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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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Tip of the Iceberg

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2019

Dear Editor,
    In the doghouse is exactly where you will be finding the volunteers who rightfully spoke up on behalf of the animals ["In the Doghouse," News, Feb. 8]. It is offensive that the very people who give thousands of hours caring and nurturing these animals get reprimanded and face serious consequences as a result [of] speaking up for the shelter animals all due to poor management and policies. There are plenty more out here who would love to share more of the reality of what happens yet are terrified of the consequences. I know I speak for many in hoping that this isn't the only time you expose the reality, as many of us know this is only the tip of the iceberg. As a former volunteer dog walker, concerned citizen, and someone who knows that being the "biggest no-kill shelter in this country" no longer fills everyone with pride like it once did, I express gratitude to you on behalf of these animals. I have used my voice numerous times at Animal Advisory Commission meetings, City Council private and public meetings, only to realize that my concerns have fallen on deaf ears, or perhaps bought ones. ls Austin falling under a spell in believing that we can build our way out of this serious pet overpopulation problem? Perhaps we need to look deeper into the organization who runs the city's shelter and their claim that pet overpopulation is a myth. Austin needs to be held accountable for the number of pets turned away due to no longer being an open intake shelter and especially for adopting out reproductively intact pets. Yes, let's boast about our save rate but let's also be proud of how the pets who belong to the city live in standards of care that fall way above cruelty and neglect.
Liz Carrasco

No Birth

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2019

Dear Editor,
    People with agendas? They don't want to talk about those agendas and try to make this into a very complex issue. ["In the Doghouse," News, Feb. 8.] In reality? It's relatively simple: "The birth rate of cats and dogs is exponentially higher than humans." Hundreds of thousands of times higher. 
    We should be working very hard to find a home for every adoptable cat and dog but we should also be very aggressively working on spay/neuter. Not just the current 3% to 5% of the Animal Services budget. 
    The Austin Neighborhoods Council and a large number of organizations and political clubs passed a resolution in support of spay/neuter years ago but the city has completely failed to act on it.
    Anyone tries to tell you, "Pet overpopulation is a myth" (i.e., partial title of Nathan Winograd's book)? Mr. Winograd along with most of the members of the Animal Advisory Commission and a number of City Council members and staff need a very basic remedial math class. 
    Yes, it really is that simple. The very first step to achieving a humane and sustainable "No Kill" program is "No Birth."
Delwin Goss

More to the Story

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 12, 2019

Dear Editors,
    Thank you to Nina Hernandez and the Chronicle for the excellent reporting on the Austin Animal Center ["In the Doghouse," News, Feb. 8]. I am a six-year volunteer at both Austin Pets Alive! and AAC. For the last four years, I have also fostered difficult-to-adopt dogs from both AAC and APA. The challenges with Austin’s “No Kill” goals extend beyond AAC, so I hope the Chronicle will continue to report on them. Only with more public attention on the issues will the lives of Austin’s shelter animals improve.  
    Your article may leave readers believing that AAC (the city/county shelter) should bear the brunt of achieving “No Kill.”  But “No Kill” is a community-wide goal.  It’s unfair to place that burden on the only open-intake shelter in Travis County. No Kill was promoted vigorously by Austin Pets Alive!, a private nonprofit. APA also convinced the city to let it use the old Town Lake Animal Center – in decrepit condition, but in a prime location in central Austin – for free. (Can you imagine Major League Soccer getting a similar deal for McKalla Place?) In exchange, APA committed to help the city improve its live outcome rate by taking animals from the city shelter. If APA was supposed to serve as the city’s key partner, why then has AAC been dealing with constant overcrowding? Part of the answer lies in the fact that APA has been taking in more and more animals from outside of Travis County, including places outside of Texas. As the saying goes, we should put on our own masks first. There's no question we need improvements and better leadership at AAC. But there's a lot more to this story, and I hope the Chronicle will continue to tell it.
Leslie Padilla
Austin, Texas

Keep On Keepin' It Weird

RECEIVED Sun., Feb. 10, 2019

Dear Editor,
    Austin is losing its weird. It seems not a week goes by that some beloved landmark is getting closed down or bulldozed.
    We need to start recognizing especially weird things by giving out yearly awards. How about the "KAWAs" (Keep Austin Weird Awards) or the "WAWAs" (We Are Weird Austin). There could be a bunch given out every year for various people, places, things, unclassifiables, etc., along with a few yearly inductees to the "Weird Hall of Fame." Who should go in first? Maybe Leslie, Eeyore's Birthday Party, or the Cathedral of Junk? Having readers vote yearly would be one way to do it, and maybe a panel of resident weirdos too.
    Yeah, I know you probably groan at the prospect of another "Special Issue" where you have to count ballots, but it seems like the Chronicle is the most logical place for this kind of idea. Seriously, we have to start recognizing that weirdness is good and worth preserving, before it's all normalled away.
Sincerely,
Chris Jones

That Got Dark

RECEIVED Sun., Feb. 10, 2019

Dear Editor,
    Dare I suggest a simple solution to the overcrowded animal center crisis? ["In the Doghouse," News, Feb. 8.] Abandon the no-kill policy! If the center is getting overcrowded, euthanize the animals that have been there the longest or are in the worst health or are most likely to be a danger to people if released or any combination of the above. The city is spending way too much money on animal welfare that could be used instead for public health, police and fire departments, parks, libraries, and other policies that would benefit people. If done humanely, euthanization causes no harm to the animal. It feels no pain when it is killed, and neither does it feel any pain when it is dead, as it is no longer there to feel anything. It is time to stop prioritizing non-human animals over humans.
Bill Meacham

Keep Up the Good Work

RECEIVED Sun., Feb. 10, 2019

Dear Editor,
    Thank you Ms. Hernandez for the important cover page and article about Austin’s difficulties with No Kill ["In the Doghouse," News, Feb. 8]. It’s a complicated and heartbreaking subject. Please continue to be bold and uncensored in your reporting and dig even deeper to keep Austin informed of the many aspects of animal sheltering on a city budget.
Sandra Muller

Tea, Coffee, and Delicate Sweet Treats

RECEIVED Sun., Feb. 10, 2019

Dear Editor,
    As a former member of the Children of the Confederacy's chapter in Austin, I have been disappointed that the plaque was removed, of course ["Racist Confederate Plaque Needs a Forever Home," News, Feb. 1]. Apparently, the reason for its removal was because it stated that the Civil War was fought because of the dispute over states' rights.
    That's exactly what my cousins and I were taught in the organization.
    My cousin and I never remember hearing discussions of slavery or racist remarks. If we had, my grandmother would have walked right out of a Daughters of the Confederacy meeting and pulled her grandchildren out of the children's wing. She had taught us about love and respect for others not meanness and hatred.
    The Children of the Confederacy was a historical preservation and educational organization. As an adult member of the Daughters of the Confederacy I remember the meetings consisting of tea, coffee, and delicate sweet treats after a business meeting and presentation. The women took turns hosting a meeting at their homes and researching and presenting a topic about the people, places and events of the Confederacy.
    In 1987 I took a Civil War class at UT Austin and was taught that slavery wasn't the only reason for the Civil War. Most of those who did the fighting on the South side weren't slaveholders and never would be. They fought for the right to make decisions for their state, a debate that goes on today.
    Slavery is a shameful part of American history and had to stop. I can understand that it would still be painful for those whose ancestors were treated so cruelly. However, does this mean my family should be ashamed of our ancestor who belonged to the Confederacy? He didn't fight against Union soldiers but against American Indians who were raiding Texas settlers while the men were away in the war. He was stationed at a fort in West Texas.
   So, he doesn't fit the stereotypical Confederate image. Is any war or its defenders clear-cut really? Maybe what's needed is more balance.
    I don't think that throwing out our plaques and statues will ever make up for what's been done to black people in this country. However, I can't help but frequently think about the phrase, "History is written by the victors" (unknown author).
Eunice Fisher
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