Nathan Counterattacks Critic

On February 18, I published a post by Lori Tyler, the director of the Tompkins County SPCA just before Winograd took over.

Basically she said she took TC to the verge of No-Kill before Nathan came, so it was no big deal what he accomplished. She then stated No Kill was failing because the SPCA was asking for more money from the County. She also said that she now kills in her own nearby county shelter because she couldn’t make No-Kill work there.

”At my shelter in a neighboring county, we have been lured into "trying to keep up with the Jones'" attitude. We tried to change our euthanasia policy to be similar, but we didn't have the programs to keep the animals moving, and we ended up with a warehouse situation and we couldn't care for the number of cats in our care.

”We now have more stringent euthanasia guidelines- including euthanizing for issues such as dental disease and poor socialability. "No-Kill" is a euphemism for "limited admission". Animals aren't truly safe if they are being dumped on animal control or left in the street.”


Dear Friends,

My book Redemption has received very positive reviews in or from the Dog Writers Association of America, Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Gate, Midwest Book Reviews, Library Journal, The Bark, Pet Connection, Air America, and more.

The only negative reviews have, not surprisingly, come from groups like PETA, which I am highly critical of in the book for their anti-No Kill policies, and from minor blogs who are run by those who are either part of kill-oriented shelters, kill-supporting national organizations, or killers of dogs and cats themselves.

There is an old saying “follow the money.” In this case, the more apt saying is “follow the sodium pentobarbital,” the drug used to kill animals in shelters. Where there is a lot of usage of this lethal poison, you can expect a negative review even, as is true in the vast majority of cases, it is clear they have not read it (they make statements about things which are not in the book!)

That is why it is not surprising that PETA did not like the book. Not only was the book highly critical of PETA’s pro-kill policy towards shelter animals, especially feral cats and Pit Bulls, but PETA killed 97% of all dogs and cats at its “shelter” last year and is the subject of a petition to the Virginia Department of Agriculture seeking to reclassify PETA as a “slaughterhouse.” PETA, in short, uses a lot of sodium pentobarbital.

But the latest salvo from the “catch and kill” crowd is the most interesting of all because it comes from a former shelter manager of the Tompkins County shelter I oversaw (she left before my arrival). In her attacks, now as the director of a neighboring kill shelter, she claims I essentially inherited the “No Kill” programs in Tompkins County. She also goes on to claim that she tried those programs at her new shelter, failed, and that this failure proves (along with recent news about animal control funding from Tompkins County) that No Kill itself is not sustainable. She never once considers the possibility that it failed in her shelter because of her own mismanagement.

In fact, I am not surprised that the effort failed in her current shelter, based on what I found at the Tompkins County shelter she left me. In a memorandum to the Board of Directors, I documented what I found on arrival to Tompkins County from this manager and others associated with her. What she left was a shelter where:

sick animals in the infirmary had no food and were found languishing over empty water bowls; animals were being labeled as "unadoptable" to tell the Board of Directors they weren't killing "adoptable" animals when that is exactly what they were doing; puppies were mislabeled and killed as “vicious;” all feral cats were killed; and, kittens were killed after foster parents fed them around the clock and then brought them back after they were old enough for adoption, because they had policies like killing cats to open up cages in anticipation of needing those cages if new cats came in. (The foster program was then abruptly terminated because of this.)

In fact, on only my second day at the shelter, I was told by staff to pick animals to kill because we were "out of room" and that is the way "we always did it." I did no such thing and found not only homes for the animals, but new staff members as well.

There was no No Kill policy in effect before I arrived. In 1999, the Board stated they wanted to go No Kill, and most of the managers were either encouraged or asked to leave or fired because of their failures to achieve it, bad press, a loss of donor support, and a subsequent volunteer revolt.

These failures included having kittens getting sick and/or dying in droves out of poor care and poor protocols, and lack of appropriate follow-up.

To say that Tompkins is not sustainable is also ludicrous. They have saved over 90% of all impounded dogs for roughly seven years. This is raw data, not filtered through this former shelter manager’s self-serving definitions of “adoptable” vs. "unadoptable.” Except for 2007 when the save rate for cats was 88% (which is largely best in the country last year), they've saved over 90% of the cats for as long. That is powerful proof of sustainability.

Ignoring this, they claim No Kill is not sustainable because new leadership at the Tompkins County SPCA has told municipalities that they need a contract increase for animal control to keep pace with increasing costs and to come up to industry standards, so that they no longer have to subsidize it. What Tompkins is arguing for this year is for municipalities to pay $4 per capita for animal control funding instead of the $1.75 they have been paying for years.

By contrast, the Humane Society of the United States recommends $5 to $7 per capita. Even though they are offering No Kill animal control, TC SPCA leadership is still asking for below the HSUS recommendation for a kill shelter, and receives far less than most shelters do across the country for animal control services.

If this was any other shelter, PETA, HSUS, and all the other voices of defeatism who keep chanting the "we must kill, blame someone else" mantra would support it. But because it is a symbol for No Kill, it is attacked as “unsustainable.” In fact, if this was any other shelter, they would be supporting the budget increase, not rooting for it to fail as they tragically and obscenely do.

Why the double standard? Why do groups like HSUS and PETA argue that shelters must be paid $5-$7 per capita for animal control, but Tompkins County should not get it, and because they seek it, they must be failing because of No Kill? Even the former shelter manager’s shelter likely gets more per capita for animal control funding, and she kills with it. And therein lies the rub. Follow the sodium pentobarbital.

Leadership at kill shelters and their national allies like HSUS and PETA must find a scapegoat for their own failures. Because Tompkins' success put pressure on surrounding communities to do better, one way to ease that pressure is to smear the success.

Another way is to try to assassinate my character because I am a strong voice for No Kill. In both these cases, it's a cheap shot. But it is no longer surprising to me.
And at the end of the day, how can I be held responsible for what happens at an agency that I left four years ago with a budget surplus, programs that saved over 90% of the animals, and infrastructure which was the envy of the nation?

Since my departure now nearly four years ago, they have gone through three Executive Directors and a complete turnover in staff and as many Board members. Really, it's stretching reality and causation to the breaking point to hold me responsible for what occurs there. And given that they are still saving nine out of ten dogs and cats at $1.75 per capita for animal control—and have been doing it for the better part of a decade—there is no blame to be had: they should be lauded instead.

In fact, in 2007, Tompkins County was the safest community in the U.S. for cats and the second safest community in the U.S. for dogs (91% compared to 92% for Washoe County, NV.)


Winograd has a point here. We cannot hold him responsible for what happens years after he leaves. We cannot evenconclude that his gains are not sustainable, although Nathan has ignored the Winograd phenomenon---when he is there, they will come, meaning donors and volunteers.
What is best measure of the failure or success of Winograd-style no kill? What is
the measure of accountability? When can we chalk up a win or a loss?
We cannot assume with Nathan that where it succeeds it is his consult and management that caused success, and where it has failed, it is not his consult, but management's fault.
I think the weakness I saw in the Philly consult report was making a lot of recommendations but not telling management how to implement them given the shelter's resources, practical and legal restrictions.

The other complaint made against Nathan's no kill style is that it has only worked at three smaller shelters, (and San Francisco, although Carl Friedman says Nathan had nothing to do with success there) operations where the director can have immediate and direct control of most operations.

In Reno, the humane side run by Bonnie has a public counterpart that kills most of the cats. We are talking about two organizations and a partnership. To make this work requires good management skills and vision by both partners.

There are lots of unanswered questions with regard to no kill. Boks has addressed none of them, but has recently made some mild headway after two years. Nathan has three proven successes, but only in small shelters. Tara Derby has not yet countered Nathan's criticism or addressed the problems unique to Philly. Carl Friedman says look at what SF has accomplished and maintained, yet Nathan says SF is losing its way.

We really need a conference where these issues get explored, or at least a "trialogue" with these various parties through some venue. I wish these no kill guys were open to dialogue instead of monologue. Ed's crashing a Winograd no kill event hardly constitutes an attempt at dialogue.

By the way, Lori Tyler has her own website:

Her resume certainly seems lightweight. Email her and ask her for more of her side of the story.



Anonymous said...

It does seem illogical to say, "Winograd can't claim credit for making Tompkins County no-kill because I'm the one who REALLY did it" then turn around and say "I couldn't get my new place to no-kill, therefore no-kill doesn't work." Huh?

On a relevant side note, since reading "Redemption" I've been over to the West Valley Shelter. They have A LOT of empty cat cages. It will be interesting to see how kittens in the West Valley fare this season, and at what point they declare that there's no more room at the inn and starting killing cats for "space."

Anonymous said...

I don't really care about the he said she said stuff. I care about the fact that these cities paid Nathan Winograd a lot of money to give them a nokill plan. He was supposed to give them a plan that could work. He was supposed to get it implemented. He failed and not just in one city. In every city. He failed in Rancho, Philadelphia, Tomkins, probably Nevada. His consulting is not effective. You can't just tell a shelter to keep every cage full when they don't have the money, building or willing employees to do it. You'll end up with crazy, sick animals. That's not improvement.

It's not just one woman who said he failed in one shelter. It's many people saying he failed in all the shelters. I'll go with the majority. I saw the Philadelphia video. The shelter manager admits the animals are sick and crowded. She did it because Winograd's plan said to keep every cage at maximum capacity. He never should have told them that. They don't have the facilities, money or willing employees to care for all those animals. The animals suffer.

Anonymous said...

Winograd failed to mentioned how much his book is loved by the breeding community in their fight against AB 1634 for mandatory spay/neuter. What part of "if they ain't coming into the shelters, they can't be killed" does Winograd NOT UNDERSTAND???????? A program is not successful if it fails to maintain, thus is Winograd's program. Just the fact TC has seen such a changeover proves there is something wrong, rats jump from sinking ships. How stupid does this man think we are?

Anonymous said...

Nathan backed the anti-ab1634 because he wanted support for his book. He wanted them to support him all over the internet and in the media. Nathan uses the anti-ab1634 people the same way he uses activists the same way he uses center for consumer freedom. He uses people with different agendas if they can help his agenda which is money. He doesn't care if they torture animals as long as they support him. In fact the center for consumer freedom is a lobby group for people who sell meat and fur. He doesn't care.

Anonymous said...

At this point, I feel a correct assumption to be made is that Winograd cares not for the animals caught up in his programs or he would be beating the door down to help. Rather than assessing blame, Winograd, get your butt there and try to help solve the problems you have created. I've said all along he doesn't care what happens to the poor animals and I firmly believe his lack of response except with his arrogant attitude backs this assumption up.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree poster 5. Instead of blaming the shelters for failing his plan he should go help them for free. He should help the animals. Don't let them die or sit in overcrowded cages.

In fact, if any city is dumb enough to hire him, you don't pay him until after you are nokill for two years straight without him there. That would be nokill. Anyone can stop the killing for two months while he's there and claim "success!!!" Boks did that here with warehousing and giving away animals for free.

Going nokill is like sailing a ship. You tack one direction, another, another... It's not a straight line to the goal. Things happen, the wind shifts, more animals are dumped because of foreclosures, a new strain of parvo kills more shelter animals, Disney does another 1001 Dalmations and you have 1,000,001 Dalmations coming out your wazoo six months later... You need a leader who can deal with a constantly changing environment. Just telling someone to stop the killing and cram as many animals as possible into caging isn't nokill.

Anonymous said...

NO ONE can make any shelter, any city, any state NO KILL. It is NOT A POSSIBILITY. There are only 2 ways to become "almost" no kill for any entity. Provide FREE spay and neuter to everyone for years to come along with shelters providing high customer service. There is no formula, no magic, no person who can make this happen. It's simple. Mandating s/n does not and will not work, even Winograd knows this. More animals die as a result. People spay and neuter when you provide them will free resources. LA shelters need to be turned over from the bottom up. It can be done with little money..just the government needs to get out of their own way or turn the sheltering over to private organizations.

Anonymous said...

Get outta here!! Spay/neuter can and will work if only given a chance. People are too lazy without a law no matter how many programs are thrown at them. However, with power of enforcement behind mandatory spay/neuter, even just a threat of using it, people will be a little more cooperative. It will be a complaint driven law and I, for one, will use it quite effectively.

Anonymous said...

"You can't just tell a shelter to keep every cage full when they don't have the money, building or willing employees to do it. You'll end up with crazy, sick animals. That's not improvement."

Exactly right. You end up with crazy sick animals suffering their little hearts out. What kind of improvement is that?

It's horrid watching an animal caged for prolonged periods of time. You go stir crazy yourself having to watch it.

You feel as if you wanna just open the doors and let 'em all out, but you know that will only bring a worse fate for them.

Everyone is so happy when they get adopted or when their owner finds them and the reuinon is joyous and tearful. Holding them in cages when their spirit has waned is absolutely crushing.

Anonymous said...

To the last poster, what do you base your statements on? There are hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles (probably more) who can not afford spay/neuter and there are NOT programs to meet their needs. I hope you'll feel super proud of yourself when you turn in all these people and their animals end up at the shelters and then dead because they didn't have the money to pay the fine OR to s/n. You sound like a real animal lover. There are an incredible amount of people who WANT to s/n but can not afford it. You can not mandate something where there is an inability to comply. It is inhumane. Watch LA city impounds go up, watch LA city euthanasia go uo, watch LA city shelter revenue go down (no one licesnse their pet any longer) and the shelter animals suffer even more. Also..hope you'll be going door to door with your ultrasound machine...otherwise..How will you be turning in intact females? Get a clue. It does not work and if you do some research you'll see that.

Anonymous said...


"There are an incredible amount of people who WANT to s/n but can not afford it. You can not mandate something where there is an inability to comply."

How can you say that there is an inability to comply w/ s/n because people can't afford it?

And who do you suppose the Spaymobile is for?

Who do you suppose the city vouchers are for?

IF you can't afford to alter your animal, you shouldn't even have one, because then you end up w/ SEVEN on the first round. When it becomes an escape artist, then you can do the exponential math.

But the Spaymobile is there for people who can't afford to s/n.

People who don't are just lazy A#holes, and I too, would be the other one to help the first person go from door to door w/ a F#cking radar to turn those people in for citations. Then they can find out how much cheaper it is to use the damn Spaymobile and those city vouchers.

You can't afford to s/n your dog or cat? Then don't go out and get your f*ing nails done that week, and skip out on that birthday party and christmas presents for everyone that year! And I say this, because I AM an animal lover.

Your drama is completely irrational. No one is going to take an unaltered animal to the shelter to be killed just because it's not fixed. Get a life!

IT's the OWNER who would be cited for his irresponsibility for putting his animal at risk of getting pregnant or impregnating all the other strays within a 10mile radius, and for NOT complying.

Then, the irresponsible owner can decide whether he prefers a citation for not taking animal ownership seriously, or get his animals fixed for FREE w/ the Spaymobile or at a discount w/ your vet with the vouchers.

If You don't spay and neuter your animals, you probably don't vaccinate them or license them either! And, if you don't vaccinate them, then we can safely say you probably don't VET them either.

If you can't afford to spay and neuter and vet your animal, then what the hell are you doing with one in the first place? What the hell are you going to do with the seven that you'll end up with on the first round?

No one is going to go to the shelter for not s/n. They would get cited for animal cruelty however, if they're animal is sick and aren't doing a damn thing about it.

Anonymous said...

Here's agreeing with the rebuttal commenter. If you can't afford spay/neuter with all the programs out there, then you can't afford to vet or properly feed or anything else to maintain a pet. Show me one place where more animals died in the shelters because of enforcing spay/neuter or licensing laws. I have heard these arguments til I am sick of it and no one has been able to show this to be a legit argument. What do you want, to continue to make these unwanted animals and fill our shelters? Where is the reasoning with that opinion? Sorry, but I don't scare easily and that is all you are trying to do is scare people away from the very solution that will will work. You probably bought Winograd's book instead of making a donation of that money so it can do some good.

Ed Muzika said...

There are so many opinions in this area with many ad hoc or very small "scientific" studies based on good statistical methodoloy.

We need more real science here.

The first thing that has to be done ie what is called a "metaanalysis" which is a compilation of all studies and a summary.

Then we go from there with study designs and finding funding. No one is funding this because so few care. Even funding of projects on the verge of success, such as viable chemical sterilization reserch projects are going unfunded.

LAAS/Mayor's office has been trying to do a metaanalysis as well as finding hard data of actual management of TNR colonies in the local area. I don't know their level of success.

I know Alley Cat Allies, one of my favorite charity, offers all kinds or crap studieies (the others are rescue or TNR groups)to prove the effectiveness of TNR, but they are crap.

Anonymous said...

" know Alley Cat Allies, one of my favorite charity, offers all kinds or crap studieies (the others are rescue or TNR groups)to prove the effectiveness of TNR, but they are crap."

Could you be more specific Mr. Muzika? I am sincerely interested to know why you think the TNR studies done by these groups, including your favorite, are crap. Thank you.

And, oh...about the person who isn't too happy about the other poster and I going door to door w/ a radar in attempts to locate the animals who aren't altered so that they can be reported and CITED---I was out doing my taxes around the corner so I walked a few blocks down to H & R Block, when LO and BEHOLD! The Pit Bulls who are always in the owner's delapidated yard are barking away....ONE IS NURSING, and the OTHER is AN UNALTERED MALE. On the east side of the yard, right next door, ANOTHER UNALTERED PIT BILL MALE...smelling away the unfixed and NURSING FEMALE IN HEAT! The dogs are out there during the rain, or scortching heat. Where are the puppies????? $$$$$$$$$$$!!!!

That's who we need the damned radars for! No S/N, NO Collars, Licences, and a horrible looking shack for a home where the owners both live, including the dogs.

Are you really happy with this scenario? I have to LOOK AT IT, and the damned dog has to suffer puppy birth OVER And OVER again, from what I can tell at this point. How can people sleep with this kind of animal cruelty to animals?

Where do you buy a F*cking RADAR and HOW DO YOU GO AFTER THESE PEOPLE??? and make the S/N LAWS ENFORCEABLE?

Call me illiterate, I don't give a shit. What I do give a shit about is the fact that people ABUSE animals and neglect them and don't give a shit about them.

And you say these people can't afford to spay and neuter their animals? There are not enough resources? Bullshit. How do you think these people are paying their rent? Maybe SELLING THESE PUPS to the GANGS who use them for DOG FIGHTS!

These people should be CASTRATED!

Anonymous said...

I noted that Winograd said he left Tompkins County with a surplus. If that were true then why did Rancho Cucamonga ask him to account for the deficit in TC's budget when he left? Winograd said it was the one time expense of opening the new adoption center. I believe this in the minutes of the City Council but may no longer be online.

Anonymous said...

I happened on this, and Nathan's list of those who he says gave his book good reviews. Nearly all have a unifying connection- they are breeders

Dog Writers Association of America- run by breeders

Sacramento Bee- heavily influenced by ex-employee Gina Spadafori who still has buddies there. Gina Spadafori is in the breeder business with a partner, and is a raving breeder lobbier.

She now works at Pet Connection

The San Francisco Chronicle SF Gate. The paper didn't give him a good review.- he means a column by Christie Keith, AKC breeder and lobbier who doesn't even have the integrity to reveal her breeder connections in her phony bio. She's buddies also with Gina Spadafori, and they cross-promote each other constantly, and harass people who point out the hypocrisies of breeders

he leaves out the AKC employee Denise Flaim who writes a pet column for Newsday, who slobbers over the book

The breeders like Winograd because Winograd says we don't need things like puppy mill regulations, breeder licensing, or anti cruelty laws. Breeders sure love that! especially the AKC and their puppy mill breeders.

Winograd is in with the breeder lobby PetPac now.