense of public safety.  Our children and our pets safety need to be part of the equation.

Here is a link to read a KCSPCA employee rebuttal of the allegations made on NKD.