Memphis Paper Editor is Late to the No Kill Naysayer Party

Chris Peck, editor at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, characterizes no kill shelters as a dream:

Pet lovers talk incessantly about the value and brilliance of no-kill shelters.

The concept is laudable: Establish safe, welcoming places where unwanted pets can go to live, and wait to be adopted.

But on the issue of no-kill shelters, we’re largely fooling ourselves into feeling better.

Today’s Viewpoint section features a sobering story about the growth of no-kill animal shelters in the United States. The report talks the reality, not the dream.

The “sobering story” cited is this one, a tepid piece of journalism in which the author delivers a topsy-turvy overview of the state of animal shelters in America.  On the one hand, he recognizes that there are 34 no kill communities in the U.S. with open admission shelters that are saving at least 90% of their animals.  On the other, he dismisses these no kill communities as “affluent metropolitan areas” and lumps them in with private citizens “outfitting their garage with cages”.  In so doing, the author then leads the reader to believe that no kill leads to hoarding (thanks ASPCA) and that there is no way of knowing whether animals are killed at no kill shelters since statistics reporting is voluntary in most states and many shelters hide their numbers.  He then goes to one of the shelters which hides its numbers to get an anti-no kill quote from the director:

 “No-kill is really more about branding than animal welfare,” said Sharon Adams, executive director of the Virginia Beach SPCA in Virginia, an open-admission shelter.

Pot, meet kettle.  The article also imparts misinformation about spay-neuter laws, failing to note that none of the 34 open admission no kill communities have mandatory spay-neuter laws in place.

While I would hardly call the piece “sobering”, it does at least acknowledge, albeit in passing, the critical point that no kill is happening in 34 communities around the U.S. which have open admission shelters.  It is not a dream.  It’s reality.  And Mr. Peck in his editorial acknowledges same.  But he words it thusly:

[The] report found only about three dozen communities nationwide that truly have open-door, no-kill animal shelters that function.

Only about 3 dozen?  Yet it’s a “dream”?  What if we found 3 dozen unicorns in the U.S.?  Or Bigfoots or crashed alien spaceships?  Still a dream?  How many real life examples are needed to qualify as reality in Mr. Peck’s view?  The time to dismiss no kill as a dream was before San Francisco, before Tompkins Co, NY – not now when there are thirty-four no kill communities with open admission shelters in this country.  Wake up.

Leave a comment

13 Comments

  1. Susan

     /  May 6, 2012

    I just added another one to the blog — there are now 35 open-admission no-kill shelters listed. And more to come!

    Reply
    • Thanks for letting us know Susan. And thanks for keeping track on your blog. I wonder what number will be the magical tipping point from dream to reality for the naysayers.

      Reply
  2. I continue to be astonished by the resistance to no-kill. If half as much effort were put into developing and implementing innovative, life-saving practices, we’d be so much closer to the goal.

    Reply
    • Jessica C

       /  June 6, 2012

      Exactly.

      There’s a quote, something like “if you dont want to, fine, but dont get in the way of me doing it”. I cant remember it exactly. But I think this really applies here.

      Reply
  3. Eucritta

     /  May 6, 2012

    I’ll have to tell my cousins in Reno they live in an affluent metropolitan area. They ought to get a good laugh out of it.

    Reply
  4. I’m so angry at that blog! Coming from one of those “so called affluent” places, I could scream! Our County is a mess and this jerk is so insulting it’s unbelievable. Our “affluent” County has the highest unemployment rate in California. It has the worst roads in California. It has an unsustainable pension system for our County employees that is killing the County budget. Schools are being closed left and right. I could go on. Does this sound like an affluent County?

    Yes, we have one Shelter that achieved the 90% save rate and another that is working on it. This happened because of the Directors who believed, the staff who believed, communities who believed, volunteers/fosters who believed and animals that are saved

    No Kill Sonoma County

    Reply
  5. LisaO

     /  May 6, 2012

    I think the fact that he is from Memphis says it all. His view of shelters and what a good shelter is must be skewed. After being exposed to the Memphis shelter in all it’s glory, No-Kill must seem like a dream. Maybe he is someone important to educate and get on board.

    Reply
  6. linda ouderkirk

     /  May 6, 2012

    obviously not a pet owner

    Reply
  7. Rob

     /  May 6, 2012

    The Commercial Appeal is a (or the) large paper in Memphis. Cudos to them for bringing it up for discussion.

    Reply
  8. funisbest

     /  May 7, 2012

    The writer seems so confused. I don’t think he understands the good coming from the no kill community or even cares. What is he promoting anyway, Memphis’ failure to impliment no kill programs?

    Reply
  9. Karen F

     /  May 7, 2012

    Interestingly, the “Death toll staggering blah blah blah” story, written by Scripps Howard News Service health and science reporter Lee Bowman out of the D.C. office, appeared today (5/7) in The Republic (Columbus, Indiana) under a very different headline: “Growing ‘no-kill’ movement spares more animals.”

    http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/nokill/nokill/

    To my knowledge, The Republic is not owned by Scripps Howard, so I was assuming they ran the story as a subscriber to the SH wire service. But the page design is very similar to that of The Commercial Appeal, so maybe they’re a recent acquisition.

    In any case, newspapers have their own headline writers, and clearly, the headline colors one’s reading of the story. Witness the distress of an anti-No Kill person in the comments to the Republic’s publication of the piece.

    Reply
  10. I just thought I would add my update on Commercial Appeal, they blocked my comment. Apparently this bozo did not want real facts about the “affluent county” I represent. Which is one of those 30 No Kill Shelters he slammed. I’m sure Memphis has it’s wealthy neighborhoods just as every County/City does. It does not mean all of Memphis is. The same thing with Sonoma County.

    My comment did not have anything graphic, violent, threatening or any of the usual long list of don’ts.

    This guy is no journalist since he does not want the truth to be read by his readers. He only wants his lies to be read. Pity the readers of his column.

    Reply

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