Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dear PETA...

So, it seems as though PETA hasn't gotten over our discussion yesterday, and that works out just fine for me. I don't mind having an excuse to educate true life-saving programs at any time of day, so educating (against) the largest animal 'rights' organization in the world is just fine with me. 

You can read yesterday's conversation in the previous blog entry. When I woke up this morning, PETA had armed me with plenty of new information for a whole new blog post today! Thanks, PETA, now I don't have to worry about writer's block this morning!

I woke up to these two comments on my twitter feed from PETA:

(2) @petstudioart: It's great that you are so passionate about animals but we've seen different results than you.

Let me address both of these comments before I start on the links that PETA sent over. 

Comment (1) I truly believe that PETA has seen more bad because that's what they are looking for. They love to point out other's flaws, while ignoring their own. I am part of the shelter-killing solution and I want to share with you all of the amazing things that happen when you embrace 'no-kill'.  (Scroll down and I talk about the links in depth.)

Comment (2) - Yes, PETA sees different results because they choose to see different results. I can't quite figure out why they fight 'no kill' so hard, but at this point, I can only conclude that it's a personal issue. To that, I say 'GET OVER IT' to PETA. Your stubbornness is literally murdering thousands of animals. You are killing the very beings that your mission claims to protect. How is killing animals not cruel? 

Now, to the links shared by PETA: I will not speak for other communities on this list, but having a personal knowledge (which PETA apparently does not) of the Austin and Georgetown Animal Welfare scene, I can attest to this comment mentioned in PETA's blog:

November 23, 2012/Georgetown, Texas: The Austin American-Statesman reported that two years after becoming a "no-kill" facility, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter's intake "has increased by 500 to 600 animals a year." The shelter "is so full that it doubles up dogs in its 79 kennels." A shelter official told the paper that there has been an increase in the number of strays and animals surrendered by owners. The number of surrendered animals increased 64 percent from 2010 to 2012.

PETA is correct in noting the changes in surrendered animals as well as the increase in intake. However, what they purposefully have left out is that while intake has increased, outtake has also increased. Our adoption programs have increased and our community involvement has hugely increased. 

During the month of November 2012, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter reports show 673 animals at the shelter during that time-frame. 
  • 59 animals were euthanized at the Williamson County Regional Shelter, however the reason behind each euthanasia is noted, with severe medical cases being the number one reason for humane euthanasia at WCRAS in November 2012. Of the remaining animals
  • 27 animals died at the shelter, a majority of those being very young kittens and puppies.
  • 31 animals were cats that were brought in for Trap/Neuter/Return.
  • 131 animals were transferred out to other humane rescue organizations (WCRAS does NOT transfer to other kill shelters, WCRAS partners are all amazing local rescue organizations.)
  • 64 animals were returned to their owner after they were brought in to WCRAS.
  • 340 animals were adopted.
  • The remaining animals remained in the shelter through December as they waited for their forever families to find them. Rest assured that they waited comfortably, with food, water and plenty of cuddly blankets to keep them warm through the winter months. I personally help clean the cat kennels and photograph our kitties and can attest to the care that these animals are given.
Vernalla. Saved by WCRAS, 2013
FACT: The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter saved 87.22% of all of the animals in the care during November, 2012.

If you clicked on the above article link that was mentioned by PETA, you will see that I was interviewed for that article. I can personally note that only a fraction of my quote was taken (as most media outlets do) and that the article was intended to bring in more community involvement. Nowhere in the article does it say that WCRAS euthanized more animals. Nowhere in the article did it say that we were giving up. The article mentions a stressful month, yes, but even a stressful month doesn't excuse killing. A stressful month means we work that much harder, which we did and we were able to find homes for hundreds of animals.

Let me also note that during the entire year of 2012, PETA only found homes for 19 animals.
I personally fostered and found homes for 38 animals in 2012.

Based on my conversation with PETA reps via twitter this week, I also don't believe that PETA knows the difference between the types of no-kill shelters. They are constantly commenting that pets are turned away or warehoused in these shelters. This kind of mis-information shared by PETA is why many animal lovers believe that no-kill is not a positive alternative to shelter killing. To all of the animal lovers out there, let me clear up some ideas that you might have regarding these issues. 

There are three main types of animal rescue organizations:
Open Admission Shelter:An open admission shelter is usually a government run facility that accepts all animals regardless of their situation. Generally, these are the organizations which stray animals, animals impounded by animal control entities and all owner surrenders are taken to.  The average shelter in the united states has between a 50% - 60% save rate. 

A true 'No Kill' Shelter, according to the No Kill Advocacy Center is an open admission shelter that implements programs of the No Kill Equation to reach an overall save rate of 90%-95% or higher. This includes all animals that are euthanized due to medical or behavioral reasons.

Limited Admission Shelter:
Limited admission shelters are often those shelters that call themselves 'No Kill'. However, due to their limited space or funding, these shelters often only accept animals when they have the space or the resources to accommodate new animals. No Kill limited admission shelters often take animals pulled from other open admission shelters and many do no accept owner surrenders, or have a long waiting list for owner surrenders. 

Rescue Group:
Rescue Groups are typically all volunteer based organizations which rely on a network of Foster homes. These foster homes take in the animals from the Rescue Group's adoption program and care for them as if they are their own until the animal finds a forever home. Rescue Groups rely heavily on their foster families to care for their rescue pets until a forever home is found.

This sweet little ferret was rescued &
adopted to a wonderful family by The
Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter.
In my conversation with PETA, they continually refer to shelters that turn away animals. This shows that they are looking primarily at limited admission shelters. An open-admission shelter cannot turn away an animal in need, which is why being a no-kill open admission shelter is especially impressive. The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter is an open-admission shelter that continually saves 85%+ of all the pets in their care. I'm not saying that it's easy, but being a volunteer for a shelter that works as hard as they do is incredibly rewarding and I am honored to work beside people who truly are animal advocates. 

PETA often states that no-kill shelters are hoarding animals. If 90% of the animals are leaving the shelter alive... how is a shelter hoarding? Basic math can tell you that this is not the case. Sure, there are months where the shelters fill up and run out of room, and yes, those are the months when dogs are doubled up and housed in kennels together. (Honestly, I think our dogs prefer it that way - life in a kennel is lonely and I know that I would prefer the company). Does that mean the shelter is constantly hoarding? Absolutely not. What it means is that the shelter is willing to try a new temporary situation for the animals while they continue to fight to find the pets a family. I have never seen an overcrowded kennel at the shelter. The dogs are always able to comfortably stretch and roll around. 

In addition to the many things PETA ignores when pointing the finger at other rescue organizations, they continue to ignore or own up to their own flaws. What about your 'shelter'? 

PETA killed 90% of the animals that they got their hands on last year. Wouldn't an organization as large as PETA with so much funding be able to provide medical care to sick or injured animals?

PETA states that no kill shelters have to turn away animals due to lack of space. What about the empty kennels at your 'shelter'? Why haven't you opened those spaces up to the many animals that are turned away? Why do you encourage other shelters to continue killing animals in the face of life-saving alternatives?

There are many shelters around the country that are embracing The No Kill Equation and those shelters that implement these proven programs are seeing huge increases in their life-saving efforts. We still have a long way to go, but No Kill progress is made every single day. Take a look at the awesome 'Just One Day' campaign by Animal Ark and The No Kill Advocacy Center. This program is reaching out to shelters across the country and helping them realize that No Kill starts with a simple change. Just one day of No Kill can be the push that shelter directors need to make a change. By looking at the Just One Day Pledge map, you can see how many shelters have made or want to make a commitment to life-saving. Isn't that inspiring? I have made a commitment to saving lives and regardless of how much PETA argues or tries to twist the truth, I know in my heart that killing animals is wrong.

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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