Dear Nathan Winograd,

I’ve been reading about the No-Kill Movement, which is working to transform shelters from the pet world equivalent of roach motels — dogs and cats go in but don’t come out — to places that actually save animals.  It’s an extremely important cause and, as the Director of the No-Kill Advocacy Center as well as an author and passionate speaker on the topic, you are crucial to the effort.   I started visiting your website,, so I could learn more about what you do. I was disappointed to find several things on the site that, to me, undercut your  message.

I am a relative newcomer to the community of pet bloggers and animal advocates, and feel a bit hesitant about jumping into the public discussion.  But precisely because I am not an insider, I may be the ideal person to express my reactions to the aspects of your approach that put me off.

Just to clarify: I have never been to any of your talks and conferences, which I gather are extremely effective. The following suggestions relate only to your blog.

Nix the negativity. I know where you’re coming from; my default modes tend to be irritation and righteous indignation. But constantly dissing major rescue organizations — even when they deserve it, as I agree that PETA and HSUS do — doesn’t help your cause. The ASPCA and, especially, Best Friends do far more good than harm on balance, and criticizing them only reflects badly on you. Yes, you’re disappointed and angry. Tell your friends in the shelter movement.  That stuff is way too insider-y for people who don’t have time or interest in learning about infighting.

– Watch your language. You know the power that language has. Do you really want to refer to “regime change” — in the fifth paragraph of your otherwise excellent latest post (more on which in a minute) — when talking about the importance of getting new management at shelters? The United States did a great deal of damage under the aegis of regime change, including killing thousands of civilians in Iraq. Why would you want to associate the No Kill Movement with those images?

Be a little more humble. Your blog probably is the “most influential blog on the No Kill Movement,” as you put it in your newsletter. But you don’t need to say it; it’s annoying.  Give your audience a little credit. We’ll figure it out, just as we figured out PETA and HSUS suck without being hit over the head by your diatribes about them.

Don’t be afraid to be warm and fuzzy. The occasional glimpses we get of your love of animals — including your “About” picture and the recent post on your blog that your family adopted a kitten– show us why you care so much about your cause. And that’s a good thing. Do that more often, for your own sake as well as for that of your cause. It’s exhausting being Mr. Angry Guy all the time.

Let us know what we can do to help. The reason I felt emboldened to write this letter was your latest post about how to become a shelter director. It was powerful and inspirational and made me want to take action far more than any of your I-hate-Wayne-Pacelle posts ever did. Please try to stay positive. You have so much to offer.

Sincerely yours,

Edie Jarolim

P.S. In keeping with my own advice about staying positive, I’m sharing a short video about the No Kill Movement by Brie of Paws4Change that I first found on

94 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Nathan Winograd”

  1. I must be too new to pet-blog-reading…..or living under a rock….can you point me to a good post written about why the HSUS is not the good organization it professes to be (I mean, OTHER than that they actually partnered with Michael Vick after he got out of prison)….I’ve supported the HSUS with my donation $ because I really thought they were on the up and up, but maybe there are better places I can give to. Sounds like this author you’re writing too is a little more than I’d want to start with in finding out why HSUS isn’t on the good and shiny list…..Any tips would be helpful! Thanks,

    1. Good question! HSUS’s connection with Michael Vick is a key to larger issues, including the kill rate of the shelters with which the organization is affiliated. I’ll get back to you with some good links.

      1. Did you read on Best Friends website that the Vick dogs got in a fight and one killed another and the two surviving are seriously injured. Not all animals are able to be retrained. Best Friends made a mistake in taking them, I hope they admit it.

    2. I’m going to refer you to COMPREHENSIVE answers by the very person who knows the inside stuff AND is quite clear and doesn’t beat around the bush – Nathan Winograd. As a former prosecuting attorney, yes, his arguments may sound a bit strong to most of us who dislike confrontation, but he is also absolutely aware of the importance of getting his facts straight in order not be be sued for slander or libel, so I can believe what he writes. Not only that, so much that goes on in shelters (with rescues and volunteers subject to being excluded, or suffering from ‘retaliation killings’ of pets they wanted to save, etc.), that it is not hard to find stories that collaborate exactly what Nathan describes. (Try this volunteer’s story, which DOES have a happy ending after much grief:

      Check out this article, which precisely addresses the ‘but they do so much good’ argument.

      Keep going, look to the right sidebar on that blog page and see all the articles under the headings “The Truth about HSUS” and about PETA and about ASPCA. Read them and weep, and learn to give LOCALLY to a rescue or a No Kill shelter if you have one, or your ‘kill’ shelter if you must.

      What most people DON’T know is that HSUS and ASPCA are mainly LOBBYING groups, and they do NOT run shelters or give to shelters! Well, ASPCA apparently runs ONE small shelter in New York State. Both organizations give about one half of one percent (.5%) of their millions to shelters. ASPCA takes in $140 million per year, and its mission is NOT to save shelter animals, it is simply to do plitical lobbying. Also, Nathan Winograd (and many others, I believe Best Friends and other rescues have echoed the problems as they have seen them first hand) does NOT like subterfuge or deceit in gaining money from the public, such as ASPCA and HSUS saying they are helping with a hoarding situation, or a catastrophe (like Katrina) or busting a horrific puppy mill, and then getting enough exposure to gain more donations, and leaving the care and housing and funding of the ‘saved’ animals to shelters and rescues!! He has been opposed to the ASPCA fighting to excuse massive numbers of healthy and saveable pets killed in shelters; yes, ASPCA fights to keep the ‘same old, same old’, which is what Nathan refers to as a ‘regime’. (“Regime” is defined as “a system of government or a particular administration”, which is not necessarily a bad thing regardless of Edie Jarolim’s personal nagative association with the word.) Nathan dislikes that most of the public that donates to these organizations believes that their $$ save lives, when it doesn’t.

      And another FANTASTIC blog about animal caretakers being cruel and abusive and ignorant and PAID FOR IT, is yesbiscuit! ( She has been a wonderful help with whistleblowing and advocating for our pets. She does not mince words, either, but her writing has a bit of sarcastic humor, which most of us involved in this work need from time to time.

      1. I don’t usually reply to this thread since it’s been so long since I posted this but — unlike Nathan Winograd, who doesn’t have open comments — I do like to engage in dialogue.

        I’m not arguing with his facts. But there are many ways to get to a no-kill nation and, for me and many others, negativity doesn’t do it. I discussed this with Rich Avanzino of Maddie’s Fund when I was doing interviews with him about the Shelter Pet Project. We agreed that different people respond to different things. I run a series called Pet Adoption Videos That Don’t Make You Want to Kill Yourself on this blog as an antidote to the Sarah Maclachlan ads for the ASPCA. The goal is the same. Nathan’s way works for many people, but not for me and many others. I don’t understand why that is so difficult for his advocates to get.

      2. yesbiscuit is a DOG BREEDER as are an awful lot of Winograd’s mouthpeices. He himself is a darling of breeders, if you don’t believe it check him out on Rick Berman’s Center for Consumer Freedom (you know, like the freedom to use animals in whatever way you want to make money ). How many foster dogs has Nathan had under his care? Where does the money donated to NK go? (lawsuits probably since it seems a lot of people are being sued by his minions). I think the author should trust her gut on this snake oil salesman. His mission is to divide and conquer the animal welfare community, and that’s the only thing he has done a good job of.

        1. Thank you for speaking the truth. Nathan Winograd makes many claims, as does Rick Berman (look him up if you don’t know him, he takes big money from sources such as big Agra to spread his lies with—did you know that the hashtag #petakilssanimals belongs to Rick Berman? He is no friend to animals.)….all I ask is that people stop believing things because they read them on facebook. Do your own research into these two, and into their claims. You will find that there is a lot of false information out there, and if you believe it you are falling right into the hands of anti-animal corporations such as Con-Agra….Its time for the truth.

          1. Peta DOES kill animals; Rick Berman isn’t wrong. And Nathan Winograd is on the right side of animal welfare issues. It’s just his tone that’s a problem, and I’m not sure of that anymore.

      1. Thank you, Edie, for this post. And, I hope Nathan Winograd does read it and respond. We were just talking yesterday (in my UU Church) about the importance of finding your deep purpose and using it to change the world. And, also the importance of kindness and care. That’s hard to do when you’re mad, I know… but you’re right… it’s necessary.

  2. Thank you for this post. I agree with some of your points about his blog.

    Do you think he should have two blogs? One for the pet rescue and no kill shelter people and one for regular pet loving folks that don’t really know what is going on?

    After being in pet rescue for a while now and seeing what really goes on at some of our animal “shelters” I can certainly understand his anger and figure pointing. I still think too many people believe that in general the animals shelters are doing all they can to help pets, but there are so MANY ways they can improve and save more, a lot more. People do need to know this. Is there a more positive way to teach this?

    1. I agree that people need to know the negatives, and posts about HSUS and PETA wouldn’t be amiss because both are powerful and money directed to them is ill-spent. Even posts about what happens in many shelters, without naming names perhaps, might be a good idea. As for sending information about specifics, rather than a second blog, how about a newsletter that goes to the rescue/shelter community?

      Incidentally, I thought his latest post was an example of something that works without being off-putting. If he could stick to that type of writing (regime change reference notwithstanding) I think it would be very effective.

        1. Ok — next post will discuss HSUS and PETA! Preview: Both have problems with pitbulls and PETA is consistently sexist/weightist (check out their ads)

          1. As someone who works at the HSUS, I have to disagree with the statement that we have problems with pitbulls. (many of the dogs in our offices are pit bulls!) We have a new policy that we worked with groups like Bad Rap, Animal Farm, and Best Friends with where we recommend that each dog in a fighting bust be individually evaluated. A great post by Ledy Van Kavage might be helpful: as well as our pit bull resource page: I’d be happy to address concerns further if anyone has them, but believe me, we love our pets, pit bulls included!

    2. Joni – I agree with you. Perhaps two blogs would be better. When you are in the animal rescue or shelter movement you tend to talk pretty graphically and angrily about what you see and hear, and the frustration you feel.
      I used to be so much more angry and judgmental when I was volunteering at my local animal shelter every weekend. The truth is that it an jade you to people. I understand the anger, but if you’re not part of that world then it can look like a lot of angry people who should be staying positive.
      Edie makes a great point. It’s just what do you do with it? 2 blogs? Maybe that’s the answer. Or, is there another one we aren’t thinking of?

  3. To me this seems to go along with the prevailing winds of who and what get the most press coverage nowadays. With rhetoric flying on both sides of any debate, is seems that angry, overstated, and inflammatory are what seems to grab the most attention. The world and the issues within are so many shades of grey, but it always seems that the polar arguments seem to garner the attention, not the equator.

    My feeling is that many hope to catch the attention of those who might have a stake in the issue with the extremes of speech, and then hope that all will find some thing to cling to despite any misgivings they may have.

    Moderated speech may be where we end up after discussions have begun, but it is almost never where we start.

    1. I’ll give Nathan Winograd the benefit of the doubt and say that he’s angry with good reason; he’s seen so much awful stuff that he probably can’t shut it off. But think about the best muckrakers, like Upton Sinclair and The Jungle. They managed to get their message out very effectively without putting a lot of people off. I prefer to think he’s not deliberately trying to get press attention — though I could very well be wrong.

      You’re absolutely right about the level of discourse, however. I get very upset by all the overblown rhetoric that’s out there. But of course, I’m angriest at the points of view that I don’t agree with 😉

      1. I have not been following him close, or long enough to opine if he is pandering for effect. But it’s my observation that being inflammatory has become a de facto tactic for the simple reason that you can always moderate after the attention has been garnered. 🙂

      2. “But think about the best muckrakers, like Upton Sinclair and The Jungle. They managed to get their message out very effectively without putting a lot of people off.”

        Uhmm… did you actually read “The Jungle”? It was really disgusting- I found it quite off-putting- yuck!!! (grin).

        1. You’re right — the details were disgusting and definitely off putting, as was intended. He created real change as a result of the book. Let me rephrase: Upton Sinclair created a best seller that effected change by drawing people into his “fictional” world rather than putting them off by alienating his audience in advance.

  4. The paucity of intelligent debate that gets media attention today is disheartening. I think that’s why the rhetoric you cite coming from Winograd bothers many – including me.

    He’s a very intelligent person and he does know what he’s talking about. I understand the anger that comes from the pain of knowing, but maybe attempting to wash yourself clean of it through vitriol that becomes targeted and personal is not a way to get the most people to listen and join a big idea that needs massive public support. The Emperor Pacelli post comes to mind, which I could not read. He loses credibility with this kind of post, and is subject to the charge of being a rabble-rouser for publicity, not cause.

    There’s a lot of dirty laundry that can and should has been aired. I think the insider stuff should be used in arguments but not in such heavy doses that people get bored – as you pointed out non-industry people don’t care, and I think get turned off, form a negative opinion of the writer and you’re branded as a fringe extremist. Not *everything* HSUS, ASPCA, and Peta does is bad and that can be the take-away in his targeted posts.

    The politics of all this is reality–there’s just as much back channel lobbying in this industry as in any. It’s laudable to point it out as a fact of life, state your case, let people decide.

    He’s got every right to write whatever he wants and to tell us to go blow it out our ears. I too wish he would consider writing for insiders at one place and for general pubic support at another…think it would be far more useful for contributions to No Kill Nation too.

    1. Mary, the fact that you, as an insider, had a similar reaction to the Emperor Pacelli post says a lot. It’s the fact that Winograd is so intelligent and informed that’s so frustrating to me. Sure has a right to write whatever he wants — but if he wants to help his very worthy cause he has a responsibility to do otherwise.

    2. Well said Mary! I get the anger. I haven’t read his stuff, I guess I need to, but I don get the anger. Taking a step back and cooling down is often hard when you’re “in it” every day. And, the politics often exacerbate the issues raised. I also don’t like to demonize all rescue groups or animal welfare groups – each serves their purpose.

    3. Sarcasm is only a productive tool if used well; Mr. Winograd is not skilled in social graces. His style is that of a publicity seeking panderer, thus he injures the animals, and prevents community coalitions. I would urge you to read every word the man writes, every single word. The more you read the worse he looks, and he has been at it for 10 years. This is an angry man who has failed at life, and must stand against those who have succeeded. He will read your blog, he looks faithfully every day for his name anywhere. You have a very good blog, thank you for caring enough to write it. As for Nathan writing two blogs, well the man has shown you what he is, believe him.

  5. Great post Edie! Thank you for saying it straight and for turning me on to Nathan’s site. I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t know about it. Now I do thanks to you.

    1. Glad I could send you over there –and provide some perspective. Don’t be embarrassed; I only came across his site through a local greyhound activist friend. For better or worse, he’s not as well known as he could be.

  6. While I think it is good to see how Winograd is perceived by some, I wouldn’t call upon him to stop calling organizations and individuals on the carpet when they do things harmful to animals. I don’t share your feelings about the ASPCA, and that pre-dates my having ever heard of Winograd by quite some time. He is right. He thoroughly explains every thing he says, including how he was reluctant to criticize Best Friends. He tells it like it is. A growing number of voices are writing from a No Kill perspective, and that’s a good thing, but I wouldn’t ask him to be anyone but himself. Someone who sugarcoats things or effaces himself couldn’t have accomplished what he has.

    Regime change is necessary, and there’s no sense in hiding it. When he came to Douglasville, GA to speak, I asked if he’d be willing to visit any local shelters. He agreed to do so, but admonished me not to divulge our plans to anyone. Why? Because shelters have killed off animals in anticipation of his arrival in the past and he didn’t want to chance a repeat of that. Try to imagine what that must have been like. I don’t think that I could see it as anything but the act of war that it was. We went to the Carroll County Shelter and both of us were immediately the targets of hostility and verbal abuse from the shelter director the moment we walked in the door. Winograd, by contrast, was downright diplomatic in the face of his hostility. I had always tried to be cordial with the shelter director and had personally invited him to Winograd’s talk, which was to happen that evening. If anything, Winograd is guilty of downplaying how bad things are, and I can understand that. It would be unreadable otherwise.

    He’s the conscience of animal welfare, and so many people do unconscionable things in the name of animal welfare. We need him.

    I think that people may see him as negative because he says what he says in public. Consider that those he criticizes do what they do behind closed doors and have huge publicity machines to provide them with cover. They hide many nasty things very effectively, and have for a long time. He drags it out into the open. Negativity doesn’t originate with him. He exposes it’s roots, and I, for one, am grateful that he is not afraid to do that.

    1. Thank you for your perspective; I appreciate it. I have nothing but admiration for Winograd’s achievements and goals; I’m only suggesting ways that would perhaps gain him a greater audience. As for “regime change,” I was objecting solely to the term, not the need for new directors.

          1. Hmmm… I think that ‘regime change’ is meant to indicate a systemic change in how an animal shelter is run, since the problems with how kill shelters are run is systemic in nature. ‘Management change’ or ‘administrative change’ don’t quite convey a systemic change for me, but something more on the surface.

            It would need to be a term that indicated systemic change–change from the inside out, and a completely different attitude towards the animals in the shelter, towards volunteers, and towards the public. It would have to convey that the shelter, while it may be in the same facilities, would have changed so radically, that it would have a very different, positive role in the community.

          2. I have to agree with Valerie on this one Edie. I don’t think “management change” or “administrative change” even begins to over what is needed. It sounds too corporate, and doesn’t even begin to cover the change in mindset and policies and approach that is needed. “Regime change” provides depth and scope that cannot be covered by the other two.

          3. Ok, you’re right about the lack of punch of the substitutes I suggested; they were off the top of my head. But “regime change” was used over and over in the media for years to refer to the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The phrase is tainted, permanently associated with war rhetoric. If you want to evoke the toppling of dictatorships — and I suspect Winograd does, given his post about Emperor Pacelle — then you use language like that. But if you want to suggest positive change, then you don’t.

    2. Valerie, you said “While I think it is good to see how Winograd is perceived by some, I wouldn’t call upon him to stop calling organizations and individuals on the carpet when they do things harmful to animals” How do you defend his (and your) attacks on Randy? He is one of the most dedicated animal advocates I know and he has never done things harmful to animals. He has only disagreed with some of Nathan’s methods and inquired how some things can be accomplished under impossible circumstances, but was dismissed and then blocked from various sites. This began a constant battle which has really disappointed me because the ultimate goal of saving lives is the goal of all concerned. I lost respect for Nathan when he launched his personal attack on him accusing him of things he had no way of knowing if they were true, and which had nothing at all to do with animal welfare. This kind of personal attacks do no good for anyone or any animals. Lets concentrate on saving the lives of as many animals as we can.

  7. I find that negativity and lack of motivation permeates the No Kill movement in disturbing amounts. For instance, I was bothered by the fact that No Kill Houston constantly berated the city for the horrid shelter conditions here, blaming the city for the lack of action since Winograd’s assessment in 2009, without actually contributing to the movement itself.

    Though she does do some things to spread awareness about the movement and the crappy conditions, I have it on good word (by -several- accounts) that she turns down opportunities to actually do things for the animals and work with the community to change them, since obviously the city is NOT changing no matter how many petitions she sends.

    Not to mention, she doesn’t have a wall on her Facebook page for open discussion, and if you post any questions or friendly challenges to the comments she deletes them. Ironically, I have primo access to a rescue that could have really helped her, and I am connected to a couple others.

    How is No-Kill supposed to happen if there is so much negativity from the movements supposed “leaders?”

    1. The lack of willingness to have an open discussion is definitely disturbing. Nathan Winograd doesn’t accept comments on his blog either — something that even some of his most ardent supporters find problematic.

      1. Yep… that is telling. I find it sad. I was really inspired by Nathan at a talk he gave in Kansas City years ago. I found him to be reasonable, inspiring, hopeful. What I read from him now is so polarizing. I really appreciated your post, and I do hope he read it and will tone down the hatefulness. The only way the animals are going to be helped is if the whole of the animal welfare community can work together to find solutions. I’m afraid by his actions and words, he has basically just removed himself from the discussion. Once someone becomes so “black and white” on such a complicated issue… the masses don’t really take them seriously anymore. It’s unfortunate because I thought he gave a great speech in KC and really inspired us all to work harder to end overpopulation. Sounds like now, he doesn’t really even think there’s a problem with overpopulation… but simply with the shelters. I find that to be absolutely delusional… and feel he has really lost sight of his original message (or at least they one he shared with us).

        1. Thanks for coming by, Kelli. It’s too bad when someone who has had such a powerful influence for the good loses the ability to connect with those he is trying to reach. But he did achieve a lot and still continues to connect with a lot of shelters. Maybe others can convey the information more effectively.

    1. Thanks Eric. I don’t know that what I’ve done is particularly courageous although I suppose in intemperate times asking for restraint might, ironically, be considered bold. Maybe I was inspired by Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity…

      Just a brief translation of your comment for those who are not immersed in the training world: R + means positive reinforcement, i.e., Winograd gets rewarded for his rhetoric — through attention and praise, I guess — which encourages him to keep at it.

  8. When Winograd criticizes organizations, he does so only about the most weighty issues–matters of life and death, things that should be central to the mission of those he is criticizing, things that they themselves may claim are central, even though their actions indicate otherwise. I can’t call that ‘infighting’, since, ‘infighting’ implies disputes over petty matters or personality conflicts. I can’t call it ‘rhetoric’ either, which usually is meant to imply that someone is exaggerating or embellishing or playing fast and loose with the facts. Stating unpleasant facts isn’t really ‘rhetoric’. It needs to be done. PETA’s constant killing of animals in its fake shelter and Best Friends’ opposition to Oreo’s Law need to be exposed before they can be changed.

    1. If you don’t have an audience, telling the truth is less effective. You can tell me why Winograd needs to do what he’s doing until the cows come home but you can’t change how I perceive him and his methods. That is, you can’t tell me his writing *should* work for me. It just doesn’t.

      1. This is interesting. I have always been a big fan of Nathan’s. He is an inspiration to me, especially hearing him speak. I wonder if you can’t reach 100% of the people and the percentage of people he is reaching is bigger than the percentage of people he would reach if he changed the way he communicates.

        1. Thanks for your input Kelley. As I mentioned, I’ve never heard him speak. It’s hard to calculate an absence, i.e., the people who would be followers if they weren’t put off. I can only speak for my own response.

  9. I just want to point out that there are a lot of people out there who really don’t like Nathon Winograd because no-kill nation has a connotation of actually not killing any animals- and if you go to his speeches (which I have) that really isn’t what he’s saying- he’s saying that euthanasia should be done as the word suggests “good death” when death is better than living- such as when an animal is suffering from disease or when they are so aggressive- their quality of life is effected.

    Many people think that a no-kill shelter is better than a kill shelter. That is not true! Truly No kill shelters have two options: 1. Only take in adoptable and healthy animals or 2.hang on to animals way passed what is humane.

    The SPCA in San Fransisco is a great example of the affect of “no-kill”. They are located right next door to the Animal care and control facility. While it’s true that the SPCA is no kill, they also only take in the most adoptable pets. Meanwhile, the more unadoptable pets go to the city shelter and are euthanized more rapidly due to lack of space. Just imagine if the two shelters took in all the animals no matter how adoptable they were- could that extend the life of black older dog in the city shelter from 3 days to 2 weeks- long enough to find a forever home?

    Food for thought!

    While there are still several things that I would change about the HSSA here in Tucson- I believe that it is a great example of a kill shelter that is doing a great job- I wouldn’t want them to become a no-kill shelter. If they did, they couldn’t help as many animals as they do.

    Crystal Saling, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP

    1. Ah, well that’s a whole other question. “No Kill” is the goal and a good slogan; “The Not So Much Killing Movement” doesn’t have the same ring to it. And I think the video I posted does a much better job in explaining the multi-faceted approach to a No-Kill Nation than perhaps Winograd has been able to convey.

      It’s a long process. Individual shelters may not succeed at it for a variety of reasons. It’s sad that No Kill is being used as an excuse but that’s not the movement’s fault; it’s the shelter’s.

      1. Edie,

        You say it’s the fault of open admission shelters that they can’t succeed, not the movement’s fault. However, if all open admission shelters decided to go the way of “no-kill”, limited admission shelters, where are all the “unadoptable” animals that no-kills won’t accept supposed to go?

        I work at an open admission shelter which performs euthanasia. I have often been asked and am insulted by the question “How could you possibly do that?” or am told that the person I’m speaking with “loves animals way too much to do that”. The simple truth is that many shelter workers love animals way more than the people who criticize them. I love these animals enough that when necessary, I am willing to say goodbye to them, and hold and comfort them as they leave this world. Instead, we could do what “no-kill” shelters do, and turn the animals away, wishing them luck. These are the animals that are then picked up by animal control officers after being hit by a car or found suffering and half starved to death. These “no-kill ” shelters really aren’t upholding their own values when they give people no other options than to dump their animals and leave them to fend for themselves.

        But wait… there is another option- it’s open admission shelters who accept all animals! Most everyone who has commented on this blog has said that it’s the shelter’s faults that every animal who comes in isn’t placed. How on earth people figure that is beyond me. It’s the fault of the backyard breeders, the families who wanted the cute puppy and bought it from a pet store (indirectly supporting puppy mills) then decided it “didn’t fit their lifestyle” or “requires more time than we have right now”, the people in the community who adamantly oppose spay and neuter but constantly let their animals run loose and multiply, who create this problem. The people working in shelters are simply trying to fix the problems that the community has created. And news flash to everyone- you are all part of that community, whether you fall into one of the mentioned categories or not.

        So rather than wasting time harassing shelters and telling their workers that they are heartless animal haters, why not work with them in finding solutions? Support spaying and neutering, get out into your community and educate people, and help shelters make the difference that they are trying to make! I find nothing more irritating that when someone tries to tell you how to fix a problem that they themselves have never witnessed and have no true knowledge of. How many of you are just taking what is being said by Nathan as truth without every going to your local animal shelter and investigating for yourself. And if your local shelter isn’t doing as great of a job as you would like, there is your perfect opportunity to step in and volunteer to make a difference, instead of just babbeling on and on about everything that they are doing wrong.

        Bottom line: If you aren’t part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. And blaming people and shelters isn’t a solution at all. It’s a way out of having to face the fact that it’s our communities that are creating these problems, and until communities change their thoughts regarding the “disposability” of animals, shelters will continue to be blamed for the irresponsible actions of the citizens which they serve.

        1. Joanna, you seem to be reading something into the comments and my original post that isn’t there. I was questioning Nathan Winograd’s take-no-prisoners approach and saying it undermined his message in my opinion. I didn’t really address the different aspects of that message except to post a video about the No Kill movement that neither blamed shelters nor people; it just described a way to work towards a goal

        2. I realize your post is from last year. Someone just pointed out this blog to me. After reading all the reply’s, I have to say I wish we worked together!

          I’m the director of a VERY large open admission Shelter in Tx. Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

          I can tell from your words, you understand.

          Thank you,


        3. Joanna, you are wrong in as many ways as you say Edie is! Looky here…we are polarized!
          Edie, I don’t think Winograd should soften up or create two voices. I think WE are the public, no matter if we are breeders, rescue workers, shelter employees, vegans, hunters, trappers, congressmen or nuns.
          Nathan is who he is. He speaks his own truth, and he writes well and has a reputation for researching facts and being moral and ethical to a fault. I’m not that good. I fudge a lot.
          I love animals and I do my best (mostly…each of us could always do better!)
          There are those who say I am a saint, there are those who wouldn’t trust me with their pet goldfish. What they say/think is really irrelevant…what I think, what I say, and what I DO is what is most important. Trick is, a lot of people send money to HSUS, PeTA and the like and that money doesn’t go to HELP ANIMAL (well, at least not pet animals, those animals that most of the donors know, love, and think about.) It pays politicians, and Vick, and huge salaries to people who then bilk MORE unsuspecting people out of additional money in order to limit their freedom to love animals.
          Thanks for sharing, thanks for listening. Take care of those creatures you can. Support others to help them learn to do the same. Pots may be most qualified to call a kettle black, but name calling doesn’t really get the job done.
          Every shelter/animal control facility is unique, just like every creature who enters into their care is unique. Some advocates have begun to paint with a broad brush just the way some shelters kill with a heavy hand. When the kill rate at the *average* shelter reaches less than 10% then we can say ALL shelters are doing their best. Blaming the public is biting the hand that feeds you. Shelters should be designed to HELP animals, and the easiest way to do that is help the people responsible for the animals. And yet so many are either punitive, dysfunctional, or simply backwards in their thinking.
          Regime Change? How about Mind Warp or Super-Shift? We need it NOW.

  10. @alisaskyeaglesmith I guess perceptions differ. I have found the no-kill movement to be extremely positive and uplifting and energizing. They do not use negative messaging like “til there are none, adopt one”, they do not show pictures of dead animals in trash barrels, and they do tell you what you can do to help change things. No Kill has worked wonderfully in Austin and has gotten together a LOT of people who may previously have wanted to help, but had no direction to do so. We did not just send petitions – we tried to work cooperatively with the shelter in the beginning but they rejected us so we worked within the system to get city council people sympathetic to our cause elected. It took several years but eventually we got people elected who were behind no-kill and now we are going no-kill.

  11. @Crystal Saling – I don’t understand how you could have gone to hear Nathan and still retain the perception you do of no-kill shelters. When we (people in the no-kill movement) talk about no-kill shelters, we are speaking of open admission shelters, which take in every animal offered. As far as “holding onto animals way passed what is humane” – no-kill is, among other things, about large scale adoptions and NOT holding onto animals. So I just do not understand this line of thinking at all. If you have gone to Nathan’s speeches surely you have seen the slide show he has of “unadoptable” animals he has in fact adopted out?

    1. Our “no kill humane society” gives away animals to the homeless. The brag about putting a tent up along side of busy roadway and adopting out animals to folks driving by. Great plan, a nice forever home along the river.
      Kelly you seem like a dear person, Austin is not a success, so don’t be mislead. No Kill is based on community saturation, as soon as you have few thousand feral cats, and see the same aggressive dogs being ” rehomed” for the 15th time; there will be a clarity you can’t deny.

  12. Pingback: Some comic relief
  13. Pingback: Mike Stark: ‘No Kill’ or Torture? Nathan Winograd and His Animal Sheltering Movement |
  14. I was a big fan of Nathan’s until his recent series of rants about invasive species. He raises a good point, one that I have considered long and hard as a conservation biologist: humane concerns need to be taken into account when conservationists seek to control populations of invasive species. Too often the solution is to poison or shoot the feral cats, rats, deer, or wild pigs that are threatening endangered native species, when a humane alternative may be available.

    Unfortunately, Nathan does not take the reasonable approach of advocating for humane alternatives. Instead, he derides the entire notion that invasive species are an ecological threat, showing his complete lack of sophistication on ecological issues and thoroughly undermining his credibility with anyone who is interested in both animal welfare and environmental conservation.

    When I posted a comment raising some of these issues–noting the near-extinction of many endemic species of land-nesting birds in New Zealand due to predation by feral cats and rats, the decimation of Native American people and the bison on which they subsisted thanks to the spread of domestic livestock in the American West, just to name a few examples and to challenge his statement that we can’t “value life based on who was there first,” he deleted my comment! When he responded to my deleted comment, he was condescending and dismissive and in no way acknowledged ecological concerns.

    Nathan would apparently be OK with us living on a planet devoid of biodiversity, populated only by those species that flourish in degraded conditions.

    While I do appreciate many aspects of his message, I can no longer listen to him as a messenger. He lacks intellectual curiosity and deals with constructive criticism through defensiveness and superiority.

    Incidentally, I did go to one of his No Kill conferences and saw him speak, spoke to him in person, and was not impressed. He was in person as you would expect from his writings: offputting, slightly petulant, and lacking in personal warmth. His public speaking style was stilted and stiff.

    The No Kill movement needs a warm, approachable, compassionate and environmentally conscious leader, who works through positive reinforcement of good behaviors throughout the animal rescue community! Nathan’s key message is that there are enough people seeking to add a dog or cat to their homes every year to more than save the lives of every cat and dog killed in shelters–if only the shelters could be more successful in reaching out to their communities and outcompeting the advertising of breeders and pet stores. This is a useful message–but it needs to be shared with shelters and rescuers in a way that opens doors and minds, rather than alienating and insulting!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I always look to see if anyone who writes with this much knowledge is a blogger and sure enough… So let me express my sorrow for your loss of Tashi. I was very moved by your posts about her. My pal Mary, who writes Dancing Dog Blog, also has a dog named Tashi. Special spirits — and here I’m referring to both writers and dogs.

    2. Kirsten, your post was very thoughtful.

      You are also correct ,Nathan Winograd does delete comments that aren’t oozing in warmth directed at him.

      Like Edie, my sympathy for Tashi.


  15. yep, besides the fact that it was the same slides/presentation I paid to attend the last time he was in Houston (a couple of years ago & still telling the same success stories??) the negativity, twisting/distorting data & blaming the shelters for everything was a little too much for me today…do I think there is plenty of room for improvement, absolutely but I also believe you get more flies with honey & you should give credit where it is due AND do your part…

    1. I’m glad you felt that way, Mona. I took alot of grief for not going. I’ve read the books, been to a seminar and just couldn’t justify leaving a very busy Shelter on one of our busiest days. I could be wrong, but my heart just felt I needed to be DOING and not just listening to basic common sense.

      Plus, the negativity and Shelter bashing just doesn’t seem productive to me.

  16. Nathan tells it like it is. He is fully aware that there are animals that simply cannot be adopted (intractable illness and/or pain, incorrectable violent disposition, etc.) and they will have to be euthanized. It is all of the healthy and adoptable animals that are killed without hesitation that the no-kill movement is all about. Those are the animals “no kill” describes and Nathan is an advocate for.

    His total disdain for organizations that collect huge sums of funding while turning their backs on these adoptable animals is reflected in his blog comments, and rightfully so. How do you soft peddle wholesale death? How do you add the “warm fuzzy” to greed and callousness? There are organizations out there who excel at doing just that, and he calls them out. If not him, then who? Many people reject Consumer Freedom because they don’t like the direction their funding comes from. Never mind the message, just reject the message, right?

    You cannot believe the number of people I have encountered that either don’t know about, or don’t believe that the “big ace” animal rights group had a van picking up perfectly healthy (some with fresh s/n) and euthanized them, summarily tossing them in the trash in garbage bags. Six months of court records are not enough to make them believe it’s true (they got off on “littering”, how disgusting). Maybe Nathan feels the need to speak loudly to get these sheeple to listen.

    Rather than debate the merits of the “no-kill” movement, why not put in a real effort to make it happen and see where it leads? We can plainly see that the big powerful animal rights orgs philosophy results in the death of healthy animals, but to oppose them means million dollar media campaigns. If Nathan seems relentless in his critisizms, it’s because those sad sack commercials continue to play to the gullible masses, who send in their donations and encourage the status quo of needless killing. Talk about negative, albeit fake scenes showing made up rescues (where would those animals actually end up?).

    I found this blog through Mike Stark’s idiotic and misinformed comments. Maybe if Mike put the same effort into helping, rather than throwing stones, he could help enlighten people to the reality of today’s mass killings.

    1. I can’t help it if Mike Stark linked to me. I have a different message and I guess you didn’t read it because you had a soap box to get on and perhaps you couldn’t get on it over there. Nathan Winograd doesn’t accept comments on his blog. I do. If you read my post with any attention, you’d see I have no gripe with no kill. I’m merely saying we have better ways of getting there than negativity, which isn’t effective IMHO.

    2. Ted – you are truly the first voice of reason that I have read on this blog today…while Edie is staid in her course of not offending anyone and against “off-putting” dialogue, and others just disagree with his message, I find that there are very few diplomatic ways to inform the public that the shelter system is broken, that the large animal welfare groups are losing sight of saving the lives of animals by either supporting the shelter system or not taking a stand one way or the other and that there has to be a grassroots movement to change it (because the ASPCA, HSUS and Best Friends are certainly not going to do it!) As unpleasant as it may be, the truth speaks louder than pandering or diplomacy in terms of life and death and anger does tend to motivate people to fight for change.

      1. Apparently I offended you, Shannon. So you’re wrong about my being staid in my course of not offending anyone. You don’t seem to understand that not everyone responds equally to polemics and threats. This comment, for example, just bugged the crap out of me. And it wouldn’t lead me to save any lives, just to run in the other direction.

  17. Great blog post! I was in much the same position as you when I first encountered Nathan Winograd’s blog, and I was very disheartened to read his posts… he seems more interested in airing his grievances with the ASPCA, HSUS and PETA (and selling his books) than helping animals in any practical way. I don’t think he realises that when you write posts that stir up strong negative emotions, you have to be very careful that those emotions don’t turn against you. Watching him interact with people on Facebook, he cannot handle anyone disagreeing with him; it would be funny if there weren’t people who hang on his every word and “like” every comment he makes, no matter how inane it is. I no longer follow him or any of the related “No Kill” crowd because they do nothing practical in terms of saving animals and they make me feel negative and antagonistic towards them, which is a total waste of emotion.

  18. Both of those above mentioned websites are owned/operated by Winograd – so he is writing himself – then answering himself?


    Nice !


  20. Nathan is old enough to be my son- that is how long I have been practicing No-Kill- before the term was nationally coined. So I have seen up close and personal- been involved with the farces of which Nathan Speaks. Do you know that HSUS used to be involved with bodies in trunks of cars when they were in bed with the unions? I have seen the grabs by the Nationals to destroy other orgs for their donor bases and assets. It’s never been about the animals with them. I’ve been on the emergency hurricanes, earthquakes in the US and overseas. It’s never about the animals. I know the grown children and great grand children of their CEOs. Sat at their tables. It’s never about the animals. It’s about massing large sums of wealth for the orgs- period. That was t what they were founded upon but they have lost their way. Yes they have campaigns designed to tug at the heart strings and do investigative work- but it is edited to elicit $$$$. The fact that any animals lives are made better is just icing. If they can’t get big donations the project is scrapped. Just look at the absorption (canabolism) of the orgs. How nefarious and delft they are at getting boards replaced – their people installed in leadership positions- to take over cash rich orgs! Pacelle is just one example. Perhaps that is why Newkirk rules with a totalarian iron fist- an iron cross.

    But to the issue of this blog- Nathan’s intensity- perhaps you could get together like a good pair of radio talk show hosts- you with the kinder gentler nation and Nathan with his fire in the belly – and keep singing the song for change.

    I would like to see it in my lifetime.

    BTW PETA is nothing short of psychotic- seen them up close and personal too many times to count.

    1. But you’ve proved my point. Nothing you can say convinces me that your way is the right way — or that there is one right way. Your position is a form of religious zealotry, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t believe in one true church of rescue.

      1. Well I certainly dont know how you got religious zealotry out of my post.

        But inadvertently hit a nerve of yours that caused an over the top response – like what you could attribute to Nathan.

        If wanting change for the fate of our Nations innocent animals is anthema to you I misjudged the purpose of your site.

        1. You are willfully misunderstanding me; I stated a dozen times, every which way I can, that our goals are the same. All I’m arguing with is the method. My contention is that there is no one true way to achieve that goal, which you and Nathan seem to believe. We are never going to convince each other, so I am going to stop this unfruitful discussion.

          1. What I don’t think you understand about Nathan’s attitude is that he and his movement are David and the HSUS, ASPCA and PETA is Goliath. You don’t defeat them by being nice and polite, you defeat them by exposing their behavior and taking advantage of it. This is not the time or place for him to hold back on the attack, there are too many animals being lost every day. The faster it can be changed the better. I’m angry with organizations that pretend to be one thing and are actually another. I’m deeply troubled by humans killing animals, especially when it is for convenience or political gain. It must stop now and if we all feel the way I do we must unite under one cause to stop the killing.

  21. Very insightful letter to Nathan Winograd. He should follow your advice. He said he wants an open dialogue but he blocked me on facebook when I had an opposing point of view.

    1. I don’t agree with PETA but I also don’t 100% agree with Nathan’s views and his intolerance for any one with more balanced views eg me – I am not vegan and I support shelters that adopt most but not all. Nathan blocked me when I pointed out that legal rights are not the same as natural rights and legal rights are a human construction. There is a lot of religious-like zeal in the animal rights movement

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