Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page

No Kill Solutions Conference

Friday, May 9th, 2008

The No Kill Solutions Conference by Nathan Winograd on May 3-4 was a sell out!!!!

Animal welfare leaders representing private shelters, municipal shelters, rescue groups and volunteers from all over the country were in attendance. Sadly there was no representation from our own private shelter in Indianapolis that has closed its doors to strays.

A better summary of the program could not be written than this provided by Connie. Thanks to her for this piece.

Here in her own words:

Dear friends and family and even a few casual acquaintances,

I never thought I would be a zealot convert kind of person, but I just spent two days listening to Nathan Winograd discuss that it really is possible to have a society in which we do not kill healthy, non-aggressive, adoptable animals — ever. No kill means no kill, not just not killing the easily adoptable animals.

Nathan has written a book entitled Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America.

All of my life I found it depressing to think of all of the animals in shelters across the country who are killed each year (an estimated 5 million). Animals like Batman who are great companions, but who for one reason or another found themselves in a shelter situation. I bought into the Humane Society rhetoric that it was better to provide a humane death because there just weren’t enough homes for them all, but it always bothered me to think that perfectly wonderful animals were dying. I thought I was alone. But, I’m not and not only am I not alone, but Nathan Winograd has actually been out doing what everyone in the HSUS, ASPCA and PETA say is impossible. He has worked at shelters in large cities, rural areas, blue states and red states and at all of those shelters he has turned them around so that they have save rates for both dogs and cats of higher than 90 percent. The ones who are dying are the ones deemed too aggressive or which have an illness or injury that is considered poor or grave in its prognosis. ALL other animals are treated based on whether they need medical treatment or behavioral treatment and then put back on the shelter adoption floor. He has done this in open intake shelters (meaning not a private place that gets to pick and choose what it takes, but shelters that have to take anything that comes through the door).

The HSUS, ASPCA and PETA all say No Kill is a myth and that the shelters Nathan has worked in are all smoke and mirrors and yet none of them have sent representatives to see how it is done. At the seminar I attended this past weekend in Carmel, Ind., the Humane Society of Indianapolis did not send ANYONE to the seminar, although there were at least three people there from Indianapolis Animal Care and Control. Nathan went through HSI on Friday and he said there were 42 EMPTY cages, while at IACC the cages were full. That is 42 animals somewhere that aren’t getting a chance to be adopted.

Nathan showed with numbers backed up with studies that you can get more money going No Kill because people want to help save the fuzzy kittens and the old sad looking dogs. They give money for those campaigns. His shelters ended up in the black.

He showed there are enough homes. Currently 15 percent of the population gets a pet from a shelter/rescue, etc. By upping that number just 2-3 percent that will provide homes for 4.9 million animals in the United States. We would indeed become a no kill nation. He said if there were not enough homes, then why does Indianapolis have so many pet stores selling pets? He pointed out that shelters that charge a lot for animals need to rethink their strategy (currently HSI is charging up to $450 for a purebred dog). He said even most rescues charge too much.

Another HSUS argument: No kill means sick and dangerous animals are put into homes. Nathan discussed this a LOT. He showed the types of temperament tests that most shelters use to determine if a dog is aggressive. Even Batman probably would not pass some of them! They do not take into consideration the dog’s medical history or the type of life it was leading prior to going into the shelter environment. For example: one test is to see if the dog growls when you take food away from it. If it does, it is deemed unadoptable and killed. What if the dog was starving? That is not taken into consideration, nor are medical reasons for aggression looked at. Nathan said his shelters had fewer instances of problem animals going into homes than those with stricter guidelines. Another Example, Amy, the dog I am fostering, was taken out of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control because she is a pit bull. They do not adopt out Pits or pit mixes at IACC (and that’s 41 percent of the dogs they take in) because they do not have a person to temperament test them. Amy has the SWEETEST temperament of any dog on the planet, yet she would have died if a rescue group had not gotten her out of there, thanks to the kindness of a kennel master at IACC who thought Amy deserved a break. But, that’s 41 percent of the animals at IACC dying because no one can temperament test them. (IACC’s new board president says they will be addressing this).

Part of No Kill means TNR, which is Trap, Neuter and Release of feral cats. 100 percent of feral cats die in shelters because they are not adoptable. Think of that number: 100 percent. Yet, with TNR, these cats can live in their feral colonies, not produce more kittens and actually provide services of rodent control and despite the Audubon Society saying ferals kill all the song birds, a well-regarded researcher named Tabor said that actually the cats keep down the rats and rats really prey on songbirds. Another study showed that less than 5 percent of a feral cat’s diet was birds and another study looked at birds killed by running into windows and birds killed by cats and found out windows do not discriminate and they kill healthy and sick birds, while cats kill mainly the weak or injured birds. There are no statistics which can prove feral cats are biting people and causing rabies either. In TNR ferals are also vaccinated. If you live on a farm, especially an organic farm, check to see if anyone in your area is working with feral cats. They are always looking for farms that will take ferals and they are awesome organic pest control. HSUS has actually tried prosecuting feral cat caretakers. HSUS says all cats should live indoors and say statistics prove indoor cats live longer, but some of Tabor’s studies say there isn’t that much difference because indoor only cats tend to be obese and have other health issues. Nathan also lambasted shelters that will not adopt out a cat if the owner says the cat may go outside. He said think about this: If you were told you might die someday in the future if you walked across the street, or you would die today because it was considered more humane to kill you today than possibly let you get hit by a car in the future, which would you pick?

Nathan also talked about those who say animals staying long-term in shelters become nuts. At his shelters the dogs are provided stimulating contact, including at least one 30 minute walk, 4 times each day. They are rotated so they constantly have new neighbors to sniff and the public is encouraged to interact with the animals. Cats are also socialized regularly. If an animal seems to be suffering in a shelter environment he finds it a foster home. Many shelters have signs asking you NOT to interact with the animals due to the spread of disease. At Nathan’s shelters they vaccinate ALL animals on intake rather than waiting to see if they get adopted before they are vaccinated. He said all shelters will get cases of PARVO and feline leukaemia, but that none of his shelters ever had an outbreak. His studies found that a vaccine given one day prior to exposure was 90 percent effective, where as a vaccine given one day after exposure dropped to 5 percent effectiveness. The average length of stay at one of his open intake shelters was 8 days. When I adopted Batman from HSI, he was the dog cowering at the back of his kennel. He could not stop shaking. Most people walk by these dogs. Nathan said if the dog constantly thinks someone is there to play with it or feed it cheese whiz (he is a big lover of cheese whiz for dog socialization) then the dog is constantly wagging its tail and at the front of its kennel.

Nathan uses common sense in his dealings with animals. For example, he said a rescue or shelter’s adoption form should not be the stopping place for an adoption, it should be the beginning of a conversation. He thinks too many groups use too strict of guidelines and then never make exceptions because they don’t actually talk to the people. 10 years ago, I went to HSI to adopt a dog. I looked at a husky mix. I was denied because I said the dog would live in a fenced back yard while I was not home. Their forms at that time (they are more relaxed now) said that dogs could only go to homes where they would live inside as companion animals. So, they would rather kill the husky mix, a dog that was probably happier outside, than let it live outside. And yet, this same organization says there just aren’t enough homes.

Nathan never has a purebred dog in his shelters. All those go to rescues. He says to go no kill you have to really work it. You have to have foster homes, rescue groups, off-site adoptions, hours which allow people to see animals after work (many shelters are open 9-5), newsletters, creative marketing of hard-to-place animals, relationships with all the local animal hospitals, vet schools, animal organizations or any business that deals with animals. At one of his shelters, each dog came with 1 month of free poop removal from a local service, 10 percent off training at a local trainer (and some dogs were given free training as special promotions), free initial vet visit from any vet they choose, spayed and or neutered, shots, and a whole bag full of other incentives, all for a $60 adoption fee. He pointed out that shelters MUST compete with pet stores. You can go into a pet store and get your puppy or kitten immediately, with no forms, no waiting period, just pay the money. Many shelters have 48 hour holds or don’t spay, neuter until after adoption, so people who told their child that today was the day they were getting a puppy were disappointed if they came to that kind of shelter.

Volunteers are the main thing you need and he pointed out it is easier to get volunteers if they know they won’t constantly be working with animals that won’t die tomorrow. I don’t volunteer at a shelter because I know myself too well. I would be an emotional wreck, but if I could work with a no kill shelter, I would give them every free hour I could muster.

Let me close by saying that the #1 Reason I am sending out this email is also because Nathan did NOT promote any mandatory laws. As many of you know, I belong to a working dog club. Everyone but me, has an intact dog that they work. Not a single person in my dog club has ever had an unwanted pregnancy in their dog or let their male dogs wander. They want their dogs intact because some studies indicate that intact animals perform better than those who have been altered. While this is a topic that both sides of the s/n issue could debate forever, I respect my friends rights to keep their dogs intact as long as those animals do not do anything to cause an unwanted litter. Mandatory laws, Nathan pointed out more than once, actually never work and generally make kill rates go up. This includes licensing laws and leash laws. One study in San Francisco actually showed that the more off-leash dog parks there were the fewer incidents of dog bites were reported. We do not need laws to protect people from animals. We need low cost or no cost spay and neuter programs and vaccination programs and we need to let people have their pets and do stuff with them without fear of fines.

I have one more thing to add and it is important. Too many things never get done because each and every rescue group, animal shelter and dog and or cat group has its own agenda and often those groups cannot see past those agendas. So, you might not like someone on a specific board or someone who runs a specific group. Try and look past that and see if you can support that groups cause. If you don’t like a direction things are going, don’t complain unless you are active in trying to cause change. Don’t not help just because your specific group may have some issues that aren’t shared by everyone. Too often, we get hung up on little, picky things while 5 million animals are dying.

I could go on and on, but you could just buy the book 🙂 If you live in Indiana, please visit and sign up for their newsletter. that way you can know what is going on at the Indianapolis area. Also, check out But, I warn you, it has a clock that counts down to the next death at IACC. It shows how many dogs and cats come in and how many go out and how many are killed.


Saving the strays

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Saving the strays
by Shawndra Miller Apr 16, 2008

“What new shelter policies mean for the city’s unwanted pets”

Shawndra Miller did a terrific job characterizing the landscape of animal welfare in Indianapolis, exposing the genuine players and those in masquerade.

You can read the article here: