Friday, May 20, 2011

The Right to Criticize - Mine, Yours and Everyone's

"Unless you have worked at Madacc you shouldnt bash them. And if you have worked there and still want to bash them then why didnt you try to do some of the things that are being mentioned you cant call a kettle black when you didnt try neither."

I copied this comment (bad grammar and lack of punctuation included) from the "I Support Madacc" Facebook page that was put up in response to the new No Kill Milwaukee Facebook page that was created a few weeks ago. Facebook wars - kind of funny, actually. I'm not exactly sure who the comment was directed towards but I want to weigh in with my opinion.

I am not involved with the No Kill Milwaukee Facebook page but I wholeheartedly support what they are trying to do: educate the public about the 50% plus kill rate at Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC)  and encourage the hiring of a new progressive director that will implement the No Kill Equation, proven to save lives. (As a side note, somebody asked me the other day why it wasn't called "The Common Sense Equation" because that is what it is about. Good point, indeed!)

So back to the Facebook comment above. This goes into my pile of lame defenses of shelter killing. Really? I am a taxpayer and I am not allowed to criticize how my tax dollars are spent? I am a donor to privately-funded shelters and I am not allowed to know how my money is spent? Because I don't work there?

I would like to ask the writer of the comment - Has she never objectively criticized her snow removal? Or the potholes in town? Or the wasteful spending of the government? Because she is not a snowplow driver, or a roads worker, or a politician? Then I consider her a poor citizen who is not doing her civic duty to hold government agencies accountable for their actions.

Even private entities are subject to criticism. This is how they improve. I will never be a medical doctor,  but that doesn't mean I don't objectively review credentials before I choose which doctor I will entrust with my medical care. I carefully scrutinize my veterinarians before I entrust my dogs' health to them, yet I will never be a vet. I read restaurant reviews and watch for public health violations when I am choosing where I eat, yet I don't work in a restaurant.

So yes, Ms. Facebook commenter. I and every other citizen of this nation has the right to observe, critique and comment on the operations at their local animal shelter. Sorry to burst your bubble.

If every animal shelter in the United States embraced the No Kill philosophy and the programs and services that make it possible, we would save nearly four million dogs and cats who are scheduled to die in shelters this year, and the year after that. It is not an impossible dream." - Nathan Winograd


  1. Wow, Kathy - very timely! We are experiencing the SAME thing here in Detroit with the infamous 'Detroit Dog Rescue'. Anyone who asks a question like 'Why do you adopt out unneutered dogs?' or 'Can we find a more cost-effective vet for you to partner with?' are being BLOCKED from their FB site. Those who have simply asked about 501 (c)3 status are also being blocked. [Yours truly is in that illustrious company ;)] Such as it is ... seems they are only interested in media hype and gathering donations.
    All this does nothing to move us forward and can actually harm our collective voice as we strive to move forward to a No Kill Nation and to save those whose voices are not heard.

  2. I'm curious- Nathan says we could save 4 million dogs and cats this year and another 4 million next year- but just where would we be putting these 8 million animals?

  3. 17 million people per year in America get a new pet.

  4. Really!? Then why do we even need shelters?

  5. We will always need shelters to assist the animals that slip through the cracks - owners have passed away, lost pets, inevitable surrenders. But well-run shelters with strong leadership will have a smaller pool of incoming animals because of the No Kill Equation. This will "buy them the time" and free up resources to assist, treat and rehabilitate the needy animals.

  6. Kathy,
    This is fantastic! You have made an excellent point in regards to those partly incoherent facebook comments! (It really shows the level of intelligence we have caring for Milwaukee's homeless animals, yikes!) I am still confused as to why it is called "I Support MADACC". Given the content I think a more appropriate name would be "I Oppose Progress and Support Mediocrity".

    MADACC is a government organization and I am sick of them thinking they can close off the public from what goes on there and attack anyone who questions their practices or just says what really happens there. I have become even more frustrated by the work some have done to change their image. MADACC does not want to be seen as "the pound" and wants the public to consider them a "safe haven". What kind of safe haven kills over 50% of it's animals? If they want to change their image then they should change their practices, not keep the same old killing routine from when they first opened and lie to people telling them that it is otherwise.

    Thank you for this fantastic article!

  7. Thank you for this Kathy. The irony here is that your criticism is constructive. You are offering solutions. But that aside, I would only add that not only do you have a RIGHT to criticize, you have a DUTY to do so. The animals have no voice. If you do not give them one, who will?

  8. I am a Milwaukee resident who routinely donates to local no-kill shelters and is passionate about animals.

    What can people like me do to begin forcing change in our local animal control?

    I appreciate any advice you can provide.

  9. Hello Kathy,
    Like yourself, I too have questioned the poor operations on my local shelter. I too believe that my tax money should be providing care, safety and opportunity for animals. However, right now many people are not fighting against the status quo - grave yards. There is no accountability, responsibilty nor tranprancy.
    I feel like walking way from this losing battle, but than I think about the third party, the innocent animals. I hope to see a time when there will be real reform.

  10. Did some jerk just ask why we need shelters???!?!?!?!? REALLY???!?!?!?!?! You have GOT to be jerking my beefaroni.

    Go volunteer at a shelter & watch the girls do intake as someone turns in a "stray" who has a collar with no tags, seems to know the person turning them in & has no obvious behavioral problems.

    Go watch as the van comes in with new animals, including an emaciated St Bernard some jackass left tied to a stake on the lawn of their foreclosed home with a bucket of water & bag of kibble for a week before the neighbors called the shelter.

    Go watch as an elderly person who has to go into assisted living has to give up her equally elderly chihuahua.

    Go watch as a big burly biker dude sobs like a baby giving his cat up because he has to move to an apt that won't accept pets.

    I can't believe you would make such an ignorant statement as 'why do we need shelters'.

    And watch who you give your dollars to. If Elmbrook feels an animal is unadoptable, they reserve the right to refuse to take the animal & will send you to HAWS. They are no-kill only in the sense they don't euthanize on site.

  11. First I love my "No Kill" shelters. I also love my Open Admission shelter. They have helped families of eviction, families with horrific biter dogs, families that simply could not plan for the downturn in the economy. They do this without judgement and with compassion towards both people and animals.

    I have a concern though. When a shelter becomes "No Kill", the criteria to surrender a pet becomes extensive and at times impossible for a desperate person to accomplish. Looking at Nevada Animal Services (which is next door to Nevada Humane Society, but is not "No Kill") their stray intake is now 3 times that of owner surrenders. Does this mean when an owner cannot meet the criteria or wait on the waiting list of the "No Kill" shelter they then go next door and declare their dog as a stray?

    I believe in the public, but can a "No Kill" Shelter turn away their public and their animals in good conscience. I know my local Open Admission Shelter takes in over 70% owner surrenders impacting the numbers greatly. They also take in the most dangerous animals that even the rescue community chooses not to rehabilitate.

    Can anyone shed light on this and does it explain why the average shelter has a 50% kill rate. It seems if they limited the owner surrenders coming in their numbers would be just as impressive, but turning away the animals seems to be counterintuitive of the mission of "No Kill".

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated.