You – Soldier of One

kitI”m home. After I velcro my dogs off me and take a shower I settle down in front of my computer to really go over the emails I have received while I was gone. While we’re away Kerry and I always have our BlackBerrys and our laptops, but we only answer the urgent and emergency emails and trust that Jenessa and Janet can handle the uglies that pop up back home.

I left the conference with the same familiar feeling…so honored and proud to have the privilege of working on this team and an overwhelming sense that we need to do more.

This time was no different, except that we arrived home with four cats from the DC shelter and a sweet, precious little girl with a shattered pelvis from the Baltimore shelter. She followed us home. Really. Kerry’s email to staff had me roaring…”Ok. Look. We’re coming home with four cats and a dog that needs rehab and/or medical attention. And one of the cats may be sick. None have heartworm tests and aren’t spayed or neutered. Before you say anything just shut up.” We are total saps. We arrived after hours and of course Janet and Jen and Juan stayed to make sure we got in and the animals got attention.

They will, of course, have all their tests and get altered and shake whatever they may have before they go on to their forever homes, happy and healthy.

Being at the conference allowed Kerry and I to talk with other people who do what we do, face the same problems we face, make the same mistakes we make. We love it. We love it when other shelters invite us in, other organizations ask to come see us, people who are starting sanctuaries ask for our advice. We learn from all of it, and if we take even ONE thing from the sessions and the one-on-one conversations we are thrilled. I know at one point I ran out of paper from taking notes, and my mind is still spinning from all the great stuff that was flying around in my head that whole time.

Advocating a no-kill position can be difficult and dangerous, and makes you a target for other people’s guilt, indifference and ignorance.

One of Pets Alive’s expansion plans (the seed of which was ripped off from Best Friends and/or Michael Mountain, which most of our greatest ideas are) is to put together what we’ve called the Pets Alive Local Advocate Network.

Best Friends has its Ambassador program, which conjures pictures of guys in top hats (or gals in business suits) wearing sashes, sipping wine and politely discussing merits. The program has been very successful in fulfilling its mission.

We had something different in mind. An advocate is someone who argues a position on someone’s behalf — someone who pleads the cause of another. We’re looking for soldiers — people who understand that no matter how it is fought this is a war of life and death.

soldierWe are going to put together a training program and you’re going to help us spread the word about no-kill and you can be sort of a cross between Superman and a tape recorder. But you don’t have to wait for us to put it all together — you can become a no-kill mercenary on your own.

So many people came to me at the conference who paid their own way and had no sponsoring organization. They did it because “they want to do something. Want to be active in saving animals.” Well guess what? You’re ALREADY a mercenary. And today I’m going to give you the universal weapon for fighting people who are against no-kill. Lock and load.

The other day we played a game called Who’s the hypocrite? Today’s game is more of a puzzle. Below are a bunch of statements from a bunch of people. Please read them and tell me what they have in common:

We had several issues with the bill. One was the language around who would be approved to claim an animal from a shelter. The Kellner/Duane Bill allowed any animal 501(c)3 to do so, but excluded competent rescues that weren’t federally tax exempt…We also felt the reporting requirement in the bill was unrealistic for some small rural shelters to meet.

Ultimately we believe it made no difference, with regard to its passage, whether or not we supported the bill. We had some issues with the bill and the way it was written, but more to the point was that without support from two of the biggest organizations in the region (ASPCA and the Mayor’s Alliance), the bill simply wasn’t going to pass.

Francis Battista, Best Friends, in their statement on Oreo’s Law.

I was very saddened to read Nathan’s blog today. While the words were mostly polite, he really tried to shine a negative light on BF because of their decision to remain neutral over Oreo’s law. I believe in the work that you do, therefor I trust in the decision you made.

Debbie Hunsinger posting on the Best Friends Facebook page that same day.

My family & I are long time supporter of the Jersey Shore Animal Shelter & will continue to do so. The folks at the shelter work very hard raising funds & taking care of our furry & feathered friends.

kittenfivMaureen K. defending the Jersey Shore Animal Center for intending to kill 5 FIV+ kittens and their mother.

Okay. Let’s stop here for now. I have tons and tons more, but let’s lay the foundation. So what do these three statements have in common?

Here’s the first one. They are all different ways of debating the same question. All of your battles, regardless of with whom, where and why are about the answer to this question:

Should an animal be killed when there is another alternative?

In the cases above, each person is attempting to frame the debate in such a way that it denies a discussion of that question. Whether it is intentional or not it is irrelevant. Your job is to be the advocate for the animal whose life is being debated, whether by proxy, straw man or right out in the open.

When you understand your job it’s easy. Then you need to find the person who controls the life or lives in question and get them to understand that question and realize the magnitude of making the wrong decision.

This is ABSOLUTELY not about whether the organization saving the dog is a 501(c)(3) or has to fill out too much paperwork to save the animals, or even if the biggest groups support the killing (Francis Battista), not about prior good deeds or the tone of the argument (Debbie Hunsiger), and not about how long they have been working, whether or not you support their actions or help them raise money to continue those actions (Maureen K.).

This is about what is right and what is wrong. This is about whether it is WRONG that Oreo should be killed when there is another alternative (Francis Battista and Debbie Hunsiger), or whether a mother and her kittens should be killed because they have a disease which is neither life-threatening nor debilitating (Maureen K.).


So, Francis Battista, why have you decided to kill Oreo?
Well…there are people who might want her that don’t have a 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. Also, the paperwork is too much for some of the smaller rescues. Oh…and the ASPCA thinks she should be dead. So kill her.

See…the ludicrousness of the argument shines through when you frame it in those terms.

Let’s try Maureen’s.

Maureen, why should we kill those FIV positive kittens and their mother?
Well…I am a supporter of the shelter and have been for years. They work hard to raise money. And they take very good care of the ones they don’t kill. So let them kill the rest.

Again…you can see how nonsensical the argument becomes.

Be a missle. Move right past the chaff that gets thrown out there and hone in on the moral argument that they are all afraid to debate you on — right and wrong. Life and death. Black and right. While they may claim, like Ed Sayres, that No-Kill doesn’t have the moral high ground, reporters, supporters and the general public knows the truth. This is an innocent life in danger of being needlessly extinguished. Want to try a few more?

Obviously New York is not California and a law that might work in California won’t necessarily work in NY. Not to mention the process for passing a law is different and the stakeholders are different. Not to mention that California’s law is not named “Oreo’s Law”: Words do matter and the proponents of Oreo’s Law WANTED this to be a divisive attack on ASPCA. I’m even suspecting that at some point the proponents stopped caring about passing the law at all… there were many things they COULD have done that they chose not to do.

Emily S., Absolute lunatic on YesBiscuit! after Oreo’s Law was shot down.

When California passed a law like this in 1998, they knew the risk of having animals end up in the hands of some criminal, terrible people. They decided so many animals were dying in shelters, that they should risk it.

The California law was passed in 1998 as part of a comprehensive effort to save adoptable or treatable animals in shelters that refused to release them and instead euthanized them. The California law is not limited to adoptable and treatable animals but guided by that goal.

It is not the same desperate situation in New York in 2010. Mayor’s Alliance working with more than 160 rescues moves 1500-1700 animals from the New York City shelters each month. The rescues are vetted.

oreoslawLaura Allen of the Animal Law “Coalition” on Oreo’s Law.

So let’s use our newly minted skills to identify and counter what’s being said here, starting with Emily S. I chose her because I’ve had “debates” with her if you want to call them that. She is not very intelligent and not very logical. If she were someone who actually held the key to the life of an animal I was trying to free I would definitely go around her and work on someone else. The idea in a public debate is to engage her and let her show everyone else what you already know.

So, Emily, why should we continue to kill dogs by not passing Oreo’s Law?
Well, just because it saved thousands of dogs in California it won’t work in New York. And the way they PASS the law is different in New York. And there are different PEOPLE involved in saving animals. And using the name Oreo in the title of the law is mean. In fact, I think the people who are proponents of this law didn’t really want it to pass because they didn’t do MANY things they could have done to get it passed. So keep killing animals because words have consequences.

So how do you counter what Emily says? Picture yourself with Ted Koppel on a split screen with Emily on Nightline. She says what she said above. What would you say? Shrug. I’d say “there is ten years’ worth of data on the Hayden Law in California that proves it works. We can save so many innocent lives by trying it here, and what’s the down side?”

Now…picture your Mom or Dad or grandparents watching Nightline. Which side do you think connected with them — someone whining about the title of the bill, or someone getting right to the moral argument here, which is all about right and wrong. And we threw in risk and reward as a bonus. There really IS no downside. See how easy it is to win?

Again, every debate, whether it is one on one or on the national news, needs to be torn down to its foundation — that killing innocent animals is morally reprehensible. Period. It would be very difficult to get someone to disagree with that, most times even your opponent. That’s why they will go off and start talking about the number of words on the page or the way you are presenting your argument or which way you should part your hair.

Shine the light of truth on them and hold their feet to the fire until they are forced to defend a position that even the most uninterested observer understands is the wrong side. WRONG. Get it? No wishy washy crap about moral equivalence. WRONG. That’s the sword you need to wield.

My opinion of Laura Allen and the Animal Law “Coalition” changed dramatically during the battle for Oreo’s Law. As a quick aside we don’t subscribe to the “let’s all get along” Kum Bay Ya method of saving animals. If you stray over to the WRONG side of things, meaning that you’re no longer advocating for the lives of these animals, then you need to be called on it and given a chance to come back into reality.

Laura Allen was given many chances, and she’s too intelligent not to realize that she has misrepresented many things about Oreo’s Law. Misrepresent is a nice way to say LIE. So let’s take a look at her stuff.

beaglerescueSo Laura, why should Oreo’s Law not be passed and 25,000 animals a year be killed?
Some of the animals may end up in the hands of bad people, and California was willing to take that chance in 1998 because many animals were dying in shelters, but not so in New York. The Mayor’s Alliance is doing such a great job we don’t need to save the rest of the animals that don’t get saved.

And the law in California was only a PART of the effort to save more animals. If we can’t do the rest of the stuff they did we might as well keep killing animals. Oh, did I mention that the Mayor’s Alliance is doing a great job?

Sigh. I call these arguments “Chinese Food Arguments.” They seem like they’re going to fill you up but you just go hungry an hour later.

So…you say that the California law had the potential to put animals in the hands of bad people. Uh…it’s been on the books for 12 years. Has it? Where are the statistics that can either prove your argument or destroy it? My guess is that since you conveniently leave them out we can guess the answer.

And we need a comprehensive plan for saving animals. Great. Draw it up. In the meantime let’s save some animals with Oreo’s Law. And if the Mayor’s Alliance was actually doing its job New York would be No-Kill.

Why can’t we have both? Who died and left Laura Allen and Jane Hoffman of the Mayor’s Alliance the Mayors of Dogtown? Again…shine the light of the truth on this cockroach den and they scurry off in all directions. The fact is that this law will save 25,000 animals. Do you want to be on the side of the animals or not? Right or wrong? Life or death?

Keep the argument where it needs to be and you will always win.

I have like ten more that I collected but I’m going to save them for another time. Instead I want to show you what happens when you call these people out. This is the kind of stuff you get back:

catPets Alive has started a viscous [sic] campaign against the Jersey Shore Animal shelter, a non for profit shelter in Brick NJ. They are using bully tactics, threats, inciting the public to engage in terrorist activity against the shelter and generally trying to control the Rescue Community with THEIR philosophies. Pets Alive, for those of you not aware, are KNOWN throughout the legitimate Rescue community as bullies and ignoramuses concerning animal behavior, which I have studied for 20 years. You see in Rescue, Great Dane Rescue does NOT dictate policy to Schnauzer rescue and so on. Mr D’Angelis seems to feel he has the right to create the standard for all rescues in this country. Please feel free to call or e-mail him through the website and let him know your rescue is working just fine without his input. Unfortunately though if you contact them, and after my conversation with him recently, please use small words and keep things simple. His Co-President is not the brightest bulb in the batch either. A high school diploma might be of some help to her lack of civilized language.

As someone who has worked and donated all training and behavior work to rescues for twenty years, this is unprecedented. But the egos of the President (who is apparently anatomically inadequate since he threatens and bullys’ women) and his organization of HOARDERS are apparently fooling the public with scam after scam. Including Rock Star Rob Thomas, who is handled by the same management as my cousin and is now being made aware of Mr D’Angelis’s and his ship of fools, and their Mel Gibson rants at the women at Jersey Shore. Threatening women????? Gee, You must all be sooooo proud. Will you be invading playgrounds next???

Rescue work is all volunteer and involves many judgement [sic] calls. The last thing we all need right now is some fat guy with an even bigger ego telling REAL rescues what is in the best interest of the BIG PICTURE. He has scammed the public into believing his hoarding operation is actually working.

I have worked with the Jersey Shore Animal Shelter for over 10 years now. They have a 95% rate of successful adoptions. They are true pioneers in rehab and finding forever homes. I myself have certified several hundred of their dogs for Therapy Dog work. My school has been featured on national TV, published articles on behavior and received two awards from the Governor of NJ for our work with Therapy Dogs and Autistic children. Some of these dogs have come from the Jersey Shore Animal Center and with REAL rehabilitation (not just the weekly petting sessions offered by Pets Alive) are now serving the community. These people do good work and as non profit volunteers, only an inadequate piece of scum would pick on them. I beg the public to do your research about the Pets Alive rescue and you will see that the liars in this case are Mr D’Angelis and his assistant who I didn’t feel had the brains enough to learn her name.

Sigh. I was going to excerpt this email but it’s too perfect not to show in its entirety. So where do I start?

Remember, this is about us insisting that these ignoramuses not kill six cats just because they are FIV positive. That’s it. This was about those lives. We got that message across and the shelter got inundated with phone calls and emails and faxes and it all got covered by their local paper and tweeted around the world.

And they made the same mistake most others do when faced with this…they don’t realize that they are representing wrong in an argument about right and wrong and right is getting ready to kick their @ss all over the universe. For some reason this is where they get arrogant and say some equivalent of “it doesn’t matter what the truth is…we are going to do what we want.” That’s loser talk.

soldierdogSo..let’s get back to this guy. “bully tactics, threats, inciting the public to engage in terrorist activity.” Yes, we wrote letters, made phone calls and sent faxes. And we encouraged our supporters to do the same. That makes us terrorists. I would call that the definition of the word advocate. So…uh…do you still support the killing of these cats who could have a forever home?

And oh my God…we are guilty of “trying to control the Rescue Community with THEIR philosophies.” Uh, again, that is what being an advocate means. And while I was flattered by this man inadvertently attributing the no-kill philosophy to us, we are not the initiators of No-Kill. Oh, and speaking of that — do you plan to kill those cats when homes could be found for them?

Not only that, but we are are KNOWN throughout the legitimate Rescue community as bullies and ignoramuses concerning animal behavior, which I have studied for 20 years. Wow..ignoramuses. The expert dog trainer can’t spell vicious, but he can get ignoramus right. Now tell me…if we’re known throughout the rescue community, why do we get emails from, on the average, 500 rescue groups a week asking us to take their behaviorally challenged dogs? Oh, and by the way — are you still going to kill those cats? And how many behaviorally challenged dogs have your shelters killed that didn’t need to be killed? But let’s stick to this case first.

“Mr D’Angelis seems to feel he has the right to create the standard for all rescues in this country.” This one I LOVE. I am NOT dictating the standard for any rescues. The Creator of the universe did. He (or she) created a right and a wrong. Killing is wrong. Killing innocents is very, very wrong. And you are on the side of the killers. And incidentally, do you still intend to kill those innocent kittens?

I will leave out the personal attacks on my intelligence and sexual prowess. Shrug. If you can’t debate the facts this is what you turn to.

Please feel free to call or e-mail him through the website and let him know your rescue is working just fine without his input. Hmmm. Isn’t that bullying and using terrorist tactics and inciting and blah blah blah? I guess only if even one person does it. No one did. And I was just wondering…do you still plan to kill those cats for no reason?

The last thing we all need right now is some fat guy with an even bigger ego telling REAL rescues what is in the best interest of the BIG PICTURE. He has scammed the public into believing his hoarding operation is actually working.

Um. Sorry, but the ONLY thing we need right now is someone to tell the “rescue” in this case what is in the best interest of the animals for which they are morally responsible. Uh. Don’t kill them. Do we need to draw you a picture. That IS the big picture, little picture, only picture. And yawn, yes. I have scammed the public into believing we save 1200 animals a year from being killed at shelters like yours. Ya got me. Now please don’t kill those kittens.

The next paragraph is a chest thumping resume about how he’s been doing this for decades blah blah blah has been on TV and is friends with the governor. The President sends me a Christmas card. So what? In fact, if he’s so knowledgeable this email should never have been written and he should spend his time getting on the right side of this, which is DON’T KILL THOSE CATS.

Some of these dogs have come from the Jersey Shore Animal Center and with REAL rehabilitation (not just the weekly petting sessions offered by Pets Alive) are now serving the community. These people do good work and as non profit volunteers, only an inadequate piece of scum would pick on them. I beg the public to do your research about the Pets Alive rescue and you will see that the liars in this case are Mr D’Angelis and his assistant who I didn’t feel had the brains enough to learn her name.

vickYes..we just pet the dogs. That’s our secret. That’s how we take in aggressive dogs, get them rehabbed and get them adopted. Dogs that, if left in his hands and the hands of those he works with would be dead. Period. End of conversation. And they do, after all, do good work. Not sure how the animals they kill would perceive their work, but that’s a detail. And also, could you please not kill those kittens?

Yes, do the research. That’s how we doubled our donations this year and are expanding like crazy to SAVE MORE ANIMALS like the kittens they are trying to kill.

But the worst part of this for Kerry is in that paragraph where he called her my assistant. I laughed for hours.

Tell me…would you allow this man to work with your dog? I certainly would not.

We saved the kittens and the mother, and we are hopefully going to sit down with these people and help them stop the killing of the animals in their care. It was obvious to me that some members of the board are appalled by this just as we are, even if the guy that sent me that email thinks killing is perfectly okay.

We are going to publish a kind of handbook on advocacy that shows you step by step how we achieve success. But remember it all falls back on one thing. The real terrorist here is the truth.

Right and wrong.

Saddle up.

Filed in No-kill by Admnistrator on Aug 08, 2010.  There are 16 Comments

16 Responses to “You – Soldier of One”

  1. djandbjk Says:

    It is unbelievable how this group attacked Pets Alive for trying to do the right thing. I love that they referred to Rob Thomas as a fool – wonder how he become so successful being such a fool? The attack on Kerry’s education level was amusing. It really doesn’t matter; you don’t have to be highly educated to know right from wrong. And, what does your weight have to do with anything regarding the animals? It obvious that they had no good arguments for killing the cats, so they resorted to 1st grade name calling.

    I admire the work of Pets Alive. Keep up the good work. If you were doing nothing, there would be no controversy.

  2. kerry Says:

    I’m still pissed that he called me your assistant. That has to be the worst part of his whole letter. How dare he! YOUR assistant? I’m gagging. Oh…and is he still gonna kill those kittens?

  3. kerry Says:

    Oh, and I think we should go back and address this assistant thing.
    Did I mention that!? I’m still ticked.

  4. kerry Says:

    I’m less pissed off about the education thing…although I’D like to compare my education to his…but the assistant thing. Now THAT was out of line…..oh…and is he still gonna kill those kittens?

  5. kerry Says:


  6. matt Says:

    Oh relax. It’s not that bad. Can you get me a cup of coffee? And is that the phone ringing?

  7. Honor Says:

    Hi Matt: Please read this to Kerry. WE LIKE YOU. WE REALLY (yes, it is a big word–please explain it to her) LIKE YOU!!! (we’d send hearts and flowers and kisses to her, but we’re afraid she wouldn’t understand even with an explanation).
    And we are more than willing to research some supplements for you–to deal with those masculinity problems hinted at in the emails. IF those supplements weren’t developed by using KITTENS in a lab!
    Love from all of us. Be there to PET us some doggies soon! We KNOW what a USELESS endeavor this is!!! And by the way, HOW ARE THOSE KITTENS?

  8. djandbjk Says:

    Kerry, Not only is is a killer, has the arguments of a 1st grader, but he’s also sexist. Dinosaur, not only for animal issues, but also women’s issues. And Matt, get Kerry a cup of coffee would you?

  9. Honor Says:

    Matt and Kerry: Much as I love you both, I didn’t reply to the blog at 2:40 am. More like 10:40 p.m.!!! That is late enough. I HAVE to sleep (you’ve both met Liam and Tess… need I say more?). Goodnight, and good luck!

  10. No Kill Houston Says:

    This kind of insanity is everywhere No Kill advocates are trying to save lives. If the naysayers don’t have a legitimate argument to the message, they attack the messenger. People have told me that I should stop advocating for No Kill and just go walk dogs at a shelter that kills 27,000 animals every year… that will fix everything. Or just go wear my No Kill Houston t-shirt at the shelter, people will see it and somehow that will get the No Kill message out to them–I guess by osmosis, and this will fix everything. One person even resorted to attacking my mother and her religion in the comments section of an article about Winograd (and my mother isn’t even involved in No Kill Houston).

    I’m learning to develop a very thick skin.

  11. Judith Says:

    You assistant – that’s rich. I love the mentality that shows support for one organization while make accusations and childish negative remarks about another. It reminds me of the person who said our rescue was in it for the money…yup that’s what it is all about – I am sure you know plenty of millionaire animal rescuers.

    It was great to meet with you guys at the conference and I am on board to advocate and work through the ignorance using a moral compass as the guide. We each have a voice but working together we can be so much louder – time to roar!!

  12. kerry Says:

    Yeah but No Kill Houston…ok, ok…moms are definitely out of line for reaching when attacking – but assistant? MATT’S ASSISTANT?? SURELY…SURELY you see the heinousness of this terrible comment?


  13. Thomas Says:

    Hello all, I am new to the No kill program, I am reading and learning everything I can.I talk to every single person I meet everyday.I BELIEVE in no kill.
    It is funny ,I hear the same arguments,taunts and diggs you do.Why is that? It that all these people have to offer back?
    Been called one of those loonies, d=ckless,(chuckle) terrorist, crazy, hoarder, clueless,My favorite …dumbass…lol.
    Many times mostly, I will try to show the other side ask if killing animals is OK, if people like M.Vick are just misunderstood humane society spokespeople.Every single time, I get attacked..! I’m going broke being an advocate….Rich is the sense I am doing the right thing…
    I have found that each one of these people have something to lose, MONEY!.Generally they are connected to some veterinary service.
    It really hits hard when you realize that their only animal interest is money.Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if my dogs went out and got paying jobs, flipped me a few bucks for rent,maybe bought their own treats.Hey ,everybody has a dream..Fact is, Profiting on an animal issue goes to the core of the problem.Our pets pay us in love and companionship.I view private humane societies as nothing more than puppy mills.The worst part is they lie about their motivations.It’s not about saving lives, it is about generating donations( read Profit), convincing people to give to the cause, convincing the en mass that they are doing the right thing.Saving only the animals who will make the most money for them, with the least money spent.
    Sorry , just a vent I guess….Thank you all for at least fighting the same terror campaign….(chuckle, chuckle), I don’t feel so alone…

  14. Erin H, Says:

    this is totally unrelated, please forgive me. I cannot post on your blog for some reason. I just wanted to say that it’s great that you guys are giving more attention to the kitties (or ta least that’s how it looks) and that your pictures are really, really great! I don’t know who took them, but I want lessons! :) You know, you guys might be able to get more funding if you got the people that fund PETA to come to their senses and fund you instead.Once I figure out how to get your credit card, I’m going to do it. Take care and keeping fighting the good fight!

  15. Erin H, Says:

    one more thing. I am totally game for printing up huge signs and standing/parking/marching in front of their rescue and spreading the word to the public. Hit them where their money is!!

  16. Admnistrator Says:

    My name is Thomas and I’m a no-kill advocate. All together now….HI THOMAS!

    Welcome my friend. Thanks for caring.


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