The ASPCA and the case of the extremely elusive documents

Valerie Hayes
Screenshot of ASPCAPro webpage 11/8/11 AM

The ASPCAPro webpage as it appeared before certain extremely embarrassing documents were made to disappear. Click to enlarge.

Until Tompkins County became the first No Kill community in U.S. history, No Kill was said to be impossible. When other communities followed suit, it became probable. When we cross the tipping point, it will become inevitable. 

~Nathan Winograd, from “On Leadership


Yesterday morning, a friend emailed me a couple of links that she’d seen the ASPCA was promoting on Facebook and in email blasts.  Of particular note was a document entitled “The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda.”  I am so taken with it that I will quote it in its entirety, in addition to linking to a pdf.

Here it is:

The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda
Step 1: Establishing a Proxy

A member of a community will begin to adopt the talking points of the Extremist Agenda, using aggressive and divisive language to describe the state of that community’s animal welfare organizations.

Step 2: Creating a Local Organization

The proxy forms an organization (i.e. “No Kill Austin/Louisville/Houston/Philly) that will act as the local brand for the Extremist Agenda and begin to use social networking to expand.

Step 3: Engaging in Local Politics

The no-kill organization lobbies local public officials and candidates regarding the existing euthanasia rates at the municipal shelter. In most cases, there does exist public attention to the need to reform the sheltering system to increase lifesaving.

• The proxy organization will get involved in local elections, providing questionnaires and financial support to candidates perceived as sympathetic to the Extremist Agenda.

Step 4: Slandering Existing Animal Welfare

The Extremist Agenda slanders the existing shelter director and any local humane organization that is deemed to be sympathetic to the status quo. The aim of the slander is to put enough pressure on the director to step down (which is often achieved).

Step 5: Installing a Puppet Regime

A new “compassionate” director sympathetic to the Extremist Agenda is put in place through effective lobbying. The Extremist Agenda organization will often advocate a candidate with little or no experience who will essentially do as they are told.

Step 6: Saving Face when the Agenda Fails

The Extremist Agenda displaces blame when the program becomes unsustainable by blaming either their own director or local public officials for not backing them sufficiently.

Step 7: Slandering Media

Attacking unfavorable media is commonplace for the Extremist Agenda when a story runs that questions any component of implementing overnight solutions while demonizing hardworking animal welfare organizations.

I am nonplussed once again.  I didn’t think I could be, but I am.  I love the First Amendment.  It’s my favorite.  Why are they trying to make it seem so–dirty?  And, holy crap!  Somebody figured out how to channel Senator Joe McCarthy!

Are you a citizen concerned about abuse and killing at your local animal shelter (paid for with your tax dollars and/or donations)?  The ASPCA calls you a ‘proxy’.  Do you believe that shelters should implement the No Kill Equation, saving 90+% of all homeless pets in the community?  According to the ASPCA, you are a proponent of the dreaded “Extremist Agenda.”  Do you speak the truth about the abuse and killing at your local “shelter”?  Do you call out killing apologists?  According to the ASPCA, you are committing slander, being divisive, and demonizing.  According to the ASPCA, a compassionate shelter director committed to the No Kill Equation is a puppet and needs to be corralled within scare quotes.

According to the ASPCA, “In most cases, there does exist public attention to the need to reform the sheltering system to increase lifesaving.”  So, what’s the bigger problem to them—the fact that so-called shelters kill needlessly and spitefully (as when rescue is en route) and abuse animals in the process, or the fact that this reckless irresponsibility and malice is making its way into the public eye?

Plus, all of their name-calling combined with their admonitions against slander and divisiveness would be comical if they didn’t perpetuate tragedy after tragedy.

I noticed that the ASPCA name and logo were conspicuously absent from these documents.  Why would they leave that stuff off?  Deniability?  The document properties for “The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda” indicate that it was created on October 4, 2010, so apparently, it has been making the rounds behind the scenes for over a year prior to yesterday’s little indiscretion.  Another disappearing document, “Engaging Public Officials” was created on October 5, 2010.

Before the day was out, the ASPCA realized that it had done something extremely stupid and pulled two of the more incriminating documents from its website.   The link that led to “The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda,” now yields only  an error message.

All that is left of "The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda" and "Engaging Public Officials" on the ASPCAPro website.

All that is left of the Extremist Agenda" and "Engaging Public Officials" on the ASPCAPro website.

But the internet being what it is, once the proverbial lolcat is out of the bag, it’s on more hard drives than you can count and it ain’t going back in.

Mission Orange kitteh wants you to STFU

Mission Orange kitteh wants you to STFU

When I first saw these webpages, I had a feeling that they might not be long for this world, so I took the screenshot at the top of this post for posterity and downloaded “The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda” and “The Psychology of Attacks and Attackers”  (I got a particular charge out of their effort to create a perception of a ‘slippery slope’ whereby the presentation of legitimate concerns becomes a verbal ‘attack’ and segues into ‘violence’.  Smarmy, smarmy, smarmy.   Never mind that these people commit actual violence every time they kill an animal.)  I also downloaded “Engaging Public Officials.” I wasn’t the only Extremist No Kill advocate  who did.  John Sibley also preserved “The Tactics of the Extremist Agenda”  and “Engaging Public Officials” for your entertainment.  He’s an extremely civic-minded dude.

It’s worth having a look at the remaining links on the “Tools for Humane Discourse” page while they last.  Try not to get whiplash from all the irony.

Let’s Get It Done” contains the telling statement, “We stand to lose something even more valuable than votes – the public’s money and time.”  I thought I’d highlight that statement because it is one of the only ones in the whole lot that is both honest and truthful.  I’m extremely helpful that way.

If your sense of humor is sufficiently warped, you might enjoy the “Pledge for Humane Discourse” almost as much as I did.  Upon scanning the list of signatories who pledged:

We the undersigned individuals and organizations, in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), reject and condemn verbal abuse, threats, and acts of violence directed against animal welfare personnel. There is no place in the humane movement for physical or verbal intimidation, violence, or acts of terrorism.

Such behavior is wholly inconsistent with a core ethic of promoting compassion and respect, and undermines the credibility of the entire animal welfare movement. Our goal must be to affirm the value and integrity of all life, whether animal or human, and to encourage others to do likewise. Verbal attacks, threats, harassment, defamation, and acts of violence, moreover, do not ultimately help animals. Instead, they eliminate opportunities for dialogue, collaboration and cooperation, making our shared goals, including that of ending the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals, harder to achieve. A free and respectful exchange of views in the ongoing national conversation about animal welfare practices, including animal sheltering practices, is the standard to which humane organizations and communities should aspire and adhere.

We call on every animal welfare group and advocate to join us in actively promoting compassion and respect not just for animals but for those people who work tirelessly on their behalf. Please pledge your commitment by adding your name below.

A few names jumped out at me—

Killing apologists find plenty of room “in the humane movement for physical or verbal intimidation, violence, or acts of terrorism” when they are the ones doing the intimidating, which is one reason why we have National Animal Shelter Reform Week.  I’d like to thank the ASPCA for inadvertently adding to this week’s revelry.

Proponents of the Extremist Agenda  Animal-lovers and No Kill advocates should, most of all, view this episode as a sign that we have gained enough ground that killing apologists  (even those with literally over $100 million at their disposal) regard the current situation as a crisis and are starting to (pardon the non-vegan metaphor) run around like a bunch of chickens with their heads chopped off.  A crisis is, by definition, a dynamic situation—danger mixed with opportunity.  (They’re in danger of being exposed for what they are—people and organizations who value money and power over the lives of animals; and we have the opportunity to make “shelters” into real shelters.   They have the opportunity to change and get on board with the Extremist Agenda lifesaving; and we are in danger of being labeled “extremists” and subjected to various and sundry other nastiness.)  It is heady, exciting, exhausting and the time when real leaders emerge.  It means we are at, or very near, the tipping point.

The old ‘catch and kill’ monolith is showing its cracks.   It’s up to us to replace it with a new, extremely life-affirming paradigm.

“I don’t think these documents make our job harder; I think they make our job easier,” said Ryan Clinton of Fix Austin, one of the groups the disappearing ASPCA documents referred to specifically as ‘extremist’.    “Any time you get a hold of the other side’s ‘talking points,’ it destroys their credibility with public officials and media.  I particularly love the line that says “Public officials who are leaning in the Extremist direction need to be handled cautiously.””

I am extremely grateful for that.

21 Responses to “The ASPCA and the case of the extremely elusive documents”

  • Celeste Says:

    In Australia the push is for Oscars Law: no selling of animals in pet shops, no unregistered breeders, no puppy / kitten mills, compulsiry desexing, micro-chipping before adoption of animals (from registered breeders and shelters/pounds) etc. These things alone would reduce unwanted/unloved pet numbers (saving communities massive amounts of money in a short time:win/win.)

    I’m sure the US is advocating similar.

    I can’t believe such forefront animal welfare advocates are not adopting these ideas and the ultimate then achieved: no kill!

  • Peter Masloch Says:

    No Kill Conference 2017
    As in the previous 2 years, the No Kill Conference 2017 will be held again in Mess Hall A12, High Security Detention Building 5 on Guantanamo Bay. Inmates Winograd and Clinton will be handing out home made veggie sandwiches and peach tea before the keynote speech. A request made by Winograd and Clinton earlier to hold the event outside in “Tent City” amongst the other 368,000 high security inmates was denied by the GBASPCA (Guantanamo Bay ASPCA). The GBSPCA took over security operations at Guantanamo Bay after the successfull nationwide operation “Kill the Messenger”. More than 250,000 extremists were arrested across the United States within 24 hours and shipped to Guantanamo Bay.

    In other unrelated news, ASPCA President & CEO Eddie Salvage thanked in a Press Conference friends and supporters for the generous birthday gift he received last month in form of a working 1/10 scale model of a gas chamber. Salvage stated that he would like to introduce the working 1/10 scale model to every Elementary School in the US. Salvage continued saying that the suffering of animals is part of our culture and should be understood early on.

  • I Want My Puppet Regime! « YesBiscuit! Says:

    [...] can still all read ASPCA’s guide to how to go about creating change.  Valerie has written a lengthy post on the subject so please go there to read the docs in all their glory.  But the Reader’s [...]

  • Bett Sundermeyer Says:

    I think it is funny that they have taken down some of the documents. Perhaps all of the questions from potential donors asking why they are actively fighting No Kill efforts made them rethink their stance? Or perhaps they will just hide it better from the donating public now?

    Before they removed the “Extremist Agenda” document, I noticed that on the very same page, there is a link to an article called “Our Choice” ( which speaks favorably about the No Kill movement.

    It says, in bright red letters, “Every social movement starts with a few visionaries who are seen initially as crazy radicals”.

    So, on same page where they are attacking No Kill advocates calling us “extremists”, they also have an article praising No Kill advocates as “crazy radicals”.

    I have to wonder if the ASPCA even reads what they write?

  • nanci little Says:

    NKN and Humane Watch are FRAUDS! Humane Watch has BEEN exposed and proven to be funded by puppy mills, factory farms, laboratories, fur farms, etc. NO ONE can say any longer they ‘did not KNOW’! Check it out so YOU are not being tricked!
    NKN and Humane Watch together try in every single way every single day to take donations AWAY from those large and efficient and ESTABLISHED AND RESPECTED organizations of HSUS and the ASPCA which spend a HUGE percentage of THEIR donations WORKING at all ends of the spectrum to end cruelty all over the world. These organizations put BOOTS ON THE GROUND to save animals in floods and fires and earthquakes; send their people undercover putting their own safety at risk to end the horrors of puppy mills, labs, factory farms, fur farms, horse slaughterhouses, and dog and cat fur as well as the dog meat trade in Asian countries – to name just SOME. (WHERE HAS No Kill Nation BEEN during ALL THE DISASTERS IN OUR OWN COUNTRY THIS PAST YEAR? NOWHERE!)The respected organizations of HSUS and ASPCA have worked for MANY decades on the broader picture of respect for animals and are continuing to focus on the BIG picture of working to stop the cruelty all over the world through media exposure; making good laws and blocking the bad ones with good legal arguments; and applying political pressure where it will work to save MILLIONS of animals by changing people’s minds and chipping away to change the cultures which tolerate horrendous abuses! It is a HUGE task but little by little it is succeeding. NKN does accept and pass on pet food and supplies, but if you follow the DOLLARS they have taken from well-meaning but badly informed people, it will not lead you to animals in NEED! Humane Watch has been proven to be funded by the very same people who PROFIT from animal suffering and so it follows why they would WANT to destroy the effective and established HSUS and ASPCA. I would have to assume the reason is the same for NKN which promotes Humane Watch… or perhaps they just engage in this despicable slander simply for the selfish reason of funneling donations to themselves instead of the more effective organizations.

  • No Kill America Says:

    You have to admit that, hysterical language aside, the ASPCA doc on the “Extremist Agenda” does pin down the No Kill movement’s MO perfectly – particularly step six, blame the locals when things go wrong (cough *Philadelphia* cough).

  • ASPCA Got 99 Problems but a Glitch Ain’t One « YesBiscuit! Says:

    [...] long way toward helping no kill wearers of shoes with protruding fuses advocates believe that these ASPCA documents were posted and promoted by mistake?  If some other glitch had ever occurred with the ASPCA, maybe [...]

  • Valerie Hayes Says:

    This is as good a time as any to remind everyone of my Comments Policy:

    @Nanci–Nowhere in this post did I mention HSUS, Humane Watch or NKN. I and just about every other advocate and their dogs are aware of what Humane Watch is. We are also aware that No Kill Nation is nothing like it, and has nothing to do with it. No Kill Nation is a No Kill advocacy organization, founded to provide relief to the biggest and most protracted companion-animal-related disaster our country has ever known–the needless killing and abuse of four million animals annually in our nations so-called “shelters”, a disaster which HSUS and the ASPCA are doing their level best to see continue.

    @NKA You can’t put the hysterical language aside because then there would be nothing left. As for Philadelphia, it never implemented all 11 points of the No Kill Equation, so it’s no surprise that it has yet to meet with success.

  • Peter Masloch Says:

    Dear “nancy little”,

    “The respected organizations of HSUS and ASPCA have worked for MANY decades on the broader picture of respect for animals….”

    We can stop right here. How come that HSUS and ASPCA kill thousands of animals in their Shelters every year? Somehow that doesn’t really add up to your statement. And how can the ASPCA be respected if they call me an “Extremist”?

    And then this:
    “…making good laws and blocking the bad ones with good legal arguments; and applying political pressure…”

    Really? Is that why the ASPCA blocked Oreo’s Law? Would you please explain that to me?
    And why am I being called an “Extremist”? Because I save the live of animals? Because I fight for the Shelter reform that the ASPCA, HSUS and PETA don’t want? You either want to save the animals or you don’t.

    Peter (the Extremist)

  • Matt Says:

    When you cut through the B.S., you’re left with this fact:

    “Killing is the ultimate form of violence. While cruelty and suffering are abhorrent, while cruelty and suffering are painful, while cruelty and suffering should be condemned and rooted out, there is nothing worse than death, because death is final. An animal subjected to pain and suffering can be rescued. An animal subjected to savage cruelty can even become a therapy dog, bringing comfort to cancer patients, as the dog fighting case against football player Michael Vick shows. There is still hope, but death is hope’s total antithesis. It is the eclipse of hope because the animals never wake up, ever. It is the worst of the worst—a fact each and every one of us would recognize if we were the ones being threatened with death.”

    Nathan Winograd

  • Mary Anne Says:


    My problem with HSUS and ASPCA is that NEITHER group runs shelters (the A has a limited admission shelter (highly adoptable animals – puppy mill seizures and the like) and those deemed adoptable from cruelty cases) in New York City.

    So I am not sure how they are euthanizing thousands of animals.

  • Peter Masloch Says:

    Right, Mary Ann. And we all only dreamed that Oreo was killed in an ASPCA Shelter in NYC? How many thousand animals does the ASPCA kill in NYC every year?
    Both, the HSUS and the ASPCA support the killing of animals, calling us now extremists, terrorsist’s and minions.

  • MARY ANNE Says:

    Peter, clearly you have fallen for the ASPCA ads that makes it look like they are sheltering 1000s of animals.

    They are not. They use the ads with the cute sad faces to raise a lot of money. Very little of that money actually goes to local shelters and rescue groups.

    The ASPCA, as part of Maddies Fund, posts its statistics on its website:

    According to the numbers, the “A” euthanized 134 animals, including Oreo. Not thousands.

    I think you are confusing the ASPCA with New York City Animal Care and Control, which is run by the city and DOES euthanize a lot of animals.

  • Peter Masloch Says:

    The ASPCA is supporting the mass killing of animals across the US in almost every High Kill Shelter. Just today I was called by the ASPCA an extremist and terrorist just because I’m a No Kill advocate and demand Shelter reform.

  • Peter Masloch Says:

    I really love this quote:
    “ASPCA, the train has left the station, and we are en route to a no-kill country. We would love for you to be at the victory party.” ~~Francis Battista, Best Friends Animal Society

  • ASPCA “Saves” Dogs By Transporting Them To Kill Shelters | In Dog We Trust Says:

    [...] animal-killing legislation, as they successfully did in September, or labeling No Kill advocates “extremists” (and later, “terrorists”) as they did last week and advising directors of high kill [...]

  • Kay Riviello Says:

    New York Animal Rights Alliance America has established the National Protest Against Kill Pounds in America, having had our second on November 12, 2011. We advocate for True No-Kill in which the no-kill paradigm by Nathan Winograd is strictly followed, as defined in the Aslimar definitions. Our 5-year campaign outlines three areas in which we will take the True No-Kill movement to the next level, we will protest on a national level regularly; we will take legal action against kill pounds when they break the law in the areas of animal abuse, negligence and incompetence of a municipality and hold elected officials accountable in the political sphere. As a result of our second National Protest, we have put on notice kill pound systems such as NY ACC, Devore in Los Angeles, Pinal County, AZ and Lehigh County in PA that we simply will not tolerate the slaughter of healthy beautiful cats and dogs and are ready and willing to stop them through massive public awareness, and legal and political channels. Please contact me 845 856 7366 to discuss how YOU can help set up a chapter at your local kill pound.

  • Valerie Hayes Says:

    I have to point out that the No Kill paradigm as promoted by Nathan Winograd and other No Kill advocates, is embodied in the No Kill Equation, and the No Kill Declaration, NOT the Asilomar Accords. Nathan Winograd has been very critical of the Asilomar Accords, because they do NOT protect feral cats and other categories of animals. See:


  • A reply to my open letter to Mary Jo White, Chair of the ASPCA Board of Directors | Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World Says:

    [...] of ideas.  They block anyone on their Facebook page who questions or criticizes them.  They call shelter reform advocates ‘extremists’ and work both publicly and clandestinely to f….  They have yet to engage in any meaningful discussion with anyone on the issues of Oreo or rescue [...]

  • Dana G Says:

    Caboodle ranch needs SO much help. They just got railroaded. Can you pass along?

    For updates on their story, see their blog:

    This is not a hoarding situation. They are a sanctuary along the lines of They need help and are being used as a platform to push legislation through.

    They work with a vet, – he visited weekly – along with vet techs, and they all testified at the hearing in support along with other people who go to the ranch often. The judge still ruled against them. This whole thing has been PETA/ASPCA nutty since the beginning.

    Please sign the petition and please go to their facebook page – they need ideas, actions, promotion, PR, social media gurus etc. for ny hope of the judge overturning the decision. Maybe it won’t work but not trying is just too sad.


    Thanks. I’m not affiliated with the, just someone who really liked their ranch.

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