Moral ground

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1995:

Writing for the Society of Animal Welfare
Administrators, Denver Dumb Friends League president
Robert Rohde on October 20 charged San Francisco SPCA
president Richard Avanzino with publishing “promotional
pronouncements” on behalf of the San Francisco Adoption
Pact “suggesting a higher moral ground, at the expense of
everyone else in the field.”
Under the Adoption Pact, the SF/SPCA has since
April 1994 accepted the duty of finding a home for every
animal received by the city animal control center who is
healthy or recoverable, and not vicious. Most aggrieving
Rohde was Avanzino’s remark that, “In most communities,
older animals or those not deemed ‘desireable’ are considered
‘unadoptable’ and placed in the ‘euthanize’ category.”

Responded Avanzino, “I am surprised by
SAWA’s letter. For years there has been what seems to me
a concerted, aggressive, sometimes mean-spirited campaign
against no-kills in general and against the Adoption
Pact in particular. To illustrate, I attach a sampling of quotations
from letters and articles written by agencies
throughout the country, sent to our members, local officials,
colleagues in other shelters, and the public. Again
and again, we find programs misrepresented, motives
questioned, and results and achievements ignored.”
Authors of the quotations included Pat Miller,
operations director for the Marin Humane Society; Bill
Garrett, executive director of the Atlanta Humane Society;
Edward Cubrda, former president of the Los Angeles
SPCA; Deborah Biggs, president of the California Animal
Control Directors’ Association; and Kathleen Savesky,
executive director of the Peninsula Humane Society.
Their remarks fell into six categories: assertions
that “No-kills lie and deceive the public”; “The Adoption
Pact is a gimmick and hype”; “No-kills are callous, uncaring,
greedy, selfish, and accountable to no one”; “Under
the Adoption Pact, the SF/SPCA can pick the cream-ofthe-crop
and reject any animal it wants to”; “No-kills let
animals suffer unnecessarily and kill them in secret”; and
“The Adoption Pact is dangerous and arbitrary.”
A mini-editorial
Avanzino concluded by suggesting that A N IMAL
PEOPLE review the accuracy of the various claims.
We believe our readers will overwhelmingly recognize
the accuracy of Avanzino’s description of typical
shelter adoption criteria and euthanasia policies.
We have exposed and documented many no-kill
operations of the type that Miller, Garrett, Cubrda, Biggs,
and Savesky describe. But we have also exposed similar
abuses by conventional shelters. And we have found such
allegations about the San Francisco SF/SPCA and many
other outstanding no-kill organizations to be unfounded.
The Adoption Pact is neither a gimmick, nor
hype. It is the result of a 10-year concerted effort undertaken
with no-kill animal control as the object, a dynamic subsidized
neutering program as the vehicle making no-kill
attainable, and an astute appreciation of human psyc hology
as the energizing factor. Getting out of animal control and
killing to focus upon neutering and adoptions, the
SF/SPCA found the public support necessary to gradually
get animal control itself out of killing. The SF/SPCA has
thus attained “a higher moral ground.” Whether this is at
anyone else’s expense depends entirely upon how well others
make use of the lessons Avanzino and staff have
learned, and are eager to teach.

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