CT Humane Society Saves Money by Killing Pets

The state Attorney General and former employees of the CT Humane Society allege the shelter seriously mishandled its multi-million dollar budget and deprived treatable animals of care, killing them to save money.  Among those killed were cats with upper respiratory infections, heartworm positive dogs, and dogs with minor behavior issues such as separation anxiety.  The details on the money sound downright scandalous:

He [A.G. Blumenthal] said that there were conflicts of interest in both “appearance and reality” in the society’s business dealings with board members, and that the society was spending too little money on animal care.

The report found that from 2005 to 2007, up to $258,000, or 5.2 percent of the society’s budget expenses, were spent on businesses connected to board members.

The investigation will continue into what Blumenthal called “serious and credible” allegations of misuse of society funds, including whether former President and Chairman Richard Johnston used society assets to support his unsuccessful campaign for the state Senate in the early 1990s.

Whoa.  And:

The allegations first surfaced earlier this year when a group of current and former society employees formed the Coalition for Change.

The group claimed that Johnston, who led the organization for 24 years, had unchecked power over the venerable charity, one of the most prominent in the state.

Staffing cuts and policy decisions had diminished the society’s animal care, and Johnson was abusive to employees, some of whom he fired for trying to unionize, the Coalition for Change alleged.

This month, the President and Chairman of the Board resigned “to pursue other philanthropic pursuits after 24 years with the society” according to the article.  (Heads up philanthropic pursuers!)  The Board also voted to not have the same person serving as both President and Board Chair in future.

This quote from former employee Cathy DeMarco says it all:

“The public who relinquished their animals to the Humane Society in desperate times, very upset about relinquishing animals, think they’re giving the animal a chance, not knowing they were put down, sometimes within a day or two,” she said.

Imagine what you or I or anyone who cares about our communities’ pets could do with millions of dollars.  And look what The CT Humane Society did instead.  Shame.

Treats on the Internets

April 1st is No Kill Day :::clink:::

Residents of Spartanburg Co, SC:  The Spartanburg Humane Society will be spaying and neutering 2010 cats for $15 ($5 for low income owners who qualify).

A Beagle with a litter of 9 pups was rescued by a NJ shelter from a shelter in VA which had the Beagle on the kill list. She and her pups were in rough shape – 5 of the pups died and the dam required surgery to remove a bullet from her leg. All are doing much better now and the NJ shelter is seeking donations for their care.

Exotic animal trainer writes about giving animals power over their environment in training

This Beagle gots tricks! (video)


My New Favorite Video

H/T Beagles on the Web

New Law Affecting Shelter Pets in Utah

Big change for UT shelter pets:

Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert has now signed H.B. 107 into law! H.B. 107 means pound seizure discretionary instead of mandatory for Utah public shelters.

That means only two states, Minnesota and Oklahoma, still require pound seizure, the practice of requiring public shelters to sell or provide animals for research.

The new law also strengthens requirements that public shelters  search for owners of lost animals and find homes for animals.

In addition, owners surrendering pets to shelters can now stipulate the pet not be used for research if they so choose.

200 Lives in the Balance at Toronto Humane Society

The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, reports today that the Toronto Humane Society wants a do-over.  The shelter is asking the court to allow it to empty its cages and clean house, closing its doors to the public:

The closing, which was recommended by independent animal-care experts and approved recently by the charity’s board of directors, would last approximately six to eight weeks, with the shelter likely reopening in June. Such a move would leave the fate of the dwindling number of animals still inside the shelter, estimated at about 200, in the balance. Most have health and behavioural problems and, with slim chances of being adopted, many would probably be euthanized.

In an affidavit recently filed in court, THS executive director Garth Jerome outlined his designs “to rebuild the THS as a shelter and adoption centre from the ground up, and regain the public’s confidence in the organization.”

First step in regaining the public’s confidence:  Quit killing the shelter’s pets.  That would be my thinking anyway.

I think it’s reasonable to want some sort of epic rebuilding in a place as troubled as THS has been.  The director wants the place thoroughly cleaned, to get employees trained on a new computer system to improve administrative functions and to implement best clinical practices to improve pet care.  Those are good ideas but I don’t see why they couldn’t be done while animals are still in the facility, especially since the director states THS can reasonably hold 645 animals and they have only about 200 at present.

Alternatively the pets could be transferred, temporarily or permanently, to other shelters, rescues and/or foster homes.  In fact, in his affidavit (pdf) to the court, the director states that pets could be transferred or euthanized, as recommended by THS Vets:

In some cases, Dr. Lange has advised me that certain animals should be euthanized because their physical or mental health has deteriorated and they have little quality of life.

If a shelter pet is medically hopeless and suffering, the humane act is to euthanize that pet now – not in conjunction with a clearing of the shelter.  Otherwise, this is nothing more than a justification for convenience killing.

Also noteworthy in the affidavit:

  • The director blames the OSPCA for blocking the transfer of Pitbulls from the shelter to a rescue group in the U.S.
  • The new euthanasia policy at THS includes killing for population control.
  • The director airs some dirty laundry with regard to staff disputes.  Not sure what this has to do with the price of eggs in the court’s eyes, but he apparently felt compelled to include the information.

I don’t know what will happen to the 200 animals living at THS today.  My hope is that any who are medically hopeless and suffering will be euthanized in a timely manner.  And that the rest will still be alive, somewhere, when THS finally gets its act together.

Toronto Humane Society Explains Shelter Pet Killings

Garth Jerome, the Executive Director of the Toronto Humane Society (THS) has posted a letter on the shelter’s website in response to the public outcry over the killing of 25 pets last week.  It reads, in part:

The process around assessing the health and well-being of these 6 dogs has been exhaustive. We understand that for many people there is a huge emotional connection to these animals. For that reason, a number of procedures were followed to ensure that the decisions were fair and objective:

  1. An in-house SAFER test was performed an all the dogs.
  2. A number of rescue groups were approached to assess the dogs, with their own tests.
  3. A “scorecard system”, developed by veterinarians was used to assess health, pain, suffering, temperament and many other parameters.
  4. Independent consultants were asked to evaluate the dogs, based on their current condition.
  5. Once all this data was collated, a panel of 8 persons, comprising veterinarians, representatives of the OSPCA and the THS, met to decide on their outcomes.
  6. This meeting was scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 1, 2010. Due to a number of concerns around safety of employees, volunteers and the animals themselves, this meeting was moved to Friday, March 26, 2010, as a matter of urgency.

The Toronto Humane Society was required to consider additional factors in this decision. While tentative agreements were made to place some of these dogs in rescues, there are legal obstacles which have presented themselves. A number of the dogs had severe temperament concerns and aggression. Many had bite orders. All of these factors need to be considered when deciding on the most humane course of action, within the bounds of the law.

Once the animals were evaluated, euthanasia decisions were made on 6 of the animals assessed. These 6 dogs were not able to be adopted, fostered or transferred. The only outcome for them was to live in the shelter indefinitely. That is not an acceptable animal care practice. The THS made the extremely difficult, but appropriate decision.

SAFER test – meh.

“A number of rescue groups” and “independent consultants” – Any who are willing to go on record and stand by their evaluations?  I am interested to hear from these rescue groups and consultants to learn the qualifications of the individuals doing the testing and the tests they used.

Scorecard developed by Vets – Ix-nay on ets-vay evaluating emperament-tay.  They should eval the dogs for physical health only, unless they themselves are also behaviorists.

Taking Mr. Jerome at his word, I take it these dogs were so dangerous that, although they’d been living at the shelter for years, they couldn’t be kept alive another 6 days until the scheduled meeting.  OK, if they were truly that dangerous, how come so many people affiliated with THS had a “huge emotional connection” to them?  Is this like those TV shows about women who start up relationships with mass murderers in prison?  Because honestly, I don’t get how you can acknowledge the bond between these dogs and the shelter workers in the same breath as implying that any one of these dogs might have killed someone tomorrow.

As I’ve said before, I do understand and agree with the euthanasia decisions that sometimes have to be made in the case of dogs deemed dangerous where no reasonable sanctuary option exists.  That said, Ima go ahead and call bullshit on your justification for killing these dogs.  I don’t know the details on the 19 cats but I doubt they were dangerous.  And I’m highly suspicious that all 19 were deemed medically hopeless and suffering on the same day.  Unless you have thousands of cats in your care, 19 long term shelter residents just aren’t going to all reach the point where death is a kindness in one day.

I hope some of my experienced trainer and rescuer friends will chime in with their opinions.  And anyone else who’d like to contribute to the discussion too.  Please read Mr. Jerome’s entire statement and see if you glean anything from it that I may have missed.

Treats on the Internets

Interesting paper on the issue of “animal suicide”

NASCAR driver announces plans to build a no kill shelter, education center and low cost spay-neuter clinic in NC.

In Alamance Co, NC a low cost spay-neuter clinic is opening this week (although in looking at the prices, I think it would be more accurately described as “lower than your average vet clinic” cost).

What exactly are “meat by-products meal”, “bone meal” and similar terms used in pet food ingredient lists?  They are What They Eat posts a video from a Veterinarian discussing this question (graphic audio, video A-OK)

KC Dog Blog:  The Truth Behind dogsbite.org

Looking for a Home:  Senior male Beagle in SC shelter

Paralyzed bunny helps children in similar circumstances accept medical care

A moment of peace

Utah Shelter Shoots Pets after 72 Hour Hold?

Fox 5 in San Diego reports that a shelter in Hinckley, Utah holds pets for 72 hours then shoots them (or runs over the pets with trucks) and dumps the bodies in a sewage pit.  A UT animal advocacy website adds:

Mayor Donald Brown says the city’s policy is efficient and cost-effective. It is legal to shoot dogs and cats in Utah if done humanely with one bullet to the head. City maintenance supervisor Stephen Beagley said, “I have never a time when it took more than one bullet.” The city denied any allegations that the animals suffered from their policy.

The owner of property adjacent to the sewage pond differs:

Tamra Hanks says her property touches the site, and that cats wounded from bullets have crossed through her property, only to die a slow and painful death. Hanks said, “It’s probably one of the worst things I’ve ever seen.” As to the dogs in the massive grave, “They had collars on them. They were people’s pets.”

Long shot:  Any readers from Hinckley, UT who can add anything to this story?

Toronto Humane Society Kills 25 Pets

The Toronto Humane Society (THS) has posted a statement on their website which reads, in part:

In recent days, The Toronto Humane Society has euthanized 6 dogs and 19 cats that were chronically ill, displayed aggressive behaviour, or whose quality of life due to illness or injury was severely diminished and who had been at the shelter for an extended period of time.

Our new euthanasia policy is clear that we will not house these animals in the shelter indefinitely as their medical and behavioural condition deteriorates and the possibility of them being adopted diminishes.

Potential for adoption diminishes?  Well what is the possibility of them being adopted now?

You can meet the dogs via Selkie, who personally knew and cared for them as a shelter volunteer.  Others who knew the dogs have posted their fond memories here.  One thing you’ll find consistently absent from these stories is any hint that these dogs were medically or behaviorally hopeless or that their quality of life had severely deteriorated.  I wish we knew something about the 19 cats.  Perhaps someone will post something on them.

I understand that shelters, like anyone who cares for a pet, will sometimes have to make that difficult choice to end physical and/or mental suffering by euthanizing a pet.  I support that decision.  But if you are killing 25 pets in one day and claiming them all to be “euthanasias”, well I question that.  Unless you have thousands of pets in your care every day, it seems extremely unlikely to me that 25 of them are going to reach that tipping point where we consider death a kindness all in one day.

To make matters worse, Fred at One Bark at a Time writes:

All of these dogs also had shelters or rescues willing to take them in. I was involved in finding one of those shelters through the help of Best Friends Animal Society so I know this to be true. They would have been moved out weeks ago but for legal concerns around transporting them through the province (because these dogs, Pit Bulls, are of course banned in Ontario). We were in the midst of working out an acceptable transport plan when the euthanasias took place.

Why didn’t the Toronto Humane Society release these dogs to the rescues willing to take them?  If they were all truly medically hopeless and suffering, let’s see some veterinary records.  If it’s something else, let’s hear it.  But it’s not fair to the shelter staff, volunteers, supporters and especially not the pets to just kill long term shelter residents at night and then post a vague message on the website in the morning.  If that falls in line with your “new euthanasia policy” THS, then your policy sucks.

O shame, where is thy blush?

The dog warden at the Webster Co pound in KY was charged with animal cruelty recently after video evidence surfaced showing a neglected dog in dire need of veterinary care at the pound.  In response, you might reasonably assume that county officials are concerned with the situation at the pound and looking into the matter in order to reassure the public that they can be trusted to care for the community’s pets.  Of course if you thought that, you’d be thinking out your ass:

[Webster County Judge Executive Jim] Townsend said all animal rescues are banned from the pound because the county is trying to figure out who broke into the dog pound and took video of a hurt puppy.


“We really don’t need any help from anyone, until we can get this straightened out,” Townsend said.

Yes, as evident in the video footage as well as the animal cruelty charges pending against the dog warden, you clearly don’t need any help from anyone.  You are abusing the community’s pets just fine on your own.  And since when did someone break into the pound to film the video?  Funny that wasn’t mentioned earlier.  Isn’t the pound a taxpayer funded facility open to the public?  Where is this evidence of someone breaking in to the place?

The local Mayor, Eddie Gooch, is right on board with the wagon circling cover up as was apparent at a recent council meeting :

Gooch recognized County Dog Warden John Dunn, who was at the meeting, and he voiced his support of Dunn who was recently charged with several counts of animal cruelty at the Webster County Dog Pound.

“Me personally, I appreciate the job you’ve done and I’m supporting you,” Mayor Gooch stated. “You’ve been good for Providence, done a great job here and I stand behind you.”

Dunn responded.

“All allegations that the (KSP) officer has made are false and that will be proven,” he stated.

And in the meantime, I assume we can expect more “It’s my ball and I’m goin’ home!” attitude from county officials while dogs at the pound suffer behind closed doors.  For shame, Webster County.

*Title quote from Hamlet by William Shakespeare