Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Knowing one regressive shelter manager doesn't make you a "know it all"

"No Kill Nation's" Hannah Sentiac attempted to address the role of replacing regressive shelter director's in implemented the infamous but highly suspect "No Kill Equation" needed to successfully become a No Kill community.  In an blog posting called "Know One Regressive Shelter Director - Know Them All" many of her comments deserve clarification.

Sentiac "One of the many, many things I took away from this event was the concept that communities across the US are incredibly alike when it comes to the shelter system. Every state, county, city generally thinks they’re unique, given their community’s particular demographics, history and set of circumstances. But the truth is, when it comes to regressive shelter management, they’re all very much the same."

Actually, the above comment should be reversed - all public kill shelters are unique based on the demographics, budget, history, politics and an assortment of other tangibles features that make the communities themselves unique.   In other words, Tompkins is not like Austin, Tx which is not like Miami Dade when it comes to it's citizens, economic issues and the politics which forms it's culture.  Shelter manager's tend to mimic the community values that hired them in the first place. 

Sentiac "Regressive shelter directors are cut from the same mold. They trot out the same tired excuses, and make the same horrible mistakes. They don’t have enough resources, the public is irresponsible, the animals are unadoptable … etc., etc."

All "regressive" shelter managers are not cut from the same mold but instead have the same "tired excuses" that include not being given adequate resources or not having the critical support from the community they need.

Sentiac "Of course, you need to take your region into consideration when it comes to local politics, but the key thing to remember is that that the fundamental approach should be the same as it’s been in numerous successful communities across the US. What is the approach? Well, lucky for No Kill advocates across the US, it’s been documented. Check out The No Kill Advocacy Center’s comprehensive document, Reforming Animal Control. "

Now, if only the leaders of No Kill Nation, including Hannah, would read and follow the "road map" to shelter reform from NKAC's Reforming Animal Control".  It is a logical approach that seems to get tossed out the window in favor of unleashing a mob mentality seeking to blame everything on an over-burdened shelter director instead.

From "Reforming Animal Control" we find:
“In the face of what is construed as “entrenchment”, how can local advocates put an end to the killing at MDAS? If you follow the recommendations for reforming entrenched shelters the answer lies in a five-step process: 1. Inform; 2. Negotiate; 3. Prepare for Battle; 4. Fight; and, when successful, 5. Rebuild.”

The first rule of effecting change is the need for No Kill advocates to be reasonable and professional. That starts with going through the steps, one at a time, so, for example, if NKN advocates believe conflict with Miami Dade Animal Services is unavoidable, it will be clear that attempts to work within the system were rebuffed by an uncaring bureaucracy and not from an “uncaring advocacy” movement instead.

Change starts with the right message, which addresses four aspects crucial to a successful animal services program; saving animals, protecting it’s citizens, exercising fiscal responsibility with the taxpayers money mitigating liability. If only one of these (saving lives) but not the others is addressed progress will be hampered.

As important as the right message is, it is imperative to send the right messenger. Along that line No Kill Nation has failed miserably. When No Kill Nation made the determination to call or allow others to call Dr Sara Pizano “Dr Death” they effectively ceased to be a partner in MDAS's future.

When No Kill Nation threw support into public protests demanding her resignation/firing, including one protest at her (Dr Pizano’s) residence they effectively removed themselves from being taken seriously as anything but the thugs they were behaving like.

It is questionable whether No Kill Nation as an entity will ever be accepted as a reasonable partner working towards a common goal of ending shelter killing in Miami Dade. Instead of presenting a vision of the future of partnering with MDAS in bringing about positive change, No Kill Nation’s approach was adversarial, demanding and demeaning.

In it's only meeting with MDAS staff, no blueprint for change was ever presented.  Instead, an unreasonable proposal to simply “stop the killing” was presented and when management was unable to comply it’s manager was labeled as “regressive”. 

The No Kill Nation’s leadership team should have understood the importance of identifying in writing exactly what changes were needed.  Instead, the No Kill Nation focused on the mantra rally call demanding only that MDAS “Stop the killing” without a reasonable discussion on the effect this would have on the rescue community and the animals themselves. 

With no CLEAR place for the 100 plus dogs and cats that enter the shelter each day to go one could make a case that forcing animals to live in the inhumane, disease infested shelters wasn't a solution either.

This meeting wasn’t about the future of MDAS, it wasn’t about partnering to saving more animals, it wasn’t even about offering reasonable solutions to problems that have nagged MDAS for years – it was about taking advantage of an opportunity to gain publicity and grow it’s own organization – the No Kill Nation. It was about being deceptive in their intention and negotiating in bad faith.

If we are to believe Nathan’s math on successful No Kill shelters are we to believe that less then twenty shelters across the country have successful no kill directors meaning that the other 3,480 plus shelters that fall short need new “compassionate” directors?

Let’s hope your no kill movement uses a little more common sense in replacing all of these directors rather then the short sighted approach used in Miami Dade. After all, the animals we are trying to save are counting on it.  It's time to put the focus on  seeking solutions that will save more dogs and cats from MDAS in front of the agenda of "growing" another animal welfare organization that seems to have forgotten those needs.


  1. Throughout history those in power and their supporters have always called those seeking change "thugs." Barbarians at the gates, the Great Unwashed, terrorists, etc.

    Names like Ghandi and Rev. King, of course, lead the list of thugs who would rip the cloak of respectability from those in power, unveiling the flaws in the Establishment.

    It is one name that stands out above all others to me that best represents this "thuggery" you write about:

    There was a loud, brash, insulting black man, a US Olympic boxer, named Cassius Clay who started his climb to notoriety in the 1960s. One day he announced to the world that he, Mohammed Ali, was The Greatest. In fact, over the years his nickname became The Greatest. He screamed at every camera he could get in front of. Every "decent" white citizen had to take umbrage with every word he screamed at "The Establishment."

    But Ali won the hearts and minds of most white Americans - despite his loudmouth antics - by doing two things:
    1) He backed up his rhetoric with boxing championships;
    2) He put everything on the line and gave it all up to back up his recent conversion as a peace-loving Muslim. He defied The Establishment's call to war (Vietnam) and said no, I won't go. That took guts and gained our respect.

    I doubt if there is any person or movement that has challenged The Establishment that hasn't at the beginning been called a group of thugs.

    So rant on and support your ugly Establishment. As for this grassroots movement, some day in the future the no-kill movement will be known as a good thing. It will join the honored halls of movements like Women's Suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement.

    In the meantime, you might try reviewing my website and see that I do not just advocate to "stop the killing." In conjunction with Nathan Winograd's effective and common-sense No-Kill Equation, I present solutions which will change the course of American sheltering.

    Two things have to happen in the next few years:
    1) (MARKETING) Change these ugly prison facilities known as "shelters" into inviting centers where happy, well-adjusted animals stay together while awaiting their adoption and make people want to visit and return with friends;

    2) (REHAB) Establish a national training center to begin producing rehabbers with skills to deal with the millions of animals killed needlessly in today's death rows across America's animal prison system. These rehabbers can then return to their communities and pass on these skills so animals needing help can get it - instead of death in a gas chamber or a needle.

    Here's the solution. Please check it out = https://sites.google.com/site/drdoolittle2800/Overview

  2. Thomas - you wrote on No Kill Nation "Hi NKN! I was sent a link to a blog about NKN's approach to solving problems. Thought you might enjoy my response. Better read it quickly as I doubt it will stay up as a comment for long!'

    Guess what Thomas? Your comment is still here. Unlike No Kill Nation's policy of banning, blocking, deleting or simply insulting all posts that don't agree with their cultist agenda this blog doesn't block opinions that differ from the writer. Unless your comment is a personal assault or has nothing to do with the blog topic discussed it will STAY. I've never understood those who can't defend their positions with ahving to resort to blocking or stifling discussions on important "movements" as such but YOU'LL have to ask No Kill nation those questions as I and many of my hard core advocate friends are prohibitted from having an intelligent conversation on thse "cultists" groups. Fortunately, the Internet remains an open resource for ALL to express their opinions even you. Enjoy your day and thanks for posting the link to this blog on No Kill Nation's page.

  3. Thomas - I'm not sure you actually read anything in this article so I'll skip commenting on your history lesson. The only "thugs" mentioned where those thugs who found it appropriate to hold a threatening protest in front of a shelter managers home despite failing to prove their case that this manager was responsible for the horrendous kill numbers at MDAS. I'll ovedrlook your comments on MDAS as simply being "ill informed".

    I will comment on your proposed solution. You wrote:

    Two things have to happen in the next few years:

    1) (MARKETING) Change these ugly prison facilities known as "shelters" into inviting centers where happy, well-adjusted animals stay together while awaiting their adoption and make people want to visit and return with friends;

    2) (REHAB) Establish a national training center to begin producing rehabbers with skills to deal with the millions of animals killed needlessly in today's death rows across America's animal prison system. These rehabbers can then return to their communities and pass on these skills so animals needing help can get it - instead of death in a gas chamber or a needle.

    My only question would be "who is going to pay for funding a nationwide program of replacing over 3,500 kill shelters with "inviting centers for the public"? This sounds like but another unfunded mandate that completely ignores the reality of developing programs and laws that drastically reduce the number of pets entering the shelter system in the first place.

    Your idea sounds great for a small scale effort of constructing "No Kill" shelters funded by private non profit humane organizations but it is not practical in including public funded shelters in that type of a program.

    From my perspective, I would oppose building such a shelter in my own county because taxpayers are simply fed up with this big government approach at solving all our problems. The fact is, government shouldn't be in the sheltering business period. I certainly don't want my tax dollars funneled into but another ineffective government program that mandates more revenue being dumped into finding a solution to all of the pets that shouldn't be there if only we worked on reducing or eliminating the effect of irresponsible pet ownership. It's also why I will oppose passing any CAPA type bill in my home state as well. Not that a CAPA bill will ever make it through our conservative government in the first place.

  4. Great post, so true, one has to be honest. I personally question the idea that of the ?? million animals in shelter, 90% are adoptable. Well fine. If those ??17 million people adopt those 90%, what will happen to next year's "crop" (for want of a better word) of animals in shelters. Will ??17million people get another pet? No, not for a few years, I would HOPE. Where are the next 17 million people coming from? India?
    Plus, many of those animals were not properly trained. Rehabbing is a great, but pretty unrealistic idea. We should be working to educate kids about animals, moreso than
    teaching how to rehab a damaged pet. jmo.


  5. Genius - obviously I take ikssue with the No Kill Nation agenda to ignore the reality of pet overpopulation and the role that irresponsible pet owners/breeders play in producing many of the problems that associated with supporting long term financing of animal issues in our community. My follow up post "Playing the No Kill/Shelter Blame Game addresses some of the issues. I'vde taken a lot of criticism for addressing these issues on this blog but the reality is these are issues that SHOULD have been discussion topics on the No Kill Nation Facebook page but THEY decided not to allow these discussions.

    I'm not inclined to trust any organization who's leadership is not prepared or able to defend their mission. Hence, these topics will continue to be discussed as we move forward.

    True advocates (which the leaders of NKN are not) shlould already have thick skin and understand that advocacy work is not for the feint of heart nor is it a popularity contest either. Right Thomas?