Oh Screw

Phoenix had to be euthanized today due to her injuries from being set on fire:

Julie Hirsch, a nurse, told Unleashed that Phoenix was going into kidney failure. Her face and rear quarters, where most of the burns were, had swelled considerably and she wasn’t recognizable.

A few hours ago, nurses brought the one-year-old dog outside to be put down. They wanted her to be outside, not in a cage.

Thank goodness for the kindness she was shown at the end of her tragic life. More from Unleashed:

She touched the hearts of everyone that came in contact with her and anyone who heard her story. We can only hope now that someone will come forward so that there can be a conviction on this case.

BARCS has a reward set up called the “Phoenix Reward” where we are collecting money for anyone who can identify the young men responsible for this cruel act of violence. The reward at this time is at $3,000 and most likely will increase over the next few days.

To contribute to the reward fund, visit BARCS and specify your donation is for “Phoenix Reward Fund”. If the reward money goes unclaimed after 6 months, it will be turned over to the Franky Fund which was used to pay for Phoenix’s treatment and will help other homeless pets in need of care in future.

With fume of sweet woods, to the skies,
Pure as a Saint’s adoring sighs,
Warm as a prayer in Paradise,
Her life-breath rose in sacrifice!

– excerpt from “The Phoenix” by George Darley

Washington Co/Johnson City Animal Shelter in TN Kills a Pitbull

Earlier this month, I mentioned this TN shelter which had a Pitbull stolen from it. The perpetrators were caught on surveillance video. Prosecuting that crime went nowhere (shocking, I know) but oddly enough, someone actually turned the dog back in to the shelter on May 15. The man relinquishing the dog said he wasn’t the one who stole him but had obtained him from another man, whose name he did not know. Stay with me now, as we get sucked deeper into the WTF Vortex:

The stocky Joker had lost some weight, and during his 13-day absence, Joker’s demeanor had changed, [Shelter Director Debbie] Dobbs said. While he still exhibited the same friendly attitude toward animal shelter employees and adults he did before he was taken, he returned with an aggressive attitude toward other animals and young children.

OK so in 13 days, the dog had become aggressive toward other pets and kids. If we take that at face value, I guess we could look at it as a rehab challenge. The dog’s needs have now shifted to include behavioral modification with other pets and kids. Obviously this isn’t a lifelong pattern of behavior, just something the dog supposedly picked up at some point over the last 13 days. Doesn’t sound too daunting to attempt to rehab. So what efforts did the shelter make toward this end?

While she noticed no wounds on him or evidence of fighting, Dobbs said Joker’s personality change was likely caused by the breeding of the un-neutered animal. Dobbs said such activity in any breed of dog causes the animal’s testosterone levels to elevate and leads to them becoming much more territorial.

“He definitely wasn’t the calm, happy dog he was when he left,” she said.

Oh dear. Attention male mammals: breeding turns you into a territorial, aggressive beast. There goes all those Father of the Year awards. How did we ever manage to domesticate Man’s Best Friend if the males all turn into aggressive a-holes after breeding?

So what about the rehab for Joker?

Dobbs said Joker was given a couple of days to settle down upon his return, and another temperament evaluation was performed.

This is the rehab? Sitting in a shelter run for a couple days before conducting another eval? And we would expect to see different results why exactly?

This time, however, Joker failed the evaluation.

Joker displayed his new aggressiveness toward children and other dogs, Dobbs said.

Well blow me down. Couldn’t have seen those test results coming a mile away. And by the way, what qualifications did the person conducting the evaluations have? It wasn’t the same person who thinks breeding turns a dog into an aggressive animal I hope.

“I had people who came in here with their children and said he was barking and lunging at the cage with the children, so I said ‘that’s it,’” Dobbs said.

And by “that’s it” of course, she means she killed the dog. On May 20. Five days after he’d been returned.

To recap, for those of you who didn’t have your Stupidity Seatbelts fastened:

Joker was out of the shelter for 13 days. The Director guesses that he was bred during that time which changed him from a friendly dog into an aggressive dog. He was returned to the shelter, evaluated apparently twice (by someone of unspecified qualifications), given no training (at least none mentioned in the article), and killed within 5 days of his return.

Regarding the thieves who stole Joker from the shelter, the Director says:

“Sure, we’d love to prosecute them for stealing, because that is theft,” she said.

Yeah and I’d love to prosecute you for failing to provide shelter for this dog and for using an “evaluation” as an excuse for killing him. Because that is theft. Theft of trust from your community and from this poor dog who had no choice but to trust and rely upon you for care.

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation by a qualified individual as a means to help determine what type of training and home environment is best suited to the dog. A fair evaluation is not a “pass/fail” and is not an excuse for killing. Shelter Fail.

Maybe the Director figured that since Joker had no owner and no one to speak for him, she could just kill him without consequence. The tragic irony being that the Shelter Director herself is supposed to be Joker’s advocate. It is she who is paid to be his voice and protect him from cruelty. And it’s all of us in the community who must hold our fellow citizens accountable for their actions.

Goodbye Joker. I’m sorry we failed you.

Collateral Damage

There seems to be a continuous supply of “Pitbull set on fire” stories in the news. Like most other severe cruelty cases, I try to avoid them. We all have our limits.

But the story of Phoenix, a female Pitbull in Baltimore who was saved when hero police officer Syreeta Teel saw her in flames and put the fire out using a piece of her own clothing, caught my attention:

The Pit Bull was brought to BARCS [Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter]. Despite the severe pain she was in, she wagged her tail and looked for comfort from the BARCS staff members.


She has suffered horrific burns over 95% of her body. The fire stripped the fur and flesh from her small figure.


Phoenix has a long road ahead of her. Her injuries are vast and she is at risk for infection and in severe pain.
There is a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who are responsible for setting fire to the dog in Southwest Baltimore, in the 1700 Block of Calhoun Street, on Wednesday, May 27th. All tips are confidential. Call 410-396-4698 and ask for the Animal Enforcement Officer Supervisor at the Bureau of Animal Control.

I have no idea what motivated the sicko(s) who set this dog on fire. But I got to thinking. Baltimore has a history of BSL (now repealed). And certainly one doesn’t have to look too hard in the MSM to find sensationalized – and sometimes totally inaccurate – stories about Pitbull maulings. Is there a collective price to pay for demonizing an entire breed of dog based upon the actions of a small percentage of irresponsible owners? Phoenix can’t talk of course, but I sure would like to hear her thoughts.

To donate to the Franky Fund which is being used to pay for Phoenix’s care, please click here.

Let’s Play Oddball

I missed out on doing Oddball last week. But do not fear:

Snail Boy (dig the improvised catch-pan!)

5 year old Siberian girl apparently raised as pet

Good pigs – yes biscuit!

I didn’t even know kangaroos could swim, never mind that they needed a lifeguard.

Maybe this lady’s number is written on an Emu restroom wall?

Secrets to long life:

He is a strict vegetarian who moves incredibly slow with a stress-free and peaceful lifestyle[…]

New book explores the “moral nuances” of animals

What’s Going on at the Lyon Co Animal Shelter?

Dog owners in Nevada redeemed their dog Maui from the Lyon Co Animal Shelter in December 2008 and found he was injured. Maui had been in a run with 3 Pitbulls. From there, things get a little confusing as everybody involved tries to dodge responsibility. The Deputy who impounded the dog says he followed protocol (one dog per kennel) and placed Maui in a run by himself. He says the dog was happy and healthy at the time of impound. The county manager has his own version of events:

Lyon County Manager Dennis Stark claims shelter works had no hand in which kennel the Storey County Deputy placed Maui in. Stark also says, Maui may have been injured before he even got to the shelter since the Storey County incident report states Maui was was picked up for aggressive behavior. Regardless if maui was injured before he got to the shelter or while he was there, it appears Lyon County violated its own policies. According to Lyon County Animal Services Policy and Procedures, the shelter should have provided medical treatment to Maui.

Not only that, but someone violated the “one dog to a run” policy when they put the second Pitbull in with the first. And again when someone put the third Pitbull in with those two. But they prolly don’t have owners and so there is no one to speak for them. And anyway they’re just Pitbulls so who cares, I guess. Maui’s owners have filed a claim for the $1600 Vet bill incurred pursuant to the dog’s injuries. Mr. Stark denied the claim. They are pursuing further action.

Apparently these violations are not isolated incidents at the shelter but rather part of a pattern of abuse. An emergency meeting was recently called to discuss the shelter situation:

Many concerned Lyon County citizens say the shelter operations are not up to standards. “They need help. They don’t have water, they don’t have food, they don’t have shelter or they’re being beat. there’s a number of things I’ve seen and we won’t even go into detail.” That’s according to Nonie Higley, a former animal control officer.

Even local law enforcement agencies like the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department have reported a lack of cooperation and assistance from Lyon County Animal Control.


Now,the board will make recommendations and report to the county commissioners to address shelter problems.

Now, it’s up to Lyon County commissioners to make a decision for action and set policy regarding shelter operations.

Dennis Stark, the county manager, is the one to put that policy in place. [emphasis mine]

Sort of a HopeKill there, ain’t it?

Please Don’t Say…

Things that make my ears melt:

“Don’t buy while shelter pets die” – If you or I or anyone buys a dog, that does NOT – I repeat NOT, not no way, not no how – condemn a shelter dog to death. It’s a bit of propaganda (pdf alert) used by extremists to make people feel guilty for making informed decisions and exercising personal freedoms responsibly.

“Don’t breed while shelter pets die” – Responsible breeders sell dogs with an agreement that they will take the dog back if necessary at any point in the dog’s life. Consequently, responsible breeders do not contribute the shelter population. Responsible breeders do contribute to rescue efforts for the breeds they produce – by donations, fostering, referrals, or some other means. Again, the idea that all breeders are the same and they are all bad is just another bit of propaganda.

“Pet overpopulation is the main problem facing pets in this country” – There is no such thing as pet overpopulation in the US. We have enough homes for every shelter pet in the country. Where we fall short is not in the number of pets as compared to number of homes wanting pets – it’s in the community as a whole. We need trap-neuter-release programs for feral cats, low/no cost spay-neuter clinics, and well run shelters which care for pets humanely and actively work to seek homes for those pets, even if it means going outside the local area and thinking outside the box. Especially then, actually.

“Unwanted shelter pets are euthanized to make room for more” – This is a double whammy for me. First, ending a life is only a kindness in my opinion if it prevents further suffering in a medically hopeless pet and is performed using the most humane method available by a Veterinarian. That is euthanasia. Ending the lives of healthy/treatable pets to make room for more is killing.

Second, killing adoptable pets to make room for more adoptable pets who will be killed shortly thereafter in order to make room for more… What kind of sick logic must one employ in order to think that is a good idea? Raise your hand if you think “animal shelter” means “pet slaughterhouse” (not you PETA, put your paws down, I’m not calling on you).

Here’s my radical thinking: Shelters should work as hard as they can at finding homes for the pets in their care. Shelter staff should work as if they’re getting paid to do it. Cos they are. And because anything less than making their absolute best efforts toward getting adoptable pets into homes greatly increases the likelihood that pets in their care will be killed. No one wants that. (I said hands down PETA!)

Need more motivation? Check out this presentation by Maddie’s Fund (pdf link at bottom of page) that states we can save every adoptable pet in the United States by 2015. Heck if we can save 100% of the healthy/treatable pets in shelters by 2015, we can surely save more than we are now, starting today. So even if you don’t believe we can get to a 100% save rate this year, why not try for something close? Or if that seems too far off, how about simply trying for a significant improvement? If your shelter currently has a 20% save rate, aim for 60%, starting today.

Enlist your community in implementing the No Kill Equation. Ask for help. People want to help save shelter pets. No matter what you’ve heard.

Treats on the Internets

Stats on shelter dogs – Who and why

Maddie’s Fund has a dl’able coloring book for kids age 6 and under

Nutro recalls dry cat foods

A Vick article apparently intended solely to inflame Pitbull owners

The Dogs of Equality – pet slideshow by Christie Keith

Denver’s Pitbull ban will be challenged in court, again.

WSB-TV’s Segment on HSUS: "Shoddy Reporting"?

A week and a half ago, WSB-TV Atlanta posted a story from their newscast investigating HSUS donations but removed both the text article and video shortly thereafter. Google’s cache of the page was swiftly burned as well. Over the course of the following week, the video repeatedly popped up on a number of websites only to be quickly taken down due to “copyright violation”. If in fact WSB-TV is truly concerned about copyright violations, why have they done nothing about the hundreds of other video segments from their news program posted on YouTube? Some of them have been up there for years and yet the HSUS video, whether it was posted on YouTube or elsewhere, was removed very shortly after posting each time it appeared. Finding the video before it was taken down became like a game of whack-a-mole.

This curious game led to speculation on the reasons behind the frantic action to snuff the report. Some have wondered if the possibility that the report calls into question the 501(c)3 status of the HSUS is the reason. Another guess came from a reader named Hillary who stated she works for HSUS. She left a comment on my blog which reads, in part:

WSB-TV has issued a correction and removed the story from its web site. Consider that this news station has lawyers to determine when and if they’re at fault for shoddy reporting. They don’t simply pull a story at the first sign of disagreement; in fact, they’re probably thrilled when a story gets as much attention as the one about HSUS has.

First, the “correction” referred to is a “clarification” which reads as follows:

We have a clarification to make about our story on the Humane Society of the United States. WSB-TV reported that HSUS spent almost $7 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina. HSUS says all $34 million of the funds raised in the wake of Katrina are tracked on its web site in a detailed report. If you would like to see their entire report, CLICK HERE.

This hardly sounds like a reporter backing off a story. To me, it sounds like the station wants us to know that they say X and HSUS says Y and if we want to check the figures for ourselves, we can visit the HSUS website. Fair enough.

Second, to imply that WSB-TV lawyers initiated a takedown of the report because it was total bunk is to assume that the station and the investigative reporter do not stand behind the story. Let’s be clear: To my knowledge, there has been no statement from either Ms. Amanda Rosseter (the reporter) or WSB-TV indicating they do not stand behind the reporting in the HSUS piece. Therefore unless and until I hear otherwise, I absolutely defend the journalistic integrity of the piece and make no assumptions to the contrary. The fact is that we don’t know for certain why the video keeps being removed from the net (claims of “copyright violation” notwithstanding) but to my mind there is no reason to assume it’s due to “shoddy reporting”.

The good news is that the video is available for download as a torrent here. (Simple explanation of what a torrent is, here.) And a transcript of the video is posted on PetPAC’s site. Video posted for viewing here and here. There’s a wmv available here.

AZ: Pitbull Rescue Fail

From CBS news in Phoenix:

Dozens of dogs and puppies, mostly pit bulls, are being pulled from a New River home by Valley rescue groups.
Rescuers said many of the animals had only green or brown water to drink, and two were so badly hurt they died from their injuries.
The man who was supposed to be caring for the dogs was a volunteer foster parent for one of the rescue groups.
Rescuers said several of the dogs had gotten into a fight and were bleeding. One dog died before they got to the property this weekend.
Another was taken to the hospital, but her injuries were too severe and she died late Monday afternoon. Two others were deemed vicious and had to be put down.

Well suck, suck and double-suck.

Mangano [who sent the dogs to this “foster parent”] added she may need to start a better screening process for potential foster parents in the future to make sure the animals go to good homes.

Oh, ya think?

Indianapolis BSL "Tabled" but Still Kicking

As I blogged last month, Indy was considering a bill discriminating against Pitbulls and low income owners. Council member Mike Speedy has a letter to the editor in the IndyStar which begins:

I continue to work diligently on the now-tabled At-Risk Dog proposal because the risk of being mauled or killed by a dog in our city is unacceptable.

Using this logic, one must ask why Mr. Speedy is not working just as diligently on proposals to counter the risks of being in a car wreck or getting hurt at work for example. Or are those risks acceptable in Indianapolis? Here’s the thing: In a free society, there are risks. There are people who behave irresponsibly out of malice or ignorance. Then there are accidents – some preventable, others less so. And there are unfortunate victims as a consequence of all these factors.

Mr. Speedy would possibly have us look at which models of cars are involved in a portion of accidents and which occupations represent a statistical hazard for injury. Those cars and jobs could then be banned. Would that solve anything? Would irresponsible owners of these certain cars be magically transformed into responsible citizens and behave as such with their new cars? Would supervisors and workers be instantly educated on job safety and perform differently at their new jobs just because their previous jobs were banned?

It makes no sense. Banning a breed does nothing to educate or reform owners any more than banning a car or job would affect behavior. And accidents will still happen, although through education, we can work to reduce the preventable ones.

BSL doesn’t work. It never has, anywhere it’s been tried. Instead of forcing Indy on board the Fail Train, why not try something proven like enforcing leash laws and educating the public? Rally the community. Save some lives – human and canine. Make Indianapolis safer and more humane. Anything wrong with that?