Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Me

I started this blog just a little over a year ago. My first entry is dated June 9, 2010. I remember that day really well. The news had broke that the Countryside Humane Society in Racine, Wisconsin had given expired rabies vaccinations to 600 animals. Since it is required by state law in Wisconsin to have a rabies vaccination, Countryside had to notify all of the pet owners and have them come back in to get their animal re-vaccinated. Not only a huge waste of donor's money, but a health risk to the animals. Countryside Humane Society said it was an honest mistake.

Come on now. One expired vaccine is an honest mistake. Five expired vaccines could be an honest mistake. I might even accept that twenty could be an honest mistake. But giving 600 expired rabies vaccines is not an honest mistake. The whistle blower, a Countryside staff member who alerted the press, was fired.

But I digress and you can read my two blog entries and the links to the news articles on this subject here and here.

I was furious that day. Furious at Countryside Humane Society, but even more furious that NOBODY in the animal welfare community stood up to make a public statement that what Countryside did was wrong. The animal welfare community was gossiping about it behind closed doors but too spineless to speak out in public. One brave Racine City alderman and some of the public spoke out and attended a meeting. But not one shelter director, that I am aware of, put out a public statement saying that what Countryside did was unacceptable and that the director and the board members should be held accountable. NOBODY. Circling the wagons, at it's finest.

So I sat down and typed my first blog. It was late that night - I didn't have any clue how to use Google Blogger and my first attempt at putting a picture on was hilarious. By about midnight, I'd figured out the picture thing and I was happy with the words I'd written.

I realized that I hadn't given my blog a name. Wisconsin Watchdog was the only thing that popped into my head at that time of night. I'm a morning person. I get up before the crack of dawn and by 8 p.m., I'm done for. So creativity at midnight is not going to happen.

So, Wisconsin Watchdog it was. Like I said, I was furious. Sleepy, but furious. If nobody else was going to watch what was going on in the animal welfare scene in Wisconsin, and be brave enough to tell it to the public, well then I would.

So that's my story. And what a year it has been. My inbox overflows daily with insights, tips and complaints. I go through them and sort out the credible, from the not-so-credible.

Three amazing groups of people have gotten the courage to go public about the wrong-doings at their own Wisconsin shelters (more on this to come) and I am ever so grateful. Because they are paving the way for the many more who are getting ready to do it.

It's easy to take a stand against the bad guys - the puppy millers, the dog fighters, the animal abusers. Not so easy to stand up and say what's wrong in the animal welfare system. Shelter board members and directors are often considered leaders in the community. They have been put on a pedestal. Sort of like TV evangelists. We're supposed to donate blindly, but never question how they spend the money. Just like the gig is up for a lot of TV evangelists, the gig is up for the poorly performing shelters.

Shelter killing is the number one cause of death of companion animals in this country. Not cancer, nor puppy mills, nor dogfighting, nor animal abuse. Animal shelters kill, at best estimate, (because transparency is a huge problem), about four  million animals a year in America. We can rescue the dogs from puppy mills or dog fighting busts or animal abusers. But it won't do one lick of good if they end up getting killed in the shelter.

What will the next year bring? Progress. I am certain of it. More and more shelter volunteers and staff will swallow their butterflies and have the courage to speak out. We have a support system in place, both locally and nationally. We have at least six Wisconsin residents attending the No Kill conference in Washington D.C. in July. Another nine that are attending the No More Homeless Pets conference in Las Vegas in October. And three that are attending the one day No Kill seminar in Ohio as well. Are there any Wisconsin shelter directors attending? Not that I know of, but it sure would be nice to see them. Don't worry - we No Kill Advocates are actually really nice people and we all want the same thing, right? To end the killing of healthy, treatable pets in America's shelters.

So, to those Wisconsin shelter directors and board members who are still not actively seeking methods to reduce shelter killing in their community, be forewarned. We're watching. And that's not a threat, it's a promise.

To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice. ~Confucius


  1. Happy anniversary, Kathy. Good on you for being the one to stand up and say enough is enough.

  2. Happy Anniversary Kathy. Your blog certainly is a great addition to the public dialogue about animal welfare reform in this country. Congrats on one year -- and thanks for the time you spend doing it.

  3. Hi Kathy, I'm in Texas and would love to maybe start a blog of my own like yours. Also I notice the other things you do with Best Friends and your voter website. I want to do all I can for animals and be their voice but sometimes I feel like just volunteering isn't doing anything to really help them. Can you give me some tips?? Thanks for what you do!


  5. Thank you, Kathy, for your courage and common sense and for having the will and dedication to stand up for what is right - wishing you many more anniversaries on the road to a No Kill Nation!

  6. Congratulations and Happy Anniversary. We need more like you in the rest of the USA (and beyond!) to help the animals, especially those that are being "thrown away" at an alarming rate. Not everyone knows that when they give an animal up to a shelter or humane society, that animal can be desposed of, sometimes the very same day. They seem to think the amimal they just gave up will be cared for until a home is found. Not so! Thank you so much, your efforts are greatly appreciated.

  7. Congratulations and thanks for sharing your common-sense perspectives with the world!

  8. I chose to leave the local no-kill organization because I did not like the answers I was hearing. I couldn't agree with you more about asking questions on how money is spent. I felt the compassion I have for animals was taken advantage of. I learned alot from that experience. I urge anyone to ask questions. The organizations with integrity and ethical values will always be forthcoming with information. That goes for any organization you should choose to gravitate to.

  9. Brooke, could you please email me at That would be great. Thanks for wanting to speak out on behalf of the animals in your community!

  10. Wonderful! Good for you!! I believe there IS a revolution, and we will see it "snowball" in the next few years. Thank you for your blog.