Best Friends Changing Course in Houston After Hurricane Harvey?
We rejoiced yesterday, Sunday, September 3, 2017 when Best Friends Animal Society posted an action alert on their blog titled "Demand Houston SPCA Save Hurricane Harvey Animals." In it, they rightly point out that HSPCA has a history of a lack of transparency (We still can't find any outcome reports on the HSPCA web site). They also state that the agency has questionable policies regarding pit bull type dogs (HSPCA reportedly kills all so-called "pit bulls"). Because of these and other things, Best Friends wrote:
"So it’s understandable that the rescue community and other pet-loving members of the public, aware of the Houston SPCA’s history, would be worried about what was taking place with the pets in Beaumont."
We should point out that Beaumont, Texas (a city east of Houston) is the location of the Ford Center, where a small animal rescue center has been established in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. And, local officials have given HSPCA a memorandum of understanding (MOU) stating that HSPCA (described by local advocates as a "slaughterhouse" and a "blood bath") is, in effect, in charge of the rescue efforts there. HSPCA has declined offers of help and support from Best Friends. HSPCA has also refused to guarantee positive outcomes for healthy and treatable pets.
We would be remiss if we did not state that while Best Friends has done good and important rescue work, we have been highly critical of Best Friends Animal Society because of their public positions and statements about No Kill advocacy work in general. That is because, while they, out of one side of their mouths, have claimed to be leaders in the No Kill Movement, out of the other side of their mouths they have spent nearly a decade chastising No Kill advocates. They and their supporters have called No Kill advocates divisive, and mean. They have said that advocates pointing out the killing taking place in their local shelters have been "bashing and trashing" those shelters, a phrase they have repeated often over many years. Very likely, not a day has gone by when No Kill advocates, like No Kill Huntsville, NJ Animal Observer and Reform Pueblo Animal Services have not had the words of Best Friends thrown in their faces. Best Friends has also worked to rewrite history in places like Austin Texas to erase the crucial work done by vocal No Kill advocates that put No Kill on the radar of City officials. "Be nice" we have been told, "don't be so combative." And, while we have continually needed to explain that there is no polite way to 'out' shelters for killing healthy and treatable animals, we advocates have been called "mean" and "divisive" because we have been doing so.
Along with Best Friend's action alert regarding the HSPCA's practices, they created a petition you can sign (please do). It has already garnered more than 55,000 signatures. We applaud Best Friends taking this stand.
We also feel an urgent need to point out that for the last 10 years the loudest voice in Houston advocating for No Kill policies in their shelters has been No Kill Houston. Ironically, for the last 10 years, the largest target in Houston of the "you are being divisive" rhetoric put out by Best Friends and their buddies has also been No Kill Houston. Meanwhile the killing of animals in the shelters there has been largely ignored by them. By criticizing the advocates and ignoring the shelters that are killing, Best Friends has been an enabler of the status quo in Houston and beyond.
Does this action alert from Best Friends signal a broader policy change on their part? We sure hope so and would welcome such a change. No Kill advocates in Houston and elsewhere could sure use their help and support.