Shelter directors with imagination. No experience necessary


Shelter directors with imagination. No experience necessary.

What are important characteristics of an effective animal shelter director? A love of animals? A passion for saving lives? Someone who demands excellence? Yes, yes, and yes. They must also be hard working, effective, determined, willing to take risks, solution oriented, accountable, someone who leads by example, and someone who can do a lot of things with limited resources. I’ve heard a No Kill shelter director quip that a good leader is someone with “the ability to hide their panic”—to appear in control even in the face of the chaos swirling around you.

In the end, all of these characteristics are important. And they include everything you want in a leader. They include everything you and the animals in your community deserve and have a right to expect from someone running your animal shelter—the shelter that is supposed to reflect your values, paid for with your tax and philanthropic dollars.

But I would argue that the most important factor, the one that trumps all the others, the one that determines whether the shelter director—and therefore the No Kill mission—succeeds or fails in a particular community is imagination.

When I left San Francisco to take over an open admission animal control shelter in upstate New York, I wasn’t sure what I was in for. My experience was limited to the San Francisco SPCA, sitting on the Board of Directors for a No Kill humane society in Palo Alto, and rescue. I talked to shelters in other communities and I believed in the model created in San Francisco, but as to how long it would take to end the killing at an animal control shelter? I wasn’t sure. But I also knew that I had to try.

And now that the way has been paved, now that we know the answer is “overnight,” the time is ripe for wholesale regime change. Because today, roughly 3,000 or so “shelter” directors refuse to comprehensively implement the No Kill Equation. They are killing in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives. And, in so doing, they are holding back the will of millions of Americans who love animals and want to see their needless killing come to an end.
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Nathan J. Winograd is a graduate of Stanford Law School, a former criminal prosecutor and corporate attorney, has spoken nationally and internationally on animal sheltering issues, has written animal protection legislation at the state and national level, has created successful No Kill programs in both urban and rural communities, and has consulted with a wide range of animal protection groups including some of the largest and best known in the nation.


When animal lovers learn about the tragic reality of cruelty and killing that is endemic at our nation’s “shelters,” and that the national organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the ASPCA defend the killing and thwart reform efforts, the first—and the most logical—question that inevitably follows is: Why?

Why would organizations which were supposed to have been founded on the highest ideals of compassion become the biggest defenders of the animal abuse and killing which occurs daily in our nation’s so-called “shelters”? Exploring the historical, psychological and financial motivations behind the unlikely support these shelters receive from HSUS, the ASPCA and PETA, among others, Friendly Fire answers this often confounding question while telling the stories of animals who have become catalysts for change: Oreo, Ace, Patrick, Kapone, Hope, Scruffy, Jeri & Murray, and others.
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Browse > Home / Blog Posts, The Truth About HSUS / Betrayal & Deceit at the Humane Society of the United States

Betrayal & Deceit at the Humane Society of the United States

The fundraising appeal from John Goodwin of the Humane Society of the United States was ambitious. The goal was to raise one million dollars by month’s end for dogs like “Faye,” an abused fighting dog rescued in the largest bust of a dog fighting ring in U.S. history. According to Goodwin, “Faye” is now safe, in a loving home, recovering thanks to HSUS.
But none of it was true: the fundraising appeal was deliberately designed to mislead donors. HSUS was not involved in caring for “Faye.” HSUS, in fact, predicted and suggested that dogs like “Faye” should be killed. In further fact, they could not even get her name right. And while Fay was being cared for, and needed surgery, the costs and care were being provided by someone else.

by Nathan J. Winograd



Browse > Home / Blog Posts, The Truth About PETA / The Butcher of Norfolk (6th Edition)

The Butcher of Norfolk (6th Edition)

February 23, 2012 by

Slaughterhouse: slaugh·ter·house (slôtr-hous): n. A place where animals are butchered.

The numbers are in. In 2011, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) impounded 760 dogs. They killed 713 of them. Only 19 were adopted. An additional 36 of them were transferred to kill “shelters” where their fates and the fates of those animals they displaced are unknown. In 2011, they impounded 1,211 cats. 1,198 were put to death. A paltry 5 of them were adopted and another 8 were transferred to kill “shelters” where their fates and the fates of those animals they displaced are unknown. They also took in 58 other companion animals, including rabbits. 54 were put to death. Only 4 were adopted. All told, 2,029 companion animals were impounded. 1,965 were put to death. Only 28 were placed in homes.

That’s a 97% rate of killing. If the animals transferred to kill shelters were themselves killed or displaced other animals who were then killed to take in the ones from PETA, the death toll could be as high as 99% (2,009 of the 2,029 animals they impounded). Only 1% were adopted into homes. While the No Kill movement is having unparalleled success and with No Kill communities now dotting the American landscape—in California, Nevada, Michigan, Kentucky, New York, Texas, Virginia, and elsewhere—PETA continues to be little more than a slaughterhouse.

[This is the sixth time I’ve posted this blog.]

The blog I write is about reforming animal sheltering in the United States. It is about ending the systematic killing of animals in these pounds. But this particular blog isn’t about sheltering. This isn’t about the battle between the No Kill philosophy and its eventual conquest over regressive, kill-oriented approaches. This isn’t about a lazy, inept, or uncaring shelter director who fails to hold his or her staff accountable. It isn’t about shelters that kill animals because doing so is easier than putting in place the programs and services to stop it.


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