Yolo shelter reformers, quit undermining No Kill advocacy!

This post is about calling out some false No Kill advocates.

If you want to end the killing of healthy and treatable animals in your community, you advocate for changes and programs that have been proven to do that. The No Kill Equation has helped over 50 communities end the killing of healthy and treatable animals, and it is helping many more to make rapid progress toward that goal. So if you want to end the killing, you advocate for the No Kill Equation. You don’t advocate for aggressive license enforcement, you don’t advocate for hiring someone to do Humane Education, you don’t advocate for changes that leave the kill rate the same or even increase it. And if you do advocate for those things, then you are not a No Kill advocate and it’s dishonest to pretend to be one.

People who say they are for shelter reform in Davis and Yolo County, an hour or so northwest of Stockton, are promoting a study by Animal Protection League (APL) of Stockton that recommends privatizing, or more accurately, creating a Joint Powers Authority, to run Yolo County Animal Services (YCAS). Those advocates want YCAS out of the Sheriff’s Department, and the study recommends moving it out of the Sheriff’s Department. That’s all well and good. But the study also makes other recommendations, including aggressive license enforcement to generate revenue; that is, paying staff not to save lives but to go door-to-door looking for people with unlicensed pets and generating revenue by bringing them into compliance and presumably by fining them and/or confiscating their pets if they don’t or can’t afford to comply. That’s bad in two ways: it uses paid staff to do something other than save lives, and it relies on bringing in money by putting Animal Services in an adversarial relationship instead of a cooperative relationship with its own community. A link to the study is provided in this Davis Enterprise article:


Following the recommendations in the APL study would do nothing to decrease shelter killing, and it’s disingenuous to link the two.

In order to increase lifesaving so that every healthy and treatable animal is saved, ALL efforts must work in concert toward that goal. There’s no room for the neutral or counterproductive efforts that make up so much of the APL study’s recommendations.

But it doesn’t end there. Davis animal advocates are using fraudulent tactics to promote the APL study, implying that the success of another local animal shelter in drastically reducing killing is somehow linked to the recommendations put forward in APL’s Yolo County study, when there is no link. The City of Sacramento Animal Care Services under the direction of Gina Knepp and Dan Torres is implementing the No Kill Equation and making rapid progress in saving every possible life. Gina and Dan attended Nathan Winograd’s “Building a No Kill Community” seminar in November 2011 and it was an epiphany for both of them. They immediately began implementing the No Kill Equation, and within a couple of months had improved lifesaving by over 100%. They continue to make progress, and their Front Street Shelter is now a beacon of hope and an inspiration in the region. An op-ed piece in the Davis Enterprise describes in great and accurate detail the good things that are happening in Sacramento. The whole piece is about Sacramento, but ends with a call for Davis residents to support APL’s Yolo Animal Services Study, implying that the changes in Sacramento will be reproduced in Yolo by following the study’s recommendations. That’s beyond misleading; that’s lying.


The recommendations made in APL’s study, both the San Joaquin and Yolo versions of it, are totally unrelated to Winograd’s No Kill Equation. APL’s Tammie Murrell, one of the consultants who produced the study, told me she does not believe in the No Kill Equation or that it is possible to achieve a save rate above 90%, and APL’s own meeting minutes from October 2011 make it clear that they think a 50% kill rate for dogs is and should be the norm, at least in Stockton and San Joaquin, even with a new shelter facility and all the changes they recommended when they sold essentially the same study to San Joaquin County. From APL’s October 2011 meeting minutes:

“About  50%  of  Stockton  dogs  are  not  suitable  for  rescue  because  of  their  temperament.  Unfortunately,  we  do  not  have   the   infrastructure   to   work   with   those   dogs.   A   scared   animal   might   be   an   aggressive   animal.”

Sammy is one of those who would have been killed under the APL model, because she was injured and scared. APL recommendations and the No Kill Equation are fundamentally at odds, and so the Sacramento City shelter and APL recommendations for Yolo are also at odds. Don’t believe the false advertising.

Davis advocates’ endorsement of this study lends a totally undeserved credibility to APL, an organization that has existed and worked alongside Stockton Animal Services since 1996. During all that time the kill rate has remained 70% or higher. That’s right, the experts making recommendations about how to reduce the kill rate have never contributed to saving more than 3 in every 10 animals! APL is silent about the rampant illegal killing and withholding of veterinary care to sick and injured animals in Stockton.

Davis/Yolo advocates are pretending that the APL study will lead to real reform, when it will not, and in doing so they are cavalierly undermining real No Kill advocacy.

Davis/Yolo County advocates, if you want Yolo County Animal Services out of the Sheriff’s Department and that’s all you want, okay. Don’t pretend to be for the No Kill Equation. If you do want the No Kill Equation in Yolo County, then stop endorsing the APL study and start promoting the effectiveness of the No Kill Equation in ending killing. You can’t have it both ways. You can try, but as someone advocating for shelter reform in Stockton and calling out Animal Protection League for its silence in the face of systemic illegal killing, I am sure as hell not going to let you give APL false credibility as experts on reducing killing!

The way to end the killing of healthy and treatable animals in your community is to make changes that have been proven to work. If you want to know whether someone is advocating for lifesaving changes, ask about the specifics, and if they are advocating for things other than the No Kill Equation, things like aggressive license enforcement, then they are not No Kill advocates.

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