Animal Rights Fanatics (ARF’s) Hate Dogs And People

Posted on 05/20/2009

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Animal Activists Who Embrace Death

May 19, 2009 by Nathan J. Winograd 

In a prior post, I wrote about animal activists who are lost in the fog of their own myopia. They have rejected No Kill even as it provides a way out of the suffering they see around them. They have adopted the view that there are fates worse than death and have accepted the false notion that for a majority of animals, the only choices available are a quick death at the pound, or slow suffering on the streets. I argued that these activists need a larger perspective which will help them see beyond the false dichotomies they have come to believe and can turn them into allies in the fight for a No Kill nation. Though they are Naysayers, they are not yet lost. There is another kind of Naysayer in communities across the country. But they are beyond rehabilitation. They aren’t lost in the fog of misinformation, they are intentionally and, unfortunately, irretrievably lost. And to overcome their opposition to saving lives, we must expose them for who and what they really are.

My work in sheltering takes me all over the country providing assistance to local activists and rescue groups who are working to reform their local shelters. Tragically, in almost every community there is at least one, but usually a small number of individuals, who come out in opposition to shelter reform. These are the “Naysayers.” Although they wear the mantel of the animal lover, they vehemently oppose No Kill and any effort to reform animal control practices, no matter how dysfunctional the department or how cruel local practices are.

Because they belong to spay/neuter organizations or “Friends of the Shelter” groups, and because they tend to be politically active (testifying at city council meetings for more funding for animal control, for spay/neuter, for legislation), they are seen as “animal activists.” As a result, their opposition to No Kill and shelter reform sows seeds of doubt where none should be among local politicians and newspaper reporters. And because they exist in every community, their pervasiveness and predictability suggest that they share similar underlying psychological profiles. It is my hope that if we can better understand what is at work with such individuals, we can hinder, if not eliminate, their destructive power and influence.

What identifies the Naysayer is that they ignore history, ignore facts, and ignore truth. They are champions of continued killing, defenders of draconian animal shelters, and purveyors of punishment through misguided legislative efforts such as pet limit laws, leash laws, feeding bans, and mandatory spay/neuter, even when community after community has shown that animals are killed because of it.

The ones that, as one activist described,

have heard—and repeated—the mantra of “irresponsible pet ownership” as the root of all evil in the animal world. This resonates with them doubly because they tend to dislike/distrust people, and are exposed to animals that are often the result of abandonment, neglect, ignorance, or at least believe this to be true which further reinforces their dislike for people as a whole. When a local Pit Bull advocate loudly proclaimed that Pit Bulls would be better off with a “humane death” than to be adopted to the “wrong family,” the last piece finally fell into place for me. So many animal welfare people have assumed a position of moral/ethical superiority over the “masses” by virtue of their work with the animals. Only they and an elite few can properly know and care for animals. Most animals in the hands of the unwashed masses, in their estimation, would be better off dead at the hands of “caring” professionals than to be subjected to the horror of the POSSIBILITY of being in the clutches of the dreaded “irresponsible pet owner.” Many of these people are truly distraught at the idea of drastically increasing adoptions, knowing that it will be bad for the animals. In their minds, shelters MUST kill animals to protect the animals.

When you’re exposed to ugliness or just thoughtlessness toward animals, it’s very easy to fall into the mindset I describe above. I think this is why getting animal welfare folks to truly embrace No Kill as a reality (rather than just a nice idea) can be such a hit-or-miss affair and I have not yet come up with a strategy to really “reach” the people who so desperately need the killing to continue. They’re not willing to embrace the No Kill Equation because it depends on the public being a key component to solving the problem…and they will simply not accept that the cause of the problem can in any way be the solution to the problem. Only by pummeling and imposing legislative controls on people … do they see the problem being solved. All the while, they sit atop the shining throne of the animal advocate and know they are “doing good.”

In my book Redemption, I wrote:

While some activists simply do not know better and mean well, others obstinately ignore facts, experience, and history and continue to push these types of laws. They will do what they have always done—facts, logic, and history be damned. They will continue to blame the public and they will continue to fight for more and tougher laws. They will argue that their community is different, that their situation is unique, that citizens in their community are particularly—or peculiarly—irresponsible. None of this is true, but they do not care.

While they claim to be motivated by saving lives, there is something much more powerful driving them: the desire to punish. An activist truly focused on lifesaving, who subsequently learns that punitive legislation is not only a dismal failure, but that it has the opposite results (more impounds, more killing), would end their support of such methods and begin to push for regime change at animal control or the programs and services of the No Kill Equation.

By contrast, those who are intent on punishing the public are being driven by other imperatives. In the end, they so want to punish the public for not taking care of their pets as much as they think they should, they are willing to ignore all the evidence about legislation’s true results or about how to truly save lives, and instead empower animal control to kill animals in the process. Unfortunately, animal control is generally more than willing to oblige and do just that. In the end, these activists become that which they claim to most despise—people whose actions result in the impound and killing of animals. They become the “irresponsible public.”

It is clear that these individuals are not truly motivated by saving animals: they spend no effort on shelter reform or shelter reform legislation and don’t even stop to think about the fact that their punitive laws send animals to horrible and abusive pounds—which they often defend. The Naysayers conveniently ignore the criminal levels of neglect and abuse in shelters where these animals are impounded. And they ignore that the animals are physically abused there, left to starve, get sick as a result of poor cleaning, and then are left untreated until they are killed, all while adopters are turned away.

In fact, they stand side by side with the perpetrators—in speeches and legislative hearings. And while No Kill advocates believe in spay/neuter, encourage spay/neuter, and promote incentives for spay/neuter, many are against mandatory spay/neuter laws. That is neither a contradiction nor a philosophical position. If these laws worked, true No Kill advocates would be their first and loudest champions. Instead, we understand that if one is goal oriented, and if the goal is reducing shelter intakes and shelter deaths, one does not necessarily follow the other.

Over and over again, legislation is pushed as a quick solution to high rates of shelter killing. “If only we had a law,” the argument goes, “all the bad, irresponsible people would have to take care of their pets properly, and shelters wouldn’t have to kill so many animals.” If this were true, given the proliferation of punitive mandates nationwide, there would be many No Kill communities. That there are none as a result of legislation proves that legislation is far from a cure-all. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. Communities that have passed such laws are not only far from No Kill, many are moving in the opposite direction.

Mandatory and punitive laws are largely a distraction. Time and time again, studies show that people who do not spay/neuter are those at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. And that the vast majority would spay/neuter if it was free. Increasing the numbers of animals who would be in violation of a new law while failing to write “no impound” and “free” or “subsidized” spay/neuter into the law, increases the number of animals in violation and subject to citation and/or impound. And because shelters are making no effort to put in place the infrastructure to save those lives once they enter, the end result is that the animals are killed.

Unfortunately, Naysayers all over the country have internalized the viewpoint that the public, rather than the shelter, is to blame for the volume of killing. Since the very “solution” they propose makes the goal impossible, however, they are forced to seek more citations, greater penalties, more animals subject to impounding, and more draconian laws, broadening the divide between the shelter and the public, and taking themselves further and further away from the goal of true lifesaving with each piece of punitive legislation.

The consequence of their effort to promote punitive legislation is to divert focus away from establishing vital programs such as offsite adoptions, TNR, and foster care in favor more traditional enforcement: more power for animal control departments, more officers, more sweeps of stray animals, more citations written, more animals impounded, and more animals killed. (They also feed the backyard breeder market as people then find other unaltered animals.) That groups which claim to be concerned with high levels of shelter killing would actually seek legislation to empower its dysfunctional animal control bureaucracy to impound—and thus kill—even more animals, is a contradiction that is conveniently ignored.

When proponents of the 2008 legislation introduced in California to give shelters the power to impound and kill unsterilized animals stood side-by-side with shelter directors whose facilities were well known for poor, hostile, and even abusive care of animals, a senator asked one of the bill’s chief proponents: “this bill doesn’t even pretend to be about saving animals, does it?” To which that “advocate” responded: “No, Senator, this is not about saving dogs and cats.” For shelter directors, it is about increasing the power of animal control. It is about getting more money for enforcement. It is about diverting focus away from their own failures by getting activists who might challenge them to focus on what they falsely claim is a “common enemy.” It is about control, not compassion.

For the Naysayers, it is about setting themselves up as “better” than everyone else, the uncaring masses. They are, as my colleague noted above, “atop the shining throne of the animal advocate,” whose rule is threatened by the emerging success of the No Kill movement, which says, yes some people are irresponsible, but most people do care. Most people find killing abhorrent. Most people pass on their own needs during difficult economic times in order not to have to cut back on what their animals need. Most people would do the right thing if given the information they need to make good choices, if they could be helped to see through the fog of deceit that HSUS has been peddling for fifty years. Most people are not only part of the solution; they are the key to it. And that, according to these Naysayers, can’t be allowed to happen. Because guess what? If it does, these “animal advocates” aren’t so “special” anymore. Most people are not only as committed to animals as they claim to be, they are more so. Because they oppose killing, too. So, they can’t accept that. And they block it out, because what else do they have? Who else are they? They lose their identity as “saviors”—these addicts of being special at the expense of the animals.

The strategy to overcome these people is simple: Because they can never be convinced to change their point-of-view, they need to be exposed for whom and what they are. While animal lovers and advocates fight against their regressive legislation, the public, the politicians, the media, and others in the movement must be made to see that “this is not about saving dogs and cats.” That these emperors atop the shining throne have no clothes and that they are ugly in their nakedness—elitist, disingenuous, and misanthropic in their unfair disdain for the public and their lack of true commitment to the best interests of animals.

For further reading:

The Fallacy of “Fates Worse Than Death”

Who is Pat Dunaway?

Posted in: HSUS, PETA