I Has a Cute

I used to volunteer at the NE Aquarium in Boston. We had only male sea lions so I never got to see a baby. Obviously I missed out.

Cleveland Co Animal Control Sux

A kitten in NC was recently rescued from a storm drain by AC:

Little “Lucky” will never realize how fortunate he really is.

Right. Because he’s dead.

Backstory: After getting the kitten out the drain, AC slated him for death because of a bass-akwards policy which mandates the killing of any stray without proof of Rabies vaccine. That would mean definite death for “Lucky” who wouldn’t be old enough to get a Rabies vaccine, even if he had an owner. And obviously most strays aren’t carrying their proof of Rabies vaccines in their purses when picked up by AC. I guess that explains these sad stats:

Cleveland County Animal Control’s annual report for 2007 through 2008 reads that out of 6,750 animals at the shelter, 6,249 were euthanized.

According to that report, nine animals were adopted from the shelter and seven were adopted by the [Cleveland County] Humane Society. While the numbers are low, Lockridge said animal vaccinations and the county’s high rate of rabies are part of the reason.

Because of the publicity Lucky’s rescue received, there was a public outcry over the idea that he would be killed. Authorities relented and granted him a six month stay in quarantine at the Cleveland Co Humane Society (CCHS). But Lucky never made it out of AC. He apparently became ill and was left to suffer in his cage until the President of CCHS came to pick him up:

“He was curled up in a box, kind of lifeless,” Mebane said, describing Lucky. “That poor kitten was just left there in a cage, all alone, dying. No animal should have to lay there, left to die. We went straight to the vet and he died at the clinic.”

The vet that examined the kitten found him to be dehydrated, with white gums and a dangerously low body temperature.

[…]

“He was so weak that he could barely stand up on his own,” [Veterinarian Deanna] Moseley said. The kitten went into respiratory arrest and died.”

Since it presumably took several days for the kitten’s condition to deteriorate so badly, I would think someone would be held accountable. But it looks like all the locals involved are expert players at passing the buck:

Moseley conceded the county is limited in what they can provide to animals taken into the shelter.

Mebane agrees.

“It’s unfortunate that animal control isn’t set up to provide veterinary care,” she said. “It’s not their protocol.”

Sam Lockridge of Cleveland County Animal Control was unable to be reached for comment.

Moseley coined Lucky a “survivor,” but noted his story is just another scenario that happens locally on a daily basis.

No one person or group in particular is responsible for Lucky’s death, Moseley said.

So I guess that’s that. No harm, no foul. Unless you mean Lucky, or any of the other 6249 pets killed by Cleveland Co Animal Control in recent years. In which case: meh.

Added, 7-22-09: The Rabies vaccine policy mentioned with regards to Lucky:

“Policy will not allow us to sell someone a stray, unvaccinated animal,” said Sam Lockridge, coordinator of health services with the Cleveland County Health Department.

Case Update: Walker Co Humane Society in AL

Couple of updates:

No gag order has been imposed in the Boost case but the surveillance videos I linked to previously have been removed. Thankfully we still have access to the truth here and here.

You’re so lame, you probably think this blog is about you.

Someone who didn’t pass creative writing in high school has made herself up a webbysite:

Walker County Law is a site dedicated to featuring attorneys located in Jasper, Alabama in Walker County, Alabama. Attorneys featured on this page are here because they have performed outstanding or noteworthy deeds in the recent past.

The attorneyS featured on the site amount to a grand total of one – the attorney representing Boost’s owner. I think the page intends to discredit the attorney and his client. Hard to tell from the jumbled mess o’ words (I’m still trying to work out “the Imoral Boost”). But what’s really a funny coincidence is the page is a twin of looks kinda pretty much exactly like the Walker Co Humane Society website. I assume only high level staff have access to the shelter’s web design. What are the odds, ya know?

HSUS Advises Shelters How to Kill

HSUS has a pdf for shelters titled “Selecting Animals for Euthanasia”. It details 4 pages worth of guidelines. Let me repeat that: Four pages of guidelines on selecting shelter pets for death. On the plus side, I found a sentiment I can support:

Although euthanasia decisions should never be completely without subjective opinions and the ability to make choices based on individual animals, written guidelines provide some parameters for employees to work within.

As for minuses, there are many. HSUS lists the following as factors in euthanasia consideration:

Animals who are very young when they arrive at a shelter may not receive much needed developmental experiences and may not have the ability to fight off diseases that can exist in a multi-animal environment like a shelter.

So maybe it would be best to kill them? Alternate plan: shelter foster program.

For liability as well as ethical reasons, most animal shelters euthanize any animal who exhibits aggressive or dangerous behavior.

Aggressive behavior as determined by whom – the people doing the killing? Alternate plan: Attempt to retrain the pet under the guidance of a qualified individual or seek a sanctuary appropriate for long term care.

Non-aggressive behaviors, such as fearful actions or demeanor, destructiveness, or housetraining difficulties, can be a barrier to an animal staying in a lifelong home. These behaviors should be diagnosed to determine severity and should be discussed with potential adopters if an attempt is made to place the animal. There is no benefit to adopting out an animal who will just be returned to the shelter or resigned to a worse fate (i.e. a cat put outside because he doesn’t use the litterbox).

A cat who isn’t consistently using his litterbox in his cage at the shelter might be better off dead? Alternate plan: Place the pet up for adoption, offer litterbox counseling and ongoing support. Cat owners are pretty capable and so are cats. Maybe we could give everyone the benefit of a doubt before we start killing.

When determining adoption or euthanasia policies regarding certain breeds, it is important to evaluate your community for dogfighting-related activity and to ascertain which types of animals or breeds may be at risk for involvement.

The shelter staff is supposed to evaluate their community for “dogfighting-related activity” and decide if certain “types of animals or breeds” should be killed based upon this? I’m not at all sure shelter staff is qualified to make this type of assessment of their community. I suppose the potential for activity related to dogfighting (which is what, exactly?) might arguably exist in any community. How is that a justification for killing certain dogs? Alternate plan: Screen adopters appropriately and provide follow up support.

Animals who have been ordered for euthanasia at the direction of a judge, hearing officer, or other public official with such authority. [Euthanasia] is performed to comply with this ruling.

They left out the part about how the HSUS has historically wielded all possible influence to obtain those court orders for killing in the case of dogfighting seizures. Alternate plan: Use your powers for good, not evil.

Animals who are extremely shy, timid, high-strung, stressed, or distressed. [Euthanasia] is generally necessary due to an unlikely chance for successful adoption and/or adjustment into a new home.

Many pets in shelters are understandably stressed and not exhibiting their normal behavior. So it might be “necessary” to kill them instead of adopting them out and giving them a chance to live a normal life in a home? Seriously? Alternate plan: Get these pets into homes with normal people.

These guidelines indicate a 1999 copyright. Time for an update perhaps?

I am thankful for the option of euthanasia to end the suffering of medically hopeless pets. Killing healthy/treatable pets in shelters is not euthanasia to me. It’s just killing. And it can’t be rationalized, justified or guidelined – no matter how many pages HSUS devotes to it.

We are a no kill nation of pet owners who want shelter pets to be given every reasonable chance at adoption. We are the real humane society. Join us.

Update, 7-21-09: I received a tweet yesterday from someone apparently affiliated with HSUS thanking me for bringing this doc to their attention and stating it was outdated and they removed it. They haven’t removed it as of this morning. I requested a link to the current version of the doc but haven’t received a reply. Will update if any response is received.

Let’s Play Oddball

Pet themed towel holders: thanks, but I’ll pass

Ever look at an elephant and think, “I could totally take him in an eating contest“? Me neither.

I love bunnies too but this lady has a problem.

Boy in China can see purrfectly in the dark

Fairy Penguins get sniper protection in Sydney

Dog: Do not eat

Panda elephants

Rescued budgie had seaworthy ambitions

Adult version of “The dog ate my homework

Fat pet rabbit wants to watch her stories

Little mama dog nurses baby red pandas

The Tigers Come at Night

Nathan Winograd dreamed a good dream about a statement from HSUS regarding the current multi-state bust dogs:

The Humane Society of the United States wants to assure everyone concerned over the fate of these dogs that we are doing everything in our power to provide unconditional love and the best care possible for the victims of these crimes. Their welfare is our utmost concern, and every action we take on their behalf will be guided by compassion for their plight, respect for the lives, and an unwavering commitment to ensuring we find them a safe, loving environment, in which to spend the rest of their lives. We know that rescue groups often have stretched resources. We know that shelters, like the Humane Society of Missouri, also have to care for the daily influx of dogs and cats in their shelter. So as the nation’s largest, richest, and most powerful animal protection organization, we are stepping up to the plate. If any rescue groups have the capacity to help, we’ll welcome it. But rest assured: we will not allow a single one of these dogs to lose their lives. However long it takes, however much it costs, we will save all the puppies. We will save all the dogs. And if any are aggressive, we will undertake a comprehensive rehabilitation. That is our pledge to them. And that is our pledge to you.

Maybe someday that dream will come true. I don’t know but I’m open to the possibility. I would love it if it came true today for these dogs and for all the dogs seized in cases that haven’t gotten so much media attention. They are not forgotten.

As I’ve said before, once HSUS has saved as many bust dogs as they’ve killed in the past, I’ll consider them at zero. They will have, at that point, earned an opportunity to start the pendulum swinging in a positive direction. Right now though, they are in the hole. Deep. And talk is cheap.

[Note: Title is a lyric from “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables]

Boost Video

The Walker Co Humane Society Shelter Director kills friendly dogs and then lies to cover it up.

Surveillance video from the shelter documents the last minutes of the life of a friendly Boxer named Boost who was killed at the Walker Co Humane Society in May 2009. There is a view from the parking lot of Boost being taken out of a carrier, a view from the shelter lobby of him being walked inside, and a view of his dead body being wheeled out the back door in a shopping cart.

Boost’s owner has filed a civil case against the lying Shelter Director. The Shelter Director’s attorney is trying to obtain a gag order in the case to prevent Boost’s owner from telling his story and to get the video proof removed from the web.

Not so fast.

Thank you to my friend John Sibley for editing together this video and helping to get the truth out to the public.

Tech notes: Embed code appears at end of vid. Size of the vid can be adjusted by changing the height/width numbers in the embed code. Keep same proportion for best results. (IOW reduce or increase both numbers by the same factor.)

Case Update: Walker Co Humane Society in AL

You know how sometimes, whatever the reason, you come across something that leaves you feeling like you’ve been kicked in the chest?

You may remember the story of Boost, the Boxer who got loose and was turned in to the local shelter by good Samaritans in Walker County, AL. The shelter director killed him immediately and so the owner’s heart was broken when he showed up promptly to redeem his pet. The shelter director’s justification for the killing:

“The dog would not come out of the carrier so we had to use a capture pole. That is when he became aggressive.”

She further hinted that Boost tried to bite someone at the shelter.

Lies, damn lies and lying shelter directors who kill dogs:

  • Surveillance video from the parking lot shows Boost being taken out of the crate. (about 1:00 mark)
  • Surveillance video from the shelter lobby shows Boost being brought into the shelter (about 1:00 mark)
  • Surveillance video from the shelter kennel area – well it shows a shelter worker pushing a shopping cart containing a trash bag out the back door before turning out the lights for the day. [Insert run of curse words here.]

The video seems to confirm what the couple who turned Boost in to the shelter claimed – that he was not aggressive and no catchpole was used. It also might confirm my suspicion that the dog was brought in near the end of the day and the shelter director didn’t feel like doing her job so she killed the dog instead of making a space for him. And then made up a story to cover her lying ass when the owner showed up to redeem his pet.

There is a legal case regarding this matter which I will continue to follow with interest. In the meantime, I can’t help but wonder how many friendly dogs this shelter director is killing today. Or yesterday. Or tomorrow…

Treats on the Internets

NY cat owner attributes pet’s death to Nutro food

Dogs get your point

Ferris, TX Animal Control directed to kill, kill, kill

Cats and their whore-purr

Pet supplements: Buyer beware

Nathan Winograd explains why the rescued Pitbulls from the recent multi-state dogfighting bust deserve more than death

Veterinarian Q & A on canine influenza

Salt Lake Co Animal Services launches Bully Breed program in an effort to reduce killing at its shelter:

76 percent of all adoptable dogs that must be euthanized [at Salt Lake Co Animal Services] are pit bulls.

What’s Going on at the Putnam Humane Society?

The Putnam Humane Society (PHS) in Carmel, NY has a sign on their building which reads “Kindness, Justice and Mercy to all Living Creatures”. The shelter has been dealing with a legal battle regarding a dog named Hunkie whom the shelter Board voted to euthanize after two biting incidents. A shelter volunteer has taken legal action to adopt Hunkie in an effort to rehab the dog under a strict set of ground rules. The case is awaiting a ruling from a judge I think but it does bring to mind questions about whether the dog came to the shelter with aggression issues or developed them during his time at the shelter. I don’t know the answer but it would be interesting to find out in light of another report from the same shelter regarding additional dogs with aggression issues.

In this case, the shelter requested a comprehensive shelter evaluation from Cornell University’s Shelter Medicine Program. Among the report’s findings:

  • The organization’s by-laws and mission statement have failed to adequately define its “No-Kill” policy.
  • The shelter does not currently have definitions and guidelines for determining which animals are adoptable and unadoptable.
  • There is no formal behavioral assessment for dogs.
  • The shelter keeps dogs with severe behavior problems for prolonged periods of time.

Among the recommendations for the shelter, many are about killing pets:

  • [E]uthanasia will still be necessary for humane reasons for animals with terminal illnesses, severe behavior problems, or who pose a threat to the safety and/or health of people or other animals.
  • It is inhumane for shelters to refuse to euthanize an animal because of a “no-kill” policy if they do not have the resources available to provide appropriate treatment and ensure a good quality of life.
  • Adopt specific protocols to keep the number of unadoptable dogs entering the shelter to a minimum. (For strays: Unadoptable dogs should be euthanized following any legally required holding period[.] For owner-surrenders: Unadoptable dogs should not be accepted by the shelter.
  • Animals with the following conditions should not be accepted by PHS for placement. (List includes dogs with history of resource guarding, high prey drive, bite history to humans, and animals with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes)
  • Euthanasia is indicated for the following animals: (List includes dogs adopted and returned for aggression, dogs with history of aggression, resource guarding, high prey drive, and bite history)

Detailed instructions for killing aggressive dogs follow. There are also a number of pages in the report devoted to breaking up dog fights.

These recommendations are puzzling to me in that, to my mind, they reflect a philosophy the opposite of no kill. In fact, they seem far more in line with the antiquated thinking which has resulted in society becoming accustomed to the killing of healthy/treatable pets as the norm. That is, the wrong thinking which those committed to no kill strive to overcome.

As disturbing as it is to read recommendations made in a general sense, it becomes downright tragic when the report gets into specifics on the dogs at PHS:

  • Thirty-seven of the 47 dogs being housed at PHS during our visit had been there longer than one year. Of these, twenty-seven dogs had been housed for longer than two years, and 15 dogs had been housed for longer than 5 years.
  • The behaviors observed during our visit indicate poor welfare of many of the dogs housed at PHS.

Eight dogs are cited as exhibiting abnormal, repetitive behaviors such as severe spinning and another eight are characterized as extremely fearful/aggressive. One wonders how these dogs got to this unfortunate state. The report seems to answer that question by detailing how the dogs live their lives, day in and day out, year after year at the shelter (I’m paraphrasing this section):

  • 17 hours a day in a 6′ X 4′ run with almost no human interaction, 15 of those hours in total darkness
  • 7 hours a day in outdoor pens with some, but not all, dogs receiving occasional human interaction such as a walk
  • Behavioral enrichment and aerobic exercise: little to none
  • Most dogs can see other dogs at all times which increases stress
  • The high anxiety and abnormal behavior displayed by the long term residents negatively impacts new arrivals and is particularly hard on small dogs, perpetuating a cycle of stressed out dogs

Obviously this shelter is not set up as a sanctuary where dogs can live for years, having their daily needs for exercise and human interaction met. It’s designed as short term housing for dogs on their way to foster homes, permanent homes, rescue or sanctuary. And yet these dogs not only don’t seem to be going anywhere, they seem to be going crazy. The report’s recommendations for all these dogs with behavioral issues seems to be: Accept no responsibility for how these dogs got to this point and just give up:

  • Behavior modification is unrealistic and inappropriate for the severity and duration of aggression exhibited by many of the dogs housed at PHS.

Couldn’t we at least try? Bloody hell, aren’t these dogs owed at least that much? There have been many dogs, notably the Vick dogs but others too, who have received substandard and/or abusive treatment for years and, when given an opportunity to live a normal life, take to it quite well. Why recommend the shelter give up on these dogs when it appears that the shelter has at least played a role in developing the behaviors? Perhaps an answer, from the report:

  • These dogs compromise the shelter’s reputation and public image.

21 dogs are designated as having a bite history. I don’t know how the bite history was determined for all these dogs but it doesn’t appear clear that the individual dogs have each had an opportunity to be evaluated by a canine behaviorist. Presumably a behaviorist would make recommendations for behavior modification and a program implemented with periodic re-evaluations made on a case-by-case basis. I see no evidence of that. In other words, I see no documented efforts of any kind to help these dogs. The report basically states that any such efforts would fail and “disposition decisions” need to be made for these dogs. And I say, if that’s your attitude, why are you involved in no kill?

I don’t know what has happened or will happen to the poor dogs described in this report. There has been a recent change in the Board but I don’t know what, if any, effects this change will have. In the meantime, I will be keeping a good thought for “Kindness, Justice and Mercy to all Living Creatures” at the Putnam Humane Society.