Sunday, January 27, 2008


By Nathan J. Winograd

“Teach Compassion.” It is perhaps the most important job we have as animal protectionists. In the mission statement of every animal welfare and animal rights group, every private and public shelter, and within the credo of every activist is a calling to raise awareness of animal suffering and to ultimately encourage more humane treatment. From the earliest days of our movement’s founding, we have heeded the call to change the hearts and minds of the public, knowing that doing so is a precursor to changes in laws and practices that result in animal suffering. But we have our blind spots.

There is no breed of dog in American more abused, maligned, and misrepresented than the American Pit Bull Terrier. There is no breed of dog more in need of our compassion; in need of our call to arms on their behalf; and in need of what should be the full force of our enduring sanctuary. But we have determined that they are not worthy of it.

We have determined that they do not deserve to live. The more circumspect among us might not say so publicly. We may couch it in more benign terms, shifting the blame to others, claiming that no one will adopt them, convincing ourselves that only a ban will keep them out of harm’s way, but the end result is exactly the same. By our actions, by our words, by our policies, by our failure to speak out on their behalf, we stoke the fire that has at its core only one end for Pit Bulls: their mass killing.

To a breed abused for fighting, victimized by an undeserved reputation, relegated to certain death in shelters, add one more torment: those who should be their most ardent protectors have instead turned against them. We have joined the witch hunt.

The very agencies whose officers seek out dog fighters and abusers in order to “save” the poor creatures relegate Pit Bulls to locked and barren corridors away from public view. Ultimately, all of them—the healthy and friendly ones, side-by-side with the hopelessly sick or vicious—are uniformly put to death.

One of the nation’s leading humane newspapers lauds a city not only for outlawing Pit Bulls but for proactively enforcing the ban on them—a ban that leads to their execution. The editors, who have also called for consistency in ethical practices by encouraging shelters to serve only vegetarian food and who applaud other animal rights causes, apparently see no moral ambiguity when officers go door-to-door seizing happy and friendly pets sleeping on beds and couches, taken from their families upon threat of arrest, while animal control shelter workers wait, “euthanasia kits” at the ready.

In an Oregon county, Pit Bulls are killed en masse in a shelter with an avowed No Kill goal by misusing temperament testing as a de facto ban on the breed. In Denver, Colorado, they are simply outlawed and executed. And People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the nation’s most outspoken animal rights group, has joined the battle to exterminate these dogs—supporting a ban on the breed, and agreeing with a policy that all Pit Bulls who enter shelters seeking sanctuary, instead be killed.

Ending the tragic plight of the American Pit Bull Terrier should be among our most ardent goals. Our advocacy must remind people that at one time, the Pit Bull was the most popular pet in America because of their reputation as a friendly, family dog. We must educate people that the Pit Bull’s misfortunate is in finding themselves the favored breed of the dog fighter at this time in history—a distinction shared at one time by the German Shepherd, Doberman, and Rottweiller. And a distinction that will shift to another breed if we ban Pit Bulls but do not bring about an end to the scourge of dog fighting.

We must rally against the injustice of politics which condemn an entire breed of dog—in practical terms, literally hundreds of thousands of dogs a year—to death, because of the unfortunate characteristics of a few of them.

Where there is vilification, we should teach compassion. Where there are scare tactics, we should preach temperance. Where there are lies, we should speak the truth. Otherwise, the animal welfare movement will have failed the Pit Bull completely.

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Read the book that is being called "powerful and inspirational," "ground-breaking," and "a must read for anyone who cares about animals." Nominated as the Best Book of 2007 (General Interest) by the Dog Writers Association of America, the book shatters the notion that killing animals in U.S. shelters is an act of kindness.

RECEIVE A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK "REDEMPTION" by Nathan J. Winograd: Anyone who donates $50 or more to the No Kill Advocacy Center will receive a copy of Redemption, personally signed by the author.

Note: This book is not published by the No Kill Advocacy Center and the No Kill Advocacy Center is not responsible for its content. To attend the author's free "Building a No Kill Community" seminars at a city near you, click here.

And more. For more information, a sample past issue, and/or to subscribe, go to and click on "What's New?"

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Nathan J. Winograd, the president of No Kill Solutions, is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a former criminal prosecutor and corporate attorney. He has helped write legislation at the state and national level, has spoken nationally and internationally on animal sheltering issues, has created successful no-kill programs in both urban and rural communities, and has consulted with a wide range of animal protection groups, including some of the largest and best known in the country. No Kill Solutions is a full-service consultant agency. By providing consulting, strategic planning, conferences, newsletters, and community-specific lifesaving blueprints, No Kill Solutions can help shelters, rescue groups, animal control agencies and coalitions achieve no-kill in their own hometowns.

Nathan J. Winograd
No Kill Solutions
P.O. Box 74926
San Clemente, CA 92673
(949) 276-6942 telephone
(949) 276-6943 fax

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