Winograd, No Kill Solutions: Update on HSUS
Many of you are familiar with the positions taken by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) over the years in opposing non-lethal feral cat programs, No Kill efforts, offsite adoptions, and working with rescue groups. Because of that, it may have seemed strange for you to have also read, in the Summer 2005 issue of E-News, when I reported the following:
Nathan J. Winograd of No Kill Solutions is invited to provide input for a workbook focused on how to implement effective community collaborations being developed by the Humane Society of the United States. Although cautious, Winograd has accepted the invitation.It was my hope that HSUS’ reaching out to No Kill might signal a change at the agency. However, given their historical positions, I could not abandon history for hope and asked, in the following e-mail to HSUS, for a guarantee that my involvement would only be cast in a positive light:
Thank you for inviting me to participate. The opportunity to help shape and influence a Humane Society of the United States project that impacts the lives of animals in shelters is something I very much look forward to.Unfortunately, HSUS declined my request. Because of that, I could not agree to lend me name to the project as I did not want to risk legitimize something that could potentially continue a history of opposition to No Kill or TNR.
I am encouraged by your seeking the input of someone who has been unwavering in supporting TNR programs for feral cats and in promoting No Kill sheltering. But while I welcome participation in this endeavor, since I—and other No Kill advocates—have disagreed with HSUS over its positions on these issues over the years, I believe we need to move cautiously in order to build trust.
My primary concern is that my name not be associated with the project if there are any negative connotations expressed in the final product about No Kill, feral cats and TNR, or the advocates of such programs. In order to ensure that, I would request written confirmation that my association with the project, use of my name, any statements or concepts I make, and/or any attributions to me not be used until I have an opportunity to read the final product and agree to the use.
Please let me know if this is something you would agree to and whether I can forward such confirmation for your signature.
In fact, we continue to hear disturbing reports from rescue groups about actions/statements of HSUS field offices including: calling feral cat caretakers “hoarders,” saying No Kill is only possible “if you adopt pit bulls to dog fighters,” (report from feral cat advocates at a meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), demanding that groups abandon the term “No Kill” as “required” under the so-called Asilomar Accords (report from rescue groups in Atlanta, Georgia), calling No Kill “bologna,” (report from rescue in Tallahassee, Florida) and others.
It is time to hold HSUS accountable for positions which undermine our efforts to promote compassion over killing. I have sent the enclosed letter to Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of HSUS. I invite all rescue groups and animal shelter groups who value life to do the same. As I indicated in the letter:
HSUS has a firm statement regarding its alleged commitment to non-violence. On [the HSUS] website, [it] state[s] that “HSUS has never engaged in or supported any form of violence done in the name of protecting animals.” But that is exactly what the Companion Animal Division is endorsing in U.S. animal shelters. In the face of non-lethal alternatives such as TNR for feral cats and the programs and services that define the No Kill paradigm, can there by any greater violence than the continued mass slaughter of dogs and cats whose only “crime” is that they have no human address?They have so far chosen not to respond.
With five million lives at stake annually, this is an ethical imperative that we can no longer ignore. It is enough that we have to fight against public rresponsibility. To also have to fight the irresponsible positions taken by the HSUS Companion Animal Division is a burden we can no longer accept or tolerate.
For those of us who sacrifice on behalf of animals, who care for feral cats when the local shelter will not, who try to save lives on stretched budgets and stretched volunteers while the million dollar shelter in our community offers too little or nothing at all, we can not allow HSUS to continue to legitimize this status quo.
Just today, I received an e-mail informing me of an elderly woman in Illinois who needed help with spaying some feral cats, some of which had conjunctivitis. The large local shelter told her they would not spay the cats if she did not first catch them and treat them for eye discharge. How was she supposed to do that? Who stepped in to help? Local rescue.
In Nebraska, a shelter decides to kill all feral cats with no waiting period of any kind, which is horrible enough, but also ends up killing someone’s scared lost cat in the process.
In Oregon, a shelter kills dogs instead of sending them to rescue.
In Fremont, California, feral cat caretakers are given citations for caring for the cats in violation of feeding ban, and when they turn to the shelter and local police department for help when someone poisons the cats, they are told that they should not be feeding them in the first place.
It seems like every day, we hear from caretakers and rescue groups with similar stories.
Shouldn’t HSUS be championing the animals and the people who help them, instead of justifying these other points of view, all of which have, at one time or another, been legitimized in HSUS literature and teachings?
Many of us were hopeful that change was afoot when HSUS printed a recent article on feral cats that on the surface seemed to endorse TNR. But did it? A closer look reveals another story. A story of continuing support for trap and kill, a story that says TNR is one choice among bad options, and stories of people who are always on the lookout for the need to kill. First, it is in contradiction to other documents on their website, most notably their awful statement on free roaming cats. Second, it is a rewrite of history since the views of many shelters which they cite regarding historical opposition to TNR is the point of view that HSUS historically championed. Third, we cannot accept that feral cats should be killed if someone determines there is wildlife in the area. Fourth, most of the case studies they cite are half-hearted efforts of people who reluctantly starting supporting TNR because of rescue groups and caretakers not otherwise willing to work with them, or something analogous to it. These are tales of compromise and best of the worst options type of stuff. It is too little, too late. It is not enough. HSUS was founded to protect animals, not to champion the likes of “lost in time” agencies who defiantly proclaim their opposition to No Kill and their need to kill.
Let us be clear with Mr. Pacelle: Feral cats have a right to live. Feral cats have a right to their habitats. Shelters must put in place the programs and services to save lives. Volunteers, working with rescue, foster care programs, TNR, offsite adoptions. These are not optional. They are ethical imperatives. They must be done, and done with the same zeal and effort that seems to be currently directed toward ending life.
Tell Mr. Pacelle how you or your group sacrifices for animals. And tell them if your shelter continues to cling to failed models of the past, models championed by his organization. Please join me in persuading Mr. Pacelle that it is time for change. Write him at:
He can no longer be allowed to ignore the mass killing of dogs and cats because his own interests lie primarily in wildlife and farmed animal protection. All are deserving of our compassion and protection. And to the extent that HSUS is going to work on sheltered animal issues, they must do so by embracing the No Kill paradigm, fully and unequivocally.
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20037
Nathan J. Winograd
No Kill Solutions
P.O. Box 74926
San Clemente, CA 92673
(949) 276-6942 telephone
(949) 276-6943 fax