I Once was Lost but Now I’m Found

North Carolina:  Mark Painter found a very friendly dog roaming the parking lot of the medical office complex he was visiting on July 26.  The dog had two collars on and a rabies tag from 11 years ago.  He walked the Lab mix around the parking lot to see if an owner could be found but no luck.  He gave the dog some water, called Gaston Co AC and waited with the dog until the ACO arrived.  Mr. Painter told the officer that if the dog’s owners could not be located, he and his wife Anne would like to adopt the dog.

Over the next couple of weeks, AC tried to locate the dog’s owner via a home visit and a certified letter – both of which proved unsuccessful.

In the meantime, both Mark and Anita Painter worried the dog would be euthanized accidentally. So they called every couple of days to check on the progress. They left two contact numbers, and pleaded each time to be alerted when the Lab’s time was up.

“I did not just leave messages,” said Anita. “I spoke to someone and was persistent in each one of these calls. Each time, I said we do not want this to fall through the cracks.”

An animal control officer said they had nothing to worry about.

Anita Painter called again to check on the dog August 13 and was told AC had killed him the day before.

Gaston Co AC administrator Reggie Horton says an ACO called Mrs. Painter on August 10 (when the dog became available for adoption) and got no answer but that was the one and only attempt that was made to contact the Painters:

“That is incorrect,” [Mrs. Painter] said. “No one called. No one left a message. Nothing.”

So depending on who you believe, either a solitary, half-assed attempt to reach the family was made or no effort at all was expended.  Then they killed the dog.

Horton said he feels bad about the mistake. Considering the volume of animals that come through the shelter, he feels he and his staff have a good track record.

I’d be inclined to agree if the incident in question was a matter of a document being misfiled or an officer arriving late to work.  But that’s not the case.  Gaston Co AC killed a friendly dog who had a family desperately waiting for him to come home and share their lives.  That has no place in a “good track record”.

“Perfection is a difficult standard, but it’s a standard we strive to meet,” [Mr. Horton] said. “This is an unfortunate situation and we accept full responsibility for it.”

No one expects perfection.  In this case, you didn’t even have to go to any special effort.  The Painters took care of that by going above and beyond what most potential adopters would do to make sure the dog they wanted was safe.

Make no mistake, you are not off the hook by telling the local paper you’re sorry your AC unit isn’t perfect.  What a crock.  You need to accept responsibility for needlessly killing a dog you were supposed to be helping, for failing the Painters, for allowing an environment of laziness to exist on the taxpayers’ dime, and for sending a message to the community that you can’t be trusted not to kill pets, no matter what you say.

HSUS Seeks to Outlaw Bear Baying in SC

Hunting dogs are trained in various ways including the use of a live animal of whatever type the dog is being trained to hunt (or at least an animal similar to that type).  For example, a retriever might be trained to pick up a duck who has been shackled.  A terrier might be sent down a tunnel which has caged rats at the end.  Hounds might chase a rabbit or fox around a fenced-in area.  There are alternatives to using live game in training (lures, dummies, etc.) and many trainers make use of those as well.  Some of these faux hunting scenarios are used in competitive events such as field trials.

Bear baying is the term used to describe Plott Hounds (or whatever hound the trainer uses) being trained to bark at a live, chained bear and get him to stand up on his hind legs (so the hunter can get a clean shot, in an actual hunting scenario).  You may have come across the term in the news this week due to an HSUS media push on the subject but opponents have been trying to get the practice outlawed for years.  John Goodwin of HSUS held a presser in SC yesterday and HSUS released undercover videos of SC bear baying events to the AP.  The bear in the videos has reportedly had her claws and some teeth removed.  There is no barrier between the dogs and the bear.  (I haven’t watched the video and don’t intend to but that is the description I’ve read.)

Before I go on, I want to be perfectly clear that I am opposed to the practice of bear baying (including the bear mutilation that accompanies it) and would be happy to see it made illegal in SC.  We have laws against “animal fighting and baiting” but there is a specific provision addressing hunting dogs:

This chapter does not apply to dogs used for the purpose of hunting, including, but not limited to, hunting on shooting preserves or wildlife management areas authorized pursuant to Title 50, or to dogs used in field trials, including events more commonly known as “water races”, “treeing contests”, “coon-on-a-log”, “bear-baying”, or “fox- pen-trials”.

This is why bear baying is legal in SC.  However, just one day after the HSUS campaign began:

A South Carolina lawmaker says he will introduce legislation banning a practice known as “bear baying.

So it looks as if the HSUS efforts are seeing an immediate payoff.  Of course there are a lot of ifs/ands/buts between this announcement and getting a bill passed.  And as I said, I will be glad if bear baying is made illegal.

However, as in so many things, there are shades of grey.  Specifically, if bear baying is outlawed, what will be the next hunting dog event targeted?  On the one hand, it could be argued that no other events are at risk and SC will never hear from HSUS again on the subject of how dogs are trained using live bait.  But on the other hand, and more plausible to my mind, maybe HSUS will see how quickly their campaign garnered political results and will be motivated to expand their targets.

Some of you perhaps feel this would be great because all hunting is cruel.  Others might want to outlaw only the bear baying and leave all other dog events intact.  Still others might want to pick and choose from the list which ones you’d like stricken and which to keep.  But this is all just discussion because you and I do not hunt with dogs in SC.  For those who do, as well as those who simply like to participate in the field trial type events with their dogs, I can understand why they’d be concerned.  What are your thoughts?

Treats on the Internets

Williamsburg, KY residents wanted to help a friendly dog who was roaming.  They called animal control thinking the dog would be rescued, given a bath, cared for and adopted out.  Instead AC responded to the call and shot the dog to death.

Michael Mountain:  “The Ghost of Oreo

MSN in Los Angeles continues to be a big fat fail, and now the whole state may get to try it.

No excuses at a rural shelter in Australia – they saved 97% of their dogs last year

Thieves stole $39,000 worth of donated pet food intended for needy families in AZ

Follow-up on the report from an IL woman who said she found a frog in a can of Pedigree:  The frog was actually a toad, not native to IL, and after testing, Mars is satisfied “the toad did not originate” from their product.

HSUS announced its horse sanctuary received accreditation from a group called the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.  Humane Watch looks into the overlap between the two groups.

Sea World fired the woman in charge of safety after one of their killer whales killed a trainer earlier this year.  She is now speaking out against Sea World’s safety practices.

The interesting origins (and non-origins) of the phrase “raining cats and dogs”

Dinner at Chez Dog

Leftover bits from the produce drawer that I needed to use up before they went off:  spinach leaves, broccoli, grape tomatoes.  Add rice, chicken livers and turkey thighs and dinner is served.

Continuing Problems Plague Anderson Co Shelter

Tom Allen is a member of the Anderson Co Council and the animal welfare committee which deals with issues involving the Anderson Co Animal Shelter.  At a public meeting on Friday, Mr. Allen voiced one of the frustrations in addressing these issues:

“Half of Anderson County is in love with the animals, and the other half is fighting pit bulls and chickens,” Allen said Friday. “No matter which side you take, you are going to get beat over the head.”

That is quite the dilemma.  On the one hand, you don’t want to side with the half who love animals (What have they ever done to help the local shelter anyway?) because that would anger the other other half.  And of course you can’t just side with the criminals who are abusing animals because of that whole law thing.  If only there was some clear way to distinguish the right thing to do here.  Hmm.  Puzzler.

Regarding the controversy surrounding the shelter allowing Fred Acker to take pets to CT to sell for $325 each, Mr. Allen spoke in favor of Mr. Acker:

Allen presented a binder that had a rap sheet for Acker about 2 inches thick, but then he said most of the charges against Acker had been dismissed and that one held up for a dog that was not up-to-date on vaccinations.

It’s good to know if my rap sheet ever gets thick enough to be measured in inches, I can count on the support of Mr. Allen, provided “most” of the charges have been dismissed.

“He’s probably not the smoothest person in the world,” Allen said. “He sounds pretty crusty, but he is not cruel.”

I so want this guy in my corner.

Also at the meeting, the subject of internal tracking of shelter pets came up.  Some called for improvements but others pointed out that they are doing so much better than they have in recent years:

Five years ago, when the shelter had a different director, Anderson County lost more animals at the shelter than it kept up with. In the fiscal year that ended in June 2005, 7,745 animals out of 13, 236 that went to the shelter ended up missing or unaccounted for. That is 58.5 percent, according to an ongoing review by county-hired number cruncher and investigator Bob Daniel.

The shelter “lost” nearly eight thousand animals taxpayers were paying them to take care of in fiscal year 2005?  This is the place people came to look for their lost pets?  This is where good sams brought pets they found so they could be reunited with their owners?  Oh my god.

Regarding the ongoing problem with rodents at the shelter, we get this gem (Fasten your Logic Seatbelts and brace for impact):

Shelter veterinarian Kyle Powell said Friday that one of the biggest problems at the shelter “is John Q. Public going from dog to dog to dog touching them all without washing his hands.”

Kyle Powell said something as simple as unwashed hands breeds the shelter’s problems with flies and mice.

I hate to point this out but you are a public animal shelter.  John Q. Public pays for you to exist. The reason John Q. Public comes in and touches dogs (oh, the horror!) is because he is looking for a pet – which is the thing you are supposed to be encouraging.  If I was a resident of Anderson Co and I read this, I’d get the feeling the shelter vet doesn’t want me coming there – that I’m a problem and a nuisance to them.  Is this how they want the people of the community to feel?

Secondly – and let me state up front that I did not go to vet school – how do people touching dogs without washing their hands cause the shelter to have pest control problems?  Seriously, HOW?  Please educate us mere John Q. Publics.

Not to sound uppity but I’ve managed to keep track of 100% of the pets in my care – every year – and that’s even with my low-brow, dog touching ways.  Why can’t Anderson Co get it together?

State Finds Evidence of Neglect at Robeson Co Animal Shelter

This note, posted on Facebook, is purportedly from the Robeson Co Animal Shelter (RCAS) director, April Lowry:

I am not writing this to you in defense i am writing this to you stating the facts…I do not need a defense…

What an opener.

First I will state that we have failed 2 inspections due To being over capacity.

I checked on the last 2 inspections for RCAS.  Indeed they are both fails but multiple issues are cited.  On July 29, there was an animal welfare inspection and a euthanasia inspection (both are pdfs).  Failed items include:

  • 4 cats crammed in one cage
  • Broken air conditioning units in the cat room so the temperature was too high.  A fan was brought in and the manager advised new AC units were ordered and scheduled for installation next week.
  • Cracks in the concrete floor need to be sealed
  • Food and water bowls have been chewed up and need to be replaced
  • Rodent droppings in restroom, bugs in pet food
  • Inadequate staff – by 3:30pm, the quarantine section of the shelter still hadn’t been cleaned for the day.
  • Sick cat had been at the shelter for 2 weeks without veterinary care
  • Cleaning is being done with dish soap and bleach.  Shelter needs to check with the vet for which disinfectants are appropriate for disease control.
  • Re-inspection to be conducted in 2 weeks.

August 12 (Follow up inspection to make sure items noted from last visit have been addressed):

  • Materials to fix some of the issues are on site but the work hasn’t been done.
  • 5 dogs had no resting platforms
  • Cat overcrowding issue unchanged
  • Chewed food/water receptacles still not replaced
  • Kill room has evidence of rodents
  • Open bag of pet food
  • Cleaning not complete by 3pm
  • Dogs were too hot.
  • Sick kittens had been at the shelter for 2 weeks without vet care.  Sick puppies had been at the shelter for more than 1 week without vet care.  A dog with multiple bite wounds has not been seen by the vet.
  • The shelter’s power goes out for extended periods of time.  Shelter needs to be checked on by staff more frequently on weekends.
  • Re-inspect in 30 days.

To my mind, the shelter failed these inspections due to far more than being “over capacity”.  I’m not sure how anyone could characterize these failures in that way.  The conditions described are inhumane and lacking the basics of appropriate shelter pet care and prevention of  disease.  Perhaps RCAS is “over capacity” for neglect, but that’s not one of the categories on the inspection form.

The Facebook note also refers to the recent killing of all dogs under one year of age at the shelter due to 2 puppies testing positive for parvo:

This is merely disease control…

Uh, no.  Make that – NO WAY.  Disease control is checking with the vet, like you were told, and finding out what cleaners to use to control disease at the shelter.  Disease control is getting your quarantine areas and the rest of your shelter cleaned every day in a timely manner.  Disease control is getting vet care and treatment for sick shelter pets.  What you did is not “merely disease control”.  It’s unnecessary killing in lieu of doing your job.

We will never get the problem here at the shelter rectified because people in our community fail to spay and neuter and also fail to vaccinate. Vaccination is a good prevention for this disease, but unfortuneatly these animals have not been vaccinated due to them being unwanted and dumped here.

Oh good.  Let’s blame the public.  Always a good fallback position for a shelter director trying to shirk responsibility.  By the way, is RCAS leading by example and getting a vet to examine all pets upon intake and vaccinating those deemed healthy enough to be vaccinated?

I have all been told “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” and this is so true.

I agree.  If only you’d done your job and followed the specific directions given to you at your failed inspection from July 29, that would have been worth at least an ounce of prevention.  But instead of using standard, established shelter protocols to control the spread of disease and instead of addressing the issues from your failed inspections, you chose to needlessly kill pets and then blame the public.

If this note was in fact written by the RCAS shelter director, I am appalled.  If not, the facts remain that RCAS is not working to prevent the spread of disease at the shelter but instead killing pets arbitrarily as a means of disease control.  That too, is appalling.

Her Ears are an Endless Source of Entertainment

When she’s sleeping they stick up like devil horns.  When she’s looking down they form the top of a capital T.  When she’s jumping around playing, random snickering.

Treats on the Internets

Action Alert – MSN in CA:  It’s baaaack!

A SC couple stopped by the city shelter in Columbia and got so depressed, they donated $1.5 million to help build a new, no kill shelter.  Construction begins in the fall of next year.

Debunking the oft quoted – but not so oft investigated – outrageous cat stats

Police responded to complaints of a strong odor coming from a house in Memphis.  Upon arrival, they found a man living with 11 dogs in a house full of feces – including on the man’s bed – and the carcasses of 8 dogs piled in the backyard.  The man told police he knew nothing about the heap of dead dogs.  All dogs, living and deceased, were removed from the home and an investigation is underway.

The spiraling mess that is the Toronto Humane Society vs. the OSPCA results in a withdrawal of all charges in the case

Short vid clip of AAFCO president talking about dead pets used in pet food

Egg recall continues to grow, some of the names to look out for:  Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, Kemp, Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms and West Creek.

An observer relates a charming encounter between a resident park cat and a gentleman in Japan  (Thanks Valerie for the link)

My entry for Favorite Animal Friday


More Needless Killing at Robeson Co Animal Shelter

Pop quiz:  2 pups at your shelter test positive for parvo.  What do you do with the rest of your dogs?

A. Isolate them from the dogs who tested positive and test them each for parvo.

B. Have a vet examine them for possible symptoms of parvo and isolate/treat as appropriate.

C. Foster/adopt them out to rescues who are willing to take them.

D. Arbitrarily kill every dog under 1 year of age.

If you answered some combination of A, B and C, congratulations – you are a normal person.  If you answered D, you must be Robeson Co Health Director Bill Smith:

Staff at the Robeson County Animal Shelter euthanized more than 50 dogs Wednesday after two puppies tested positive for parvo.

[…]

“This was our best option,” Smith said. “We haven’t killed the older dogs. They’re being quarantined while they clean and disinfect the shelter.”

See?  They haven’t killed the older dogs. (I hope all the dogs remembered their birth certificates at admission.)  And you thought Robeson didn’t care!

Scups at Animal Protection League

Kristine at APL sent me some photos of Scout’s pups settling in at the shelter:

They have been named Romulus, Rowan, Rin, Rinji, Ripley, Reece and Rafi.  Kristine told me APL tries not to repeat names for dogs at the shelter and, like many breeders, they use themes of one sort or another when naming litters.  Obviously Scout’s pups are an “R” litter.  (Can you believe no dogs at the shelter have been named Romulus before now?!)