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.



Anonymous said...

Do you think Boks is a representative of anything other than "What's good for Ed Boks"?

Do you think he genuinely has anything to contribute? My read so far is that he's co-opted no kill rhetoric in an attempt to create credibility in the rescue community. Thus, my belief as of now is that he's been very bad for no kill because people falsely see him, and his lack of positive results, as reflecting what no kill principles can achieve.

And his pre-LAAS record is against him too, as far as I can see.

But do you think he actually has something to offer that we haven't seen yet?

Anonymous said...

How can you say that Winograd is a leader of this revolution? He's done nothing more than created unnecessary suffering for the animals. How can you be so disrespectful of all the other people out there that HAVE brought good changes as to say he is above them? Winograd and Boks haven't presented anything new, we all know how to get to "no kill". We all know what to do but it comes down to resources. If those resources aren't there, then it doesn't work. Aren't you learning anything from this? Winograd is not a hero, Ed, he is a fool.

Ed Muzika said...

I disagree that we all know what to do.

Once again I invite readers to actually look at the preliminary evaluation Nathan did for Philadelphia. Apparently the one done for Nevada was even more thoroughly developed. I have seen no one else do such an in-depth analysis.

Boks did a "consult" before he started work in NYC. It is a joke in comparison and makes clear that Ed spends little time in the shelters. He does not understand operations. He is a PR person.

To deny that Winogard is a leader of no-kill shows blindness.

Who else in the no kill movement has such status publically than Nathan?

As I said, there may be several actual No-Kill municipal shelters out there whose directors may never have heard of Winograd. That is, they walk the walk.

Even so, who is more publically recognized as a leader of no-kill? Name one who has a higher recognition than Nathan.

Don't mention Boks. Boks is no kill only in his mind.

Lenin was the inspiration, the moughtpiece of the Communist movement. Stalin actually implemented a very successful twist of Leninist Communism. Successful in the sense he brought Russia from the 17th Century into the 20th Century in 20 years and was also able to beat Hitler.

There is a difference between a prophet and maybe many Messias, but none have published so far.

Name someone else with a higher visibility than Nathan.

Ed Muzika said...

For those who oppose no kill or call it crap, I want to know precisely what you mean. Precisely.

Do you mean the label "no kill" results in more kill?

Do you think that no clear definition of no-kill is possible, such as now the commonly accepted save rate definition of 90% saves in an open intake shelter?

Or, do you say no shelter is no kill because there will be some killing necessary?

No one in no kill says killing will not take place. No one. The question is what is an level of killing and what is a rational definition of no kill.

After arriving at an agreed definition of no kill, we can change the words "no-kill" into the "A-movement" for the public. Is that acceptible?

There is so much animosity, anger, disappointment, hope, and will to achieve in this area it seems that simple communication is next to impossible.

Some of you hate Boks and Nathan so much that no discourse is possible.

Others all too readily accept the promise of no kill that you think all that is necessary is to hire Nathan and it will happen overnight.

We are at the very beginnings of a vast movement that some day, hopefully, will result in no kill for all animals, including farm animals. Unless you are open to rationally examine and discuss all sides, it would be better if you said nothing at all, as you add nothing to the discourse. Yet, you always do.

Anonymous said...

I'm against Boks and Winograd's "nokill" plans because they aren't real and don't work. I would love to see a shelter truly become nokill. Boks and Winograd have used the "nokill" term to promote themselves to make money, period. They don't care about animals at all. Animals are just numbers and dollar signs to them. They have given the term "nokill" a horrible connotation of sick and dying animals in overcrowded cages with no medical care or food. They've destroyed the phrase so badly that we need a new word or phrase.

These two have used the hearts of animal lovers to make money. They're as bad as those jerks who peddle fake cancer cures to dying people. They both need to be run out of town.

Anonymous said...

Get real for a change!! We are not at a crossroads in this movement, Boks and Winograd have set it back years. Discuss how to get there, you don't want to know the truth about how to get there. Winograd does not have the status that you have put on him. Those who have been instrumental in making major changes have seen more than one Winograd come and go. I am assuming that "crap" in this instance is defined as a scam. Look at what Winograd has done, deserted the ship. How much caring about the animals is he showing with this? If there are problems and he cared about more than his pocket he would be at Philly campaigning for more funding, he would be at Rancho, although Rancho gave all he said was needed. Rancho went from $770,000 a year to over 2 million a year doing his program. Does this not show commitment? Rancho is still trying to live up to Winograd's consultation but it just doesn't work. Winograd needs to find out what the problem with his program is but he is such an ego, he can't even admit his failure and learn from it. And YES, WE HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN HOW TO ACHIEVE NO KILL AND WE HAVE NEVER NEEDED EITHER OF THEM TO TELL US HOW. What we need is to be able to work together instead of being at each other throats. We need to be at every budget meeting, every council meeting, every board of supervisors meetings, serve on Ad Hoc committees, not just for the animals either. We need to establish ourselves as responsible citizens instead of Zsu Zsu's and Pam's. You ask for discussion yet you jump down someone's throat if they disagree with you. No kill actually is simple, we are the ones making it complicated. And have you bothered to look at an audit done by HSUS so you can make comments about Winograd's audits? Compare the two, not a lot of difference.Your comparison with Stalin and Lenin is interesting because their programs failed miserably and created suffering. He's good at marketing himself and that's all. We cannot stop the euthanizing of animals in our shelters OVERNIGHT. This problem has taken years to develop and keep in mind, that ANIMAL CONTROL DID NOT MAKE THIS PROBLEM AND THEY DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO SOLVE IT. You're going after the wrong people, taking your frustrations out on the wrong people. AC can only do with what they are given to do with. Once you accept that, then you might be open to making plans that will affect the future. So far all I see happening is that we are throwing away the future in order to save a few animals now. I just don't go along with that.

Anonymous said...

Just so we're all clear, I'm pretty sure Ed does not mean to suggest that Stalin is a role model.

I know how things can go downhill, so I'm just pointing out that a historical analogy is not the same thing as expressing admiration, or a desire to emulate that particular person.

And I HAVE read Winograd's assessment of PACCA and as a relative newcomer to the sheltering community, it seemed very comprehensive, addressing everything from staffing to hygiene to signage to an impressive breakdown of the general working environment at PACCA, pre-Winograd.

All I can say is I've been washing my dog and cat bowls much more thoroughly since I read it.