Thoughts on the No-Kill Movement
I am starting a new blog soon called “No Kill Nation” which will investigate all aspects of the No-Kill movement. I will solicit comments for a dialogue. Unfortunately, many criticisms will be about definitions and wording, not about the need for no kill or how to attain it.
However, I’d like to offer some preliminary thoughts now.
Nathan Winograd is at the heart and soul of the No-Kill movement. He is the rally point as well as the lightening rod for criticism.
No-Kill is a revolution and we need a revolutionary leader. Winograd is our Lenin.
I will get 20 angry comments about this statement, but I stick to it.
Like Lenin, Nathan is no longer running any commune or shelter system. (Actually, Lenin isn't doing anything now. He has retired.) He is a very vocal advocate. There may be a dozen shelter managers better than he ever was.
He has a plan, but the plan, the recommendations are like those for founding a Kibbutz or commune. Whether the plan works or not is almost irrelevant; the concept of the Kibbutz or No-Kill shelter is everything.
Besides the plan published on his website and in his book, are only the slimist skeleton of a plan. If you look at his detailed analyses and recommendations for specific shelters, you find enormous depth and detail from someone with practical experience.
However, Nathan’s methods so far have a fatal flaw: How to implement his recommendations and how to sustain a no kill shelter system after the war is won.
We know with absolute certainty that no kill cannot sustain without adequate resources: money; volunteers; good and enough employees; an adequate shelter facility.
Where Nathan’s and other no kill shelters are failing is lack of resources.
Attaining no kill is like a war. It motivates energy and resources from volunteers, donors, the media, etc. But after the war is won, there is the occupation and the resources needed to sustain the occupation.
Volunteers burn out and donors disappear, or can disappear after two or three years of occupation unless the volunteer sources are supplanted or even replaced by paid employees, which means more money and sustained good management.
Winograd really doesn’t tell us how to sustain the momentum or how to get sustained government support.
Philly is having a hard time due to lack of resources and an attempted hostile takeover by the Philly SPCA. Winograd blames the failure on his chosen successors.
This can be a fatal flaw in his strategy. Rather than ask help for Philly, or to come back and help Philly, he just walks away from what could be a perceived failure of the viability of no kill. One time he actually told me he only consulted with Rancho (or Philly, I don't remeber which. I'll have to look for that email.) for a few months therefore he was not responsible for what was happening presently.
Ithaca is having trouble because local governments want services on the cheap, forcing Tompkins County shelter to eat their own resources to keep no kill alive. I can’t believe the county cannot spring for $40,000 for the entire county, or local government double their paltry support.
No kill sheltering needs a lobbyist above and beyond donations.
It is the occupation that becomes the critical factor after no kill is attained.
As long as the revolutionary leader is present, the resources will be there. But when he or she leaves, volunteer efforts and donations will disappear too. Revolutionary management needs to be replaced by good lobbyists, managers and financial guys. Nathan does not show how to maintain the gains.
He also does not address what is purportedly the biggest obstacle to attaining the original success: dealing with unions and civil service. This may be only a straw man obstacle used by Bickhart and others to explain why Boks has not achieved a substantial improvement in live save rates.
Carl Friedman says this excuse is bull; good management can surmount even these obstacles. He says he has to deal with all kinds of layers of civil service as well as seven unions, and that LA has enormous resources compared to San Francisco.
The revolution is not faltering at this point, it is just beginning. Local failures are not yet a significant point. The significant point is to create the will and hope for a no-kill nation and Nathan is doing that well despite several shelter heads literally calling him an asshole and a liar. It seems the no kill movement is filled with assholes and liars, but the same might have been said of any revolutionary leader and may be true or not.
My greatest criticism of Nathan is that he attacks shelter management with whom he has consulted and who fail to attain instant success, such as in Philadelphia. Why did he not say that Philly needs more resources? His vitriol should be directed towards real enemies of no kill, not those who have tried and failed. His attacks make him appear petty and small and we need a leader larger than that.
Of course there are other criticisms of Nathan, such that he allegedly plagerizes authors who are expert in areas of animal care where he is not, and his alleged propensity to threaten lawsuit at the drop of the hat. These are character flaws from my viewpoint, but not critical flaws with regard to his leadership of the no kill movement.
I do wish the various no kill leaders would engage in overt dialogue as opposed to covert attacks on each other. All aspects of no kill sheletring need to be examined in the light of public debate. I certainly would like Carl Friedman, Boks and Winogard in a series of debates or written dialogue siunce they all seem to have contempt for each other.
Just my opinion.