Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Happened To Michael Vick's Dogs?

While most of the public has been inundated with stories about the "fall from grace" of Michael Vick and the emerging success of Atlanta's football team under star quarterback Matt Ryan little has been written about the true victim's in Vick's crime -

In a remarkably poignant article of the fate of Vick's dogs Sports Illustrated writer Jim Gorant writes "The Humane Society of the U.S., agreeing with PETA, took the position that Michael Vick's pit bulls, like all dogs saved from fight rings, were beyond rehabilitation and that trying to save them was a misappropriation of time and money."

"The cruelty they've suffered is such that they can't lead what anyone who loves dogs would consider a normal life," says PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. "We feel it's better that they have their suffering ended once and for all."

"Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim,
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him.
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back,
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac." - Neighborhood Bully

So, "they" (PETA & HSUS) feel it's better that the dogs suffering is ended once and for all...? Maybe, "they" should have not used have exploited the victims of this heinous crime by soliciting donations in the name of helping provide humane treatment for Vick's dogs while lobbying to have them killed.

What is wrong with an animal rights movement so far removed to lose focus over lobbying for compassion for the very rights of the victims whose rights they are defending?

Gorant's story is not only heart warming but paints a different picture on a breed that has come under attack by communities seeking to ban this breed out of existence (BSL) to a collaborated effort on the part of the large animal rights groups and law enforcement who views death of the breed as the only viable option.

Dogs debunk the theory that aggression is the product of combined genetics and social upbringing with a startling story of dogs responding to love and kindness with an unconditional love of their own. Unlike their human counterparts dogs don't live in the past refusing to forgive but instead live in the world of today.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in. - Bob Dylan

It is this premise that raises the question on whether dogs should be judged by "canned" extreme temperament tests that ignore a dog's future when condition of abuse and torture are replaced by an existence based on love and respect.

Is canine temperament a product of the past or can dogs be taught to trust simply by removing the fear that drives the demons of mistrust? Should dogs who are victimized by gamers who fight have their rights victimized again by paying with their lives?

How many shelters, fueled by merciless prosecutor's who claim to advocate for animals place unrelenting restrictions on this breed which all but seal it's doom?

BSL makes no sense.........

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Gift of Death to an Extreme Animal Rights Movement

Nathan Winograd once wrote in his personal opinion that PETA's Ingrid Newkirk was suffering from Munchausen by proxy. he drew this analogy based on PETA's animal rights philosophy that tends to encourage "humane euthanasia" as a viable option to end an animal's suffering.

Based on their own reporting PETA has a mind boggling 97% rate of killing animals in their care. Much of this Munchausen illness translates into PETA's "animal rights" policy that defends being opposed to No Kill philosophy's, killing and dumping the bodies of "saved" animals in dumpsters, identifying those who rescue as demented hoarders, rigid opposition to TNR for feral cats, and a morality that shelter animals are better served by being humanely euthanized all while holding a moralistic approach that killing animals is reprehensible.

This philosophy of defending policies of humane euthanasia while professing to protect animal rights is a contradiction that can not be explained. One would assume that at the point an animal is killed any right or lack of it the animal might be entitled to becomes a mute point.

A few years back I made the choice to distance myself to such "extreme" thinking that included a vision of the future that domesticated pets be returned "to the wild". A philosophy that does not represent my core values. After all, if PETA has an issue with those of us who "own" our pets then am I too a villain and therefore a target of their extremist thinking?

Owning and enjoying pets should be about choice and responsibility. The nucleus for moderate animal advocate philosophy must include legal opposition to pet limit laws, BSL, mandatory spay/neuter and nuisance animal laws that include provisions that allow for impounding and killing as a sentencing guideline.

Those of us who include ourselves as part of an animal advocate movement must speak out and oppose positions of killing with kindness that the extreme animal rights movement like PETA promote.

"In 2006, an official report from People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shows that they took in 3,043 animals, of which 1,960 were cats, 1,030 were dogs, 52 were other companion animals, and 1 was a chicken. Of these, they killed the chicken, killed 1,942 cats, 988 dogs, and 50 classified as “other companion animals.” PETA found homes for only 2 cats, 8 dogs and 2 of the other companion animals."

To understand why Ingrid Newkirk and PETA seek out animals to kill we must understand the vast differences in political philosophy those of us who advocate for owning and rescuing animals have as opposed to those who seek to destroy that human/animal bond.

By PETA's own admission they have a 97% kill rate. This is based on PETA's own reporting to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which only requires "record keeping and reporting of only those animals taken into custody... for purposes of adoption." It does not include those animals taken into "rescue" that are not for adoption but instead end up being humanely euthanized and deposited in a convenient dumpster.

Despite $30 million in revenues, PETA found homes for only 12 animals. An additional 21 cats and 25 dogs were transferred to "another agency" (likely a kill shelter since PETA has a “policy against No Kill shelters.”) The rest were put to death. Arguing "animal rights" for animals that are just been killed seems to be an exercise in disingenuous thinking.

There is also something far more disturbing going on here than Newkirk’s history. Newkirk has been a long time opponent with "No Kill" sheltering. Groups like PETA, ASPCA and HSUS have historically supported sheltering policies like extreme temperament testing and the twisted practices of self proclaimed "temperament goddess" Sue Sternberg.
Sternberg's claim to fame was "inventing" that often maligned "Assess A Pet" shelter extreme temperament testing system. With her views on killing frightened but innocent shelter animals who fail her unscientific tests, she herself should be classified as a sociopathic animal killer.
Yet, the "Big Three" in the animal rights movement embrace the very theology used to justify killing shelter dogs. Extreme temperament testing that lacks any scientific clarity has proven to be the tool utilized in killing shelter animals where otherwise justification does not exist.

Animal advocates can describe the theories behind this extreme thinking but they can not explain how killing a confused shelter animal protects that animals rights. If we really care about supporting animal rights as opposed to the rights to humanely kill without reason then there is no alternative then to oppose such negative thinking.

This is not just a disagreement in philosophy between No Kill supporters and traditional “catch and kill” proponents. That is the debate going on with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where their reputations and donations are being threatened. With the Humane Society of the United States the philosophy of manipulation and over regulation of animal ordinances which take away choice and responsibility have come in question. HSUS can not explain the humane choices they support that allow for impounding and killing the very pets they claim to advocate for. Advocating to kill is simply not humane.

HSUS is the nation's largest and wealthiest humane advocacy organization in the nation. It has assets in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and it has a budget in excess of one hundred million dollars annually. It claims the support of twelve million members and it has a powerful media presence.

More importantly, their magazine, Animal Sheltering, is sent to over 3000 shelters nationwide. Their animal sheltering conference, HSUS Expo, is the nation's largest of it's kind, drawing sheltering staff from across the country. In fact, HSUS Expo invites Newkirk to give presentations at their national animal sheltering conference.

Two years ago Newkirk gave a video presentation on why "Pit Bulls should be killed" to unwitting shelter directors who swallow this garbage philosophy and transform it into policies that all but eliminate even the meekest of pits. Armed with PETA's "kill all pits" rantings and the twisted temperament testing theology of Sue Sternberg is it any wonder that pit bulls have become the target of every shelter maniac with a message and license to kill?

The ASPCA has distributed Sternberg's video "Temperament Testing for Dogs in Shelters" to over 3,000 shelters as well. That the APSCA continues to sponsor Sternberg's seminars that teach shelter directors "how to" select dogs to kill speaks volumes on the real agenda of an animal rights movement gone mad.
Not to be outdone, Sternberg is a frequent contributor to The HSUS Animal Sheltering Magazine as well. There seems to be a competition in the animal rights movement on who can wrestle the support of shelters by providing the most up to date methods for justifying the business as usual practice of killing what they do not understand.
Sternberg continues to cash in and be "awarded" for her contributions to a shelter killing crusade lead by the generals of HSUS/ASPCA while animal rights followers worship at Ingrid's sacrificial altar as well. While the leaders of the animal rights movement can continue to look the other way in seeking life saving alternatives do those who truly support humane treatment for all companion animals do the same with an undying support?

PETA’s strategy for engaging in “damage control” and “public relations spin” when a shelter or community which kills is challenged by those seeking an alternative to systematic killing of shelter animals only undermines their other platforms. After all, how can an animal rights proponent so opposed to the killing of chickens lobby, promote and support theology that kills pit bulls and feral cats? Chickens and livestock deserve the right to live but feral cats and pit bulls do not?

With animal rights friends like these, animals truly do not need enemies.

Animal shelters nationwide look to the leaders of PETA, HSUS and the ASPCA for guidance and direction. Many have blindly followed the slick spin of huge advertising budgets that allows them to "drink the kool aid spiked with killing philosophy that run rampant with this "gift of euthanasia" philosophy. In all my years of doing rescue and advocating for shelter animals I have yet to encounter one who wants to die. In fact, animals are remarkably resilient and only understand a genetic disposition to survive.

When activists in communities working for reform pressure local government to embrace the alternatives to killing, HSUS responds by defending shelter policies, their failures and refusal to change, calling advocates for change "impossible", "unreasonable," and even professing "hoarder tendency" - after all "we can't save them all from this miserable world in which we live". By sowing seeds of doubt among public officials, including our county leaders in government, our county attorney's and animal control we are now inundated with extreme animal ordinances which mystify the constitutional legal community.

It is time that the "Big Three" of an extremist animal rights movement be held accountable. It is no longer acceptable that animal advocates swallow every attempt to tighten the noose on those who lack the knowledge of how to be a responsible pet owner with a huge net that also ensnares those who are responsible pet owners.

No kill does not support hoarding. Yet, the insinuations of hoarding have been used to justify pet limit laws, total bans of tethering, nuisance dog barking ordinances and veterinary care laws that counter a philosophy of education as opposed to persecution in the new wave of animal ordinances being promoted throughout the country.

Those who support total bans on tethering have theorized that tethering causes social issues in dogs that leads to aggressive canine behavior. There is no scientific data or studies that support these claims. In fact, as long as a dog is trained, socialized, and given proper attention the containment method used is not a factor in it’s behavior, or temperament. Dogs left in fenced enclosure who are not socialized or given proper attention will display the same behavioral characteristics as dogs who are constantly tethered.

An unsocialized dog, regardless of containment method with be genetically disposed to try and escape. Dogs lacking socialization will display "guarding" tendencies regardless of the method when forced to survive in an unsocialized environment. Dog behavior, including running at large and aggressive behavior only becomes problematic when a dog is not properly trained, not properly socialized, and not given proper attention, to think otherwise is simply Orwellian double-speak.

Yet, animal rights groups continue to support legislation that allow tethered animals to be impounded to enforce what in effect are total tethering bans. This thinking is not to be confused as supporting chaining or tethering any animal 24/7, in fact, those who advocate for animals would not support fencing to contain an animal 24/7 as being more humane. Pet owners need to be taught and offered other alternative on teaching their pets to be part of the family as opposed to part of the landscaping that surrounds one's home.

Ingrid Newkirk once said “How dare you pretend to help animals and turn your back on those who want an exit from an uncaring world!”. The uncaring world she is describing is the ignorance of thinking that an animal would prefer death as the only alternative to survive. That has always been the disconnect the hard core animal rights movement cannot defend. You can not espouse "rights" on an animal you want to see killed - well, unless those are "last rights".

Those who truly advocate for an animals "rights" to existence should vehemently reject this point of view and actively campaign against it. Not only for the dogs and cats that HSUS and PETA propose to kill in the future but whose interests in theory they exist to protect.
Moreover, HSUS/ASPCA/PETA’s position that animals in shelters, pit bulls, feral cats, confused dogs, do not have a right to live subverts the entire foundation upon which animal advocates claim to support. Once you understand that philosophy then it becomes apparent why supporting animal advocating attorney's who include impounding and killing tethered animals, dogs genetically predisposed to bark or dogs and cats that simply need medical attention contradicts the universally accepted fundamental right advocating for shelter animals to live.

In any truly humane movement enjoyment of the "right to life" is a necessary condition of the enjoyment of all other rights. A movement cannot be “rights” oriented and ignore this fundamental right to live. If an animal is dead, the animal’s rights cease to exist, the rest of this theology become irrelevant.

We can not reject nor refuse to acknowledge the right to life as it relates to dogs and cats while supporting those same rights for other animals including chickens and pigs. It is condescending for PETA to claim one can not "eat a hamburger" while wanting to kill my dog. We can not advocate against "fur" while wanting to kill off feral cats.

Nathan Winograd wrote "The relationship between Americans and their animal companions can open a door to larger animal rights issues. In our daily interactions with dogs and cats, people experience an animal’s personality, emotions, and capacity both for great joy and great suffering. They learn empathy for animals. It is not a stretch that someone who is compassionate—and passionate—about their pets would over time and with the right information be sympathetic to animal suffering on farms, in circuses, in research facilities, and elsewhere."

Teaching compassion and responsibility towards animals as opposed to this blatant attempt to criminalize far too many aspects of owning pets will not only support a true movement of those who understand rights for animals, but more importantly the rights of people to continue to own animals as pets.

I am not my dogs "guardian" - I am their keeper with ownership rights recognized by our legal system. It is a folly to think we will have more protective rights to "keep" our pets if we simply follow the twisted thinking of an animal rights movement that quite frankly doesn't appear to understand the relationship domestic companion animals have in our lives. As a guardian of my pets am I therefore subjected to more governmental bureaucracy on the choices I make in caring for and raising my pets?

Regardless of whether you believe in “animal rights” or not; regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or not; regardless of where you stand on animal issues unrelated to animal sheltering, PETA’s position of "killing for kindness" is not only insane but irresponsible as well. Giving money to support irresponsible political posturing of the Big Three simply supports the very killing animal advocates oppose.

The best gift we can give is the gift of death to a truly inhumane animal rights movement.