Winograd Responds to Some Critics

Web of Self-Delusion

August 7, 2010 by Nathan J. Winograd 
“Corruption” is the misuse of power for personal gain. By standing up to the bullies in the animal protection movement determined to ensure that the killing paradigm they’ve established is not upended, I’ve prevented my personal gain. You don’t go after those with all the resources in your field and expect to become enriched.
As to my books, when I complain to my wife about sales, she laughs: “Why should people buy them when you keep giving them away for free?” She’s right. I’ve given away 1,200 copies to the two No Kill Conferences, 800 copies to groups in Australia, 300 copies to Austin, on and on and on.
So exactly how am supposed to be corrupt?
Well, the anti-No Kill, pro-mandatory spay/neuter crowd in Los Angeles claim that groups they believe are corrupt are allegedly “major backers” of “Winograd’s No Kill agenda.” The groups include Responsible Pet Owners Alliance, the Center for Consumer Freedom, PETPAC, a woman named Diane Amble, and Brenda Barnette. Now “major backers” has a financial connotation. It implies, which is what they want to falsely convey, that I am getting the big bucks from these groups. But their own allegations don’t even make that claim for good reason: it isn’t true.
Responsible Pet Owner’s Alliance
According to Mancuso and company, Responsible Pet Owner’s Alliance “took credit for helping to pay for Nathan Winograd to visit Houston in March, 2009.” I offered to do an assessment of Houston BARC for $5,000 (HSUS charges $25,000 for a boilerplate report that says nothing). Houston refused to pay for it, so a rescuer put up a fund to bring me to Houston and asked people to donate to it. Who donated to that? I have no idea. I did not administer the fund and do not know who the donors to it were. To this day, I do not know who they are, except for one, an unaffiliated animal lover who offered me her frequent flier miles for the flight. In the end, the report speaks for itself.
Diane Amble 
According to Mancuso and company, a woman named Diane Amble “convinced [me] to write a column in her radical newsletter ‘The Animal Herald.’” When I read this, I Googled “Animal Herald” And came across a PDF. It is dated July 2009, and though it says it is volume I, number 1, there do not appear to be any subsequent editions. I looked and lo! I do have a column in it, there was my byline, but I do not recall ever writing for the Animal Herald. As I started reading it, I realized I didn’t because it was nothing more than a reprint of a blog I wrote for my own website. Whenever anyone asks if they can reprint my blogs, I always say “Yes.” Did Amble ask? I don’t remember, but who cares, because I would have said “Yes.” So that’s the toxic web of corruption? A woman who obviously hates HSUS reprinted a blog I wrote condemning HSUS for calling for the killing of all dogs seized from a dog fighter?
Center for Consumer Freedom 
According to Mancuso and company, “Mr. Winograd even went so far as to sit down and grant an interview with CCF in 2007.” Actually, I was already sitting down, because I was at my computer when I received an e-mail asking if I would answer a few questions about my book. I said “Yes” but on one condition: They are not allowed to change anything I write. If they edit in any way, I have the right to pre-publication review to see if it changes my meaning. If I believe it does, they can’t publish it. They agreed and e-mailed the four or so questions. I e-mailed my responses and they published them with no changes. Do I agree with the agenda of CCF? I do not.
Coincidentally, HSUS—another group whose agenda I disagree with because they support killing—also asked if they could e-mail me some questions. I said yes with the same condition: They are not allowed to change anything I write. If they edit in any way, I have the right to pre-publication review to see if it changes my meaning. If I believe it does, they can’t publish it. HSUS said “No” and so I declined the interview.
During the same period, I did an interview on Fox News. For those who know me, my politics are different than theirs. I voted for Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich in the last two presidential primaries, not exactly the candidates embraced by Fox News. But I did the interview, not because I am caught in a “web of corruption” with Fox News, but because I know that when it comes to saving dogs and cats from death in shelters, all those things that separate us as Americans don’t apply. Red states or blue, rich or poor, black or white, Democrats or Republicans, we all love animals.
According to Judie Mancuso & Company, “PETPAC heavily promoted Mr. Winograd’s book ‘Redemption’ as a solution to the ‘killing’ done in animal shelters. They urge members to purchase his book on their web site.” In addition, they ‘praise Mr. Winograd’s no-kill approach, arguing it is far cheaper to adopt animals than to kill them.’ Wow, devastating indictments. I wrote a book urging an end to the killing, showing how it is possible, and since then, communities across the world have successfully ended the killing by following its prescription. But because some group says the book is good, that makes me corrupt?
Now, they do say that PETPAC paid “for Mr. Winograd to speak to their members. According to the Pet Defense blog, PETPAC paid for Mr. Winograd to give a speech in Ventura, California during a major dog show.” Actually, that isn’t quite true. WhenRedemption was published, I sent out a mass e-mail and posted online if people wanted me to come speak, I’d go to any city and all I ask is reimbursement for air travel, one night in a hotel and that the presentation be free and open to anyone who wants to come. They offered me that and yes, I took it, inviting everyone in the Ventura community to come hear the presentation. But no, they did not pay me to speak. They reimbursed my flight (a Southwest coach fare) and one night in a hotel (I paid for the movie and potato chips from the mini-bar out of pocket). That was several years ago, I’ve not received a penny from them otherwise and have no affiliation with them of any kind.
Brenda Barnette
Finally, the web of corruption allegedly extends to L.A.’s new pound director, Brenda Barnette. According to Mancuso and Company: “Mr. Winograd fully backed Ms. Barnette’s appointment in Los Angeles.” Truth be told, I am not convinced Barnette is going to succeed. Not because she isn’t capable, she is. She worked at the San Francisco SPCA, ran a No Kill shelter called Pets In Need, worked as director for Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, and then headed the Humane Society of Seattle-King County saving roughly nine out of 10 animals. That is why I supported her appointment.
She offers hope for animals in L.A.’s cruel and abusive pound, and when she was attacked by Mancuso and her ilk because she opposes mandatory spay/neuter (because governments don’t fund them fully, causing people to surrender their animals and then be killed), I wrote a letter in support of her candidacy. But does that mean I think she can succeed at a No Kill Los Angeles? Actually, I am not so sure.
I hope so. But I am not convinced she will have the support of the Mayor to do what I believe it takes to reform that agency and redirect it away from killing and towards lifesaving. There are many entrenched and regressive employees staffing L.A.’s shelters and with the backing of their union, they are a powerful and formidable opponent to No Kill in Los Angeles. Internal, not external, factors prevent more lifesaving.
I am not convinced that the City bureaucracy that does not value accountability and good government will allow her to reform the union. And so I wrote in my letter on behalf of the No Kill Advocacy Center asking the City Council to appoint her and give her a chance, but warning them that if she does not succeed, “it will be because of a failed bureaucracy that did not give her the latitude and tools to do the job humanely.”
So that’s it. That’s Mancuso and company’s proof of my “web of corruption”: A letter in support of a shelter director with a track record of success, an e-mail to a group answering four questions, reimbursement for a flight, and a reprint of my blog. I guess if you wrap mundane allegations in a lot of exaggerated and hyperbolic language, you might succeed in convincing yourself that it is worth the price of a domain name. But from the outside looking in, it reeks of desperation and just goes to underscore how much progress the No Kill movement has made.

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