HSUS “Statement” on the Alabama 44

Via a post on the One Voice Counts blog, a link to an e-mail exchange purportedly containing a statement from HSUS on the 44 dogs taken from a home in AL:

The staff of The Humane Society of the United States’ must move quickly in situations where animals are suffering from serious neglect, abuse, abandonment or extremely poor conditions that endanger their well-being. In 2010, The HSUS worked with law enforcement to rescue more than 12,000 animals from animal fighting operations and situations of desperate cruelty.

A recent hoarding case in Alabama presented us and our Emergency Shelter Placement Partner program with a major challenge. We were contacted and asked to help with a hoarding situation – what we discovered were 44 chow/retriever mix dogs who had developed into a wild pack in a hoarder’s backyard. We were horrified to find dogs who had not been provided socialization, veterinary care, and had not been spayed or neutered. The dogs, who appeared to be inbred, were being kept alive with a minimum of food and water, but were turning on each other. Some dogs had already been seriously injured and some had even been killed. We had to act fast to prevent any further tragedy, so we worked in partnership with other adoption agencies and partners and were able to remove the dogs and then disperse them to a variety of shelters and rescue groups so that those able to be rehabilitated and adopted out could be.

This particular population of dogs is the type that is very difficult to place – very few people want to adopt such challenging pets, or are capable of dealing with their severe medical and behavioral issues. We knew we had to find locations for these animals, even if on a temporary basis, and we were appreciative of the help we received. With no animal shelter in the county where the dogs were seized, this was an unusually difficult process.

Some of the dogs went to a shelter in Nashville, some went to a Nashville rescue organization, some went to a rescue group in Georgia and 10 went to North Carolina. The North Carolina dogs were initially placed in a shelter in Lincoln County. The Lincoln County shelter is large, clean, has a large volunteer base and has one of the lower euthanasia rates in the state. They placed slightly over 1,000 animals last year through their rescue contacts. This provided the dogs another chance at finding homes if not adopted to the general public.  The dogs would be walked every day by volunteers, getting much needed human interaction and socialization. . Allegations of problems with this shelter arose and we swiftly removed any remaining dogs to another location.

It has come to our attention that four of the dogs sent to the Lincoln Shelter were deemed unadoptable and may have been euthanized via the gas chamber method of euthanasia. This shelter did use the gas chamber as a euthanasia method, a method still used in underfunded areas of the country, but one extremely disfavored by our organization. HSUS has a long history of working to help shelters move away from gas chamber euthanasia. We have also worked to change policies at the state level in legislatures and we hope the day will come soon when the gas chamber is completely abandoned, by all shelters. We also work to end the euthanasia of healthy adoptable animals. It is deeply disturbing to us that these dogs may have been euthanized by this method and we are disappointed and saddened that we were not notified in advance so that we could look for other options for the dogs.

Under most circumstances, when rescued animals come to a shelter, the entire shelter population benefits. The resulting publicity for that shelter increases support from the local community, highlights the need for people to adopt pets and almost immediately sends more people walking through the shelter doors. All the dogs and cats at the shelter are now more likely to be adopted as a result of the spotlight these rescued dogs brought with them. We have also learned that the Lincoln County Shelter has stopped using the gas chamber as a method of euthanasia. HSUS applauds that decision and we have offered to assist with the cost of removing the gas chamber from the shelter. We are also working on legislation to ban the use of gas chambers as a method of euthanasia in the state of Alabama, and hope to enable more shelters to make that switch in the coming year. North Carolina continues to move forward with individual counties discontinuing the use of gas chambers.

We are following up on the rest of the dogs and will continue to do so as they are cared for and, we hope, adopted out. Our Emergency Shelter Placement Partner program will move on to the next rescue – as sadly, there is always another on the horizon. To find out more about the program and fill out an application at www.animalsheltering.org/espp

Being involved in animal rescue and placement can be heart wrenching work – it is almost always stressful, fast-paced, and can invite criticism if the outcomes are not all positive. It would be easier not to be involved – to stick to areas that we can better control the outcomes and where we have less variables and more oversight. If we did that, however, then we wouldn’t be able to help thousands of animals who are suffering, living in squalor and who are at great risk, every day. We accept the criticism that comes with this work – no one is perfect, but we’re certainly trying with everything we have to make a positive difference in the lives of these animals.


My responses:

We were horrified to find dogs who had not been provided socialization, veterinary care, and had not been spayed or neutered.

Of course we don’t know to what extent the dogs lacked in socialization and vet care but in my experience, this sentence could apply to many dogs in rural areas.  It could apply to my own dogs.  We get very few visitors and tend to be homebodies.  Our dogs don’t go out unless there is a pressing veterinary need.  They do receive vet care but I can’t afford to provide things like yearly well pet checks and such.  If a dog appears healthy, he generally doesn’t go to the vet.  And there is a shortage of no/low cost spay-neuter services with transportation options available in rural southern areas so it’s not unusual to find intact dogs.  Again, some of my own dogs are intact.

The dogs, who appeared to be inbred, were being kept alive with a minimum of food and water, but were turning on each other. Some dogs had already been seriously injured and some had even been killed.

The only photo I’ve seen taken at the so-called “hoarder’s” property is this one:

You can’t sum up an entire situation from a single photo.  But in the absence of any other evidence – and we all know that historically, HSUS is not shy about spreading photos and videos of dogs who look neglected – I will give my opinion on this one picture.  It appears to show dogs who were doing a lot better than merely “being kept alive with a minimum of food and water”.  They look adequately fed, clean and reportedly 43 of the 44 were negative for heartworm.  Further, they don’t look like a “wild pack” in this one photo.  If you were to pull up with a huge van load of HSUS staff and take a photo of my dogs at the gate, I fear it might not come off so well.  The barking and leaping would be out of control and believe me, they can sustain this indefinitely.  After awhile, one dog might redirect his anxiety toward another and fur might start flying (although we wouldn’t have serious injuries or death, just fur).  If Randi was in the group at the time the photo was taken you’d possibly see a dog with poo smeared on her face and neck.  (Yeah, she likes to do that.)  In addition, post spay surgery, her coat turned into one of those that picks up everything – sticks, pine needles, leaves, stray wire – whatever is on the ground.  So she might look as if she’s never been groomed in her life.  The reality would be that, while I’m not going to win any awards for my grooming, I do it.  Randi’s appearance notwithstanding.  Again, I hope no one who knows dogs would be “horrified” at my pack, but I can imagine how someone who doesn’t know dogs might get the wrong impression.  Also, for the record, I’m not a hoarder.  I just have a small pack of dogs, live in a rural area and don’t have a lot of disposable income.

We knew we had to find locations for these animals, even if on a temporary basis, and we were appreciative of the help we received. With no animal shelter in the county where the dogs were seized, this was an unusually difficult process.

But HSUS didn’t even ask for help locally beyond using a local humane society as a staging area and leaving 3 dogs there.  The Marshall Co ACO never heard from HSUS nor did the area no kill shelters or members of the local community.  Surely they would have helped, had they been given the chance. And helping the dogs locally would have had many benefits, including educating the area ACOs and the public as well as not adding to the burdens of other rescue groups in the south.

Some of the dogs went to a shelter in Nashville, some went to a Nashville rescue organization, some went to a rescue group in Georgia and 10 went to North Carolina.

This information is not entirely accurate.  10 dogs went to a shelter in Nashville, 4 dogs went to a Nashville rescue organization, 13 dogs went to two different rescue groups in GA, 10 went to NC, 3 stayed in Marshall Co, AL and 4 dogs remain unaccounted for (anyone with information on the whereabouts of those 4 dogs, please share).  I wish HSUS would give out the correct details on the dispersal of the dogs so we could find out what happened to them and if any of the groups accepting the dogs need assistance.  Still waiting for that to happen.  Meanwhile, the Web of Sleuth forges ahead.

It is deeply disturbing to us that these dogs may have been euthanized by [gassing] and we are disappointed and saddened that we were not notified in advance so that we could look for other options for the dogs.

Did HSUS ask the Lincoln Co shelter to notify them in advance if they opted to put any of the dogs into the gas chamber?  Indeed, if it is so disturbing to HSUS that dogs they “rescued” might be gassed, why leave them at a gassing facility?

We accept the criticism that comes with this work – no one is perfect, but we’re certainly trying with everything we have to make a positive difference in the lives of these animals.

*dabs tear as orchestra music swells* HSUS is trying with everything they’ve got, folks. They use your donation money to shelter pets they rescue until they get adopted – even if it takes all $100 million of their annual budget. They send out Adopt Me notices on all these rescued pets to their millions of supporters in an effort to find homes.   They leap tall buildings in a single bound. Oh, wait – scratch all that. They don’t do any of that stuff. But they got a mean spin machine. Credit where credit is due.

For those wanting to know the reality of where the AL 44 stand, here’s a summary:

Status:  Located

10 dogs at PAWS Atlanta in GA, all remain in quarantine.  I asked if they were in need of any donations for the AL dogs and received this response from Laura:

Thank you so much!  We could use some extra financial assistance for the dogs.  We did not expect to quarantine them for so long so it would help us pay for their up-keep.  We could also use wet/canned food to hide meds in.  It cannot be the chunks or slivers, but we can use the kind you can make little meat balls out of.  The Alabama dogs are on a strict Science Diet Adult dry diet if someone was interested in donating food instead of money.  Anyone interested in donating can go to our website through this link:


If they make a general donation they can specify that they would like their money to go towards the Alabama dogs.

Thank you again for all your help!

3 dogs at Bliss Animal Haven in Loganville, GA, all available for adoption

3 dogs at New Leash on Life in Wilson Co, TN, including Sassy (D10-496) who is up for adoption

2 dogs at a humane society in Marshall Co, AL,  both up for adoption

Status:  Dead

3 dogs at Lincoln Co Animal Services in NC – per shelter records, all 3 were listed as “sick”.  They were Murray, Harry and dog #38805.

1 dog at a humane society in Marshall Co, AL – killed due to unsocial behavior

Status:  Unknown

10 dogs dropped at the Nashville Humane Association in TN.  None listed on their website.  On their FAQ page, they state that pets in their care are killed “only if it is necessary due to illness or behavior problems”.  At least some of the original 44 dogs reportedly had behavioral problems.  I was unable to get any information about the dogs in a phone call.

4 dogs transferred from Lincoln Co Animal Services in NC to Humane Society of Charlotte (Read an update from a commenter stating she is Merry’s foster mom here!).  Multiple inquiries to HS of Charlotte have gone unanswered.

3 dogs transferred from Lincoln Co Animal Services to Charlotte-Mecklenburg shelter.  Their kill rate is about 65%.  2 of the 3 are listed on Char-Meck’s site – Daisy (ID#A797513) and an unnamed male (A797514).  The 3rd dog was never listed as far as I know.  (Searches for pets with ID #s A797512 or A797514 come up empty.)

1 puppy escaped from her New Leash on Life foster home in TN and hasn’t been found.

4 dogs remain unaccounted for and I’m still looking for them. Thank you to those who have assisted in the search.

51 thoughts on “HSUS “Statement” on the Alabama 44

  1. How do these people sleep at night? Really -they must have no soul. The damage done while they continue to rake in millions. Again, the animals pay the ultimate price.

  2. I’d like to put in a good word for Bliss in Loganville, GA. They took 3 adult males (harder to adopt than puppies). I checked with rescue contacts in the area and got nothing but good reports about this small rescue. They are family-run and can only accept a few dogs. I believe these 3 dogs will get excellent care and the kind of time and attention they need to get socialized. They lucked out. I’m sure Bliss would appreciate donations if anyone is inclined to help. They are much smaller than any of the other rescues and shelters that accepted the AL dogs.

    1. I extended the same offer to help them as I did to the other groups I’ve been in contact with. Bliss basically replied “Thanks but no thanks” so I assume they don’t need any help.

  3. “I wish HSUS would give out the correct details on the dispersal of the dogs so we could find out what happened to them and if any of the groups accepting the dogs need assistance.”

    You’re assuming that they know where the dogs all went. Heather’s term of “dog laundering” is very apt and HSUS may not even know what happened to all the dogs from the get-go, let alone where they are now.

    HSUS: Hey, we swooped in and “rescued” these dogs (bet the dead ones would rather they’d been left behind and not rescued), you can’t actually expect us to … you know, follow up or offer support or anything like that. It’s not like we’re made of money. Oh, wait…

    1. I believe they do know. I contacted quite a few rescue groups and shelters to ask if they had any of the dogs. Some of them said they had been contacted by the HSUS and asked to help but weren’t in a position to take any the dogs. HSUS seems to maintain a large list of “emergency services placement partners” and that’s who they contact when they need to place dogs. Anyone can apply and HSUS doesn’t list the criteria for acceptance (gas shelters welcome?). But they don’t seem to be placing the dogs randomly.

  4. YB – Great work investigating this story. Sadly, this type of HSUS “rescue” has been going on for years. Rescue is never complete until all are in safe no kill environments – something that the leadership at HSUS (and PETA for that matter) never seem to consider.

    You also struck a raw nerve when you posed the question of whether this situation needed rescue in the first place. It has always concerned me whether the real purpose of these raids was for fund raising initaiatives on the part of HSUS.

    Your analogy is correct – HSUS should have lined up no kill facilites PRIOR to completing this raid, especially in light of a lack of urgency as your articles suggest. Absent the need for rescue HSUS should have offered to help fund the dogs involved – afgter all, isn’t that the reason they reached out for MORE donations in the first place?

    I too know the people at Bliss Animal Rescue – the three dogs that ended up there have indeed been rescued – as they are a no kill facilty.

  5. Thanks to The Biscuit for reporting this so accurately, and in so much detail.

    Notice how the HSUS continues to insist the owner was/is a hoarder, which to me is obviously rubbish. These dogs are not exhibiting pack-like behavior; if they were, the photographs taken of these dogs would not have been possible. “Wild pack”, my ass.

    A note to Randy: I’m concerned about your remark about the HSUS lining up no-kill facilities prior to completing this raid. No raid should have ever taken place here. Period. It’s another example of the HSUS’ semi-legal, police state tactics at work – actions that result in fear, divisiveness among rescue groups, and ultimately more deaths.

    1. @Feline Provocateur “These dogs are not exhibiting pack-like behavior; if they were, the photographs taken of these dogs would not have been possible.” Major ditto.

      1. ‘Hoarder’ = anyone who owns more animals than we think they should. Generally anything more than 3 or 4, going by the pet limit laws that are supposedly put into place to somehow prevent ‘hoarding’ situations.

  6. I am glad you are staying on this and letting people see just how HSUS works when they rescue pets, or at least these dogs.

    People need to start demanding more photos, videos, and facts about how the organizations they donate to are working. Another good reason to help your local rescue groups and shelters where you can gain more first hand expedience about the people in the group and how they are really working to save animals in need.

  7. Reply to “A note to Randy: I’m concerned about your remark about the HSUS lining up no-kill facilities prior to completing this raid.”

    I don’t disagree with you on this rescue. My comment was directed at the number of HSUS raids here locally over the years. HSUS has a practice of impounding dogs without any concern over the consequences. I recall another raid where the healthy puppies ended up with HSUS “partners” while the alleged “sick or neglected dogs” were sent right to underfunded high kill shelters that offered no vet care whatsoever. In one case, several of the puppies ended up at Atlanta Humane Society where they were quickly sold as puppies after the story ran in our local news outlets. Meanwhile, all the sick dogs or neglected dogs ended up on urgent lists where local private rescue groups were confronted with the costs and decision on how many could be saved.

    Having been called a “hoarder” during my three year battle with the county over the hounds I am fully aware that often times these dogs should never have been impounded in the first place. The picture shown for this article is troubling = it surely does not convince me these dogs were feral but again I only know what I’ve read.

  8. again.. what was the rush?? according to HSUS.. dogs were in immediate DANGER.. in HORRIFIC condition and THE WORST WE”VE EVER SEEN and more garbage like that> we hear the same over and over again. This could have been handled slowly with some forethought.. like NOT sending dogs to a gassing facility ( oh and then crowing about them removing it AFTER THE FACT.. oh and.. we are even going to help them remove it.. PLEAZE) I am so sick and tired of these phonies
    Thank you Shirley for you commons sense and true concern . Your follow up is amazing,.. probably has the HSUS spinning out of control and I surely hope that is the case..
    Meanwhile people are being CONVICTED OF ANIMAL ABUSE because their dogs have tartar on their teeth and have not seen a vet for YEARLY exams..

  9. This is what hapens when grandstanders play “Crusader Rabbit” and rush in to save the world.

    This is a clear-cut case of overzealousness by the HSUS and John Goodwin, Mr. I can break any door down now! This is nothing more than those idiots who jump behind an on-camera reporter looking to get themselves a moment of notoriety.

    There is no valid excuse Wayne Pacelle can come up with that would override the obvious need for bringing in others to help with the logistics of this case.

    In the end dogs dies, people are stigmastized and outsiders get to laugh at the crazy antics of activists.

    HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, John Goodwin, you are causing more harm than good by your unilateral and harmful actions.

  10. Had to run and save my dinner on the stove!


    Mr. Pacelle, too often others have had to come behind you and clean up your mess. YesBiscuit! is too polite to say it so I will – you guys suck at this work! Your behaviorists obviously don’t have a clue! Get out of this work now.

    What you did here is just like what you screwed up during Katrina and in Marin County with the Milo Foundation: a decent group of people working to help who asked for help when things got bad and the rescue community turned a deaf ear. You waited until the situation got bad and then smashed open the door and raided them. Now they’re struggling to redeem themselves. All they needed was some quiet help and you jammed your ugly size 16 boots down on their throats.

    If I had my way the IRS would pull your federal tax exemption and all these states attorneys general would land on your group like an avalanche. Shame on you and your ugly group for the harm it does – all under the disguise of “helping.” You’re a phoney, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    There, YesBiscuit!, I said it for all of us. Now you can keep being polite! Now I have a dinner to enjoy…

  11. I find it quite hard to believe much of anything in that post above after learning that the rescue person feels that animals without an annual exam is acceptable for rescue and UNALTERED DOGS?? Really? I’m sorry, what’s the second most sacred endeavor to rescue? Instead of bashing your local AHS, why don’t you apply your education and become part of the decision making process to create change. Don’t you love people that have big mouths and nothing to back it up with. Get out there and do something to solve your problem, not just bitch about it. When everyone works together, we get 10 times as much done.

    1. Heidi – It gets even worse. Not only am I currently poor AND have some intact dogs, I have in past actually BRED LITTERS (and hopefully will be able to afford to again in future). But yeah, let’s work together.

      Love, The Big Mouth with nothing to back it up

      1. I’m also curious as to why you have intact dogs. Spay/neuter isn’t just to prevent unwanted breeding, it preventsseveral health problems as well. As for purposely breeding, IMO that goes against rescuing.
        Also, if you can’t afford a “well-check,” can you afford to treat an illness that could have been caught early (or prevented) by an annual exam?
        I’ve worked in vet medicine for years, and get very tired of seeing people who can’t afford to treat their pet for something that would have been much cheaper to treat a year or more before when it was in the early stages (before they are “acting sick”).
        I’m completely with you about HSUS(they’re a joke), but honestly I have to agree with Heidi to some extent.

      2. I have intact dogs due to personal choice. Neutering may prevent some health problems and may contribute to others. It’s an individual decision.

        Intentional breeding, done responsibly, is something I encourage for those able to afford the financial and time commitments. If we had more responsible breeders who screened their stock for health problems, screened their buyers and stood by their pups for life offering support to owners, we’d drive fewer people to pet shops and prevent some shelter surrenders.

        I’m not a rescuer btw. I’m just a dog owner. I have rescued some dogs (and been involved with the rescue of others) over the years but I’m not in the same league with those who do this every day.

        Just because I said I can’t afford to take in a pack of dogs for yearly well checks doesn’t mean you should wonder if I’m aware that preventive medicine is a good idea. I can’t afford preventive medicine for myself either. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

  12. As I’ve said before, get rid of Wayne Pacelle and anyone that agrees with policies. I will not support them any longer!

  13. I rummaged around in my old brain and came up with this post by someone called “YesBiscuit!” It was posted back on August 8 last summer. It is eerily similar to this incident.

    It is offered here to show everyone that this is not an anomaly. HSUS has made a regular practice of this D-Day style of heavy-handed “rescuing.”

    Check out this post = http://yesbiscuit.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/hsus-doing-all-it-reasonably-can-to-railroad-small-shelters-in-need/

    1. The thing about that case is that the shelter operator says she was basically coerced into surrendering the shelter pets, on threat of cruelty charges. HSUS has no right to coerce anyone. I’m not saying they coerced the “hoarder” in AL to surrender her dogs. And I’m not saying they didn’t. The fact is, nobody knows what went on there except HSUS and the dogs’ owner – because HSUS arranged it that way. That’s one more reason to involve local authorities in cases like this – so no one can say there was any funny business. As things stand in Marshall Co, it remains unknown as to the circumstances under which the owner gave the dogs to HSUS. I myself can’t help wondering if HSUS advised the owner, “We won’t personally be caring for them or finding them homes but we’re going to drop them off at various places – some of which are already overwhelmed themselves and may opt to kill them if they see fit”.

  14. Heidi,

    What are you suggesting? Anyone who doesn’t do yearly exams is irresponsible? I don’t nor is that any of your’s of HSUS business. I OWN my dogs and take my responsibilty of caring for them quite seriously. They go to the vets WHEN they need to. That certainly is none of HSUS’s nor my local high kill shelter’s business.

    Most of the ordinances on the books were part of the HSUS sheltering “model ordinance” which includes just about every assinine example of stupidity including how many times a dog can bark before AC has the “right” to force surrender and kill that dog.

    In reality, it’s really no one’s business if my dogs afre altered either. It’s my responsibility that I maintain control of my dogs but certainly it’s nobodies business on their breeding status. That too is not a reason for allowing AC to impound and kill any dog.

    BTW, AHS killed thousands more dogs then Michael Vick without offering any of these victims a second chance when they ran ther Fulton County Animal shelter under Kill Bill Garrett.

    Kill Bill also sat on the GA Dept of Ag for years while they permitted shelters to use gas as an econical ways of disposing with dogs in GA’s cheapest shelters. Why would I support them – educated or not?

    AHS doesn’t care about or support the Atlanta rescue community – they care about their portfolio and retirement package for their officers (which includes Richard Rice who botched the Katrina Rescue effort).

    I’ll even leave off my personal experience where I ended up with a shelter beagle that AHS had committed to but was willing to send back to the Augusta Kill Shelter when they found out he was heartworm positive. What’s “humane” about that?

  15. HSUS, ASPCA, SPCA, PETA and Best Friends can kiss me where the sun don’t shine. They’re a bunch of scamming frauds from HELL.

  16. The HSUS statement reads like it was written by one of those rather young women I’ve started to encounter occasionally in my professional life who were apparently raised in a “mistake-free” environment. As in, they have never been told that they were in error or had done something wrong and they simply are at a loss as to how to deal with it when it happens to them (welcome to the REAL world, sweetie). I’ve heard stories of employers telling one of their ilk that they’d done something wrong, not in a nasty way at all, and had the girl burst into tears and have a meltdown.

    To me, this is the money quote- “no one is perfect, but we’re certainly trying with everything we have to make a positive difference in the lives of these animals.” Therefore, stop being mean to me because, because…it hurts my feelings.

    1. But Susan, can’t you find a way to click this lil’ gal to her happy place without stomping all over her self-actualization with your outdated negativity?

      You brought me back to the final paragraph of that PR gloss, which I’d skimmed while singing la la la.

      Being involved in animal rescue and placement can be heart wrenching work

      “Which is why we don’t bother with that messy, expensive ‘placement’ part.”

      – it is almost always stressful, fast-paced, and can invite criticism if the outcomes are not all positive.

      It can invite a great deal more than that. It can invite shitstorms of tangible personal and legal abuse when everything goes as close to perfectly as possible. Suck it.

      It would be easier not to be involved – to stick to areas that we can better control the outcomes and where we have less (sic) variables and more oversight.

      If I had a few hundred million simoleons, I could just go to town controlling variables.

      I could bring my big trucks full of kennel panels and modular shelter to near the site of need and, with the cooperation of the local authorities, borrow the county fairgrounds or rent some private land. I could appoint one of my employees as emergency shelter manager, hire one or two locals as temps for the heavy lifting, get each dog into a kennel run, vet them, start evaluating them, and go from there.

      I could tap my army of volunteers who I’ve previously trained — for FREE — to come work with the animals, socializing and evaluating them.

      I could use my juice with the media to get the puppies and social, healthy dogs adopted out quickly to properly-screened homes, and provide lifetime follow-up support for those adopters from my well-trained, well-paid employees.

      As the emergency shelter population decreased, I could identify good foster placements (from my extant list of resources) for the dogs who need further medical care and/or behavioral rehab in order to become adoptable. I could get those dogs to those foster situations in a deliberate and thoughtful way, and I could pay for their costs while they are in foster. If the “foster” situation is an animal shelter or brick & mortar rescue that has the ability to work on behavior while the dog is in the shelter, I could cover the costs of that, too, and I’d even know which organizations are competent to handle which “issues.”

      Then, when those dogs are ready for adoption, I could get the word out and get those guys also into properly-screened homes that will always have the benefit of follow-up support from my well-paid, well-trained staff.

      If any animals proved impossible to rehab, medically suffering, behaviorally dangerous or so hopelessly fearful and suffering after an appropriate, sustained effort of skilled rehab, I could guaranfrikkentee that the dog would leave this life with the assistance of a licensed vet, and in the arms of someone whose sincere tears will run down into his fur.

      I could have mad paperwork set up, great computer systems that track every animal that comes into my stewardship.

      It would be amazing how many variables I could control if “everything I had” was a few hundred million tax-free.

  17. I’m not sure how to articulate my thoughts on this subject. I live in Alabama. I drive through Marshall County twice a day. I know there is no shelter. This often leaves me conflicted in my own behavior because my options are limited. Do I call about the dog I see running at large or try to catch him? Can I really do anything about the penned dogs whose houses are falling apart? I know the single ACO and most of the city animal control guys. I’m forever on my stump about sheltering issues and the no kill movement to anyone who will listen and this includes people in Marshall County. Last week, that audience included a local police chief. We were meeting on a business issue and the subject of animals came up – I got on my stump and did my thing. He’s thinking of building a shelter and while I have very little hope that will ever happen, I did my best pitch for starting off on the right foot so that his shelter does not turn into a disposal facility.

    I was not there with the HSUS. I didn’t see the dogs and I don’t know what happened. Having said that, I think I’m allowed to make some assumptions based on the information we’ve been provided an in the absence of any explanations to the contrary. I wrote to the state’s HSUS rep last week to ask about what happened and have not received a response. That could be because that person is not available. It could be for other reasons about which there is no point in speculating. I’m quite outspoken in my state, and on my web site, and I have never hidden my distaste for an organization I view as a scam which is led by a person I think would likely do better manufacturing plastic products which don’t feel pain or joy.

    I do not believe this was a hoarding situation in any traditional sense. The group photo shows dogs who appear to be healthy and who are existing together peacefully, for the most part. The fact that 43 were heartworm negative is amazing in and of itself. If the person who had these dogs had actually been a hoarder or a collector, I think that person would have fought to keep them, even when faced with the potentially intimidating scene of a group of people in official looking vehicles wearing official looking clothes who say (in a nutshell), “give us the dogs.” I think it is more likely that this was a well-intentioned individual who really just got overwhelmed and didn’t know who to turn to for help.

    I do believe this was a case of the HSUS using a situation to bolster its image and to add more propaganda to the money making machine. It’s yet another “look and see what we did to help!” situation which must have cost quite a bit to execute but for which there apparently is no clear paper trail in terms of which animal went where and for which receiving agencies were provided no follow-on funding (meaning funds used to care for the dogs in the immediate future until they’re placed).

    Most of us who post here know the HSUS is not affiliated with local groups which call themselves humane societies but John and Jane Q. Public do not know that. When people hear about or read about the “Marshall County Rescue,” most will assume that money they donate will be funneled back to local groups at least to some degree. It will not. Not even the most basic of financial crumbs to offset costs for the care of the dogs.

    I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a single advocate trying to do my pebble in the pond thing to help educate some folks and help some animals in the process. As someone trying to bring about change in my own ways with the tools I have, I expect more of the HSUS. I will never, ever understand how an organization can have the audacity to bank on the heart strings of the American public while doing so very little to help animals and the people trying to rescue them.

  18. From a lone rescuer (but not without great friends who help me help)….found a young dog in the middle of the highway New Year’s Eve… she survived getting hit by a truck….with gratitude for all the incredible investigative work you have done…I’m calling my new little foster girl, Shirley.

  19. I must be missing something somewhere…maybe I have a loose screw…but I think, NOT!

    The animals were removed as a decision made by HSUS and I simply don’t understand why any rescue would accept any animals coming from this organization or other AR organization without having them make a substantial donation for their care. Then again…

    Furthermore, if they ALL stopped accepting animals that are illegally seized, then maybe they would have to stop the ‘rescues’ until they come up with their own shelters and rescues.

    Seems that in one breath we scream that we want them to stop seizing animals and then in the next breath help those that are helping them by taking in animals and/or making and/or begging for donations.

    I will not donate or help any shelter that participates in any seizure by any AR organization. Especially when these shelters usually continue to perpetuate what they were told. The laws are broken with the seizure itself and the accused assumed guilty and must prove themselves innocent without proper due process.

    Nothing wrong with boycotting these groups and to take a more active approach in determining who we will donate to. By helping you are helping HSUS or other Animal Rights organization period. Sorry but we both know this is true!!!

    How many more animal shelters/rescuers do they have to take down to uncover this fact?!? And helping any of them does not give immunity.

    We have to be as proactive as AR has been over the years if we want to stop this from continuing. Simply say no, I help only REAL rescues!

    I simply don’t understand why others haven’t done the same.

    1. Barbara,
      I understand your concerns – truly. But everything is not so easily compartmentalized as we might like it to be. The bottom line is, regardless of whether we think removing the dogs was a positive thing, or whether we like how it was done and who did it, the bottom line for me is this: These shelters/rescues took in dogs that in many cases are probably not easy to adopt. And they did it probably during a time when they were already full and while struggling with finances. I’d like to thank them for doing that because otherwise, we know from past experience the situation could have been worse. And I’d like to help, if possible, to get them the resources (via donations) to take care of these dogs.

      1. I DO understand and appreciate what you are getting at about helping the animals but I really must stress by doing so it is in support of HSUS. Absolutely NO shelter that helps any AR activities should be supported, period!
        The thought of them taking 44 dogs without having a plan of action is totally irresponsible, no matter how they did it. Rather than simply say that the owner of these dogs is being assisted by HSUS, they have proclaimed the owner as a hoarder. And whether this person is or not why put a label out there unless the intention is for future legislation in Alabama.
        They get the animals to shelters and proclaim themselves the heroes and impress politicians.
        Frankly, while animals are living, breathing and feeling; they ARE property and everyone has a right to ownership.
        If people would stop chiding others for uncontrolled situations then maybe they would/could take care of the problem themselves. Instead they are shamed and punished with public opinion.
        It’s totally wrong to complain about AR and then turn around and help/SUPPORT when there are so many shelters who would NEVER take in an animal from anyone of these agencies-those shelters need to be supported.
        I love what you are doing with this blog but I believe we need an activist approach that is legal and moral.
        The animal rights agenda is so apparent to many of us and unapparent to those in support of it. Many people are brainwashed with their theology and reason we now have a problem that is out of control.
        I have become extremely active AGAIN with this issue and alarmed at what I have learned this past year.
        I see you are as alarmed as I but you seem a lot more willing to bend than I am. There is no excuse for these shelters to be complaining when they should state on agreement “If you want me to help clean-up your mess and considering we might loose some support because we helped you; then you provide for these animals with the money needed to care for them.”

    2. “The laws are broken with the seizure itself.” Although I have not spoken with any HSUS reps, I don’t believe any laws were broken. This was not a law enforcement operation. It was an operation by the HSUS without the presence of any law enforcement officials. I’m not sure what was said to persuade the person to allow the dogs to be removed from the property but they were. That means this was not an actual seizure.

      Regardless of the words used, the person surrendered the dogs which means nothing illegal happened. In Alabama, as in most states, dogs are simply property. This is the legal equivalent to someone surrendering 44 pick-up trucks in that person’s yard as far as the laws are concerned. No. I am not an attorney but I deal with enough legal work that absent someone who was present telling me the dogs were taken without the permission of the “owner,” I don’t see this as a seizure.

      It’s a moot point to me anyway. The dogs were taken. Some are alive. Some are dead. I do not condone what the HSUS did. I will gladly read any explanation the organization can provide for the manner in which the operation took place which is something more than a “gee, somebody had to do it,” plea for understanding.

      1. I think the key here is that *only HSUS and the owner* know what happened at the time the dogs were surrendered. HSUS designed the situation that way.

        I’m not a lawyer either, but my thinking is that IF – and we have no evidence to support or refute this possibility – the dogs were surrendered due to a form of coersion, that may be a violation of law. For example IF (see above caveat) HSUS said to the owner something like, “If you don’t sign the dogs over voluntarily, you’ll be charged with 44 counts of animal cruelty, taken to jail and the people for whom you are the primary caregiver will become wards of the state” I would think that would be illegal.

        HSUS had no law enforcement powers in this case but many people don’t realize this, especially when a van load of HSUS staff in uniforms descends upon your property. I can certainly understand how an owner might feel intimidated in that situation. And since we know from HSUS that it was not the owner who reached out for help with the dogs, I can imagine it was a stressful situation when their van pulled up and D.C. staffers started spilling out.

  20. “IF (see above caveat) HSUS said to the owner something like, “If you don’t sign the dogs over voluntarily, you’ll be charged with 44 counts of animal cruelty, taken to jail and the people for whom you are the primary caregiver will become wards of the state” I would think that would be illegal.”

    I think that’s called EXTORTION.

  21. Has anyone tried tracking down the owner?

    These dogs were NOT in a life or death situation so there was no reason to take them – 44 of them had managed to survive for this long. Or they could have possibly taken just the ones in dire need medically (if there were any) and the ones easily placeable if it was a situation the woman was overwhelmed and needed some taken. They could have arranged for spay/neuter for any dogs she wanted to keep. If some of these dogs were unadoptable then why couldn’t they go back and live their lives out with this woman? Hell, Best Friends’ facilities aren’t any better. Its completely unrealistic to think H$U$ did not pressure this woman to sign all her dogs over.

    This is what is fundamentaly wrong with the AW world these days – the need to punish is more important than the welfare of the animals. Anyone that thinks death was ok for any of these dogs needs to be kicked out of our community.

    The idea these dogs were taken to a gassing shelter is complete BS. You’re not getting an OOPS pass on this on H$U$.

    1. Perhaps worth noting that HSUS hasn’t asked for a pass. In fact, all they did was blame the gassing shelter where they dropped the dogs for gassing them. Beyond that, they’re doing everything they can, using all they’ve got, blah.

      1. If this is “all they can”, and “all they’ve got”…then they are full of SH*T!!
        H$U$ doesn’t think they NEED a pass! They did what they always do.
        Barbara, I’m not sure I agree with you about boycotting all AR supporting rescues.
        My goal is to help the animals. The fact that the big name political and governmental animal groups use these very creatures to lure/tease/punish and otherwise blackmail or goad us into helping/supporting THEM just pisses me off. But I don’t think NOT helping will fix the problem. I think that’s why PeTA just finds it easier to murder everything they can get their hands on. They don’t want anyone to have pets, they don’t think animals should be domesticated, so the quickest way to get where they want us to be is to kill everything.

  22. Actually I’d expect the Attorney General of Alabama would want to investigate the circumstances of this taking of property to assure that citizens have not been victimized, particularly since no law enforcement authorities were present.

    Excerpt of definition From Wikipedia: “Extortion, outwresting, and/or exaction is a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection…..

    “Neither extortion nor blackmail require a threat of a criminal act, such as violence, merely a threat used to elicit actions, money, or property from the object of the extortion. Such threats include the filing of reports (true or not) of criminal behavior to the police, revelation of damaging facts (such as pictures of the object of the extortion in a compromising position), etc.”

    If the owner has not come forward voluntarily, that identity could surely be obtained by subpoena, as well as testimony from anybody else who was present.

  23. I’ll be the first to agree that some form of coercion was likely involved. It could be quite intimidating for someone in a rural area, with questionable education or resoources, to see official looking people in official looking vehicles. It’s possible that person felt he or she had no choice. If there was some mention of violation of cruetly laws (as weak and poorly worded as the statute is) that would just be the thing to push someone into complying.

    I’ll be watching to see if there is some backlash over this with the HSUS on a local level but I don’t expect it. I may call the sheriff just to ask him what he thinks about an agency coming into his county unannounced to take property. The problem is that I don’t know what to tell him since I don’t know whose property was taken. Perhaps he’d like to discuss the matter with the HSUS himself.

    I don’t expect the AG to do a thing. The outgoing AG called our state law requiring counties to have shelters “unenforceable.” I know little about the new guy but suspect that animal issues are pretty far down on his to-do list.

    In a perfect world, there would be some backlash on a larger scale. I’d love for this story to be used nation-wide to expose the type of “rescue missions” being conducted and then being used as success stories to get the American public to open up their wallets to pay Pacelle’s salary.

    Before Shirley began looking into this incident, the local ACO thought that the HSUS contributed/distributed funds to local groups with the name “humane society” in the title. Now he knows that is not the case. If he didn’t know, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of people who donate do not know.

  24. RE: the foster dog I called Shirley has been re-united with her owner…sorry I do not have a photo of the Aussie lass but her given name is Indie – her grateful owner was going to have a memorial service for her this evening BUT now – it will be a homecoming party….

    Thanks to the local newspaper for running found dog ads for free.

    1. What a welcome bit of good news! Thanks for following through with this dog Mary. A true rescue. HSUS could learn from you. I’d like to go by Indie for a nickname I think!

  25. Rescue footnote…Indie (it is a great name – short for Independent Girl) was released to her owner from (Vet #2) – a trusted office manager/friend relayed to me over the phone Indie was super tail-wagging happy to see her owner – Indie had suffered a concussion and honestly seemed depressed with me. (not much tail wagging)

    So with that I let her go (plus a very accurate description)…I trusted the owner to call me and repay the cost from the Emergency Vet care (the larger bill by far) that I covered with Vet #1. The owner paid the smaller bill with Vet #2 – she was very grateful – (I was told) and had been planning a memorial service for her lost dog and was thrilled to find her.

    But as of yet the owner has not thanked me or repayed me…but y’know I’m still happy I helped Indie.

    1. Mary – Was this money out of your own pocket or did you use funds from a rescue group? (I don’t know if you are affiliated w/any particular groups, thus my question.) How much was the ER bill?

  26. footer to the footnote – I’m not meaning to distract from the issue here and when I explain all this I think it applies to the pervasive problem of animal control.

    Got a call from the owner today…she could not call me because she has been undergoing chemo for metestatic cancer..Indie is her reason for getting up and dealing with life. I had left a message annoyed she had not called and at least thanked me….she was exhausted and further wiped out from getting Indie back…before she had cancer she did Aussie rescue…I might know her or at least know people who do….

    Which makes me need to tie this into the comments made here…where I found Indie – there is no animal services aside from an ordinance governing Dangerous Dogs and then a sheriff would come out for a call if there was some sort of threat to human or livestock.

    The closest animal control would not have taken Indie because she was not in their jurisdiction. The young man who was standing out on the highway over Indie (he was outraged that the truck that had hit her kept going) and he offered to shoot her as he had no money to take her to a veterinarian. That’s when I said put her in my truck and took her to a veterinarian on New Year’s Eve.

    Here’s the tie in – Even if I could have taken her to the local high kill animal control facility (AC here also advocates for pet limits, pit bull restrictions, they hassle feral cat caregivers and the kicker they transport 300 mostly dogs to Washington State University, Pullman, Washington for practice surgeries and then they are mostly killed) I would never have taken Indie or any animal to the local AC.

    HSUS did a rescue several years ago here with a miniature white husky type of dog – I think nearly 400 dogs were “rescued” – HSUS came in very quickly got the press and bam they were gone…it was strange. The disturbed woman who bred those poor dogs lived in the same county without animal services where I found Indie – there is still no animal service.

    HSUS did nothing to help the animal service situation around here – nothing.

    Animal Control is still killing where there should be life.

  27. Should be clearer..Washington State University takes by contract 300 (mostly dogs?) to their veterinary school of medicine – the animals are subjected to practice surgeries (some over and over) and then are killed. Occasionally there may be a token adoption…I rescued a pit bull from the institution approx. 7 years ago – she’s my old baby girl – tried to challenge this taking of animals from our “shelter” – failed on many levels.

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