Desperation Aboard the RMS Mancuso
August 7, 2010 by Nathan J. Winograd
Judie Mancuso and her ilk, the failed Los Angeles-based architects behind many attempts to legislate mandatory spay/neuter in California, have gone on the offensive, attacking me for what they claim is a “web of corruption.” (The allegations are silly and hardly worth an answer, but they are here for the overly curious.)
Their latest salvo is the result of the appointment of Brenda Barnette, a successful shelter director committed to the No Kill philosophy and opposed to mandatory sterilization, as the new General Manager of Los Angeles Animal Services. This appointment means Mancuso and her acolytes will no longer have access to the halls of power or an ally for their failed agenda. It threatens to end any hope of mandatory sterilization becoming California law because to the extent Barnette is forthright (compared to her predecessor,Mancuso ally Ed Boks, who was not), she will have no choice but to disclose just what a failure it has been in Los Angeles: more impounds, more killing, more backyard breeding as I discuss below. And this threatens them to their core.
These are the last surviving passengers of a rapidly sinking ship. Their latest attempts to denigrate No Kill and salvage their failed agenda of killing apologia and mandatory spay/neuter by attacking me looks, smells, and feels about four years too late. The whole country has realized that the Titanic of Mandatory Sterilization and its sister ship the RMS Opposition to No Kill weren’t even sea worthy, let alone unsinkable, despite their continued assurances to the contrary.
As the ASPCA and HSUS who once captained those vessels jump into lifeboats, Mancuso and others like her sit on the deck clinging to life with the same level of self-deception that the medieval Church clung to an Earth-As-The-Center-Of-The-Universe theory even as moons orbiting Jupiter could be seen with clarity through the end of Galileo’s telescope. In the latest salvo, they have even created a silly website that asks people to condemn “Winograd’s No Kill agenda” because I am allegedly caught in a “web of corruption.”
They can attack me all they want, accuse me of all the corruption they want, but it doesn’t make a bit of difference. The No Kill movement is much bigger than me. It is no longer about personalities, but about a set of principles that transcends any of us individually. That was one of the central lessons from the No Kill Conference this past weekend.
No Kill Conference 2010 was an army of lawyers, legislators, members of the media, rescuers, shelter directors, and other professionals—a multi-headed hydra for good that cannot be stopped by anyone or by any means. Cut my head off, and ten more are there to replace me, in communities across the U.S. and countries across the world, with the same powerful message and commitment to the future of lifesaving; all of them preaching a sanctity of life and the tools to preserve it.
No one understands this better than the three blind mice that drove Best Friends headlong into a brick wall. Gregory Castle, Julie Castle, and Francis Battista thought they were invincible. They thought Best Friends was deified. And they thought they could sacrifice the animals of New York State in order to gain access to the dollars of New York City by opposing Oreo’s Law and no one would hold them accountable. After all, they were the revered leaders of the revered Best Friends. How monumentally they learned otherwise when they took a severe beating from the rescue community after it was revealed that they betrayed the animals for personal relationships and naked self-interest. Almost everyone who learned what they did put allegiance to the animals first, rather than to an insular, out-of-touch trio in the middle of the Utah desert. What once was adoration is now vilification and it is fully deserved: 25,000 animals a year were sacrificed on the altar of ego, greed, and power.
As the No Kill movement continues to spread, as new leaders emerge, as communities across the United States and world end the killing of healthy and treatable animals in places people have never heard of, by shelter directors people don’t know, any attempts to attack me will have no impact on the widening success of our movement. I am not the No Kill movement and the No Kill movement is not me. And that is a welcome turning point. As Ryan Clinton pointed out during his presentation at the No Kill Conference, you know you are winning when the movement you helped foster becomes bigger than you are.
Attack me and Mancuso and company gain nothing. It only serves to show how desperate they have become. Why do people think Wayne Pacelle is now claiming HSUS always supported No Kill and is in fact the leader of the No Kill movement? Even he has seen the writing on the wall, has seen where the future is heading, and hopes to rewrite history in a way that makes him a hero, and not the villain he has been. Yet while Pacelle and others like him escape the rapidly sinking ship, Mancuso and her ilk cling to the driftwood of their old ideologies, even while the animals they claim to want to save are put to death because of them.
In fact, if you are poor and have a companion animal who is not spayed because you cannot afford it, their solution is to have the pound kill the animal, even though they claim that they are for saving lives. And they know it because their own community in Los Angeles enacted their legislation resulting in an increase in killing in Los Angeles City shelters for the first time in a decade. Almost immediately, even before the ordinance took effect, LAAS officers threatened poor people with citations if they did not turn over the pets to be killed at LAAS, and that is exactly what occurred. For the first time in a decade, impounds and killing increased—dog deaths increased 24%, while cat deaths increased 35%. Last year, it went up again for dogs, and is still higher than pre-legislation levels for cats. In the process, they also fed the backyard breeding market for more (unaltered) animals.
Despite public claims of success and the touting of the L.A. law in a bid to pass the law statewide, recently released e-mails show that they knew their much touted mandatory sterilization law was harmful to animals for another reason. According to the e-mails, after the mandatory sterilization law went into effect, veterinarians across the City of Los Angeles sought to exploit the captive market by raising their prices. Veterinarians wanted a windfall, even though cost was—and is—the primary barrier to spay/neuter. The end result was that while spay/neuter was now the law, the effect of the price increases in response to the law put sterilization increasingly out of reach for those at the bottom rung of the economic latter, forcing them to surrender their animals, which the shelters she supported put to death.
So how do they respond to the increased killing in Los Angeles they helped bring about? How do they respond to the No Kill communities achieving success all over the U.S. and indeed the world by following the No Kill Advocacy Center’s No Kill Equation model? By reevaluating their approach? By working for implementation of the No Kill Equation? By fighting for more progressive leadership? Of course not. That is how ethical people dedicated to saving lives would respond. They instead choose to spend their time by claiming I am caught in a “web of corruption.”
It is always the same, in every movement, no matter what the issue. But, as anyone who reads history knows, the “controversy” created by those who demand change is quickly forgotten once their goals are realized. As the biography of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, All on Fire, states, “The tension created by significant social movements is always resisted and condemned during the struggle and invariably forgotten afterward.” We are now all abolitionists. We are now all suffragists. Soon, we will all be No Kill advocates. And no one will care or remember the final desperate death rattle of the opposition, except perhaps to marvel at the depths of their self-delusion. “Web of corruption,” indeed.
As the RMS Mancuso sinks beneath the waves, as their pro-killing agenda is increasingly seen for what it is, as No Kill communities explode all over the world, no one can stop the forward march by attacking me. I am increasingly irrelevant to the widening success of this movement. As the No Kill movement increases, my importance diminishes. And do you know how that makes me feel? It makes me feel like celebrating.