Dear Dallas Animal Services – Please Wake Up From Your “Positive” Slumber

April 27, 2012

My thanks to Dallas blogger Larry Powell for covering the DAS shelter commission meetings; most people can not attend a meeting at 1:00pm on a weekday due to their work schedules so his reports keep us informed. This blog post began as a comment on his blog, only to expand into a full blog post due to the points I wanted to address. The paragraphs below in quotation marks, italicized type, and identified with “-LP”  are snippets from Larry’s report of the April Dallas Animal Services Commission meeting held yesterday. The paragraphs that follow Larry’s excerpts are my comments; I’m sharing in an open blog forum in effort to find a way to ‘wake Dallas leaders up from their positive spin slumber.’

“A few weeks ago some commissioners had publicly expressed dismay and disgust over the way some of the “contract laborers” were handling animals – kicking doors on cages, dragging animals, etc. Some declared the topic would be brought up at the next meeting. Word was the lack of training and experience was showing through and also some of these temps confessed that they didn’t like animals.” -LP

WHOA! That is not indicative of “inexperienced employees,” but a case of the wrong people for the job and sounds more like animal cruelty that should be investigated further. That cruel behavior should have resulted in immediate termination followed by a cruelty investigation. These workers, temp, contract, or fulltime, are paid at taypayer’s expense. Number 11 of the No Kill Equation is a compassionate shelter director … it should go without saying that means the entire shelter staff. Can you imagine the outcry if temp hospital workers treated patients that way? If substitute teachers corralled their classrooms in this manner? Unthinkable; so why is it allowed at an animal shelter?! I’m astounded this was even an issue that had to wait to the next commission meeting. Why wasn’t the result immediate termination and investigation? A solid volunteer program helps reduce the stress and workload of busy shelters; also, when people work for free (such as volunteers do) they often have much more vested interest and passion for their work than those that do it only to collect a paycheck. Yet the DAS volunteer program fails in comparison to other shelters; Seagoville and Rockwall can attribute much of their no kill success to their volunteer base, as do Austin and Williamson County.

Also, Commissioner Mathias asked how shelter employees could have missed a dog with an embedded collar. Though that generally is something that happens to neglected animals outside the shelter, in this case the dog had been given the collar when it came into the shelter, but it had matured and gained weight during its shelter stay and outgrown its collar. (A vet had to cut it out of the dog’s neck, we’re told) Shelter Director Jones agreed that such things just shouldn’t happen.” -LP

Thanks to Commission Mathias for raising awareness of these issues. I hope Larry just failed to include that DAS shelter director Jones also stated she would be taking steps to assure these kinds of failures will not continue. Please tell me she did say that and is backing up her words with action to remedy this terrible problem.

The Dallas task force vision includes this statement: “Encourage compassionate and responsible behavior toward animals through public outreach and education.” Shouldn’t that compassion and responsible behavior begin with the shelter staff? Shouldn’t the DAS staff lead by example? It’s hard to take any one, any organization serious that says “Do as I say, not as I do.”

“During the meeting she repeatedly referenced the “good news” aspects of stories on the DAS Facebook page.” -LP

While the good news stories are important, DAS fails to fully utilize their social media page to save lives. Contrast the DAS page to those for other NTX community volunteer pages like

  • Irving: that has more than 10,000 networkers getting their pets’ networked:
  • Fort Worth has almost 8,000 networking their pets:
  • Collin County has more than 4,000 networking their pets:
  • Arlington has more than 4,500 networking their pets:

Dallas is totally missing MANY opportunities to save the pets by not using their Facebook page to post the animals (adoptable, rescue only, stray hold, etc.). So many people that follow these pages are not involved in rescue other than networking, it is their passion and contribution to saving lives. By not using the DAS Facebook Page for adoptable pets, urgent animals, and strays, the animals pay with their lives and on the taxpayers’ dollar – as the shelter’s stats continue to show.

“At the outset of the meeting, Commissioner Rebecca Poling, a veteran animal activist  and chair of the Dallas Companion Animal Project (the no-kill task force) , announced that she had taken a position with the company that provides “temporary staffing” for the shelter and is now doing “contract labor” at the shelter with marketing and publicity issues. During the meeting she repeatedly referenced the “good news” aspects of stories on the DAS Facebook page. She also told her commission colleagues that her temporary position had been cleared by the city attorney’s office, that the office said there was no conflict of interest since her commission position is voluntary [all commissioners are appointed by city council members].” -LP

That is definitely a conflict of interest. City attorney’s are often good at finding a way around integrity; remember when the Garland city attorney saw no ethics violation when the mayor pro tem intimidated two smaller, female peaceful protestors at the WFAA studios – which was caught on video tape? The Garland city attorney said the mayor pro tem simply exercised his freedom of speech right. Unless the DAS marketing position was posted, other applicants applied, and the best employee was selected, it looks bad on DAS and the Commission. Hopefully others did apply and she was the best person for the job, but it would have looked better in her announcement if she indicated the number of applicants she beat out. I wonder if any applicants that support the no kill equation applied …? However, anytime a city appointed task force chair also receives a paycheck from the same city, I see a conflict of interest. The ability to keep receiving a paycheck can be a strong influencer in the decisions made. Bad decision, Dallas.

As comparison, the Seagoville shelter has a very small budget; Sgt Bailey, the shelter director employs a strong volunteer base including the shelter’s marketing and PR. Have you see their photos, their promotional flyers, adoption campaigns, and pets networked on Facebook – all produced and shared by volunteers – no budget needed.

“One of those optimistic areas mentioned at Thursday’s meeting was giving a makeover to the city shelter, a generally plain facility with a lack of visual warm that even caught the attention of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings during a tour of the place. Commissioner Poling, whose husband Rich is a noted artist, presented a slide show with before and potentially “after” changes to the facility. … The idea is to make the animal shelter more inviting.

Of course, there’s no money in the city budget for such a project, but, as Commissioner Skip Trimble noted, this is, after all, Dallas, and somewhere there’s a big heart who might want to help the city improve the image of its taxpayer-supported animal shelter.” – LP

The way to improve the image of the shelter is to become a no kill shelter free of spin and smoking mirrors. The no kill shelter put Seagoville on the map! It’s not about a ‘feel good’ appearance of paw prints on the wall and cute dog and cat mobiles as much as it is saving lives. It doesn’t take much thought to know that the animals impounded in the Dallas shelter would prefer LIFE over cute decor. People still won’t bring their kids to a kill shelter full of stressed out animals that sense their fate and are fearful of the employees that kick their kennel doors and drag them. Some people simply can’t handle going to a shelter and seeing all of the animals; one major way to increase adoptions is to take the pets to where people are. The pets are happy to be out of the shelter and people are more likely to adopt a happy animal vs. a stressed out or scared shelter pet. As for making the shelter a more inviting place, staff it with compassionate and passionate volunteers that know the current animal inventory and can help introduce prospective adopters to a pet that meets their search criteria – a good match system can lessen the number of adoption returns. And to improve the decor, don’t spend money on professional artists, invite local students in to paint murals on the walls and create mobiles reflecting life with pets and the joy they bring us. It will cost little, better involved the community, bring free PR, and create a less sterile environment for those that do come to the shelter.

“So, no matter how positive the spin is on activities at the shelter, means the shelter kills them by the thousands to make room for the next load. ” -LP

Amen! While the air at the Commissioners meeting may have been positive for the ones making the reports, I doubt any of the thousands  of animals killed in Feb and March at the “Dallas Animal Services” felt the positive vibe. I know I felt no positive, or encouraging vibe as I read the report from yesterday’s meeting.

Interesting to Note: DAS shelter director Jones attended the recent, very successful DFW No Kill Workshop as a guest of an exhibitor. The first session was Nathan Winograds, the 2nd was mine about marketing and social media to save lives – which was a theme throughout each speakers’ session (the speakers were all experienced no kill expert leaders). I was told Jones left early and I do not know how many sessions she sat in on. I do know that she was the original winner of the day’s TOP door prize  – round trip air fair on Southwest Airlines. Because she was not present to win (a requirement for prize winners), the prize went to another attendee whose name was randomly drawn from all attendees’ names. I personally sent an invitation to Commission chair Poling, commission member Skip Trimble, and others on the city appointed no kill task force, but they did not attend the DFW no kill workshop.

Also interesting to Note: at the DFW No Kill Workshop, Dr. Ellen Jefferson of Austin Pets Alive! announced that San Antonio had hit their 3 year no kill goal in the first 3 months of contracting with Austin Pets Alive! to help them achieve no kill. They are following the no kill equation now, but in prior years, they continued to follow failed attempts year after year. The DAS task force was launched in October 2011 – 6 months ago. The kill rate is still astronomically high and the Commission / Task Force is still trying to figure out how to make antiquated programs increase the save rate, all the while animals continue to die in their care. Dallas does have heart and deep pockets – Dallas can become a no kill city, but they need to follow the proven program that is working in more than 30 cities throughout the US. And before anyone chimes in with “but it’s not worked in a city the size of Dallas’ remember that it is working in the largest no kill city in the US: Austin Texas.

THE PROBLEM IS NOT OVERPOPULATION OR IRRESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS. People like to use this as an excuse. Maybe it helps them to sleep at night, I don’t know. One does not have to take responsibility to fix the problem as long as you can blame someone else. DAS kills more than 20,000 animals a year that enter their shelter. However, the city population is almost 1.3 million. The real problem is leadership that spins their wheels with six months of meetings with no true live outcome increase results, spinning ‘positive sounding yarns’ to distract from the horrific kill numbers, and for city leaders (staff, council, commission, and task force) choosing to ignore what’s working in other cities. A leadership group that continues to meet and discuss the same old, tired methods that have never led a city to no kill is the actual problem as they have the power to lead the city to no kill. If San Antonio can hit their 3 year no kill goal in 3 months, Dallas can too.

“In the United States, current estimates from a wide range of groups indicate that approximately four million dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year. Of these, given data on the incidence of aggression in dogs (based on dog bite extrapolation) and save rates at the best performing shelters in the country from diverse regions and demographics, better than 90 percent of all shelter animals are “savable.” The remainder consists of hopelessly ill or injured animals and vicious dogs whose prognosis for rehabilitation is poor or grave. That would put the number of savable dogs and cats at roughly 3.6 million. These same demographics also tell us that every year, roughly 23 million Americans are considering bringing a new dog or cat into their home, and 17 million of those households have not decided where they will get that animal and can be influenced to adopt from a shelter. Even if the vast majority of those 17 million (upwards of 80 percent) got a dog or cat from somewhere other than a shelter, U.S. shelters could still zero out the deaths of savable animals. On top of that, not all animals entering shelters need adoption: dome will be lost strays who will be reclaimed by their family (shelters which are comprehensive in their lost pet reclaim efforts, for example, have demonstrated that as many as two-thirds of stray dogs can be reunited with their families). Others are unsocialized feral cats who need neuter and release. Some will be vicious dogs or are irremediably suffering and will be killed. In the end, a shelter only needs to find new homes for roughly half of all incoming animals.

From the perspective of achievability, therefore, the prognosis for widespread No Kill success is very good. But let’s put all this aside. Let’s assume “pet overpopulation” is real and insurmountable. To do that, we have to ignore the data. We also have to ignore the experiences of successful communities. In the United States, to accept the “No Kill is impossible” argument requires pretending the knowledge and the results do not exist.” – No Kill Primer, authored by No Kill Advocacy Center

Doing the Math … The Dallas Animal Services shelter kills an average 25,000 shelter animals; the no kill save rate of 90% is 22,500. Divide the number of approximate healthy, adoptable pets by the City population of 1.2+ million and we see that less than 2% of the Dallas population is needed to give these animals a home vs. the death needle. Two percent of the Dallas city population! Every year, people look to add a new pet to their family; it’s not unreasonable to believe that 22,500 Dallasites, out of more than 1.2 million will be ready to add a new pet to their family annually. And given that many homes have more than one pet, the number of adoptive homes needed becomes even less. Achieving a save rate of more than 90%, even with more than 20,000 animals needing a home annually is achievable.

If a city the size of Austin can have more than 700 volunteers helping out at just one no kill organization (Austin Pets Alive) why can’t a city the size of Dallas have that? The city is full of caring people and many individuals, businesses, and organizations would help fund the change needed and volunteer – if only they were asked. We see it all the time on the Pawsitively Texas Facebook page; we share a need and the community responds with help.

A positive spin from commission members carries little meaning. Actions and results speak. C’mon Dallas animal shelter/commission/task force leadership, YOU have the power to lead to true change and to implement true life-saving procedures. Are you willing to truly lead the city to no kill? Or will you continue to hide behind transparent spin? If you truly want to lead the city to change, volunteers are standing by.

dallas animal services commission wake up pets are dying in your care

To read Larry’s full blog report, click here.  And to see and share the city of Dallas shelter pets in need of adoption, click here.

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  1. Geez, don’t call PETA on them! PETA would be showing them even more cruelty to do to pets! These people in Dallas need to have real, caring veterinary professionals getting on their butts and people with no-kill experience training volunteers. This lady in charge and the rest who won’t go to no-kill conferences need thrown the hell out!

  2. As to your statement: THE PROBLEM IS NOT OVERPOPULATION OR IRRESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS….. Anyone in the animal welfare movement who actually volunteers and works to correct the problem would NEVER make a statement like that. It is blatantly irresponsible for you to say it. And it shows how out of touch you are.

    Look at your own statement at the bottom of this blog:
    “When you spay and neuter your pets, YOU help decrease the number of pets euthanized every day across Texas and throughout the USA! There are low-cost spay/neuter resources available too! Check our Resources tab above to learn more.”

    Irresponsible pet owners (who you say aren’t to blame) are those who don’t spay and neuter and it’s their pets and offspring that fill the Dallas shelter. So how is it they aren’t the problem?

    I guess you think that lack of rain has nothing to do with drought!
    Elaine Munch
    President, Metroplex Animal Coalition

    • Hi Elaine,

      Spay and Neuter is one of the steps of the no kill equation and I am a SNYP advocate; however, as a stand alone method, it has never achieved no kill in any city.

      “Pet overpopulation” is a myth that continues to be perpetuated by old school theories which indicates how out of touch people are that continue to perpetuate that myth; if one continues reading on in my post, I provided the stats to back up my claim. I also have links under the No Kill Resources link that further support the “pet overpopulation MYTH.” Where are the stats to support the idea that overpopulation is the problem? We see an overwhelming amount of deplorable acts when working with animal rescue daily and that can skew our perception of reality; however, that is a small percentage of the population. Consider that the City of Dallas has a population of more than 1.2 million and an annual shelter intake of approximately 25,000 – less than 2%. Consider that Americans spend MILLIONS of dollars annually to dote on and spoil their pets; the stats show that there is a much larger sector of Americans that love their pets dearly. It’s not a matter of income or IQ; we regularly see pets originally purchased from breeders for a thousand dollars are more dumped at the shelters as well as people who go without in order to care for their pets. At the DFW No Kill Workshop held in March, which none of the DCAP or DAS Commission members chose to attend (even though they were personally invited by me), Dr. Ellen Jefferson – exec director of Austin Pets Alive (largest US no kill city leader) shared how she too initially rejected the no kill equation. As a vet, she believed spay/neuter was the solution; however, in time, the numbers spoke. SNYP programs did NOT reduce the shelter pet population/kill rate; but Austin is now America’s largest city achieving a no kill save rate of more than 90% because they chose to step away from antiquated beliefs and try the ‘common sense’ no kill equation. The DCAP website indicates clearly they are not following the proven method that is working in more than 30 US communities. Why?

      My blog post shared how other cities are using social media to save lives; that is an easy-to-implement-and-cost-effect procedure to save more lives that Dallas continues to ignore. Social media has revolutionized animal rescue and shelters that ignore the benefits have the kill statistics to prove it. Dallas is currently saving less than 40% of all animals that enter their doors.

    • Thank you, Elaine, for restoring some sanity to this conversation. Shelter workers aren’t responsible for the number of animals that are surrendered or impounded — that is the fault of the public who do not neuter or otherwise take proper care of their animals. It is NOT a myth. It is THE reality of this entire situation. Shelters can only do so much so fast, short of stacking animals to the rafters. No Kill supporters should work at least one year in a shelter, as an employee, to understand what’s really going on. Demonizing shelter workers achieves nothing, other than making us not want to deal with “advocates” who have no clue what really goes on behind shelter doors (calling rescue groups, taking animals home, staying over holidays to get animals out, posting, networking, calling, begging, pleading, crying, losing sleep).

      • “restoring sanity” … what is insane about asking shelters to care for, not abuse, the animals in their care? What is insane about pointing out the life-saving solutions that ARE working in other shelters (that have much better live outcome rates) that Dallas still has not implemented. The insanity I see are the people that continue to go off topic with “a chicken little sky is falling fear tactic” suggesting animals will be “stacked to the rafters” and refuse to take a step back, stop spinning rhetoric, and look at what is actually working in other communities.

        You lose credibility the minute you ignore the solutions proposed … volunteer programs, off-site adoption events, pet photos, using social networking to raise awareness for the pets in your shelter, etc. … and go off on the tired old “stop demonizing shelter workers … we’re the only ones that lose sleep, work hard, it’s the public’s fault, etc.” In fact, one of the DAS Commissioners wrote me; look at his responses (included here). Because I was unable to respond to him in the timeframe he wanted (less than 12 hours) he said he would seek out other no kill solutions. How childish and unprofessional is that? Yet this is the leadership DAS has.

        Currently, more than 30 shelters across the US are achieving a save rate of more than 90% because they have implemented components of the no kill equation. I ask people that say “overpopulation is NOT a myth” to give at least one example of a shelter achieving a save rate of 90% or better through spay and neuter and I NEVER GET A RESPONSE, only the accusation that we’re “demonizing shelter workers” … how do you take it that far off topic? Why not back up your statements with statistics and provide a list of shelters that are achieving a 90% save rate because they ‘educated the irresponsible public and have successfully spayed and neutered’ their way to no kill. Where are your facts? As you can read in the article, Dr. Ellen Jefferson of Austin Pets Alive abandoned the ‘spay and neuter as the only way’ because she is a numbers person and statistically, with all of their effort at SNYP, the kill rate did not change. Only when Austin implemented the other programs of the no kill equation did they achieve a save rate of 90% or better.

        As I shared in the article and in my conversation with DAS Commissioner Chris Watts, ‘volunteers are standing by’ … DAS can do so much more, but they have to be willing to work with the entire community and not cling to old school ideas that have lead to the high kill rate. Implement a full volunteer program. Actively network the pets available for adoption (as well as the kill list) online on social networks. Be willing to accept that, whether you like it or not, the no kill equation is working in shelters that choose to implement it.

        The numbers speak. DAS has a very high kill rate. I’ll ask again. Where is the list of shelters that are achieving a 90% or better save rate because of their successful “irresponsible public education and SNYP program? Back up your statements. I have serious concerns about people that defend shelter abuse of animals and archaic principles that lead to a high kill rate all the while stating that the critics do not know what goes on inside a shelter and continue to support the abuse and high kill numbers by pointing the blame at others.

        IF DAS is truly interested in working with the entire community and a desire to save 90% or more of the animals that come into the Dallas taxpayer-funded shelter, people are willing to help you. Lay aside the egos and focus on what is actually working in other cities. This isn’t about who gets the credit, it’s about saving the lives of shelter animals. It’s a decaying society that continues to support the killing of healthy, adoptable animals. They are God’s creation and we have a moral responsibility to care for those that depend on us.

  3. Thank you for pointing out everything that is wrong with people with compassion are doing on their own time. While I do not disagree with many of the comments you have made, I disagree with many as well.

    As the commissioner that brought up the original issue of the temp workers to specific to what LP brought up, the way the situation was resolved was more than appropriate and swift. As a commission we are there to help facility and perpetuate positive change in the animal welfare community as it relates to the shelter, without the dedication and hair-pulling conversations we tend to, many doors would not be open to ANY no-kill plan that would even be considered.

    As for the “conflict of interest” component, many times, we as commissioners step in to fill the void for lack of other resources. I believe what Ms. Poling is doing through the temp agency is indicative of what we as all people who want to help and better the system should do.

    As for Jody, if she left early might you think that there was a situation that required her attention? She may have been handeling a situation, which if she had not, would be in your blog as she was at a conference instead of (fill in the blank)

    Lastly, the issue of a no kill city, not a no kill shelter are two very different things. Society needs to take full responsibility for the care of their animals including spay and neuter. That’s simply one component we all have ownership of.

    Thank you for what you do and thank you for keeping me posted.


    • Hi Chris,

      I’m moving our Facebook discussion here to the PawsTexas blog so that is is a public discussion as you have requested:

      13 hours agoChris Watts
      why are you not allowing me to respond?

      12 hours agoPawsitively Texas
      Hi Chris, I don’t have any control on things like that; my guess is it’s a Fb glitch that will hopefully be resolved soon You might also try refreshing the page, but I bet it’s a Fb glitch.

      12 hours agoChris Watts
      What about with the blog? And it not being approved?

      10 hours agoPawsitively Texas
      If you submitted a story, i did not receive it. If you are referring to commenting on a blog post, I’m not signed in to my blog. I generally only check comments when I sign on to post an update. Comments automatically go to moderation mode and must be manually approved which is not uncommon for a blog. What message are you trying to get to me?

      10 hours agoChris Watts
      i was in response to many of the concerns and issues that you brought up. Are you saying your not the moderator for the blog? Also Elaine Munch responded as well and her’s was not posted. Simply asking for a right to respond to what you are telling people one sided. Your blog makes it sound like I, as a commissioner am not doing anything but contributing to the problems and dont feel that is correct.

      9 hours agoPawsitively Texas
      Chris, please take a step back and look at your tone here; each time you have addressed me, it has a tone of accusation. It’s as simple as I have not signed into my blog since the weekend; I’ve been out of town and busy with other deadlines. It’s nothing sinister. I don’t sign on until I post a blog. When I next sign on to post a blog update, I will check post comments, as I always do and as I have already stated.

      Also as I explained before, my blog comment feature is moderated; if you publish a blog you quickly figure out how important that is. Even with Akismet, once spam bots figure out you’re an active blog, they bombard you with a lot of inappropriate, unrelated comments. I appreciate your interest in the blog post; please know I am proceeding according to my deadlines.

      I am curious to know why no one on the Commission attended the DFW No Kill workshop held in March? Several where invited personally by me. And it’s a real shame because the content was incredible and the overwhelming response we received from attendees is that it exceeded their expectations. One councilman from a North Texas city that has a high kill rate and he has already begun writing the program to present for their city.

      I’m happy to hear what you are doing as commissioner to lead the city to no kill; what obstacles are you facing?

      9 hours agoChris Watts
      I am a business owner outside of the rescue community, i volunteer my time on the commission, I serve on the Dallas Loves Animals committee, I write an on-going article in the Dallas Voice, I am in the process of working with a company that will change the rescue world tremendously for the better, I coordinate city wide rescue events that have record numbers of attendees and i have my family as well. When asked why I didn’t attend the conference – My schedule is full.

      As a commissioner, I walk the shelter at least twice a week and I have gotten temps fired for their actions – in response to your blog. This is why that specific topic was not addressed at the commission meeting, it was handled. the connection of using Jody Jones name in the same sentence as letting a cat die in the wall indicates connection and their for another negative connection to the shelter. Stating the conflict of interest for Ms. Poling, when I’m glad there another set of eyes there. As a commissioner, I am working minute by minute to ensure that Dallas becomes a no-kill city, but its not by pointing out what I feel are the faults of others, rather offering suggestions and solutions. It’s conflict that will keep this city from becoming no-kill and everyone rushing to take credit for it – EVERYONE is part of the solution, responsible pet ownership is part of the solution and having united voice will be the only way its achieved.

      I never see you talk about the struggles that cities are going through because of becoming no-kill over night. If you cant be transparent, then it simply defeats the purpose.

      Taking quotes from Larry Powell and then using them out of context is not a way to win advocates to the cause. Also speaking as though you where at the meeting. We need an open honest forum to have conversations to work through differences.

      Turn it back for a moment – I didn’t make it to the conference because of conflicts – why are you not at the Commission meetings the last Thursday of every other month?

      about an hour agoChris Watts
      if you cant respond, I cant support. We all deserve the opportunity to ask questions and receive a response. This is now a reason that I will advocate for other no kill plans – we all deserve the opportunity to respond and open a line of communication to the soltion – please look at my fb page tomorrow and my article in the voice two weeks from now as this conversation will be posted.

      39 minutes agoPawsitively Texas
      Gee Chris, I thought we were having a cordial discussion. As I have stated several times, I have other pressing deadlines that must take precedence. But I am doing my best to respond to your inquiries. It seems you are quick to jump to conclusions about my “lack of response.”. For the record, neither the City of Dallas animal shelter, the shelter commission, nor DCAP have an online forum for discussions such as these … so why the harsh criticism for my inability to respond to blog comments according to your timeline? Because I was not able to respond according to your timetable, you are tossing out the no kill equation … ?! Do you get how irresponsible that is? You represent an organization of many people; I am one person. This isn’t about you, or me, it’s about implementing proven life-saving measures that are saving the lives of shelter pets in other cities and that will work in Dallas too. For the record, in addition to the deadlines on my plate, and being responsible for managing a network with more than 35,000 people (a LOT of people message me privately for help), I’m personally dealing with a very recent aggressive cancer diagnosis for a family member that I love dearly.

      I don’t attend the commission meetings because they are held on a weekday during business hours. From what I’ve read from Larry’s reports, few people attend. If you can switch the commission meetings to an evening or Saturday, I believe more people will attend. It would also be helpful to post the meeting minutes online especially given it would tell more of the story than what anyone attending may choose to blog about. As a Commissioner, will you take the lead to assure that all Commission Meeting Minutes are posted following each meeting? In 2011, they were rarely posted, then they were removed. Why?

      The DFW No Kill Workshop began promoting the event 3 months in advance, so we gave people every opportunity to save the date and make arrangements to attend. No one from the Dallas shelter attended, except Jones who did not stay the entire day. I sent invites to Mark Cooper, Mike Rawlings, Joey Zapata, Rebecca Poling, Jody Jones, and a few other leaders. In fact, neither Jones, nor Zapata or Rawlings have ever given even a courtesy reply to my emails from several months ago.

      I did not write my blog post as if I was at the meeting; it is clearly indicated in the first paragraph as I explained how to tell the diff between Larry’s writing and my own and the post contains two links to Larry’s blog for the full report. I did not mention the cat in the wall; I wonder if you have you confused me with another blogger?

      Dragging animals, kicking their kennel doors, and allowing a collar to become embedded is animal cruelty and people should be outraged. Complacency about the cruel treatment of animals is societal decay; rather than deal with the problems within, the ‘irresponsible public’ is always blamed.

      I believe it is a conflict of interest for ANYONE in any situation to receive a paycheck from the same organization that they chair. When people have asked to volunteer at the shelter, they have been told no; if more eyes are needed, and I agree that is always a good check/balance, volunteers can provide unbiased feedback – daily. When was the job that Ms. Poling has with the City of Dallas contract firm posted and how many applicants were considered before she was selected? What procedures are in place to protect the integrity of the Commission and Task Force given that she is now on the payroll for city work? Those are fair questions and should be easily answered.

      The problem I see is that Dallas continues to follow the same old methods that haven’t worked. When Austin and San Antonio tried those same methods, they failed every single year. People HAVE offered solutions. When DCAP first launched, I know of at least one active rescue volunteer that offered to post the pets online to network them, as is happening in other cities (as I pointed out in my blog post with thousands of supporters helping). She was told by the DCAP chair it was not a priority; why? Probably the single easiest and most cost-effective new procedure that could have been implemented was ignored and six months later continues to be ignored. It costs nothing but time – and volunteers will give time with great passion. Dallas is averaging a save rate of less than 40%; no cost, volunteer networking could have changed that stat months/years ago.

      I agree, everyone has their role in saving lives – and advocate that often; but people will become vocal when we see roadblocks and appointed leaders choosing to ignore proven solutions that are working in other communities. People like to say no kill advocates are complainers with no solutions offered. But what they fail to acknowledge is that solutions ARE being presented – and ignored by leaders. Even now, you have told me you will “advocate other no kill plans” because you took exception to my inability to reply to you on your timeline. How is that effective leadership? As I said before, this is not about you or me, it’s about what is proven to work.

      I don’t know of a single person who supports the no kill equation that will tell you it’s easy. It’s not. But ‘no kill’ is achievable and that is why there is so much passion for the cause. It’s not about whether people like Nathan or not, me, or the people that believe in the NKE; it’s about paying attention to what is actually working in other cities that are saving a minimum of 90% of their animals and implementing similar programs. The easy route is to simply kill the shelter animals, to make room for more animals to kill, to make room for more animals to kill. That reminds me of the ‘definition of insanity’ … doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different outcome. That said, I am coincidentally working on a blog post about four Texas no kill shelters and some of the obstacles they face in achieving and maintaining no kill.

      Seagoville is one of the only communities I know that became no kill overnight; most set goals over time. As I noted in my blog post, San Antonio hit their three year goal in the first 3 months by following the model that made Austin successful. If you ask any of the current no kill shelter directors – they will tell you how long it took them. If you want a realistic number for Dallas, following the NKE, ask advocates like Nathan Winograd or Ryan Clinton; they will graciously give you a schedule goal based on city size.

      Here are three problems I see in many high kill shelters:
      1. The belief that spay/neuter alone will solve the problem – it definitely helps as I advocate, but implementing other life-saving programs at the same time will make a more immediate impact. Dr Ellen Jefferson, exec director of Austin Pets Alive spoke at the DFW no kill workshop. She told how she initially rejected no kill because she believed, as a vet, spay/neuter was the solution. But over time, the numbers didn’t change. Spay neuter is key to helping a community become no kill, but it is not the single answer.
      2. The problem is pet over-population; it’s more a shelter over-population issue (see # 3 below).
      3. That education to an irresponsible public will solve the problem. It may help, but it won’t solve it alone. There is a sector of society that is throw-away, and leave their mess for others to clean up. But they do not represent the majority. Americans spend millions of dollars every year to dote on and spoil their pets; in fact, it’s one industry that has been least effected by the down economy statistics show. Here are stats from the No Kill Advocacy Center No Kill Primer:
      • Roughly 23 million Americans consider bringing a new pet into their home
      • 17 million of those homes have not yet decided where they will obtain a pet and can be influenced to adopt from a shelter
      • EVEN IF the vast majority, upwards of 80% get a pet from anyplace other than a shelter (friend, breeder, Craigslist, etc.), US shelters can still zero out the deaths of savable animals with the remaining 20% that can be influenced to adopt from a shelter. With that encouraging stat, shouldn’t we at least try harder?
      That’s similar to what I wrote in my post; Dallas has a population in excess of 1.2 million – only 2% are needed to help Dallas become a no kill shelter. A percentage of the adult population of that 1.2 million will never have a pet. And another percentage is the deplorable sector that abuses and casually throws their pets away. However, no one can statistically support the argument that the majority of the population is the problem. To put it another way, 98% of more than 1.2 million are not needed to adopt from the Dallas shelter; only 2%. How can anyone argue that is not achievable? In rescue, we tend to develop tunnel vision due to the horrors we see and that skews our perspective on the public as a whole. The millions of dollars spent annually by animal lovers is a better indicator of the passion that the general population has for animals.

      DCAP launched with a divisive measure. The no kill Dallas folks had attended Commission meetings and were very open with their interest in helping Dallas become a no kill city; they met Trimble, Jones, and several others. I was in conversation with Commission member Shults about the DFW No Kill Workshop prior to the launch; on a Saturday in October, she told me by email that there was another no kill group, but they had “no website, no contact, and no real no kill plan in place.” The following Tuesday, less than 72 hours later, we all awoke to the media blitz announcing DCAP. If DCAP truly wanted to work with the community, they would have reached out to the no kill Dallas group and found a way to work towards the same vision. The No Kill Dallas group did everything they could to work with the City and Commission; but DCAP chose to ignore them. The DCAP board member was not honest with me when asked who the contact was; I was not entirely an unknown to her. I had helped network her rescue and we raised money on my network specifically for the pets she took in. If DCAP truly wanted to work with the city at large, they would have posted an open forum where people could submit ideas of how to make the city no kill vs only taking them privately; it’s not hard to allow comments or a forum on a WordPress site which is the platform DCAP is using. If you wish to truly have an open forum, host the DAS Commission meetings at a day and hour that more people can attend and add a public forum to the DAS and DCAP websites. What is missing here is that I posted my blog post twice to the page and anyone is free to post a comment there. I rarely delete or ban Commenters, offering an open forum. – I already offer what I am criticized for not offering. …?!

      I believe the differences in rescue define what our role is, but we should still be able to work on the same side of the fence; that’s why in my post Friday, I wrote “volunteers are standing by.” PawsTexas has a large following and can help Dallas build a volunteer base. But you must be willing to let volunteers partner with the city to do the things that the task force and commission do not want to do. There is no reason not to have a Facebook social networking page – and many reasons why you should. If you look at what the other cities are doing as I shared in my blog with links and also at the DFW No Kill Workshop, you can employ a large networking base to help. But you must give them access to: adoption list, stray hold, and the kill list – with photos for each. People like to say networkers ‘don’t work in the trenches’ indicating networkers don’t save lives like others do and that we simply do not understand, but I celebrate the networkers. Social media opened new doors and has revolutionized rescue/pet adoptions. Networkers are key – just as are fosters, donors, and adoption volunteers; however networkers can actually often do more than the people working in the trenches. Some people can’t volunteer at the shelter (available time, emotions, etc.) BUT, they can network the pets, help raise funds, make donations, etc. If you want a solution, implement, or allow a volunteer to implement a solid social networking program for the Dallas animals. Had Dallas implemented a social networking procedure as was suggested 6 months ago, many lives could have been saved. You can’t blame the ‘irresponsible public’ when the leaders fail to implement proven strategies.

      I am happy to promote a volunteer program for the city and also to train anyone that needs help on Fb. I also know people that would responsibly manage a Fb networking page for the city if given the option; one volunteer has been involved with Dallas rescue for a number of years.

      Pawsitively Texas
      Pawsitively Texas is a social network to connect pet lovers, animal rescue groups, volunteers, and advocates for the greater welfare of animals through public awareness and education. Founded December 2008. • We Love Animals! • Are against killing healthy/adoptable animals. • Encourage Spay/Neuter….
      Page: 35,590 like this

      May 3
      Chris Watts
      Now you can just leave me alone . There and many things,Alva that u don’t want know. I hope to see you are the next commission meeting talking about your plan but be prepared to be questioned about it

      May 5
      Pawsitively Texas
      If DAS is serious about hearing from the no kill equation advocates, we would be happy to make a formal presentation at one of the upcoming Commission meetings and answer any questions you have. But it would need to be at a request from the Commission and with us placed on the agenda because in the past, there has not been any interest from the attempts made.

      I am not your enemy; I’m not about ego or getting my name out. This isn’t about me. My mission is to save lives and to raise awareness of what people are doing that is working. The offer to help remains.

  4. Hi, it is pretty astonishing that after 6 months DCAP has not made anything visible happen that would benefit the animals at the shelter. I can’t figure that one out. In regards to Shelter Director Jones, she left early because her daughter was in town and was leaving that day. So, Mrs. Jones was being a dedicated mother to her only daughter who no longer lives at home and visits every once in a while, there was no slight intended to the conference. She sat next to me and was dissapointed that she had to leave and miss the afternoon sessions.

  5. I do not think that it is “easy” but it is pretty simple. Stop killing homeless animals, find them homes, or give them to rescues or send them to foster homes until they find homes. If they have vet needs, meet them. If they have behavior issues, retrain them. If people come to the pound and want to surrender, find out what it might take for them to keep their pet and get rescues and the community to meet that if it is possible. Maybe all they need is training, a kennel, a fence donated, vet care, help with food and litter, etc. When animal control pick up strays, find out where the live by knocking on doors in the neighborhoods where they are. Get a fund going for microchips, find out where pets who end up at the shelter belong and return them. Vaccinate, spay neuter for cheap or free for the community. Get donations for doing it.

    There is enough compassion and love in cities the size of DFW. But no one wants to hang out and work with a pound run by these killers. So the most important thing to do would be to fire all of them and hire people who want and believe in no kill. It has been done in other cities all over the country but not til the killers were forced to change or get out.

    • I agree Lori, there is enough compassion and love in cities the size of DFW … and smaller ones too. The PASS program in Austin is very helpful in dealing with owner surrenders. You offer lots of good ideas that are working in other cities. With hope one day we’ll find a way to reach the shelters that refuse to implement these programs.

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