Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland Wins

In Scotland, the union has been preserved and yet the Scots have won it all.

No only did they launch a revolution without firing a shot, they also won promises of massive concessions which is proof that they were being treated shabbily and had real grievances which should have been addressed long ago.

What is great about this revolution is that not a shot was fired, change was won, and as the morning dew is burned off the grass, not a single soul will be hanged. The rule of law and the tenets of civility have been preserved at every turn, and not once has anyone needed to unholster a gun or swing a claymore.

Not Everything Runs on the Rails All the Time

I am pretty far behind on correspondence due to work and family obligations, and there are quite a number of posts I would like to write but simply do not have time to sit and wrestle with.

If you do not pay my salary or have my last name, I trust you will understand that some days you and this blog are in the sixth or seventh pole position behind the dogs, yard work, food, and sleep.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

In Scotland: Freedom, Free Dumb, or Freedoom?

The grievances of the Scots against the British have deep roots and shallow ones, but no one should be surprised that terrierwork runs through it, from the Clearances to the modern era and laws governing hunting with dogs.

Some time back I put up an eight-part post on the history of terrier work, but if you want to plop down in the middle, at posts #3 and #4, you will get the drift.

The Clearance of the Highlands in the 18th and 19th Century were part of the Enclosure movement pushing people off the land in order to create a sheep economy dominated by absentee landlords (see Balmoral Castle and the Scottish farm lands owned by David Cameron's step father in-law).

For those wondering how Scotland ever lost its freedom to England in the first place, see this post from a month ago about the Darian Scheme in which the Scots of 1700 decided to dig a Panama Canal... in Panama and then, when bankrupted, throw themselves on to the British to bail them out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How We Came to Poison Our Minds

John Snow is a historically important person that you have probably never heard of.

Snow was a Victorian-era physician who was raised up in a world in which everyone believed that disease was caused by miasma or "bad air."

And so, when a cholera epidemic swept through London in 1854, the general consensus was that there was not much to be done about it other than to pray, keep the windows closed, and perhaps burn a few incense cones.

Snow did something different, however: he talked to local residents in his area and mapped out where they lived. If anyone in a family came down with cholera, he put a little dot on a street map.

Soon enough, a pattern became clear -- people coming down sick were heavily concentrated in a certain area. The commonality, Snow suspected, was that they all drew water from a water pump situated on Broad Street.

After explaining his thesis to a local council, Snow was given permission to knock the handle off the water pump, and the cholera epidemic quickly abated. This was, for all practical purposes, the beginning of scientific epidemiology.

Why do I bring this story up?

Simple: America has come down with a new disease, and it is every bit as pernicious and debilitating as cholera.

It is the disease of stupidity and ignorance.

Some people still believe in the miasma theory when it comes to this disease.

No less an authority than Alan Greenspan once talked of "irrational exuberance" in the stock market. Where did it come from, he wondered, his face down in a book, the television off.

Today, with all our jobs exported to China, the rich paying less in taxes than ever before, and the nation perpetually teetering on the edge of war, millions of other Americans are left scratching their head wondering what went wrong.

How did we end up in this mess? Where was the point of infection?

Now I am no John Snow, but I have spent the last 30 years in Washington, D.C. studying stupid.

And I have a theory.

The pump, in this case, is an obscure regulation in an obscure federal agency.

It does not look like much, but like the John Snow's pump handle, it is directly linked to a public utility.

The utility is television and radio, and the pump handle is the Fairness Doctrine.

Eh? The Fairness Doctrine? What the hell am I on about?

Let me explain.

The Fairness Doctrine was a Federal Communications Commission policy, first embraced in 1949, which said that broadcasters had to devote a portion of their daily airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest and present contrasting views on those subjects.

The Fairness Doctrine gave us folks like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley and Eric Sevareid.

In 1987, however, the Reagan Administration ordered the Federal Communications Commission to abolish the Fairness Doctrine because it violated their notion of the First Amendment.

Yes, that's right: The forced teaching of creation science and school prayer did not violate their notion of the First Amendment, but putting "fair and balanced" news on radio and television did. Go figure.

Why was the Fairness Doctrine put in at all?

The clue can be found in the year -- 1949. This was legislation that passed pretty quickly after World War II.

The idea here was a simple one: Propaganda was a disease, and the obvious antidote was to make sure extremist politicians could never colonize the airwaves.

But it was always understood that extremist politicians were not the only threat. After all, free speech has never been free.

Have you ever shelled out money for a full-page ad in a big city daily? Have you ever bought 20 or 30 television spots? Ever purchased drive time radio for a week in five middle-of-the-road stations operating in seven cities? I have, and it ain't cheap!

Newspapers, magazines and broadcast networks are owned by millionaires and billionaires, and the folks who pay the bills tend to be massive corporations whose bottom line is always the bottom line.

You want to know why tobacco, booze, crappy car manufacturers, price-gouging pharmaceutical companies, and incompetent financial service companies have been given such a long and free ride by the media? Simple: look who pays the bills.

To be clear, there are no meetings between the heads of General Motors and CBS in which they plot to sell us crappy gas-guzzlers.

The sad part of this story is that those meetings don't have to occur; everyone understands how it goes. And so the head of CBS is aware, to the penny, how much his company depends on General Motors and pharmaceutical advertising. Beer ads and Merrill Lynch ads are factored into the matrix as well.

On the other side of the coin, the head of GM understands that radio and TV stations need content, and so he and other big business interests in pharmaceutical companies, stock brokerage houses, credit card companies, and agricultural and chemical interests reach out to help fund lawyers, lobbyists, analysts, university chairs, and talking heads from trade associations and think tanks.

These folks are always available for comment and they all appear sensible, even as they slowly move the ball in the direction of their corporate masters.

Against this corporate and political tide once stood a little scrap of paper: the Fairness Doctrine.

All it said was that news had to be fair and balanced.

It did not seem like much in 1987, and so when right-wing ideologues pushed to have it pulled from the rules, it did not seem like a big deal.

First Amendment? Freedom of Speech? Hell yeah! We don't need some scrap of paper limiting what we can say on TV and radio. Fair and balanced? F*ck that!

No one thought too much about how odd it was that the same people who espoused First Amendment reasons to scrap the Fairness Doctrine were the same people who wanted to make it a constitutional crime to burn an American flag made in China in order to protest an unjust war.

And so the Fairness Doctrine was tossed onto the scrap heap of history, and in short order we had Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Fox News and the paid shills at CNBC.

These folks were followed up more by right-wing radio and TV hosts in the form of Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly.

Right wing Christians then heaped on in the form of Hugh Hewitt and Bob Grant, followed by a slow trickle of left-wing radio and television voices, in the form of Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Al Franken.

And what disappeared?

What disappeared was good old fashioned "just the facts ma'am journalism." There is less and less of that every day.

It turned out that putting blathering idiots on talk radio and TV was pretty cheap as compared to hiring investigative reporters and sending film crews around the world to gather the news.

And so, beginning in 1987, a sea-change occurred in the kind of information that began flowing into our living rooms and cars.

Where once we had rational discourse and a clear presentation of facts, we now had paid apologists for corporate excess whose central message was that greed was good, and that there was nothing wrong with America that another capital gains tax cut could not fix.

What America needed, we were told, was less bank regulation.

National heath care? That was creeping socialism.

Social Security? That was a scam -- the whole system was going to go broke unless we privatized it and put it all into the Stock Market right now.

Energy crisis? Relax about that! Oil was cheaper now that it was 15 years ago, and if they would only allow us to drill in Alaska, we would have oil without meter forever. Let the free market take care of it. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler know what they are doing!

Unions? They are nothing but greedy, lazy workers managed by corrupt labor bosses intent on sucking America dry. You want to help American workers? Here's how you do it: buy more Chinese-made stuff at WalMart. It's about time American workers learned to suck it up and compete head to head with the Chinese. If they can make plastic trash cans for $1 a unit over there, how come we can't? If we buy more stuff from China, American workers and companies will feel the heat and see the light.

And, as time went on, all of this took on the appearance of truth.

This was the new reality.

Fact faded from the mind. The landscape had changed, and now no one remembered what the old landscape looked like.

Our forests were different 100 years ago? Chestnuts trees? What? Who knew?

Tell me about the chestnuts trees grandpa ... and tell me about facts too. What are those?

How did we lose the Chestnut trees? It was a miasma. There is nothing to be done about it other than to bury the dead forest, close the windows and light some incense.

What killed off Walter Cronkite and the steady voice of the evening news? It was a miasma. There is nothing to be done about it other than to bury the old news anchors, close the windows and light some incense.

And what happened to the American economy? Where did it go? It was a miasma. There is nothing to be done about it other than to bury the closed factories, close the windows and light some incense.

The Fairness Doctrine? That old thing? That has nothing to do with the problem. That's about talk.

Talking is not what brought down the American economy. Talking is as harmless as water.

Now drink up, and let's turn on Fox News and see what's new.

They're fair and balanced -- they tell us so right in their ads!

Rien Poortvliet: A Stroke of Genius

The Christian Science Monitor, one of our finest small papers, once wrote that "[Rien Poortvliet's] painting is as skilled and accomplished as any painter, certainly any illustrator in the world today."

That was not an exaggeration.

Poortvliet produced a unique body of truly excellent art that shows a love of land, wildlife, dogs, people and history. He also leaves behind a small museum dedicated to his work.

Poortvliet was entirely self-taught -- a self-conscience act which ensured that his his style was entirely his. Born August 7, 1935, Poortvliet was the son of a Dutch plasterer and began his artistic career as a graphics artist for magazines. His most famous (though certainly not his best!) work is a book called ''Gnomes'' which continues to sell well. Poortvliet was always somewhat flummoxed by the fact that The New York Times Best Seller List included the book in the "non-fiction" category. ''Why?'' he asked, ''Do they think there really are gnomes?''

Poortvliet spent two years in the Dutch navy and, as soon as he was old enough, he visited America. "What I learned about America, was that I wanted to go home."

Home was Soest, a village 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam where he lived with his wife, Corrie Bouman, and their collection of rabbits, dogs, cats, chickens, and farm stock.

Poortvliet worked exclusively in water color -- a medium that allowed him to produce fine works at great speed and with the depth of color and texture needed to capture fur, feather, wood, dirt, and the grinding cogs of history. "Sometimes I work with much water," he said. "Sometimes with a very dry brush. Sometimes with a little spit."

Poortvliet's eye for detail and his intuitive understanding of wildlife, dogs and landscape was without parallel, but he was somewhat deficient at observing the modern world. "I can paint for you any animal you want, including humans," he said. "I can paint an elephant from underneath, as if it were walking on a plate of glass above us. I have never seen this, but I can paint it. But, if you ask me to paint the dashboard of my Volkswagen, I would have to go out and look at it in the yard."

The remarkable Rien Poortvliet died in 1995, but his magnificent art lives on, a gift to us all. Along with his book on dogs, I recommend his book, The Living Forest: A World of Animals available from or

To see more art from Rien Poortvleit, see >> HERE.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Serious Go-to-Ground Work

First you get your equipment in order - in this case a nice piece of Impala hide to protect your forearm.

Then you go head first into a small aardvark or warthog hole.

Always remember to bring a flashlight.

Once you have found the critter you are after, it's important to locate the head.

Ah -- there it is! Glad that's sorted out.

The next step is to present the snake with the impala-clad forearm so the snake has something to bite -- a bit like cuffing a fox, eh? Then, with your other hand, you grab the snake firmly by the neck.

Now is the time you really need a strong friend. Getting into this jamb may be a bit tougher than getting out of it!

A large rock python like this one will almost certainly snap a few coils around you. A small problem. Whatever you do, don't let go of the head!

At the end of the day, snake in hand, you head off to the local market. It's been a nice day in the field.

A true tip of the hat to these South African gentlemen who know a few things about going-to-ground the old-fashioned way.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

When "Death Squads for Cattle" Saved America

So how did the Dust Bowl end?

Three words: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

When FDR ran for president, he seemed an unlikely savior: a rich dilettante with a funny accent, a withered body, and cigarettes he smoked from a holder.

But Roosevelt had a message and a cause: the "forgotten man" — the broken farmer in the West, the apple vendor hawking his wares for a nickle in in Manhattan, the Chicago and St. Louis factory worker now hitting the rails looking for work.

Roosevelt knew what had broken America: unfettered greed and a herd mentality that made prices too low for farmers to make a living.

Unregulated banking had left depositors banging on doors to empty buildings. Flashy brochures had sold both deserts and swamps as perfect locations for homes and the result was that both lives and land had been ruined in the process. It was time for a cool head, and a little rational government organization and intervention.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt said he was the man for that job.

In November of 1932, FDR carried all but six states, and those he failed to carry were mostly small New England states that were not too hard hit by the Depression.

When FDR came through the door to the Oval Office, he faced a mountain of problems:  an economy in ruins, Mother Nature in full riot, and a government that seemed to be without rudder or clue.  Herbert Hoover, the Republican President who had fiddled while the Great Plains blew away, the stock market collapsed, jobs withered on the vine, banks collapsed, and home equity disappeared said, on his last day in office, "We have done all that we can do. There is nothing more to be done."

But of course, America was not defeated.  All the U.S. needed was a little common sense and a little clear-eyed governing.  Into the fray rolled a decisive Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man with bold ideas, clear plans, and a mandate to put them in motion.

First up was the Emergency Banking Bill which was signed into law just eight hours after it was introduced.  By the end of Roosevelt's first week in office, bank deposits exceeded withdrawals. A few months later, this bill was further strengthened by adding provisions that insured individual deposits up to ten thousand dollars.

Next up was saving the farm.  To do that, farming had to be profitable again.  As Roosevelt never tired of pointing out, America knew how to grow food.  In fact, American farmers were so damn good at it, that while farmers were producing record crops, they also saw an 80% decline in income due to over-production. What was needed was a stabilizing force on farm prices said Roosevelt. Just as a horse pulling a plow needed a bridle, so too did the Heavy Horse of capitalism. With a little restrain and a little guidance, that which could easily kill a farmer could be harnessed and made to serve him.

In the second year of FDR's first term, he sent government-sanctioned death squads to the Great Plains with a plan to buy and kill as many farm animals as possible.

The simple fact of the matter was that stock eradication was the only way forward for both farmer and animal.  Most of the cows and horses on the Great Plains could not be sold as they were now in such poor condition that no one on earth would buy then.

Overproduction of wheat, as well as too many cows and horses, had left the ground eroded and broken.  The wretched-looking cattle that still dotted the prairie were little more than bags of skin and bones outlined in ribs.  The horses were scabby with sores, their teeth shattered and their lips bleeding from gnawing on fence posts.  Cattle and horses alike had lungs that were packed with dust.

A bullet to the brain was not animal cruelty; it was blessed relief for animals that had no other hope.

Over the next year the U.S. Government bought eight million cattle and many horses in an effort to bring up stock prices so that farmers could feed their families.

The cattle the Government did buy up were often worthless. Nearly one in three were shot and tipped into a ditch to rot, their bodies too thin for even the starving locals to bone out for a single steak.

Land that had rippled with grass and run riot with millions of wild bison just 50 year earlier, was now broken and blowing away, much of it devoid of all vegetation and unable to support even a single domestic cow.

Along with payments to reduce farm stock, the Roosevelt Administration began making payments to get people to move to move out of really hard-hit areas.

Just as the Government and the railroads had once subsidized immigration to the U.S. and colonization of the Great Plains, they now paid for people to move away from Texas panhandle, eastern Colorado, Oklahoma and western Kansas. This was not land for potato farmers and get-rich-quick men. There was an over-shoot of people said the Government, and the way back to economic and land health was to reduce the number of humans as well as the number of cattle.

All of this was a massive help to turning things around, but the single greatest long-term force in ending the Dust Bowl and reshaping American agriculture came in the person of Hugh Bennett, someone most Americans have never heard of.

Hugh Bennett was an American original -- a big, friendly man who could shoe a horse, paint a barn, and fix a tractor, even as he spoke clearly and simply about his new theory to turn the land around.

What was wrong, said Bennett, was what we had done to the land, especially in the Plains.  The land had been fine for 2 million years as a cover of native grass for migrating buffalo, but we had got it ruined it in less than 50 by turning the grass "wrong side up" and putting too many domestic cattle out to graze in permanent pasture. 

Bennett thought it might be possible to turn things around, but it was going to be tough to pull it out of dive when things were going down so fast, and we were already so close to the ditch.

Bennett's radical plan was for the government to buy a million acres of land in the worst-hit sections of the of prairie states so that the land could be "haired over" with tough grass seeds imported from Africa.  A new grassland had to be made (or restored), and it had to be done at a scale that had never been done before. It might be too late, of course, but the only way forward was to try, and once it was accomplished, to let the land rest for perhaps decades... or even longer.

In places where the land was a little less ruined, Hugh Bennett thought better farm practices might be enough to turn things around:  contour plowing, winter ground cover, cover strips to hold the soil in place.

Bennett found a friend and believer in FDR. Roosevelt felt if the Plains could be saved, then Hugh Bennett was the man to do it.
Black Sunday, 1935.

On April 14, 1935, the biggest dust storm in U.S. history hit the prairie states, pushing a tower of dirt more than two miles into the air, and moving 300,000 tons of topsoil towards the east coast. 

This was "Black Sunday" -- the day the wind moved more dirt in a single afternoon than was dug by an army of machines toiling for over seven years to build the Panama Canal.

On April 19, 1935, five days after Black Sunday, Hugh Bennett was in Room 333 of the Russell Senate Office Building (then simply called the Senate Office Building) pushing for land conservation. 

As Timothy Egan notes in The Worst Hard Time:

He began with the charts, the maps, the stories of what soil conservation could do, and a report on Black Sunday. The senators listened, expressions of boredom on the faces of some. An aide whispered into Big Hugh's ear. "It's coming."

Bennett told how he learned about terracing at an early age, about how the old ground on his daddy's place in North Carolina was held in place by a simple method that most country farmers learned when they were young. And did he mention—yes, again—that an inch of topsoil can blow away in an hour, but it takes a thousand years to restore it? Think about that equation. A senator who had been gazing out the window interrupted Bennett. "It's getting dark outside."

The senators went to the window. Early afternoon in mid-April, and it was getting dark. The sun over the Senate Office Building vanished. The air took on a copper hue as light filtered through the flurry of dust. For the second time in two years, soil from the southern plains fell on the capital. This time it seemed to take its cue from Hugh Bennett. The weather bureau said it had originated in No Man's Land. "This, gentlemen, is what I'm talking about," said Bennett. "There goes Oklahoma." Within a day, Bennett had his money and a permanent agency to restore and sustain the health of the soil. When Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act, it marked the first time any nation had created such a unit.

To force prices up enough for farmers to make a living, Roosevelt had the government buy surplus corn, beans, and flour, and distribute it to the needy.

Over six million pigs were slaughtered, and the meat given to relief organizations.

Crops were plowed into the ground — like slitting your wrist, to some farmers. In the South, when horses were first directed to the fields to rip out cotton, they balked. Next year, the government would ask cattlemen and wheat growers to reduce supply in return for cash. Hoover had been leery of meddling with the mechanics of the free market. Under Roosevelt, the government was the market. The Agricultural Adjustment Act created the framework, and the Civilian Conservation Corps drummed up the foot soldiers. They would try to stitch the land back together. Build dams, bridges. Restore forests. Keep water from running away. Build trails in the mountains, roads on the prairie, lakes and ponds.

In May, Roosevelt signed a bill giving two hundred million dollars to help farmers facing foreclosure. Now, before some nester's land could be taken to satisfy a bank loan, there was a place of last resort.

That summer, FDR launched the Second Hundred Days, signing into law the Social Security Act so that the crushing cycle of old age poverty that had bedeviled mankind since the beginning, might end.

Next up was the Works Progress Administration to fund the building of roads, schools, bridges and parks, and the National Labor Relations Act, which enshrined union rights in the workplace even as it outlawed wildcat strikes that could cripple the economy.

And what was the result?

Things turned around. Farm economies began to improve with incomes 50 percent higher, and crop prices up 66 percent since Herbert Hoover's last day in office.

Money flowed back into the banks. People slowly returned to work.

Roosevelt took credit, and the American people gave him credit, but the Supreme Court disagreed, stepping in to say that government control of the American farm economy was unconstitutional. The government could not be the market.

Sound familiar?

Of course, today we do have price supports and market-making for all kinds of agricultural products.

The Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers every year to leave over 30 million acres fallow -- land that supports fox, deer, quail, pheasant, sage grouse, and turkey, as well as scores of millions of song birds.

Social Security is the primary source of income for most Americans in retirement. If you are lucky enough to have gone to college, it's probably because your parents had a little money set aside now that they no longer had to provide economic sustenance to their parents (your grandparents) in old age.

The over one million acres of Dust Bowl land that the government bought from broken farmers in 1935 for $2.75 an acre, is now almost four million acres located in 20 publicly-owned National Grassland parks administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

And in the end, even the Republicans admitted it was all due to the good sense and steady hand of FDR.

When Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who had run against Roosevelt in 1936 saying he had no idea how to fix the Great Plains, was asked about the New Deal and its lasting effect on the country, he said it "saved our society."

And, of course he was right and the American people knew it. Alf Landon lost every state in 1936 except Maine and Vermont, winning the Electoral College by the largest margin ever, 523 to 8,

As for Hugh Bennett, the Big Man that Saved the Plains, he died in 1960 at the age of seventy-nine, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery just two miles from my house. On Saturday I may bike over to lay a flower on his grave; a great American not enough of us have ever been told about.

Hugh Bennett at the first soil erosion research station in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Barkers for Britain

FDR and Fala

In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt's dog, Fala, was named "president" of Barkers for Britain.

At the time, Britain was besieged by German aerial bombings and U-boat attacks causing serious supply shortages. A program called "Bundles for Britain" was started in the U.S. with the aim of collecting cash contributions and donations to ease shortages in the U.K.

Barkers for Britain was created as an analog to "Bundles for Britain" with the goal of getting dog lovers to support the Bundles effort by buying special engravable dog tags at a cost of 50 cents each.

Barkers for Britain raised about $15,000 between April and October 1941. The tag picture above right is Tag #1 which, of course, went to Fala.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Terriermen of Mount Rushmore

Who is this Man? Who is this dog?

And what does any of it have to do with hunting and fishing?

Answer: That's Teddy Roosevelt, one of three honorary terriermen on Mount Rushmore (Who are the other two?)

The dog is Skip, a mutt terrier cross (or feist) owned by legendary bear hunter John Goff. Goff gave Teddy the dog after Skip charged a bear, much to Teddy's delight.

As I note in a previous post entitled Rat Terrier Origins:
In 1905 Goff was hired as a bear hunting guide by President Theodore Roosevelt. During the trip Roosevelt was enchanted by the boisterous bravery of a small black and tan terrier that joined the bear-hunting fray. The dog was named "Skip," and for the remainder of the trip he managed to find himself in Roosevelt's lap or on his saddle.

Goff gave the terrier to Roosevelt at the end of his stay, and Roosevelt brought the dog back to the White House where it found work chasing rats in the basement and served as progenitor of the breed we know today as the American Rat Terrier.

Skip died the year before Roosevelt left the White House and was buried on the back lawn. The dog was so loved, however, that when Roosevelt left he had the dog exhumed and the body reinterred at Sagamore Hill, the family's New York estate.

I give a more detailed accounting of Skip and another terrier called Jack, noting the differences between the two and showing pictures of them each at the White House, in a longer post on Teddie Roosevelt's Terriers. Links are also given in this post to contemporaneous Roosevelt correspondence which showed that Skip was Archie's dog just as Jack Was Kermit's.

The importance of Teddy Roosevelt in the history of American hunting and fishing is not due to his legendary prowess in the field, or the fact that that this man left the Presidency to go on a year-long hunting trip in Africa. No, the importance of Roosevelt is in the fact that he helped establish America's land ethic (one later strengthened by Aldo Leopold) and did it by simply drawing boundaries on a map in order to create 150 new national forest areas in 21 states, four national game preserves, 51 federal bird sanctuaries, and 18 national monuments. No other President, before or since, has done as much to protect the heart and soul of America as Teddy Roosevelt did. For the back story here, read the post entitled Shooting Out the Land.

So who are the other honorary terriermen on Mount Rushmore? Read about one of them here >> Feists: From Washington to Lincoln to Faulkner. Yes, here at Terrierman, we give a hat tip to Old Abe if for no other reason than he wrote a long poem about bear hunting with terriers.

The other honorary terrierman on Mount Rushmore, of course, is George Washington, who helped win a war and forge a nation by a small kindness to a dog and its owner. I write a bit about that in the post entitled America's Founding Terrier.

Bottom Line: All that is great and good about this nation is connected to hunting with terriers. Let us never forget that!


Shooting Out the Land

Ranger McEntire of the Malheur National Forest (Eastern Oregon), Winter 1912 - 1913
A repost from this blog circa 2005

In 1887, 14 years before he became President, Theodore Roosevelt joined with a distinguished group of sporting Americans -- including George Bird Grinnell, William Tecumseh Sherman, John Lacey, and Gifford Pinchot -- to form the Boone and Crockett Club. The men who created the Boone and Crockett Club were all dedicated hunters. Grinnell was editor of Field and Stream magazine, a hunting and fishing journal, and as editor, he was shocked at the rapid depletion of America’s wildlife due to unregulated market hunting

Though by charter the Boone and Crockett Club numbered only 100 people, it was a very influential group. John Lacey eventually became a Member of Congress from Iowa and, in 1900, just before Roosevelt became President, he managed to get Congress to pass the Lacey Act which made it a federal crime to transport wild game across state lines if had been killed in violation of state laws — the first federal restriction on commercial market hunting in the United States.

Roosevelt, of course, became Vice President and then President upon the assassination of William McKinley. An avid sport hunter, Roosevelt was also an accomplish naturalist, and counted among his friends John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, and best-selling wildlife author John Burroughs.

It is hard to overstate the importance of hunting in Roosevelt’s life. Suffice it to say that he chose not to run for President after his second term so that he could go to Africa on a year-long safari, hunting big game and collecting specimens for the Smithsonian Institution.

During his presidency (1901 to 1911), Roosevelt more than tripled the National Forest system to 148 million acres (and made Gifford Pinchot the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service), oversaw the creation of 150 new national forest areas in 21 states, created four national game preserves, 51 federal bird sanctuaries, and established 18 national monuments. No president, before or since, has created such a sweeping public lands legacy.

In 1911, shortly after Roosevelt left office, Congress passed the Weeks Act to authorize the purchase of forest lands in the east. Much of this land later became part of the National Forest system in the eastern United States.

That same year the American Game Protective Association (AGPA) was founded and funded by gun and ammunition companies such as Winchester. This was the first sportsman-supported organization in the U.S. with a full-time professional staff, and it was later renamed the Wildlife Management Institute. In 1913, the shooting of migratory birds was regulated — the first step toward building back game bird populations deeply impacted by over-hunting.

America’s hunters lead the charge for wildlife habitat protection and the regulation of hunting seasons, providing an intellectual and moral framework now known as “hook and bullet conservation”.

Hook and bullet conservation has produced truly astounding results in the U.S. over the course of the last 100 years. Despite a three-fold increase in the U.S. population since 1900, we now have more bear, cougar, buffalo, turkey, elk, geese, duck, fox, raccoon, possum, alligator, groundhog, bald eagle, pronghorn, wolf, coyote, bobcat, and deer than at any time in the last 100 years. Beaver, turkey and river otter have been reintroduced into areas where they were wiped out, and wolf, elk and cougar are beginning to return to the east.

All of this has been made possible because the land and the forest -- otherwise voiceless -- has a voting constituency among American hunters and anglers. Not all hunters and anglers are good sportsmen who understand the need for conservation, but all good sportsmen are conservationists who understand the value of habitat and self-restraint.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Shelter" as a Euphamism for Killing

A recycled post from October 2007

Have you ever noticed that PETA is always there to throw blood on people wearing fur coats, but that they never protest in front of kill shelters?

A friend of mine who used to be a shelter worker explained it to me. "PETA would never show up at a kill shelter," she explained, "because if they did, the workers there would bring out all the dogs and and cats, turn over the leashes and say, 'Here, they're all yours now.'"

It's an amusing picture, but it's not quite true. You see, PETA does not protest at kill shelters because it supports the killing of dogs and cats in shelters, and it does almost nothing to try to get dogs and cats adopted out.

In fact, in 2005, PETA killed 90 percent of the animals turned over to it despite an organizational budget of $25 million a year.

If that shocks you, then consider this: most "Humane Society" shelters kill 50-80 percent of all the dogs and cats turned over to them. So too do most SPCA shelters contracted by local municipalities. And they kill even when they have empty cages and kennels, and even when they have lots of money in the bank.

In fact, shelter killing is the leading cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in the United States.

All in all, some five million dogs and cats are killed in our nation’s shelters every year by the "humane" industry.

To put it another way, the "humane" industry, which vociferously opposes hunting of deer for meat, actually kills more dogs and cats than hunters shoot deer.

How could this be occurring, even as Americans are buying large numbers of cats and dogs?

How could this be occurring at a time when more dogs and cats than ever are being spayed and neutered?

And how is it that the "humane" industry is doing all the killing?

These are the questions asked -- and answered -- in Nathan J. Winograd's new book, entitled Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America.

This is an important book. In fact, this book is so important --- and so few people are likely to read it -- that I am going to provide a long summary.  Suffice it so say that I think this book is very deserving of your dollars and reading time.

Buy the book!

The Lost Cause Meets the Blue Solution

The American "humane" movement began with the gadfly Henry Bergh, who was radicalized on a trip to Russia when he successfully stepped into the street to stop a man from beating his horse.

Emboldened and amazed at the power of moral suasion (backed up, it should be said by his 6'2" frame), Bergh decided he liked this feeling very much, and on a trip to London, he got an instruction sheet on how to do more of it from the newly-minted Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Upon arriving back in New York City, Bergh created an SPCA to parallel the work of the organization in London, and he personally patrolled the streets of New York and lit in to every horse-beating hack and street hawker he could find.

Bergh was a force of nature; he got New York to pass anti animal-cruelty laws, and he closed down the rat pits to be found at Kit Burns' Sportsman's Hall. He got horse drinking troughs installed all over the city, and he berated the New York City practice of paying people to round up (and even steal) dogs and cats in order to drown them in a huge old iron cage dunked off the end of the wharf. What harm were the cats and dogs doing, Bergh asked? Not much, but never mind; they were an inconvenience, and smacked of disorder in a city trying to enter the modern era. Stray dogs and cats had to go.

Bergh generally made such a nuisance of himself that exasperated New York City officials offered to turn over the keys of the City Pound if he would run it. In fact, they said they would pay him to do the business of rounding up and drowning all the stray dogs and cats.

Bergh would have none of it. He did not seek a job killing animals; he wanted to end needless animal suffering, and that included ending the needless destruction (as he saw it) of stray dogs and cats.

Bergh was a gadfly, but he was a principled and effective one. Without a doubt, he made life better for horses and other beasts of burden in New York City.

Soon other cities were copying the Bergh model, and setting up their own SPCAs. As a direct consequence, life got a little better for urban horses and mules all across the United States.

When Henry Bergh died, the folks that sought to fill his shoes were less principled and more oriented towards financial stability. And so, when New York City officials once again offered to turn the keys of the City Dog Pound over to the SPCA -- and even pay the SPCA to run it -- these new leaders leaped at the chance for a steady income. And what harm did it do, they argued. If the SPCA did not do the killing, then it would simply fall on someone else's shoulders.

And so, with the passing of a key and a check, the humane movement was in the mass killing business. With Henry Bergh dead, no one saw the slightest moral problem.

The SPCA was to remain in the killing business for the next 100 years, doing little more than replacing iron drowning cages with gas chambers, and gas chambers with injections of sodium pentobarbital.

For thirty years, pentobarbital has been the humane movement's "Blue Solution" to the "pet overpopulation" problem.

To this day, most SPCAs are little more than government-hired killing machines
for dogs and cats. Though they never mention it on the Animal Planet television show, the New York City ASPCA, according to Winograd, kills nearly 70 percent of the dogs and cats turned over to it

Across the U.S., the typical "Humane Society" or SPCA building remains an ugly wreck located in a depressing and trash-strewn part of town. The employees there are so over-worked and underfunded, that it's all they can do to keep the killing machine going full-bore.

But they manage.

Poor infrastructure and poverty-level funding are a commonality to animal shelters across the country. This is what you get when you make a pact with City Government to become a municipality's dog-and cat-killing machine.

Municipalities know that after years of dependency on government funds, most SPCA and Humane Society shelters are in no position to turn down low-ball contract offers.

And since the shelters are located in out-of-the-way locations and have no constituency (because most do very little outreach to the community), they are in no position to bargain or raise a stink.

This is the death business, not the adoption or pet-placement business.

Out of sight is out of mind. The goal of these shelters is simple cost-effective efficiency.

And nothing is as cost-effective or as efficient as disposing of an animal in a gas chamber or with a killing overdose of drugs.

Absolutely nothing.

Dog catcher, Seattle,1921

Followship Rather than Leadership

When push comes to shove, nothing much has changed in the humane movement for the last 100 years. For over 100 years, the metric has been a simple one: How many dogs and cats can the local shelter "handle" for the race-to-the-basement sums being offered up by the city contracting for this "service."

A "good" shelter is not one that adopts out most of its cats and dogs; it's one that keeps a large number of cages empty and clean, and that consistently makes its annual budget numbers while doing so with as little negative publicity as possible.

And, oddly enough, this is still the metric being used by most of the "humane" organizations, even when those organization have millions of dollars in their bank account as PETA and some of the larger Humane Societies around the United States do.

What is going on?

The short answer, according to Nathan Winograd, is followship.

Followship is the opposite of leadership. Leadership is what happens when you break away from the herd and proceed in a new direction. Followship is what happens when organizations tell us each other that they must all pack up together and do the exact same thing.

Why do these organizations want to pack up? Simple. There is safety in numbers.

And why do these shelters crave safety? What do they fear? Simple: They fear anyone questioning their "killing for convenience" paradigm -- a paradigm that began more than 100 years ago when the SPCA abandoned the principles of Henry Bergh and took over the first municipal City Pound contract.

If everyone does the same thing, the killing for convenience solution will be easier for the public to swallow. Everyone else is doing it, so there must be no other way.

Winograd notes that followship in the humane movement has been routinely solidified by a series of conferences in which all of "the principles" in the dog-catching and dog-killing business have gotten together under the mantra of forming a "consensus" about what to do about "pet overpopulation."

And who is in the room when that consensus is sought? Not only representatives of individual SPCAs and Humane Society shelters, but also the leaders of the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States (neither of which financially support local shelters), along with the national trade association of dog catchers (the National Animal Control Association), folks from the American Veterinary Medical Association, and people from the American Kennel Club.

In order to get consensus, all parties have to give up ground, which is a nice way of saying the "solutions" that are embraced at these consensus conferences have been as tepid as old bathwater.

Never mind if good ideas that could reduce the number of dogs and cats going into shelters are rejected; the organizational business interests of each group are more important than the dogs. After all, where would these dogs and cats be without the "humane" movement?

And so, there has been a general agreement among consensus conference participants to oppose subsidized low-fee high-volume pet sterilization clinics since veterinarians feared that would take away a portion of their business. Subsidize pet sterilizations? My God man, that's socialized medicine!

And, of course, there should be no criticism of the American Kennel Club's requirement that only intact dogs be eligible for showing. Nor should their be any criticism of the Kennel Club's long-standing promotion that pure-bred dogs are the "best dogs," never mind the huge number of genetic defects to be found in AKC dogs.

Instead, the parties have repeatedly agreed on a plan based on "Legislation, Education and Sterilization," or LES.

By "Legislation," the parties meant imposing more punishments on the dog-owning public.

Dog and cat licenses will be required, or the animals will be rounded up and killed.

Vaccines will be required, or the animals will be rounded up and killed.

Of course everyone should voluntarily spay and neuter their pet, but if they don't, there should be mandatory spay and neuter laws, with big fines and licensing fees. And if that does not work, then we will push to have unlicensed and unspayed dogs and cats seized and summarily killed.

By "Education" the humane movement means taking a few pound puppies to schools and lecturing kids about how horrible it is to be cruel to animals.

What will not be mentioned at these sessions is the fact that 75 percent of the healthy dogs and cats given to the pounds are killed, and that a state or city contract to kills dogs is what funds the shelter to begin with.

There will be no mention that most dogs and cats are killed after only just a few days wait, and that this killing goes on even when cages are empty.

There will be no discussion of how the humane movement has consistently opposed city- and state-subsidized spay-neuter initiatives.

There will be no mention of how most shelters discourage fostering of their overflow and consider volunteers "too much work." Nor will there be a discussion of how little community outreach is done to place or showcase dogs placed at the shelter.

Instead, the message told to the kids -- and the public in general -- will be a simple one: People are irresponsible and they are to blame for so many cats and dogs going to the gas chamber.

And as for "Sterilization," the humane movement means only "free market" sterilization at the local for-profit veterinary clinic. Whatever price they set is fine. Can't afford it? Then you are really too poor to own a cat or dog at all. Never mind that you are old and on a fixed income. Never mind that you earn only $7 an hour at WalMart. Only people with credit cards and significant home equity should own cats and dogs.

Of course, the LES paradigm has been a complete and utter failure. As Nathan Winograd notes,
“Whenever a shelter kills a homeless animal entrusted to its care, it has profoundly failed. And animal shelters fail, as general rule, 50 to 80 percent of the time. Put it another way, animal sheltering is an industry whose leadership mostly fails.”
The "humane" movement has made peace with its history of failure. In fact, the web sites of most of these organizations actually argue that killing dogs and cats is the "best outcome" for shelter dogs and cats and is much preferred to having animals held for a few weeks in a kennel situation.

This message is repeated so often that through sheer repetition it starts to sound like truth.

But what does this mean? Does this mean that the dogs in your kennel runs are better dead than being owned by you? Yes, according to most humane organizations. Does this mean that animals at the zoo are better dead than kept in cages? Yes, according to most humane organizations.

The Blue Solution is the only solution they know. Never mind if the animals they want to administer this solution to seem quite fine and happy. The humane movement knows best. Just ask them, and they will tell you.

Part of the Legislate-Educate-Sterilize paradigm is unity. Unity is important because it is only by "singing out of the same hymnal" that mass absolution for killing 5 million cats and dogs a year can be achieved.

And so, if one small group or another breaks rank, that group is denounced, ignored, marginalized, or pushed back into into the fold.

The result has been a nearly complete suppression of innovation. If a City like Los Angeles or San Francisco shows that subsidized high-volume spay-neuter clinics can work to reduce the number of unwanted pets, then those results are ignored, and efforts are made to get the program killed or repealed as quickly as possible.

If a no-kill shelter pops up, the humane organizations move to demonize it by saying that such programs "only push the killing on to the backs of other shelters."

If the No-Kill shelter actually takes ALL admissions, as does the Tomkins County shelter in New York, then that fact is simply ignored. The consensus mantra is simply repeated: "There are no such things as No-Kill shelters in this country. Shelters that claim they are 'No-Kill' are simply selecting out the easy to adopt dogs, and deflecting all the others to shelters that have to do the dirty work."

Never mind if that's not true.

Ignore the experience of San Francisco and Charlotesville, Virginia which have shown that it's possible to have open admissions and still adopt out 90 percent of all the dogs, cats, kittens and puppies.

The bizarre thing here is that the humane organizations seem completely dense. Even as they threaten to kill even more dogs and cats, they seem confused as to why the public is not eager to rush down to "the killing rooms" in order to pick out one lucky survivor from the pile.

Surely the average American is eager to drag his or kids down to the bad part of town in order to enter a kill shelter reeking of urine and feces?

Doesn't everyone want to answer their children's questions about what happens to all the other dogs and cats that are not picked?

And who could not be charmed by the indifferent (and often quite rude) staff and the short hours that the shelter is actually open?

Why would anyone prefer to simply get a dog out of the paper, or from a professional breeder, or from a puppy store?

A complete mystery.

The Needle and the Damage Done

A Better Way of Doing Business

It is possible to run a No-kill shelter? The short answer is a definitive YES.

It's been done in urban San Francisco, where for many years the SPCA took all the dogs and cats the city would relinquish to it.

It's been done in rural Tompkins County, New York where the local SPCA shelter is a pure open-admission no kill shelter.

It's been done in Charlottesville, Virginia where 92 percent of the dogs are now adopted out.

It been done in Richmond, Virginia where the SPCA says it is "proud to report that no healthy, homeless animal died in the City of Richmond in 2006."

It's getting done by the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association which has gone from an 80 percent kill rate to a 50 percent placement rate in just 7 months time, with the numbers continuing to fall.

So what has been the response of the Old Guard in the "humane" movement? Surely they are thrilled that someone has found a way to keep more dogs and cats alive?


Instead of celebrating, the quick-to-kill folks have denied that open-admission No-Kill shelters even exist. They have failed to report about the success of No-Kill shelters in their publications and on their web sites, and they have tried to explain away every success as being a unique situation that could never be replicated anywhere else.

San Francisco? Yes, it worked there, but only because that city has a lot of rich gays (according to ASPCA president Roger Caras). Plus, it's an urban area; it would never work in a rural area.

Tomkins County, New York? Yes, it worked there, but that's only because its a rural area. And it's a Northern part of the country too. A No-Kill shelter would never work in an urban area, or in the South where the rednecks don't give a damn about dogs.

Charlottesville, Virginia? Well, yes it worked there, but that's only because it's a moderate-sized city with a University. That's different.

Richmond, Virginia? Ugh ... Well, yes. I'm not sure what's unique there, but give us an hour or two and we'll figure out some way to marginalize that success too.

So how are all these No-Kill Shelters doing it?

It's not rocket science, but it does take dedicated management and a commitment to new way of doing business.

The new paradigm is not always easy for folks to get used to. If you have spent years rationalizing "killing for convenience," you are not likely to embrace a new way of doing business that involves more work.

It is a simple truth that empty cages are easier to manage than full ones. Visitors to a shelter means more paperwork and more accountability.

Not surprisingly, some shelter workers buck. Nathan Winograd says that when he first came to Tomkins County to transform their 80-percent kill shelter into a No-Kill model, he had to confront the staff and explain the world of budgets as he saw it.

The issue came to a point over a basket of puppies that were dropped off at the shelter on his first day. As he told the staff:
"Volunteers who work with animals do so out of sheer love. They don’t bring home a paycheck. So if a volunteer says 'I can’t do it,' I can accept that from her. But staff members are paid to save lives. If a paid member of staff throws up her hands and says, 'There’s nothing that can be done,' I may as well eliminate her position and use the money that goes for her salary in a more constructive manner. So what are we going to do with the puppies that doesn’t involve killing?"
One can only imagine the reaction!

In fact, Winograd found about half of his existing shelter staff could not make the transition. Most were simply too lazy. Trained that killing was the only way, they could not assimilate a new order that involved actually using all of the shelter's kennel capacity, fostering out puppies and sick dogs to volunteers, and actively partnering with the community to increase the adoption rate.

Yet, these techniques worked. Today the Tomkins County shelter is a No-Kill Open-Admissions SPCA shelter with a better than 93 percent adoption-placement rate.

None of Winograd's techniques or ideas were entirely new, but no one had tried to use them all at once.

And using them all at once is what made the difference.

In the end, Winograd and others in the No-Kill movement have come up with a 10-point plan for success.

By definition, a 10-point plan is more complicated than a one-point plan. The one point plan -- the Blue Solution -- promises only death. The 10-point plan, however, results not only in a dramatic increase in adoptions of dogs and cats, but also results in more income to the shelter as the relationship between the shelter and the community begins to change.

It turns out that people who will not give money or support to a shelter that kills 80 percent of the dogs and cats that pass through its doors, are more than willing to give money and time to a shelter that actually saves lives.

Who knew?

OK, enough wind-up. What are the 10 elements of success as outlined by Nathan Winograd?
  1. Hire a compassionate director who is dedicated to measuring success by lives saved. Winograd make a convincing argument that municipalities need to look for new shelter managers outside of the current humane movement. What is needed for success, he says, is not a 10-year track record ofkilling animals, but a demonstrated ability in basic management, coupled with good people skills, enthusiasm, creativity, and a commitment to the cause of quickly and sharply reducing the needless killing of healthy dogs and cats in a shelter.=
  2. A high-volume, low-cost spay-neuter program designed to get more people to voluntarily spay and neuter their pets. The biggest obstacle to spay-neuter at the individual level is not lack of willingness on the part of pet owners, but lack of money to get the surgery done. Even though research has shown that most intact animals are owned by the poor, and that spay-neuter subsidies are cost-effective ($1 invested is a $10 savings in animal control costs), the humane movement has repeatedly testified against them in order to maintain their "consesus compact" with the veterinary community.
  3. A feral cat program focused on trapping, neutering and returning wildcats to the wild. Wingograd argues that cats do fine as feral animals (they are little more than African Wildcats to begin with) and that there is no need to kill them. Simply trap, spay, innoculate, and release them. As to the notion that they might harm bird populations, Winograd dismisses these claims, correctly noting that most birds experts point to other causes of bird decline, including forest fragmentation and chemicals in the environment as more important causal agents.
  4. Use breed rescue groups. This not only frees up needed space in a shelter, but it also reduces food and upkeep costs, and improves the chance that a dog will be adopted by someone specifically looking for that type of dog. Despite the fact that pure breed rescue groups exist across the country, local shelters have often rejected overtures from these groups, claiming that making contact and setting up appointments is "too much work."
  5. Use foster care volunteers. While traditional shelters generally reject volunteers as "too much work," Winograd argues that not only are foster care volunteers the perfect answer for what to do with puppies and kittens too young to adopt out, but they are also good for sick animals that need several weeks in order to recover and look presentable. Foster volunteers not only adopt many of their charges themselves, they also serve as ready and willing outreach ambassadors to the community.
  6. Change the sales presentation. Studies show that people get their dogs from the local pound only 15 percent of the time, and that cats are even less likely to be acquired at a shelter. The trick to changing these numbers, says Winograd, is to present dogs and cats in better surroundings, to extend shelter hours, to hire friendly and committed staff, and to take animals out to where people can see them and consider them for adoption. A shelter should not be a gloomy place with the air of inevitable death about it, but a place where a father or mother will feel fine taking their kids to pick out a dog or cat that simply needs a home and a chance. People want pets. They pay large sums of money for them, and they travel to get them. A lot of people can be convinced to get an older dog or a dog that is not purebred ("It's the only one of its kind"). What people object to is not the animals in the shelter, but the shelter's look and smell and the business of killing itself.
  7. A pet retention program to work with owners who need a little bit of help in order to keep the pets they already have. Often this is simply a matter of a little problem-solving as it relates to "accidents" (don't leave a water bowl down 24-hours a day), barking, or finding a landlord that will accept a tenant with a dog or cat.
  8. Focus on medical and behavior rehabilitation. This means finding volunteers, veterinarians, and even local businesses willing to work with problem animals. Winograd suggests partnering with a veterinary college, but other good ideas include working with businesses and others who might be willing to support a fund to deal with certain conditions, such as respiratory infections or behavior problems.
  9. Public Relations means reaching out to the public and treating them as a potential solution rather than as the source of the problem. It means advertising, creating attractive web sites, networking with rescue groups, meeting with editorial boards and small business owners, and going out to places where people can get the message, see the product, and hear the pitch.
  10. Recruit and work with volunteeers. Volunteers can take pictures of dogs and cats for the web site, write up web descriptions, feed and water animals, walk animals, clean cages, put up flyers, and take animals out into the community for basic socialization. The more volunteers, the more hands, and the more hands the more positive energy will flow into the shelter -- and the more dogs and cats will flow out.

So why aren't more local SPCAs and humane societies around the country doing all of this?

The answer is that many of them are starting to. A movement is growing, and it is moving in the right direction.

That said, change is a proceess not an event. Moving from a 75% kill shelter to a 93% placement shelter requires careful staging. Do it wrong, and you will have full cages, but you will not yet have developed the capacity to cut down on admissions (thanks to cheap spay-neuter, and successful pet-retention programs) or foster out dogs, or move dogs to breed rescues, or find homes in the community thanks to a well-oiled up-and-running community outreach effort.

So the good news is that good things are happening in some locations.But not everyone is on the bandwagon. To tell the truth, some current shelter managers could not be bothered to initiate a complicated high-energy pet-placement program. This was not what they signed up for. They signed up for a death-factory job; fill out some forms, place a pet or two, administer the Blue Solution to all the others, and wash out the cages at the end of the shift. Who wants more work than that?

Numbers That CountNathan Winograd argues that the terms "adoptable" and "unadoptable" are too easy to manipulate and subject to wide interpretation. He notes, for example, that a lot of the "temperament testing" that goes on at shelters is complete bunk practiced by ignorants and amateurs, while some shelters simply strike off as "unadoptable" all very young puppies and kittens, any older dogs or cats. Animals with even mild illnesses (such as sinus infection or kennel cough) are similarly tossed into the weste busket for killing. So what defines success? Winograd suggests that success is achieved when a shelter achieved an adoption rate 90 percent or better for total open admissions of ALL dogs and cats (including the sick, the injured, the young, the old, and those with serious behavior problems). By putting the big number in the denominator, shelters are not able to lie with statistics and "select the best and dump the rest." Is the better-than-ninety-percent goal achievable? Yes -- it's already being achieved in shelters around the country.
Another contributing factor is that municipal officials and some animal control board members are often risk-averse.

The city knows they can kill 80 percent of the dogs and cats entering their shelter without so much as a ripple in the local news media, but suppose they start doing "something different" down there at the Pound? Suppose everything is not 100-percent smooth sailing right from Day One? Or worse, suppose the folks that run the shelter want more money to do No-Kill work?

As for the board of the local shelter, they often feel captive to city and county contracts. How are they going to rationalize turning down guaranteed money? Without municipal money, how will the shelter pay for salaries, dog food, gasoline, water and electricty?

And so lack of inertia and plain-old financial fear keep the old killing-for-convenience paradigm going.

In the background, cheering on the old, failed LES strategy are folks like Ed Sayres, President of the ASPCA, who was quoted in the August 13, 2007 issue of USA Today as saying “There is no room for No-Kill as morally superior” to kill shelters (see latest on Ed Sayres here)

There isn't? Not even even as a goal?

The ASPCA, it seems still prefers the Blue Solution.

So too does the Humane Society of the United States which refuses to even acknowledge that open admissions No-Kill shelters even exit.

The good news is that at the local level these national organizations do not really control too much.

The ASPCA does not actually run shelters at all -- all the local SPCAs are separate free-standing organizations. What this means is that if you have been giving money to the ASPCA for years, you have not been giving money to your local shelter. There is no pass-through money. The big boys in the ASPCA have simply pocketed your money, and used it to produce more direct mail to send to more suckers like you. Sorry.

Ditto for the Humane Socety of the United States, which also does not give a dime to support local Humane Society shelters. If you are giving money to the Humane Society of the United States, you are simply funding more direct mail asking little old ladies to give their "most generous contribution at this critical time." Silly you.

True leadership in the world of animal sheltering is not coming from the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States or PETA. It's coming from folks like Nathan Winograd and Richard Avanzino, who first turned the San Francisco SPCA into an open admission No Kill shelter back in 1976, and who ran it that way until 1998.

Avazino is now head of the $250 million Maddie's Fund (funded by PeopleSoft Founder Dave Duffield and his wife Cheryl) which gives out money, funds projects, creates shelter medicine programs, and acts as an information clearinghouse for what works in the No-Kill movement.

No-Kill is gaining traction.

And that's a problem for the ASPCA, PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. After all, who wants to fund failure when success is an option?

And so the ASPCA, HSUS and PETA have embarked on a two-pronged strategy of: 1) denying that No-Kill works, even as they; 2) Claim they are leading the movement themselves.

The results of this communication stratgy are truely bizarre.

Consider this: Even as ASPCA President Ed Sayres holds a press conference in New York City with Mayor Bloomberg in order to "welcome" a $15.5 million Maddie's Fund grant to help that city transition to No-Kill (see ASPCA press release) Sayres and others are attacking No-Kill as being a complete fraud, denying its existence, and accusing it of actually doing nothing more than warehousing animals for months or even years. Truly this is Through the Looking Glass!

In fact, No-Kill shelters are as open (or more so) than other shelters, and Maddie's Fund has pioneered this type of openness. Have a few shelters transitioned too rapidly? Yes, but Richard Avanzino of Maddie's Fund and Nathan Winograd are convinced that every shelter can be No-Kill, and more and more cities are proving their thesis every day.

In fact, it is the success of the No-Kill movement that is causing paroxisms at the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the U.S., and PETA.

The success of No-Kill movement means that these organizations have been killing for years, not because the job of saving the lives of dogs and cats could not be done, but because they did not even realize that that was the job!

Here's a hint: It's called a SHELTER.

That just might mean saving lives, not snuffing them out.

It might even mean coming up with a better idea than the infamous "Blue Solution."
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Order a copy of Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America. I guarantee this is a book that will open your eyes.
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Do you really want to explain this sign to your six-year-old daughter on the day she gets her first dog? Me either.


If Plants Feel Pain, Vegetarians are Cruel