Redemption's Nathan Winograd on the no-kill movement and his new film

redemption-movie.jpeg
Nathan Winograd released his book about animal shelters, Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America, eight years ago -- and the response was so successful that he decided to create a documentary about animal shelters not only to reprise the information in the book but also to discuss the impact the book had on the American no-kill movement.

That documentary, Redemption: The No-Kill Revolution in America, will screen in the Denver Post auditorium at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, and Winograd will be on hand. In advance of that appearance, we talked with him about the state of companion-animal welfare in this country (and how Colorado measures up), the complications of turning a book into a film, and the chicken-and-egg argument behind the need to kill dogs, cats and other companion animals in shelters.

See also:- Learning how to be vegetarian without being a jerk about it

Westword: Why did you think it was important to make this film? What message did you want to convey about animal shelters and the no-kill movement?

Nathan Winograd: I've been an advocate for ending the killing of dogs, cats and other companion animals in shelters for more than twenty years. And I've been advocating for that in a variety of ways. Once a year we have a conference in Washington, D.C., and it draws upwards of 900 people from all over the world -- shelter directors, rescuers, shelter veterinarians. Eight years ago, I wrote a book in the hopes of reaching beyond the movement, reaching the average American dog- or cat-lover who for so many years has been led to believe that killing was a necessary evil.

I wasn't sure what the reception of the book would be, but it was wildly successful. It wasn't J.K. Rowling-level successful, but it really started to make an impact in the movement, and we saw a growth in the number of groups around the country. No Kill Colorado was born of that book. A book is going to reach a certain demographic, and the hope was to reach an even broader audience by not just turning a book into a film but also by talking about the tremendous success this movement has had in the eight years since the book was published.

So I created this documentary that covers the history of animal sheltering, which is a long history, in one hour, and ultimately it's a message of hope. It deals with difficult subjects, the killing of companion animals, but the ultimate message is one, I believe, of hope and inspiration -- and, if I can use the title, redemption, because it does show how far this movement has come and how close we are to achieving a no-kill nation. And my hope is that it taps into the public's compassion.

Can you talk a little bit about why people believe that killing in animal shelters is a necessary evil?

Historically, people have rationalized the reason for killing backward. Collectively, we're talking about four million animals every year. So rationalizing backward from the fact that shelters kill, the argument has been that if killing wasn't necessary, nobody would do it, and it must be necessary because there are too many animals for the too few homes that are available. But there's a lot of information that mitigates against that belief. If that were true, why are pet stores and puppy mills still in business? These are commercial enterprises that wouldn't be in the business if homes weren't available. How is it that there are now hundreds of cities and towns that have ended the killing and done so through adoption? There are at least homes in those cities -- are there homes in other cities where the killing is still happening?

The people making the argument that killing is necessary couldn't tell you the demand side of the supply-demand equation, and if you look at the demand side of the equation, every year in the United States, upwards of 30 million people get a new companion animal. Some of those people already have an animal, and they get another one. Some of those homes are going to be replacement homes, meaning an animal dies and they get another one. And some are going to be new homes. So it's not a question of too many animals and not enough homes, it's a question of where people are getting the animals. It's a market-share issue. And those shelters that effectively compete for the market share of animals and keep animals alive long enough to get into those homes -- those shelters succeed.

And we now have a number of communities from across the country of varying demographics, urban and rural, northern and southern, in communities we would classify as affluent and in communities that have tremendous poverty, in very conservative and very liberal or progressive parts of the country. When it comes to saving the lives of dogs and cats and other companion animals, if shelters tap into the public's compassion, it proves that people of all walks of life want to do right by them, and that is a very positive message that I hope resonates with the people of Denver and Colorado.

Keep reading for more from Nathan Winograd.


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67 comments
TerryWard
TerryWard

                  HOW TO DO A SURVEY
              Pick 200 names out the white pages.
               Send them all the following question.
   'Do you plan to adopt a pet from a shelter in the next year.?'
    If 10 people say "they might", multiply that number by 17,000
     Claim on your webpage that pet overpopulation is a myth.
                         Set up a paypal account.
             Buy a year's supply of vegan doughnuts.
                       Eat them in three months
     Nominate yourself as the second coming of the Messiah

flewsycoop
flewsycoop

You are all missing the point. It isn't important how many people add a pet to their home every year. What matters is how many pets NEED homes every year. 


If 20% of the 17 million (3.2 million) decide to adopt from shelters instead of getting them from other nonbreeder sources (friends, family, neighbors, strays, etc.), that still leaves 3.2 million pets in the community who will need homes. Those animals will need to go somewhere and will probably end up in the shelter. 


The only way to end shelter killing is to either increase the total number of potential homes by 3.2 million or reduce the number of animals created by the community by 3.2 million or a balance of both. The "switching" strategy is a logical fallacy.

animalwise
animalwise

From another article on this topic:


"Shelters that had been told for decades they simply had to kill healthy and treatable pets - and that therefore did - responded to the message of the book and Tompkins County's success in very different ways. Some saw it as a sign of hope and used it as a road map to end the killing themselves. There are now hundreds of no kill communities all over the USA as a result. Other shelters responded as if deeply held religious beliefs were being challenged and they got angry. They called Winograd "divisive" and mean and aggressively fought against a growing ground swell that became the No Kill Movement."

I wonder if some of the people commenting realize they are demonstrating – in real time – this exact phenomenon. This threatens their deeply held belief that shelters have to kill healthy and treatable animals, so, the news that there are actually plenty of homes for shelter pets makes them mad, instead of inspiring them to think of ways to reform their shelters.

This is one of the great challenges of the human condition on full display: Many people would rather be “right” about how awful the world is than to change their ways to make the world a better place.

TerryWard
TerryWard

Me:  You say there are 17 million potential shelter-pet adopters. Where did you get that number?
Mike Fry: From a survey
Me:  That survey of  200 people conducted in 2007 which Winograd refers to?
Mike Fry: I am done responding to your crazy, nonsensical posts.

Mike, if I were Joseph Heller I wouldn't  be able to make you up.


randlc
randlc

Interesting article. I will comment on the 17 million potential adopters number since it seems to be used so much by folks. For arguments sake lets say the 17 million adopters is absolutely correct although there are significant arguments that it may not be which I will not go into here. Even if correct I would ask folks to consider a couple of points. 1. The number is now 7-8 years old. I can tell you what the economy or my family was doing 8 years ago but I don't think I would make a today decision on that. 2. The number is a National average gathered by surveying 200 people.  Does that mean in a small town in West Texas that number is good and that that town has a proportional number of adopters looking for animals? I don't know and no one does unless the survey were done currently in that town. By the way if the national average temperature is 70 but it is 120 in Death Valley the average is not too much comfort to you if you live in Death Valley. 3. All 17 million adopters must be willing to take what ever is available in a shelter or rescue. Since older animals or animals with issues are sometimes hardest to adopt does that mean that I must get my 13 year old daughter to adopt a 10 year old cat when she wants a puppy? Quite the challenge I would think for most. 4.Other animal welfare organizations are said to use the number and that is true I guess to include Maddie's at one point. But lets look at how they used it. They use(d) it to suggest that their maybe a population of folks that the shelters and rescues can use to increase adoptions. Yea! However lets look at how Mr. Winograd uses it. He claims that the 8 year old number is absolute proof that every shelter and rescue in America should be able to adopt all (number unknown) the animals out and if they can't it is their fault. BIG difference. I won't even go into the fact that by his own words he puts spay and neuter on the secondary importance list or that his suggestion that the shelters do it all (many are tax funded) puts the burden of other peoples irresponsibility on my pocket book via taxes.

frankiemillay
frankiemillay

Animalwise, there are not a 100 no kill shelters, there really aren't even 76, did you know Reno is not No Kill? Never has been Never will, Liars and cheats who have no shame and care nothing about the animals they pass out like peanut butter cups on Halloween.

frankiemillay
frankiemillay

Mr Winograd is not benign, he does little feel good puff pieces to sell to the unthinking masses. He is a saver of Cockroaches and spiders, perhaps the odd goldfish, but he does nothing of substance. When his Fb page starts to wane he creates a synthetic crisis where he saves a fly from flypaper and declares himself an animal lover. Remember the story about the little Chi puppy that was offered to him on the street?  One I don't really believe the story, but lets do pretend,  according to him he gave the dogs away.  Why did he not give them a home? Is he perhaps one of the 17 million people waiting to adopt a fighting pit bull from a raid?  Must be, cause surely he must have some substance

animalwise
animalwise

From another article: "Shelters that had been told for decades they simply had to kill healthy and treatable pets - and that therefore did - responded to the message of the book and Tompkins County's success in very different ways. Some saw it as a sign of hope and used it as a road map to end the killing themselves. There are now hundreds of no kill communities all over the USA as a result. Other shelters responded as if deeply held religious beliefs were being challenged and they got angry. They called Winograd "divisive" and mean and aggressively fought against a growing ground swell that became the No Kill Movement."

I wonder if some of the people commenting here realize they are demonstrating – in real time – this exact phenomenon. This threatens their deeply held belief that shelters have to kill healthy and treatable animals, so, the news that there are actually plenty of homes for shelter pets makes them mad, instead of inspiring them to think of ways to reform their shelters.

This is one of the great challenges of the human condition on full display: Many people would rather be “right” about how awful the world is than to change their ways to make the world a better place.

Read the other article here: http://www.animalarkshelter.org/animal/ArkArticles.nsf/AllArticles/A382718B53ADC9C286257D0F004D3F45?OpenDocument

TerryWard
TerryWard

Ask Nathan Winograd why he lies about the pet-population survey.

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard People can read your actual comments below. And you call OTHER people liers!

julie_eyrich
julie_eyrich

@randlc 

They should have done a follow up questionnaire after a year with these 200 people that were polled. To see if they did follow through and get a pet and what kind and where did they acquire a pet. Then maybe that 17 million number would be creditable. They polled 200 people online and somehow extrapolated 17 million people will get a pet. Page 18, The full DraftFCB report. http://www.animalshelter...ing.org/how-we-help/work-for-change/pet-adoption-research-topline.pdf
 

macawluver
macawluver

@animalwise No Kill does not threaten my beliefs, it threatens the safety and well being of a lot of animals however.

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @TerryWard 
Goodness..what a hissy-fit.
Condensing a long conversation into a brief synopsis is not a lie.

Mike I fear you have the sense of humor of a farm implement.

julie_eyrich
julie_eyrich

You have to define "Demand" and "Supply" when you say 17 million people seeking to add a pet (Demand). If they are demanding pit bull type dogs and adult cats you may be able to convince them to adopt the kinds of animals still being euthanized in shelters. However, if the demand is for puppies and kittens and dogs other than pit bull type dogs...you do not have a demand for these animals.

People want what they want. As for the market research that is cited, that research is not transparent for an outsider to study the validity of the research. That research is also 5 years old at least.

Was research done that verifies that people who "demand" a poodle type dog will accept the "supply" of a pit bull or an adult cat?

linda_richter
linda_richter

@TerryWard @animalwise I am glad to be able to share this information.  Too many people are taking this on 'faith'.  More questions should be asked.  Not only Nathan Winograd or NK advocates could not pinpoint where the information came from but it was difficult getting information from HSUS and Maddie's Fund and of course as Draftfcb is a private company they are under no responsibility to share their research metholodgy.  200 people surveyed on the internet should raise a red flag.  How were they chosen randomly?  Did they actually get a pet the year they were surveyed?  Did anyone check?  That is not research, that is marketing for encouraging people to adopt...not at all proof that pet overpopulation is a myth.  Same with APPMA - those books are not even in libraries.


the difference between science and advertising


You never outgrow your need for milk?


Was that ever true?  Not for the lactose intolerant.


I am sure there are so many advertising slogans that we could now laugh at,

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard @animalwise Umm... yes and have been citing it for years. I understand you will have a problem with it, because you have a problem with anything that does not conform to your own, very narrow view.

animalwise
animalwise

@linda_richter So, the best you can come up with, really, is that you don't trust HSUS, Maddies Fund, the Ad Council or the Pet Product Manufacturers all of whom contributed to the research?


We KNOW how many animals are adopted from shelters each year (about 4 million). We KNOW how many pets there are in the USA... we already KNOW a LOT, which is why I have said the "Survey" was only one part of the HSUS research.

linda_richter
linda_richter

@animalwise @linda_richter I am no happier with the HSUS about this research.


Sub populations of animals was not even addressed.


"The problem is the subpopulation of animals that are not in demand.  The excess of pit bulls and adult cats.  You cannot equivocate all animals as being equal.  It would be nice, but the preference people have for kittens and puppies and the true excess of pit bulls being bred means that marketing those animals is not a question of numbers.


There are rats that need homes also and rat rescues.  You may be able to convince the occasional person to get a rat instead of cat, but if you have an excess of a subgroup of a type of pets that is an 'overpopulation' of that pet type even if you do not have a total overpopulation in terms of numbers."


Shelter after shelter has pit bulls and adult cats that go unadopted.

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard @animalwise The fact that you don't like the facts does not make them lies. HSUS, ASPCA, Maddie's Fund, the Ad Council, the Pet Product Manufacturer's Association and countless others support the conclusions of the study, whether you like them or not.

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @TerryWard 
I don't care who 'supports' it
It's a lie.
So you're seen the survey.
How many people responded to it (in 2007)

macawluver
macawluver

@animalwise @linda_richter And how are they to market pit bulls? As the 'nanny' dogs? That's what you are talking about, and because of this lack of truth about the pits, maulings and deaths have increased along the same timeline as No Kill. You want shelters to lie about this breed and pimp them out to any old Tom, Dick or Harry. You can't force people to take the old, the injured, the sick, or pit bulls. It just doesn't work that way no matter how much marketing you do. That is the real world that most of us live in.

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard @animalwise Plug your ears and scream "La la la la la la" all you want.


The world is rushing by you. If you have very specific issues with the study, that are rational, science-based and objective, I suggest you publish a peer-reviewed paper on the topic and prove it wrong. Otherwise, we are all left to assume you are simply one of those that fall into the general category of it challenging your deeply held beliefs. And, no facts are going to change them.

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @TerryWard 
Good holy bebbe jezuz..
Consumer opinion is not science.
Have you been living on another planet?
The 'research' was conducted in 2007 by Draftfcb , an in -agency consumer opinion gathering entity attached to the ad agency FooteConeBelding and was massive consumer-opinion survey conducted for the agency's corporate pet-products clients' future marketing campaign.
It was NEVER intended to be anything else.
It was consumer-product market data for the benefit of vets, breeders associations, animal pharmaceutical companies and pet-toy/pet food manufacturers.
It certainly was not intended to be used as shelter data.
And it was not  made available to the public.
Many steps down the ladder later FootCone cherry-picked bits and pieces of the survey data and incorporated it into a public-service project for  via the Ad Council.
All ad agencies do this sort of thing periodically and use whatever bits and pieces of data they have lying around.
Many more later steps down the ladder and bits and pieces of that data were cherry-picked by Maddie's shelter-pet project which was facilitated with donated creative input from the Ad Council.
More steps down the ladder and THAT data was cherry-picked by Nathan Winograd who interpolated the manipulated data into 'proof' that pet-overpopulation was a myth.
The '17 million' figure was, specifically ' The number of polled consumers considering the acquisition of a PET'.
ALL types of pets..fish horses birds cats rabbits reptiles and so on.
200 people answered the poll.
From 200 respondents they got the 17 million number.
Go figure.
From the original survey:
"- American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) Releases 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey (NPOS), the Most Comprehensive Consumer Research Examining Demographics, Buying Habits, and Other Traits of U.S. Owners of Dogs, Cats, Fish, Birds, Horses, Reptiles, and Small Animals "
The poll of 200 people NEVER specified dogs and cats only.
And nowhere in the original survey was there any mention of 'convincing consumers to adopt from a shelter'.
They were asked ONLY if they had 'Acquired their pet(s) from an animal shelter'.

Time for you to plug your ears and go NAH NAH NAH- I'm not listening.

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard @animalwise Except that the people who funded and conducted the study disagree with you and agree with the conclusions of the study.

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @TerryWard 
FooteCone & Belding funded and conducted the 'study'.
The other players played footsie with it.
A fact is a fact.
200 people were polled.
Not 17 million.

It is very difficult to think clearly when you have your fingers stuffed in your ears.

The 'myth' of overpopulation is based SOLELY on a response from 200 people in 2007 , some of whom answered they 'might' be willing to adopt a fish cat bird rabbit dog from a shelter.
200 people eight years ago.
That is the fact.
You really should be ashamed of yourself.
But then anyone who would claim pet-overpopulation does not exist has no shame.
But keep spreading the lie..plenty of other questionable  people are doing it.
A confederacy of dunces.
Eventually it will all fall in.
You can lie about the numbers till your nose falls off but the numbers always win in the end.

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard @animalwise Except that hundreds of communities across the USA have already used this information to stop killing healthy and treatable animals in the USA, including some that have the highest intake rates per capita in the nation.


So, clearly the study is not a "lie" no matter how much you don't want to believe it.

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @TerryWard 
Hundreds of communities and 76 shelters.
After 6 years of Poobah screaming murder and pointing fingers only 76 shelters out of a possible 5000 or so  have fallen into line with his goofy manifesto.
Most of these shelters are limited admission or they don't accept animals from their 'community' citizens.
Maddie's had to prop up one of them recently with quite a few thousand dollars i believe.
Many of them are literally begging for help and are overwhelmed with animals...
KC is swamped and begging as of last week.
But you need to pull your head out to read the news.
Eight years..76 shelters.
Mike...you really need to stop with the cut&paste responses..it's boring and uncreative and denotes desperation.
No one wants healthy cats and dogs to die,
No one wants war or children to starve or people to die of cancer.
But if problems are to be solved they will not be solved with lies.
Most terrible problems have no solution.
We apply bandaids..we can save some dogs and feed some children and prevent some wars and halt some cancers.
But we won't do it with lies.
So please...stop lying, Mike.
Man-up and be responsible.

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard @animalwise This web site alone documents nearly 150 communities (i.e. even the open-admission shelters there) are no kill. And, that is not even all of them.

http://outthefrontdoor.com/


I think you have proven my point already, Terry. Thanks for that. I am done responding to your crazy, nonsensical posts.


But, thanks for helping move the conversation forward!

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @TerryWard 
Actually outthefrontdoor is where we spent many many days weeding through URDU and counting the number of actual brick and mortar shelters as opposed to the meaningless 'communities served'..the  number of which is  CONSISTENTLY different depending upon where you are reading and which knucklehead is spouting nonsense
"I think you have proven my point already"?.
is that like Hello I must be going?

catlover
catlover

@TerryWard @animalwise The 2007-2008 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey may be the source of the proof that there are plenty of homes for all dogs and cats.  Is that where you saw the survey AnimalWise?

animalwise
animalwise

@catlover @TerryWard @animalwise The study that HSUS references in the article pulled together information from many sources. I believe a portion of that included the APPMA survey.


Data about pet ownership is available from many sources. Number of pets in homes is widely known. Percentage of pets that are purchases vs rescued is also widely known.


The most interesting part of the research that HSUS, Maddies Fund and the Ad Council did was figure out what prevents more people from acquiring pets from shelters. THAT is the "sweet spot" that helps flip shelters from killing to not killing. Only an additional 20% of 17 million need to be swayed to adoption instead of purchasing to end killing. Learning what shelters can do to influence new pet parents to adopt does not require a huge sample size. (c:


They followed a similar approach that pet product manufacturers have used successfully for decades to determine how to market products to pet owners. Pretty smart thinking.


Additionally, while some commenter have obsessed about the survey not surveying 17 million people - which, of course, it didn't. The actual number they should be focusing on is 24 million. That is the actual number of people acquire a new dog or cat each year. Subtract the number that are committed to buying from a breeder; then subtract the number that are committed to adopting from a shelter and you are left with what you could call "the swing voters" those who will get a dog or cat that can be swayed to adopt from a shelter.


Swing 20% of them over to adoption and killing stops.

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @catlover @TerryWard 
Two-step all you want Mike.
There is no proof whatsoever that there are enough homes for all homeless animals.
And furthermore saying you are 'committed' to obtaining a shelter animal (and there is no proof of that number either) is not the same as actually DOING IT.
It is a lie.

animalwise
animalwise

@TerryWard @animalwise @catlover 

You seem to be trying REALLY HARD to NOT understand the research. The number that are "committed to obtaining from a shelter" correlates exactly to the number that ARE ALREADY ADOPTING FROM SHELTERS. So, they ARE doing it. I realize you will never understand the research, because you don't want to. But, that figure is simple and verifiable. You would be wise to at least acknowledge that number as "real" since it is actually happening in the real world.

linda_richter
linda_richter

@TerryWard @animalwise @catlover The number of shelters is maybe 100 or 200 to be generous out of 5000.  (not counting co

mmunities here which is a distraction) There is a huge way to go and some of those shelters find ways to limit admissions or their budgets are rising.


All because of 200 people in 2007...that is why there is that huge number that needs to be swayed.


At another point in the research Draftfcb said that 9 million were planning to add a pet.  It is on the discussion thread.  I am heading out now.


I will just let people judge for themselves including all of you of course.  I just want the information out there.


A shelter in New Jersey for instance that is on the successful list has said that they refer people with dangerous dogs or very ill animals to a veterinarian  That decreases the number of animals they intake that are difficult if not impossible to adopt. 

TerryWard
TerryWard

@animalwise @TerryWard @catlover
Now you are two-stepping backwards.
And sidestepping.
2oo people were asked a question.
The overpopulation myth is based upon the answers of 200 people in 2007.
Linda posted the verbatim data  from the Pet Project  in black&white above.
Lying does not make your position.
You are beginning to sound desperate

linda_richter
linda_richter

@animalwise @TerryWard @catlover The problem is the subpopulation of animals that are not in demand.  The excess of pit bulls and adult cats.  You cannot equivocate all animals as being equal.  It would be nice, but the preference people have for kittens and puppies and the true excess of pit bulls being bred means that marketing those animals is not a question of numbers.


There are rats that need homes also and rat rescues.  You may be able to convince the occasional person to get a rat instead of cat, but if you have an excess of a subgroup of a type of pets that is an 'overpopulation' of that pet type even if you do not have a total overpopulation in terms of numbers.

animalwise
animalwise

@linda_richter @animalwise @TerryWard 

You can when you realize you only have to sway 20% of the "swing group" to adopt. And, given that shelters all over the USA are doing just that, it makes your claim that it is impossible, well, sort of unbelievable.

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