Over the weekend, USA Today ran an opinion piece written by Dr. Patty Khuly, a veterinarian. In it, she embraced compassionate no-kill sheltering and discussed the turmoil roiling the animal welfare community.
For the most part, her post was unobjectionable, but she does miss a giant elephant in the room. After a fairly thorough discussion of how she believes virtually everyone involved with animal sheltering came to the field out of compassion and love, she broaches the subject of the discord within the community. Ultimately, she says the conflict can be attributed to the use of the word "kill". It not so many words, she says that animal lovers working at shelters that haven't embraced the "no-kill" model resent that they are implicitly working at "yes-kill" death camps. Elsewhere she explains why "kill" is the appropriate term, but notes that animal lovers are having difficulty getting along, so maybe we should be looking for another less inflammatory word.
She may be on to something. Shelter workers doing their best under trying circumstances probably would prefer something other than the adjective "kill" as a descriptor of their workplace. But Dr. Khuly misses a larger point: shelter workers will never make peace with the fact that Nathan Winograd and his henchmen are only too happy to make the word "kill" their floor when it comes to offensive rhetoric.
- "sadistic promoters"
- "people with a history of personality disorders: Munchausen by Proxy, neglect, abuse, and/or alcoholism"
- "who killed over 100,000 animals in her sordid career because of nothing more than uncaring and laziness"
- "government bureaucrats who would rather protect underperforming shirkers, than hold them accountable"
- "Johnny-Come-Lately nobodies who are trying to make a name for themselves at the expense of the animals. These are the Mike Starks of the world, unknowns who have never actually done anything of worth themselves, but think that by attacking those of us who have and do; they can ride our coattails to personal recognition."
- "what do all of these people have in common besides being unethical, lacking personal integrity, and imbibing once too often in the killing Kool Aid?"
- "They cause, defend, or legitimize the killing of millions of animals every year. They are part of a genocide."
It is kind of difficult to see eye to eye with fanatical crusaders cursed by a vocabulary limited to unhinged epithets. If Winograd and his disciples were really interested in saving animals by changing minds and policies, they might begin by toning down the hate.
Endnote: In the article I published at the Huffington Post, Winograd entered into an exchange with me. Here it is, in full:
Nathan Winograd 04:19 PM on 10/15/2010
This is really tragic and sad. The only way he can dismiss me is by claiming I have ties to puppy mills, a defamatory lie. I've spent my entire adult life working to protect animals. Both as a criminal prosecutor fighting animal abuse, as a shelter director saving lives, and as the head of the non profit No Kill Advocacy Center working to end the systematic killing of animals in shelters. Indeed, I support efforts to close puppy mills as I enpaneled a group of the nation's top animal lawyers to come together in Washington DC for a discussion on Litigating an End to Puppy Mills. I've also written a how-to guide to close puppy mills on my blog: http://www .nathanwinograd.com/ ?p=4418. This is a classic trick. If you can't attack the message, attack the messenger. In this case, Stark resorts to petty name calling and outright fabrications. Learn the truth at NoKill AdvocacyCenter.org.
Mike Stark 11:46 AM on 10/16/2010
We'll be looking into PetPAC soon, Nathan.
I do my best to be fair. PetPAC and Rick Berman are atrocious entities. And you've hitched your wagon to each of them. I'd like to know why.
Nathan Winograd 04:32 PM on 10/16/2010
Mike, you are not fair. Fairness would have dictated that you not resort to lying about me. Fairness would have also dictated that you actually do some research. The model I advocate calls for the comprehensive implementation of ten programs and rigorous implementation of best practices. See, e.g., the following 196-page report: http://bit.ly/cgeTD7 . Fairness would dictate that you actually look at the success of communities following the model. As Ryan Clinton indicates, Washoe County is saving over 90%. If you had actually read my book, instead of trying to make a name for yourself at the animals' expense, you would know I have stated that roughly 5-10% of animals entering shelter are hopelessly ill, irremediably suffering, or truly vicious dogs and at this time in history, they are killed. I get no money from PetPAC and no money from Center for Consumer Freedom. I've addressed this allegations openly and honestly: http://www .nathanwin ograd.com/ ?p=3859. I am a vegan of 20 years and have always championed animals. You are an advocate for killing in the face of readily available lifesaving alternatives. And that makes you unethical and you know it. And whether it takes a year, five years, or longer, you will disown this article. And you know that too.
Mike Stark 11:16 PM on 10/16/2010
As prelude, Nathan, I have read your book. The truth is, I found 85% of what you wrote useful; the historical context you provide is especially excellent. The remaining 15%, or so is either inconsistent, exaggerated, or argues to conclusions that cannot be supported by your premises. Anyway, I say this just to note that I have spent a significant amount of time researching and considering your arguments.
But your book is inconsequential in the larger scheme of the damage you are doing to the animal welfare community. What is truly damaging is your hyperbolic and destructive rhetoric. Too often you act as if you are the only animal lover in the argument; that people with the weight of the world on their shoulders, trying to do the best they can with the limited resources they have, are closet animal abusers that enjoy inflicting punishment on the innocents in their care. Too often, you are the loudest (and rudest) voice in the room.
But I want to be as fair as I can be, and after reading your linked post, I've come up with an idea: Let's do a weekly Q&A. If you've got nothing to hide, anything I ask you should be fair game. Who knows? In the end, I may retract. Let's find out.
Of course, I will agree to the terms you set forth for Berman and HSUS in their interview requests. I'm interested in the truth, not scoring cheap points.