Updated: Latest Tidbits on the Alabama 44

I am still plugging along, attempting to pin down details on the Alabama 44.  Mainly, I am hoping to account for the last 3 dogs.  If you have any information on the whereabouts of these 3 dogs (see below for details on the other 41 dogs), please share.  In addition, there have been several discrepancies that have emerged regarding the case which I’ll address with the limited information I have.  Anyone with additional info, please chime in.

First, News@Norman posted an update on the situation at the Lincoln Co Animal Services shelter in NC today and it included this bit:

The Humane Society of the US, which arranged the rescue of 44 dogs from the Alabama hoarder, has come under fire for sending the dogs to Lincoln County. Some of them are tracking the disposition of all of the dogs they are referring to as the “Alabama 44.”
After being criticized for the decision the Alabama organization issued this statement:
“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.
“ As a precaution, when allegations of wrongdoing at the shelter surfaced, the remaining six dogs were moved to other shelters in North Carolina. However, we cannot substantiate any of those allegations. The Lincoln County Shelter has also committed to stop using the gas chamber as a method of euthanasia, and we applaud that decision and have offered to assist in the cost of removing it from the shelter,” the organization stated.

Per this HSUS statement, 4 dogs may have been killed at Lincoln Co, not 3 as I had been told by shelter staff in previous phone calls.  If 4 is correct, that would account for one of the several dogs transferred to Charlotte whose status is unknown.

Second, there is the issue of the total number of dogs.  44 has been given as the total by several sources but 48 has appeared in a few places, including here:

Coordinating the response is Michelle Lee [of New Leash on Life], who said 48 animals are to be rescued by court order so they all have a chance for survival.

This brings up a third discrepancy – Owner surrender vs. seizure.  I spoke to Ms. Lee today and she said she was unsure what the total number of dogs ended up being and didn’t know any details of the case (such as the means by which HSUS removed the dogs – voluntary surrender or court order) beyond a few e-mails HSUS circulated when lining up shelters and rescues to take the dogs.  The interview she gave where she made the above statement was prior to her group actually receiving any of the dogs.  So it seems reasonable to my mind to carry on with the assumption that 44 is the correct number and owner surrender is the means by which HSUS got the dogs.

One of the dogs at Bliss Animal Haven is listed on Petfinder and his description includes the following line:

Due to neglect, Trevor is heartworm positive.

I’m not at all sure this is fair.  (The text also describes the former owner as a “hoarder” which I think is, at best, a dubious accusation.)  Per Marshall Co ACO Kevin Hooks, 43 out of the 44 dogs tested negative for heartworm.  For a pack of dogs living outdoors in the south, that doesn’t sound like a lucky coincidence to me.  It sounds like they were getting heartworm meds.  And just because 1 of the 44 came up positive, I hardly think that qualifies as “neglect”.  Rather, it could be simply a case of a dog vomiting up a heartworm dose in the bushes unbeknownst to the owner or a number of other reasonable explanations which don’t involve neglect.

Here is my current list on the Alabama 44:

Status:  Located (22 dogs)

10 dogs at PAWS Atlanta in GA, all remain in quarantine.  Donations appreciated!

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

3 dogs at New Leash on Life in Wilson Co, TN, 2 already adopted (see a request from one of the adopters here for tips on socialization) and Sassy (D10-496) who is still available for adoption

2 dogs at Humane Society of Etowah Co, AL,  both up for adoption.  Donations appreciated!

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.  Read a comment providing status updates on all 4 dogs here.)  I spoke to HS of Charlotte president Shelly Moore on 1-6-11.  She confirmed that Chow Phat (listed on their website) received surgery to correct bilateral entropion and is now available for adoption.  Merry (and her pups) and the other 2 dogs (both males, about 3 years old) will be available for adoption in future.  At time of transfer from Lincoln Co, all 4 lacked in social skills but no major health issues beyond the entropion previously mentioned.  Ms. Moore says HS of Charlotte is a no kill shelter and all the dogs will be cared for until adopted.

Status:  Dead (6 dogs)

4 dogs at Lincoln Co Animal Services in NC – Per shelter records, 3 were listed as “sick”.  They were Murray, Harry and dog #38805.  The 4th dog I received no information on via the shelter although Martha Lide, the Assistant Co Manager for Lincoln Co provided this info:

There were 10 dogs from Alabama. Four dogs were sent to the Charlotte Humane Society.  Two dogs were sent to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control. Four dogs were euthanized.   Of the four dogs that were euthanized, one was determined to be sick and aggressive and three were determined to be aggressive.  It is our understanding that the animals were raised in an environment with little or no human contact and they were in a feral state.   If you would like any more information about these animals, you may want to contact Kim Album, Executive Director of the North Carolina Humane Society. Her number is 919-744-5093.

2 puppies at Humane Society of Etowah Co in AL – The pups were less than 10 weeks old and came in very sick.  Parvo was suspected and both were euthanized.  They were the youngest of the group of 44 and the only 2 who appeared to be sick.

Status:  Unknown (16 dogs)

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.

2 dogs transferred from Lincoln Co Animal Services to Charlotte-Mecklenburg shelter.  Their kill rate is about 65%.  Both dogs are listed on Char-Meck’s site – Daisy (ID#A797513) and an unnamed male (A797514).

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

3 dogs remain unaccounted for and I’m still looking for them.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of these 3 dogs, please share.

Update, January 6: I amended the above list to reflect the most current information.

19 thoughts on “Updated: Latest Tidbits on the Alabama 44

  1. not fair at all. any dogs are heartworm positive.. some who have even been on meds.. what is amazing is that they were not ALL HW positive.. says something for the care they were given..
    It still amazes me that YOU have to do this work.. one would think the HSUS would be all over this trying to rectify this situation.. I guess mea culpa is not in their dictionary

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  2. Heartworm medication does not have 100% efficacy, something that many people do not realize. To claim that one dog out of over 44 being HW positive was the result of ‘neglect’ is a very ignorant assumption, frankly.

    But demonizing people who give up their pets (for any reason) is a common attitude in many circles, I’ve found.

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  3. If these 3 guys showed up at my house, I might use the N word. They’re thin and look pretty miserable, although that might be because they just got off the HSUS van after a long, traumatic trip.

    The heartworm positive dog is already 2 years old so may have come to the person in AL with adult heartworms. Preventative won’t kill off the adults, just the microfilariae. Nothing surprising about a stray dog in AL turning up HW+ at age 2. But at least a third of the 44 dogs look like puppies to me.
    Dogs won’t test positive for hw disease until they’re around 6 mos. old so most vets don’t even test until that age. It takes 5-7 months for hw larvae to mature. So I doubt that all the dogs in the group were tested–probably only the ones older than 6-7 mos. So 1 dog out of an unknown number tested positive–but probably not 1 out of 44.

    I think the owners of Bliss took HSUS’s word for it that the dogs came from a hoarding situation. They look like they could have. I hope they look a lot better a few months from now and am glad they made it. Except for the 2 very young puppies who were killed in AL because they showed parvo-like symptoms (probably caused by coccidia since it would be very unusual for only 2 to have parvo in a group that size–doubt they were tested for parvo)–except for those 2 and the puppy who ran off in TN, the adult dogs are the ones who got killed off. Sick? Behavior problems? Or just more trouble to keep and harder to adopt?

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    1. I think it’s a fair assumption that all the shelters/rescues got their initial info from HSUS. At some point, I expect each group caring for the dogs to make their own judgments. I question whether this owner was truly a hoarder and further question the assessment that the dogs were suffering from neglect and had to be immediately removed.

      As to your questions on the dogs who were killed, I too wonder these same things. If you read the updated info in the post – the statement from the county official – all 4 of the dogs killed at Lincoln Co were aggressive (and 1 of them was also “sick”).

      If that info is accurate, it seems preposterous to think that the 4 most aggressive dogs of the group were sent to a gassing shelter by HSUS purportedly so they could be walked by volunteers. (So far as we know, none of the other dogs in the original 44 had to be killed for behavioral issues. Therefore I’m drawing a limited conclusion that those must have been the worst 4 of the lot.)

      I hope that any dog w/behavioral issues “rescued” from whatever situation is at minimum given a fair evaluation by at least one qualified individual and provided an opportunity for behavioral rehab if needed. If that doesn’t happen and the dog is killed in haste, to my mind it’s the same as “rescuing” a dog with a broken leg and then killing him for medical reasons. Does not qualify as RESCUE in my opinion.

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      1. And I would agree with you in some cases, but I do think it has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Dogs are generally social animals and need companionship.

        Many people who live in rural areas have what some might call unsocialized pets. I probably fall into this category. My dogs hang around with each other and with us, but we don’t get visitors very often. And visitors with dogs, less than that. Years back, when I lived in the suburbs, walking dogs around the neighborhood and going to parks was a necessity for exercise. Now that we have sufficient space to walk our dogs off lead on our own property, going out into the neighborhood for exercise is not a necessity. In fact, it’s ill advised due to roaming dogs and no one to hear you scream if something happened.

        I have no idea how my dogs would fare if an HSUS van pulled in, a pile of strangers spilled out and attempted to get all my dogs into crates. After dealing with that shock, if they further had to endure being housed in a temporary shelter, poked and prodded by more strangers, subjected to a long road trip and then separated from each other and dropped off in much smaller numbers at more shelter/rescue facilities with more strangers… well, as I said I don’t know how they’d react. But I can guess it wouldn’t go smoothly. Hell, it might not go smoothly for a bunch of well socialized dogs forced to undergo that experience.

        So if “neglect” is deemed on site in the AL case, that’s different to me than if it’s deemed after the dogs have been in rescue. I’m not sure that it applies in either instance, with regard to the AL dogs. We have such limited information, it’s hard to make a judgment but based on the facts at hand, it’s questionable IMO.

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      2. Well, even if the dogs were unsocialized and even if they were actually really truly neglected (and I’m not saying they were), the HSUS debacle was STILL completely unnecessary and unjustified. Just the thought of that monster van tooling around the South to pick up and drop off a couple of dozen adult dogs and a bunch of puppies is laughable. Not to mention what the gas must have cost.
        The dogs could have stayed where they were until adopted with the help of local rescues or at least gone to local or regional no kill shelters. Maybe more of the adult male dogs would still be alive if they could have stayed put. Ironic since HSUS was called in because of fights in the dog pen–or so we were told. I suspect the alleged hoarder’s family put pressure on her to surrender the dogs. Remember, her brother was the one who called HSUS to ask for “help.” And he doesn’t even live in AL. Hoping for the best for all the dogs who survived their road trip from hell with HSUS.

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  4. This is what I have found out about the four dogs that went to The Humane Society of Charlotte:

    1. “Chow Phat” has had eye surgery and is up for adoption. 2. “Merry” delivered puppies and is doing well in foster care. 3. “Bear Bear” is in foster care so he can get more social. 4. “Chester” is at the shelter but is still pretty scared and they are working with him.

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  5. AL HSUS and other “Humane” organizations in AL have done absolutely NOTHING to stop the use of Carbon Monoxide Gas Chambers in Alabama. In fact, the issue of gassing animals in Alabama was researched and brought to light by individuals, then new grass roots organizations – who had to track this obscene method of extermination, in the same manner YesBiscuit has labored to track the poor dogs sent to “hinderland”.
    The HSUS nor the AL Humane Fed had a list of facilites using gas chambers. To pull the info. from the AL St Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (the entity who deemed gassing as a humane option) was like trying to find names of missing relatives in Nazi Germany.
    Face it, no one, nobody, but the citizens of our state can make changes and reform the cruel animal control system, and they HAVE to be willing to witness, speak and demand.
    Thanks for staying on the Marshall Dogs Biscuit. BTW, if a court order was required to confiscate the dogs, then there has to be a record either in Marshall County or Etowah, where the dogs were “assessed and vetted.”

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  6. I have firm reason to believe there were 44 dogs, 43 of whom were heartworm negative. I was told that by the woman who runs the facility where the dogs were housed overnight to be vetted. To have that many heartworm negative in this region is commendable, in mind.

    No comment on gassing in our state other than to say the time has come for it to stop. I know where chambers are in use about which the state knows. But one of the guys using a chamber told me on the phone that there were 16 in use. Maybe he was just trying to defend himself. He said so many other inane things that I would not be surprised.

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  7. Yes there are other illegal “gas chambers” in use in AL, one in particlar – in Franklin County. (unregulated and unregistered), this county has no formal “animal control” or facility. I filed a complaint with the ASBVME with info. obtained from telephone conversation with the lady at the land fill in Franklin County – She said they have a gas chamber and most strays are gassed, their only form of “euthanasia”. She added, “If you want to “put down” an animal, take him/her to a vet. We don’t have a vet or injections here.” These words have haunted me, but only avenue was to fill out a form, fax it in to ASBVME, and WAIT. ASBVME does not hunt down unregistered gas chambers. I also sent them complaints on Andalusia, a.c. said they have a gas chamber, as well as the Humane Soc there confirmed. Another unlisted, unregulated, unregistered gas chamber.
    One wonders what the ASBVME does for animals -It appears they protect the exterminators, not the animals.
    ASBVME says they “will have an investigator check out Franklin County gas chamber operating illegally.” Don’t hold your breath.

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    1. I’m in the next state over and didn’t even know AL used gas chambers. Please y’all–raise a huge stink and GET THE WORD OUT on the internet. If my backward state can outlaw the gas chamber, yours can, too. Mobilize!

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  8. All I can say here is to remind folks that the H$U$ aggressively lobbied to have all of Michael Vick’s pit bulls killed, while at the exact same time using their images to solicit donations from the public “for their care and rehabilitation”.

    The H$U$ is evil, plain and simple. Anything any spokesdemon for this cesspool of corruption says about anything (or anyone) should be treated as a lie.

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  9. The ongoing lack of information from Nashville Humane Association makes me wonder what has happened to those dogs. Still none of them listed on their website. Saying that pets in their care are killed “only if it is necessary due to illness or behavior problems” leaves a lot of wiggle room. I wonder if those dogs are still alive.

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  10. Has anyone ever thought of a national group to oversee ALL shelters/rescues to guarantee that certain things are put into place – like a list of *good* reasons to put an animal down – what medical condition(s) or behavioral issues would result in it being better to euth a dog vs trying to actually perform the medical procedures and behavioral training?

    I know that many people I have talked to “thought” HSUS was such a group – until I finished my talk with them. BUT, I have also had conversations with other people that thought the ASPCA was that group as well.

    It just seems to me like we LET our shelters have this wiggle room by NOT creating a national oversight committee to set procedures and make decisions in regards to how best to help the animals in the care of these places. It just varies so greatly from place to place – holding periods differ, time on the “floor” varies, reason to kill animals vary, etc. I know that there has to be some way to make it the same across the board – and maybe having a national group that oversees the shelters can also work as a fundraising “funnel” to dole out money when shelters have a need for the money…

    When I addressed issue with HSUS I always get the run around – and the we help by having “shelter partners”…yeah, partners that have to dole out $25k for an evaluation to see what they need to do to increase adoptions…I just think, regardless of how long it takes for something like that to be done – it still shouldn’t cost that much (especially for a group like HSUS who has millions) and many of the things they list, to me anyways, are no brainers (like hand washing after handling a sick or unknown new arrival and then continuing to go on your rounds feeding all the animals). And I absolutely hate the fact that the shelter could use that $25k to actually help animals instead of killing them due to lack of funding to cover their expenses.

    Wouldn’t it be easier to create a national board to set these things up AND do follow through to make sure things are taking place that were madated. Plus it could include a hotline for shelter employees and volunteers to report incidences that can then be investigated without fear of retribution.

    Just something to think about….

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  11. Erica’s statements relect my opinion, and hope also. Each state should have this authorized entity – AND like she says, with people on the “board” who are compassionate, expertise – and preferably, NOT members or prev. members, or products of our current animal control system. Thanks Erica. This is what Alabama animal advocates want to work on, through legislation.

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