September 13, 2007

Nathan Winograd

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:37 pm by nevavegan

Last night Sean and I went to see Nathan Winograd speak at the George Washington University Law School. It was a wonderful presentation and I’m looking forward to digging into his latest book Redemption soon.

For first thoughts I found it interesting that he pointed out the utter failure of legislation to make a significant difference in companion animal kill rates at shelters. To me this a particularly important point because I cannot say how many times my efforts to save animals may have violated local ordinances and laws, from feeding feral cats to help me trap and alter them, to keeping rescued rabbits in my home or apartment in areas that banned “livestock” and listed rabbits as “livestock.” Nathan Winograd spoke of enlisting the compassion and energy of people like me who want to help animals to transform the entire system. As opposed to the way things are now where many compassionate people and even organized rescues are at odds with animal control and even in violation of the law.

Further, many of the people we hope to control with all our legislation regarding companion animals simply don’t follow the law. You can pass a mandatory spay/neuter law, but if you’re talking about the guy who never followed the leash law, didn’t follow the liscening law, and ignored all prior animal regulations, what are the chances he’ll obey a neuter law? Passing the law fails to solve the underlying problem.

Next, Mr. Winograd spoke about the overwhelming philosophy of punishment in our approach to animal control. I totally understand that we don’t want to reward people for poor behavior, for being totally irresponsible. But imagine the pay-off if we stopped saying that people who won’t pay vet bills they could afford don’t deserve access to low-cost spay/neuter? Sure, they don’t deserve it. But the animals DO deserve it. And if we pay for Mr. Cheapskate to have his dog spayed for free, then even if he doesn’t deserve it, we’ve hopefully stemmed the tide of many of that dog’s puppies coming into the shelter. We’ve hopefully stopped him from dumping those puppies in rural areas to either die or become feral or tax the resources of another shelter. We’ve hopefully stopped the literally hundreds of unwanted puppies from from all the puppies of the original dog.

So let’s stop punishing the animals in our effort to punish people and start doing the work that will pay us back hugely within just a few years.

Mr. Winograd’s talk was so humorous, so touching, and ultimately so inspiring. It’s rare to leave a lecture on sheltering issues feeling hopeful and inspired, but that’s how I felt. I will let you all know what I think of the book shortly.

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1 Comment »

  1. Jennifer said,

    I’m glad to hear the presentation was good — his new book looks really interesting.


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