A Boxer named Boost was turned in to the Walker County Humane Society (WCHS) in AL by good Samaritans after he got loose in May 2009. He was friendly and obviously someone’s pet but the shelter director killed him immediately (it was close to 5 o’clock) and lied about the incident afterward. The owner filed a lawsuit against the shelter and per the attorney, Brett Wadsworth, the suit is currently being amended to include Walker County on the grounds that the county failed to properly fund the shelter in accordance with state law.
The goal of the lawsuit is to bring about major reforms to the shelter. The attorney has stated publicly that any money he receives from this suit will be donated to a reformed Walker Co shelter.
The WCHS director, Lane Reno, is still on the job and presumably still killing pets and lying about it. She recently spoke to a local paper about the shelter:
“Unfortunately, we have to put some animals down, because we simply don’t have room.”
Ms. Reno defines “some” for us:
“We have about 5,000 to 7,000 animals dropped off to us every year, with maybe 200 of those being adopted,” Reno said.
Maybe 200 adopted. Out of roughly 6000 pets.
OK let me stop here and say that I do appreciate the many challenges faced by underfunded shelters in the South. That is not lost on me. I don’t expect anyone to work magic. Lack of sufficient funding is a major obstacle. I get it.
If you are in charge of caring for the community’s pets, I expect you to take all reasonable actions to save as many pets in your shelter as possible. This includes aggressive public education and outreach, reuniting lost pets with owners, TNR for feral cats and an adoption program that colors outside the lines. I don’t expect you’ll be able to save all your pets right away, but you should be able to increase your save rate by implementing successful programs from the No Kill Equation, just as other communities have done. Aim for the 90% or better save rate that other open admission shelters have achieved.
Specifically excluded from my expectations of a shelter director is killing friendly pets because you don’t feel like setting up another kennel close to quitting time and then lying about it when confronted by the media.
Needless to say, if your adoption rate is 3%, and you’ve been caught lying about why you “need” to kill pets, ur doin’ it rong.
But Ms. Reno believes her shelter has “done enough”:
The WCHS believes that it does enough in the county to have gained the public’s support in donating so that it can remain operational.
“We offer many services such as a Pet Therapy program, where we go to all the nursing and retirement homes in the county — and a couple in Winston County when we can — with a pet,” Reno said. “We also have a cruelty/neglect officer that deals with the 400 to 500 cruelty complaints that come in every year. We even have a 24-hour emergency pager service for cases where a stray animal gets injured.”
The WCHS is also always willing to visit schools and summer programs to teach lessons such as how one should protect him or herself if a dangerous animal should approach.
How about teaching lessons on how to protect your pets from danger should they fall into the hands of Ms. Reno and the WCHS? Or is that basically a hopeless situation? I guess you could always pray your pet is among the lucky 3% who don’t end up getting wheeled out the shelter’s back door just moments after being “rescued”.
Perhaps most troubling of all, I don’t see one thing in Ms. Reno’s explanation of how her shelter has “done enough” that has to do with saving pets. It’s nice that they visit nursing homes to offer pet therapy but then, statistically speaking, they apparently drive back to the shelter and kill the therapy pet!
Seriously, would you give money to a shelter that adopts out 3% of the pets they take in, lies about killing people’s pets and then tells the local paper they think they’ve done enough to earn your donation?