Houston, TX – Mayor Parker recently announced plans to spend $10 million dollars to build a new adoption facility for BARC. At first glance, this might seem like a great idea for the BARC animals. For anyone who has ever been to BARC, it is immediately apparent that the current location on Carr St. would not be conducive to high volume adoptions, and in fact it has not been.
So where does Parker plan to build BARC’s new adoption facility? The answer is….. wait for it….. right next door to BARC’s current facility.
While I think it is great that Mayor Parker is finally giving BARC the money that was set aside for it by Bill White back in 2009, I am very dismayed at the location chosen by Parker to build the new adoption facility. And in fact, I am completely mystified by her choice of locations considering statements that Parker has made in the past.
In order for a shelter to stop killing pets, one of the programs that shelter leaders must concentrate on is high volume adoptions. This means that the animals MUST, MUST, MUST be seen by the public who would adopt them. BARC’s physical location is not in the least bit conducive to high volume adoptions. In fact, BARC is pretty much in the absolute worst location that you could find in Houston… especially for a “shelter” that must place tens of thousands of animals every year, so that they are not killed for “lack of space”. See pictures of the area surrounding BARC here.
We’ve seen, first hand, just how horrible BARC’s location is for adoptions as low adoption numbers have been a constant at BARC. For years, including the last 2 1/2 years on Annise Parker’s watch, adoptions at BARC’s facility have been low, especially considering that Houston has 2.2 million potential adopters that could be convinced to adopt the 13,000+ animals that BARC killed or lost last year.
Mayor Parker has even admitted that BARC’s location was never meant for adoptions. She has stated that BARC was built to hold animals for 3 days then simply kill them. In fact, she has said that BARC’s “out of the way location” deters adoptions.
That’s right, Mayor Parker said that BARC’s out of the way location DETERS adoptions.
So, in what universe does it make sense to spend ten million dollars to build another adoption facility in the very same location that she said “DETERS ADOPTIONS”? The sheer insanity of this location choice is mind boggling.
Considering Parker’s No Kill promises, that she would choose to spend millions of dollars to only perpetuate the problems that have plagued BARC since it was built, is simply stunning. The smart thing to do would be to do some due diligence and research the 40+ Open Admission, No Kill shelters in the US. If she, or any BARC leaders, bothered to truly research these facilities with an eye on the best way to increase life saving, they would see that building adoption facilities in a high traffic, highly visible locations is critical to high volume adoptions. One would expect that our city leaders would do such research before spending the precious few tax dollars that the city allocates to the BARC animals.
In addition, I would like to know what happened to the Gragg Park adoption facility that Parker claimed was the solution to BARC’s bad location / adoption deterance problem? That facility has never been built. What happened to that big White Elephant? Specifically, what happened to all of the money that people donated to build that facility? Is all that money sitting in the city’s coffers, just like the funds that Bill White allocated to BARC have been sitting in the city’s coffers since 2009?
BARC leaders have claimed that they have visited successful No Kill shelters and learned from them. But, I have to question the truthfulness of this statement because if they had truly learned about how to save more lives, they would know that in order to achieve high volume adoptions, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION is critical.
If they had actually learned from Austin, as they have claimed, they would know that Austin’s new animal control shelter, which was also built in a remote location, is making it harder for them to save lives. The older facility, which was located in a high traffic, highly visible location, was, in fact, in an ideal location for high volume pet adoptions. But the city of Austin decided to build a new adoption facility in a remote location, and the imprudence of that decision has become painfully apparent. These problems were predicted by No Kill advocates and Nathan Winograd. In fact, because of the remote, dangerous area that the new shelter was built in, the city of Austin recently stated that it was not safe for volunteers to be at the shelter after dark. Thus, the shelter has lost it’s volunteers i.e. “free labor” after dark. I’m sure this will really put the shelter in a bind in the fall when it gets dark earlier.
I have visited BARC on many occasions, sometimes after dark. I can attest that I feel quite uncomfortable driving in the area, especially after dark. Many people have told me the same thing. BARC leaders claim that they have studied Austin, but I have to question that statement as well. If they had, they would know how imprudent it is to build adoption space in a location that will only replicate problems.
Apparently, Mayor Parker and ARA director, Alfred Moran or shelter manager, Greg Damianoff do not care that BARC’s adoption rates are low and that BARC’s kill rate rose from 2010 to 2011. After all, they have a easy scape goat for BARC’s problem… you.
Recently, Parker again stated that the public was to blame for BARC’s problems. She said. “The reason we have the challenges that we do in this facility is irresponsible pet owners. Period, end of sentence.”
So, let me get this straight…. BARC’s sky high kill rate has nothing to do with:
* as Parker admitted herself, BARC’s location DETERS adoptions;
* that even knowing that BARC’s location DETERS adoptions, BARC has had only ONE offsite adoption event in the last year;
* that even after BARC leaders saw how incredibly successful that one offsite adoption event was (they adopted out more in one weekend than they normally do in an entire month) they have not organized another one like it in 11 months… choosing to instead kill or “lose” over 1,000 animals every month in 2011;
* that BARC has turned down offers of citizens and rescue groups to pull animals, choosing to kill puppies instead;
* that BARC breaks the law and kills pets before the 3 day hold expired and even when citizens offer to save them;
* that, in the last 2+ years, BARC leaders have illegally banned volunteers and rescuers who expressed concerns;
* that BARC employees take lost animals to BARC even when the pet owners are standing in front of them — and knowing full well that BARC will kill animals to “make space” for those incoming owned pets;
* that Houstonians paid for international No Kill expert, Nathan Winograd to assess BARC, but over 2 ½ years later, BARC has yet to implement most the recommendations in his assessment report.
All of the above has nothing to do with BARC’s sky high kill rate. No, according to Mayor Parker, BARC’s problems are the fault of the “irresponsible public”. “Period, end of sentence”.
Right, and if you believe that line I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.
In addition, to the utter senselessness of building an adoption facility in a location that the city already knows DETERS adoptions, the city plans to waste additional funds on programs that have also been proven to be colossal failures.
Said shelter manager, Greg Damianoff “We wanna do stuff with education, you know? We wanna go, like when you get the kids educated about buckling your seat belt and smoking, then they put the heat on their parents and things change, right? But we’ve gotta start it that way, I think we’ve got to start with the kids you know, and get them aware of what’s going on, that responsible pet ownership is the way to go. Spay and neuter your pet, you know?”
1) The “we must educate the public” statement has been used by kill shelters for years. Educating the public does not work to reduce shelter killing. It is simply a diversion tactic as in “just wait a few years until we educate the public, then the killing will magically stop”. It has never worked and never will because it does not address the real problem and that is the shelter management.
2) The “we’ve got to start with kids” plan does nothing for the tens of thousands of animals that are entering kill shelters today. It is some far off hope that, in 5 or 10 YEARS, when these children grow up, they will somehow stop shelter killing. This plan does not work either because, again, it does not address the real problem.
3) The one model of sheltering that has created Open Admission, No Kill communities across North America (there are over 40 now), was literally placed in the hands of BARC and the City of Houston leaders in September 2009. So far, BARC has consistently ignored it.
It is simply mind boggling that Mayor Parker, Alfred Moran and Greg Damianoff are planning to spend millions of BARC’s dollars to implement programs that have been proven to be colossal failures while, at the same time, totally ignoring the recommendations of the international, No Kill expert whose recommendations have been proven to be enormously successful in four countries.
I would say that the decisions of BARC leaders and the city just can’t get any more foolish than this, but I said that about the Gragg Park location and the city proved me wrong….. with this new white elephant.
It is also interesting that, when then mayor, Bill White announced plans to build an adoption facility in an equally ridiculous location i.e. Gragg Park, many people objected to that remote senseless location. Residents living near the location also objected. When some of those residents talked to Mayor Parker in 2010 to express their objections, they were told that she could not change the location of the facility.
It would appear that Mayor Parker was not truthful with those residents, since the adoption facility at Gragg Park was never built and the money that was supposed to be used for that facility has apparently been shifted to the newly announced white elephant.
It is like Mayor Parker and Alfred Moran are determined to continue killing the same number of animals at BARC, day after day, with no end in sight. Under Parker and Moran’s leadership, BARC’s kill rate rose from 2010 to 2011, so I guess we should say congratulations. Mission accomplished.
Mayor Parker and the city of Houston have the opportunity to do something that will increase life saving at BARC for years to come. They have the opportunity to not make the same mistake that Austin did by building a new shelter in a remote location. They have the opportunity to not replicate the mistake that Houston itself made when building BARC’s current facility on Carr St.
It makes absolutely no sense, either fiscally or morally, for the city to build another adoption facility in the exact same location that has been such a colossal failure.
Isn’t it about time that we had leadership at BARC, and at city hall, who truly do care about saving lives, and who are not content to just save a few and kill the rest?
Isn’t it about time that we had leadership who scrutinizes every decision for BARC and who will ensure that every single decision will save the most lives and who will not waste our tax dollars on irresponsible ideas that will cost lives for years to come?
Isn’t it about time that Mayor Parker actually kept her No Kill promises and actually follows the examples set by successful No Kill communities and the recommendations of the international No Kill expert?
Tell Mayor Parker to keep her No Kill promises and build an adoption facility in a location where the animals will have a chance of being seen by the adopting public. Also, tell her that you expect her to use your tax dollars wisely on programs and services that are proven to stop shelter killing, not on programs that are proven failures.
You can find her contact information here, along with that of your council member. Let them know that you vote.
No Kill Houston has also created a petition that, when you sign, will send an email to the Mayor and all city council members. Click here to sign for the petition.
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