homeless pet

Did you ever get the feeling you’re the only one who’s got the answer, and everyone else is clueless? Dear fellow megalomaniacs, here are a couple of things I’ve noticed:

A lot of us in the animal welfare community feel helpless that so many animals in our nation’s shelters are killed because permanent, loving homes can’t be found for them. The best estimate is that 4 million dogs and cats are killed each year. But there is a proven way to bring that horrendous number down to almost nothing.


And many of us are worried about the major diseases that debilitate or kill human beings every year, such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Yet there is a method, backed up by decades’ worth of science that can give everyone a good shot at never having to face these horrible diseases.

I know the answers to both of these dilemmas. Chances are that you’ve never heard of them. Read on.

The Problem of Homeless Animals

In the case of the homeless animals, the answer is the No-Kill Equation as proposed by Nathan Winograd. Nathan has been the director at animal shelters in several cities and now serves as an independent consultant to the shelter industry. Everywhere he goes, his ‘magic touch’ lowers the kill rate and ups the save rate, to the tune of 90% or better. His formula works irrespective of geography or demographics. Southern and northern towns, rich and poor places, red and blue states, everywhere.


The method is an amalgam of common-sense ideas that are almost too obvious to mention, all put in concert together. Programs like providing free or low-cost spay/neuter operations, keeping the shelters open during evenings and weekends so that working people can get there, growing a large network of foster parents to foster the animals in their own homes until permanent homes can be found, and staging regular off-site adoption events in high-traffic areas to get the animals in front of potential adopters. Perhaps the most important component is that the shelter leaders must make a commitment not to kill the animals in their care. Well, duh.

But remarkably, most shelters fall down on the job, and the animals die. Some of the shelters refuse to work with volunteers, and so have no fostering program. Some of them won’t shift their hours of operation to accommodate the public. Some of them have not trained their employees to prioritize animal welfare. They don’t see any other way around operating as they do and they kill the animals in order to have empty cages, which are far easier to keep clean.


Even the big animal organizations (the ones with the deepest pockets) are clueless here. They advocate or engage in the killing (calling it euthanasia), claiming that there just aren’t enough homes to go around and that a quick death is better than a gruesome life. If they bothered to look at the statistics, they would realize this is a fallacy. Americans acquire 20 million dogs and cats per year. So if just one-fifth of them could find their companion animals at the shelter instead of at the pet store or the backyard breeder, we would be living in a no-kill nation. THAT is the most shocking statistic, and it must be spread.

The Problem of Human Disease

The answer to combating major human diseases is just as obvious and, sadly, just as ignored. It is promulgated by the likes of Neal Barnard, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, and T. Colin Campbell. These are physicians who have studied the nutritional profiles of different populations around the world. Again, the solution cuts across all kinds of variables and works whether one is American, African or Asian, and living in cold climates or hot, and young or old, and rich or poor. Simply stated, the key is a plant-based diet.

Cultures in which people don’t dine on cows, pigs, chickens, eggs, cheese, and other animal products have negligible rates of the diseases that are big killers in America. When the typical bacon-and-eggs red-meat American switches over to a plant-based diet–rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables—he or she is more likely to prevent these diseases, or even reverse their effects once contracted.

Just as with the shelter animals issue, there are powerful forces arrayed against the widespread acceptance of the plant-based lifestyle solution. Medical schools have tradition-bound curricula and really don’t see the point in teaching future doctors about carrots and quinoa. Drug companies would really rather that you treat your diseases with their high-priced wares. And human nature is such that reaching for the cheeseburger is more ingrained than opting for the tofu stir-fry.

Vegans are in the know. And no-kill advocates are in the right. Eventually, I think a majority of the people will see the light on these two issues, and the easy answers will be available to one and all. Because you can’t keep smart solutions hidden forever. As Shakespeare says in The Merchant of Venice, through the character Launcelot:


“I will tell you news … truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long… at the length, truth will out.”

Image Source: sneakerdog