Aug 20 2014

Shelter Pet Population 101

Valerie Hayes

Another post from the archive.  This was originally published on in 2010.  Learn more at the Atlanta screening of Redemption tomorrow, which will be followed by a presentation on how to implement the No Kill Equation in your community.  Tickets are only $5 and are available here.


Bella, rescued from the high-kill Carroll County Animal Shelter in Georgia.

The science of population dynamics teaches us that there are really only four factors that influence the size of a population of animals or plants. They are birth rate,death rate,immigration and emigration.

The birth rate is simply the number of animals born in that population in a given time period. The death rate is the number dying in that same time period. Immigration is the rate at which animals join the population in question from some other population. Emigration is the rate at which animals leave the population in question for some other population.

The maximum sustainable size of a given population is governed by the habitat’s carrying capacity. The carrying capacity is determined by limiting factors—resources such as food, water and shelter.

Population biologists refer to groups of interacting populations of a given species as a metapopulation, basically a ‘population of populations’. They interact by exchanging members through immigration and emigration. Each of these interacting populations within a metapopulation is called a subpopulation.

Why the science lesson in a column about animal welfare? Simple—looking at the pets in a given community as a metapopulation can help us see how to save all the healthy and treatable pets in that community. A community’s pets can be divided into three subpopulations. There are pets with homes and pets without homes. These twosubpopulations interact and exchange members. Pets with homes can join the ranks of the homeless when they are lost or abandoned. Pets without homes can get homes when they are found, rescued or adopted. This exchange process often involves an animal entering the third subpopulation of pets in a community—those in its shelters and rescue groups.

Entering this third subpopulation has traditionally proved deadly for animals because shelters have long relied on the death rate as a means of controlling the size of this subpopulation. While there has been much talk about spaying and neutering*, which curbs the birth rate, it is only fairly recently that some shelters have begun spaying and neutering all adopted pets. Many still adopt out unaltered animals, sometimes relying on contracts or monetary deposits to induce adopters to have the pet altered by their own veterinarian after adoption. This is an unwieldy system guaranteed to have some level of non-compliance, resulting in the system’s failure. The traditional model of animal sheltering has failed miserably because it simply does not address the four factors which influence the shelter pet population in a comprehensive or meaningful way.

“Wait a minute, there is a pet overpopulation problem!”, you say. “There are more pets entering shelters than there are homes for them. The number of pets exceeds the carrying capacity for pets. There simply aren’t enough homes for them all. The number of homes is the limiting factor.”

“Not so!”, says Nathan Winograd, author of Redemption: the Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America. “Not so!” says Maddie’s Fund,  the actual data indicate otherwise. There are 17 million people in this country who are looking to acquire a dog or cat this year, but haven’t yet decided from where—the ‘swing voters’ . About 8 million animals will enter shelters, and of those, about 4 million will be killed. Of those 4 million killed, about 90% are healthy or savable. Therefore, there are 17 million potential homes for fewer than 4 million animals. Homes are not a limiting factor. Pet overpopulation, far from being received wisdom, is in fact, a myth, and a deadly one. It has too long served as a smokescreen for the real reason why the death rate is used to control the shelter pet population—the habit of institutionalized uncaring in the shelters themselves.

Enter the No Kill Equation, the first and only proven method for saving all healthy and treatable animals in a community’s shelter pet population. It succeeds by comprehensively addressing the shelter pet population using the three non-lethal factors which influence any population. With the NKE, shelters are restored to the original and proper definition of the term—places of safety for animals. Euthanasia too is restored to the original and proper definition of the term, and is used only for those animals who truly are irremediably suffering or vicious. The NKE has 11 points. Let’s have a look at each one.

Tabby Cat

Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats is an integral part of the No Kill Equation.

1. Feral cat TNR Program: Also known as ‘Trap, Neuter, Return’, TNR keeps feral cats out of the shelter pet population. Feral cats, called ‘community cats’ by some, have homes. They live outside, on their own and don’t belong in shelters. They grew up without being socialized to humans and can’t be adopted into human families. Volunteer caretakers feed and monitor feral cat colonies. They humanely trap the cats and have them spayed and neutered, then return them to their habitats and continue caring for them there. This controls the birth rate. When new cats immigrate into the community’s population, they can be TNRed as well, or adopted into homes if not really feral. The immigration rate is lower than with the traditional ‘catch and kill’ method of dealing with feral cats, however, because with TNR, the niche occupied by cats is not left vacant—cats are territorial. The ‘catch and kill’ method perpetuates a never-ending cycle of killing. It is also more costly than TNR, which relies largely on the volunteer labor of caring community members. Over time, managed colonies shrink as the cats live out their life spans.

2. High Volume, Low Cost Spay/Neuter: By making spay-neuter readily available to the pets of all members of the community, the birth rate in the overall pet population is effectively curbed, reducing the number of animals entering the shelter population (immigration). Studies, including the recent Petsmart study, indicate that a major obstacle to spay-neuter is the cost of the surgery. Low cost clinics reduce the number of animals entering shelters. Punitive laws, such as mandatory spay-neuter, or MSN, actually increase the number of pets entering shelters.

3. Rescue Groups: By working with rescue groups, a shelter reduces its population through emigration—the animals leave the shelter to go into rescue and ultimately into homes. The number of animals between homes is not limited by the four walls of the shelter building. Members of the community pitch in. Lives are saved. Remember the responsible public–that previously ignored stakeholder?

4. Foster Care: Once again, by relying on the responsible public, this time with a comprehensive foster care program in which all orphaned kittens and puppies, sick or injured animals and those in need of behavioral rehabilitation have a place to go until they are ready to be adopted, animals are saved. The four walls of the shelter, previously identified as a limiting factor, no longer are so. The shelter is more a part of the community. Volunteers work for free and create good will.

5. A Comprehensive Adoption Program: Most people who acquire pets don’t get them from shelters. Getting animals adopted into homes, having them emigrate into the population of pets with homes needs to be a central mission of any shelter. Shelters need to present a clean and inviting environment to the public and to effectively market shelter pets in a variety of different ways, including the internet and social media. Shelters should be open at times when working people and families with children can actually visit them. They should bring the pets into the community with offsite adoptions. Volunteers can help with this. It needs to be done vigorously.

George was rescued from the high-kill Carroll County Animal Shelter.

George was rescued from the high-kill Carroll County Animal Shelter.

6. Pet Retention: Sometimes, a little problem-solving can prevent the immigration of pets from the homed population into the shelter population. Blaming people is counterproductive, but helping them solve the problems that lead to pets being surrendered to shelters gets results. Do they need some pet food to get through a difficult financial time? Tips on getting their cat to use the litter box? A referral for training for a rambunctious dog? Shelters need to act like they believe that pets are not disposable and to help people do the right thing wherever possible.

7. Medical and Behavioral Programs: Shelters are obligated to ensure that all animals in their care who are ready for adoption stay that way, and that those who are sick, injured, too young or in need of behavioral rehabilitation get it. A healthy shelter pet population will emigrate into the homed pet population. Failure to have these programs results in an increased and unnecessary death rate.

8. Public Relations/Community Involvement: By keeping the shelter and its programs in the public eye, there are more opportunities for shelter pets to emigrate into the homed pet population by being adopted, more opportunities to reduce the birth rate through low-cost spay-neuter, more opportunities to help people retain pets, thus reducing the immigration rate, and more volunteers recruited and donations obtained for programs that reduce limiting factors and reduce the death rate.

9. Volunteers: Shelter pets can’t live without them. They work at spay-neuter clinics, reducing the birth rate. They bottle feed orphaned puppies and kittens, and care for the sick and injured, reducing the death rate. They provide foster homes for animals, removing the space within a shelter’s four walls as a limiting factor. They take pets to offsite adoptions, increasing the emigration rate. They offer advice and assistance, preventing some animals from ending up at the shelter in the first place, reducing the immigration rate. They create good will and make the shelter a part of the community it serves. Shelters need to treat them like the powerful positive force that they are.

10. Proactive Redemptions: Many pets at shelters are lost. They have homes and should be returned to them. Traditionally the rate of lost pets being returned to their homes by shelters has been very low and many are killed, resulting in a high death rateBeing proactive prevents this unnecessary immigration or at least greatly reduces its duration, freeing up resources for animals who really don’t have homes.

11. A Compassionate Director: The director is the one with both the power and the responsibility to make it all happen, the keystone that holds the whole NKE together. Sadly such directors are not easy to come by, and many shelter directors thwart rather than promote the implementation of the NKE. The bottom line is that the shelter director must reduce the shelter pet death rate so that it includes only those animals who are irremediably sick, injured or truly vicious. That means that 90% or more of the animals entering the shelter pet population leave that population alive. The director makes the shelter into a true safety net for animals. Such a shelter has a positive image and is both an asset to its community and a point of pride. The circle of compassion is extended to those animals without homes, and they can be more efficiently moved into the homed animal population through the shelter. A growing list of communities as diverse as Tompkins County, NY, Reno, NV, Charlottesville, VA and Shelby County, KY has already accomplished this, even as their shelters maintain an open-door policy, accepting any pet in need.

*In 1974 a group of large national organizations which considered themselves the ‘stakeholders’ in the issue of animal sheltering met and devised the strategy for dealing with shelter pets that is still with us today. It is called ‘Legislate, Educate, Sterilize’ and is abbreviated LES. The legislation is generally punitive towards the pet owning public and to the pets themselves—license animals or they can be seized and killed, vaccinate the animals or they may be seized and killed, spay or neuter the animals or they may be seized and killed. The education generally involves taking impounded pets into schools and telling the children that it is bad to be cruel to animals and bad not to spay and neuter. Never mind that these impounded pets may be subsequently killed by the shelter. This ‘education’ is expected to reduce the numbers of animals entering shelters at some future time, though the mechanism and effectiveness remain undocumented after more than 30 years. Sterilization refers to spay-neuter, but the self-appointed stakeholders specifically opposed the low-cost clinics which make spay-neuter readily available to the community. Shelters did not have to spay or neuter animals they adopted out. What then did LES really mean? Unfortunately it has meant ‘blame the public’, or rather, the ‘irresponsible public’. Who is the ‘irresponsible public’? It is usually identified as ‘people who don’t spay and neuter’. Never mind that the cost of the surgery is often the reason for not doing it, and most people would have it done if it were affordable or free. The ‘stakeholders’ had come out in opposition to free and low-cost spay-neuter clinics, despite the fact that an organization called Mercy Crusade had established a very successful program in Los Angeles in 1971. What about the ‘responsible public’? Are we not ‘stakeholders’? The stakeholder that wasn’t at the table back in 1974 has begun asserting itself and demanding reform of this broken system in the form of the No Kill Equation. The responsible public is up against the entrenched bureaucracy of the large national groups and the entrenched attitudes which they have promulgated all these years.

This article originally appeared here.

Apr 25 2013

An open letter in support of removing PETA’s ‘animal shelter’ designation

Valerie Hayes
PETA needle
Below is a version of emails I sent to Commissioner Lohr and Dr. Dan Kovich of VDACS.  I encourage everyone who cares about animals and people to write to them as well in support of the No Kill Advocacy Center’s petition to remove PETA’s designation as an ‘animal shelter’.  Other than employees of animal shelters, only licensed veterinarians can legally euthanize or kill pets, so removing the shelter designation would remove the cover under which PETA kills thousands of healthy and treatable pets every year, leaving them with nary a lettuce bikini to hide it behind.  A shelter is supposed to be a place for adoptions, not a place of mass killings.

If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to send your own emails to Commissioner Lohr:  and to Dr. Kovich:, because enough is enough.

Dear Sirs,

On June 15, 2013, it will be eight years since the real PETA was revealed to the world.  I am talking, of course, about the Piggly Wiggly Dumpster Incident and subsequent trial.  Since learning the painful truth about how an organization claiming to work on behalf of the rights of animals instead perverts the definitions of ‘rights’, ‘ethical’, and ‘animal shelter’ by seeking out and killing thousands of healthy and treatable pets every year, I have done what I can to spread the word, in hope that the more voices raised against this perversion, the sooner it would come to an end.

You have the power to put an end to it by granting the petition filed by the No Kill Advocacy Center, and I implore you to do so.  Your state’s own shelter statistics reporting webpage shows that many of Virginia’s shelters and rescues are capable of great things and save many lives (and on budgets a tiny fraction of PETA’s).  Your own findings in your site visit of almost two years ago show that PETA does not even have proper facilities nor the inclination to house and adopt out pets.  Some of Virginia’s open-admission animal control shelters save an impressive 90% or more of the animals they take in and more are working towards that admirable and achievable goal.  PETA, with its wealth, national reach, and claim to be a leading voice for animal rights, should be leading the way in saving the lives of lost and homeless pets, yet it uses its wealth and its platform to fight against saving these animals and seeing them into new homes.  They are perverts.  To them a shelter designation is nothing else but a license to kill.  Please take their license to kill away.

As a witness to the creation of the first No Kill community in the nation, I am well aware of, and profoundly concerned with the negative effects that the needless killing of homeless pets has on individual people and on the community at large.  Allowing PETA to keep it’s shelter designation would not only be fatal to thousands of healthy and treatable pets every year, but would also be very bad for people as well.  It is bad for the people who are deprived of an opportunity to adopt those animals and share their lives with them.  It is bad for the people who surrender animals to PETA, having been led to believe that “the world’s leading voice for animal rights” would find them a good home.  Why should anyone have to face that betrayal?  It is bad for the animal rescuers and the staffs and volunteers of shelters targeted by PETA in their twisted little war on the No Kill movement.  Those people work hard to better the plight of homeless animals and seek to do all they can for the animals in front of them, animals that PETA would kill within minutes to further their sick agenda.  It is bad for the people who go to work for PETA, perhaps with the good intention of making the world better for animals, and who instead end up allowing themselves to be manipulated into becoming those who seek out and kill healthy and treatable pets and make no effort to find them homes–perhaps the worst possible perversion of their better selves.  What does the future hold for them?  Why should this organization be allowed to destroy their souls?

There is a better way.  Please remove PETA’s designation as an animal shelter.  Please take away their license to kill animals and to cut a destructive swath through the community of animal lovers.

Sure, they’ll make a ruckus about it, but so what?  The shouts of joy from real animal lovers across the country and around the globe will drown it out.

Valerie Hayes

Feb 27 2012

Protected: The real PETA letter

Valerie Hayes

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Feb 24 2012

PETA went down to Georgia

Valerie Hayes

Think PETA cares about homeless pets?

Think again.

Let me get my violin.

PETA went down to Georgia, they were looking for some souls to steal.
Ingrid’s in a bind ‘cos she’s way behind and she’s willin’ to make a deal.
When she came across some people savin’ animals and bloggin’ on the ‘net.
So she jumped up on a Piggly Wiggly dumpster and said: “Mayor, let me tell you what:
“I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m an animal killer too.
“And if you’d care to take a dare, I’ll make a bet with you.
“Now you tell some a pretty good lies, Mayor, but give Old Ingrid her due:
“I bet a needle of gold against your soul, ‘cos I think I’m better than you.”
The people said: “We’re just regular folks, and it might be a sin,
“But if she takes your bet, she’s gonna regret, ‘cos we’re the best that’s ever been.”

Mayor, you do your “research” and fight those advocates hard.
‘Cos hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the PETA don’t deal the cards.
And if you win you get this shiny needle made of gold.
But if you lose, well, either way, the Butcher of Norfolk gets your soul.

Old Ingrid opened up her case and she said: “I’ll start this show.”
And fire flew from her fingertips as she pulled up the blue juice, you know.
Then she pushed the plunger down and it made an evil hiss.
And a band of morons joined in and it sounded something like this:

[Hoarders! Dogfighters! Irresponsible public! Pit bulls! Feral cats! Pet overpopulation! We have to kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! KILL!!!]

When she’d finished, the people said: “Well, if it was about money, you’dve won.
“But sit down in that chair, right there, and let us show you how it’s done.”

Feral cats in the community?  T-N-R
Puppies in homes gettin’ foster care.
Volunteers at an offsite, adoptin’ out pets.
“Boss, are we done now?”
“No, not, yet.”

Old Ingrid wouldn’t bow her head, couldn’t admit that she’d been beat.
She snatched that golden needle from the ground at the Mayor’s feet.
The people said: “PETA, just come on back if you ever want to try again.
‘cause we done told you once, you son of a bitch (no offense to female dogs), we’re the best that’s ever been.”

And they went: Feral cats in the community? T-N-R
Puppies in homes gettin’ foster care.
Volunteers at an offsite, adoptin’ out pets.
“Boss, are we done now?”
“No, not, yet.”

"I bet a needle of gold against your soul, 'cos I think I'm better than you."

"I bet a needle of gold against your soul, 'cos I think I'm better than you."

With apologies to the great Charlie Daniels.

Feb 24 2012

Truth is stranger than fiction, or: When a Georgia politician cites PETA as a reason to kill shelter pets

Valerie Hayes

“The most potent and cost-effective outreach vehicle is the development of a creative volunteer program. Were shelters to place a high priority on this area through attracting, training, and skillfully utilizing a volunteer outreach corps, they could begin the transition from killing site to a community resource center. A true shelter should be a place where life is affirmed, both in teaching and practice, not a building permeated with the odor of death”  ~Ed Duvin, “In the name of mercy,” 1989


Lexie was killed in Columbus, GA this week despite being friendly and having an adoption committment.

PETA has some advice for communities looking to end the population-control killing of homeless pets:  keep right on killing.

My head hurts.  My heart hurts.  I am not surprised.

Some weeks have a theme.  This week’s theme has been cognitive dissonance, that feeling you get when presented with inconceivably mind-bending scenarios. It can lead to a search for answers, a further exploration and questioning of oneself and the world, to a desire to reshape the world and oneself, or it can lead to a distortion of thought, forcing it to fit where it does not.  What you choose to do with it makes all the difference in the world.

To become a No Kill advocate is to step through the looking glass of animal welfare, into a world where what is is so often the opposite of what is logical, just, and common sense.  Every day is filled with cognitive dissonance.  Killing is kindness.  Nobody wants to kill, yet shelters kill 3-4 million pets every year—half of all they take in.  Shelters kill animals with rescue on the way.  People calling themselves animal lovers make excuses for these things.  Killing healthy and treatable and friendly pets is “euthanasia.”  We call the places that do the killing “shelters.”  Pets are labeled “unwanted,” blaming them for their own killing.  And so on, and so on.

And the organization billing itself as the “largest animal rights organization in the world,” the one known for extremism in advocating against the wearing of fur, the eating of meat, and the testing of cosmetics on animals, the one known for its founder’s statement that “animals are not ours to eat, wear or experiment on,” the one for which no ad campaign in the name of veganism is too tasteless, makes excuses for the killing of homeless pets, advocates the killing of homeless pets, and kills thousands of homeless pets every year.

How do “animal rights” and “needless killing” manage to peacefully coexist within the same organization and within the individuals that comprise it?  The right to live is fundamental to all others.  Without that, there are no other rights.  How are they unable to see the hypocrisy of this, even when it is pointed out to them repeatedly, even when the evidence piles as high as the stack of dead bodies in that infamous walk-in freezer?  How do they recognize the role cognitive dissonance plays in how other people justify what they do to animals, choosing to keep the same old beliefs when confronted with conflicting information, yet can’t see it in themselves?

Up is down and black is white.

The excuses are a slow-moving target, but a moving target nonetheless.  There’s the irresponsible public, which has enjoyed perhaps the longest popularity–over 35 years; pet overpopulation, another classic; and, more recently the notion that animal rescue is often a front for hoarding and dog fighting has been on the ascent, perhaps as the previous two are losing some of their old appeal.  These excuses all have a few things in common—they are false—myths created from gross exaggerations and deliberate misrepresentations, but with small grains of truth that have given them traction.  A minority of pet owners are irresponsible, that is true, and those who work in shelters or rescue will see a disproportionate number of this minority, but that is not why shelters kill.  There are a lot of homeless animals, but that is not the same thing as ‘overpopulation.’  Hoarding and dog fighting exist, but to say that they are epidemic in animal rescue is nothing but a lie concocted to serve a nefarious purpose.

Hoarding is a mental illness, and hoarding of animals is a relatively rare mental illness.  Mental health experts have yet to reach a consensus as to its underlying cause.  Animal hoarding cases receive an increasing amount of media attention because they are so freakish and unusual.  A search of the Pet-Abuse website, a site that tracks all manner of cases of pet abuse, for hoarding cases* with the keyword ‘Georgia’ yielded 12 cases in the entire state in over 10 years.  Of those, two involved rescue—one was a volunteer (but not a foster care volunteer) at a rescue, the other, was the Loonie Farms case.

The state of Georgia, unlike many, requires that animal shelters and rescues be licensed and inspected by the Department of Agriculture.  There are currently over 400 nonprofit rescue groups licensed in Georgia.  Suffice to say, that rescue hoarding is very, very rare.

Shelter killing is commonplace.  A report prepared by the Georgia Voters for Animal Welfare estimates that Georgia’s taxpayer-funded animal control shelters kill 62% of the animals they take in–260,000 dogs and cats every year, so in the past 10 years, Georgia shelters killed upwards of 2.6 million animals. (The overall trend nationwide is that killing is declining, so would likely have been even higher in the years prior to the GVAW report.)  Many thousands of animals die in Georgia shelters for every one that may end up in these bad rescue situations.

And how many dogfighters would want to get a rescue license from the Department of Agriculture and deal with paperwork and inspections so that they could pull animals from shelters when they could steal them or get them from ‘free-to-good homes’ ads?  Clearly these risks are grossly overstated.

Which brings me to a letter sent from PETA to Mayor Teresa Tomlinson of Columbus, GA.  You can read it by clicking here.  Apparently the No kill advocacy going on in Columbus caught PETA’s attention and they wanted to offer the beleaguered mayor some advice that only an organization that kills nearly every animal they get their hands on can.  They hope their letter finds her well.  They always hope their letters find the recipient well.  It’s like they don’t have the social skills or brainpower to come up with a different opening line.

Things have been heating up in Columbus in recent months as a growing number of its citizens become aware of the mismanagement and rampant killing there, and of the fact that there is a better way.  This past week a dog named Lexie was killed despite having an adoption commitment.  Further background on the Columbus situation is available here, here, and here.  The local TV station aired this piece recently, and the public response to it led to another one airing February 22 in which the Mayor cited this letter from PETA as support for her claim that not killing would be harmful to animals.

And this during not just any week, but the very week that PETA’s own kill stats for 2011 were released.  PETA kills the animals it seeks out and takes in to its Bates Motel for pets so-called shelter (they alternately refer to it as a ‘shelter’ or an ‘office building,’ depending on the situation) at a rate of 97%–far worse than all but a handful of Georgia animal controls.  This is despite, or perhaps because of its budget of over $30 million.  Bill yourself as a champion of rights, build a relentless publicity machine, and you too can get away with murder.

In 2011, PETA took in 2029 animals (mostly dogs and cats, and some “other” animals such as rabbits) “for purpose of adoption.”  They killed 1965 of them.  Only 28 were adopted and 11 reclaimed. PETA transferred 34 to kill shelters, where they may or may not have been adopted and other animals may or may not have been killed to make room for them.  PETA’s adoption rate in 2011 was 1.4%.  One-point-four percent. 97% went on to occupy the walk-in freezer in PETA’s headquarters.  Keep in mind that over 90% of pets entering shelters are healthy or treatable, and there is no evidence that the pets taken in and killed by PETA are any different.  PETA has been consistently unable to produce evidence otherwise, even when pointedly asked.

PETA would prefer that the status quo continue.  Though they apparently aren’t aware that rescues are licensed and inspected in GA, they disparage concerned citizens, animal rescuers and  No Kill advocates (some of whom are or have been shelter directors themselves) as “individuals and groups unfamiliar with the inner workings of animal care and control facilities (or the daily challenges and heartbreaks that shelter workers face).”  Really?  What is it about these “inner workings” that cannot be understood by ordinary people not inducted into the mysteries?  They don’t explain that but present a collection of straw men, falsehoods and a couple of articles, one of them poorly written fear mongering about hoarding, the other one they apparently didn’t read very carefully.  It concludes with the story of how Best Friends, perhaps the best-known no-kill animal sanctuary in the country, and host of the annual No More Homeless Pets Conference, orchestrated rescue and adoption for the hundreds of feline victims of the FLOCK hoarding case in Pahrump, NV.

They cite cases where No Kill has not succeeded, but fail to mention that none of those were following the No Kill Equation, the only proven method for ending population control killing in open-admission shelters.  They ignore the growing list of communities where No Kill is succeeding—28 as of this writing.  They ignore that we have known that it can be done for almost 11 years.

The letter is signed by Jennifer Brown, who notes that she can be reached at (630)966-8895 or

On one side we have the product of the nation’s oldest animal welfare organization, the ASPCA’s Tactics of the Extremist Agenda, and on the other the product of an organization over 100 years younger, one that prides itself on being seen as extremist in the name of animal rights, yet which kills and rehashes excuses for killing that mostly date from before it was founded.  PETA has nothing of substance to offer.  It is weak, derivative and backward, trading off the false image it has crafted.

Why would anyone want to take advice (and say so on TV!) on animal sheltering from an organization, which, despite a budget of over $30 million, has an even worse kill rate than all but a very few in Georgia?  Why align oneself with an organization that is unpopular with those who don’t care about animals and is doubly so with informed people who care about homeless pets?  Why do so while claiming to be “the most progressive”?  That is not a winning situation no matter how you look at it.

PETA anti-TNR ad

PETA uses lies to try to prevent a bill that would clarify that TNR, the most humane and effective way of managing feral cat populations, is not prohibited in Virginia.

Ed Duvin, who sparked the No Kill movement with his 1989 essay “In the Name of Mercy,” could have been rebutting PETA’s campaign against the No Kill movement in general, and against Virginia’s S.B 359 in particular when he wrote “Speciesism:  Alive and Well”.  Heck, I hope this finds them well:

“Instead of recognizing our movement’s historical and contemporary role in this holocaust, many leaders continue to rationalize it on the basis of a “humane” death being preferable to a “miserable” life – further arguing that we are best able to provide this “merciful” end. Desperate humans are grievously suffering by the tens of millions all over the world, but who can imagine relief agencies endorsing systematic euthanasia as an acceptable policy. A vastly different ethic applies for companion animals, however, and most of our movement remains silent.”


“Deciding that death for other beings is preferable to a risk-filled life is not euthanasia in its traditional form, but rather a lethal manifestation of speciesism that projects our own fears and values onto another species, and then proclaims – as though we were omniscient gods – that death is our loving “gift” to them.”


“A recent issue of the leading shelter publication spared no effort in denigrating progressive programs to support feral cats. The thrust of this dogmatic criticism was that euthanasia is preferable to neuter-and release programs, claiming such programs expose ferals to the risk of “terrifying lives and tragic deaths.” Here again, we see the “kill, kill, kill” mentality – arrogantly presuming that certain death is a kinder fate for ferals than uncertain life. How ironic, as Thoreau pointed out, that the most desperate lives are lived quietly by humans, and yet no one is euthanizing us for our own protection!”


“During the past few years, I have witnessed more anger from the Shelter Establishment directed at critics than the grotesque slaughter, and this sorrowful lack of priority and proportion is indicative of a malignancy in the soul of our movement.”

The thing is, he wrote that back in 1990.  It’s 2012 and they still don’t get it.

If you are from Virginia, please join Alley Cat Allies, No Kill advocates, and some of the best-performing shelters in the country in voicing your support for S.B. 359, which clarifies that TNR is not prohibited in Virginia by clicking here.