Since its inception, Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care has been defined by mismanagement. Relegated to an unsightly corner of Houston's Fifth Ward, the facility, which operates with a staggeringly high 80-percent euthanasia rate, has been a historically low priority for Houston's leaders.
While other cities throughout the country have taken proactive measures to implement low-cost spay-and-neuter programs and create foster homes and successful off-site adoption centers, Houston's leadership has been apathetic, even though the city boasts a healthy population of animal welfare advocates crying for change.
Recently, these advocates have begged the city to allow a "no-kill" shelter consultant named Nathan Winograd to inspect BARC and issue a public report. The city has tried to get Winograd to agree to prior restraint and baffling insurance demands, once again displaying typical resistance to reform.
While an outside assessment could only help, it remains to be seen whether Winograd is the man for the job. While his book, Redemption, is the Bible of the "no-kill" movement, it appears that very few people who've read the book have actually wanted to verify Winograd's claims, as well as his background.
Winograd has carved out a bit of a legend for himself as a successful corporate attorney who gave up the high life to toil in the trenches of animal shelters. People who have questioned this background, or Winograd's claims, are almost universally dragged through the mud on his blog.
They are accused of endorsing wanton animal cruelty for not immediately recognizing Winograd as a messiah. Apparently, Winograd is the only person qualified to question the motives and success rates of shelter directors throughout the country who have worked in the field for decades.
To his supporters, he is a charming man wholeheartedly devoted to animals. Pity the supporter who dares wonder if other "no-kill" programs, such as the ASPCA's "Mission Orange," are successful. Once you start asking that, supporter, you risk Winograd coming after you on his blog with both barrels.
We take a look at Winograd, BARC and the no-kill battle in this week's feature.
-- Craig Malisow
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.