No-kill shelters that work
Being an animal rights activist, I imagine you would agree that the pit bull is the most maligned dog in dogdom. What at one time was the favored dog in the U.S. has now turned into public enemy No. 1. Pit bulls aren't born that way; they're made aggressive by macho owners who revel in siccing their pits on others. The most extreme example is the Michael Vick controversy raging right now. Dog fighting is a felony in California, and PetPAC will never support such a travesty. I have met some really neat pit bull owners. They take good care of their dogs, keep them socialized and don't let them run loose.
As for the , not having it properly discussed with all of the appropriate decision-makers, including the Los Angeles City Council, is irresponsible. A new program with the liability issues this one brings up requires Boks to do his homework first.
Who trains the trainers? Police dogs receive months of training and more throughout their service. Who will carry on with this training when these dogs are released to families? The families? Not likely.
Who establishes the criteria for placement? Will the city of Los Angeles accept a huge liability if one of these dogs were to attack someone? Who decides which dogs are selected?
The Times' article alluded to the fact that nonaggressive dogs would be the only ones considered. This reminds me of my stint as a commissioner with the Youthful Offender Parole Board. I had to assign California Youth Authority students to anger-management and behavior courses. The selection criteria for students were so strict as to be almost impossible to pass. Of course, the CYA's success rate was terrific.
Is a behavior veterinarian from a local school of veterinary medicine consulted? Do Boks' shelters give dogs with behavior problems adequate evaluations? Or are they just poked with a sharp stick to see if they will react? I have never met Boks; I only know him by his reputation as has been extensively reported. He doesn't have a stellar report card.
I think Boks could really achieve wonders if he adopted a true no-kill policy. By that I mean I subscribe to the Nathan J. Winograd school of no-kill shelters. Winograd was the director of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the executive director of the Tompkins County SPCA, two of the most successful shelters in the nation. He helped push the lifesaving rate of dogs and cats to more than three times the national average.
Winograd's philosophy is to require accountability; a lifesaving plan; flexibility; a well-trained staff; high volume; low-cost spay/neuter; a well-run program of trap, spay and release of feral cats and working actively with animal rescue groups.
A no-kill shelter would need to create a large volunteer staff with foster-care homes along with comprehensive adoption programs. As mentioned above, medical and behavior rehabilitation is a necessity. Add to that an active public relations and community-involvement program, and mix in a compassionate director, and we can achieve more than a 90% save rate.
Unfortunately, from what I know about Boks, I doubt he is up to the challenge.
So, Dan, instead of striking out at everyone, could you support this type of solution, which has an almost perfect success rate?
Bill Hemby is the chairman and founder of PetPAC, an organization that fights for the rights of pets and their owners and is also the lobbyist for COPS, the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs.
Boks botched a good idea