Nathan Winograd, No-Kill & BARC

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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.

(The Press has written about BARC here and here, among other stories.)

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

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