Memphis Animal Shelter Claims Another Victim

The lethal Memphis Animal Shelter added another sad story to its archives this week:

Rita Leone picked out a 10-month old Golden Retriever mix at the shelter December 26.

“He was very sweet, very friendly easy-going, calm dog,” said Leone.

But when she showed up, cash in hand to take him home this morning, he was gone.

“I went to the cage,” said Leone. “The door was open, no dog, the bed was flipped over, I said ‘Oh my God!'”

Her dog had mistakenly been euthanized.

“I said what you did was wrong unacceptable, you have enough dogs in here that are homeless nobody wants. I’m willing to adopt this dog and you euthanize it?” said Leone.

Or, put another way, “You have enough unadopted dogs here to sate your thirst for killing and yet you gotta kill mine too?”

This poor dog who, for whatever reason, had an unlucky start in life, was fortunate enough to be adopted from a torture hole masquerading as a shelter. This should have been his best day ever. Instead, the shelter killed him.

I say again: This place needs to clean house and toss every employee who was not a whistleblower out on their asses. To quote Tiger: Huge.

Paws Up for Gwinnett Co Jail in GA

This is exactly the kind of program we need in the South:

With a sharp decline in inmate population over the past month, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway plans to devote a portion of the county jail to save dogs’ lives.

The jail will serve as a foster home for the Society of Humane Friends, a licensed pet rescue agency.

With six open housing units that can accommodate up to 72 inmates, the sheriff is devoting one ground unit to the program. He will assign a dog to each of the 10 inmates in the unit.

The dogs will have access to a fenced grassy area for exercise, Conway said, and trainers will come in to work with the inmates on grooming and training the animals. The program will begin as soon as he puts up the fence.

Yes, yes, yes! More proof that each of us can do a little something. And when we do, it adds up to a big something.

Ten dogs is not that big of a deal in terms of jail space, Conway said, adding that he is keeping 20 rescued dogs at his home.

No county money will be spent, and the Society of Humane Friends has already agreed to donate food and veterinary care, he said.

“I’m committed to either paying for it out of my pocket or through donations,” Conway said. “This is great for the inmates. It will socialize the inmates as well as the dogs.”

Dennis Kronenfeld, president of the local chapter of the Society of Humane Friends, said the program is already in correctional facilities in 17 states.

Everybody wins.

Thanks to reader Valerie for mentioning this story to me.

Kitteh Vids

I’m not a huge consumer of videos so I miss a lot but wanted to share these two:

Cat bowl
Tickle Me Kitten

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

I know it’s customary to review the year, or in this case the decade, at the end but I’m not really a look-backer. Suffice to say that I hope every year is better than the last and ultimately I guess I see them as being that way either on their own merits or out of an abundance of optimism.

I hope we can save more pets in need in 2010 and I hope that fewer pets need saving. I hope more shelter workers embrace the idea of sheltering and trample the idea of killing underfoot. I hope owners who keep their dogs chained 24/7 make a space in the laundry room with a cozy old blanket for their dogs to come in at night and during bad weather. I hope every dog gets more walks and every cat gets more lap time. I hope more people get to experience the special bond between humans and pets. I hope we all have enough to eat and that we share our healthy table scraps with our pets. I hope the sick can be well again or at least have their spirits lifted by a shaggy head resting on the side of the bed. I hope we can love unconditionally, judge less and understand more.

I think 2010 is going to be the best year ever.

*Title quote attributed to Oscar Wilde.

Dinner at Chez Dog

OK I made this awhile back and never dl’d the photo off the camera so here’s what I think I put in this dish:

  • Manicotti stuffed with ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and carrots that had been put through the food processor, topped with shredded fresh mozzarella
  • Roma tomatoes, olive oil, and italian seasoning

It was my usual use-all-leftover-bits type meal and I remember I needed to use the manicotti because I was emptying the weevil cupboard.

Survivor: N. Augusta

I’ve got an idea for a reality TV show: Let’s leave kids home alone with a dog and see what happens. It’s already going on, so why not film the fun?

A pit bull attacked a 5-year old girl in the backyard of a North Augusta [South Carolina] home Monday, sending her to a local hospital.

if (self[‘plpm’] && plpm[‘Mid-Story Ad’]) document.write(‘

‘);if (self[‘plpm’] && plpm[‘Mid-Story Ad’]){ document.write(plpm[‘Mid-Story Ad’]);} else { if(self[‘plurp’] && plurp[’97’]){} else {document.write(”); } }if (self[‘plpm’] && plpm[‘Mid-Story Ad’]) document.write(‘


It happened on the 200 block of Ashley Circle in North Augusta while the girl was playing in the backyard with the pit bull dog, when things turned violent.

The girl’s 10-year-old step brother went outside and hit the dog multiple times trying to get the dog off the girl, but it didn’t work.

When it didn’t work, he went inside and grabbed a knife before coming outside and stabbing the dog multiple times in the back, according to Sgt. Dave Myers from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

The dog didn’t come off the girl, so the boy went next door to Ricardo Hill’s home to get help.

“The boy next door told me the kid was attacking his sister,” Hill said. “So when I got over there the pit bull was on top of the baby. So my first instinct was to get him off so I got a folding chair and hit him.”

The dog then let go of the young girl’s neck and ran out into the street bleeding, Hill said.

From another story on the incident:

The two were at the home on Ashley Circle and briefly without adult supervision when the attack occurred, deputies said. The adult at the residence had gone to the store, [Sgt. Dave] Myers said.


Officials said the girl is recovering and doing well.

The dog was picked up by Aiken County Animal Control.

At this time, the animal has not been put down, according to officials.

I can’t wait to see what happens in next week’s episode!

Worth repeating: Unsupervised kids=bad. Unsupervised kids + dog=also bad.

Garland Animal Shelter Gives Up Gas Chamber

Garland, Texas has an animal “shelter” that kills a lot of pets. Sometimes they admit pets directly into the gas chamber which is the killing method they prefer, since it saves 4 pennies per dead pet. There has been a struggle between the shelter and community to get rid of the gas chamber. The community has now gotten its wish and a local newspaper columnist is less than enthused:

Starting Friday, lethal injection will replace carbon-monoxide gas as the city’s primary method of euthanasia.
But what a lousy victory. Because either way, almost 6,000 dogs and cats, puppies and kittens will still end up dead and in the city’s garbage dump this year.

Right. That sucks. And while we can be happy that the gas chamber will no longer be used as the primary killing method, what we need to focus on now is how to decrease the killing. At least with the gas chamber issue resolved, we don’t have to be continually sidetracked with the tired old arguments about how the AVMA hearts gas chambers.

Contrary to misimpressions you may have gotten, Garland has always been using a euthanasia method fully endorsed and approved as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Oh geez.

In fact, as I talked to Garland city officials about this situation, they seemed eager for me to actually witness the gas-euthanasia process. And so I did.

Mention of carbon-monoxide euthanasia creates images of a crude hose-and-tailpipe contraption. In fact, the city uses a commercially built system – a stainless-steel box about five feet on each side, attached to industrial-type bottles of CO.

Oh well I didn’t realize it was a commercially made gas chamber. That sounds lovely. Does it sparkle?

Animals are placed in separate cages (up to four at a time) and rolled into the box. I watched as a single animal – a 55-pound pit bull – was rolled in.

A glass door makes the whole process highly visible. And it doesn’t take long.

The dog sat docilely, looking back at me looking at him. The gas quietly hissed. And in about a minute, the dog suddenly wobbled, his eyes lost focus and he toppled over.

It was sad, quick work. And I wished that this dog’s lousy owner could have been forced to watch.

Since the column notes that the dog was picked up for roaming and was well fed and wearing a harness, how can you be so sure the owner is “lousy”? True, the owner did not reclaim the dog but then, this shelter does have a history of gassing pets within minutes of admission. I don’t know how long this dog was held but in the absence of sufficient evidence to the contrary, I’m not ready to label anybody “lousy”. Maybe the owner is in the hospital or maybe he doesn’t know where to look for his dog. Maybe he is avoiding looking at the shelter because he knows it only as a place that kills 6000 pets a year.

The column’s author watched this dog die and wished that the owner could have seen it. You know what I wish? I wish the dog could have been adopted out by the shelter, relocated to a shelter in another area where he could have been adopted or released to a rescue group. I wish he could have been lovingly cared for by those charged with sheltering the community’s lost and homeless pets until a permanent situation could be found for him. I wish that he was, you know, not dead.

We’ve got to find a way to wake up irresponsible pet owners. Sentencing them to a day of death-chamber duty might be a start.

Blaming the public for the killing that goes on at the local shelter has never helped anyone. Yes there are irresponsible pet owners just as there are irresponsible Mothers, drivers and gun owners. They are part of our society but the ones who are willfully irresponsible are, I believe, a small minority. With education, public outreach and access to community services, many “irresponsible owners” will do the right thing by their pets. They just need a hand up. Less judgment, more understanding.

We are a humane society of people who care about pets. Join us.

When Will We Achieve No Kill?

I received as a Christmas gift the book Disposable Animals – Ending the Tragedy of Throwaway Pets by Craig Brestrup. I’ve only just started it but already I’ve come across a concept I wanted to discuss regarding who is to blame for the killing of shelter pets. So pull your chairs in a circle book club members, turn to page 17 and read along with me:

“The truly guilty, being the source of the problem, are those who choose to have animals without choosing to do so in a morally responsible way. That way would be to recognize the value inherent in the life of an animal and to actively respect it, to take charge of its reproduction, to recognize that to take in an animal is to take on a relationship of commitment for his or her lifetime. When we achieve that vision, the killing simply stops.”

I try very hard to keep my mind open when I come up against ideas my brain hates. On the one hand, I can hardly disagree with the idea of people owning pets “in a morally responsible way”. (While we’re at it, how about everyone consuming the Earth’s natural resources in a morally responsible way. And raising children in a morally responsible way. Etc.) But on the other hand, I have to ask if there is one widely agreed upon morally responsible way to own pets. I don’t think there is. In fact, one of the tragedies of life is that every one of us believes he is a pretty good fellow all around. (I could say almost everyone if you want to include the rare few who know their actions are evil but choose to be that way.)

If we look at the specifics of the morally responsible way to own pets offered by the author, we are faced with many questions.

  • “Recognize the value inherent in the life of an animal” – This will clearly mean different things to different people. A farmer raising a pig for food will regard that animal as having value, as will a dog fighter regard his dog, and an apartment dweller regard his cat.
  • “Take charge of its reproduction” – In the case of someone who breeds his dogs as often as physically possible for the purpose of selling the puppies – he has taken charge of the reproductive aspects of the animals. Likewise with the owner who neuters his dog before the animal ever reproduces. Perhaps the intended meaning will become clearer later in the book, I don’t know.
  • “Take on a relationship of commitment for his or her lifetime” – Does this mean every owner must keep every pet he takes on, even if his life circumstances change so significantly as to make keeping the pet impossible? If the owner screens prospective buyers and rehomes his pets when necessary, has he failed to meet his moral obligations?

Finally, the conclusion reached by the author “When we achieve that vision, the killing simply stops” seems, at best, unlikely to me. The idea that if we had a utopian society, everything would be swell sounds fine, but how is that applicable to reality? In real life, we will always have a need for shelters. Even if we sprinkle magic moral responsibility dust over all of humanity, we will still need shelters. People move/lose jobs/die unexpectedly. Pets slip out doors and dig under fences. Some pets end up living as ferals while others are born into it. Life is untidy. Just as there will always be a need in society to look after homeless/orphaned/lost children, the elderly and the handicapped, so will we need to look after pets.

And someone will work at one of those shelters and believe it is a “kindness” or a “necessity” to kill a healthy/treatable pet. When we have replaced all of those shelter workers with compassionate people who embrace the idea of no kill, when every community has implemented the No Kill Equation, when we stop blaming the public for the atrocity of killing shelter pets, when we learn to judge less and understand more – then the killing will stop. Not in a fantasy world but in real life. Not in some distant future but in our lifetime. It could happen today. We are a humane society and a no kill nation of pet lovers. Join us.

Lying about No Kill on the Web: A Tutorial

How to spread myths about no kill shelters on the internet:

  1. Compile a list of the most common lies spread by those opposed to the no kill movement
  2. Turn around and list them as facts
  3. Frame your article as if you are “dispelling some myths” when you are actually perpetuating them.
  4. Voila – Mission Accomplished!


One of My Fave Xmas Songs

Wiki entry