Nathan Winograd

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Nathan Winograd
BornNathan J. Winograd
Notable works

Nathan J. Winograd is an American author, film-maker, animal advocate, and director of the No Kill Advocacy Center in Oakland, California.


Advocacy at Stanford University[edit]

Winograd began studies at Stanford University Law School in Stanford, California, in 1991.[1][self-published source] He founded the Stanford Animal Protection and Education Society, which advocated for students to embrace a vegan diet; opposed zoo and aquarium animals being kept in captivity; and exposed poor housing conditions of lab animals and the cruel vivisection practice in university lab experiments.[1][self-published source]

The university became increasingly concerned about the number of free-roaming cats living on campus, which had grown to an estimated 1,500 cats and kittens.[2] When the university announced plans to round up and kill the cats, the animal advocates turned to the local Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States for help. They were shocked to learn that these groups supported the university's eradication plan[1][self-published source] (a position that the HSUS has since reversed)[3] Volunteers had already been working to trap-neuter-return the cats on their own. With the assistance of the Palo Alto Humane Society, of which Winograd was a board member, the Stanford Cat Network was formed in 1989, and the university came to agree with its approach of using trap-neuter-return to care for the abandoned cats.[4]

Work as a law student[edit]

While a full-time law student, Winograd took a job working in the Law and Advocacy Department of the San Francisco SPCA, which was leading efforts in the nation's no kill movement under the guidance of President Richard Avanzino. "It was my job to defend the animals being threatened with killing within San Francisco's borders, to expand the safety net so we could save more, and to promote the new and innovative programs the San Francisco SPCA was creating".[1][self-published source] He understood that the San Francisco SPCA was "starting a revolution, and I was honored to be a part of it."[1][self-published source] However, he also noted that rather than celebrate the organization's life-saving efforts, national organizations including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals were critical, denying the results and arguing with the methods used.[1][self-published source]

While serving as a law student intern for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Washington, D.C.,[1][self-published source] Winograd volunteered with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at its nearby office. He was a strong supporter of PETA until a fellow volunteer told him that a dog she rescued would not be safe if turned over to the organization.[1][self-published source] Winograd explored this issue, and in 1994 received a postcard from PETA's founder Ingrid Newkirk stating: "We do not advocate 'right to life' for animals".[5][failed verification]

Early career[edit]

After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1995, Winograd became a Deputy District Attorney, taking on many animal cruelty cases.[6] He continued to do part-time consulting work for the San Francisco SPCA. After a few years of prosecuting crime, he returned to the SPCA full-time as Director of the Law and Advocacy Department, and within two years the Director of Operations and Vice President.[6] However, he clashed with the new leadership of the organization, who didn't see the same value in the innovative life-saving programs that had been introduced earlier, and they began to be eroded; for example, with reduced availability of the spay/neuter clinic, and erosion of the feral cat program.[6]

Shelter director[edit]

On June 11, 2001, Winograd's family relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to Ithaca, New York, where he became Executive Director of the Tompkins County SPCA, on the understanding that the organization would become no kill.[6] The organization had resolved to become no kill in 1999.[7] Despite many challenges with the open-admission shelter with an aging building and a financial deficit, Winograd stated that killing stopped immediately: "We reduced killing by 75% while reducing disease rates and deaths in kennel by over 90% from the model I inherited. At the same time, we went from a $124,000 a year deficit to a $23,000 surplus as the animal lovers of Tompkins County rewarded our efforts with tremendous financial generosity."[6] Winograd states that Tompkins County had become the first no kill community in the U.S., "saving 100% of healthy and treatable animals, and 100 percent of feral cats".[8]:180 Winograd continued at the position for three years.[6]

No Kill Advocacy Center[edit]

In 2004, Winograd founded the No Kill Advocacy Center to spread the no kill model to shelters across the United States,[9] Winograd defined the essential elements of the model in the No Kill Equation,[10] which he describes as "the only effective roadmap to No Kill".[11] The organization held its first annual No Kill Conference in 2005, and reports attendance increasing from less than two dozen, to selling out at 860 in 2012.[9]

Winograd also consulted with shelters, including Charlottesville, Virginia; Reno, Nevada; and Austin, Texas, to bring the No Kill Equation to their community.[12] In 2013, he reported nearly 100 shelters "representing about 300 cities and towns across America which, in spite of resistance and push back from the national organizations, have embraced the No Kill Equation, and, like Tompkins County, are saving between 90 and 99% of all the animals they take in."[12]

The organization's website offers a number of online publications, including a No Kill Advocate's Toolkit containing documents such as "No Kill 101," "Dollars and Sense: The Economic Benefits of No Kill Animal Control," and a recommended "Companion Animal Protection Act."[13]


No Kill Equation[edit]

Winograd's "No Kill Equation" is 11 requirements that he says are essential to create communities that do not kill unwanted pets. They are:[10]

  1. Trap–neuter–return (TNR) programs for free-living cats allow shelters to reduce death rates."
  2. No- and low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter services
  3. Cooperation with rescue groups
  4. Foster care programs
  5. Volunteer programs
  6. Comprehensive adoption programs
  7. Pet retention programs
  8. Medical and behavior rehabilitation programs
  9. Public Relations/Community Development
  10. Proactive redemptions

The myth of overpopulation[edit]

On pet overpopulation: it's "a myth." "Based on the number of existing households with pets who have a pet die or run away, more homes potentially become available each year for cats than the number of cats who enter shelters, while more than twice as many homes potentially become available each year for dogs than the number of dogs who enter shelters. ... As a movement, the humane community has accepted the idea that the best shelters can do for homeless animals is to adopt out some and kill the rest. To try to avoid criticism for this, to justify a paltry number of adoptions, these groups have perpetuated the myth that there are simply more animals than homes, something that is patently false (even though most people believe it)."[14]

Neutering is not enough[edit]

WInograd states: "as surely as pet overpopulation is a myth, the idea that the only way to a No Kill nation is through spay/neuter initiatives is also a myth."[15] While these initiatives may be helpful, they "will not save animals in shelters today", and are not a "prerequisite to No Kill when caring, compassionate, and competent leadership takes over a shelter."[15] High volume, low cost spay/neuter is an element of the No Kill Equation,[10] but having a compassionate director is the most important element.[15]

Breed-specific legislation[edit]

"Banning Pit Bulls or any breed of dog is geared to overkill by definition because, media hysteria to the contrary, the vast majority of dog bites occur within the home by many breeds, with the dog biting a member of the family after some provocation, a different causal mechanism than the false image presented: an epidemic of free roaming Pit Bulls attacking unknown children or the elderly. As a result, a breed ban won't stop the vast majority of dog bites."[16]

Invasion biology: biological xenophobia[edit]

On invasive species:

all plants and animals were introduced (by wind, humans, migration, or other animals) at some point in time.[17]:56 In particular, humans "are the biggest non-native intruders in the United States", causing environmental and species decimation through habitat destruction and pollution.[17]:57

Legislation aimed at pet owners ineffective[edit]

Legislation requiring people to spay and neuter their pets is ineffective:

Despite studies showing that simply providing a low-cost option doubled the number of poor people who spayed or neutered their pets ... local shelters failed to provide meaningful solutions to obstacles that prevented people from acting the way shelters wanted them to act. While laws were passed to force people to spay or neuter their pets, little was done about the high cost of sterilization that kept poor people from complying.[8]:28

The same problem occurred with legislation intended to make people more responsible for their animals, such as keeping cats confined and limiting the number of pets:

the law would nevertheless miss its intended target since responsible people acted responsibly whether there was a law or not, while truly irresponsible people would merely ignore it. In the end, however, since failure to comply with these laws often resulted in the pet's impoundment and death, the net effect of the legislation was to exacerbate shelter killing."[8]:26

Retail pet sales[edit]

In a 2007 interview with Center for Consumer Freedom, Winograd said:

When San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to save all healthy, homeless dogs and cats, and was effectively talking to the public about pet adoption, there was not a single pet store left in the city selling dogs and cats. Why? Because they couldn't compete with the SPCA.[14]


  • Winograd, Nathan (2009). Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America. Almaden Books, 2nd edition. ISBN 978-0979074318.
  • Winograd, Nathan (2009). Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart & Soul of America's Animal Shelters. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1-4495-9113-7.
  • Winograd, Jennifer and Nathan Winograd (2014). All American Vegan: Veganism for the Rest of Us. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2nd edition. ISBN 978-1492194583.
  • Winograd, Nathan and Jennifer Winograd (2012). Friendly Fire. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1479268931.


In 2014, Winograd produced a film, Redemption: The No Kill Revolution in America. It was first screened on June 6, 2014, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[18] The film is a project of the No Kill Advocacy Center.[18]

Honours and awards[edit]

  • The city of Austin, Texas declared August 3, 2014 as Nathan Winograd Day, "to recognize Mr. Winograd's unwavering dedication and commitment to saving the lives of homeless pets, along with his work at the No Kill Advocacy Center, which have inspired Austin and cities throughout the country to dramatically increase shelter lifesaving."[19]
  • Winograd's first book, Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America, received a number of awards. The Independent Book Publishers Association gave it a Silver Medal and Best Book in the Animals and Pets category. USA Book News gave it the Best Book Award in the Animals & Pets category. The Cat Writers Association of America gave it a Certificate of Excellence. The book was also a Best Book Nominee for the Dog Writers Association of America.[20]
  • In October 2014, Winograd's film, Redemption: The No Kill Revolution in America, won the Audience award for best film in the San Pedro International Film Festival in San Pedro, California.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Who is Nathan Winograd?", Nathan J. Winograd, February 15, 2013.
  2. ^ "About Feline Friends Network", Feline Friends Network, accessed August 17, 2014.
  3. ^ "The HSUS's Position on Cats", HSUS, Sept. 4, 2013.
  4. ^ "About Feline Friends Network", Feline Friends Network (originally named the Stanford Cat Network), accessed August 17, 2014, and "Who is Nathan Winograd?", Nathan J. Winograd, February 15, 2013.
  5. ^ "Documents", Nathan Winograd, Why PETA Kills, accessed August 16, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Who is Nathan Winograd?: The Middle Years", Nathan J. Winograd, February 15, 2013.
  7. ^ "The History of the SPCA", SPCA of Tompkins County, accessed August 17, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Nathan Winograd (2009). Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America. Almaden Books, 2nd edition. ISBN 978-0979074318.
  9. ^ a b "About", No Kill Advocacy Center, accessed August 17, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c "No Kill 101: A Primer on No Kill Animal Control Sheltering For Public Officials", No Kill Advocacy Center, accessed September 2, 2014.
  11. ^ "Q & A with Nathan Winograd", PAWS Chicago, accessed Sept. 6, 2014.
  12. ^ a b "Who is Nathan Winograd?: The Later Years", Nathan J. Winograd, February 15, 2013.
  13. ^ "No Kill Advocate's Toolkit", No Kill Advocacy Center, accessed August 17, 2014.
  14. ^ a b "The Book HSUS and PETA Don’t Want You to Read", Sept. 10, 2007, Center for Consumer Freedom, archived at
  15. ^ a b c "Can You Neuter Your Way Out of Killing?", Nathan Winograd, April 19, 2012.
  16. ^ "Itchmo's Interview with Nathan Winograd", Feb. 27, 2008.
  17. ^ a b Nathan J. Winograd, Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart & Soul of America's Animal Shelters (2009) CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN 978-1-4495-9113-7.
  18. ^ a b "Screenings", Redemption: The No Kill Revolution in America, accessed August 17, 2014.
  19. ^ "Nathan Winograd Day", Nathan Winograd, August 5, 2014.
  20. ^ "Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America",, see Editorial Reviews.
  21. ^ "Film Festival", Redemption, accessed Oct. 19, 2014.
  22. ^ "SPIFFest 2014 Winners", San Pedro International Film Festival, accessed Oct. 17, 2014.

External links[edit]