NC Shelter Has “Too Much Fun”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control has been on my watch list since they killed a family’s two Pitbulls by “mistake” earlier this year and then told the owner, “No one knows what happened”.  Prior to that, they had assisted in hauling 127 Pitbulls in Wilkes Co to their deaths at the hands of HSUS.  This week, a former CMPD-ACC employee, Lisa Easton, contacted me with details of abuse at the shelter.

In August, Ms. Easton came across several offensive photos on the Facebook page of a shelter employee and saved them along with their captions.  The first two are cats who do not appear to be in a normal, conscious state and the second two appear to be a ferret with most of her fur missing and someone holding the pet in such a way as to highlight that fact:

Had a little too much fun with a tranquilized Feral cat

This cat was posed with a cigarette in his mouth, earphones in his ears and an open knife blade between his paws.

Angry kitty wants to write you a note

This kitten is being held by the scruff of the neck and posed with a pen in his mouth and his paw on the pen.

Sandy, Apparentaly SOMEONE thought it would be fun to NAIR Brenna. I don't know who did it, MUM is the word..........

This ferret, reportedly a longtime shelter pet who lives in the office of a staff member, is being held with her back to the camera, apparently to show the missing fur.

Another shot of the ferret from behind, apparently to highlight the missing fur.

In addition to the captioned photos, Ms. Easton provided me with a copy of an e-mail she sent to shelter director Mark Balestra on August 24 at 12:53pm advising him of the matter.  She also provided copies of two responses from Mr. Balestra dated that same day in which he thanks her for bringing the issue to his attention and asks her to name the employee who posted the photos.  Those two e-mails are time stamped 4:20pm and 5:02pm.  Mr. Balestra states that he is disappointed in “this incident of poor judgment” and that the matter will be investigated.  Note the time stamp on the next e-mail copy Ms. Easton provided:

From: Balestra, Mark
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 6:41 PM
To: _CMPD Animal Control All
Subject: Social Media Conduct Reminder

ACC Staff,
I want to remind everyone that caution should be used when utilizing Social Media venues. At no time should it be appropriate to display work related activities, pictures of practices, animals, other staff members, logo’s brands, uniforms or other insignia on any web or internet sites.
It is also important that our conduct should be appropriate in a manner that does not negatively reflect upon the City, Department or Division.
I strongly urge everyone to revisit their facebook or other social Media sites to ensure that anything meeting the above description is immediately removed.
In a short period of time the CMPD will implement its Directive on Social Media which is currently in draft form. It will serve as a clear guideline of practices that are acceptable and prohibited.
Your cooperation on this issue is greatly appreciated,
Mark

In order to try and get a more complete story, I contacted Mr. Balestra and spoke with him by phone on November 5.  I asked him about the cats – whether they were sedated or dead in the photos.  While he did not provide a direct answer on their level of consciousness, he did definitively deny the cats were dead.  When I asked where the two cats were now and if they were available for adoption, he stated, “I have absolutely no idea”.  Regarding the ferret, he said there was no mishandling and that the pet had come into the shelter with some type of “parasite or mange” which caused the hair loss.

Regarding the internal investigation of the case, he confirmed that “the employee” is and has been under investigation and the case has not yet been adjudicated although he expects it to be shortly.  When I questioned whether “the employee” referred to the person who took the photos or the person partially visible in the photos, he said, “Everybody involved has been investigated” and “There will be consequences”.  He described the photos as “extremely tasteless” and said the shelter has “zero tolerance” for this type of activity.

I find that even after trying to understand the story more completely, I’m still left with several nagging questions:

  • If the shelter director has “absolutely no idea” where the two cats are now, who does know?  I’m extremely disturbed at the possibility that these cats were sedated, posed for these shameful photos and then killed.  Without knowing what became of them, that possibility remains open for me and to be honest, it has haunted me ever since I first saw these photos.
  • Does the ferret look like she has mange to you?  I’ve never seen a ferret with mange but certainly she doesn’t look like any dog I’ve seen with it.  Maybe ferrets’ skin reacts differently to mites than a dogs’ skin does – anyone have any insight on this?  Further, if the ferret did have extreme hair loss due to mange, what would motivate the staff to pose for and snap these photos of the pet then post them on a social networking site with a caption indicating abuse?
  • How many months does it take to complete an internal investigation into this matter?  The egregiousness of the offense seems alarming enough to my mind that, if it happened on my watch, I’d want to take immediate action.
  • Finally, perhaps the most gnawing question of all – What on earth goes on in this shelter environment that hasn’t been photographed and posted on Facebook?

Note:  A local TV news station covered this story yesterday and aired these same photos and captions.  MSNBC.com picked up that story.

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150 Comments

  1. Randy

     /  November 6, 2010

    How disgusting can some humans be. Nothing short of heads rolling would be appropriate for animal abusers. If the shelter sets this kind of example for pet owners in the community how is it expected to expect anything different from irresponsible pet owners?

    Reply
    • Joe

       /  November 6, 2010

      What I find equally disturbing is that someone inside a police department feeding confidential information to outside individuals. The person that took the pictures should be dealt with harshly but I also feel that the “mole” should be thrown out on his/her head!

      Reply
      • Someone is providing confidential info to the public?

      • Karen

         /  November 23, 2010

        Joe, you’re actually upset that someone felt the need to fill others in on the abuse? I honestly don’t care what form it comes in, as long as people are made aware so something can be done.

    • Anne

       /  November 6, 2010

      Regarding Randy’s comment: So true…

      Reply
  2. The ferret’s hair loss looks indicative of adrenal disease, a treatable but common problem in ferrets. So they probably didn’t Nair it… but this story is still disgusting.

    Reply
    • Per the shelter director, the ferret had some type of parasite or mange. So adrenal disease would not be an explanation for the hair loss.

      Reply
      • Kim

         /  November 6, 2010

        I agree with Jen – the pattern is consistent with an adrenal disorder, which ferrets are plagued with and causes this type of bilateral hair loss without altering pigmentation.

        Mange does NOT look like this, even in a ferret (trust me, our rescue specializes in a few “special needs” issues, and mange happens to be one of them).

        The shelter director may just be an idiot.

        One thing I CAN tell you with some relative certainty – if this ferret had indeed been NAIR’ed, there would be redness and scabbing right up until the hair began to grow back. In order for Nair to remove that much fur, it would have to be left on for the maximum amount of time. Ferrets have extremely sensitive skin – even excessive bathing or spending too much time in water can cause them to get rashes and flaky skin.

        A dose of NAIR large enough and strong enough to remove that much hair that smoothly would have left telltale signs.

        To me it appears adrenal in nature, although the hair loss is severe and long term and the ferret’s weight appears good – which doesn’t quite fit. My guess would be that someone took the clippers to him. Not cruelty, but certainly not very nice – and as you said, what did they NOT photograph?

      • Whatever the reason for the missing fur, the idea that the shelter staff would take photos showcasing the baldness then post them online with a caption indicating they had abused the shelter pet is appalling to me. They must set the example of pet ownership responsibility for the taxpayers in the community who pay their salaries.

        And, as has been pointed out, if the hair loss is caused by something other than mange, the ferret is not receiving appropriate veterinary care.

  3. Alan

     /  November 6, 2010

    The pictures remind me of Abu Ghraib. Did Lynndie England go to work at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control after she got out of military prison?

    Reply
    • Excellent comparison Alan. Thank you.

      Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 6, 2010

      I strongly disagree. There is NO comparison between the photos shown here (WARNING – VERY GRAPHIC:

      http://www.antiwar.com/news/?articleid=2444

      and the photos presented by this shelter.

      What I see in the shelter photos is disturbing. They don’t look good. I don’t see the level of care I would expect from even the most basic of shelter environments. But I also do not see signs of systematic physical and mental torture. I don’t see piles of bodies. I don’t see trails of blood leading from one kennel to another.

      Yes, the photos are disturbing – but to compare them to Abu Ghraib? Come on people.

      Again, I have to point out that it is statements like this that get all animal welfare activists written off as animal rights nutjobs. Let’s stick to the facts, ok?

      And Shirley – I guarantee you that if you went to ANY kill shelter in ANY city and showed them photos of two random cats from an undetermined time period and asked about their outcome the shelter director would NOT be able to ascertain their whereabouts. Identifying cats in a shelter system is not like identifying dogs. Dogs are searchable by breed, which narrows down the field considerably – they also come in much smaller numbers. Some shelters deal with 5,000-10,000 cats a year and you want the director to identify two cats by photo?

      I’m sorry, but that is unrealistic. In a kill shelter these animals are not individuals, they are intake numbers. Without that number it’s impossible to track that animal down. In our local animal control, the only record kept for an animal brought in and euthanized 72 hours later is an intake number, the neighbourhood it came from and a brief description – as in male, DSH, black and white. Age is described as baby, young, adult or senior. Now go in a month later with a photo of a tabby (keeping in mind they go through about 500 cats a month) and ask what became of it.

      Good luck.

      Reply
      • Kim,
        While you may be looking for physical comparisons in the photos, I was rather thinking of something less tangible. My thinking is that the subjects in both photos are completely relying on govt workers to protect them from abuse. The subjects have no ability to defend themselves when the protectors become the abusers. The subjects are forced to pose in humiliating poses for photographs with (and without) their abusers for purposes of “entertainment” on the part of the abusers. The people charged with providing humane treatment do this to devalue the lives of their victims. To my mind, it’s a valid comparison.

      • Kim

         /  November 6, 2010

        There are many other comparisons beyond the physical that fail to meet the criteria of this being valid.

        The prisoners of Abu Ghraib were physically, sexually, mentally and psychologically tortured in a systematic fashion. They were TORTURED.

        I do agree that failure of a government agency to protect their charges is present in both cases. But to compare one to the other is right up there with those who hold up signs of Obama as Hitler because he believes in socialized medicine.

        When we make these outrageous arguments, how far away are we from PeTA comparing factory farms to Nazi internment camps? Yes, there are similarities, but NO, there is no comparison. Not only that, but making such a connection does nothing to further our cause – it does the opposite by turning off people who don’t care, but who may if they just had all the facts. Problem is, these people tend to tune out when you start comparing photos of a sedated and posed cat with that of tortured and murdered detainees, or factory farmed chickens with Nazi imprisoned Jewish families.

        I’m just trying to keep the discussion in perspective for the sake of furthering the message.

      • Do you have any evidence that these cats were NOT tortured (in any of the forms you mention) or murdered? I’m inclined to believe in the possibility they were used for these shameful photos and then killed.

      • Kim

         /  November 6, 2010

        Do you have any proof that the entire thing was not photoshop’d?

        Do you have any proof that it’s not a hoax?

        Do you have any proof that aliens didn’t immediately abduct them after their mistreatment?

        You can not prove a negative, and frankly I’m shocked that you of all people would make such a jump of pure assumption with no factual grounds whatsoever.

        Thanks, but I’ll stick to the facts as I know them, which at this point are limited to the photos and letter provided until other credible evidence is uncovered. While the photos clearly show inappropriate behaviour, and grounds for dismissal, they do not show torture, sexual or psychological abuse, or murder.

        Would I be surprised to learn that these cats ended up euthanized? No. This is a shelter that euthanizes 1,000 animals a day, according to numbers provided here. But there is ZERO evidence of anything other than serious poor taste and a repulsive lack of respect.

      • I do indeed have multiple sources of proof that it’s not a hoax. I spoke to the shelter director. I spoke to the internal affairs sergeant performing the investigation. I spoke to the whistleblower. Perhaps I made my point poorly so let me try again: I believe it’s plausible that these cats were drugged, abused and killed by the people paid to protect them.

      • Kim

         /  November 6, 2010

        I really wasn’t suggesting that it was a hoax.

        All I’m saying is that the only proof we have is the photo evidence provided.

        There is no evidence of tortured or murdered, as you suggested.

        I simply think it imperative to stick to the facts. As I said before, these are the fear tactics used by groups like PeTA, and we can do better than this simply by tirelessly seeking out the truth. Something that YOU in particular are extremely good at.

        Which is why I’m so surprised to see you compare these photos to Abu Ghraib. There are levels of depravity, and while all depravity is unacceptable and should be punished, to lump the posing of sedated animals in with the sadistic, long term and multifaceted torture of POWs is… ridiculous and counterproductive.

        The facts on their own are damning enough. When we start to make the line between fact and assumption fuzzy we leave room for doubt. We must leave NO ROOM FOR DOUBT in the public’s mind when we present cases like this. When it becomes a he said she said problem – well, it becomes a problem for US, because the onus of proof is on the state.

        Look at the situation at the Basset Hound kennel a while back that was raided (forgive me, I can’t recall the name or the state, but I do believe you reported on it – I know Terrierman did). People STILL are not sure whether a crime was committed by the owner or the humane society. Why? Because there was no EVIDENCE. No photos or videos were ever released proving anything one way or the other.

        I can guess what you believe happened. I know what I believe happened. They’re probably closer than you think. But because the onus is on the public to prove wrongdoing, we’re already fighting what we KNOW is an uphill battle and the last thing we need is more controversy.

        What happens when this guy goes to his supervisor and says “You won’t believe how crazy these nuts are – they’re comparing these photos to Abu Ghraib!” Just how serious is the situation going to be taken?

        Consider this the Rant To Restore Sanity. ;O)

      • I don’t feel I’ve lost my sanity Kim. I agreed that Alan’s comparison rang true to me as well. My emotional response to these photos and the AG photos were similar. When you strongly disagreed, I listed some reasons why the similarity was valid to my mind but the bottom line for me is: I felt a similar response to both.

      • Kim

         /  November 7, 2010

        I’m sorry, Shirley, but I’ve always known you to be interested in the truth above all else.

        The TRUTH about pet overpopulation.

        The TRUTH about animal abusers and their future in society.

        The TRUTH about what goes on behind closed doors to animals who have no one else to speak for them.

        But what you’re talking about here is assumption and extremism. Look at the extremists on the other side who are crawling out of the woodwork. Because crazy loves to fight assumption. Crazy has a much harder time fighting FACT.

        I wasn’t suggesting that you were insane – you know already that I don’t believe that. Far from it. But in order for change to happen here, we need more than assumptions and innuendo. We need FACT. And suggesting and spreading rumours and comparing these photos to possibly some of the most horrific torture ever perpetrated by the american people does NOT further your OR my cause.

        There’s a reason that PeTA is a fringe group. It’s because they use shock imagery to sell their message, and they turn off more people than they convert.

        Even when you’re dealing with fact, one needs to be careful. For example, the billboards PeTA took out against the milk industry reading “Got Pus?” did NOTHING to further their cause. Had they spent those funds instead to have laboratories dissect just what was in the milk we drink and released the findings in a proper press conference, it would have been on the evening news. Personally, I don’t drink milk (I don’t believe that any creature is designed to drink the milk of another species – and I grew up on a dairy farm) and I can give valid arguments for abstaining from doing so.

        Seeing that billboard, however, made me want to pound my head into my desk. That one billboard sent years of real education down the tubes.

        Another example – HumaneWatch.org has cast HUGE suspicion on anyone who questions HSUS. Due to the lobbyist behind the site and his previous assertions such as “trans fat is good for you!” and “mercury is good for pregnant women!” even his VALID points are lost.

        I’m not suggesting not to have those feelings, or that your visceral reaction to photos makes you “insane” – simply that by repeating such a statement makes you appear more “Animal Rights” than “Animal Welfare” – and we both know the difference in the public opinion. One is immediately dismissed as a treehugging, vegan nutjob, and the other is an animal lover who wants to improve their living conditions on this planet.

        Do you see the point I’m trying to make? I’m not trying to sound disrespectful… I realize you are probably taking it that way. I just think that in order to affect real change we need to choose our words and steps carefully in order to build our support and avoid turning off reasonable people who could be our allies. I’m not suggesting we won’t step on toes along the way – but the toes we step on should be the toes of our enemies, not the toes of the very people we are trying to win over.

        Because that’s the only way to WIN. To TRULY win. When the MAJORITY of the public is educated regarding what goes on in these hell holes, and the most effective ways to prevent the killing – only then will those in charge have no other choice but to take a stand and change the status quo.

        And it’s my personal opinion that comparing photos of posed, sedated cats to TORTURED iraqi prisoners is only going to inflame the other side. I’ve seen it dozens of times – and I’m seeing it play out here. In order to have a reasonable discussion, we need to stick to the facts that we can prove. These are the arguments that can NOT be torn down by our detractors. I realize it’s frustrating, to have to choose a single solid brick or a truck full of sand. But enough of those bricks will build something sure to stand the test of time – even deserts blow away.

      • Karen

         /  November 23, 2010

        Maybe if animals were able to speak for themselves, they would be able to tell the tales of abuse they’ve been through. Until then, we can only assume that people who are sick enough to produce photos like this are also sick enough to do more.

      • Kim

         /  November 23, 2010

        Karen, it’s that same kind of thinking that allows those that do these kind of things to get off. When judges “assume” the cats in the photo felt no pain, so what crime is there?

        We can’t ASSUME anything. That’s not how this works. Now, if you want to come up with a hypothesis, that’s a different story. An assumption, based on nothing at all but your own imagination, does nothing but fuel the fire on the other side when they call us all nutcases.

        I am interested in the TRUTH. Because once we have the TRUTH, supported by the FACTS, say… with WITNESS STATEMENTS and REPORTS and DOCUMENTATION and COURT FILINGS, we can have real change.

        Right now, you have a pile of assumption. Hope it makes you feel better, because from where I’m standing it makes you look like a fool – and I say that as gently as possible.

        It’s time we stopped blabbering about what else “might” be going on and deal FIRST with what’s staring us in the face. We can’t even get the administration to deal with that!

        Could there be horrifying things going on behind the scenes? Yep. But I don’t think you’re going to find a shelter ON THE PLANET that hasn’t had a scandal or an “oops” or an incident. Do we assume that every one of them are comparable to jewish internment camps? NO! For a thousand reasons, not the least of which is YOU HAVE NOT A SINGLE SHRED OF EVIDENCE.

        I’m sorry, I realize this post contains an excessive amount of caps. And yes, I realize I called you a fool and that’s something I don’t do unless I truly believe the person I’m talking to is truly a fool, which in this case I don’t – but I do believe that what you’re saying portrays you as one.

        We cannot afford to attack first and ask questions later. We need to get as much of the story, the real story, as possible. We need to seek out the truth, the whole truth, to expose this place and these people for what it and they really are. If there is evidence of further abuse and neglect, it will come out. Employees will come forward as change progresses forward. But shouting about Abu Ghraib is a great way to make those who have the power turn and look the other way. It gives us about as much power as the PeTA people covering themselves in red paint in store windows, or using the phrase “Got Autism?” to discourage milk consumption – or comparing battery hen cages to Nazi camps by displaying the images side by side on billboards.

        Do I think the images are visually comparable? In many ways, yes. Are they in any way morally comparable? NO. Are they in any way aiding in the cause? NO. They cause rational people who may be swayed by a well thought out, well presented argument to turn away in disgust – not only at the billboard but also in the future any time the subject is even brought up. They are forever tainted by this image thanks to these fanatics and instead have turned in the completely opposite direction, refusing now to hear any rational argument because surely if you agree with these nutjobs that these things are bad, you must agree with their beliefs, period – making you a nutjob as well and therefore Not To Be Trusted.

        We need to be the voice of reason, not the voice of protest. That this is simply not acceptable in our lifetimes. NOT ACCEPTABLE. Not screaming, assuming, comparing, wondering – but rather collecting, observing, investigating, exposing, reporting, and standing up tall and saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

        Simple.

        Don’t you get it? You don’t need to make up fictitious sins to condemn sinners.

  4. mikken

     /  November 6, 2010

    Time to demand “proof of life” of those cats. Having “no idea” what became of them is not acceptable. If I were the shelter director, I would trace that IMMEDIATELY before a news team shows up at my door.

    As for the ferret, if they think that it’s a parasite and it’s actually adrenal disease, then the animal is not receiving proper care.

    Reply
    • betty gale

       /  November 7, 2010

      I was told the ferret was born that way! with no hair on his/her back, and that is very common in rodents. by a front counter agent @ CHAR MECK ANIMAL CONTROL. her name Linda Constance. HAS A FACE BOOK PAGE. were she is telling me to ….

      Reply
      • Kim

         /  November 7, 2010

        I can find no reference to ferrets being born with this kind of condition.

        Alopecia is the only other answer I could find, although it is generally corresponding with flaky and scabby skin sores. This animal’s skin looks very healthy.

        The only naked ferrets are those with ADVANCED adrenal disease. Adrenal disease, btw, follows the EXACT pattern this ferret has. The only thing the led me to believe the ferret was not adrenal was because the lines were so clean and Brenna’s body shape was so… normal.

        Of course, without bloodwork, there’s no way to say.

        Hairlessness is not a common mutation in rodents. It is commonly SEEN in the pet trade because when the mutation pops up it’s weird, interesting and a reason for a price hike – so it’s bred heavily (skinny pigs, anyone?).

        “The hairless strain that it is most likely related to was a spontaneous genetic mutation that was first identified at Montreal’s Institute Armand Frappier in 1978, in a colony of Hartley lab guinea pigs. In 1982 they were sent to Charles River Laboratories to be bred for laboratory use and are commonly used in dermatology studies today. They are an outbred strain that has an intact thymus[1] and normal immune system.”

        From there, the pet trade.

        Same with hairless rats:

        “Hairless rats are a coat variety characterized by varying levels of hair loss. Hairless rats, bred from Rexes, have varying areas of bare skin, or very short fur on their bodies. Because the Rex coat is a dominant trait, it only needs one Rex-parent to affect the rat’s appearance. However, when two copies of the trait appear, by breeding two Rexes together, the coat is affected differently—causing hairlessness, and earning the colloquial name, “Double-rex”. Hairless varieties are produced by different combinations of the various genes that cause Rex coats. One subset of semi-hairless rats, patchwork rats, constantly lose hair and regrow it in different “patches” several times throughout their lifetimes.”

        I obviously can’t say without a doubt that Brenna wasn’t “born this way” but I damn sure say that it is NOT “very common” in any species otherwise meant to HAVE hair, to randomly have bald patches.

        How ridiculous.

      • Ferrets aren’t rodents.

        Anyone who thinks so does not get to present “expert testimony” about what is “normal” for any species of animal

  5. Jane Howard

     /  November 6, 2010

    Having had my share of ‘episodes’ with Charlotte Animal Control, animals entering the shelter are given an ID tag/number which is attached to a collar and placed around the animal’s neck. Animals are photographed and their picture, along with the ID number, is entered into the computer for future reference. Since the cats don’t appear to have ID tags on them yet, then it would be somewhat reasonable that their fate is unknown.

    As far as the ferret goes, if AC personnel are saying the condition is parasitical and ferret people posting here feel it’s adrenal, I’d go with the latter. And while I agree that the lack of treatment is uncalled for, take into consideration that the ‘shelter’ veterinarian, Dr. Mary Blinn, is basically a career civil servant, feeding at the public trough and just waiting to retire – with, I imagine a taxpayer-funded pension. I have been in Charlotte 20 years and can only remember her as the shelter veterinarian. The vet techs perform the euthanization and basically decide who lives or dies, which amounts to about 1000 a month.

    It’s interesting to note that all the CMPD K-9 dogs receive their veterinary care from a private veterinarian, not Dr. Blinn, ergo your tax dollars are being used to pay for full-price services, even though these dogs could get their vaccinations, check-ups, etc. from Dr. Blinn and where they get their vaccines at a much lower price than what the city ends up paying a private vet. In that regard, I’m not surprised that the ferret was misdiagnosed.

    Lastly, although I find the posed pictures offensive, what happened to my little dog was worse. She was confiscated for not having a current license – yes, you read correctly – and while in their ‘care’ she was being taken out for a walk and was attacked by a Pit Bull being brought into the facility. It ripped out most of her bottom teeth and she had to have surgery to repair her mouth. As a result, her bottom lip is somewhat crooked and she can’t keep her tongue in her mouth.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 6, 2010

      Is there any way to get confirmation that ALL cats entering the shelter are provided with an individually numbered tag and collar?

      I don’t mean any offense, but this seems highly unlikely. Generally animals, cats in particular, are identified by their kennel card number. To suggest that each cat/kitten receives a collar and tag individual to that animal when 1,000 of them are going to die seems illogical to me.

      In addition, just because a photo is attached to the file, with 1,000 animals euthanized each month, is it reasonable to assume the shelter director would recognize ANY cat, let alone two in particular?

      In regards to your little dog, you have nothing but my deepest sympathies and anger towards the people and group responsible for her injuries. There is NO excuse for this.

      Reply
  6. I agree, just imagine what goes on there that is not photographed. I’m sure it would give us all nightmares.

    I live in a city with a “shelter” where puppies have been washed down drains (went on for at least 4 years that I know of) and dogs were intentionally starved nearly to death and puppies punched for playing…not to mention a 65% kill rate, I can relate to having nightmares.

    I wonder if this is one of the shelters that HSUS and others include in their “National Shelter Appreciation” week?

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 6, 2010

      “I live in a city with a “shelter” where puppies have been washed down drains”

      WOW. I’ve been in rescue a LONG time, and in animal welfare even longer – and this one shocked even me.

      How in the hell does this even happen? For the expense of a $2 drain cover?

      I’m going to go get sick now. :O(

      Reply
  7. Regarding tracking down the cats, I find it unacceptable when a shelter says they don’t know what happened to an animal in their care. Some shelters even claim to “lose” pets they are supposed to be caring for.

    In the case of the cats pictured, I would certainly HOPE the people who drugged, shamefully posed, held up, and photographed them would remember them. Since this is supposedly an isolated incident. At the very least, I would assume the people involved in staging the photos remember what happened afterward – whether they killed the cats or put them on the adoption floor or what.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 6, 2010

      Oh, I don’t doubt the people who took the photos remember those specific cats, simply because they took the photos and obviously had an interaction that extended beyond the average that would simply get lost in your daily activities.

      I mean, it’s *possible* that they had limited contact with the animals – perhaps when they left the animal was in the intake kennels and when they returned the animal was gone. If they only worked in intake, they may not know if the animal was euthanized or adopted while they were gone, and judging by the photos I doubt if they care.

      I’ve worked with shelters who cared – shelters who did whatever they could for every single animal, no matter what neighbourhood they were in and what odds were stacked against them. I’ve also worked with shelters that couldn’t care less, with workers who were there simply because of the government hours, pay and benefits that came with the job. Places where abuses occurred, but neglect was the real issue simply because employees didn’t give a damn.

      If I called shelter directors of both types right now and showed them photos of stray cats that were in their shelters in August and asked them to identify them, I can guarantee that neither of them would be able to unless something out of the ordinary happened to that cat in the more caring shelter – such as an employee fostering the cat, the cat being adopted to a friend of a friend, or being adopted while the director was in the room.

      Now, the shelter workers of the shelter that cared MAY be able to identify a cat such as the first one in the photo due to its markings. The second cat, being a nondescript tabby with common markings, would likely go unremembered in a place that euthanized 1,000 animals a month.

      In the non-caring shelter, no one would remember either.

      It has nothing to do with the failure of a shelter to “know what happened to an animal in their care” in situations like this. It has to do with the fact that cats look alike. If a cat is not microchipped or tattooed by the owner, there is no way to identify that animal with 100% accuracy if it is commonly marked. Certainly not through a photograph.

      I’ve been doing the “sophie’s choice” walk (going through a kennel and deciding who to save) and more than once I’ve had to take a really close look at a cat that could have been a twin to my male black cat, and he has a very definitive face shape – and I KNEW he was at home. I can’t imagine trying to search through an array of photos, or worse, vague descriptions, to match photos of a cat taken from another angle trying to make a definitive match.

      Regardless, my disgust is twofold.

      1) that these employees still have a job. There is no excuse for this behaviour. Period. The moment this was brought to the attention of the supervisor, they should have been fired.

      2) the letter the supervisor sent out to staff. The letter is clearly urging the staff to stop getting caught mistreating the animals on Facebook. Not to stop mistreating animals, or even to stop taking photos of staff mistreating animals – but certainly to stop posting them on Facebook.

      After the “oops” pitbull incident, that’s three strikes against the director as far as I can see, so by my calculations that’s bye-bye director. See ya later. Buh-bye. Ciao. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

      The new director’s first job needs to be to hire back the whistleblower and get rid of every staff member who knew and didn’t come forward. Then, shelter reform from the ground up. Might I suggest hiring someone with some serious experience and offering an appropriate salary and shelter budget to encourage success?

      Sadly, I expect silence, coverup, and business as usual until they have to scramble to cover their asses the next time an “oops” is uncovered.

      Reply
  8. Matt

     /  November 6, 2010

    To The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control,

    You are the scum of the Earth. I wish your parents had used condoms. The world would be better off. It’s easy to abuse an innocent cat or dog. Come and try to abuse ME!

    You will not succeed.

    Reply
  9. EmilyS

     /  November 6, 2010

    Actually the point is not whether or not the director can identify the animals.

    The point that the director’s response was NOT a warning to his employees to treat animals (dead or alive) with respect and not as toys… but a warning not to put photos up where evil people like Yes Biscuit might find them and use them for ulterior motives.

    Motives like disclosing a shocking state of affairs and demanding accountability.

    Reply
  10. Lisa Patnaude

     /  November 6, 2010

    As a once owner of 4 ferrets I can tell you that if the hair loss started at the base of the tail it is most likely adrenal disease. This is a serious disease that needs immediate attention by a vet. One of my ferrets was diagnosed w/it at 10 months of age. Sadly the 3 surgeries were unsuccessful including Lupron shots and she passed at the age of 6 yrs. For more info – http://www.ferretcentral.org/faq/med/adrenal.html

    Reply
  11. LynneMarie

     /  November 6, 2010

    What I don’t understand is why this facility hasn’t fired everyone of its employees, including the director, and replaced them with more suitable, caring ones? Or is it that there aren’t any in that town?

    For an area with so many “christians”, you’d think that they’d place a higher value on an innocent living creature. After all, humans are supposed to be the intelligent, compassionate caretakers of this planet but what a terrible job we’ve done thus far. And you are equally quilty/culpable if you stand by and do nothing!

    Reply
    • Jane Howard

       /  November 7, 2010

      Just because this is an area full of so-called Christians, doesn’t mean they work at AC.

      I got hassled by a manager of Burger King for feeding some feral cats behind the restaurant (even though his own employees would toss throw out the dead burgers and fish patties for the cats.) He had a religious sticker on his car and I asked him if he believed that God created all life. He said yes, so I asked him how he, as a Christian, would be so cruel as to not want a cat to eat and he claimed I was taking the bible out of context. There are ‘religious’ folk who aren’t exactly into the stewardship of the earth thing. If you recall, there was a special on HBO about a guy in Missouri who would buy hundreds of dogs and sell them to medical research labs. One time he was caught on hidden camera shooting a yappy purebred Cocker Spaniel in the head with a .22 pistol becuase it was “taking up air.” He was finally convicted and in the process lost his congregation. Yep, he was a minister of his own church. Sickening.

      Reply
  12. Jaime

     /  November 6, 2010

    DISGUSTING. PERIOD. LOSE YOUR LICENSE SCUMBAG!

    Reply
  13. Karen

     /  November 6, 2010

    Hmmm… I saw two names on this list who are known to be pretty whacked out and really have nothing better to do with their time but to hold grudges and create blogs like this. That’s pretty interesting. Sure, the photo’s are bad and no, the staff shouldn’t have done that. But scum of the earth? Really?

    Oh…and taking someone’s dog because it doesn’t have a current license is a legal thing to do. Look at the ordinance.

    Can anyone tell me why they hold adoption and other events if they didn’t care about the animals? Can any of you say that you’ve worked in a place where you have to euthanize animals every single day just because they were born and no one will want them because they are ill, feral, or aggressive? They aren’t the ones breeding these animals, the people within the city are. Which is causing the entire problem.

    Still, terrible thing to do. So go ahead, continue the bashing. It’s fine.

    Reply
    • Jane Howard

       /  November 7, 2010

      Karen, are you referring to me as one of the “whacked out” ones?

      Yeah, a dog can be impounded for not having a license – I am familiar with the ordinance. HOWEVER, to do so, there are steps to this process, the first being that the pet owner must be given a notice to comply. That was never done; my dog was just taken, period.

      Secondly, I am the only person I know of to have this happen. I live in a part of Charlotte where animal licensing is the exception, rather than the rule. If ACOs went out and confiscated the dogs of everyone who was not in compliance they would not have time to answer more serious calls for service.

      I have talked to two people who worked for AC and each lasted a day, refusing to go back. They couldn’t stomach dragging dogs to the death room and hauling the corpses off in a wheelbarrow to the disposal area. So to say that anyone “has” to work in a place where you have to euthanize animals every day is a load of crap. Nobody is holding a gun to the heads of these people with the needles – they CHOOSE to do it. The fact that some of them have been at it for years indicates how SPECIAL they are. One of them even told me, “This is what I was meant to do.” To spend your day killing animals? Really?

      And lastly, perhaps you should remove your head from your backside and get real – the ONLY reason that AC has become more adoption-friendly (if you can call it that) is because of the “Death at the Pound” series featured in the Charlotte Observer a few years back. The response to those articles prompted more people to volunteer at shelters, the creation of animal welfare groups such as the ALGC and the personnel shake-up at the Humane Society of Charlotte.

      But you keep drinking the Kool-Aid, Karen, and keep calling us the whack jobs.

      Reply
      • Joe

         /  November 7, 2010

        Jane,

        You’re an idiot….a hoarder….and you smell really bad. You have really bad information as well.

  14. Jackie Farnham

     /  November 6, 2010

    Everyone should be fired that is involved in this. It’s disgusting and tax dollars are what funds this shelter. People should be angry. It’s unacceptable to say “I don’t know.” Why don’t you know???

    Pubic employees should not be allowed to use government, regardless or city or state, computers for anything other than work related activities. I have to question the integrity of the director of this shelter.

    This is very upsetting. It’s purely disgusting and sickening.

    Reply
  15. tami

     /  November 6, 2010

    I was trying to get a good look at the pics of the cats. The dilute tortie- tongue color could indicate sedation or….The tabby, pupils appear different in size, again, sedation. The document underneath? A drug log? Would have animal ID# and description.
    Info that may assist in any charges that could/should be filed.
    JMO

    Reply
  16. I might “have something in my eye” here so feel free to skip over if you don’t want to see someone w/her heart on her sleeve but here’s the thing about knowing what happened to those cats: If these cats were abused and photographed for laughs in ways that devalue them as living creatures and then *utterly and completely forgotten* – well maybe this makes me an unrealistic sap who has no clue how shelters work but I just think that’s goddamn tragic. And for the director to say he has “absolutely no idea” what happened to them strikes me as cruelly callous. It’s not just the choice of words but the way it came across to me was like I was asking where the pen is that was jammed between the cat’s teeth – as if it’s a trivial matter and no one should reasonably expect an answer to that question. I do. Rightly or wrongly, I do.

    Reply
  17. Kelley

     /  November 7, 2010

    @Karen –

    Choose to. They choose to kill animals every day. They don’t HAVE to, unless someone happens to be holding them at gunpoint, and even then they have a choice.

    As for having nothing better to do with one’s time than create a blog like this, I can’t imagine much that would be better.

    Reply
    • Karen

       /  November 7, 2010

      Then clearly, Kelley, you have no life if you feel this is worth time out of your day.

      And yes, they CHOOSE to euthanize them. But that’s because other people in this county CAN’T do it. Know how many times I’ve heard people say “Boy, I can NOT do the jobs of what those people do at AC&C.”?

      And if anyone wanted to go in there and try to do it, I welcome it. People left because that place because they COULDN’T DO IT. Jane is right in that aspect that they couldn’t bear to kill the animals on a daily basis. So who will? Because until people get the population under control, we will have the choice of not having a choice.

      Reply
      • Then what kind of life do you have, Karen, if you have time to respond to comments on this blog that is no worth time out of the day of anyone who has a life?

        Ending the lives of healthy or treatable animals is not “euthanasia;” it’s killing. And all over the country, there are some communities that have ENDED the killing–in rural communities and urban ones, in poor communities and rich ones, in communities with large numbers of transients and tourists, and areas with almost none.

        The No Kill Equations works–when it’s used.

        But some people choose to keep killing.

  18. Joe

     /  November 7, 2010

    You guys are complete morons….plain and simple. ANYONE who thinks they have the “solution” to pet overpopulation needs to stand up and stop posting their displeasure on blogs. I ask each and every one of you…what have you done to help? Have you volunteered at the Animal Care & Control? Have you donated money to their FREE and UNBUDGETED services they provide to the those who can not afford to have their animals cared for or sterilized?

    Probably not.

    You would rather hide behind the anonymity of a blog and shout than be a part of the solution.

    The reality is the ACC department is an open admission shelter. This means they do not have the luxury of shutting their doors. THEY HAVE TO TAKE ALL UNWANTED PETS. If they did not euthanize they could not function.

    You are all idiots….

    Reply
    • Kristy

       /  November 7, 2010

      Joe would it be safe to assume you have some sort of a connection to the shelter is question?
      The only comments here that make the poster appear to posses less than average intelligence are yours.
      Are you familiar with the no kill equation and movement? Or do you fall under the category of those who see advocates of no kill as smelly and hoarders?
      You defend the slaughter of high kill shelters but have not denounced the actions of those involved in the cruelty discussed above. Why is this?
      I believe if high kill shelters implemented procedures that greatly reduce the amount of animals killed and increase the number of animals that are rehabilitated, adopted, and/or sent to a rescue donations would increase. People tend to not want to contribute to the systematic suffering and cruelty inflicted upon animals in high kill shelters. They don’t want to support this kind of egregious cruelty, and they shouldn’t.
      By posting this story and demanding justice and change for the animals within this shelter YesBiscuit is part of the solution. By advocating for the status quo to remain and defending suffering and needless killing, you, Joe, are not.

      Reply
      • Karen

         /  November 7, 2010

        YesBiscuit is only part of the solution if they decided to say “Hey, THIS is how we should stop pet overpopulation and make this world a better place” and then announce it to the citizens of Charlotte.

        Again, the pictures are terrible. I mean, what were they thinking? They weren’t, clearly. There is no excuse for doing what they did to those cats. But everyone on here thinks that AC&C is bad because they euthanize animals every day when, in reality, they cry over the ones that are sweet and friendly because they have no where to put them. And why is this? Because people don’t spay/neuter for the most ridiculous reasons.

        And Jane, I don’t like Kool-aid, so keep your stupid comments to yourself, please.

        So let’s see what other bashing comments can be made.

      • Jane Howard

         /  November 7, 2010

        Amen, and well said, Kristy.

        Karen, if, like Joe, that is your real name, in reference to “stupid comments” and bashing, you came on here and straight away referred to individuals here as whacked out, so please don’t act like you’re above getting into the mud.

        And, like Joe, so far you have only denigrated others and have yet to contribute any solutions either.

    • Joe,
      There a lot of OPEN ADMISSION shelters in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand who have figured out how to stop killing. Here are just a few: http://bit.ly/bdMLlR

      For you to advocate for killing when we know that alternatives exist, is unexcusable. Please become educated on how these shelter directors have stopped the killing before you condemn millions of animals to death. You can start by reading Redemption by Nathan Winogard. Also, research his websites: http://www.NoKillAdvocacyCenter.org and http://www.NathanWinograd.com. Perhaps then you will realize how ridiculous your statements are.

      Reply
    • Jane Howard

       /  November 7, 2010

      Hmmm…so I’m a moron, a hoarder and I smell bad. When people really start name-calling then they really have nothing to say. And Joe, you certainly offered no solutions, just whining and personal attacks.

      I strongly suspect that Joe (if that is his real name – at least I am not hiding) is an AC employee who is basically defending the indefensible. He’s probably one of the guys who carts off the dead bodies.

      However, Joe, thanks for letting us all know that AC (I leave out the other ‘c’ for care because they don’t) is an open admissions shelter – duh.
      But there are some things they could do to cut down on the euthanization rate (instead of shipping some to the Humane Society of Charlotte and line-jumping citizens who have been on the waiting list) but they won’t.

      For example, there is a shelter in CT – one which imports dogs from Puerto Rico because they don’t have enough dogs to adopt out – that has a policy in place that if pet owners bring a mama cat and her kittens to surrender them, they will offer the owner a FREE spay if they keep the mom and will place the babies. They said about 90% of the people agree to do this, so that cuts down on feline intake. Since AC already has a spay/neuter clinic on the premises, this is feasible. Just as in a pet adoption, the owner can pick up their dog or cat the next day. The pet keeps its home and there are no more litters.

      When a animal is picked up and reclaimed by its owner there are two options. The first choice is to pay the fine, impound charges and board, which, in some cases, can amount to several hundred dollars. The other one is the spay/neuter option. If the owner consents to have the pet sterilized, all of the impound fees, fines, etc. are dropped and the only charge is for the surgery, microchip, rabies shot (if needed) and license. Sooo…make the spay/neuter option mandatory, not an option.

      Thirdly, AC as free spay/neuter clinics but the waiting list is months – as much as six for large dogs, who can have a litter of puppies in that amount of time. They need to have more clinics and cut down on the back log. Don’t say there aren’t enough funds because if this was made a priority and cutbacks made, this could be done, such as using state money from the “I Care” license plates” or cutting the job of the PR person who every once in a while goes on TV to try and spin AC’s screw-ups. The shelter has a manager, who one would suppose has a brain and a voice. Surely he can step up and do any necessary explaining when required. He certainly did it before.

      Lastly, AC needs to get more adopter-friendly. I know of people who absolutely refuse to go to the shelter because they say it’s such a depressing place because they know animals are killed there.
      The shelter has a cadre (look it up, Joe) of volunteers who could take the pets to the people. Yeah, I know AC has adoption “events” but this should be a weekly thing.

      Petsmart stores have adoptions every weekend where AC could bring some of their animals, but the store on South Blvd. has zero. A rescue has some cats warehoused in the cages, but nobody there on Saturdays and Sundays to showcase adoptable pets. Petsmart corporate keeps track of adoption figures, so the management would LOVE to get increase their rates and get some dogs in there. For every one adopted, every few months Petsmart sends a check to the shelter – which could go into the spay/neuter fund.

      However, for guys like Joe, who are probably minimally educated to begin with, and can’t get a job elsewhere, the AC killing machine is job security. When that is accompanied by not thinking of positive solutions and the attitude of “this is how we’ve always done it” thousands of animals will continue to die.

      To Joe and those of his ilk, whose main concern each day is deciding at which all-you-can-eat buffet they’ll meet for lunch (don’t you just hate that Prime Sirloin shut down?) why don’t YOU try thinking outside the box and stop attacking people like me who are? I have done TNR on about 600 cats in the last ten years at my own expense. I figure I have performed a community service and have saved thousands of kittens from being born, thus saving taxpayers the cost of AC trapping, housing, euthanizing and disposing of them.

      IF YOU’RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

      Reply
      • Jane Howard

         /  November 7, 2010

        P.S. Pardon the typos – I was in a hurry.

      • Karen

         /  November 7, 2010

        Okay, so you think your points are valid. And SOME of them are. Spay/neuter should be a priority when it comes to people who want to surrender their cat that just had 6 kittens. But maybe that cat should have been spayed BEFORE she got pregnant. Who’s fault is that?

        And how to do you account for the people who surrender their dog or cat because they are moving? Or what about the dog that bit someone’s child? What about the incredibly stupid person who turns in their newly bought 10 week old puppy after having it for only a week because it’s not house trained? Or the 3 year old dog that’s left home alone for hours because the owner is at work and it results in boredom chewing? Or the dog that’s surrendered because it’s outside barking too much? Or the cat that refuses to use the litter box?

        There’s only so much spay/neuter can do. A lot more of it is educating people…especially those that have never owned a pet before. If you feel it should be mandatory, then I totally encourage you to go to city council about that and make a statement about it. I think they should make it mandatory and that would definitely make you part of the solution.

        And adoption events are fantastic to get those animals new homes. Maybe they should get to Petsmart and place some cats in their cages and show-case them for adoption. It is actually easier to just go to the shelter and adopt a pet in one easy step than most other rescues ever allow. They make you fill out applications, wait for reference and house checks before you’re allowed to bring that animal home. Which is better? And since AC&C officers are out answering barking complaints, they don’t have time to do house checks on new owners.

        People that claim they don’t go to AC&C because it’s depressing don’t realize that AC&C aren’t the ones that make it that way. It’s depressing because the public makes it that way. Don’t surrender a cat you’ve had for 10 years because you suddenly are having a baby. Who is that really hurting?

        It’s funny that this whole blog started from these pictures and turned into an AC&C bashing session but hey, that’s the kick you get out of your life, then keep it coming.

      • Kim

         /  November 7, 2010

        @Karen

        You’re barking up the wrong tree, Karen.

        If you’re going to make an argument, at least make a valid one.

        EVERY SINGLE REASON you mentioned for pets ending up in shelters are the same reasons pets end up in rescues.

        “But maybe that cat should have been spayed BEFORE she got pregnant. Who’s fault is that?”

        Cats can come into heat as early as 4 months of age. In addition, they aren’t like dogs, where you have many days of visible evidence before they are actually ready to receive a mate. Basically, a cat comes into heat, slips past your feet at the door (not that hard) and presto! preggo kitty. Or how about if that poor kitty ended up at your doorstep already pregnant and you took her in? Or if you got her as a kitten and then lost your job? Do you feed your kids, or spay your cat? This is an argument for easy access low cost spay/neuter services, not for the EVILS of the public.

        “And how to do you account for the people who surrender their dog or cat because they are moving?”

        Sometimes they really ARE moving. Life changes, the economy changes. The point is, a shelter is supposed to SHELTER animals, not kill them. That’s WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR.

        “Or what about the dog that bit someone’s child?”

        What about it? What would you do with it? Most owners would be unwilling to live with such a liability. I happen to have a different take (I have no children and work with aggressive dogs) but the shelter has a responsibility to the public as well. Rescues like mine are few and far between, but when we have room, they do release the animals to us, provided we sign a waiver. When people adopt those animals from us, they receive a copy of the animal’s entire history, ongoing training for life, and also have to sign a waiver – and no dog leaves here unless I believe that a) the dog is no longer a danger and b) it is in capable hands

        “What about the incredibly stupid person who turns in their newly bought 10 week old puppy after having it for only a week because it’s not house trained?”

        First, the majority of these people are not stupid – they are ignorant. They either had no idea the work involved, or they received the animal as a gift. If a week of housetraining is that frustrating, rehoming the dog is the most humane thing for it. Again, this is WHY SHELTERS EXIST.

        “Or the 3 year old dog that’s left home alone for hours because the owner is at work and it results in boredom chewing?”

        If that’s the dog’s only fault than it should have no trouble being placed. If the owner can’t be bothered to walk the dog or provide toys that stimulate the dog mentally throughout the day, then perhaps rehoming is the best thing for that dog. Not to say that this is an irresponsible owner – it’s possible that this owner has simply been blessed with low energy dogs in the past. Neither dog nor owner are happy. I would happily rehome the dog, and I would happily place a senior dog or a dog with very low energy in this home.

        “Or the dog that’s surrendered because it’s outside barking too much?”

        Again, the shelter will fix this problem. They will place the dog in an indoor situation, and the barking will subside with training.

        “Or the cat that refuses to use the litter box?”

        Now this is a whole other can of worms. I *have* come across cats who simply would NOT use the box, regardless of litter, environment, box, treatment, medical state, etc. If sanctuary can not be found, these animals are generally euthanized. These cats are very rare, however, and often it’s just a matter of figuring out what their triggers are.

        “People that claim they don’t go to AC&C because it’s depressing don’t realize that AC&C aren’t the ones that make it that way. It’s depressing because the public makes it that way.”

        Now here’s where your argument goes directly into nutville. Would you say… people claim that they don’t adopt children because foster children are difficult to adopt and group homes are depressing, because the public makes them that way? There will ALWAYS be a need for child welfare, and there will always be a need for animal control.

        It’s how we choose to approach that need that makes the difference.

        YES, education is a part of it. That’s why just about every No-Kill success has an education portion to it. They also have low cost spay/neuter.

        As far as the shelters go, I suggest you take a look in Ohio. Go down to the Scioto pound. The building is literally cinder block and chain link. It smells of feces and urine and death. Everything is dirty and rusty and makes you want to RUN in the other direction.

        A few hours north, the Cuyahoga Falls facility is exactly the opposite. Large ceilings, natural light, large runs, clean, nice smelling, well staffed, organized. Much lower incidence of disease as well.

        While the majority of the dogs we pull from Cuyahoga tend to be hard to place dogs like Chows, Rotties, etc., the dogs we pull from Scioto are very different. We’ve gotten puppies, chinese cresteds, chihuahuas, min pins, papillons, poodles, schnauzers, sharpeis – dogs that get snapped right up in Cuyahoga.

        Unfortunately, no one wants to even venture into Scioto – and it’s not for staff’s lack of trying. The funds simply don’t exist.

        Here’s something else – when we pull from Scioto, their fee is waived because we are rescue (I believe it’s $25). When we pull from Cuyahoga, it’s around $50 and includes a full vet check including fecal and heartworm testing (and treatment for any findings – most dogs leave with some kind of medication), spay/neuter, full vaccinations including rabies, health certificate, license and behavioural notes. Scioto – we get the dog’s name, date of drop off and any notes that happen to be on the kennel card.

        This IS partially about the public – but it’s not about blame. This IS about the towns and cities responsible for these systems – and there it IS about blame, because these systems are under THEIR control. Shelters and ACCs all over North America prove EVERY DAY that it can be done right if we just fight hard enough and are willing to put in the effort and the money.

        The real kicker? Once the effort and the money are invested, the long term effort/money expenditure is lower in a no-kill setting.

        IF YOU’RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, MAYBE YOU JUST DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER.

  19. Morons is a light word for them …cruel heartless, dirty animal abusers …sick rotten that need to be punished or taught a lesson…I would volunteer for that ….cold hearted sickos

    Reply
  20. Jane Howard

     /  November 7, 2010

    Karen, I am so touched you think some of my points are valid. I am not a moron, yet you seem to persist in addressing me as if I am.

    You ask whose (well, you said who’s, but never mind) fault is it that the cat had kittens to begin with. Well, gee, that’s a no-brainer – of course the cat should have been spayed before she got pregnant, but at least at that point her life can be saved, she can return to her home and will not be a shelter statistic.

    It ain’t rocket science that spay/neuter can only do so much, but it’s a START. Obviously, with less animals being born, less will end up at AC and that will cut down on euthanizations. With less being born that will free up rescue groups and AC to take in the owner surrenders from idiots who probably should not have gotten pets to begin with. .

    So Karen, you think that AC is a better place to adopt a pet because it’s so EASY??? SERIOUSLY???? Rescues check with landlords to make sure the person is even allowed to have pets and ask about pet deposits for the same reason. They will do home visits to ensure that prospective dog owners actually DO have a fenced-in yard and the dogs will not spend their lives chained up or confined to a pen. They perform vet checks to ensure that any other animals in the home are current on vaccinations, heartworm treatment, etc. They will also educate new pet owners so they understand the commitment and requirements of pet ownership. Some rescues even have a mandatory waiting period so they will know that the decision to adopt is not an impulsive one. In other words, they want to rescue an animal ONCE so that it’s not going to a situation worse than where it came from. I have turned people down because of stuff like this.

    Sorry, you can tout AC all you want, but it is not an adoption-friendly environment. Take a look at the SPCA in Wake County’s adoption facility and it will blow you away. On weekends that place is full of families looking to adopt who don’t walk into a drab, colorless, concrete-gray facility where the employees are dressed like prison guards and you have to stand in line behind a person who is surrendering a dog that will be dead before he leaves the parking lot to get information on an animal they’d like to adopt. (Sometimes a person will walk out of AC with a dog that somebody came in to surrender, and I only hope that the home was a good one.)

    Your snarky comment about “and that would definitely make you part of the solution” makes me wonder if you actually read/understood what I said. Perhaps if you go back and re-read my comments s-l-o-w-l-y you’d see that I have spayed and neutered hundreds of feral cats in Charlotte, especially on the west side, at my own expense.

    I keep a stack of applications for the Humane Society of Charlotte’s low-income spay/neuter program to hand out in this same area so people can get free surgeries/vaccinations. I will even transport their pets to/from the clinic to make sure they follow through. I am not trying to toot my own horn but trying to make a point about prevention and how important it is to me as a solution.

    So Karen, you can denigrate me all you want, but I have to wonder what you’re doing to help out instead of taking potshots at those of us who do?? My current sterlization ‘project’ is a low-income housing project on Remount Road where there are about 100 cats wandering around. They could certainly use some help if you’d like to volunteer…

    Reply
  21. Karen

     /  November 7, 2010

    @Jane- Why would you automatically assume that I was referring to you as being whacked out? Accusing me of not using my real name sounds like paranoia to me. And “stupid comments and bashing” is exactly what most people are doing on here.

    Have I really denigrated others? Like I already said, you have valid points. So go to city council and try to make them see reason and make AC&C change their ways rather than just sitting on your computer and writing out. I encourage everyone on here that finds this disgusting to make city council change the ways into the ways that have proven to work in other cities. Isn’t that what you all want anyway?

    I’d love to be part of a solution except I’m not part of the problem. My pets are altered, current on everything, don’t get loose or create neighborhood problems, and are house/litter box trained. The people that are not part of the solution are those that don’t care whether their pet reproduces or not, care if their animals are trained or even get loose. So it’s harder for me to give solutions when I don’t know how to change that kind of mentality.

    And why should it be the AC&C’s responsibility to make sure that everyone that brings their unwanted pet in to get altered just so they aren’t surrendered? Isn’t that what vets are for? Maybe vets should lower their cost for surgeries and shots. Is this part of the solution?

    You people are just terrific. What else you got?

    Reply
    • Well, Karen, I suppose it depends on whether or not any of you folks in AC care about reducing the killing.

      In my community, AC officers circulate in the parts of the city that have the highest rates of intact animals and animals roaming. They talk to the owners about the benefits of spay/neuter, proper containment, and other ways of keeping their pets healthy and safe.

      And they provide transportation to and from the low-cost spay/neuter clinic for those who want to or agree to have their animals fixed, and can’t get there themselves because they have no cars and you can’t take animals on public transit.

      Now, you choose to say “why should it be their responsibility?”, but our AC says, “what will reduce the number of animals sitting in the pound?”

      And wonder of wonders, helping people to get their animals fixed and providing animal care education in a spirit of helpfulness rather than punishment has reduced the number of animals in AC in any give week to a quarter of what it was before they began this policy.

      They didn’t say “Why should we?” They said “What can we do that will change things?”

      Reply
  22. Clarification re Ferret: Not part of ‘inventory.’ Name is Brenna. One of two ferrets kept in office of sheltering staff member. Ferret was not, as stated today on FB by CMPD Animal Care and Control counter agent “born that way, it happens in-frequently, to rodents and ferrets.” Ferret Brenna was shaved when sheltering staff member was on vacation.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 7, 2010

      … pretty sure that was my guess. No skin irritation from parasite or NAIR, not skinny enough to be adrenal. An ignorant thing to do, nonetheless. If I was the “sheltering staff member” I would remove these animals before further actions were taken, possibly in retaliation.

      Wonder why Mr. Director felt the need to lie and say mange, while others felt the need to say “born this way”. Did no one think photos might be taken as the fur grows back? Or were they going to use his “miraculous” recovery as a testament to their superior care standards?

      No matter how you look at it, this entire place needs an overhaul, ASAP.

      Reply
      • Kay

         /  November 7, 2010

        OMG!Brenna was not shaved nor was she NAIRED! Brenna is a happy healthy ferret. The ferret with hairloss came into the shelter that way and left the shelter alive and well.
        Let’s get the facts straight please. There’s a lot of work to be done and none of it will get done bashing each other.

      • Let’s keep in mind that the reason anyone ever suspected the ferret was abused was because *the shelter staff posed for pictures highlighting her hair loss and captioned the photo saying someone had used NAIR on her*.

      • Kim

         /  November 7, 2010

        Kay, where is your proof that Brenna is happy OR healthy?

        A ferret with no hair is certainly not healthy. An animal who is not in peak health is not experiencing peak happiness.

        Either the ferret was shaved, or I was wrong and there is indeed an adrenal issue. Just because she came in that way does not a healthy ferret make. Ferrets rely on their hair to protect them from debris.

        There IS a lot of work to be done – but those of us who care about animal welfare don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the kind of people who would treat animals in this fashion to NOT be allowed to work with animals – or at least not as a government employee!

        I’m with you – let’s get the facts. Is it possible that this ferret has some bizarre hair congenital hair loss pattern that ONLY affects the hair follicle that I’ve never heard of in 20 years of dealing with exotic animals? Of course! But forgive me for saying it’s not likely. If you want to bring forth the facts lets see where the shelter tested Brenna for adrenal dysfunction before adopting her out to an unsuspecting member of the public.

  23. Karen

     /  November 7, 2010

    Okay…clearly this has turned into a feud. All I can say is…take your solutions to the people that need to hear it rather than just sitting here and spewing it to people that can’t do anything. And I never said you were a moron. Nor did I imply it.

    Reply
  24. I will shortly stand corrected on my comments re Ferret Brenna. I have been contacted by a staff member of CMPD Animal Care & Control with an impeccable record of service and reputation for strict adherence to facts. I am waiting for public records release verification showing Ferret Brenna came into agency without hair on ventral, caused by existing medical condition. Hence she was not shaved but simply photographed when staff member who was her guardian was on vacation. Ferret Brenna has reportedly since been adopted. Retraction forthcoming upon receipt of records.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 7, 2010

      I’m interested in the medical records of Brenna while she was in their care – most importantly, what the “existing medical condition” was, whether the new owners were advised of it, and whether she was receiving treatment and follow up care while at the shelter.

      Reply
      • Kay

         /  November 7, 2010

        Maybe I was not clear enough. Brenna was NOT the ferret in the picture. The ferret in the picture was a different ferret that came into the shelter with hair loss. The picture was a bad attempt to make Brenna’s owner THINK her ferret was shaved/Naired. That was not the case. It was a bad joke…..but there was never any shaving or chemical hair removal.

      • Kim

         /  November 8, 2010

        Quotes by samanthalaine:

        “Ferret Brenna was shaved when sheltering staff member was on vacation.”

        “I am waiting for public records release verification showing Ferret Brenna came into agency without hair on ventral, caused by existing medical condition. Hence she was not shaved but simply photographed when staff member who was her guardian was on vacation. Ferret Brenna has reportedly since been adopted”

        In addition, “Kay” has failed to provide any further information about The Mysterious Half-Naked Ferret That Is Not Brenna. Specifically, the fact that ferrets do not lose their hair for no reason, and are not simply “born that way”. If the animal came into the shelter and was adopted out without being diagnosed, the adoptive family is currently failing to provide appropriate medical care (which constitutes abuse) AT THE ADVICE OF THE SHELTER.

        So, if the ferret in the photo is or is not Brenna, this does NOTHING to quell our most basic questions.

        Frankly, I don’t care what her name is. Frankly, I consider adopting out a sick animal without full disclosure an even worse offense than merely being in possession of a sick animal. Then of course we have three conflicting stories – one from facebook stating she was NAIR’d (which the evidence doesn’t point to), one from the shelter director stating she had some kind of parasite, and several from people with contact to the shelter stating that they had been told the condition was “normal” and that she had been “born with it”.

        So, call her Frankenstein or Cinderella if that makes you feel better. Our questions stand unanswered, and the shelters responses continue to lead to more questions.

  25. MaryAnn Riggs

     /  November 8, 2010

    This place needs to be shut down! Either that or fire everyone and start over.

    Reply
  26. Sandi K

     /  November 8, 2010

    This is absolutely horrendous and anyone thinking this sort of thing was funny, shouldnt be working with animals, period. What does this teach the public about proper treatment of animals and how are these people any different than the animal abusers we hear about way too often?

    The other part that bothers me is in the letter to the staff it says “At no time should it be appropriate to display work related activities, pictures of practices,…..” These are work-related activities?! These are pictures of practices?! Maybe its time for a petition to get this place shut down or the people involved in this sick treatment of these animals kicked out immediatley!

    Reply
  27. SANDY

     /  November 8, 2010

    HOW CAN Joy Bell VET TECH @ CHAR MECK be so dumb. this is not the first time see posts pictures. that are removed by Balestra DIRECTOR OF ANIMAL CONTROL IN QUESTION. she has some big friends inthe force. how do We know is her? check her tattoos in the picture of the cat writing a note. tattoes in forearm. stars. multi colors.

    Reply
  28. Kay

     /  November 8, 2010

    I’m sure some of you still have contacts in the shelter that could walk by and see Brenna at any time. I hope you get your answers to where the half naked ferret is now. Maybe you should find out from the staff how many ferrets have come into the shelter with hairloss and sent to rescues. Every animal that comes into that shelter with a medical condition is fully documented. Without necessary medical equipment and diagnostics the vet staff cannot always give a definate reason why an animal is sick. That’s what medical waivers are for and that’s why the waivers are followed up on.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 8, 2010

      Once again, Kay, you’ve missed the point. We’ve gotten TWO answers from the shelter. One is that it was a parasite – it clearly is not. The other is that the animal was healthy and was “just born that way.”

      Does that last one sound like an animal that was adopted with any understanding of what they were getting into?

      Anyone who has ANY experience with ferrets (or any veterinary technician) would take ONE look at this ferret and say adrenal issues. These issues are almost always terminal, it becomes about managing the condition.

      The point is we have two staff members, one on record with our very own Shirley (being the Director of all people!) as claiming that they KNEW what the issue was. Both provided explanations that are false. Had the director said “I don’t know” I would understand that. As director, his contact with the animals is likely to be limited and as I mentioned before in a high volume shelter no staff member is going to know the history and fate of every single animal that passes through the door.

      But that’s not what happened.

      After failing to properly deal with the parties responsible for these acts and instead explicitly state he didn’t want the photos ending up online, and THEN lying outright to Shirley about the condition of the ferret in the photo (and the identity of the ferret, if we are to believe you) then whether or not this is Brenna is NOT THE POINT.

      I try to be a very reasonable person. I try very hard not to assume anything beyond what I know to be fact. And so while many people lean towards assuming the best or worst of people, I simply look at the evidence in front of me. And I’m sorry, but ALL of the evidence points towards one thing – a MAJOR staff and procedural overhaul of this entire shelter and its programs. Starting with the director and those involved in the photos, and spreading outwards from there.

      We’ve had enough of incompetence, and this “shelter” has been given MORE than enough opportunity to right its own internal wrongs – and failed repeatedly to do so.

      Reply
    • Jane Howard

       /  November 10, 2010

      Yeah, this is true. When my little dog had her mouth ripped out by the Pit Bull, it was all documented – number of teeth gone, surgery notes, etc.

      They also documented how they gave her a bath because she smelled like urine when she peed in the small steel cage they had put her in (instead of a kennel) and sat in it.

      They even documented that she was a nice dog and that an AC employee was interested in adopting her. Evidently, they didn’t plan on giving her back to me.

      Reply
  29. Kay

     /  November 8, 2010

    Kim, I have not missed any of the points. I agree….there needs to be consequences for stupidity. I just don’t like it when people assume without all the facts. I do not believe any of this should be forgotten. I also do not believe that all the good that has happened in the shelter should be forgotten either.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 8, 2010

      That’s not true Kay.

      You haven’t proven that the ferret in the photo is not Brenna. In fact, the shelter director appeared to give no indication that there was an identity mix up.

      On top of that, you’re DEFENDING the actions of the shelter – DEFENDING the possible adoption of a chronically ill animal by an unsuspecting family.

      This is a crime that extends FAR beyond that one ferret. When that family realizes that the shelter HAD to know there was a more serious issue at hand, what do you think the chances are of that family EVER adopting another animal? Let’s say that family has three or four children, who are going to have to watch their beloved ferret die. What taste do you think this rescue will leave in THEIR mouths?

      “Oh, well we made them sign this piece of paper, so it’s all ok”.

      It’s shelters and rescues that act this way that makes the rest of us who have dedicated our lives, bank accounts and every spare moment to this cause JUST LIKE THE REST OF YOU.

      And THAT is what I just don’t like.

      BTW, in this case, the consequence for what you call “stupidity” (and I call mistreatment, while many would call it outright abuse) was a warning to make sure the photos never saw the light of Facebook.

      Oh yeah, “above all, do good” is the motto here.

      Sorry if I don’t buy the “all the good” line just because you say so. What’s your save rate again? What has it been for the last ten years?

      You can see quite clearly in the conversations above that I don’t appreciate assumptions any more than I appreciate these photos. I agree with you that the FACTS need to be looked at. But I’m not going to dismiss the entire situation because the ferret in the photo has been misnamed. There’s a different between a DETAIL and a FACT. The FACT is that this ferret is VERY, VERY ill. The FACT is that we have a director and at least one employee who have LIED about this fact. The FACT is we have at LEAST two individuals involved in the mistreatment of cats. The FACT is that anyone who would even “pretend” to NAIR a ferret to try and scare its caregiver is a sick puppy. The FACT is that “don’t let the photos get on Facebook” is NOT an appropriate response to this type of incident. The FACT is that this shelter has had a history of these “oops” moments.

      So you can hang on to “all the good” if you’d like, but now how about you stop side-stepping the FACTS.

      Reply
  30. Kay

     /  November 8, 2010

    Kim,
    I honestly am not trying to pick a fight with you or condone any of the mistreatment/abuse/disrespect for life that occured. But I WILL hang on to the good…good that people don’t always see. Lives saved that people don’t see. Tears shed that people don’t see. Because it gives me hope.

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 8, 2010

      That good exists in hell is not enough of a reason to keep hell running in the status quo.

      You’re still running away from the facts. And again, I’m sorry but when your euthanasia rate is 65% that leaves your save/claim rate at 35%. It’s my experience that claimed animals out number adopted animals, but let’s split it down the middle out of objectivity.

      You’re hanging on to 17.5%, while 65% of the animals who enter will leave in barrels and body bags.

      You can shed all the tears you want, but until you get up and DO SOMETHING to improve the situation you are condoning a kill rate of 65% by defending it.

      A 65% FAIL rate on its own is enough to warrant a complete regime change. Add to that the long list of “oops” incidents, inappropriate treatment of animals, a blatant disregard by the director and lies from every staff member contacted so far, and I’m afraid that ledge of “good” you’re standing on is shrinking by the second. I mean, it was only 17.5% to begin with…

      I understand that you want to protect those people who are there doing good – but that’s not enough. WE want ALL the people there to be doing good. Anything less is unacceptable.

      Reply
  31. Kay

     /  November 8, 2010

    Your right Kim, we do want everybody there to do good,and those who aren’t do not deserve to be protected. But for the people who are trying to do something….the kill rate would be 100%

    Reply
    • Kim

       /  November 8, 2010

      Those who ARE trying to do something are not blameless either, Kay. Do they deserve their jobs? I think they will need to be individually assessed.

      You see, if you work in that environment, and you see those kind of atrocities going on around you, and you fail to report it, you’re guilty. If you report it and your superior does nothing, and you fail to report it to their superior, you’re guilty. If you’ve done all this and nothing is done and you fail to bring it in front of both council and the press simultaneously and demand change, you’re guilty.

      I don’t care if you’re the vet or the person in charge of hauling the bodies and the poop. You’re equally responsible if you see an atrocity and you DON’T DO WHAT IS NECESSARY TO END IT.

      “We let those animals get physically molested and adopted out animals who we knew were chronically ill so that we could save 17.5% of the animals who come in here.”

      Sound ok to you? I’ve been in that situation, I’ve spoken up, I’ve evoked change, and I’ve gotten fired. I get it, it’s not easy. I’d do it again. There is no excuse for sitting back and doing nothing. There is no excuse.

      Reply
  32. Does this shelter operate or work with a TNR program?

    Reply
    • Not to my knowledge but hopefully someone with a definitive answer will chime in.

      Reply
      • FixCharlotte

         /  November 9, 2010

        They do not. In fact, they loan out traps to the public and then kill the ‘nuisance’ cats. They hold only one – two feral cat spay/neuter clinics a year for Friends of Feral Felines and other groups to use. Feral cats are not allowed to be brought to the public free clinics fpr fear “someone will get scratched”. During my time as a volunteer I begged & begged, and finally paid for, one ferel clinic. Every time an officer (ACO) is assigned to communicate with FFF, nothing ever becomes of it and more & more cats get killed. The assistant director that was willing to work on the feral issues has since left for greener pastures.

      • FixCharlotte

         /  November 9, 2010

        They do not. In fact, they loan out traps to the public and then kill the ‘nuisance’ cats. They hold only one – two feral cat spay/neuter clinics a year for Friends of Feral Felines and other groups to use. Feral cats are not allowed to be brought to the public free clinics for fear “someone will get scratched”. During my time as a volunteer I begged & begged, and finally paid for, one ferel clinic ($1,000). Every time an officer (ACO) is assigned to communicate with FFF, nothing ever becomes of it and more & more cats get killed. The assistant director that was willing to work on the feral issues has since left for greener pastures.

      • So, in the photo tagged “Had a little too much fun with a tranquilized Feral cat”….this is a feral cat tranquilized for euthanasia, not TNR?? They did this to her and then killed her?

    • Jane Howard

       /  November 10, 2010

      The local feral cat group in the Charlotte area is Friends of Feral Felines. If AC gets an eartipped cat they will contact FFF and let them know, along with the location it was trapped, so the caretaker can be found.

      The spay/neuter clinic at AC is run by the Humane Society of Charlotte, which performs the surgeries on the shelter animals up for adoption, as well as the public. (From what I understand, NC state law precludes shelters from operating them – go figure.)

      In that regard, the HSC does two ferals each week day at each of two clinics (the other is at the HSC shelter) and will periodically dedicate a whole clinic day for about 25 cats.

      Back in March AC had a free public clinic, which included about 35 feral cats. I transported a couple of cats to that one but I don’t think there’s been one since or a message would have gone out to all the caretakers on FFF’s email list.

      Reply
  33. Larry

     /  November 9, 2010

    So what?? There are more important issues to be angered about: child abuse, human rights violations, hunger and malaria in Africa, cholera in Haiti, etc! You nuts are way too wrapped up in dogs and cats! Sheesh!!

    Reply
    • It’s possible to care about more than one thing, Larry. Shockingly enough, I care about badly run shelters that kill pets, child abuse, human rights violations, the effects of poverty–and a good deal else, besides.

      My dog visits the elderly and ailing in nursing homes to brighten their day and give them some affection. Do you?

      Reply
  34. Larry

     /  November 9, 2010

    What a stupid site name, Yes Biscuit. Huh? Americans are too sentimental about animals. You pet kooks are besotted fools.

    Reply
    • Larry, You got two strikes in 1 minute. If you’d like to contribute to the conversation, please turn your car around and head this way. Otherwise, you will be allowed one more besotted comment before you are banned.

      Reply
  35. Larry

     /  November 9, 2010

    If you’re so upset over this cat, how do you sleep at night knowing cows pigs and chickens are being slaughtered by the millions? Or don’t you care about those animals??

    Reply
  36. Sandi K

     /  November 9, 2010

    Send him packing YesBiscuit. People like this dont understand that most people can be involved in more than one society issue at a time. Apparently he’s unable to though.

    Reply
  37. FixCharlotte –

    Thanks for your input.

    Based on your experience with the shelter and feral cats, if one or both of the cats pictured were indeed feral (as indicated in the caption), do you have an opinion on why they would have been sedated (apparently) and what likely happened to them after the photos were taken?

    Reply
    • FixCharlotte

       /  November 9, 2010

      ALL feral are sedated with a pole that has a suringe on the end…Period.

      They don’t even try to use any other way. I’ve even witnessed ACO’s bringing in cats (and phothographing them for the website, on catch poles. I sent emails to director mark balestra on more that one occasion about the use of catchpoles on cats. I can think of one occasion when a cat with a catch-pole photo made it to adoption with that same photo on the adoptions page & petfinder. Classy, eh?

      Reply
      • What do they do with the feral cats after sedating them with the syringe pole? (I mean besides posing them for HI-larious photos)

      • Kay

         /  November 9, 2010

        FixCharlotte I gotta call you on the pole and syringe comment. That is not the only way. There are towels, gloves,nets and shields used to protect the staff and try to calm the feral cats. But you stick your hand in a feral cat’s cage and see what happens.

      • Kay – Is it correct that a feral cat (not ear tipped) would be held for 72 hours and, assuming no owner redeemed, killed? When would the sedation be performed – upon intake in order to do a health assessment or some other point?

    • Jane Howard

       /  November 9, 2010

      From my understanding, any and all cats, whether ‘tame’ or feral that cannot be handled is tranquilized so that it can be photographed, receive an ID tag, logged in and subsequently placed in the stray cat kennel.

      Feral cats, like the other strays, are housed for 72 hours for the chance of reclaim. Should that not be the case, once their time is up they are euthanized, just like so many adoptable cats are.

      If AC gets an eartipped feral cat, which identifies it as having gone through a TNR program, they will contact Friends of Feral Felines, who will then inform their member email list in an attempt to find the caretaker. Should that not be the case, FFF will reclaim the cat and AC, to their credit, will only charge them for a rabies booster and microchip.

      And while I don’t consider shelter Mark Balestra one of my BFFs, he is supportive of TNR and another TNR-supportive employee, Officer Johnson, will coordinate the inclusion of feral cats at AC-sponsored free spay/neuter clinics.

      Hope this is helpful.

      Reply
      • Charlotte

         /  November 10, 2010

        Jane,
        I respectfully disagree that Mr. Balestra supports TNR. Yes, they do allow a limited number of approximately 35 feral cats attend their free S/N clinic once or twice a year. The kill rate for all cats is currently more than 80% and has been for several years. This information is made available on the CMPD-ACC website under statistics. They dabble in many programs like TNR to massage their own egos and appease the public. In fact their own website indicates a seven month wait for the free S/N services. One clinic monthly for 50 animals is akin to peeing into the wind. And I can’t help but pat the volunteers on the back for hosting one monthly adoption event at the high dollar mall. Doing a little good? Yes. Doing enough to change statistics? No. Playing with sedated cats? WHY

      • Jane Howard

         /  November 10, 2010

        Charlotte, believe me, I am NO fan of Mark Balestra and I came within an inch of punching his lights out when I saw what happened to my little dog and was never told, but as someone who has gone to bail out some of my impounded ferals, I appreciated that a policy is in place that allows me to do so and the cats didn’t get nuked.

        And I totally agree that the piecemeal approach to TNR in a city the size of Charlotte is abysmal. There is a huge colony that I’m trying to do TNR on (right across the street from the Humane Society by the way) at my own expense.

        I will drive all the way to Raleigh to Operation Catnip, where they do about 100 cats per month, every month. Since the first of the year I have done TNR on more cats than were done at AC’s March feral clinic. No brag, just fact.

        When OC began it was done so by a vet at NC State, so having a high-volume clinic at a veterinary college was a good fit, however, since that time they have had to move to their present location, which is the SPCA of Wake County’s s/n clinic and it has worked out that well and has convinced me that there’s no reason why Charlotte can’t do the same.

        I have talked to some of the staff in Raleigh and am prepared to do whatever it takes to start an OC chapter here, with the first step being to find a venue. I wonder if AC will allow their facility to be used…

        Frankly, if I had my druthers, I think AC should be privatized and run by the Humane Society of Charlotte, which is a no-kill shelter. Face it, for AC employees, who have become inured to their culture of death, killing animals is job security. As long as the facility is city-run and there is no incentive to change, there will be none.

  38. lovemycat

     /  November 9, 2010

    It sounds like to me FixCharlotte like you have a personal vendetta against the director, if you do then take out your aggressions on him not the good that the rest of the shelter has done or does. Every person that YOU cause not to come and adopt from the shelter causes them to have to keep putting animals to sleep.

    Reply
    • It’s the local TNR group’s fault that the shelter chooses to kill pets? The local TNR group drives people away from the shelter? Do the people who actually do the killing bear any responsibility?

      Reply
    • Jane Howard

       /  November 10, 2010

      Hmmm…how does FixCharlotte prevent anyone from coming to the public-friendly AC facility to adopt an animal?

      Reply
  39. “Larry” is the regular pet-hating troll who inhabits the spam filter on the PetConnection.com blog. He has no other life except to post “you are pet freaks,” etc., etc., on a frequent basis on pet-related sites.

    As I said, he never escapes the spam filter on our site, but that never stops him from trying on our blog or others.

    For all his written concern about people, I doubt this sad and bitter loser has ever helped anyone in his life, or has ever done anything but spew his bile anonymously. Pathetic.

    Reply
  40. So they posed this feral cat then killed her?

    Reply
  41. FixCharlotte

     /  November 10, 2010

    Everyone has a right to be critical of any “shelter” that continues to kill animals. This is about killing rather than instituting lifesaving programs, and that begins with the shelter establishing a culture of respect and compassion.

    This would never happen in Reno, NV; Charlottesville, VA; Tompkins County, NY; Shelby County, KY; or any of the other successful No Kill communities. That is because the leadership there has established a culture of kindness.

    While sheltering can be a grueling career, and while employees need to let off steam from time to time, this is unacceptable and clearly indicates a lack of leadership.

    There is no reasonable way to justify this type of behavior, whether it be out of context or not. There are universal principles that must be respected, and respecting at all times any animal in a shelter is certainly one of them.

    The leadership of this shelter needs to take full responsibility for this failure, and for the fact that they continue to kill 65% rather than institute lifesaving alternatives, while spending much more per capita on animal control than most of the No Kill communities.

    No more excuses. No more compromise. No more killing.

    Reply
  42. lovemycat

     /  November 10, 2010

    So exactly what have you done personally to help with the problem. Did the $1000 come out of your pocket? Do you TNR? Do you care for a feral colony? How many animals do you have? If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

    Reply
    • FixCharlotte

       /  November 10, 2010

      The $1,000 was money raised to help fund s/n and yes, I am involved with the care of a feral colony of 48 cats. I personally own 5 cats and currently have two fosters. And you, oh pretensious one?

      Reply
      • lovemycat

         /  November 10, 2010

        I have volunteered 10000″s of hours to a shelter. And probably have raised as much. I have fostered hundreds as well. No I do not believe in TNR myself. If that is what you call a happy life for an animal. To each their own. And I have 1 animal that was a foster. And every animal I have ever owned came from a shelter be it a kill or no kill.

    • mikken

       /  November 10, 2010

      Finger pointing is not helpful or relevant.

      FixCharlotte is correct that issues like this are a clear indicator of poor leadership and need to be dealt with as such.

      Reply
      • Jane Howard

         /  November 10, 2010

        So lovemycat, you don’t believe in TNR? What’s the alternative – oh wait, I know!!! Since you’re a defender of the standard operating procedures at AC, you probably think that ferals should be rounded up and euthanized. If so, why don’t you go to http://www.alleycat.org and get educated about feral cats? Removing them just creates a vacuum effect that will cause other cats to move in and take the place of the ones who are dead.

        The life of a feral cat is not necessarily a miserable one if that is all they know and it is part of a colony that has been sterilized and is fed. I have been feeding some of my colonies for over ten years and have cats there that I did TNR on as teenage kittens. When I pull up at feeding time my ferals are either waiting for me or appear at the sound of my truck. I know in their own way they are happy to see me.

        These cats are victims of people’s callousness, so to kill them merely due to their circumstances is ignorant and heinous.

  43. Bye Larry…we won’t miss you, there are others like you out there and we hear your drivel often enough.
    But, I’m confused. These folks use a catch pole and a syringe to sedate what they think are feral cats (and then apparently pose them and photograph them) and then wait 72 hours and sedate them AGAIN and then kill them? Mayhaps I need to go to their website and see photos of other creatures that might be available for adoption…are they on Petfinder?

    Reply
    • Charlotte

       /  November 11, 2010

      LynnO,

      Yes, an uncooperative cat (feral or frightened pet) would be sedated at intake to process into inventory. If not reclaimed this same cat would be sedated again in 72 hours to kill. I volunteer at many feral cat clinics and support what is sometimes refered to as chemical restraint. However, a sedated animal is no joke and needs to be closely watched for complications. If one of these cats were to have a pre-existing condition such as a heart murmur or diseased liver / kidney they could die. Playing with sedated animals as if they are puppets is very disturbing and dangerous.

      I did locate the website for CMPD-ACC and the adoptable animals look beautiful. The “lost” animal photos are haunting me as I am certain that many of those cats are sedated. Once again I am wondering what goes on behind closed doors.
      http://www.charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/organization/Support/AnimalControl/LostPets/Pages/default.aspx

      Reply
  44. Re clarification on ferret, whose photographs first appeared in Charlotte, NC local NBC affiliate WCNC story:
    1.) I was in error re ventral; view of ferret in photographs is dorsal; 2.) I was in error stating ferret in photo is Brenna: I assumed caption under photograph posted by AC&C employee was accurate;
    3.) I was in error stating that ferret Brenna came into agency without hair on back: Ferret in photograph has been identified by staff member I referenced in previous comment as being another ferret, o surrendered to agency, presenting with adrenal condition on intake, now adopted out. I have not received any information on the disposition of the cats in the photographs which appear in WCNC story “Facebook photos prompt investigation at Animal Care and Control.” Anyone wishing to confirm this information should contact Animal Care and Control. http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cmpd/organization/Support/AnimalControl/Pages/default.aspx?NotFoundURL=http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/Animal+Control/Home.htm&Referrer=

    Reply
  45. Sad. Laura Quebbemann

    Reply
  46. 14meows

     /  November 23, 2010

    This is disgusting and inappropriate behavior for employees, especially those being paid with taxpayer dollars. I love cats and this sickens me. Looks to me like they need to clean house over there and start all over with decent people who love animals and need a job. These people obviously think their jobs are a joke.

    Reply
  47. wendy

     /  November 24, 2010

    Hate to see animals being mis treated but even more so by the ones who earn their incomes by us the tax payers, they should be fired, and fined heavily to get back the tax money I pay them to take care of animals to go back some how to pay for other animals. I hope the the person with the tattooes is getting noticed by friends and family who love animal and getting hell for it.. i think they should have a panel of rescue organizations and humane society and maybe regular animal loving citizens go in and to assess how our shelter is being ran and make suggestion and be able to make directors or other employees responsible for such bad behaviors. I think we also need to continue to educate new prospective owners what it takes to care for animals, and to continue support these low cost spay neuter clinics, as far as these kill shelter, i think it is terrible, but if they are gonna be around they need to be done in a humane way, I currently keep up with the same question about horses, so many are miss treated and unwanted they go to slaughter and it IS NOT DONE in a humane manner….and i own horses and it too sickens me to hear that story… i do believe those that did this to those animals and who knew about it and did not do anything about should be fired… there are too many people out there needing a job, maybe would not like the job but respect the animals a lot more than these current emplpoyees do….

    Reply
    • I agree with this notion, and the solution is simple. Welcome volunteers. There are plenty of pet lovers who want to volunteer. Good shelters welcome them and ask them for feedback.
      —-
      i think they should have a panel of rescue organizations and humane society and maybe regular animal loving citizens go in and to assess how our shelter is being ran and make suggestion and be able to make directors or other employees responsible for such bad behaviors.

      Reply
  48. Someone made the comment “killed, not euthanized.”
    Yes. Correct. Very.
    eu·tha·na·sia
    noun \ˌyü-thə-ˈnā-zh(ē-)ə\
    Definition of EUTHANASIA
    : the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy
    — eu·tha·na·sic\-zik, -sik\ adjective

    Reply
    • Jane Howard

       /  November 30, 2010

      When my sister was little we were at the doctor, who informed her she was going to get a shot to make her feel better. She promptly told him she would rather have an injection than a shot because it didn’t hurt as much.

      Regardless of what word is used – killed or euthanized – an undeserving, adoptable animal still ends up in a trash bag.

      Reply
  49. Chris Dunning

     /  November 26, 2010

    The people that did this to these animals should be in jail minimum and never be allowed to work with animals again since they themselves are nothing more than animal abusers. I do not use the word hate for anything more then certain groups of people, animal, women and child abusers being at the top of my list of people I hate with a passion along with racists, and people that discriminate against others regardless of the reason why, they should all be put together on a distant island somewhere far away from the rest of society and let them do whatever they want to each other, they wont be missed at all anyway, but people like this need more than a night in jail and a fine, there should be an abusive persons list and they should have to register like child molesters and other sexual predators have to do, maybe that will help solve the problem.

    Reply
    • Chris, I hear and understand where you are coming from, but, well, I disagree. The people who do this sort of thing WILL be missed, because they are a large portion of our society. (Did you read all those comments comparing this to dressing your pet —or your child— up for Halloween?)
      If we don’t allow people to ever work with animals again, then we’re going to have to kill a LOT of animals too!
      The No Kill Revolution is about allowing people to work with animals and learn from and with animals. (Please remember, humans are animals too…) Locking animals in cages and hiding them from each other doesn’t fix the problem.
      Working TOGETHER is how we are going to collectively learn and grow through this life.
      Hate doesn’t help. Love does.

      Reply
      • Kim

         /  November 26, 2010

        I have to agree with LynnO. I don’t believe a blanket statement can be made. Should the woman who made the “ha ha” photo of the ferret who actually had nothing done to it be punished by never being allowed to work with animals again?

        I once knew a rescue couple who were fostering a horrid little dog who bit them every chance it got. One day, after a few too many (they weren’t drunks, just celebrating a milestone) the man and his mother in law took an orange marker and drew a bulls-eye on the dogs’s butt. The dog was already orange, but it was still visible. When his wife got home, she started to panic, thinking she was feeding the dog too many CARROTS. The husband and her mother thought it was HILARIOUS, and admittedly I chuckled when told the story. The dog was not injured, no one else in their right mind would have taken this dog in, and this was their way of blowing off some steam. Crayola markers.

        Should they have done it? Probably not. Bottom line, no one got hurt, marker was non-toxic, and it couldn’t have bothered the biting dog that much – no one got bit. Everyone got a laugh and blew off some steam.

        Were there more appropriate ways? Certainly, and my conscience rolled when I chuckled at the story, but would I ever suggest that any of these people should never again have contact with animals?

        I DO believe that everyone involved should be fired. Promoting this behaviour in photographs, and then on facebook, at a governmental level, obviously shows a serious lack of judgement if nothing else. But to say that they should be kept away from all animals, and to compare them to sexual predators… I have animal stories you could compare to sexual abuse, in which case I could back up your conclusions. This just isn’t one of them.

        These people just need a position that is less stressful. Perhaps at the front desk, doing promotions, volunteer co-ordinator, etc.

        Judging from the evidence we have (which is the photos at this point) these are sadists or killers or sexual abusers – but these are definitely people with impulse control.

  50. Kirstie Smith

     /  November 27, 2010

    I keep looking at the image of the ferret, and I also believe that it does not have mange. I have had to treat mange in my own small animals, and had to treat ferrets for mites when I worked in a pet store. Both cases the skin was very irritated and red, as well as producing flakes of dried skin. However, I cannot see in the photo too well, but there is a possibility the pests had been treated and the ferret is regrowing hair that is too fine to see in the images.

    Whatever the case, the photos of the cats are just disgusting, and these people should lose their jobs. I don’t know why companies like to try and protect people like that, because, honestly, they could get some real people in there who actually cared about those animals.

    Reply
  51. Charlotte

     /  November 30, 2010

    According to this document,

    http://www.charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/organization/Support/AnimalControl/newsevents/Documents/media%20releases/advisory_usnwc_microchipclinic_082610.pdf

    Melissa Knicely is employed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control Division as the Public Information Specialist. If transparency and accountability are an important part of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control Division their Public Information Specialist Melissa Knicely should be able to address any questions and/or concerns. She can be reached at 704-336-3627 or mknicely@cmpd.org

    Reply
    • Jane Howard

       /  November 30, 2010

      It’s interesting that she has been strangely silent on this issue.

      Reply
  52. Luke Thomas

     /  December 5, 2010

    Seriously: These employees need to be terminated and so do the supervisors who let it happen. These are very serious depictions of animal cruelty: Making fun of killing animals.

    Reply
  53. Tanya

     /  December 13, 2010

    I want to write so much about this but am so upset the words have left me. This is an outrage period…

    Reply
  54. Y T Karashinski

     /  December 21, 2010

    DISGUSTING pictures!! SHAMEFUL!!! Look at that cat’s tongue — it looks blue – was it dead?
    How DARE you do this to an innocent animal? Humans are the crown of creation??? Not from what I see here!!! Man”KIND” is an Oxymoron!!!

    Reply
  55. vivian oxford

     /  December 21, 2010

    THERE’S NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT THESES PICTURES. EXTREME CRUELTY!!!

    Reply
  56. jon

     /  May 5, 2011

    Is this a cousin to Matt Pepper in Memphis? This guy also has his head up his butt.DAMMMMM!

    Reply
  57. Michelle Smith

     /  March 21, 2012

    Are there any updates on disciplinary actions against the employees? Better yet, any reform at CMPD ACC?

    Reply
    • missjanenc

       /  March 23, 2012

      One thing I do know is that a new captain has been brought in who appears to truly have the welfare of the animals in his charge as a top priority and has implemented changes in that regard. Hopefully shelter statistics will reflect those changes.

      Reply
      • Michelle Smith

         /  March 23, 2012

        Thanks, missjanenc! That is good news! It’s frustrating how impossible it can be to locate information once the media attention has shifted. I tried to find out more about the Chesterfield County, SC shelter (shooting the dogs) and found nothing. Contacted the SAG’s office and got a reply but no info.

  58. Angel

     /  March 29, 2015

    Charlotte animal control has been working very hard over the past several years to get rid of the employees who actually care about the pets. They work on promoting those who do not care about living creatures at all. the supervisor who pushes termination of employees who actually care does it for her own ego. she also brags about relations with married supervisors within the police department. if her egotistical bragging is at all based in truth, she will be able to easily push herself to the top. at that point, there will be no help for this animal.. I was going to say shelter, but I cannot in good conscience call it that. this dog pound.

    Reply
  1. We’re not laughing: Sick shelter staff mocks animals | PetConnection.com
  2. Kim Alboum of the HSUS says take cupcakes to your pound | FixNC

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