Blind faith should be the realm of religion, not in the humane community. We have come a long way since 1975 when shelters euthanized 13.5 million animals. Because of aggressive spay/neuter promotions, the euthanasia has been reduced by 75% during the last 40 years. This massive reduction in euthanasia has little or nothing to do with the No Kill Equation which appeared on the scene less than a decade ago. According to Nathan Winograd, the No Kill Equation is basically stolen from other programs that have some success. He credits Richard Avanzino of the Maddie's Fund but Winograd credits himself as the one to take the No Kill Equation to heights of success. Many claims have been and are being made about the successes of the No Kill Equation. Many are accepting these claims with blind faith, some are questioning these claims.
Just recently the 90% Club, communities that have achieved success with the No Kill Equation, dropped 'open admission' as a requirement for shelters. Open admission means you take any and all animals upon presentation. Limited admission means you use waiting lists for owner surrenders or evaluations to see if you will take the pets. Are they truly serving their community when they turn away animals to be euthanized at another shelter or dumped?
Recently a group of like minds decided to research the No Kill Equation claims rather than just accept those claims with blind faith. All had questions, questions when asked resulted in being blocked on Facebook. All were seeking to appease their curiosity. This curiosity brought about these like minds to research the claims of Nathan Winograd for themselves. This is the bittersweet results of that curiosity, well documented. This is their story.
One thing that this group could not make sense of was the claim of the number of No Kill communities. Some communities contract with an entity, city or county, such as the case with the Nevada Humane Society and Washoe County Regional Animal Services. Several 'communities' are listed under the umbrella of Washoe County. The question was asked where is the list of those communities claimed to be No Kill. The 'list' of the communities which claimed No Kill Equation success really didn't exist and all attempts to locate one acknowledged by the NKE were futile.
Why was there not a list was the question? Looking on the list of the No Kill Advocacy Center (NKAC) website indicated there were shelters that served 400 cities and towns. The ones listed on the website only accounted for 135 communities, not 400. As of the writing of this article the number is now up to 500.
No Kill Advocacy Center: " In 2005, there was one No Kill community - the one created by Nathan. In 2013 , over a 150 communities representing over 400 cities and towns across America have save rates better than 90% using our No Kill Equation model of sheltering. So this sounds as though Nathan Winograd had created the nation's first - and at the time, only - No Kill community. "There were no other national organizations exclusively dedicated to the creation of a No Kill nation and certainly none with the staff who had experience in creating No Kill communities." Again the impression is that all the named communities were following the No Kill Equation.
The indication of 'and more' didn't suffice for this group. If one can count something and come up with a number, certainly someone should be able to list it was the point of view. This only peaked their curiosity the more. There were also counties on the NKAC list, like Washoe County, NV, so the NKAC list was not just of cities and towns, yet nowhere could the number of brick and mortar shelters or their names could be found.
What was discovered was that there are 74 brick and mortar shelters that are represented by the NKAC's list of 135 communities. There is a question, however, that arose. Nathan Winograd claims that he made the first No Kill community in Tompkins County, NY. The director prior to Winograd taking his position there has been open that the Tompkins County SPCA was already on it's way to being No Kill, and that Winograd basically just stepped into it. Another is the community of Berkeley (specifically the Berkeley Alliance for Homeless Animals Coalition). They also received an award by the Maddie's Fund for effectively being no kill since 2002, and this was prior to the NKE era.
"In the 1970's, the Board of Directors committed to a revolutionary adoption guarantee model: that no healthy or treatable shelter animals in the Society's care would be euthanized. This commitment set the stage for Berkeley Humane placing 100% of healthy and treatable animals into loving homes for nearly forty years, a commitment that awarded Berkeley Humane and partner organizations the prestigious Maddie's Fund Lifesaving Award in 2009". So how does the No Kill Equation really take credit for this shelter?
The No Kill Equation has indicated that "Only the No Kill Equation model has achieved this success...if a community wants success, this is the way to go: nothing else has succeeded." But the truth is far from that statement. The same question was asked of all the shelters: “Thanks for all you do for animals! I was wondering if you follow Nathan Winograd’s No-Kill Equation, and if so, did he help you implement the plan. THANKS!” Of the shelters interviewed from the NKE list, half do not admit to using the No Kill Equation, so how does the NKE back up the statement that the only way to succeed is using their model?
NO - Doesn't follow NKE
NS - Partially follows the steps of NKE
YES - Does all the steps of NKE
Colorado Animal Rescue - "No, we are not using Nathan Winograd's No Kill Equation."
Friends of the Rifle Animal Shelter - "I am unsure who he is, so I am going to go with no. We are however, a limited admission shelter."
Brown County Humane Society - "We are a no kill shelter, but haven't received any direct help from Nathan Winograd."
Berkeley Animal Care Services - "We are a municipal shelter serving the cities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and Albany in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are not a rescue. We are an open access public shelter. We are not affiliated with Nathan Winograd."
There are only 74 No Kill shelters approved by the No Kill Equation. According to the ASPCA, there are 5,000 independent animal shelters overall, meaning only 1.4% of that total are NKE shelters. All 74 of these shelters were contacted and 49 of those have stated they are not following the No Kill Equation. There are 10 shelters who stated they are partially following the NKE. But 14 of all shelters have never heard of the No Kill Equation. Again one can ask, how does the NKE take credit?
Nathan Winograd takes credit for a generic list of techniques that have been used for a long time prior to his arrival on the scene. The reality is that only 135 No Kill communities out of 21,585 communities give the NKE credit for their success, according to the No Kill Equation 90% Club. That means that the NKE serves a total of less than 1% of the communities nationwide. Many of the shelters listed by the No Kill Equation don't use the NKE so it makes one wonder how NKE is taking so much of the credit? Nathan Winograd has stated on many occasions that the only way to become No Kill is via the No Kill Equation.
Despite the good intentions of many of these No Kill shelters, many are failing the animals by refusing to accept any and all animals upon presentation, this is limited admission, not open admission as claimed by Nathan Winograd. That 'requirement' was recently dropped. These turn-away pets suffer unknown fates. Common sense would make one question all of these claims, claims that NKE magically made shelters into overnight successes, claims that No Kill shelters are open admission, claim after claim. Can it be that the No Kill Equation is so unsuccessful that it has to deliberately deceive by making those claims?
A dedicated group of people set out to either prove or disprove the claims of the No Kill Equation. Did they succeed?
More than thanks is given to the contributions of Julie Eyrich Wall and Linda Richter for this article.