Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Austin Pets Alive Is Proving

Town Lake Animal Center's director, Dorinda Pullima, likes to take credit for the lives being saved every day in Austin by a new group, Austin Pets Alive.  The group, having just started this summer, is now on pace to save over 100 animals each month.  They are simply awesome.

But if Pulliam thinks APA's success is proof of her own stewardship, she's got another thing coming.  You see, APA is doing what TLAC should have been doing years ago.  The strategy is simple:  take the animals to the people; don't expect the people to go to the pound.  By taking dogs each day that TLAC deems "unadoptable" and driving them down the street and getting them adopted--- within days and for twice TLAC's adoption fee--- APA is proving wrong every one of Pulliam's favorite myths.

Myth #1:  "Nobody wants the dogs we kill."  APA is proving that's not remotely true.  It's about getting the dogs to the people, and asking the public for help.  When you do, the public will reward you.  APA is proving that the dogs Pulliam "sends to God" (her quote, not ours) are wonderful, adoptable animals.

Myth #2:  "It doesn't matter where the shelter is because people will go anywhere to adopt a shelter animal."  This was one of Pulliam's favorite things to say during 2008's shelter-move controversy.   She couldn't be more wrong.  Again, APA is taking dogs and cats that Pulliam believes need to be "sent to God" for being "unadoptable" and then adopting them right down the street!  If people would "go anywhere to adopt a shelter animal," then why is it that they aren't going to the shelter now?  And why is it that they'll adopt a dog Pulliam finds "unadoptable" right down the street from the shelter?

Myth #3:  "Off-site adoptions won't work in Austin because we have plenty of traffic at the shelter."  The argument that off-site adoptions don't work is just stupid at this point.  APA is taking TLAC dogs and getting them adopted in high-traffic, high-visibility areas minutes away from TLAC.  Off-site adoptions work.  Period.

Myth #4:  "TLAC is doing everything they can to save animals."  We wish this were true, but it isn't remotely true.  Not only is TLAC still not doing it's own off-site adoptions (see Pulliam, supra), but they also aren't letting APA make use of the more than 100 cages that TLAC leaves empty and unused every day--- despite killing adoptable dogs in the mean time.  TLAC could help save more dogs and cats tomorrow if they would would either use the empty cages, or allow APA to do so.

So what does all of this tell us?  It tells us that Pulliam's old-guard, old-fashioned, 1950's style shelter management belongs in the 1950's.  The world has moved on and left her methods and excuses behind.  It's far past time for Pulliam to go.  In fact, under her leadership, the pound has killed more than 100,000 dogs and cats.  I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pulliam Orders Kills Despite Empty Cages

On any given day at Austin's Town Lake Animal Center, dozens and dozens and dozens of cages sit empty and unused.  In fact, two recent audits by the State of Texas indicated over 100 empty dog and cat cages at the time of inspection.

With all those empty cages, one might think it's time to celebrate the lack of killing at the pound.  But it isn't.  Instead, TLAC's 6-figure-salary director, Dorinda Pulliam, continues to order the killing of adoptable pets day in and day out at the pound.

That's right:  our hard-earned tax money is used to kill and dispose of the bodies of our community's lost and homeless pets despite plenty of cage space to shelter them.  It is an indefensible and horrific policy, and a community as progressive as Austin deserves better.

So what can you do?  E-mail the Austin City Council right now and demand Pulliam's immediate replacement.  Ordering that adoptable cats and dogs die while cages sit empty and unused is not okay.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Entrenched Resistance to Reform

Yesterday, a pro-no-kill advocate in Indiana sent us a link to an amazing essay.  It is well worth reading, if you are interested in reducing shelter killing:  Among other things, it analyzes the resistance shelters and their defenders (the ASPCA, the Humane Society, PETA, etc.) often show to the implementation of obvious, readily available, cost-effective alternatives to killing.

Here is one insightful passage:  

"Once leaders accept the proposition that killing the innocent is a proper role for a movement committed to justice, they tacitly place their stamp of approval on the very injustice they profess to abhor. This inevitably leads to an intensely defensive mindset among the leadership, as they must continue to defend the indefensible — not only to others, but to themselves."
Of course, we see the same kind of resistance to reform in Austin.  The ASPCA "Mission Orange" Team (which includes the pound and the Austin Humane Society) has issued a report calling the current shelter director's track record of killing 50% of impounded animals for the last eight years an example of "strong leadership."  They've also said that those who question the killing at TLAC are actually barriers to progress in Austin.  Brilliant, eh?