Through a Glass, Darkly

I know some of you have been following the story of this Shelter Pet of the Day kitten from earlier this week.  I want to bring it to the forefront because this cat’s life matters.

From a comment by reader Kristi, this is part of a plea from a shelter volunteer that was posted online:

The little black kitten ID 11/26-4886 has an amazing story. He was 15 feet down in a narrow well shaft, our on call officer rescued him over the Thanksgiving holiday by lowering a net with a can of cat food [in it]…

When I look at this baby cat’s face and hear how he was rescued, I immediately think ADOPTION BOOM!  Typically, this is exactly the sort of local interest story the newspaper and/or radio and/or TV station will pick up.  (And the Henry Daily Herald already has a Pet of the Week feature so they’d be first on my list to contact!)  Many people will run down to the shelter to save the Well Kitty but of course there’s only one of him.  It’s up to shelter staff to turn all the Well Kitty adopter-wannabes into Other Kitty adopters.

First we need a better picture – not one where he’s in his litter box in a cage.  Second, we need a great blurb for the media.  I’d want to highlight the compassionate actions of our own ACO who went out on Thanksgiving to fish this kitty out the well.  And of course mention what a wonderful pet Well Kitty will be for someone.  And most importantly, put in a word for Well Kitty’s friends and neighbors at the shelter – each with their own special story and all of them ready to interview you for potential future cohabitation arrangements.  While the director works on this, the staff and volunteers can rush around putting that extra sparkle on the place – rhinestone collars on the black cats, spit shine on everybody, everything tidy and in its place.  Make sure we have plenty of adoption applications, clipboards and pens on hand.  And don’t forget the dogs.  Some people may hear about our kind-hearted ACO and feel motivated to come down and look at the dogs since they’ve been thinking about getting one recently.  Lots to do and so exciting!  Well Kitty is going to get a home and hopefully lots of other shelter pets too!

But that’s just me.  Apparently what happened in real life is a shelter volunteer got a picture of the cat in his litterbox and posted it on Petfinders with his story.  From the shelter director, we got a resounding meh.  And Well Kitty, according to commenters claiming first-hand information, got needled with Fatal Plus, along with a bunch of other cats.  Valerie, the reader who submitted Well Kitty for Shelter Pet of the Day, contacted the shelter at Henry Co to try to follow-up on him.  This is what she sent me:

I asked about the kitten by id number and the person who answered the phone (Cindy) said he was “not available”.  “We don’t have any more 11/26s anymore.”  I asked what had happened to him  and she said that there was “no way to go back and look”, and she was “just filling in” and would transfer me to her boss, which she did.  The boss (Geri Oder?–not sure of the spelling) repeated that the kitten was not available and told me that they are  “not computerized”, so the records are all on paper, filed by month, not by id #.  I mentioned that this kitten had fallen down a well, but that didn’t ring a bell with her.)  She said that you could file an Open Records request, which would require her to “pull an employee off their job” to look for the paperwork pertaining to this kitten by hand, something she seemed a bit miffed about.  Never mind that it is a state law that the public has a right to know, and hence part of her and her employees’ job.  I inquired about the cost of such a request since she indicated that there would be one and she said that it would reflect the pay of her lowest-paid employee, which was $13 per hour.  I asked approximately how long it might take to retrieve this information and she said that they handle 500-600 animals per month and the employee would have to sift through all files by hand, but didn’t give me a time frame for how long that would take.

She said that you’d have to “come down” to file an OR request, but my understanding is that they can be done by mail or email and that fees must be reasonable and that if you wanted to look through records in person they have to provide a place where you can do that at no charge.

So, do you want to do an OR request?

Several things here bothered me.  First, the director didn’t remember a kitten her own ACO had fished out a well on Thanksgiving?  This should have been the shelter celebrity cat!  Second, no one would need to go rifling through hundreds of records if they simply filed them by date and/or number.  It seems illogical to think they use a “filing system” akin to tossing their records into the air and letting them fall where they may.  Why would a shelter do this?

For background information on the Henry Co shelter, I contacted Nathan Winograd who went there a little over 5 years ago.  What he told me about the shelter was shocking:

I did go there back in 2005, October or November-ish. I harassed them to close down that ghastly gas chamber. I think they ultimately did, but I can’t take credit for that as they ignored most of my other suggestions. Keep in mind that I was not there at the invitation of the shelter. I was brought there by two community advocates/rescuers for one day. But I did meet with the county manager and the head of the shelter and ultimately sent them about 40 pages of recommendations if memory serves.

I am enclosing some photographs I took just to give you an idea of what the place was like. There is one where food is mixed with litter and cleaning chemicals, sitting right next to the gas chamber that was being held together with duct tape and the freezer where they put the bodies.

The physical facility was actually better than many I have seen. It was new, opened that year, though it was not built by an architect who specializes in shelter design. Although they had rooms where young animals were separated from adult animals, a separate room for sick animals, and a visitation room where potential adopters can meet and greet shelter animals, the internal programs and policies undermined any utility the building had. But that is not saying much to begin with. The dog kennels were much too small to allow species typical behavior, the HVAC system should have been designed as a closed system with 12-14 air exchanges per hour, with 100% outside air, and outdoor exercise facilities should have been incorporated into the design. There was a “feral pen” which was as filthy as it could be, with no protection from the elements. I begged them to close it down as every cat that went in there was killed (including friendly ones who were nervous on intake, misclassified as “feral,” and never reevaluated.) They had tons of office space. I suggested converting some of it to a “feral” room so that cats could be kept clean, safe, reevaluated, and protected from the elements. Ultimately, they refused and cats did end up dying of exposure.

I tried to get information about how many animals were being impounded, adopted, killed, etc. but they could not tell me as they were a paper-based system and no one had gone through them. All I had were “approximations” but what they did give me was downright scary. In one month, for example, they had somewhere in the neighborhood of only 40 adoptions, 500 or so killed, and about 65 or so animals who “died in kennel” or were missing. Not only is that 40 to 500 ration downright scary, but that last number is truly frightening. Deaths in kennel should never be above 1 or 2% of the total or you have serious neglect going on in the shelter.

They used to be computerized at one time, but since community activists were using the data against them, they actually got rid of the computer system (though they left the computers) and went to a paper based system. Whenever anyone asked for data, the response was an “approximation” as it would cost too much manpower to go through the individual animal records and provide that information. I kid you not. It was the first shelter and still the only one I have ever seen go from computerized data entry to a paper system. And it was by design to thwart community oversight.

The staff were terrible. The animal control officers were lazy and cruel, ignoring injured animals, not responding to neglect and cruelty calls in a timely manner or at all, while the actual shelter care was done by prison inmates with no supervision. The officers were required to clean in the morning and then go out on the road, but they didn’t clean while I was there. They sat around smoking cigarettes and talking before heading out.

The shelter did not vaccinate or do physical exams. And the officers did not try to assist needy animals. I remember during my visit that a dog with a bloody club foot (missing all toes) was brought in by a field officer who did not identify the injury or flag shelter staff. Another dog had an injury from a tight chain around its neck, and a third dog (a puppy) had bloody diarrhea and was a potential parvovirus risk to the rest of the population. No one cared. No one responded. They just sat there until I raised hell and called the head of public safety who oversees the shelter.

They complained of frequent parvovirus outbreaks which are almost always preventable. By employing a rigorous cleaning protocol, vaccinating on intake, and segregating puppies, a shelter can control the spread of parvovirus. They did none of these things. They didn’t even really clean or disinfect, just hosed down kennels. They cleaned cats and kittens without washing hands or using gloves. Water bowls were not cleaned and disinfected and I had to tell the inmates cleaning that day to give fresh water to the animals.

Even while I was there, some of the care I saw was incredibly hostile and I feared what it was like when I was not there. I remember seeing an inmate slamming a kennel cage door repeatedly out of frustration, further inciting an already traumatized dog because he could not restrain the dog. I also witnessed an inmate removing a cat from a cage with a catch pole secured around the cat’s neck and lifting the cat off of the ground, choking the cat. I had to order him to stop. I tried to explain to him (and later the head of enforcement) that control poles should never be used on cats. I later sent the head of public safety information on humane feral cat restraint systems which are incredibly inexpensive. If you are going to use a control pole (which you shouldn’t), but nonetheless, you loop it around the neck and a forearm, not just around the neck. He was literally hanging the cat to death.

For lost and found, they had a bulletin board where people posted lost animals, but no one in the shelter ever checked or matched them with animals brought to the shelter. It was a joke. I suggested procedures to increase the reclaim rate. They refused. Since they were not proximate to retail and residential traffic, I suggested partnering with local businesses like Walmart to do offsite adoptions. They refused. I suggested a TNR program. They refused. I suggested and provided them oversight forms to make sure animal control did their job, protocols were followed, and to increase save rates. They refused. I suggested off-the-shelf shelter management software (the computers were still there, just not being used), including free software in order to provide oversight. They refused. In the end I gave them about 40 pages or so of recommendations, everything from data entry to vaccinations to how to conduct physical exams to adoption policies to matching lost with found pets. I was completely ignored.

I forgot to mention that only staff had access to the feral pen in the back. A few months after I was there, the animal advocates who brought me out demanded that they close the “feral pen.” After they went public, several of the cats in the pen were found dead. The advocates managed to get one of the bodies which they took to a local vet for a necropsy. The cat had been poisoned by anti-freeze. Retribution for complaining? That was the consensus and it really caused a chilling effect. In fact, one of the advocates gave up afraid that any effort to help the animals would just cause more harm. Truly ugly.

Here are some photos Nathan took at the shelter during his visit:


The gas chamber at Henry Co AC Shelter, 2005. On December 31, 2010, gas chambers became illegal in GA under Grace's Law.

Given this revolting report of what the shelter was like 5 years ago and how resistant the powers-that-be were to making changes, it’s not too surprising Well Kitty was killed there.  But it should be.  We should be shocked and horrified and disgusted any time a healthy, adoptable pet is needlessly killed in a place calling itself a shelter.

I’m sorry that this life was so brief and full of misfortune for you Well Kitty.  Your life matters.  Even if the people being paid to care for you didn’t recognize that, we do.  What could have been for you, was not.  You are loved.  You are missed.  You are remembered.

We are a humane society of pet owners who don’t want adoptable pets killed in shelters.  Join us.

Added, 1-11-11Current photos of the shelter show a significant improvement in appearance.  Current practices, not so much.

76 thoughts on “Through a Glass, Darkly

  1. Shit. This has been going on for YEARS and will continue to go on until enough people get together and say, “Stop.”

    Surely local media would be interested? Don’t people want to know where their tax dollars are being wasted? In this economy, you could hire people for $13 an hour who would be glad for the work and do it better.

    This shelter is a cult of death, deep in their mindset – no motivation to home animals, to find lost animals, to SHELTER.

  2. This is so sad, so unnecessary – reminds me of what probably would of happened at UPAWS BEFORE 2006. Yes, this kitten’s story could of been a media, PR blessing! Not only for little Well Kitty to find a loving home but for other homeless kittens and cats at that shelter. Especially since it was during the Holidays! That is a no-brainer!
    Makes me really nuts to read how they had the good fortune of Nathan Winograd to visit them and provide them with personal recommendations and they didn’t follow his help! Unbelievable!
    I wish we at UPAWS could of helped Well Kitty…I hope that in Well Kitty’s little life, he will open the eyes of shelters such as these…open your eyes…stop for a moment and please open your eyes.

  3. Dear little Well Kitty: The Goddess has you in her hands now, and you are one with the peace within Her bosom. You are missed, and remembered as stated above, as are all the animals who never make it out of these HellHoles. Your short life will be a beacon for those who fight on on behalf of others like you. Rest easy tonight, WellKitty, rest easy.

  4. This blog post would be interesting if the blogger knew the entire story. Nathan Winograd visited that shelter in 2005 and has NOT been back since. Neither he nor the blogger HAS A CLUE what goes on in that shelter today. No inclusion at all that EVERY SINGLE SUGGESTION that Nathan Winograd made was implemented. A blogger in Texas that HAS NEVER been to the Henry County shelter gets mad and posts a bunch of half truths that have no basis in current reality.

    A blogger that has NO clue what the shelter did or didn’t do to find a home for a feral black kitten that was held for weeks by a shelter hoping someone would adopt it.

    A blogger who can’t even take the time to spell the Directors name correctly. Do some research before you post one sided half truths.

    1. Nathan Winograd “has NOT been back”? What do you mean by stating this? He was invited and declined? The shelter has changed radically in the past 5 years and so his observations then don’t apply to the current situation?

      Please share with us what the shelter “did or didn’t do to find a home for a feral black kitten”. Also, please let us know what the shelter did to find a home for the obviously not feral kitten featured in this post. I’m truly interested in hearing about the efforts on behalf of both cats.

      1. Nathan Winograd would be more than welcome to visit the Henry County shelter, although it would be interesting to see if he would come back without being paid to do so. You would think he might be interested to see what has happened to this shelter in the last 5 years – he and you – simply assume that no changes have been made. The shelter today bears NO resemblance to the shelter he visited in 2005. Not even close.

        The kitten featured in this blog, was a feral kitten. Contact the shelter if you want to know what they did. Contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture if you want to know about this shelter. They are the ones that regulate it. Do your own leg work…or just naively believe what someone in Texas, who has never been in the Henry County shelter, says.

      2. I’m not at all sure, based upon your 2 comments, that you have read the post. I do find it offensive when people comment w/out reading the post. *The shelter director does not know who this cat is*. The shelter staff knows nothing beyond “unavailable”. Anyone wanting further details has to be able to shell out cash to get it.

        Your comments honestly come across as hostile and evasive. We won’t be able to engage in a discussion along these lines. Please share what first hand information you have. Several other commenters have already done so (between the two posts) and I welcome you (and anyone else with first hand knowledge) to do the same.

  5. the emotional side of me is devastated–so angry and sad with very little hope for these babies after reading this story.

    the more objective part of me says this is a gross misuse of taxpayer money and should definitely be the subject of an investigation. this is clearly and simply a case of a county agency failing to perform at even the most basic level required!

  6. My posts are hostile? You wrote a blog about a shelter you have never stepped foot in. You quote Nathan Winograd who speaks about a shelter that he hasn’t stepped foot in in 5 years, made a ton of money off of and hasn’t bothered to check the progress of? I’m hostile? Reality check….

    1. One more invitation from me: Please share your first-hand experiences at this shelter. We would all love to hear about the sweeping changes you indicate have been made.

      Many bloggers, myself included, simply report/opine on internet articles, postings, etc. If I limited myself to only posting about shelters I’ve visited, I would have run out of things to talk about years ago.

    2. According to Mr. Winograd’s letter, it was not the shelter, but an outside rescue group that brought him in to look at the shelter. Is that incorrect? If it is not incorrect, it’s difficult to understand exactly what you mean by saying he “made a ton of money off” this shelter.

      Also, you make a great issue of the fact that he hasn’t been back to the shelter. Has the shelter invited him back? If not, it’s difficult to understand why you think he should be investing more of his time in a shelter that he gave forty pages of recommendations to, which clearly conveyed to him that they were indifferent to his suggestions, and which has not asked him back. It seems far more sensible for him to give his time to shelters that are interested in his help.

      And, yes, Georgia Rescuer, your posts do come across as extremely hostile. Just thought you’d like to know.

      Perhaps you’d like to tell us about the changes the shelter has made in the past five years?

  7. To Georgia Rescuer: We are all very interested in what this shelter has done to improve its conditions as Yes Biscuit continues to ask… Please do tell!

  8. Georgia Rescuer- time/date stamped photos of the new, improved, shelter conditions would be nice, along with documentation of the actions shelter staff is now taking to ensure that all healthy, adoptable animal are, in fact, being adopted.

    Some newspaper clippings about the shelter’s adoption efforts or links to current Petfinder listings would be nice.

    And we wouldn’t mind hearing from the rescuers who brought Nathan in five years ago, either. If things have truly changed since then, they should have no fear of any more animals dying of anti-freeze poisoning and be happy to tell us how much better things are.

    If you can’t do any or all of the above, then stop whining about YesBiscuit’s posts.

  9. I did find two links of Henry Co Huamen Shelter – both have the samea ddress – so I’m assuming this is the place in question. It appears from the first website that this is a no kill shelter…and they do have a link on their website to available animals on I have personally never been here so I don’t really know much about it – only what I read while Googling it up.

    1. From your second link Erica – which should clarify things: Henry County Animal Control / Shelter 46 Work Camp Road mcdonough, Georgia 30253 Phone: 770-954-2100 Fax: 770-898-7509 Website:

      Although we are two separate entities, we are very proud to work closely with the Henry County Humane Society. If you are trying to reach the Humane Society, please call (770) 914-1272 or visit their website at

      Henry County Animal Control is also proud to be affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

  10. YB, the Georgia rescuer is correct – there have been significant changes made at the Henry County7 Shelter. I visited the NEW shelter about a year ago to pull tewo beagles that Betsy worked her butt off trying to find someone to take them in.

    The shelter staff is overly rescue friendly, the gas chamber you pictured has been mothballed for a VERY long time and none of the pictures you included were taken from the new CLEAN shelter.

    Whoever provided that information did you a mis-service. I’m not sure what happened with this one cat nor the reason why the shelter manager didn’t recall that cat but to summarize the shelter as not willing to change is simply not an accurate portrayal of the facts.

    I will also point out that the shelter has earned the respect of the local Atlanta rescue community and while I am sure they are not perfect the staff has more then reached over backwards trying to improve. What they really need is more community support in a county facing some of the same economical downturns which limits funding for the shelter.

    1. Did you read the post Randy? I’m asking because it’s clearly stated that the photos and report are 5 years old, the gas chamber has been outlawed, and I requested the info in order to get background info. If in fact the county did implement any of the improvements recommended by Mr. Winograd, I would sincerely like to hear which ones, when, and how they’re doing since implementation. If anyone can provide that info, I know many of us would be interested to hear. If the county chose to implement other improvements, not recommended by Mr. Winograd, I’d like to hear details on those as well. Someone, anyone – please share what changes were implemented at this shelter and when.

      1. I am glad changes have been made for the better as of late. I am glad they are rescue friendly. Hopefully that has pushed the save rate up. And while that is improvement to be sure, is it enough?

        Whatever improvements have been made (again, very welcome), those changes failed the Well cat. They failed Valerie when she called to find out what happened to the cat, and was given a response designed to obfuscate.

        Also, it does not answer the fundamental question: what percentage of animals are going home alive? That will, in fact, go far in also answering the question of what substantive changes since 2006 have been made.

        And I would suggest that when anyone–especially tax paying Georgia residents–call to find out about animals–especially again animals they have been promoting to try and save–they not be given the same run around given in 2005 which was created by design to obscure: “We are a paper based system and do not have the staff to review them.” It was intolerable in 2005 and it is intolerable in 2011.

        As I said, I’ve not followed the shelter since early 2006. YesBiscuit asked me about what I saw in 2005 and I told her, including the fact that they did not implement the recommendations, given that in 2006, the state closed parts of the shelter down for the same problems I observed. And given the alleged retribution killing of the cats.

        Will they stop hiding behind a paper trail no one has time to review and be truthful? And what is the save rate?

  11. YB,

    As for the comments on Gerri, the shelter director – it’s entirely possible she didn’t have any information on this particular cat OR she simply wasn’t prepared to share any indformation with someone she didn’t know. Maybe she was on vacation that holiday week – who knows. The simple solution would be to file an open records request but don’t limit yourslef with just info on that cat but more importantly dig into the detailed numbers on the shelter going FIVE years back.

    While I have written about Gerri’s role and comments about sheltering practices in the past and have ruffled her feathers I’m sure we are not what you would call partners – fact is she never has sent me a Christmas card for my efforts.

    There are also a number of improvements that the shelter could implement but since I’m not UTD on which progrmas are working and which might need tweaking I can only comment on what I’ve personally observed. One thing is certain – the staff is VERY pro-rescue and does the best it can with resources provided it. For those who would like to see improvements at the shelter I suggest you take some time away from the keyboards and GET INVOLVED.

    Henry County faces the same obstacles as other high volume shelters in the Atlanta area – competition in to place THEIR dogs and cats in an area where rescue groups are constantly inundated with animals needing rescue and limitations on how much time the county’s managers are willing to give these pets to stay in the adoption ward.

    Going back to my last rescue – these two nine month old (for all practicla purposes) feral beagle puppies had been held well beyond their hold date but when no other beagle rescue had the facilities to deal with their temperament and socialization issues I decided to step in. To be entirely honest – if I hadn’t taken them in they would have been put down. Both are STILL here – and while they have made significant progress in the last year they are still not “ready for adoption”. Fortunately, I do run a NO kill facilty so that takes killing off the table.

    1. I find the one potential explanation (didn’t want to share info on kitten with a stranger) entirely unacceptable. Public shelter, taxpayer dollars. Valerie is a GA resident and submitted this cat for Shelter Pet of the Day in order to try and help get him adopted. She is perfectly entitled to receive information about his disposition IMO. If shelter directors at publicly funded shelters could legally choose to share info on pets only with friends, we’d know nothing about this already too secretive world of killing behind closed doors. I’m thankful that’s not the case.

      Why should we have to file an open records request and pay for the info one one cat, whose ID # we have? At the time the request was made, he had reportedly only just been killed in the past few days. If someone at the shelter can’t access that info and provide it to the public in the course of a phone call, that is a serious concern IMO.

  12. A month or so after I was there, the State closed them down after finding many problems, including failure to treat injuries in cats, improper euthanasia methods, inadequate cleaning procedures and improper ventilation, issues I addressed with them. If they, in fact, had addressed them, these things would not have been still happening.

    Moreover, after reopening, it appears the problems continued and they were closed down yet again.

    The killing of the kitties in the “feral pen” occurred after I was there. Again, that doesn’t sound like the changed shelter Georgia Rescuer is praising.

    They then hired a new director to turn the shelter around, hiring someone whose shelter had a higher rate of killing than any surrounding communities, 73%, and just slightly higher than their own. That was their “change agent,” a director who killed 7 out of 10 animals.

    The link to the story is here:

    It should probably be noted that after I left, I offered them free telephone consultations to help them improve conditions or to modify recommendations or to trouble shoot any implementation issues. All at no cost. But they never called.

    And while it is true I have not been back and have not followed them since 2006, the facts as presented do not bode well: they killed a cat whose story would have had people lining up outside in truly caring shelters, they claimed they did not know what happened to the cat and in fact claimed no recollection of a cat saved after falling in a well (a claim which strains credulity), and they still appear to be paper-based in order to avoid accountability. They are, after all, still telling people they cannot give them the information they need because it is all paper and no one has time to review it.

    That doesn’t sound to me to be a progressive, innovative, modern, shelter saving all the lives at risk. But I am all ears Georgia Rescuer. How close are they to a 90+% rate of lifesaving?

    1. Obviously then “Georgia Rescuer” is inaccurate of her statement that you would be unwilling to go back and help unless being paid to do so……Which leads me to wonder even more how much of what she has to say is very accurate? And after reading further discussion from both Mr. Winograd and the otherr posting that this shelter is in no way, shape, or form a no kill shelter like the website claims! They shouldn’t be allowed to post the are no kill when they do in fact kill!!! Makes me angry and sad for the animals :(

  13. Clearly this place is in horrendous condition! People who do not care about animals should not be working in shelters. Just as companies test applicants with psychological profiling surveys, so should municipalities before hiring people to work in this capacity.

  14. Since the GA Dept. of Agriculture (DOA) has oversight over shelters and rescues in the state and requires shelters to maintain statistics (and paperwork) on adoptions, transfers to other shelters (rescues) and euthanasia, I seriously doubt that Henry’s paper trail is in such a state of disarray that they can’t find any record of Well Kitty’s death. Which they confirmed within a couple of days, according to poster Kristi. And which was indirectly confirmed by the removal of Well Kitty’s listing on Petfinder within a couple of days. Someone at the shelter also told a cross-poster that 12 cats had been put down, Well Kitty among them.

    It’s possible that the shelter statistics for Henry in 2009 posted by Spot Society at the link below are only an “approximation.” If so, the DOA might be interested to learn that since they are accustomed to receiving accurate data, not approximations.

    I would not call the kill rates reported for this shelter for 2009 “low kill” by any stretch of the imagination, although I find it almost hopeful that
    a commissioner stated they were willing to move toward low kill 5 years ago. Hard to reconcile that with their hiring the director from Rockdale which was already notorious for its high kill rate–but maybe they were and are willing to make progress toward no kill. It’s never too late to do the right thing.

    1. Well, those numbers (6294 impounded, 3784 killed) reflect a kill rate of 60% in 2009. The GVAW report, which is based on 2007 numbers, showed a kill rate of 54% (Henry County: 6028 intakes, 3226 ‘euthanized’ (54%)). I wouldn’t describe that as progress.

  15. I wouldn’t either. Strangely, the stats for Rockdale do seem to be improving. Their kill rate for 2009 is 35%–much better than the 73% reported for 2006 when they lost their director to Henry Co.

  16. A*holes.
    Please pardon my language, but what else can we call those who don’t have any compassion towards another living being?

  17. So the correct snail mail address to complain about this is:

    Henry County Animal Control / Shelter
    46 Work Camp Road
    mcdonough, Georgia 30253

    Attenion: Geri Odor

    I have been networking this on Facebook and have several people ready to pick up pen and paper and write.

  18. The director is Gerri Yoder, but please keep in mind that the photos and descriptions from the report that Nathan Winograd made date back to 2006. Gerri Yoder wasn’t the shelter director at that time. They didn’t have a director at all. The county commissioners decided to hire a director as a result of the report.

  19. I don’t really care. They killed THIS cat, which many people would conceivably wanted to adopt or pull for rescue at least. They did not market the cat and apparently had no idea which cat it was. To quote Yesbiscuit, Shelter (noun): Something that affords protection; a refuge, a haven. Not keep the animal for a certain number of days, then kill it.
    By the way, if Well Kitten was indeed feral, the answer to that is called “TNR” not “Fatal Plus”
    And they aren’t computerized? We are a teeny organzation and are computerized. I can tell you where every cat we ever adopted went and all medical care the cat had while in our custody.

    Shame, shame, shame, there is NO excuse. The cat was feral is NO EXCUSE. So much for “implementing the programs and services of the no-kill movement.

    Well Kitty, you are loved, and you WERE wanted. I will light a candle for you tonight.

  20. Nathan,

    QWhatever number of feral cats that were killed at Henry County it pales in comparision with the over 3000 feral cats murdered in Gwinnett in 2009 alone.

    Yet, one of your “graduates” who decided to create No Kill Georgia still supports that shelter management team despite our efforts over the past two years to remove them from managing Gwinnett’s shelter. Our efforts ion changing those policies have resulted in the county finally changing a policy of picking up stray cats resulting in 1500 less ferals being murdered in 2010 YET thus far not ONE WORD of support coming out of NO KILL NATION as a result of thoser efforts.

    Wew accomplished these small steps towards changing our culture of killing by holding the shelter accountable through constant open record requests and shairing that information with local pet owners, our elected officials and more importantly ther media.

    For advocates to complain they “don’t have ther time” to do ORR’s, attend county commkission meetings and speak out against policies that kill is simply not accepted as a formn of advocacy.

    The same is true down at Miami Dade – my simple question of which no kill programs weren’t in place by current management was answered with “read the book” which was followed with banning my comments from No Kill Nations Facebook Page – that wasn’t an answer – it was an admission of ignorance.

    Let’s get rid of the one shelter manager in Miami Dade who has the management skills to deal with horrible shelter conditions that used to kill just about every animal that entered the shelter within weeks with their “No Kill” policy.

    Let’s get rid of the one shelter manager who increased adoptions and dogs and cats going to shelter from an 80% kill rate to 50% with the same antiquated shelter and dismal budget.

    Let’s ignore her volunteer program that has 300 volunteers committed to helping the animals, let’s ignore the work she put in getting Maddie’s Fund grants that provide a mobile spay/neuter bus to go into lower incoime area’s and offer free spauy/neuter. Let’s ignore her policies of providing no cost spay/neuter for citizens and low cost spay/neuter for rescue partners.

    Let’s follow No Kill Nations recommendations to “remove Dr. Pizano” even though another candidate hasn’t even been vetted yet becauase quote “she’s overpaid and the fact she’s a licensed vet is irrelevant”. Yet, No Kill Nation’s leadership is demanding a mash unit setup (without funding) for the 100 plus animals that enter the shelter every day. Let’s forget about the policy implemented that has the shelter open seven days a week.

    What are you teaching your leadership – that reading the book and winning a popularity contest on Facebook is the path to No Kill?

    I’m not amused……

  21. Randy,

    The No Kill Nation is not my Facebook page. I am not an administrator. They are based in Florida and I live in California. They have their own opinions and beliefs, some of which I do not agree with. If you have complaints against them, direct it at them.

    As to your accusation that this is a popularity contest, wake up. If I was interested in popularity, I would have embraced HSUS when everyone else did. I would have continued drinking the pet overpopulation Kool Aid because it was sacrosanct. I would not have been the ONLY voice against MSN on the No Kill side, when everyone else did and I was suggesting the opposite. Look at the all the websites attacking me. I am not doing this to be popular. So spare me the sanctimonious over-the-top rhetoric and stick to the issues.

    People are upset about the killing in Henry County and they have a right to be upset. Especially when they call to find out what happened to that poor cat and they are lied to.

  22. “If in fact the county did implement any of the improvements recommended by Mr. Winograd, I would sincerely like to hear which ones, when, and how they’re doing since implementation. If anyone can provide that info, I know many of us would be interested to hear. If the county chose to implement other improvements, not recommended by Mr. Winograd, I’d like to hear details on those as well. Someone, anyone – please share what changes were implemented at this shelter and when.”

    I’ll attempt to answer this for you. This is only as an outside observer who wasn’t involved in any of the changes taking place over the past few years except what I personally observed.

    First off, the county built a new shelter which was long overdue. When the shelter was built Henry County was going through an excellerated construction and growth period – building the shelter wasn’t much different then our own county – it was an infrastructure decision.

    They brought in a shelter manager, Gerri, while she’s not a “No Kill Disclple” she is a good administrator who will take direction from the commissioners and managers who she reports to. I’m going to take a guess here but I assume AC reports to the Henry County Sheriff Departmart (similar to the problem we have here in Gwinnett) which is the root of any problems with shelter policies.

    Given a choice I’d gladly trade our shelter manager for Henry County’s and even through in a useless rescue coordinator as well.

    The staff down there (last year – still basically unchanged) is very rescue friendly, works hard at providing information on urgents, is understaffed probably lacks a cohesive volunteer staff – the rest who knows.

    What is also missing – to the best of information I have) is there isn’t an active community advocacy group that provides oversight, does ORR’s to hold the shelter accountable (our groups do monthly ORR’s and in 60 seconds with a stamp could pull kitties file). but more importantly offers passionate but polite to the commissioners elected to service the citizens needs.

    I started “WE the Pet Owners of Gwinnett” close to 3 years ago by approaching not the rescue or advocate community but the citizens who OWN pets instead. Our goal is to educate pet owners onb issues related to the rights to OWN pets in our community. I would estimate there are a few hundred thousand citizens who vote and consider pets an issue important to them.

    Our mission is to arm an army of compassionate pet owners with education and solutions and let THEM be that change.

    Their emails to their commissioners carries much more clout then any one advocate could ever hope to accomplish.

    To my knowledge – the NO Kiil Georgia francise has yet to addrss any of these issues. Doesn’t attend animal related meetings, doesn’t attend or address
    the commissions who ultimately must order these changes to take place – so why ARE YOU surprised with the results of “random” killing still going on?

    If it wasn’t this kitty it would be the kitty a few cages down. Change doesn’t come easy – it’s starts when you put away those no kill magic wands.

    If this comes off as being pissy what can I say – I’m in a pissy mood.

  23. How long do you suggest people wait? In 5 years, they have reduced the death rate at best 10%. In other communities, communities with higher per capita intake rates, communities who take in more overall animals, they’ve reduced it 70%. You do not find it disturbing that the county that they got their director from went from a 73% kill rate to 35% after she left? But Henry County is still killing almost 7 out of 10 animals?

    I’d be the first to say that there are no magic wands. But there is a solution. A solution that has created No Kill in California, New York, Michigan, Utah, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, and elsewhere, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

    How long do animal lovers and the animals have to wait in Henry County? Or, let me guess, Henry County is unique, it’s different. Its citizens are peculiarly irresponsible.

    Again, No Kill Georgia is not me. You attacked me. I am asking you, does any of this bother you? Does it bother you that they are still hiding behind paper saying they can’t be transparent?

    As I said earlier, I am glad they are rescue friendly. But we have a right to that. It isn’t something they should have the ability to do or not to do. It is our right as taxpayers, animal lovers, and citizens. It is also the animals’ birthright not to be killed, especially when there is a rescue option. As glad as I am that they do use rescue, I am underwhelmed with your suggestion we should be doing cartwheels because they are. It would be evil not to be.

    So how long do we wait, while they continue mass slaughter, in light of No Kill success all over the world?

  24. Nathan,

    If it bothered me I would gather the information needed and build a local coalition to do something about. I don’t live in Henry County and to be frank soon won’t be living in Gwinnett County.

    I’ve addressed my issues with the local county DIRECTLY – when I didn’t agree with the laws that sent pets owned by responsible pet owners to the new kill shelter I addressed that TOO by gathering the citizen support to change the law.

    I paid my price for this effort with fifteen days in jail that ended up with my beloved companion of seven years – Bam Bam – getting killed.

    This isn’t about what you want or I want or anyone wants for my county – it’s about what the citizens who are apying the taxes and live in this coungty wants.

    Likewise, the questions your asking shouldn’t be directed at me or anyone BUT the people who live in Henry County because ultimately THEIR the only ones that are going to matter.

    Now, if you want to bother and read EVERYTHING I wrote you will see I suggested getting off the social media scene looking for “likes” and bring your message to the people locally who could use an eye opening education.

    Just to be clear – this isn’t about being “friends” or “liked” by your partners at No Kill Nation – I got all the friends I need – most of em have four legs.

  25. Randy,

    I certainly don’t have the answers and some days not even the questions, but the kill rate for Gwinnett in 2009 was 58% (according to the stats on Spot Society’s website). Has the citizen coalition been successful in reducing this rate since 2009? If so, how?

    Henry is in a quandary as far as the public is concerned. The shelter staff and volunteers deeply distrust the public and believe the public is the shelter’s no.l enemy. They have to deal with the irresponsible public sector daily, while the caring, responsible, compassionate dog and cat owners steer clear because of the high kill rate. It doesn’t help that some of the shelter’s policies are not encouraging to adopters, such as closing at 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and having limited hours on the weekend. But how to break the negative cycle? Fire everyone and start over? That’s not acceptable to me given the state of the economy and the fact that these people have been doing their jobs successfully as defined by the county or they would have been fired long ago. Besides, the shelter already did that back in 2006 and it didn’t help all that much in the long run. I don’t think it’s ethical to solve systemic shelter problems by periodically ditching all the employees. The system itself needs to be examined and problems addressed at the systemic level.

    It’s very difficult to get shelter staff to think in terms of the system if they’re not accustomed to that point of view. Offer an analysis of the problems and they take it personally, as an attack on them and their work. They shut down, get defensive, get hostile, go into denial, and start playing the blame game. Behind the walls they put up, there is a tremendous amount of genuine pain, fear, and even despair. So how do you address that and break the cycle in a nondestructive way?

    1. Just wanted to clarify one thing–I was all for firing everyone involved in the abuses at Charlotte Mecklenburg and still am. Same goes for the staff involved in criminal activity and abuse at Lincolnton.

      But those kinds of abuses aren’t going on at Henry. The main problem there is the high kill rate. New photos of the shelter are on the way to provide tangible evidence that they’ve come a long way since 2006. But they still have a long way to go in my opinion.

    2. If such a thing could be set up, would the shelter staff accept a no-kill voluntarily-funded rescue that was specifically set up to take animals from the public shelter and rehome them?

      It seems to me that would solve a lot of the problems at a stroke because the public shelter wouldn’t need to be involved in rehoming if they can’t bear to interact with people and the rescue would be free to open at hours to suit working people and do proper publicity. It would avoid the barrier of getting the county to pay for extras when money is tight and adopters could visit the rescue without feeling they were looking at death row.

      Even if the rescue wasn’t big enough to take all the animals whose time was up at the shelter it would be a start on breaking out of the cycle of negativity.

  26. The shelter absolutely would be open to that. The Henry County Humane Society already takes animals exclusively from the Animal Control Shelter. They are the only county rescue organization that does.

  27. Jeanne,

    I addressed the issue of killing at Gwinnett’s shelter in my article “Dismantling the Killing Macchine” where it points out that the killing numbers for dogs and cats was greater each year after the new shelter opened.

    We have changed that course in 2010 and for the first time in three years those numbers have dropped considerably. While I am optimistic about the change we still haven’t lowered the numbers down to what they were in the old shelter.

    I will be releasing a report on many of the details in a few days – it will also include all of the recommendations that were not followed that offer an even brighter picture moving forward.

    People need to understand – our effort has gone on for three years now and it’s been a battle waged against an animal control administration that’s been extremely hostile.

    This writer has also had to steer our recommendations despite being under a court “gag order” threatening me with a lengthy jail term and an inabilty to protect my own dogs.

    Obviously, my priorities have always been with making sure MY dogs didn’t become a statistic in this battle.

    Unfortunately, the threats and attacks on me personally have not ended nor do I expect that to change in the future.

    Knowing the danger these threats represent for me personally and of course my beloved hounds I have made the decision to walk away from animal advocacy work and to transition to new interests in my life.

    As a “lame duck” advocate I do intend on seeing the changes in Gwinnett through in it’s entirity and it is hopeful that a new coalition of advocates will be able to step in and continue with the oversight needed to truly put an end to the killing of dogs and cats in our county. This has never been about me but has always been about what the community can do in establishing a moral highground that respects all animal life.

    You all have voices – you just need to use them constructively, silence is never going to be a solution.

  28. Randy,

    Gwinnett is a hell-hole and I wish you and the citizens coalition luck in making progress there. The last time I dealt with them it was to call an ACO on her cell to talk about pulling a dog while she casually called out instructions to a worker who was killing one. I’ll be following your blog to learn what I can.

    As far as Henry is concerned, I feel like I’ve stepped through the looking glass. Today at noon they were very busy killing all the dogs they rounded up over the past couple of days because they had inadequate shelter during the snow storm.
    That fits my definition of insanity, just as surely as the Gwinnett ACO’s casual cool in the face of killing fits my definition of sociopathic behavior.

    Nathan Winograd puts it bluntly over on “It is always better to fire a bad staff member than kill a good animal.” But there’s another saying that came out of the Polish ghettos: “It’s never so bad it can’t get worse.”

    Regime change? New building? Big fat grant? Same old same old disastrous results.

    You were willing to defend Henry, so what do you see as the next step there?

    BTW, in the interest of fairness, I’m posting a link to new photos of the Henry shelter. As a physical facility, it’s a big improvement over the old one.
    I hope some of those dogs got out at noon today. I truly do.–Current%20Photos/?start=all

    1. Thank you for sharing those photos Jeanne. It’s great to see the improvement in appearance since Nathan Winograd took the photos in 2005. Can you please clarify what you meant about the dogs killed at noon today? Are you saying they took dogs away from owners who didn’t provide adequate shelter and then killed them?

      1. I haven’t talked with anyone at Henry but their volunteer posted on a rescue forum that the shelter was completely full as of last night because they’ve been out responding to calls about dogs with inadequate shelter and picking them up. That could mean strays or owned dogs–probably both. They put out a call for rescue help yesterday by sending out e-mails to rescues and posting for help on the rescue forum. But the city is shut down–even major highways are barely passable. I believe some dogs did get out in time but am sure many many more did not.

  29. Nathan Winograd Says:

    January 9, 2011 at 11:38 am
    How long do you suggest people wait? In 5 years, they have reduced the death rate at best 10%. In other communities, communities with higher per capita intake rates, communities who take in more overall animals, they’ve reduced it 70%. You do not find it disturbing that the county that they got their director from went from a 73% kill rate to 35% after she left? But Henry County is still killing almost 7 out of 10 animals?”


    You’d have your answer to those questions had anybody bothered to put a citizens oversight committee together to “assist” in implementing these changes. Fact is, NO ONE knows which programs were implemented, which ones worked (if any), which ones didn’t and more importnatly WHY.

    Expecting an animal control agency to hold itself accountable with no oversight is simply folly.

    Again, while pointing out I wasn’t involved in any of this “change” process” it does appear at one time “soomeone” had opened a communication up with the county political forces needed to bring in a new shelter manager and built a new shelter – so what happened to that communication link?

    Why didn’t this same coalition assist in the selection of a shelter manager that was more appealing to the community’s needs?

    We did that down in Miami Dade – we particpated and encouraged the selection of Dr Pizano as the “best avaialble” administrator for the position she was hired for. I expect to do the same in Gwinnett – while there is no guarantee that our candidate will be hired we will participate in the process.


    The effort in gwinnett is NOT my effort. I have been quite clear from the onset that No Kill Geinnett is the community’s coalition. Soon they will find that out.

    I am also not defending Henry County’s current situation as it relates to animal control. I’ve merely pointed out that using inaccurate information in portraying a story or problem does more damage then it does good with correcting those problems.

    Let’s go back to what I wrote:

    “I started “WE the Pet Owners of Gwinnett” close to 3 years ago by approaching not the rescue or advocate community but the citizens who OWN pets instead. Our goal is to educate pet owners onb issues related to the rights to OWN pets in our community. I would estimate there are a few hundred thousand citizens who vote and consider pets an issue important to them.

    Our mission is to arm an army of compassionate pet owners with education and solutions and let THEM be that change.

    Their emails to their commissioners carries much more clout then any one advocate could ever hope to accomplish.”

    That’s were I would start – I’d drive a stake in the ground and start educating the thousands of pet owners (who show up at local adoptions every weekend) about the issues and work on educating them as “advocates and to do oversight”. You might be surprised at the new found army you can engage.

    This coalition needs to be prepared to move the “discussion” to the county commissioners office. It takes time and effort to form the communication partnerships that ultimately bring about bthe change your suggesting and there are no guarantees. I can tell you without this shared communication with the policy makers change won’t come voluntarily.

    The other word of advise would be to focus on arming yourselves with facts about the shelter and keep the emotions out of it. Once you start forwarding “non factual information” to the policians your credibilty becomes zero. You probably have enough facts to work with, so focus on what works.

    This is never about being “liked” by your adversaries but it is about earning their respect so that they will listen to your solutions.

    I don’t “deal with” the shelter, I go over their head and deal with their bosses (GPD), their bosses (BOC) and ultimately the voters who “hired” them with their vote.

    1. Nathan yes Miami Dade you did a really good thing with Dr. Pizano. Time to make another visit down there as they are doing heartstick without sedation. Dr. Pizano I might add has disallowed excellent rescues from taking animals out of the place into rescue, only a couple are allowed now all of the time, wonder why. Why also is the place full of distemper, over 15 dogs had been taken out of the shelter in the last few months and they don’t do a good job of disinfecting. And what about the hidden dogs in holding cells slated to die and nobody sees them, that when a volunteer finds the dog and puts it on facebook and people notice the poor soul, it was rescued, and it did not have any aggression issue, just fright issues. Yeah you did a good thing, a bunch of bunk, Florida rescues are up in arms. And you in CA what are you doing, touting the fact that you did good to place her there, I applaud you for your story, but your once upon a time has gone to pot, while you are slamming other shelters with your once upon a time stories.


      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Amy Roman Restucci
      (561) 860-3783

      Miami-Dade Animal Services Whistleblower
      Offers Eyewitness Testimony To Inhumane Mass Killing At Shelter
      October 22 Incident Provokes Public Outcry
      Miami, Fl. January 11. 2011 — A former employee of Miami-Dade Animal Services has come forward to testify to the killing of dozens of animals by a brutal method known as “heart-stick” in an incident at the shelter on October 22, 2010. More formally known as intracardial injection or IC, the procedure is widely held to be grossly inhumane and its use is in fact constrained by Miami-Dade’s own policies. Their published Standard Operating Procedure manual specifies “an intracardiac injection should be done only if an animal is unconscious,” with the procedure overall held by the shelter as a method of last resort. Such veterinary and animal protection bodies as the American Veterinary Medical Association and Humane Society of The United States have also issued guidelines for the procedure’s use, the AVMA specifying that “Intracardiac injection is acceptable only when performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized or comatose animals, owing to the difficulty and unpredictability of performing the injection accurately.” Grace Avila, then an Animal Care Specialist at MDAS, alleges that on the evening of October 22, dozens of animals were killed by MDAS Vet Tech David Perez using IC without sedation, causing them to suffer terrifying and agonizing deaths.
      These accusations have surfaced at a time when the shelter was already at the center of a firestorm of complaints by local citizens regarding living conditions within the shelter, the neglect and mishandling of animals, a kill-rate significantly higher than the national average and overall mismanagement by MDAS’ director Dr. Sara Pizano, DVM. In particular, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez’ Facebook page has recently become the target of innumerable postings by outraged citizens of not only Dade County, but animal advocates from around the country and abroad, including such countries as the U.K. and Kenya.
      Local grass-roots animal advocate groups are calling for a general assessment of conditions inside the shelter by an outside agency, as well as a thorough investigation into the horrific events of October 22, and removal of shelter administrators Dr. Sara Pizano and Xiomara Mordcovich. Several informal groups of concerned citizens have formed in recent weeks with the intention of gaining wide-spread exposure of numerous documented incidents of neglect and mistreatment of animals in the custody of MDAS. Large scale public demonstrations are currently in the planning stages.
      As of this writing David Perez remains in the employ of Miami-Dade Animal Services, and the only disciplinary action known to have been taken against him by the shelter is his demotion to DA, shelter terminology for dead animal removal.
      Whistleblower Grace Avila was dismissed by the shelter on Monday, January 11.
      # # #
      Interviews with Grace Avila available upon request.

  30. Donna,

    The incident occurred in October – while Pizano was on vacation. When she returned she investigated the incident and the employee was terminated. I’m not sure what else you expected her to do – “euthanize him”?

    I think there are over 400 employees that she is responsible for. The staff if far from erfect but to suggest she doesn’t play a key management role and remove employees that don’t follow the proccedures simply isn’t true.

    As for the rescue groups – there are rules and procedures there too – as founder of the Miami Dadew Rescue Railraod I am not aware of any legimate rescue group that can’t comply with those rules. If you need assistance in getting that group “looked at” I would be glad to look into the particulars but random references without specifics won’t solve that.

    There two issues with Pizano – one is she has changed the shelter’s operational procedures dramatically allowing the shelter to “hold it’s own” with an exploding intake problem.

    Two – SHE NEEDS a new shelter to move forward with any more changes which will benifit the animasl and the citizens in the community. Advocates should be leading the charge and supporting her to get that done. Nobody given her the tools to do the job right but still want to blame her for the failures.

    That is an incompetent position to take, one espoused by NKN George and Debi who for thier part haven’t even pulled an open records report to verify exactly how the shelter is perfroming.

    NKN has no idea what the funding restrictions might be, nor do they seem to have a clue on the political process for addressing funding issues and the long promised new shelter.

    I’ll agree that there is an absence of leadership but that absence is in the unorganized advocate community who could be more effective.

    One last comment – despite everyone agreeing that the shelter has a huge disease problem NKN’s Debi wrote me the following “The fact that Dr Pizano is a vet has no merit in the quealifications of running a no kill shelter”. Oh really? If not a Cornell graduate who understands shelter medical issues then WHO?

    NKN should hope that Pizano doesn’t tire of the attacks and walk away – then who will take over? Maybe the Police Department – would that be good for the animals?

    My alternative suggestion (which got me banned from conversation) was to organize the advocacy community and develop a plan on how THEY could assist the shelter in continuing to institute changes at the shelter.

    If this group comes up with a better candidate then Dr Pizano I would probably support that effort. I don’t support ignorance of the issues – I’ll never support bad leadership which includes NKN.

    Advocacy work isn’t something that goes forward by winning a popularity contest – nor is it a part time endeavor. It’s takes a huge commitment to listen and understand the issues AND to play a role in offering constructive solutions to the process.

    Effective advocacy work typically happens behind the scenes with meetings and exchanges with the principles involved. I don’t see any of that work being done in Miami Dade but instead this has turned into the same “blame game” we abhor shelters for doing. We are no better – there are consequences to change – good and bad. I try and focus on making suggestions that will make things better not worse.

  31. Well Randy you said a mouthful. Now I am quoting you as this could also respond to the posts damning other GA shelters. This all started with a Henry Kitty that was rescued and nobody even wanted the kitten. They kept the kitten for over a month, and where were the posters on this thread. Did you go and get the kitty. NO you just want to curse the shelter for whatever. NKN did a report years ago and is still touting that, even though he has not been back. Even people in Georgia comment and they have no clue other than sitting in their chair at their keyboard and taking what others think and what they are slowly finding out and then putting the screws to a shelter that is struggling to make a difference, and yes Henry is struggling to make a difference and volunteer works another job and still is involved in photos and bios and putting the word out that dogs and cats need rescue. As with all shelters there is an overabundance of animals and not enough cages to house them all. No matter whether you are in Georgia or Florida, the explosion of animals has tripled and quadrupled what it once was because of the economy. There are good residents and bad residents. We have Little “Other Continents” in Miami and we also have Slum Lords in GA and basically the same applies to the lack caring of the people in each city or state. Then you have the counties who don’t give a flip for the animals, not meaning the shelters, but meaning the Commissioners. Nobody is listening in the Hallowed CC offices. When they do, Animal Controls are just that anymore, a way to control animals so that they don’t affect the public walking the streets. Animal Control is on the bottom of the food chain in regards to counties. The people at Henry as well as other counties in Georgia and Florida and in many other states do the best they can with the funding allowed by the County Commish. I have worked with the County of Henry and I have never been there, but others that I do trust have been there and they are elated by how hard these women and men work. They work for the animals, they care for the animals, they want what is best for the animals and are horrified when they have to put them down at all. This is true with other shelters close by them and again Bottom of the Food Chain (Funding Chain) with regards to any animals in the Counties. Your comments and I will quote you CAN AND DO APPLY to all shelters in any state. Take a look at your words and you can apply them to a lot of good shelters who have the best interest of the animals at heart.
    Randy said
    Nobody given her the tools to do the job right but still want to blame her for the failures.
    NKN has no idea what the funding restrictions might be, nor do they seem to have a clue on the political process for addressing funding issues
    I’ll never support bad leadership which includes NKN.
    Advocacy work isn’t something that goes forward by winning a popularity contest – nor is it a part time endeavor. It’s takes a huge commitment to listen and understand the issues AND to play a role in offering constructive solutions to the process
    I try and focus on making suggestions that will make things better not worse.

    Now if you want to make a difference in any state, maybe you should start with Florida for instance and and keep that woman from N. Fl from bringing in sick animals from GA every Thursday on an unquarantined transport from many shelters dogs and cats from coming into the state of Florida. I think there are enough animals in Florida already and bringing sick animals every Thursday night to a Vet’s office Parking Lot in Oviedo, FL is totally irresponsible. No quarantined transport, hoping that the shelters who are running out of funds are are at least giving puppy shots which most don’t and immediately picking up from shelters in the daytime and driving all night to get to a parking lot to have rescues get their animals for free. Oh yes now that is classy. BY THE WAY HENRY WOULD NOT ALLOW THIS TRANSPORT PERSON FROM PICKING UP THEIR ANIMALS. Why you may want to know, so that their animals didn’t go on unclean unclear transport to RESCUES in FL who cannot get them from other shelters in FL because of their habit of not spaying, and selling dogs that are coming off of transport Thursday and getting puppy shots and going into Petsmart to be adopted on Saturday. Or better yet, a pregnant momma from Floyd ready to deliver in 5 to 6 days up for adoption in S. FL by a “wonderful rescue” as touted by the transporter SO THAT SHE COULD CLEAN OUT A PLACE TO BE ABLE TO RESCUE MORE DOGS FROM GEORGIA. Get a grip people. You all have no idea what the good shelters, bad shelters are in any state until you have visited them. You have no idea what Rescues do in the middle of the night by basically doing a back of truck pick up of animals to save their lives from GA when a lot of them die immediately after getting off of the truck because major illness has transferred from one shelter group to another in a 6 hour drive down to FL from GA. It is going on again tonight, as it does every Thursday. Many shelters in GA were on the email questioning the practices of this one woman in N. FL and why she is doing it. You probably know her I am sure, and it continues on. The shelters 4 I might add would NOT allow her to have any animals one Thursday and she cursed them all. She is the one who single handedly got the Volunteer Program at Floyd to kick all of the volunteers out. Seems that no matter what a shelter does, they don’t do it well enough for you all on this blog. You take one instance and come down on one shelter. Did you come for the kitty at Henry, NO you didn’t. What do you all think will happen when an animal has passed their 5 day hold or 7 day hold or a month hold, do you expect the shelters with the massive intake of animals to hold onto one kitty. Do you think that the counties give a Rat’s behind about what goes on in the shelters with regards to funding. Even with the police or sheriff taking over the shelters, some are good and others are lousy. I would say try to work with whoever is there at the shelter now, get involved, go visit the shelter, take a tour if you want to get involved. But this keyboard drama leaves much to be desired. Maybe you should have a section in Yes Biscuit that tries to help shelters all over the US instead of bashing. Maybe if you got off of your butt like I do in Fl and try to make a difference by taking photos and videos of animals, talk to the shelter staff, try to follow the rules and don’t come down on them blatantly because you have a keyboard and can hide behind your monitor and spout your venom of which you have no idea what is done at any shelter. You all just need to get a grip and help shelters in your area. I also try to help shelters in GA and know many people in rescue up there that are making a difference. No they cannot get the counties to part with their Almighty $$ but they have to try to work around it. People of every state should get away from your keyboards and help what shelters and rescues that you can. There are good ones out there and there are bad ones out there. Try to make a difference wherever you live. Randy is trying to make a difference with MDRR and others are trying to make a difference in other states with their yahoo groups and their hands on of the animals. It is the people who have no clue and get a little knowledge and then spread what they think should be done. Me included in this one about MD. Either do something productive or shut up. Sorry to be that way, but this drama with shelters that I know are trying in Georgia and other blogs about shelters and rescues in FL the 2 states where I try to make a difference is totally unnerving. If NKN wants to take a shelter to task, best way is to get on a plane and visit again and again. Yes and if MD wants to make improvements then so be it, visit and see what you can do. One person can make a difference if they hold hands with the shelter staff and find out what exactly is going on down there. Do not come down on shelters that are trying to make a difference even though the funding is not there. Randy, sorry to come down on MD, as the email circulated throughout FL and as with Henry in GA possibly untruths were told, this was just from a crossposter. As with Georgia, we never know what is really true until you visit the shelter yourself. NKN does not work if you don’t find out about the counties and cities that you want to correct. You cannot make a difference without the funding from the County Commissioners, or City Commissioners or the lay people in the county and cities that you are trying to change. Without a vote by the citizens of the county/city you have nothing. Maybe time to check the voting roster of how many citizens do actually vote in their districts. You will see why not a lot is being done in any state. Without good people on the boards of each town and without input from the citizens in the form of votes, and without funding to accomplish everything you need, you will never get anywhere. Bashing one shelter or one rescue or one City or one State gets nothing done. You have to go to the grass roots of any community and get the ball rolling. You can’t start at the top and work down, but from the ground up. Now I am done with my encyclopedia of drama today, Let’s Get to work and do what we can. I know I will work for the animals and for the shelters and just because I can. Off the keyboard now. Sorry for the intrusion into the blog, but just had to make statements that people can learn from.

  32. Animal advocates must be very careful with comments made, especially if they lack any factual basis for cthose comments. That’s includes the “leaders” of this movement.

    In his rebuttal Nathan writes about the selection of Gerri as shelter manager “They then hired a new director to turn the shelter around, hiring someone whose shelter had a higher rate of killing than any surrounding communities, 73%, and just slightly higher than their own. That was their “change agent,” a director who killed 7 out of 10 animals.

    The link to the story is here:

    Let’s look at that statement – first off, there is no mention that Rockdale County is even more remotely located then Henry County with even less resources being made available for animal control services. Gerri could have had all the suggestions in the world and it probably wouldn’t have made any difference to those commissioners.

    The politics of Rockdale County are even more “good ole boy” politics then in Henry or Gwinnett. The commissioners there also buy into the failed philosophy of passing laws to solve their animal control issues as opposed to the effect these laws have on making the sitaution worse.

    I have spoken too and exchanged emails with both Gerri and Betsy on the sitaution at Henry County. Even though we have had differences over the years we both respect each others opinions and ideas thus leaving the door open for future communication.

    Advocating is not all about shouting out your simplistic demads to “stop killing” – igt’s about having a good ear for listening as well. Only then can you get a clear picture on the scope of the problem and more importantly solutions and alternatives to solve those problems.

    A few things are obvious in Henry County – they need more volunteer help to overcome staffing and budget deficiencies. When I was “talking” with theirn only volunteer yesterday she had to cut our conversation short so she could post pleas for help for all the dogs and cats on her urgent list.

    Instead of helping move these animals into safe environments we have people questioning how long they were going to hold a cat who was in fact feral. If someone had simply taken as much time as they did criticising Gerri or Betsy with lining up a feral cat provider Kitty would still be alive.

    Gerri did tell me she wishes she didn’t have to take in feral cats but those directions come from the county. That’s not the least bit surprising as we had the same issue here in Gwinnett for TWO YEARS. It wasn’t until last July after one of my blistering blogs that the county changed that policy and as a result 1,500 less stray cats entered Gwinnett’s shelter in the last six months of 2010 alone.

    Now, some of the No Kill perfectionalists would probably critiicise my efforts because we didn’t succeed in stopping bthe killing of all the cats but my experience has shown you take what yoiu can get and regroup to go back in to save rest of them.

    Nobody has a “starting point” in Henry County and that includes the No Kill leaders. Nobody bothered to put in place an advocacy group that would shoulder to shoulder implementing the policies you want – instead, you left that all on Gerri to do even though the people who write her paycheck weren’t on board. Who answers for the animals if Gerri is terminated and once again no one has taken the time to offer a BETTER choiuce for shelter manager?

    As I have pointed out – this is not my battle – once I have completed my task of removing each and every person responsible for killing my Bam Bam I am walking away from advocating for animals.

    I have offered to buy Gerri and Betsy lunch were hopefully we can exchange ideas and solutions without being confrontational.

    I started advocating in 1972 – over the years I have involved myself in issues that were important to me as a person. Once I had some time to enjot the company of my hounds I will probably find a different advocacy effort to get involved with.

    Two trips to jail have taught me one thing – I just don’t have the patience to deal with a movement that eats their own.

  33. @Randy,

    I have been dealing with feral cats for years. I get out of bed at o dark thirty every morning to feed them.
    If you corner a feral kitten (such as in a cage in a shelter) and try to touch her, she is going to hiss and try to claw and bite. I looked at the picture of Well Kitty and she is not doing any of these things, even while a person has a hand under her chin. I’m not sure who came to the conclusion she was feral and I’d like to know how they came to that conclusion. Often, when you put a cat in a cage, they get freaked out and can act “feral” when they really aren’t. EVEN IF she were feral, this story seems to have gotten enough national attention that someone would have taken her on and worked with her. Feral kittens can be tamed, I have one who used to be feral who sleeps with her head on my pillow every night now.
    As far as the director not wanting to take in ferals, how about TNR? Has anyone even tried to start a TNR program or is it all catch and kill?

  34. @Randy,

    You say “As for the rescue groups – there are rules and procedures there too – as founder of the Miami Dadew Rescue Railraod I am not aware of any legimate rescue group that can’t comply with those rules”

    First, if I ever hear the words “legitimate”, “reputable”, “responsible” or what have you and “rescue” in the same sentence I’m going to lose it.

    Second, there are plenty of shelters who want to work with rescue without jumping through hoops backwards for one that doesn’t.

  35. Kelli,

    Gerri would support a TNR program but has two obstacle, the county commissioners won’t support it. Also, she would need the support of the TNR community in order as well.

    Morgan County does have a TNR program approved by the city or county administrator. Each of these county’s are operationally different so it really depends who reports to who in how you would need to approach the county on.

    If it was me I would start addressing TNR directly to the county commmissioners while focusing on the fact that it cost money to “Catch and Kill” ferals while outsourcing the whole “problem” saves the county money. That was the argument that swayed the issue here in Gwinnett. We haven’t officially endorsed TNR but we have got them to stop or nearly stop picking up ferals – the TNR just needs to be formalized.

    All the arguments about the “killing” aspect could just as well as fallen on deaf ears – even the commissioners who owned cats didn’t find that compelling. But you start talking money you get their attention. The bottom line is the CITIZENS need to present that discussion – don’t expect animal control to do it.

  36. @Randy,

    Does the shelter prohibit the adoption of feral cats? It seems there are plenty of people who would have wanted to adopt this KITTEN (and thus tameable even if feral).

  37. Kelli,

    From what I understand the cat was there for two weeks – I don’t see Gerri or Betsy offering a kitty for pet of the week that wasn’t available for adoption so I’m notr sure what your point is.

    The only national interest came after the cat was dead. Had someone – anyone bothered to step up before you’d have the cat. Had that cat landed in Gwinnett she wojuld have been killed the first day is she failed their “feral test”.

    To answer your other question – I’m sure Gerri would be pleased to support a TNR program but unfortunately the community does not.

    Morgan County does have a TNR program with support from the county administrator. While we have been successful in ending the practice of picking up strays cats in Gwinnett we are still in discussion on a finalized TNR program. I can tell you that even though I am not a “cat” person TNR is one of the programs that we won’t compromise on.

  38. My point is that there is a lot of dissent over whether (I’m going to call her “Well Kitty” and not “the cat”) was feral, after the fact, and my response is, she didn’t appear feral and even if she were she’s tamable so who cares.

    Proper marketing would have gotten Well Kitty adopted. I saw the pic and story and thought “My goodness, they are going to have an adoption stampede”, not “well they aren’t going to bother to try to advertise Well Kitty at all so I better make arrangements to get her from Henry County to Central Texas” (were WE could have adopted her out in 5 minutes because we, you know, ADVERTISE THE HECK OUT OF OUR CATS WHEN THEY HAVE INTERESTING BACK STORIES.)

  39. Kelli,

    “well they aren’t going to bother to try to advertise Well Kitty at all so I better make arrangements to get her from Henry County to Central Texas”

    Have you ever been to Henry County? The only people who go to Henry County are the die hard rescue fanatics and hoarders like me.

    I’m not sure where the shelter should have advertised the cat – in the Henry County Gasette? The only people who read that are the people dumping their pets or who can’t control their pets looking for one to replace the one they ran over with their pickups.

    Been here thirteen years – been in Henry County twice – both times to collect a few beagles.

  40. Distance from McDonough, GA,where shelter is located in Henry Co. to Atlanta–approx. 31 miles. Driving time–approx. 35 min. Population of Atlanta, GA–416,414. You can google for info on the major newspaper, tv and radio stations and other publications. Why would anyone restrict advertising to McDonough or Henry Co.? The shelter does not require adopters to be county residents.

  41. Jeanne,

    Thank you for that information.

    Even if Well Kitty had been in bumfuzzle nowhere (we once pulled a cat from some godforsaken place in Ohio hundreds of miles from an airport and a transport had to be set up just to get her TO the airport), I am sure if YesBiscuit had been told that “only ‘hoarders’ and “die hard rescue fanatics” ever darken the door of this shelter she could have said “Here is Well Kitty! He survived a 15 foot drop into a well and was fished out by an ACO, but can he survive the Henry County Animal Shelter?”

    By the way, normal means of advertisement include: Petfinder, Pets911, Adoptapet, Saveacat on Facebook, Facebook in general, just to go off the top of my head – I am sure there are more. I am ill. Seriously.

    1. He was on Petfinder–I realized he was dead when they took his listing off. But just a single article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution would have had people lining up to adopt. Ditto for Atlanta area tv stations.

  42. Jeanne,

    You’re right. Never should have happened, ever. And the TV stations love feel good stories like “kitten rescued from well.”

  43. Jeane,

    Had that ?”shelter pet of the week” been a beagle I would have called the shelter and told Betsy or Gerri or whoever answered the phone to call me if the dog when the dog was on it’s last day.

    Neither one would ever kill that dog without first talking to me. Of course, I’d have to go pick it up – that’s what happened with the two beagles I got, and the ones before. Of course, after I got off the phone I would one minute to send out a mass email to all the other beagle rescue people and hope I never got called.

    Your making a mountain out of a molehill. There’s enough blame to go around on what and who killed kitty.

    As for “black kitty” please find me one rescue group who needs to find a black feral cat and travel any distance to pick it up? Black cats are everywhere on your google map. It also is not the shelter’s responsibilty to advertise a kitty with the staffing and funding they have. Betsy already does ten times what Gwinnett does in posting their urgents and they have FOUR people assigned to intake in Gwinnett who get paid to do nothing.

    If you thing advertising in local papers will make such a difference go in front of the county commissioners and ask them to pay for it. Good luck there.

    If you really want toi change thing in Henry County for future kitties get organized – get involved – don’t expect everyone else to do it for you because that just doesn’t happen.

    1. “It also is not the shelter’s responsibilty to advertise a kitty with the staffing and funding they have.”

      Randy, perhaps it’s not their responsibility as in “what it says in the employee manual” but it is their moral responsibility to do everything within their power to save lives. Anyone who feels differently should not be working in an animal shelter. The sooner we weed those people out, the better.

      Insufficient staffing/funding? Go to the county council. No luck? Widen your net to recruit more volunteers. If you make it your clear and demonstrated mission to save lives, you’ll be amazed at how many people are willing to support you in various ways.

      “If you thing advertising in local papers will make such a difference go in front of the county commissioners and ask them to pay for it. Good luck there.”

      If they won’t pay for advertising, ask for donations. Or ask the paper to run it for free. Because it’s a sweet kitten fished out a well on Thanksgiving by your own ACO. How is the treasure trove of goodness within this story not apparent to you? And heck, if the local papers don’t turn up any adopters (and I’m not agreeing that would happen just going along for the sake of argument), try advertising in the Boston Globe or the NY Times. I don’t care WHERE you advertise, I feel certain this kitten would have been adopted and many more Well Kitty applicants could have been turned into Other Kitty adopters. Potentially, the shelter could have run out of cats and had to send volunteers over to the next county’s shelter to get more. I don’t care that he was a plain black cat. Dang, he coulda been cross-eyed and toothless AND a plain black cat and I would stand by my statements just as vigorously. The public would WANT him. He was wanted.

    2. Randy said: “If you really want to change thing in Henry County for future kitties get organized – get involved – don’t expect everyone else to do it for you because that just doesn’t happen.”

      Randy, I hear you, but I disagree. Or, well, maybe I actually sorta agree, except that YB, and a LOT of other caring folks have organized blogs and facebook networks and petfinder listing, and all this can and does help…but the bottom line is: the holding facility (I refuse to call them shelters) is the ONE that is ultimately responsible for the animal. And if they don’t care, or don’t want to share, or have an axe to grind, or are having a bad day (week, month, year, decade, election season) the animals suffer. THAT’s what is wrong with this picture. Saving Well Kitty was a no-brainer! And in doing so, the shelter, the ACO, the community, and the WORLD could have, would have felt GREAT about it! But no, they couldn’t think outside the box they’ve tried to hide within. My hope is that promoting Well Kitty and the failed attempt to truly rescue this single animal will help others who are hiding in boxes in to come out and give no-kill a try. Because really, until holding facilities open up and are willing to partner with the very public they are hiding from and blaming, progress will be slow, if not impossible.
      They don’t have to kill, they just can’t see outside that box they’ve gotten into.
      I know there are a lot of black kittens without homes. But this kitty’s back-story could have saved it easy as pie (Thanksgiving, ACO, well, heck, even the fact that it was black…this story could have been a boon to EVERY black cat in rescue!) But no, they opted to take the easy, and unfortunately common way out. Death by lack of caring. And they say it’s OUR fault?! I don’t think so.

      1. Can I just say – agree, agree, agree!!! I don’t understand how a shelter could NOT use this to promote adoptions! A no brainer indeed…sorry the kitty you came for has already been adopted BUT we have….

        I also love the “holding facility” name instead of shelter – because so many of these “shelters” aren’t behaving as a shelter for our animals. I am going to borrow that one – hope you don’t mind!

  44. So what’s your point? Newspapers and tv stations never charge for covering animal rescue stories. Nor does it take a lot of time to contact them about a story.

    Take a look at this–

    You’re right about rescues not being interested in solid black kittens, but that’s all the more reason to send out a plea to the public.

    I don’t live in Henry Co. and don’t expect anyone to do anything for me there or anywhere else, but I wonder if the shelter DOES expect rescues to carry the burden of getting their animals to safety? Cat rescues are few and far between–you really do need adopters.

  45. It just seems more and more like we have “holding facilities” that continue to blame the public for everything and as such they refuse to think about reaching out to the public to help – unless they need money. It’s continued catch 22 in these situations because we don’t have places that are willing to reach out to the public for help in adopting out the animals…Maybe instead of blaming the public for the influx of animals – they should look at this as opportunity lost – the main problem with some places that I have seen is that they don’t do enough to get their name out there for EVERYONE to see. They don’t make an effort to put their place on the map. Something like this story would have brought LOTS of people in – talk about pulling at someone’s heart strings. Imagine the kitties that would’ve been saved – the people who could’ve stepped up to volunteer (I’m sure there are more people out there that don’t know there are holding facilities in certain areas) – this could’ve turned the tide for this place and jumped them quickly towards a No Kill facility.

    I hope this place learned something from this…if they didn’t then maybe it’s time for a quick change of the guard.

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