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No-kill leader to Denver audience: Stop the killing in shelters

Nathan Winograd
Nathan Winograd
Nathan Winograd

The leader of the national no-kill movement brought his message to a receptive audience in Denver this past weekend.

Nathan Winograd, a lawyer and author who has championed his no-kill philosphy throughout the country, told them that when an animal enters a traditional shelter it has only one chance in two of making it out alive.

As he has before, he criticized the shelter directors who are not held accountable and instead shift the fault for euthanasias to members of the public for not spaying and neutering their animals and thus reducing pet overpopulation.

But he challenged the notion of pet overpopulation itself as a myth, offering his own numbers to show there are enough people looking for pets to absorb the numbers of animals needing homes.

Winograd said a growing number of shelters in the United States have bought into the no-kill philosophy and dramatically cut euthanazations, When these shelters dropped their old way of doing things their employees were freed to try creative solutions, he added.

He hammered on his belief that citizens can take matters into their own hands and force shelters to adopt no-kill policies through legislation and community pressure.

Winograd's appearance was part of a multi-city tour to promote a documentary film based on his 2007 book, "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America." The book has become a blueprint for the no-kill movement.

Before the event Winograd sat down for a one-on-one interview with this reporter. Following are several questions and answers, summarized foe space..

QUESTON: How do you view the situation in Colorado?

ANSWER: "The trends are very good, moving in the right direction." (The number of euthanizations have come down in the last few years.) "What it tells me is if there was real passion about getting the animal live release rate into the 90s, it could be done pretty easily." (Winograd's goal is a live-release rate in the 90's. It is now in the mid-80s).

Q:How can citizens hold shelter management accountable?

A: "In sheltering you don't have metrics to hold people accountable. With shelter legislation you have those metrics. By introducing this kind of legislation, shelter managers have to be accountable." (Two Colorado no-kill groups have filed an initiative to limit euthanasia, which is being opposed by a coaliton of shelter groups that believe it would have unintended negative consequences).

Q: You often criticize national groups such as the ASPCA (www.aspca.org), Humane Society of the United States (www.humanesociety.org) , American Humane Association (www.aha.org) and PETA (www.peta.org) for giving cover to old shelter policies. They in turn have blasted you. Who threw the first punch?

A: "I kept writing to Wayne Pacelle (president and CEO of the Humane Society) but he didn't answer. I thought we could find common ground. Finally, I went public with a letter. After 15 years I felt the only way to get change was to change the climate of public opinion."

More information at ( (www.nokilladvocacycenter.org)

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