WHAT’S IN A NAME? NO-KILLS AND THE HEART OF DARKNESS

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1997:

PHOENIX––Fast losing public support
for the traditional “full service shelter”
concept, which it has advanced without significant
modification since forming in 1954, the
Humane Society of the U.S. at its Animal Care
Expo in mid-February unveiled a campaign to
persuade no-kill shelters to relabel themselves
“limited access shelters.”
HSUS central/south regional office
director Phil Snyder and Cat Care Society
executive director Kathy Macklem introduced
the “limited access” term in panel discussion,
after which Macklem tried to enlist the
endorsement of No-Kill Directory publisher,
No-Kill Conference founder, and Doing
Things For Animals president Lynda Foro.


Responded Foro, “The euphemisms
for no-kill may be more palatable for a lot of
people, but they miss the point. Why is it that
killing animals makes a shelter full service? I
stand by the use of no-kill because it is an honest
term. The majority of killing that takes
place in traditional shelters is not euthanasia in
the literal sense. No-kills perform euthanasia;
traditional shelters kill more than they euthanize.
Honesty in the use of these terms is a
start in being truthful with ourselves.”
The HSUS campaign is reminiscent
of former HSUS director for companion animals
Ken White’s effort, 1993-1995, to relabel
no-kill shelters “turnaways.” White was
founding executive director of the San
Francisco Department of Animal Care and
Control, the city agency formed to take over
animal control duties after San Francisco
SPCA president Richard Avanzino surrendered
the city animal control contract in 1984 to
focus on low-cost neutering and adoptions.
White’s departure helped smooth the way for
the 1994 implementation of the Adoption Pact,
under which the SF/SPCA, no-kill since 1989,
has successfully guaranteed placement of all
healthy or recoverable animals taken in by the
SF/DACC, making San Francisco the first city
in which shelters kill animals only to prevent
immediate suffering or to facilitate legally
mandated rabies testing. In early 1995, White
left HSUS to become president of the Arizona
Humane Society––and led the applause for
Avanzino, the keynote speaker, at the
September 1995 No-Kill Conference.
Following the San Francisco model,
the Humane Society of Missouri, American
SPCA, and Wisconsin Humane Society have
surrendered the St. Louis, New York City,
and Milwaukee County animal contral contracts.
The Progressive Animal Welfare
Society, of Lynnwood, Washington, in the
greater Seattle area, is also committed to phasing
out non-euthanasia shelter killing, according
to longtime shelter executive Mitchell Fox,
despite the departure last year of former executive
director Craig Brestrup, who had stirred
considerable controversy by announcing that
choice of direction.
The effect of a humane society surrendering
contracts to kill animals for population
control and announcing a no-kill objective
within a specific time frame is inevitably to
increase public support of the society, as it
disassociates itself with a highly unpopular
program that often operates at a significant net
loss. The humane society thereby gains
resources for use in preventing animal births.
The transition time from surrendering the animal
control contract to seeing the first positive
results tends to be two to three years. Animal
shelter intakes and killing rates, already
falling in St. Louis, New York City,
Milwaukee, and the Seattle suburbs prior to
the surrender of the animal control contracts
and/or commitment to no-kill, continue to
drop. The fastest progress is evident in New
York, where the Center for Animal Care and
Control, though still killing about 40,000 animals
in 1996, nonetheless killed slightly fewer
per capita, 5.5 per thousand human residents,
than the SF/DACC, which killed 6.5 per thousand––with
the national average at 20 per
thousand. Seattle and surrounding cities are at
approximately eight per thousand.
Kurtz up the river
Ironically, NY/CACC founding
president Marty Kurtz resigned February 21
under intense pressure, an apparent victim of
backstabbing by board, staff, and some former
staff who––though fired for cause––
mounted a successful media campaign against
his administration, to which Kurtz could not
respond effectively because he could not
release the contents of their personnel files. A
seven-member search committee including
four animal advocates and three representatives
of New York city government was at
deadline inviting applications from potential
successors, including NY/CACC chief veterinarian
and acting head Sue Kopp, American
Humane Association animal protection division
chief Ed Sayres, SF/DACC president
Carl Friedman (who reportedly declined the
opportunity), and former American SPCA
executive vice president John Foran, a retired
military officer who helped ASPCA president
Roger Caras make the transition to no-kill.
As the NY/CACC search commenced,
Sayres hosted an invitation-only conference
on future directions in shelter practice
at the AHA offices in Englewood, Colorado,
occasioned by the private distribution pending
publication of a Brestrup monograph based on
his PAWS experience, attacking the conventional
philosophic rationale for shelter killing.
The monograph paralleled observations and
critiques issued as far back as 1981 by psychologist
Alan Beck, and in ensuing years by
Avanzino, Tufts University Center for
Animals and Public Policy founder Andrew
Rowan, former HSUS vice president Ed
Duvin, who is now heading companion animal
programs for In Defense of Animals, and animal
handling consultant Temple Grandin,
whose studies of the attitudes of slaughterhouse
livestock handlers proved applicable as
well to animal shelter staff––except that
among the standard responses to doing highvolume
killing that Grandin identified, shelter
workers were less likely than slaughterhouse
workers to become either mechanistic or sadistic,
and were far more likely to ritualize.
The purpose of the invitation-only
conference was apparently to facilitate a
detente between no-kill proponents led by
Avanzino and a faction of conventional companion
animal program administrators who
have generally identified themselves with “animal
rights” as opposed to “animal
welfare”––among them Kim Sturla, former
executive director of the Peninsula Humane
Society, directing Fund for Animals companion
animal programs since 1991, and one of
Avanzino’s most ardent public critics for at
least a decade. Other conference participants
who have generally favored conventional
approaches to pet overpopulation while
expressing generally “animal rights” views
included AHA companion animal programs
chief Carol Moulton and Marin Humane
Society executive director Diane Alivado,
who like Sturla has long denounced
Avanzino’s initiatives both in print and out.
Mothers of invention
The distinction between an “animal
rights” approach to companion animal issues
and the traditional “animal welfare” approach
advanced by HSUS and other humane societies
has never been clear, however. Since the
Women’s Humane Society of Philadelphia
became the first humane organization to take
on a municipal animal control contract, in
1873, the conventional emphasis has always
been on providing a “merciful death,” and on
trying to prevent pet overpopulation through
coercive legislation based on licensing and
fines. People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals, the largest self-defined animal rights
group, has from founding in 1981 taken a
position on shelter killing identical in all but
minor details of wording to that of HSUS––no
surprise inasmuch as PETA cofounder Ingrid
Newkirk developed her animal rights philosophy
as a sheriff’s deputy on animal control
assignment and protege of Phyllis Wright, the
first HSUS director for companion animal programs.
Wright articulated the ideas that HSUS
has advanced ever since––but latein her life
encouraged Rowan and others to explore alternatives.
She died in 1992.
According to Brestrup,
Sturla has recently revised her thinking,
in light of the San Francisco success.
A forthcoming position paper
on no-kill sheltering and euthanasia,
to be jointly prepared by Sturla,
Moulton, and Alivado, may for the
first time define a difference between
“animal rights” and “animal welfare”
views on these topics––and, if
diverging from PETA policy, signal a significant
fracture in animal rights movement philosophy.
Other self-defined animal rights
groups that openly favor no-kill, such as
Friends of Animals, did so before PETA was
founded, and have continued at political cost.
Conventional humane societies still
far outnumber no-kills, and handle more total
animals, but shelter statistics and IRS Form
990 filing information gathered by ANIMAL
PEOPLE indicate that no-kill organizations as
far back as seven years ago surpassed conventional
shelters in cumulative number of animals
adopted per year, cumulative number of
neutering operations performed and/or funded,
and cumulative funds raised in direct public
contributions, including bequests.
While the San Francisco SPCA,
Humane Society of Missouri, American
SPCA, and Wisconsin Humane Society are all
still full service in every sense except doing
animal control, most hands-on no-kill organizations
do a single specific specialized job.
Common specialties include high-volume
adoption, pioneered by the North Shore
Animal League, placing animals mostly taken
from animal control shelters, where they
would otherwise be killed; care-for-life sheltering,
exemplified DELTA Rescue, usually
handling special needs animals such as exotic
species, hard-case dogs and cats, unreleasable
rehabilitated wildlife, and/or pets whose care
may be endowed by bequest; shelterless rescue/foster
societies, like most breed rescue
networks; and shelterless low-cost neutering
programs, pioneered by Friends of Animals
and the Animal Rescue Foundation of Nevada.
The latter took over the Las Vegas animal control
contract in late 1995, after establishing a
formidable record in neutering and adoption,
with intent to achieve a no-kill city by a somewhat
different avenue than San Francisco,
necessitated by differing circumstance.

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