RPM’s Response to the 6/23 KHOU News Story

Friends,

Yes, we are aware of the KHOU news story that aired last night and this morning. Yes, we are disheartened by the slanted journalism and blatantly false information. Yes, we are saddened by those who have worked with us who immediately believe perception is reality and think we are sending Houston pets up to Colorado only to be killed there and that instead of helping the overall homeless animal problem, we are doing nothing more than “shifting bodies.” And, yes, believe it not, the information you are hearing on the news and spouted by completely uninformed people about RPM is false.

In all fairness, for those of you who have not seen the news clip, please click here.

Now, RPM’s response:

Where to begin . . . .

Laura’s interview yesterday.

Laura spent over an hour and a half yesterday with a KHOU news reporter, openly sharing tons of information about our program, lauding the importance of spaying and neutering, and explaining that we are merely a stopgap to save the animals that are already alive and set to die in our shelters. Call Laura terribly naïve, but she walked away believing it was a very positive interview.

Although one question should have clued her in. When she stated that RPM saves BARC animals who are seconds away from being killed and that no other rescue group can take, the reporter asked the following:

Question: “That raises a good point. Which would you prefer? An animal die today at our City Pound or be saved by RPM, go to another state, lead a horrible and neglected life, and then die in Colorado?”

Laura’s internal thought process: Whaaaa??? Is she for real?

Answer: “I am not sure how to answer a question like that. I want an animal to neither die nor suffer.”

After the 6 pm News aired last night, we were furious and emailed the reporter that while it was commendable that she brought attention to the homeless animal problem in Houston, the story was false and misleading because it implied that RPM animals are being euthanized once they reach Colorado. Below is her response:

Laura,

Thank you for your note.

I told our producers repeatedly that NO ONE was claiming Houston animals have been killed in Colorado.

The on screen line got by me because reporters are not responsible for that. I thought our producers understood.

I sincerely apologize.

I will ask our web team to remove the story from KHOU.com.

Thanks so much! – Sherry

That says it all.

Our connections with Colorado groups.

Let us first tell you that the Colorado community is furious by the news story and have told us in no uncertain terms that No Kill Colorado is considered a “fringe group”-as we are quickly learning is the same for No Kill Houston here. Indeed, Laura gave the reporter the names of several of the groups we work with so she could contact them and create a well-rounded story regarding the state of things in Colorado, but she obviously chose not to do so.

People keep asking for “facts,” but to be honest, that seems to mean “facts they want to hear”-whether accurate or not. It is impossible to argue stats, because there are so many factors that go into why a particular shelter may have a higher euthanasia rate than another-some shelters refuse to work with rescue groups, many of the dogs have serious behavioral problems and are not adoptable, some are sick. But the groups we work with all have a save rate of greater than 95% and many have 100% save rates.

Many foster parents who have worked with us will attest to the fact that these pets are going to reputable groups, and many of them have been able to keep up with their former foster pets once they reach Colorado. But this is not possible for every pet we save.

We have VERY close relationships with the groups in Colorado with whom we work. Very close. We correspond with them no less than 15 times a day. RPM has an agreement with each partner rescue that we will take any animal back at any time for any reason, which we have always done. If one of our pets goes up there, and an issue arises, we are contacted.

Armchair quarterbacking.

It is interesting that the news story quoted only groups that engage in nothing more than rhetoric. No Kill Houston has not saved one single dog from BARC. In fact, we are not sure what they do except disparage other groups from behind a keyboard.

That’s the real problem folks, it’s so easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize others when you have no idea what’s involved. People want results, but don’t want to get their hands dirty (or clean up poop for that matter).

For the record, almost every day, Houston shelters get dogs and cats in from people who adopted the pet from a local Houston rescue group. We find it appalling that Houston groups are acting like the adoptions they do here are perfect. They are not telling you the truth.

Adoptions are always filled with returns, and in some cases, dogs and cats end up at a shelter. In the 8 years we worked with Scout’s Honor Rescue (a local rescue WE founded and WE chose to leave because of what we believed were bad decisions being made about the dogs in its program), we had a number of animals turned into CAP, Houston Humane Society, and other shelters by adopters. We also had several dogs get loose from their homes and end up at BARC. And that is still happening. Let’s be real-any time you deal with people and animals, there is always a chance that things can go wrong.

Furthermore, Houston has its own fair share of rescues that are not reputable (which is always found out AFTER they have received dogs). There is no oversight here like there is in Colorado: no home visits, no unannounced inspections, no record audits, and no fines for not having their rescues timely spayed and neutered. From our 50 collective years in the Houston traditional rescue world, we can tell you many of the rescues here would never pass a PACFA certification and licensing.

If you take these arguments to their logical (or actually, illogical) conclusion-Are we supposed to kill all of the animals that end up in shelters because we cannot guarantee their safety? Sorry, but that is insane and downright stupid. There are some Houston area shelters with kill rates over 90%, and we bet if we ask the dogs and cats what they prefer, they would rather be in a shelter in another state with a 90% save rate. Wouldn’t you want that for your own animal if, Heaven forbid, your yard guy accidentally left your back gate open and your beloved pet got out?

Spaying and Neutering.

The reality is that spaying and neutering will absolutely help the overpopulation problem in Houston. But saving all of Houston’s animals requires a multi-pronged approach. For those, like No Kill Houston, who say all money should be on spaying and neutering, they must also make the argument that the animals in the shelter TODAY do not matter. That they must be sacrificed for the future. We refuse to accept this line of reasoning.

These little lives DO matter, and they deserve a chance that they will NOT get in Houston. Spaying and neutering will take time-by some models, 20-30 years. In the meantime, there are animals that need help TODAY.

The money from the City.

Yes, BARC wants this program to survive for the benefit of Houston animals. It is transformative for Houston. $265,000 has been approved to help fund transport programs (not just RPM). RPM will receive $75 per pet we save from BARC. Considering our average cost per pet is $220, the funds are not a windfall for RPM, and we will still have to bust our butts for funding to stay afloat.

One comment I heard is that someone could charge the City only $10 per pet. His plan? Load up a huge air-conditioned tractor trailer with hundreds of pets and drive them to Colorado. Our initial questions for him are: Who is going to walk and feed the hundreds of pets during the trip? Does his $10 include the cost of fostering each pet for two weeks to ensure they are healthy to travel? Oh, and what about the cost of vetting each pet who comes down with Parvo during that time, amputating a leg, removing a damaged eye, or having surgery on an infected mammary gland? And let’s talk about the large semi that has the pets separated from the driver so that he would be unaware if a problem arises during transport or the relief driver cannot go immediately back to a kennel and change a soiled puppy pad?

Our new vet clinic.

No. The BARC fairy did not buy it for us. Indeed, to help finance the building and build-out costs, one of RPM’s board members has put his own home on the line as additional collateral. We personally financed the remainder of the cost. We are responsible for paying the note.

The building is actually what is going to keep RPM running. We can no longer afford the vet bills for all of the pets we save. We ran the numbers, and our estimate is our operational costs will be cut in HALF once the clinic is up and running.

The alternative.

The alternative is to do nothing. The alternative is to say these animals are better off dead because there is a chance, no matter how small, that they might end up back at a shelter, that the home you or I choose may not be perfect, that the rescue we send pets to might get in over its head. So let’s just throw in the towel. WE REFUSE TO DO THAT–while jealousy and insecurity are driving much of the controversy, we at RPM will continue to fight for these forgotten animals while others sit on the sidelines, criticize us, and ultimately DO NOTHING.

The backbiting.

We know this is trite, but can’t we all just get along?

RPM has tried very hard to turn the other cheek and not engage other groups in Houston who are disparaging us. Well, we need to respond. But first, we want to say that there are MANY traditional rescue groups in Houston who are doing wonderful work and saving countless animals from euthanasia. Organizations like HPPL, Red Collar Rescue, Pup Squad, SNAP, Friends for Life, and ADORE, to name just a few.

As for the groups that choose to criticize RPM without any knowledge of what we do, we recommend that you ask these groups how many and for how long their rescue dogs have been locked away in boarding. You might be shocked to know that it can be years. Yes, years. These groups argue that it is far better for a dog to live its entire life in a kennel than go to another rescue in another state where there is a small chance that the pet may end up in a no-kill shelter.

Specifically, much has been made by Scout’s Honor Rescue about a dog that was part of a transfer program who was later turned into a shelter in Colorado. Fact-Scout’s Honor did not bother to contact the rescue group responsible for saving the dog’s life in the first place or give them a chance to get the dog, nor did they contact anyone at RPM to help the dog who had been placed by RPM officers, which would have been the right thing to do. Rather, Scout’s Honor decided to use this one occurrence as a reason to attack RPM. Scout’s Honor continues to reference something that happens every day here in Houston (including to them) to create negative and uninformed press about RPM.

Moreover, let’s add some clarity to Scout’s Honor’s statement that it chose to “distance[] ourselves from this endeavor after we could not get answers.” The fact is that when all the original founders of Scout’s Honor left to form RPM (that might tell you something), Scout’s Honor did not have the knowledge or expertise to do a transport program. And while Scout’s Honor money “funded” that program, the money came from donors who earmarked their donations for the transport program because they specifically wanted to see the program survive.

The truth is Houston is never going to get very far in helping change the kill rate as long as “rescuers” care more about their ego and being right than they do about saving animals. RPM is very proud of its partnerships with local groups like Red Collar, HPPL, and ADORE. We know that by joining hands and working together, we will accomplish so much more than we can individually, and certainly far more than if we are attacking each other.

Ask yourself if you really want to be a part of a “rescue” that preaches intolerance and attacks other groups who are also trying to save Houston pets.

Cute puppies and supply and demand.

Cindy was in traditional Houston rescue for 10 years before moving to New Mexico and discovering the transport program. When Cindy first moved back to Houston and joined the BARC Aid email list, she was struck by all of the puppies on the euthanasia list. She thought, like most of us and the general public, that rescue groups were lining up to rescue all of these darling puppies. But the stark, very real truth is that they were all dying. Every. Single. Day. Indeed, 68% of the animals that enter BARC are puppies.

Yes, all the little precious puppies and kittens you see on our website were ending up in your landfill. That is the reality. And it is a reality that HAS to change. Change is possible because other parts of the country WANT these puppies and kittens.

It’s simple supply and demand. The smart people get it. No Kill Houston, Scout’s Honor Rescue, and others out there are essentially arguing that we should go back to the old days-that these little lives are better off in the landfill and dead than having a chance. If you agree with them, then Rescued Pets Movement is absolutely not the group for you. Period. But if you are like us and say having so many young, adoptable dogs and kittens die in my town is NOT acceptable and is frankly INEXCUSABLE; if you will not accept the status quo or the arguments of those standing on the sidelines, then stick with us.

Animal rescue is messy-we are dealing with real lives and humans with huge egos. Puppies can get sick and die of parvo or distemper; a kitten can break with a feline leukemia virus that is deadly; an animal can slip out the door and be hit by a car; adopters can die, divorce, lose their homes, or misrepresent the type of owner they are. Animals can and will end back up at shelters; private shelters can lose their funding; rescuers can get in over their head. A lot can go wrong.

RPM will NOT be held hostage by all the things that may go wrong or the possible monsters under the bed. We will not let the fear of what could go wrong stop us from saving these lives. You shouldn’t either.

Thank you all for your support (and for reading this terribly long email),

The Board of
RescuedPetsMC37a-A01aT07a-Z_mdm

9 thoughts on “RPM’s Response to the 6/23 KHOU News Story

  1. Reply
    Rhonda Kelley - June 25, 2014

    I LOVE this group!, Plz keep up your BLESSED work,,,,

  2. Reply
    Arianne Barker - June 25, 2014

    I couldn’t agree more with EVERY SINGLE WORD written above. I worked at the Houston Humane Society and let me tell you – there are no fool-proof solutions. These fur-babies deserve a chance and if that’s in Colorado or Montana or Alabama then so be it! I’d much rather be given a chance to suvive then a near guarantee at death! Keep up the great work RPM – we’re behind you!

  3. Reply
    Farfel's Farm - June 25, 2014

    We have had nothing but great experiences with every person associated with RPM! We rescue approximately 40 dogs per month from BARC and have them adopted into pre-approved and responsible homes upon their arrival in Colorado. They’re perfect and wonderful and deserve a chance for a great life! Please keep up the amazing work RPM!

  4. Reply
    Nora - June 25, 2014

    Well said…. Keep up the good work…… Thank you for ALL you do for our furry friends and the city!

  5. Reply
    Chris - June 25, 2014

    Very well written response! Now being in Colorado (for 5 months) I miss fostering for this responsible and wonderful group of hard working people in Houston. However, I will return and I am proud to be a part of RPM. Keep up the great job!

  6. Reply
    Tom - June 26, 2014

    I see a lot of dogs at BARC volunteering every week. My perfect world has them all put into loving homes by the great folks at BARC, RPM, Friends for Life, whoever, wherever. Of course we all believe spay and neuter is important, that is why all these saved pets are fixed. But the ones who get pulled have a GREAT chance at a GOOD life. Life is messy, but it’s so much better with a dog or cat or three.

  7. Reply
    Marsha - June 27, 2014

    After my husband passing away and me in bad heath and on a limited income now. I have always rescued Dogs and Cats I have 12 dogs now and 8 Cats I will keep my Dogs and 2 Cats but will have to let go of 6 Cats that all have been spayed and neuter and each with there own personalities . Im just not able to take care of them now that I have got older and with these heath issues that I have going on. So please if there is someone that will take these cats and give them a home I will be so graceful thank you ..

    1. Reply
      rescuedpetsmovement - June 27, 2014

      Marsha,
      Rescued Pets Movement is in a partnership with our city’s shelter, BARC Houston, to move adoptable pets from their facility to our partner rescues in Colorado. While our heart go out to dogs and cats in need in other areas, like the cats you’re going to surrender, we are not an intake service. At this time we only have the resources to honor our partnership with BARC and the homeless pets in our program.

      Thank you for your understanding of our limitations.

      Timothy
      RPM

  8. Reply
    Marsha - June 27, 2014

    Thank you

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