Online readers respond to "BARC Sucks," by Craig Malisow, February 5:
This must end: Everyone needs to e-mail this great article to friends and family. Send it to your council member, the mayor, anyone you can think of. The city pound is not an animal shelter, it is a death sentence to animals. In many cases, it is also a heart-wrenching experience for those who adopt from BARC. You may well adopt what you believe is a seemingly healthy pet, only to discover days or weeks later that your pet is deathly ill. The lies and incompetence at BARC must come to an end. With BARC in the negative spotlight once again, the city or mayor must do something now. Personally, I believe that the mayor has little interestin BARC.
Thanks to Craig Malisow for once again digging into the sordid deeds at BARC. Your work is greatly appreciated.
Chris Dodson from Houston
Great article: You really did a thorough investigation. I'm glad someone finally has exposed the real problems. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem the problems can be fixed anytime soon. They really do need more spay/neuter efforts, improved facilities, better training — so many things that cost money, a rarity in this economy. No amount of consulting with anyone can solve this problem. It's money, manpower and dealing with a bureaucracy.
Susie from Los Angeles
Sad day: After again attending the city council meeting yesterday to protest the inhumane and horrific conditions at BARC, I saw quite clearly that Mayor White does not care about animals. It is a sad day when planting a certain type of tree somewhere in this city gets more attention from our mayor than saving the lives of living and feeling animals. The cruelty that exists at BARC is the most horrific situation in our city. BARC is a living hellhole for animals.
Anne Flournoy from Houston
Hot city, cold hearts: What a wonderful article. Yes, in a nutshell, BARC sucks and the city refuses to do the right thing. Citizens of Houston raised money to bring Nathan Winograd, someone who has a wonderful reputation for turning around kill cities into no-kill cities, to BARC. But as far as I know, the contract languished unsigned at the city's offices. Surely, today in the 21st century, we can find a kind, compassionate solution for strays. I as a taxpayer do not want our money being spent by the city dealing with strays as it currently does — catch and kill. The money it spends picking up the animals, taking them to the miserable, barbaric place BARC and then killing them and disposing of their bodies, can be spent setting up low-cost spay-and-neuter clinics and, very importantly, educating the public on responsible animal care.
Are we as a society not better than this? Surely we can put our taxpayers' money to better use. We as a family have lost count of the number of tears shed trying to save strays in this city, energy spent and dollars spent. As things stand now, Houston has a shocking image. Family members from out of town refuse to visit, as they are tired of seeing dead animals everywhere — as they said, "very hot city, very cold hearts." Well, not everyone lacks compassion here, and hopefully we can continue to speak up for the animals until change comes to BARC and Houston's strays. Until then, so many wonderful, healthy, adoptable, precious souls die every single day either at BARC or on the roads.
Melanie from Houston
Not my vote: I had no idea before I read this article that Bill White was so apathetic to this serious issue of animal suffering, which needs to be addressed with the same degree of urgency and importance as human suffering issues. I'm greatly disappointed in him. Rest assured that none of the current city officials responsible for actively resolving the issues at BARC — who don't seem to give one iota about our fellow animals — will ever get my vote next time any of their names come up for election.
Lisamarie from Pasadena
Supporting no-kill: Thank you for keeping the tragedy that is BARC before the public's eyes. Hopefully this article will induce more caring people to get involved and demand that the worst of the pound's people, policies and procedures be shaped up or shipped out.
Although I do not know Nathan Winograd, nor have I read his book, I support the spay-and-neuter and no-kill solutions to pet overpopulation that he prescribes. In the interests of fairness, I hope it's okay to mention to your readers that on his Web site, www.nathanwinograd.com, he refutes the charges leveled against him by some of the people interviewed for this article.
Susan Clay from Houston
Getting personal: This started out as a great exposé of problems that have been plaguing BARC for years. Too bad it deteriorated into a personal vendetta against Winograd. It's also a shame that Malisow did not bother to do some fact-checking before printing hearsay and innuendo.
To read the real facts regarding Mr. Winograd, please see www.NoKillHouston.org. We've posted Winograd's response in its entirety.
No Kill Houston from Houston
What an article: This points out the problems with many shelters these days. It is obvious there is a lack of commitment from your elected officials. But the last thing that Houston needs right now is Nathan Winograd. Haven't his "supporters" done any research to find how miserably his program failed in Philly?
Philly isn't the only one; he wants to forget about Rancho Cucamonga, California. Rancho Cucamonga is the only municipally owned open-door shelter that has installed his program — it installed this program more than two years ago and has yet to make it work. It is so bad there that the director made it clear in two newspaper articles that the shelter was not "no kill" to try to stop the influx of owner turn-ins under the guise of public surrenders. Rancho had more owner turn-ins last year than the entire county of San Bernardino, the largest county in the country. Rancho's population does not support this large number of owner turn-ins, but ithappened.
Also, one needs to research the effect of a shelter going "no kill" on other shelters in the same area. "No kill" just sends the pets down the road to the "kill" shelters by refusing them at their door. It's not what people think; it is a deceitful term, designed and used to deceive the public. Will Houston fall prey to this deceit?
Fool Me Once from Everywhere
Houston's problem: Thank you for a thorough story regarding the situation at BARC. I wonder, what is it going to take for the situation to change? I have written countless letters to the mayor and council members. Anne Clutterbuck is the only one who has ever responded. I am personally looking at alternate candidates to support in the next elections. When city officials don't think they have to respond to the citizens of Houston on important issues, we have a problem.
Kim Willis, President, HOPE, from
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They need you: Anyone who truly cares about saving lost and homeless pets in animal shelters should let go of what they've been told all their lives, and take a moment (or several) to read about the dramatic difference progressive (and cost-effective) programs and policies can make to reduce shelter killing. The No Kill Advocacy Center is leading this effort, but both the center and the animals need everyone's help to get there. Please support the No Kill Advocacy Center and No Kill Houston. The animals need you.
Fix Austin from Austin
It's the community: The problem needs to be stopped at the source, the irresponsible owners who continue to allow their animals to breed with no regard to what is happening around them because of it. I am an RVT who has worked in shelters, done volunteer work and fostered countless animals. I currently work for a clinic that works with several rescue groups. In Houston and many other cities, the problem is in the community, not the shelters. I have to tell you that as I was reading this article, I received a call from a woman whose 11-year-old dog is having trouble with her fourth litter. The dog hasn't seen a vet since her last litter two years ago. Unfortunately, this is not the first, nor the 100th, time I have heard this. This is where efforts need to be targeted!
Cendra from Houston