High hopes & low expectations =

High hopes & low expectations =

This is the week of the HSUS Expo where two significant events are taking place.  The first is a day-long certificate course presented by Maddie’s Fund with speakers like No Kill shelter directors Bonney Brown and Susanne Kogut.  

Although this is the first time Maddie’s Fund has had an entire day to work with and expand on the topic of No Kill sheltering, it’s not the first time that Maddie’s Fund (represented by Rich Avanzino) has participated in the conference. Incidently Rich Avanzino was presenting at the same conference where the statement was made by a presenter on the topic of euthanasia - when we take an animal’s life “we are not killing them”

The bulk of the HSUS conference has historically been up and down and even anti-No Kill at times as you can hear at the end of the recording. For every great idea and positive message there is a disheartening or disappointing moment.  One of those moments extended for the length of an entire workshop in 2008 as a presentation was given by a PeTA representative intent on destroying any hope that any audience member had of achieving the goal of No Kill. The presentation was in sharp contrast to Wayne Pacelle’s uplifting, encouraging and hopeful address to attendees that opened the conference and made for a jarring mental contradiction. 

It’s for this reason that the people who are hungry for the knowledge of how to save lives in shelters might not be the same people who would attend the annual HSUS conference. People are looking for leadership and there has to be, at the core of a leader for No Kill, a sincere belief that it is possible. At this point in time the message from HSUS is guarded and laden with “ifs” and “buts” as in No Kill is achievable … if … No Kill is a great goal … but … and this is a message that ultimately people don’t need to pay good money (speaking about the conference as a whole) to hear.  

The fact that Maddie’s Fund has an entire day to present on a topic is an achivement but we would humbly suggest that it is not enough. We need to work to ensure a substantial No Kill sheltering conference occurs annually rather than just in a single day (that is available only to those who come early and pay an additional fee). As this year’s No Kill conference in Washington DC has demonstrated by selling out months in advance, people are hungry for the knowledge.

Why are these people inportant? 

They are the ones who will be our new leaders. They are the next feature speakers. They are the leaders of the successful No Kill communities of the future. They ARE our future and they are desperate for leadership.

What can we hope from this day of No Kill? Perhaps it’s just the foot in the door that has remained firmly in place. Pushing that door open a fraction of an inch at a time has taken decades. Perhaps the message of success and hope will be dampened by the mixed messages during the rest of the conference but if substantial change and hope occurs in just one person - it will be a success. A small success but a success nonetheless.

Now let’s aim higher!

The second important event this week is a meeting about pit bulls. A number of stakeholders in the pit bull advocacy community have been invited to sit down and have a heart to heart with HSUS about their recently amended policy regarding dogs seized as part of a fighting case. 

As with No Kill, the position seems to be loaded with a lot of “ifs” and “buts” as in if we ask for evaluations, communities will be less likely to cooperate with us in conducting these operations. Once again the call is for the largest humane organization to take a leadership position in defense of these dogs. The messages from HSUS over time on this issue have been confounding, confusing and even contradictory. 

It’s time to write the playbook on behalf of these dogs and get everyone within HSUS on the same page. That playbook needs to respect the animals who are being “rescued” as individuals and respect the amount and type of work that others are willing to do to assist.  A watered down compromised plan of action just isn’t good enough when lives are in the balance.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.  John Quincy Adams

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4 Responses to “High hopes & low expectations =”

  1. Do any others sometimes feel deflated and defeated in trying to help others have a lighbulb moment regarding what “No Kill” means and how it is achievable?
    In our community and at our shelter, it seems the message can never get beyong blaming the irresponsible public and making excuses for a shelter operating as regressively as we can get.
    See this op-ed in our paper today:
    I try my best, via my blog, and online comments to stories such as these to at least clarify No Kill. It seems like the message never really gets through to anyone.
    Advice on how to break through the wall?
    There are about a handful of advocates here who have read “Redemption” and taken its message to heart, and yet even some of these advocates turn to regressive reasoning at times. In discussions about a new pet food bank we are about to start, I get questions and concerns about how we’ll qualify people and about the danger of some bad people who don’t deserve a bag of food getting their hands on what we’re giving out. It gets very tiresome, and I sometimes run out of ways or words or combat the old guard … any advice?

    • Lynn Orbison says:

      I feel frustrated a lot! But it’s the critters themselves who help to ground me and center me. I’m good at multi-tasking, but sometimes my answer is to just for today, just help this one.

      I read the op-ed piece. It was very polite! Comments in our neighborhood tend to get rude and nasty. Lots of blaming, lots of negativity and threats.

      Somebody somewhere posted that we need to do this one person and one animal at a time. Just like the fighting dogs that get “rescued” and need to be evaluated individually, we must deal with the public ONE PERSON AT A TIME.

      When shelter workers start lumping people into groups, that’s when the animals suffer! The Public is not evil or ignorant or mean or stupid, neither are Pit Bulls unable to be rehabilitated or retrained!

      I find if I can change my perspective and work to greet each stranger as a hopeful new friend and animal advocate, then my glass is more than half full and my life seems easier.

      Lets talk more about what is working and stop wasting time and energy on those methods that have been proven to be ineffective in saving lives. (But if you’re new to the movement, you end up believing all those “old lines” about BSL and MSN, so we just need to keep talking and doing and showing and caring.)

    • admin says:

      This is the way of the world. It’s a brave thing to take the road less traveled. It’s also more frustrating. The other message has been getting years and years of repetition. It’s a truth that is easy to bear because it takes ALL of the blame off of me as the person saying it. I am after all, an excellent caretaker of animals. Those other people though … whoohoo watch out for them!

      Them who? Those people …

      Advice? Breaking into the odd but apt Star Wars reference - Don’t give in to the dark side! Find your Yoda.

  2. colliefan says:

    It is a big mistake to think that PeTA and the HSUS have any interest in the humane treatment of animals. They have a very specific agenda, to end the whole concept of domestic animals. In spite of the fact that the HSUS is a tax exempt charity, the vast majority of its money is spent on lobbying for anti pet bills. They will argue for the death of every domestic animal they possibly can get away with. They have zero interest in securing humane treatment for animals.

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