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December 15, 2009

Talk Back: Ending Euthanasia of Homeless Pets

Last week, I posted, in a series of three blogs, a Q&A between me and Robin Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA and an innovator in the sheltering field who is working hard to eliminate the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals. I mentioned the pioneering efforts of Ed Duvin and Richard Avanzino to challenge the acceptance of euthanasia as an inevitable consequence of sheltering work, while lamenting the divisive presence of a small number of individuals whose bitterness and malice do no credit to our cause and retard its progress. In the series, I omitted mention of so many individuals who have made invaluable contributions to the cause, but thanks to their tireless work of rescue, spay and neuter, and sheltering, there has been much progress. But much work remains. Today, I post some of your comments in response to the series.

Great interview. Robin Starr is doing a wonderful job and I know her efforts will lead to a lot of great things for the animals of Richmond. —Tony
Thank you so much for this three part interview with Robin Starr. Also, thank you for addressing the animosity and vitriol directed at you, personally, by some of the no-kill advocates. I've never understood this. —Dianne Rhodes
Wow, I just love your blog! I always get so much out of your messages, and I really enjoyed this interview with Robin Starr. As a long-time San Francisco resident, I was one of the supporters of Richard Avanzino when he took the San Francisco SPCA to its no-kill status. I still support my local SPCA, largely because of him—as a foster mom and as the source of vet care for my (rescued, of course!) kitty, BooBoo. The SPCA has always taken good care of us. Bless you for mentioning them—and Richard—in this article. —Victoria Rouse
Thanks for the great interview with Robin Starr. I have seen the people on both sides of the debate questioning the motives of those on the other side. It is not productive in the long run also in my opinion. From Henry Bergh, Ellen Glasgow, the leaders of the HSUS for over 50 years and other mentors before Robin I am personally learning a lot in these issues. For full disclosure I am proud that I feel like I am a part of the Richmond SPCA through my various activities I am involved in. Even though I am retired from a blue collar background I have been blessed to be involved with Robin's organization. —Dougie K.
Thank you for this three part interview with Robin Starr of the Richmond SPCA, and for your comments on the no kill movement. Your comments about the shrill efforts of a few no-kill advocates are right on. I presume by this you mean the movement spearheaded by Nathan Winograd. While I applaud Winograd's goal of no-kill, his methods of attacking shelter leadership are incredibly damaging. The leadership of the only open-admission shelter in my city has suffered personal attack after personal attack from a small group of Winograd disciples, despite the fact that they are implementing policies daily designed to cut the euthanasia rate—and those policies are succeeding. When will animal advocates understand that we accomplish so much more by working together than tearing each other apart? No kill must be a community undertaking—one organization can't do it alone. To truly achieve no kill, we must work together, taking advantage of each other's organizational strengths. It was interesting to hear how the Richmond SPCA went through many of the same attacks from other animal groups in its community, and inspiring to see that they managed to achieve no kill anyway. There is hope for us all. —Emily in Ohio
Personally, I think Ms. Starr totally skirted the issue of the shell game problem. You can have all the no-kill shelters you want, but if you can't accept any more animals they HAVE to go somewhere. They are either going to a shelter that will kill them or they might be dumped on the side of the road to be scraped off at a later time, or dropped off in a different community that will accept them. I think no-kill shelters are great, but the best message is proper animal care. People need to be responsible if they add an animal to their family and quit thinking of these wonderful beings as something expendable if it doesn't go as they had planned! —Victoria, Clovis, Calif.
How about fostering [by] high school classes. Students could learn about rescue organizations and have a pet to foster. Learn how to really care for an animal and be responsible. I would have loved a class like that. —Lori A. K.
It is 10 below zero and a farmer has just called to say that another cat has been dropped off at his farm and he can no longer feed all the cats that have been abandoned there. He is either going to shoot them or have us put them to sleep. Philosophical discussions are not going to solve this problem. Spay and neuter clinics are not going solve this problem. I have run one for 19 years and our surgical numbers are increasing, not decreasing. Legislation requiring all pets to be spayed or neutered is a start. However, enforcement is almost impossible. Until we find a workable answer, discussing the problem ad nauseam has not and will not define a solution. Perhaps FeralStat, a birth control medication put in food will help. Until then, euthanasia is necessary to prevent unwanted animals from suffering. —Peggy W. Larson, D.V.M., M.S., J.D.
I lost all respect for Nathan Winograd when he hooked up with the Center for Consumer Freedom. They are the meat, dairy, research industries. He made a deal with the devil just to sell some books. For the last few years Winograd has been attacking other animal groups and individuals. If a group won't sign his petition and support him, he instantly attacks them. If a city won't hire him, he instantly attacks them. If he fails to make a shelter no-kill, he blames it on the employees and politicians. If anyone dares question his results or methods, he threatens to sue them, and attacks them. He should concentrate on helping animals instead of attacking everyone. Attacking other groups just hurts animals. We need to work together to save animals. —LA

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