Thursday, August 2, 2012


Baton Rouge was under investigation in less than a month after declaring "No Kill". Five days before the downfall of Baton Rouge, No Kill News was reporting how wonderful it was. But the truth denied that, the truth about the overcrowding, the disease, proved that this was not a success story.

So the director, who came from an infamous "No Kill" in Chicago resigned. Now it appears that No Kill News finally got the message.


I’ve reported during the last year on the Companion Animal Alliance of Baton Rouge (CAA), a non-profit that provides animal sheltering services for East Baton Rouge Parish. CAA 
has a public-private partnership with the parish’s Animal Control And Rescue Center. Last summer, Laura Hinze, the former director at PAWS Chicago, took over as director at CAA and committed to making the parish no-kill.

CAA experienced a severe blow when Hinze resigned after only two months, following complaints of overcrowding at the shelter. An interim director was named and, for a while, CAA seemed to be making some progress with support from rescues and by means of its “Last Minute Hope” Facebook networking page.Then, in April of 2012, after a nationwide search, the CAA board chose Kimberly Sherlaw as the shelter’s new director. Sherlaw has a background in non-profit management, which seemed like a good sign, but things quickly turned sour under her leadership. Right away Sherlaw announced that she expected it would take three years to achieve no kill. The Facebook page was shut down. Volunteers were banned from the shelter. These actions are typical of high-kill directors who are mired in the past and have no intention of making a serious effort to get to no kill. A three year plan? Banning volunteers? Banning outreach efforts? We’ve seen all this before and it’s very bad news.

Director Sherlaw now seems to have declared victory where there is no victory. In a recent interview, she said that the shelter is killing 40% of the animals it takes in, and characterized those killings as due to health and behavior issues, not for space. Those of you who are familiar with the doublespeak of high-kill shelter directors will see the red flags here. There is no way that 40% of the animals entering the shelter warrant killing for health or behavior. Even if the shelter has no programs at all for medical rehabilitation or behavior modification, the experience of other shelters shows that it should not have to kill more than 10% of its intake for health and behavior.

In the interview linked above, Sherlaw claimed that CAA had reduced the kill rate from 80% to 40%. That sounds like progress, but the head of animal control in the parish stated in a recent interview that when CAA took over, the kill rate had already been reduced from 80% to 65%. That means that CAA has been able to reduce the kill rate only 25 points during its year of operation, not 40 points. A lot of that 25% reduction was due to the Last Minute Hope program, which has now been shut down, and the volunteers who were banned. In addition, we cannot verify that Sherlaw’s claims of a 40% kill rate are accurate, because the CAA webpage has not posted its 2011 statistics or its statistics so far in 2012.

The population of East Baton Rouge Parish is 442,000. Sherlaw has stated that yearly intake at CAA is 7200 animals. That’s an intake of only 16 animals per 1000 people per year, which is about half the national average of 30 per 1000 estimated by HSUS. Sherlaw has failed to explain why it’s going to take her years to get to no kill when shelters with much higher intake, such as the Nevada Humane Society, got to no kill much quicker.

Everyone had high hopes for Baton Rouge, but it looks like the no kill effort there has been sabotaged by the selection of a director who is simply not up to the job. I’m therefore removing Baton Rouge from the list of Communities to Watch, because they no longer have a director who’s serious about no kill.

Now I mentioned the former director came from "No Kill" in Chicago. Well, here's the scoop on Chicago. 

The House of "No Kill" has crumbled, the cornerstones are even being dug up. Susanne Kogut in Charlottesville was just kicked to the curb. So now there is but one bragging right, Reno. And that one is not looking very good at the moment for survival either.

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