Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tax Hike Became Permanent For Pet Projects And Bailouts

Many of us have been waiting to see what legislation would go forward after seeing recommendations of the state animal welfare task force, that was largely composed of New Castle County representation.

So it was no surprise when I perused through the State Bond Bill and the State Budget Bill, and found that the new Animal Welfare Office proposed by the task force would go through using the Budget Bill.  Many Delaware residents aren't aware of it, but the State of Delaware has an interesting loophole for getting legislative changes passed without actually putting forward legislation in a transparent manner that allows for the public time to provide their legislators with input.
"After the budget is marked-up, the JFC drafts the epilogue to the budget. The epilogue contains an written explanation of how individual lines in the budget are to be spent. The epilogue, for instance, contains the school employee salary schedules. The epilogue is frequently used to detail education programs which have not been adopted as a law through a bill. The epilogue is also used with some frequency to alter the Delaware Code. Unfortunately, the JFC does not provide the public with copies of epilogue drafts prior to adoption, so no one knows what may be contained in the epilogue until the budget bill is introduced. The budget bill is typically introduced and voted on during the last week in June, just before the General Assembly adjourns." - Delaware's Legislative Process, Delaware State Education Association
It's ironic that the legislative body in our state would have a mechanism to avoid the very transparency that our Senate President has claimed that one shelter (Kent County SPCA) should be bound to under Delaware FOIA law when she requested TWO State Attorney General opinions.  And as you'll recall, the second opinion appeared to be an attempt to limit the scope of the opinion so her friends at the No-Kill shelters would hopefully not be impacted by the opinion.  So apparently transparency in Delaware doesn't apply to the legislative body that writes our laws or their friends, but instead only applies to those who they consider their enemies or who voice dissenting opinions.

New Animal Welfare Office

As discussed above, the Budget Bill epilogue is used by the legislature to avoid public comment or dissent. So it's not difficult to see why state leadership chose to use the epilogue cloak and dagger approach to creating the new Animal Welfare Office.

With so many people inundated with cats, stray dogs becoming a bigger issue, and the fact that almost all our shelters have faced financial deficits, threatening their viability, the legislative backers of CAPA certainly didn't want other lawmakers to hear any arguments against an office that is going to make CAPA even worse.  And it also allows the other legislators that have already heard some of the complaints pretend that they didn't know that those complaints related to the Budget Bill.  Remember, the term "the Delaware Way" originally applied to the fact that there is rarely dissent among the legislators when most bills are voted on in our legislature, and the Budget and Bond bills are the heart of pork barrel spending in Delaware, so nobody wants to jeopardize their piece of the pig.

So per earlier articles, we did know that the state had allocated funds in the Joint Finance Committee to this new office.  Unfortunately we had to wait to see if it would be real legislation, or the epilogue sneak play.
"JFC member Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, was also on the Animal Welfare Task Force. She said once the General Assembly had turned animal welfare issues over to the individual three counties, problems arose. 
"Bottom line is, it's not working," Sen. Peterson said.  
There has been $300,000 allocated for half the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, to fund five new positions. associated with the office and set-up costs" - Delaware State News
The Budget Bill shows the 5 FTEs, and $300,000 in ASF Funds, and $413.3 Funds.  If you do an Ctrl-F search of the word "animal" when you open the Budget Bill, you will find the verbage related to the changes. Oddly, while the verbage seems to actually amend (transfer) some license plate spay neuter authority over to the new office, that appears to be the only section of code amended.  Regarding CAPA, it appears that only the authority of regulations have been transferred to the new office.
Section 149. Notwithstanding 3 Del. C. § 8001-8007 for Fiscal Year 2014, the Department of Health and Social Services, Public Health, Director’s Office/Support Services (35-05-10), Office of Animal Welfare shall continue to review and complete the regulations as outlined in the Shelter Standards Law.
I have to admit I find the epilogue process a little odd.  I haven't had an opportunity to research the epilogue constraints, so I can only surmise that there are restrictions as to what state Code can be moved from one agency to another, and that the actual CAPA code will still lie in the Department of Agriculture, while only the regulation will move over to Public Health with the Budget Bill.

I assume the logic of our legislature is that if you move the funds over first, and the pieces of Code that you are allowed to move, then you can force the Code amendments through later on the basis that the funds are already there.  It reminds me of a woman that buys a new expensive lamp in Reading, and then asks her spouse if it's okay, knowing that he isn't going to have her drive all that way to return it.

If people thought it was confusing making complaints before with animal Code listed through several different Titles, just think how interesting it will be during the interim, while the CAPA code is under the Department of Agriculture, and the regulations are under Public Health.  It makes my head spin.

And here's the real kicker.  If residents dealing with the consequences of CAPA continue to get louder because they are inundated with cats, or have had children or pets attacked because of lax stray dog enforcement, what happens if the legislature can't get the needed amendments through later.  We will be paying 5 additional state employees who have little authority to compel anyone to do anything.  Wasn't that what happened when CAPA was enacted without enforcement?  The only difference is that this time it will cost taxpayers $500,000.  I look forward to watching people justifying this kind of fiscal irresponsibility.

Wilmington Animal Control - One CAPA Bailout

As I had mentioned previously, we already knew the Delaware SPCA wasn't going to renew their contract with the City of Wilmington based on the budget that the city put forward in April, and there was rumors that the city would create it's own Animal Control division.  But not a word was coming out about it publicly in the press or from the City of Wilmington to inform residents of the change that was on the horizon. So it wasn't until today's Bond Bill came out, just days before the legislative session ends, that we found out that the rumors were true.  Per the Bond Bill, the state has appropriated $250,000 for a City of Wilmington Animal Control Facility.

So in the land of Delaware, where additional revenue always magically appears out of thin air, we now have the $8 Million Dollar Casino Bailout, and one of the many CAPA Bailout's that we've foreseen for some time. I'm sure residents across the state will be thrilled to know that they will be paying for this new Animal Control division in Wilmington, especially when cities like Dover have been paying for their own Animal Control for some time. Basically it is a slap in the fact to residents who aren't residents of the City of Wilmington. Who knows what the cost will be when the state has to bailout the counties??? Or whether the state will bail us out???

It's no wonder that other states have been smart enough to let CAPA die in their legislatures.  Can you imagine what it would be like for a large state to have to go in and bailout all their cities or counties?

Delaware Legislature Lack of Respect to Taxpayers

As you can see above transparency and taxpayer input is not a high priority in Delaware.  The egos and games will always permeate Delaware legislation as long as the epilogue changes are allowed to circumvent the appropriate legislative channels, and as long as we lack restrictions on the unfunded mandates that the State can create in legislation, unlike some other states where state mandates are required to be funded by the lawmakers.

While I enjoy entertainers that can perform with spirit and an attitude, like Pink does with the song "Cuz I Can",  I have to say that I don't have any respect for legislators that think it's appropriate to bypass the legislative process to avoid public opinion, just "Cuz They Can".

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Dirty Politics of Animal Shelter Wars - Nobody Wins

Kent County Dog Control Contract

Back on June 4, the Kent County Levy Court chose to retain Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary as provider of dog control services for our county.
"Speaking during the public comments period of the June 4 Levy Court committee session, members of the public and the KCSPCA board of directors had expressed doubts about the quality of service Safe Haven could provide.
Although headquartered in Georgetown, where the no-kill Safe Haven has room for 100 dogs, the business has contracts with private kennels in Kent and Sussex counties for another 65 animals. Safe Haven officials have said they also plan to open satellite office in the Dover area." - Milford Beacon
Most of us believed that Safe Haven would win the bid no matter what Kent County SPCA bid.   But it was amusing to watch the whole discussion about the county attorney giving the Levy Court Commission his blessing to throw the Kent County SPCA bid out because they included a tiered pricing structure instead of a lump sum fixed fee, rather than negotiate with both bidders as Sussex County had done 6 months earlier.  Sussex County negotiated by going back to Safe Haven and Kent County SPCA and requested a lower cost option. That strategy worked to get Sussex County a lower priced bid than Kent County, and despite the fact the Kent County Request For Proposal allowed negotiations, the commissioners in Kent County decided to just toss out one of the bids.  Kent County Levy Court Commissioner's absolutist approach wasn't in the best interest of their county constituents, and the commissioners using their attorney as their excuse to dump Kent County SPCA's bid out of the running was not only cowardly, but it resulted in Kent County paying $200,000 more than Sussex County.  But of course they will proclaim they saved us tons of money, even though they will never know what price could have been negotiated.

Commissioner Jody Sweeney

Many of us have believed that Commissioner Jody Sweeney has been on a a personal campaign to harm the Kent County SPCA long before last years budget impasse.  Whether it's a personal vendetta because he resents the state placing this burden onto the counties, whether it came about due to a friend being cited by the shelter, or whatever reason he chooses to put forward, it seems to me that our county seems to suffer from the same lack of integrity and ethical behavior that our state government does. The fact that he made the following statement about KCSPCA in 2011 makes it fairly clear that the war of words began long before last years contract issue.
Levy Court decided not to give any grant money to the Kent County SPCA, which received $2,250 last year.
Commissioner Jody Sweeney said since the county now pays the KSPCA some $800,000 a year for animal control services —a contractual number that is slated to increase for next year — an additional grant is not necessary.
“The fees are up this year,” he said. “I like the SPCA, but not if they keep raking us over the coals.” - Dover Post 2/8/11
For those that don't recall, 2010/11 was the first year that the county had to pay 100 percent of the dog control services for the county, so the increase in cost was not dictated by the Kent County SPCA, but by the shifting of cost from the state to the county.  Ironically, Kent County residents have paid Safe Haven more than the $800,000 this past year.  This is the same amount that Mr. Sweeney previously had found so objectionable when paid to the KCSPCA, and the Safe Haven contract included less services than when the Kent County SPCA had the contract.
  1. After a full year, Safe Haven was still not DELJIS certified to generate citations. 
  2. For a full year, Safe Haven and the Kent County Levy Court have continued to try and absolve themselves from handling and enforcing Title 9 Humane Care standards, and worse yet trying to shift that burden onto the Kent County SPCA by claiming that every breach in care standards amounts to animal cruelty, when we know that there is little chance that the Attorney General is going to pursue a cruelty case until it reaches a fairly high bar.  
  3. Safe Haven only picked up a fraction of the dogs that Kent County SPCA previously did, so obviously Safe Haven is not as concerned about the welfare of dogs that are in danger on the streets, with a great potential to be harmed, crippled, or killed. 
  4. A number of residents have also complained about issues reaching Safe Haven by phone or getting a response to complaints.  
  5. Safe Haven still doesn't have a veterinarian on staff.  
  6. The previous RFP that Kent County SPCA worked under required 3 vehicle patrolling versus now only requiring 2 of Safe Haven.
  7. And lastly, dogs are still leaving Safe Haven without being spayed/neutered despite the fact that they are required to under state law.
After some of us had a discussion on a Facebook page about the fact that Kent County Commissioners had thrown out the Kent County SPCA, I received a Facebook personal message from Mr. Sweeney.  He apparently felt he needed to educate me.
June 12  7:36am
Jody Sweeney

"Mr. Carter, check your records. The SC Council approved the contract with the provision that the loss of NC County Contract raises their costs by 25%. They ACCEPTED this where Kent would not. Bully for them, they are swimming in money. They negtiated the hours of active dog control for the SPCA, not SH to give them the contract. This is not appropriate in a sealed bid process. When NCC bails because of the audit, the total 3yr costs increase to $2.9million, more than SH."
This was my response to his error laden education.
June 13 2:18am
J Jacob Carter

It appears to me that Sussex did negotiate with both providers, unlike our own county.
"After negotiating - reduced scope of service - Safe Haven $927,000.00 & Kent County $669,230.00" - Sussex County Minutes
Personally I think it's a good thing KCSPCA didn't get the Kent contract because I don't think they could ever recoup the cost of the never ending drama here from your buds and pulling the same records 5 or 6 times.
I can't say what will happen in NCC with the political connections there, but I'm looking forward to watching it. As far as I know, Wilmington is still up the air because Del SPCA doesn't want to handle per the city budget report, so it will be informative to see what it will cost for NCC county and Wilmington city wages and benefits if they end up handling dog control up there. The interesting part is Kent County is now paying one of the highest rates in the country on a per dog basis. If SH stays on their current level of picking up dogs, they will end the year around 800 dogs which puts them at over $1,000 per dog. That's almost double what even NK communities Austin and Reno are paying, and those communities even spay/neuter the animals before adopting them out.
So again, I'm glad that KCSPCA at least bid on behalf of the county residents, or we could have ended up at an even higher per dog rate. Hopefully it won't eventually cost taxpayers even more as we see more bite cases as that woman Ms Landon described on the KCSPCA FB" page.
Unlike other pages that try to make a major conspiracy out of someone personal messaging them, I don't have an issue with him contacting me in this manner.  We've had numerous conversations in the past on the Newszap messageboard.

Whereas, I did find the following snarky message Mr. Sweeney made to another constituent extremely unprofessional.  How in the world does someone jump to the conclusion that a person doesn't love dogs because the public is concerned for their own safety and the safety of their pets?
Jody Sweeney
7:42am Jun 12 

Never talked out of both sides of my mouth, I have always stayed true to protecting the lives of dogs who don't deserve to die. You must not love dogs. Funny how you think I run Levy Court, yet an attorney, a panel of County employees, and all 7 Commissioners came to the same conclusion. SH was the best shelter for Dog Control. Read the NCC Audit. I have a copy for you. Even after all your comments, I still got reelected. Hmmm
And more recently, a screenshot of a recent conversation between Commissioner Sweeney and Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver.  

When I saw the screenshot provided, I thought it was pretty tacky that Commissioner Sweeney was stirring the pot in Sussex County to try and get Sussex to have regrets about their contract with Kent County SPCA, and to have them consider contracting Safe Haven at the end of the year.  Even if we ignore the fact that the Sussex County County Minutes don't make any reference to the negotiated amount Sussex pays being linked to the New Castle County contract despite what Mr. Sweeney claims, the fact is there's absolutely no reason for this kind of behavior.  I would think Mr. Sweeney would have enough in Kent County to keep him busy, but he somehow thinks he should influence other counties operating decisions.

Isn't it great knowing that a Kent County Levy Court Commissioner is out there trying to make a county official in another county reluctant to deal with a Kent County non-profit business?  I wonder how many of the Kent County SPCA employees pay his paycheck through their property taxes, with jobs that his games have the potential to jeopardize. But keep in mind that Commissioner Sweeney came into the job under questionable circumstances.  Apparently Kent County Levy Court doesn't have any ethics standards to allow this kind of behavior to take place. 

But it was funny to see that he appears to be just as condescending to fellow politicians in both his PM to me about Sussex County, where he appears to imply that Sussex County somehow negotiated a more costly contract then Kent.  And then with his caps on the word NEVER to Ms. Deaver to imply that Kent County Levy Court has an administrator that can't make decisions without answering to our commissioners, and that in Sussex the council doesn't have final approval.  Sussex isn't in the process of renewing their contract, so I can't see why the administrator would be seeking approval from the council, and the contract doesn't appear to be tied to New Castle County as Mr. Sweeney seems to think anyway.   

Safe Haven - One Week After The Kent County Levy Court Final Approval

Given the news that came out today - Safe Haven could close its doors, No-kill shelter must raise $200,000 by end of month, I now have to wonder whether Mr. Sweeney knew of the dire financial situation at Safe Haven, and whether his conversation with Councilwoman Joan Deaver was an attempt to get Safe Haven more income from a Sussex contract so the Kent County Levy Court could save face.
"Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary is running out of money.
The no-kill shelter is operating on a tight budget, but it will run out of money at the end of the month, say shelter officials.
Officials say they underestimated the number of abandoned animals and the difficulty of getting them adopted. New board member Rich Garrett said the shelter may have to close its doors if it cannot raise $200,000.
"We are paying a lot to kennels for dogs that we don't have space for at the shelter," Garrett said. "We are up against a big challenge to keep the doors open and the lights on."
Board member Rick Kirchhoff said the shelter was not prepared for the influx of animals and the associated costs." - Cape Gazette, Rachel Swick Mavity - 6/21/13
While the timing of Safe Haven's news was surprising, the situation itself wasn't.  Anyone who has read this blog knows that I tend to focus on the fact that No-Kill has been unsustainable financially in larger communities.  Austin with it's millions of dollars in increasing budget requests, and Washoe/Reno where Nevada Humane has taken on $4.1 million in losses, are proof of that. 

Hopefully this has been a wake up call for some in our community that make claims that shelters like the Kent County SPCA choose to euthanize animals, or the even more ridiculous claims that anyone enjoys having to euthanize an animal. Safe Haven has only taken in a fraction of the animals that KCPSCA did under the Kent County contract, and the financial impact is evident.

While Safe Haven made the choice to go down No-Kill's financial road to disaster, the No-Kill CAPA law that our state passed in 2010 has attempted to place this same financial burden on the Kent County SPCA. Shouldn't legislators be trying to raise the financial standing of our shelters, instead of trying to lower it for the shelters that were fiscally sound?  The reason Kent County SPCA has been around for 50 years, as opposed to the 12 mos that Safe Haven has been in operation, is because they've had to make tough choices to make sure they are still around to help animals - 1 year from now, 10 years from now, and 50 years from now.  The concern that I've had since CAPA went into affect is that the state has sent our shelters down an abyss to financial ruin.  This is the very reason some of us are so against No-Kill.  We're not willing to sacrifice the survival of our shelters because we want them to be here for the animals in the future.

It's clear that neither the counties or the state are going to throw out millions of dollar of additional funds like Austin, and I would hope that our legislators can see that extended periods of financial losses that Nevada Humane has incurred will not benefit the animals if it places shelters in financial jeopardy.

All the issues, drama, and financial harm of No-Kill and CAPA puts shelter's financial well being millions in the hole.

This brings to mind a couple of comments made on the Kent County SPCA FB page by a friend who works for a shelter in New Hampshire.
"All the bargain basement sales and funding in the world can't create good homes, and therein lies the problem... Spay/neuter, spay/neuter, spay/neuter, repeat. We've got to slow down the supply, it's the only way.
It's a pretty good way to live and rescue.  Once you don't have to worry about being buried alive in animals, you can really have some fun. Since I just love this group, and their message and this documentary, especially, so much, I'll share it yet again. "
So ultimately the question becomes, why is the state going to spend $500,000 to continue to feed the current divisive environment and exacerbate shelter financial losses by creating an Animal Welfare Office who's primary purpose is to enforce CAPA, when the sound solution is as simple as doing what New Hampshire did to lower euthanasia, which as noted above was "Spay/neuter, spay/neuter, spay/neuter, repeat."?

Wouldn't $500,000 be better spent on spay/neuter and helping to fund cruelty enforcement?  Are our legislators and governor opposed to shelter workers having a bright and cheery outlook like in New Hampshire, and the additional support the community would provide if this nasty divisive atmosphere under the Nathan Winograd CAPA went away?

New Hampshire was able to sustain their program since the early 90's, and for about a tenth of the cost that communities like Austin have incurred.   It makes sense to me from a financial perspective, and the enthusiasm certainly sounds like a refreshing change.

Nobody has won in the animal shelter wars created by No-Kill and CAPA.  In fact, everyone has lost.  The politicians who look ridiculous, the shelters losing money, everyone trying to help animals who are hindered by even less resources because of resources being wasted on never ending investigations.  And the animals now being left on the streets have lost the most, since the resources spent on the games, politics and investigations have been taken away from helping animals.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Anonymous - Freedom of Speech Or Duped By The No-Kill Movement

There's been been alot of chatter recently from the No-Kill movement with claims that Anonymous is going to come and fight their battles.  For those that don't know who Anonymous is, here is the Wikipedia description of the group.
Anonymous is a loosely associated network of hacktivists. A website associated with the group describes it as "an internet gathering" with "a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives".[2] The group became known for a series of well-publicized hacks and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites. - Wikipedia
Even our own No-Kill Delaware seems to think animal advocacy should include encouraging hacktivism against another organization.  Below is a screenshot showing NKD cheerleading for action of this type, and as you can see in the first paragraph, she has knowledge of what Anonymous is involved in.  

Anyone who has watched the No-Kill movement knows the movement is a constant source of attacks against nearly every other nationally renowned animal charity in the US.  At any given point in time, their leader Nathan Winograd and his followers have attacked ASPCA, HSUS, PETA, Best Friends, and even local animal shelters across the country.

In fact, the No-Kill Advocacy Center even has a "A Guide for Legislators and Policy Makers" that is a synopsis of their hate campaign against the other organizations for followers to give to legislators as they try to sell their CAPA legislation in other states and localities.  I personally prefer organizations that show how they benefit society and have a positive contribution to make, but it doesn't surprise me that the No-Kill movement finds followers that love the bash and trash tactic, especially in our revolting new world of reality television where rude and backstabbing is popular.

PETA has been No-Kill's primary target in recent months.  At one point some the No-Kill Facebook pages showed anti-PETA posts to the point where 9 of the last 10 posts on a page were against PETA. It doesn't come as a surprise, because we've seen the same tactic against the other animal welfare organizations at different points in time, so this is pretty much the modus operandi of the No-Kill movement.

Anonymous vs. PETA ??

As No-Kill Delaware's screenshot above shows, there has been much touting by the No-Kill movement, and by some that claim to be Anonymous members, that this alleged partnership against PETA was born out of a need to protect freedom of speech due to a Notice of Petition that PETA filed requesting information on only 3 individuals out of the hundreds of people that made comments on one of Nathan Winograd's bash pieces on the Huffington Post against PETA.

Ingrid Newkirk of PETA had noted in a Huff Post article shortly after the Winograd piece that one of the people who made comments had made an enormous amount of anti-PETA comments.
"Yet on blogs and in their comment sections, people like Nancy and Carol are attacked as "butchers," "killers," and "psychos" who "poison" animals and have "blood on their hands" by detractors who sometimes not only make deriding good people a near-career, but hide, as bullies do, behind the anonymity of made-up names, such as that of a Peanuts cartoon character who posted 375 anti-PETA comments over a period of two weeks. These people even maliciously repeat damning "evidence" that has been disproved in court." - Ingrid Newkirk, Huffington Post
As the Notice of Petitions noted:
"The Requested Information is material and necessary to ascertain the true identities and locations of proper parties, locate those parties for service of process, preserve evidence and properly frame a complaint for defamation."
Despite claims by No-Kill that this action amounts to a lawsuit against the defendants, the petition may simply be as noted above, a means to serve notice with cease and desist letters and to preserve their right to litigate if the defamation continues. Freedom of speech is an important right in our country, but as important as that right is, it still doesn't provide a free pass to anyone to make defamatory statements about an individual or a company.

The Irony - Freedom of Speech Argument

The No-Kill proponents and the self proclaimed Anonymous members say that they are in this battle on the basis of Freedom of Speech, but the irony is that the Notice of Petition was filed on 5/23/13, while No-Kill has been posting Anonymous threats against people that disagree with their their movement's hateful tactics since 3 months earlier in mid February 2013.  

In fact, some of us called No-Kill out on this attempt to quash Freedom of Speech by threatening us that Anonymous was going to come after us and to "take heed".  Amusingly the posts were removed the following day, but fortunately we had screenshot a number of the pages before they disappeared.  

So the timeline is clear.  If No-Kill is to be believed, then some of the Anonymous members were working with the No-Kill movement 3 months before the Notice of Petition was even issued, and Anonymous is simply joining forces with No-Kill to help bash and trash the Big 3 animal welfare organizations.  So any claim that Anonymous is now making that they are attacking PETA to protect free speech is suspect at best.

And I would argue that by supporting the No-Kill movement, that Anonymous is in fact stepping all over Freedom of Speech, especially since No-Kill used the above Anonymous post to silence opposition, and the various No-Kill pages are infamous for deleting and blocking anyone that questions their methodology or tactics.

If Anonymous was not behind No-Kill before the May lawsuit, then it seems the No-Kill movement lobbied and duped Anonymous into No-Kill's battle against PETA, and made Anonymous look foolish.

No-Kill Leadership 

Nathan Winograd (No-Kill Advocacy Center) in the past has attempted to argue defamation against some that have looked into his background, or lack thereof.
"Winograd regularly criticizes anyone who does not swallow his no-kill philosophy — no matter how much experience they have in the world of animal control and welfare...
And in October 2008, a reporter for the Austin Chronicle was the first to shed light on his true capacity at the San Francisco SPCA. Reporter Patty Ruland checked with Winograd's former boss, Ed Sayres (now the head of the ASPCA), who explained that Winograd held the position of Director of Operations for a week and a half before resigning.
Ruland quickly learned what happens to those who dare ask questions about Winograd's claims: They are summarily scorned. Before Ruland's story ran, Winograd blasted her on his blog, accusing her of asking "inflammatory and defamatory" questions." - Houston Press
Debi Day, President of No-Kill Nation, has even setup a fund to "counteract libel", and has in fact entered litigation with 2 individuals/rescues in the past, so there is the additional irony that No-Kill feels their freedom of speech is protected, while that same freedom doesn't apply to others.

Lawsuit 1
Lawsuit 2

And per the discussion shown below, sadly it appears that Ms. Day feels she has the right to bully other individuals out of supporting the organization of their choice.  An individual in any democracy should have the right to support the charitable organization of their choice with their own money, without being concerned that people will do an email slam or make derogatory comments about a disability of his child's mother.  It's shameful that the President of an organization would think it's appropriate to post such a spectacle on a publicly open twitter page.

So I have to wonder what reasonable person would argue that No-Kill's freedom of speech is somehow more valid than everyone else's.

And considering the information above, I'm even more dumbfounded by the fact that Delaware legislators and our governor would want to be associated with a movement or pass a law like CAPA that was originally written by the No-Kill movement.  This is a movement that is actively lobbying for a hacktivist organization to assist them in harming another charitable organization, so I find it amazing that any public official would want to be associated with them.  And lastly, that our state government would support a movement that has shown that their intent is to harm the real animal welfare organizations like PETA, ASPCA and; HSUS, that so many Delawareans across the state support.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Reign of Cruelty Called CAPA - 3 Years

Delaware is nearing the end of our 3rd year under the reign of cruelty called CAPA, also amusingly called "The Shelter Standards" despite it's lack of any real standards of care requirements for animal shelters. It's actually hard to believe it hasn't been longer given the continual drama and cruelty that we've seen as a result of CAPA. Similar legislation has been introduced in a number of states and localities, but unlike Delaware, everywhere else has had well informed legislators that have prevented it from passing.

In Delaware, we will most likely be entering our 4th year of CAPA with all the same drama and harm to animals, but the level of divisiveness and uncertainty will escalate even further.  As the legislators that support "No-Kill" movement setup their Animal Welfare Office, we can only wait and see how much worse it will get once they actually write enforcement for CAPA, since the new Animal Welfare Office has been added it to our already increasing budget in Delaware.  As you will recall, the law was originally passed it without any enforcement or inspection powers in part so they could get it through, and in part because they thought the lawsuits and investigations would break the back of the only shelter who wasn't turning animals away. Our "No-Kill" legislators and governor were only successful in part of that equation, and that was in closing our shelter doors to cats by making it fiscally impossible to take them in.  And as I've previously discussed, the cats have paid the highest cost for this foolish law in the cruelty that it has inflicted.

The Faces and The Names

This week we are yet again reminded of how harmful this law has been for the animals.  This cat named Yeti is yet another face of CAPA.  His story is becoming all too familiar in Delaware and the cruelty being inflicted on our animals as a result.  I will let the words of the rescue that tried valiantly to save him tell his story.

"Yeti was found in Laurel, under a tree crying for help. Unfortunately, there are many more in Delaware crying for help! Since the Shelter Standards were put in place and the no kill movement entered our state our shelters no longer except cats. You see to remain no kill you must only pick and choose what comes in your doors so most get turned away. This means that cats are being tossed on the streets in high numbers to fend for themselves. Many are being born daily on the streets without the chance of survival. Those that do survive may become diseased and die slow horrible deaths. As you drive our roads you will see many that have been hit by cars. Others searching in dumpsters trying to find food. And those like Yeti tortured. Yeti is not a feral as he is super friendly. When things like this happen it makes me question what happened to humanity. Most likely, this injury, was caused by a person tying something around the leg, causing the foot to die. As we speak, he is in surgery, fighting for his life as they amputate his leg. We ask for your prayers for Yeti and hope you feel like we do, that it is not "just a cat", it is a life!" - Sussex County Animal FB page 5-28-13
Below is a picture of his leg that they amputated in a desperate attempt to save his life.

Despite the heroic efforts of the rescue and their veterinarian, Yeti lost his battle the following day due to the infection that had taken over his body.

"This is not the update we expected to make. Yeti was found Monday night sitting crying under a tree. The couple who found him contacted us for help. We had him to the vet immediately in hopes we could save his life. His back foot was in horrible shape. He received medications and surgery to amputate his entire back leg to the hip. As of this morning he seemed to be doing okay and was eager to even eat some food that was hand fed to him. We had prepared to bring him home for his rehab in hopes he would be adopted into a loving home. But as the day went on he took a turn. Yeti has succumbed to his injury and his little body was riddled with infection. He was resting peacefully when he went on to the Rainbow Bridge. At least he found out what love was before he left this earth even if it was just for a short time. He was actually one of the lucky ones that was found and treated unlike the others that are still out there suffering. Please continue to pray for the cats that are tossed out like garbage on our streets. They are not safe out there regardless of what our state believes. Yeti is proof of that. The title our state gives them is "community cats" when they should be calling them "the forgotten ones" as that is what are state has done. I can honestly say I am ashamed to live in a state that would allow these types of things to go on with lives that deserve so much better." - Sussex County Animal FB Page 5-29-13
I couldn't have stated it any better than the rescue that attempted to save Yeti.  I am equally ashamed to live in a state that can find money to fund new state jobs, but not one dime additional for animals which so many are suffering and dying like this beautiful soul.  Our state created a divisive and costly atmosphere in animal welfare that resulted in even friendly cats like Yeti being tossed onto our streets, where they die slow and painful deaths in many cases.  So it's important that the public see the faces of the animals that are suffering as a result of CAPA.  We know there are isolated cases like this that happen in other states, but we continue to see and hear an extraordinary number of cases like this since CAPA went into effect.

Below are some of the past faces of CAPA that we've already seen posted here and elsewhere.

Neo - Released To Rescue for 40 Days

Warehoused Dog Under Previous Safe Haven Director

Warehoused Dogs Under Previous Safe Haven Director

Warehoused Dog Under Previous Safe Haven Director

9 Rescues Contact Before Help For Emaciated Cats

4 Hoarding Cases in 1 Year

How Much Worse Could It Get?

There's no doubt that the "No-Kill" movement in our state wants to get rid of temperament testing and the dangers that come with allowing dangerous dogs to be adopted out.

Owner requested euthanasia is another target of the "No-Kill" movement in our state.  With over 11% of our households falling below the federal poverty level, our low income pet owners rely on the services of shelters for much of their veterinary needs.  From low cost vaccinations to low cost spay neuter to performing euthanasia at the end of their pets lives.  The comment below illustrates the fact that the "No-Kill" movement in our state wants to take end-of-life decisions for pets away from the low income population in our state.  That is will not only be a financial burden to low income pet owners, but also harmful to the pets where owners take matters into their own hands, or others who may allow their pet to live out it's natural life in pain suffering.
"Owner Requested Euthanasia
Currently, Kent County SPCA puts down cats and dogs at the request of owners without having a veterinary exam of the animal to see if treatment is possible. I believe that this is violation of the Shelter Standards law; there is no exemption for owner-requested euthanasia in the law that I can find." - No-Kill Delaware 
The cruelty case in the newspapers this week here in Kent County clearly illustrates why low cost owner requested euthanasia in our state is needed.
"Kent County SCPCA officers said the incident happened earlier this week along Andrews Lake Road near Felton. Investigators said the dog, which was a Yorkshire terrier-Pomeranian mix, was beaten to death with a baseball bat and buried in a yard. Investigators say someone then contacted authorities." - article by Karen Campbell
There's no excuse for what these men did, especially since this occurred in Kent County where we have a shelter that will still perform low cost owner requested euthanasia. And lord knows there has been enough publicity bashing Kent County SPCA for still providing owner requested euthanasia, so I can't see how they can argue that there wasn't another option. Some of us are grateful that KCSPCA still performs this low cost service, and this case highlights why it's necessary.

But sadly, this could become more common in Delaware if No-Kill Delaware and the "No-Kill" movement in our state gets their way.  Unfortunately they continue to be more concerned about quotas than animals.

New Castle County residents in some cases have been referred to the KCSPCA because there is no longer a low cost option up there. The idea above by No-Kill Delaware about requiring a vet exam may sound reasonable, but we know a dog's condition can be up and down at the end.  The idea of "No-Kill" extremists requiring someone to sign over their dog, and then have to watch it fostered out like Maggie or in spend it's last days dying in pain in a shelter kennel like Jedidiah would horrify anyone, especially if you lack the resources to pay a vet.

So residents will need to be diligent in watching the actions taken by the new state Animal Welfare Office to ensure that much needed services like low cost euthanasia aren't lost completely as legislators inflict even more burden onto our shelters and the citizens of our state.

Dog Control Uncertainty Continues

The Kent County dog control contract will be discussed at the next Kent County Levy Court meeting on June 4 per the agenda, so residents that want to provide input should contact their commissioner and/or speak at the public comment section of the meeting.

Kent County Administrative Complex 
555 Bay Road, Dover, DE 19901 
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 
Levy Court Chamber (Room 203) 

It should be interesting to see the bids this year since our county has now taken on the role of doing their own enforcement of county code, and as such I would expect that the bids will be lower.  Hopefully the commissioners will require that any animals adopted out be spayed and neutered this time.  Considering the fact that there was alot of talk from the  commissioners about creating a spay neuter program that never materialized, requiring that animals leaving a shelter be spayed/neutered should be a minimum standard at the very least.

As everyone should recall, the Wilmington contract was extended last year until 6/30/13 with additional funding.  In looking at the recent budget for Wilmington, it appears uncertainty is again on the menu for Wilmington.  Surprisingly there has been no discussion in the papers regarding the following statement in the proposed budget for the city.
"Although the City increased its contract payment to the Delaware SPCA in mid-year of FY 2013, the SPCA will cease providing animal control services in the City starting the first day of FY 2014. The $90,000 increase provided this fiscal year to the SPCA was carried forward, bringing the total budgeted amount for animal control services in FY 2014 to $342,000. It is hoped that the increased budget will be sufficient to procure a new provider of this much needed service." - Wilmington FY 2014 Proposed Budget
As everyone can see, cruelty and uncertainty has been a way of life in Delaware communities since CAPA was enacted, and there's no indication that it will end any time soon.  So this should assure legislators in other states that you made the right decision to keep this horrible law out of your world.  We don't know when the horror will end here, but hopefully the rest of the country will learn from our mistake enacting CAPA.