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February 5, 2012

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The Outrage Of Oreo’s Death – a Pivotal Catalyst To Implement No Kill Shelters

Pets Alive - Posted by Karen Lieberman This week, there was an amazing article in Forbes Magazine.

They published “15 Key Insights From 2011 From 15 Key Thinkers And Writers.”

Here’s insight number 8:

Most people assume that the ASPCA, one of the largest and most well-funded animal-rights groups in the world, who profess to prevent cruelty to animals, would be all for advocating that homeless cats and dogs not be killed at animal shelters. Not so. A big eye opener: The ASPCA has actively fought to prevent cities from establishing no-kill shelters and aggressively fights bills proposed in local city councils that aim to reduce the number of innocent animals being killed. Another shocker? PETA, does too. The true protectors of animals are not the bureaucracy-rich animal rights organizations, but smaller groups and individuals. Nathan Winograd, author of Redemption, and Stanford-law-educated ex-criminal prosecutor and corporate attorney, is the founder of a growing no-kill-shelter movement—and gets my vote for most important intellectual this year. His no-kill actions challenge the status quo by thinking beyond the box. He’s developed a creative and realistic plan that many cities are successfully using to save most of their homeless animals. New York City’s ACC, who murders hundreds of cats and dogs each week needs to reform and implement his ideas.

What does this mean to us? To those of us in the trenches of the no-kill movement?

Simple.

It means that OUR views, our passion, and our belief that no kill is not only the right path for all shelters, but that it is the ONLY path, is no longer some small grassroots movement and idyllic philosophy.

The fact that Forbes would publish such a statement means that we have now entered the “mainstream media” (Ryan Clinton’s words). This article means much more than the statement it presented to the public. This article means that the mainstream media is not looking upon our movement as a small bunch of crazy radicals. Instead we are being taken seriously, we are being discussed, talked about, and written about, and that they look at Nathan’s book and his ideas and his statements as true, factual and realistic.

My friends, this is absolutely pivotal.

For quite a long time we have believed this, lived it, fought for it, defended it, embraced it, and convinced others of it’s truth. Now, we are being looked upon and recognized as the leaders, as the way to RIGHT and the ASPCA, long heralded as the organization to follow and believe in, with all their money and all their power, can not stop people from looking upon them with disgust and shame and demanding change.

The ASPCA is still fighting and still arguing the facts but in fact, they have already lost. They already lost their battle and soon they too will have no choice but to join the rest of us “terrorists” and “extremists” because the wave is swallowing up everything else in its’ path and it is time now to get on board, or drown. Indeed I feel the ASPCA is drowning now in their own mandates and policies and change is now truly inevitable for them.

The masses have spoken.
The people have spoken.

People WANT no kill.

They want to BELIEVE in shelters that don’t kill animals and that if they bring an animal to a shelter that the animal will be well cared for and adopted to a loving family again. I would bet there isn’t anyone you could poll that would say “no I don’t want that. I want to see the animal killed or treated horribly and kept in a cage and not adopted”. No one wants that. I believe that everyone wants to see animals survive in shelters and get out of them.

The disagreement is just about HOW it can be achieved and IF it can be done, and Nathan, through his book Redemption has PROVEN to America how it can be done. If you have not read the book – GET IT. If you are a non believer and are wrapped up in old myths that there are too many animals and not enough homes – GET THE BOOK. Read it. Then come back and talk to us.

When I look back over the past five years, to the differences in kill vs no-kill, and the amount of change that has occurred in just five years it is a riveting view. I see all change for the better. So many kill shelters that Pets Alive used to work with are now no kill. We have been a part of helping them to accomplish that. The annual no-kill conference has been a huge part of that happening. Nathan is truly a visionary of our time.

And whether you like Nathan or dislike him – that is irrelevant. You can not argue with the facts. You can not question the impact that he has had on changing things in America. It has been his mission, and his goal, and his life. Long after Nathan is gone from this world, the instruments he has put in place will still be implemented and I believe that when the United States becomes a no-kill country, that our children and grandchildren will look to him as the father of that change. A catalyst if you will.

You don’t even have to agree with all his points of views. But you can’t deny that the man has done more for the no kill movement than any other organization or individual. So when you look at the history of our fight for no kill you will see Nathan there.

You will see Ryan Clinton there. A huge force in this area and having a huge impact in Texas….and across the nation as he speaks and encourages and supports no kill.

You will see Bonnie Brown – the first to implement no kill on such a prodigious scale and pioneering the public/private partnership model.

You will see Best Friends there – one of the first to embrace no kill. Long before anyone thought it even possible, Best Friends started a no kill sanctuary and they were looked upon as completely crazy. But they did it. Taking in and saving hundreds and then thousands of animals a year as they built their network and reach.

But in addition to people, there have been other catalysts for no-kill. There are many, but for me one of the BIGGEST – one that effected the most change, was the killing of Oreo in NYC, by the ASPCA.

This was an absolute key moment and catalyst in the no kill movement.

That one action resulted in the mass uprising of angry animal lovers all across the world. Not just in New York. Not just in the United States. We heard from people ACROSS THE ENTIRE WORLD that emailed, wrote, commented on blogs – OUTRAGED at the death of Oreo.

I used to think that Oreo’s death was a tragedy. Indeed it was, however, Oreo died and that birthed an entire movement. Oreo’s death launched an unstoppable wave of anger, and movement, and change, and involvement like never before seen.

It was said (and I don’t know if this is verifiable) that Ed Sayres told his people not to worry. That after a day or so the furor over Oreo’s death would pass and people would move on. That didn’t happen. I want to say “Hey, how’s that working for ya Ed”?

Instead of it dying down, it launched a massive outpouring of anger, outrage, and fury. Hundreds of people canceled sponsorships to the ASPCA (at least that is what they emailed and told us) and so it impacted them financially as well. And it didn’t die down. Out of that one event, even politicians got involved. Micah Kellner helped sponsor a bill called Oreo’s Law. Stating that an organization could NOT slaughter – oh, I’m sorry, murder ….wait, I mean, kill…., oh wait, they call it “euthanize” – an animal if another organization has the room and qualifications to accept that animal into their facility. Seems pretty smart, right? And from Oreo’s Law sprang CAARA (Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act), and so far two states have already made it a law, and 5 others are working on passing it right now.

Not bad.

Oreo’s death was a pivotal catalyst. It was a marked event for our movement.

It was a defining moment in our history. In the history of no kill.

Every movement had it’s key figures and leaders and every movement had it’s key events that changed the world forever. Much like Lincoln being elected president was a catalyst for the abolition of slavery, much like the Wright brothers believing they could fly, much like Rosa Parks demanding equality, or Susan B. Anthony fighting for the right to vote, much like the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the attack on 9/11 – it all resulted in extensive changes and action.

Oreo’s death and the leaders that stepped forward in the aftermath, and the change that resulted as a direct response to that killing – was a catalyst for change, a marked event, a pivotal turning point.

I’m sorry Oreo was killed. I always will be.
But now I can also look at that event as an amazing and radical stimulus.
Oreo’s death birthed a new world.

Welcome to that new world.
Keep fighting.
Because …know what?

We are winning.


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