Monday, June 13, 2011

Winograd's CAPA - will it legimatize hoarding and no kill sanctaury abuse?

About those "No Kill Nation" squirrels and nuts......
In Nathan Winograd's world it's not the irresponsible pet owners who are responsible for shelter killing nor is it the irresponsible people who allow pets to be bred indiscriminately nor is it the many well meaning "rescuers" and transporters who "rescue" these animals sitting on death row in our many high kill shelters - the fault for killing lies entirely with shelter directors who lack compassion and enjoy killing innocent pets.

Winograd and his cultist followers determined to build a "No Kill Nation" claim that there is no "pet overpopulation" problem in states like Florida but instead plenty of "good homes" for all of these creatures too go to.  The vision for The No Kill Nation website was to work towards seeing a day when no savable animal is senselessly killed in an animal shelter.  But does that goal include making sure we see a day were animal suffering is ended as well?  Each and every person who cares about companion animals has a role to play in helping our nation reach this goal - of not only ending the killing but more importantly of ending the suffering as well.

"The No Kill movement’s break with traditional sheltering is less about saving “pet” dogs and cats and more about focusing on the individual animal. Regardless of whether a shelter takes in 30, 300, 3,000 or 30,000 dogs and cats each year, No Kill is premised on—in fact demands—fundamental fairness to individual animals." - Nathan Winograd

The question that remains unanswered by Winograd's approach at "mandating" the saving of animals doesn't take into account that each animal "saved" needs this fundamental fairness that is missing when you fail to properly define and qualify what "responsible rescue is.  Obviously, none of the victims of sanctuary abuse have been moved into a safe environment where their individual needs are nurtured but instead they are simply dumped into overcrowded environments where situations arise that has money donated for their care absconded in same foul smelling wind that takes any hope of a future as well.

But the truth is far from the many myths, half truths and misconceptions portrayed by the 'no kill" movement as it attempts too legitimatize their movement.  It is not a myth that many of these creatures are not "saved" but end up becoming victims living tortured lives in squalor conditions with diseases and illnesses that last for months even years before death takes it's toll. 

While Winograd was building his career at a rural shelter in Tompkins County NY the only people who denied the existence of pet overpopulation were the mass breeding elements either running puppy mills or an underground commercial enterprise of backyard breeders who didn't have a clue what responsible breeding was or simply didn't care. 

Many advocates have started to question some of the concepts portrayed by Winograd while pushing his version of the "no kill" movement.  Perhaps the most glaring is Winograd's claim that there is NOT a pet overpopulation crisis in this country.  No only is there an easily recognizable pet overpopulation crisis in every public shelter in the state of Florida but we also can play witness to the thousands and thousands of homeless animals who are forced to survive on our streets and who are forced to endure abusive conditions in overcrowded sanctuaries as well.  Living on the street is not a home nor is living in a sanctuary absent of human care, companionship and the basic survival needs that define an animals quality of life.

Ironically, it is not the overwhelmed rescue community that benefits from "laying to rest" this so-called myth of pet overpopulation but it is the same irresponsible breeders who now have even more reason to justify there ignorant existence.  Not surprisingly, it is these same irresponsible breeders who are Winograd's most vocal supporters in his trash and burn onslaught against large animal protection groups not limited to the HSUS, the ASPCA, Best Friends and even Maddie's Fund. 

One thing is certain, anyone who dares speak out against Winograd does so with the full expectation of becoming a target of trash and burn as well.  This writer is no exception.  Unfortunately for Winograd - he's taken his best shot - I'm not Pat Dunaway - I have no intention of going off message to simply appease his desire to become famous..Over the years my reputation of being overly candid and thorough in my investigations speak for themselves. 

Unlike Winograd who only draws his experience from a few short years as a shelter director I draw my experience from a hands on approach pulling, responsibly rescuing, rehabilitating and ultimately either finding homes or providing hospice care for over three hundred animals who have been given refuge in my home.
Many of the success stories evolved into writing projects to help define the role of responsible pet ownership and build a consensus of what responsible rescue defines as well.

One frequent target for Winograd's rants is the Humane Society of the United States.  In Winograd's world companion animals would be much better off if we advocates work together to expose HSUS and in effect put them out of business.  One would assume that since Winograd also denies the existence of hoarding cases or sanctuaries gone wrong that this important milestone would be the stepping stone to building a "No Kill Nation". 

However, there is a serious myth involved in Winograd's preaching - those involved in advocating for homeless dogs and cats in Florida have experienced the horrible truth that not all sanctuaries have the animals best interest at heart. 
In April 2011 came the horrible news of abuse of animals, many of which were dogs with disabilities, the the Sanctuary Animal Rescue run by Palena Dorsey.  According to her website:
The Sanctuary Animal Refuge is a Non Profit Registered 501(c)3 Organization dedicated not only to the rescue of animals but also to the education of the community.

Our Sanctuary was founded by Palena Dorsey in March 2004.
Her mission was to help those animals that were considered fearful and aggressive or who were old and ill and about to be put to sleep because of the overwhelming influx of animals at local shelters.

Her dedication to work with these animals to help them overcome their fears and to nurture them back to health has been a lifelong dream come true. To watch her work with and love each Dog, Cat, Pig, Horse and other animals brings such joy and tears to ones eyes.

To keep this love going she needs the support of all animal lovers.

By making a small monthly donation she can make this dream a reality for so many animals to live out their lives in peace.

For years kind hearted animal lovers not only opened up their hearts for Palena's efforts but their wallets as well.  Sadly, many would feel violated when the news about how the animals as officials moved in too close down the sanctuary this spring.  Disabled dogs who came with sponsors were either found in horrible squalor that no animal lover would ever want a pet to endure.  Some were missing and assumed dead. 

One can only imagine the heartbreaking suffering these poor souls experienced when their rescue went so horribly wrong.  As much as this writer despises the idea of killing an animal while there is still hope - this type of rescue is not hope - it is in the plainest of terms a betrayal that leads an animal to endure unconscionable suffering at the hands of their savior. 

When news of the sanctuary raid first hit Dagmara Monsalve, president of Rescue Adoption Inc. in Fort Pierce, shared her observations with reporters,
"I've never wished myself to witness anything like what I saw over there. Very bad. The filth, the amount of cockroaches, rats. We were killing huge spiders out of the bowls of water the dogs had."
Other volunteers wrote poignant eyewitness accounts of the horrible suffering of the animals, many of whom had lived at the sanctuary for years, in such vivid details that even the strongest person couldn't help but experience tears of betrayal.  Those of us committed to responsible rescue understand that this torture and lack of basic humane treatment is totally opposite of everything we stand for.

Many animal lovers who helped sponsor dogs who were supposed to live out their lives in the grandest of settings pleaded for information on their whereabouts.  Sadly, many came to grips that these creatures were not only not saved but in many cases forced to live out there days in an even more abusive situation then where they were rescued from.

How did Palena Dorsey, who was once considered for Animal Planet's "Rescuer of the Year" award fall so incredibly far that she would allow this type of abusive care for the animals she loved?  How did the rescue community not see this drastic change in conditions at the sanctuary as well?  Somehow the many remarks praising the work at the sanctuary do not explain the conditions found this past spring when authorities stepped in and closed it down.

Ironically, Winograd's "No Kill Nation" isn't involved in cleaning up the mess left behind from years of sanctuary abuse but instead it was the HSUS who stepped in to try and help with this horrible situation.  Winograd's and his cultists followers barely discussed the implications of abuse in ":rescue" sanctuaries with the exception of a few snide comments insinuating that HSUS was only interested in killing the survivors.

Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary

A fancy picture on a website seeking donations doesn't define a caring sanctuary
Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary is a private, no kill animal shelter owned and operated by Steve and Pennie Lefkowitz. Located on 8 acres of rural, agricultural land in Alachua County, FL on the outskirts of the city of High Springs, Steve and Pennie share their home with 200 cats, a dog, several horses, and some roosters.

Concerned about the high euthanasia rate at Animal Services, Steve and Pennie decided to incorporate and became Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary, Inc. In 2003 and were granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status in 2005.  Since its inception, no cat that has needed help has been turned away.

On Tuesday, June 7, 2011, the Humane Society went into Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary in Alachua County, Florida to save the precious cats there.

Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary is located at 21023 NW 168th and owned by Steve and Pennie Lefkowitz of Hillside, Florida. Alachua County Animal Services had been investigating reports of animal neglect there.

To watch a video of the seizure:

There needs to be some serious changes in how large sanctuaries in Florida are allowed to operate virtually with no government oversight in the quality of care being provided the animals held in rescue.  Shelters by definition should be required to make sure animals released from the shelter through adoption or through "transfer to rescue" are not victimized in that process.  There is a moral obligation that we as a community find safe refuge for this onslaught of pets being dumped in our shelters are protected from future abusers.

In typical knee jerk reaction the No Kill Advocacy Center in partnership with a new south Florida advocacy group "No Kill Nation" is pushing for a state wide Companion Animal Protection Act or "CAPA" that would require shelters to turn over dogs and cats to any rescue group that operated as a 503 C non profit.  This law would do nothing to protect animals from hoarders and abusers who quite frankly are not only ignoring their responsibility to the animals they claim to be rescuing but are also using donations for purposes that have nothing to do with the sanctuary's operations. 

What does CAPA mandate?  If passed CAPA  makes it illegal for a shelter to kill an animal if a rescue group or No Kill shelter is willing to save that animal.  In other words, rescue "groups (even though Florida is one of many states that doesn't require persons representing themselves as rescue to be licensed or inspected) and "no kill" sanctuaries would only need to be "willing" to take an animal in as opposed to being capable of responsibly caring for that animal with an end goal of seeking a "forever" home for the pet being saved. 

While I understand that there are many responsible sanctuaries like Best Friends who are capable of providing true sanctuary of animals that are possibly un adoptable I defy any reasonable rescuer to explain how over 90% of the animals who survived the squalor and suffering at these two sanctuaries were NOT adoptable?  This type of operation is NOT rescue - it is hoarding in the plainest terms.

Over the past few months I have made the decision to highlight the weaknesses in this Facebook "trend" some are calling a "No Kill Movement".   In response to many of my articles the No Kill Movement has quite typically decided to lash out at my articles even by attempting to call me an "apologists" for the killing and to suggest my advocacy work is part of the problem. 

As an long time advocate who has worked and helped define issues that include shelter reform, puppy mill reform, a discussion on the role of temperament testing in shelters and one who has helped define the differences in what is responsible rescue and what is not it is not only my right to speak openly and candidly on these issues but more importantly it is my duty.  I am not  not have ever been indebted towards any one particular group, mission or movement.  

My advocacy voice will always represent what is in the best interest of the animals I advocate for.  The purpose of my writing should never be misconstrued as an attempt to convince anyone to agree with me but more importantly hopefully some of the information, experiences and observations I share will help fellow advocates use reason to draw their own analogies on these critical issues.

In the end, my decision to continue to speak out comes not from a perspective of not supporting a dream of a "no kill nation" but in making the determination that there is a lack of leadership in these groups who want to claim a mandate on a movement that they have little or no knowledge on the direction they are taking.  It is NOT the mission I abhor - it is the simple minded leadership of that movement that must either be replaced or ignored as part of the problem and not part of the solution..

In the end those of us advocating for a compassionate cruelty free no kill nation still have it in our hands and eyes in helping to make this dream come true.  That reality won't come from buying more books or attending more cheer leading seminars given by people who have lost touch with the concerns of the true rescue community but instead will come from inside your own hearts. 

It is YOUR choice whether you want to join the band of thugs who have simply reverted to a lazy mentality of blaming shelter directors for all the killing when in fact there's is enough blame that should be shared equally by those who breed irresponsibly - those who rescue irresponsibly - those who own pets irresponsibly and the community politicians who support irresponsible high kill shelters that are not representative of their community's values for our companion friends.

It is up too YOU to question what you don't agree with and too insist on answers and not pigeon hole comments that you bare part of the problem because you refuse to follow the preaching of the cult.  You not only have the right to ask these questions but more importantly you have a duty.

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