Amarillo City Council - October 24, 2017

My name is Larry Milam; I am located at 3501 S Osage St and I am the Executive Director of the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society. I am here tonight to address the animal overpopulation epidemic that plagues our community. 

Tonight, APHS officially unveils its comprehensive solution for achieving 90% survival at the animal shelter; your copies have been placed with the City Secretary. The plan has been thoroughly vetted and approved by the National ASPCA. 

The plan is based on three strategic principles:

  1. Intake Reduction
  2. Live Release
  3. Capacity for Care

My remarks tonight will focus on the first two principles. 

Intake Reduction means reducing the number of animals coming to the shelter. The foundation for our plan is the establishment of a reduced cost spay/neuter clinic that is open to all Panhandle citizens. As has been proven repeatedly, reducing the capacity for reproduction is essential to population control. Therefore, APHS is prepared to assume all financial and operational risk associated with establishing the clinic. 

Live Release means increasing the number of animals leaving the shelter, alive. Last year APHS processed 2,622 adoptions and sent 4,172 animals to rescues around the country. However, over 3,000 animals did not leave the shelter alive. The objective of this plan is to drive down the number of animals euthanized to as near zero as humanly possible. 

Funding for our plan, comes from a variety of sources with the most important source being a 90 cents per month voluntary fee added to city water bills. Let me say that again: a 90 cent per month voluntary fee added to city water bills. This approach is currently in use by at least 18 Texas municipalities. 

The philosophical basis for our plan can be found in the scriptures: "And God said, Let Us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

Implicit in this passage is the requirement of stewardship imposed upon man by God. The needless killing of God's creatures is not compatible with this passage. And I know a bit about what I speak. 

As a soldier I was trained to use the weapons of destruction. But I was also trained not to use these weapons against those who posed no danger to myself or my colleagues. This has a very personal meaning for me. 

While in a convoy in Najaf, Iraq, we were approached by a young man riding a motorcycle and firing a pistol at us. Our gunner, upon realizing what was happening, traversed the .50 caliber machine gun he was manning to engage the threat. From my position I could plainly see that the crowd lining the street was in the line of fire and that countless numbers of people would lose their lives if our gunner engaged; apparently the gunner saw the same thing as I because he did not pull the trigger. Instead, he pointed the barrel of the big gun directly at the young man and motioned for him to move away. Realizing that he was about to die, the young man peeled off and rode away, probably to engage us another day. 

Make no mistake, it was easier for our gunner to simply pull the trigger rather than to hold his fire. But, in the words of the West Point Cadet Prayer, he chose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Words cannot adequately describe the admiration I bear for this U.S. soldier for having the courage to choose life over death. 

I can tell you for sure that death should never be easy because living is hard work. In order to survive, one must plan their work and work their plan; to die, one need only surrender. 

I affirm to you tonight that there is no quit at APHS and that we will not rest until every one of God's creatures that can be saved, is saved. We choose life over death and ask that you join us in that fight. 

We call our plan, 90-four-90: 90% survival rate within 4 years for 90 cents. We intend to put Amarillo on the national map as the community that transformed itself. Only a few years ago, Amarillo made the national news as the community where death lived: approximately 90% of shelter animals were euthanized. We now have the opportunity to become the community with a 90% survival rate. Simply put, Amarillo can be the city that demonstrated its will to put life before death; to choose the harder right over the easier wrong. 

Thank you for your time, attention and support for this worthwhile endeavor. 

APHS has established a GoFundMe page and are accepting donations for the spay/neuter clinic: search 90-Four-90 or use this link: https://www.gofundme.com/aphs90four90