Rebuttal to Huffington Post's Nathan J. Winograd

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This is written as a rebuttal to an op ed piece written by Nathan J. Winograd for the Huffington Post. The Huff Puff moderates comments unlike Opposing Views which allows all open speech. Thus this rebuttal on Opposing Views. Yes, we are a nation of animal lovers. We spend billions on our pets. But we are also a nation of animal abusers and major organizations fight these abusers. Nathan Winograd presents himself as a national figure in the humane community, along with the likes of the HSUS, the ASPCA, and PeTA. But is he?

We also donate millions of dollars to organizations that fight animal abuse and work for better conditions for animals. And it is the fastest growing segment in American philanthropy. In polls almost all agree that we need to protect our animals. According to Winograd, three out of four Americans believe it should be illegal for shelters to euthanize animals if they are not suffering. I would go along with that except that the wording of the poll that Winograd quotes was such that the only answer could be that we think it should be illegal. Any other wording would have brought different results.

Winograd contends that because of this love of animals, we are making some major organizations very, very rich. He goes on to inform us that the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, and PeTA bring in over $300,000,000 proving how much Americans love their pets. Winograd complains that because of the advocacy of these major groups, the media, legislators, and the public seem the groups as the "experts". Now is when it gets good.

Yes, we are aware that 4 million pets are euthanized throughout the country in shelters. Winograd claims it is not necessary to put these pets down. Yet, he offers nothing in the way of explaining what do we do with all of them. He fails to explain how to get the funding necessary to build sanctuaries to hold all these animals. Keep in mind that is 4 million every year that we would have to find shelter for. His "vision" is a world of perfect pet owners, perfect rescues, perfect shelters, plenty of funding. All he has ever offered is lip service, he brought nothing new to the table as far as obtaining funding to become no kill, legislation to help become no kill, nothing. What we need to know is how to squeeze blood from a turnip, not lectures on promoting adoptions.

Winograd goes on to claim there are 90 communities that have adopted his program. One only has to look at these No Kill communites to realize that for the most part they are small, very small, handling fewer than 1000 animals a year. He claims these shelters are open door admission but further research on these shelters plainly shows they are limited admission, using waiting lists and turning away owner surrenders. Open admission shelters can't do that, they have to take any and all at the time of presentation. To do otherwise puts pets in a great danger of being dumped. Winograd can brag about Austin but if one researches news articles, the majority of those articles are referring to the overcrowded conditions. Austin spawned PetsAlive! in San Antonio which came under investigation for neglect and cruelty later. Austin's dog bites rose 35% in the two years under No Kill. Their budget has gone through the roof. And Winograd calls this success?

From there, Winograd goes on to talk about incidents at shelters that would make you cringe. He never talks about those shelters that follow his program and the horrors discovered at these shelters. Spindletop is a good example. Winograd's followers pulled dogs from shelters and dumped them in a sanctuary called Spindletop. Did Winograd condemn this sanctuary operating under his program? A quick Google search shows not one word.

Winograd also fails to mention all the scams and schemes that have developed as a result of his program. He prefers to quote examples of the horrors of shelters than don't use his program. His followers often state that animals would be better off left with these cruel places than taken to a shelter where they would receive comfort, food, medical care. And if necessary, a painless death.

Another complaint Winograd refers to is that rescues were turned away in New York. No animal control will turn away legit rescues. Winograd fails to mention that these "rescues" he defends might just be hoarders, abusers and that animal control will do what is in the best interest of the animals. He talks about legislation that the major groups opposed. Let's talk about the legislation Winograd opposes. In every case of legislation for mandatory spay/neuter, Winograd has stood along side the breeding community in opposition. He has even stood in opposition of legislation aimed at stopping the cruelty of puppy mills. Winograd, while in Tompkins County, NY, failed in his duty to stop a cruel puppy mill according to the Ag Department for New York State.

A few questions come to mind at this point. If the HSUS, the ASPCA, and PeTA weren't around, who would be busting these cruel puppy mills, or the cruelty of agribusiness? Not Nathan Winograd. His organization has never contributed one cent toward disaster relief or cruelty investigations. Then why would he be opposed to these organizations doing these things? I don't have an answer to that question, do you? One can venture a guess. It appears to me that Winograd is desperately trying to direct donations to himself. In business, one condemns the competitor to get business. Same here, Winograd wants those millions in his coffers. The HSUS, the ASPCA, and PeTA don't rub Winograd's nose in his many failures. The truth is that this is a movement trying to stop these organizations from stopping cruelty. Winograd distorts the truth like the euthanization numbers for PeTA. PeTA is not a shelter although the State of Virginia puts them in that category for a lack of an another appropriate category. PeTA offers free euthanasia to end the suffering of pets with illness, injuries, etc. But Winograd condemns them for this necessary service, a service if not offered would mean suffering.

Ask the hard questions. Why would Winograd oppose the very ones fighting cruelty? Why would Winograd preach hate toward these organizations rather than working with them? After all, isn't his motto "It takes a community"? Then why does he want to turn away this major community with funds to fight cruelty? Ask how much money the No Kill Advocacy Center sent to help the victims of Sandy. Ask how much money went to any of the proclaimed No Kill shelters from the No Kill Advocacy Center. Ask how many grants the No Kill Advocacy Center gives out for spay/neuter. Once you ask these questions, ask Winograd if actions speak louder than words.