Circular Problems and Solutions

A posting from the "Friends" FB page. Click to biggenize.

As rescue networkers are wont to do (and I’m glad of it!), the following e-mail has been making the rounds this afternoon and is purported to be from MAS. Of course I can’t personally verify it as it was simply forwarded to me (and many others) but it does look very similar to the MAS rescue pleas we’ve seen in the past and it contains similar information as the FB posting above:

Hey All!

Due to spacing issues, we have several dogs in need of placement. They are all currently in the adoption area and have not been placed. All are HW+ but are adorable and need good homes. Due to the spacing issues, these dogs will need to be placed before noon tomorrow, June 18. We know this is very short notice, but we are getting lots of good dogs that will need adoption cages to be given a chance. All these dogs should be on the face book page so look there for pictures. Please let me know if you can help any of these dogs. Thank you in advance for all you do for our four-legged friends.

OBV 01 – 227396, labrador retr., male, 1 yr., black, named “Louie”, stray in on 06.05.11/out on 06.10.11, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, light HW+.

OBV 06 – 227405, border collie mix, female, 1 yr., red/white, stray in on 06.06.11/out on 06.10.11, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, HW+

OBV 19 – 227523, lab/cocker spaniel, female, 2 yr., black/white, named “Chloe”, owner surrender on 06.08.11, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, HW+

OBV 21 – 227440, G.shep, female, 3 yr., tan/brown, named “Mojo”, owner surrender on 06.07.11, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, HW+

OBV 22 – 227726, Am. Bulldog/Mastiff, spayed female, 4 yr., tan/white, named “Sandy”, owner surrender on 06.11.11, microchip # 10224B0E75, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, HW+

OBV 23 – 227694, Pug mix, neutered male, 3 yr., brown/black, stray in on 06.10.11/out on 06.16.11, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, HW+

OBV 25 – 227415, boxer, female, 8 mo., brown/white, stray in on 06.06.11/out on 06.10.11, natural ears, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, HW+

OBV 29 – 227677, lab/chow, female, 2 yr., black/brown, owner surrender on 06.06.11, rabies, bordetella, DHLP, HW+

I certainly hope these dogs are adopted and I’m grateful to MAS and the volunteers for advocating for them.  I hope this posting might assist in spreading the word about these eight dogs.

But – no seriously, you knew this was coming – I just have to toss in my two cents.

Cent #1:  I’m glad the shelter is putting heartworm positive dogs up for adoption since this is a treatable condition and not a reason to kill a pet.  And it’s great to hear that there are many more dogs waiting in the wings to be adopted (I hope the puddinheads are among them!).  But instead of keeping your rescuers and fosters in continual crisis mode by sending out yet another last minute “take this pet or we’ll kill him” notice, why not solve the “spacing issue” by simply designating additional adoption cages?  In fact, why not designate every cage in the stray area as adoption cages?  Let people in, post the dogs online – the irresponsible public might just surprise you yet.

Cent #2:  I abhor the sentiment behind this whole plea.  The heartworm positive dogs are “adorable” but “they take a long time to place”.  And there are “good dogs” and “happy healthy dogs” who can only be given a chance for adoption if some of the 30 cages get freed up.  I’m sorry but is it the HW + dogs’ fault that YOU take a long time to get them adopted?  Are they not “good”?  Are they not “happy”?  Should we threaten to off them so “good” dogs can have their cages because they are more deserving of life?  This is not a judgment anyone has a right to make.  We are not talking about dogs who’ve been deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a vet.  Nor are they vicious.  The heartworm positive dogs are GOOD.  They are HAPPY.  They want to LIVE.  They don’t mind that you’re not particularly successful at getting them adopted quickly (but to that end, why not drop the requirement of a vet letter to treat the heartworms?).  It’s not their fault you only consider 30 cages in your shelter of hundreds of cages to be “adoption cages”.  The shelter has said in past that they only want to offer screened dogs to the public for adoption and thus, the tiny fraction of pets in the adoption cages.  Well these dogs are screened – adopt them out.  If MAS can not commit to advocating for the right to live for the dogs they themselves handpick for the adoption cages, what bloody use is any of this?  Just open up the stray area and have adopters sign a release on any dogs you haven’t had time to screen yet.

Come on MAS, I didn’t go to brain surgery school, but isn’t this a totally obvious self-made problem here with a built-in solution?


I want to include another plug here for Mr. Kissyface.  He’s not on any list of pets that MAS is e-mailing to rescuers.  He’s not on the “Friends” FB page.  He’s not on Petfinder or anywhere else online.  He has no advocate.  Please help spread the word about him as he likely does not have until noon tomorrow to live.  And thank you for all your help.

15 thoughts on “Circular Problems and Solutions

  1. HW is not that hard or expensive to treat…check out “how to save on veterinary care without mortgaging the kids ” by Dr Busby….give great ideas about HW home treatment..I hope someone steps up HW is hardly a death sentence .. but MAS is..

  2. I am guessing that these dogs do not get vetted until *after* they’re selected to be among the “lucky few” who get classified as “adoptable”. No one wants to “waste” vetting costs on the dead dogs walking in the stray area.

    And…could that be part of the reason for keeping dogs in the stray area unviewed and “unadoptable”? So we don’t have to spend money on them with HW testing and vaccines? Is it cheaper to kill them than screen/vaccinate them? Are we being penny-wise and pound-foolish?

  3. Every week I end up thinking about that iconic National Lampoon magazine cover from 1973. “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll shoot this dog.” I can’t think of a better way to encapsulate the new MAS strategy for moving their ‘inventory’. For reference:

  4. Cent #3:
    the whole “last minute” crapola. We hear this so often in rescue, often we take it for granted and don’t even think about it: but think about it… these dogs have been there a while, why wait until their “time is up” to ask for help? And then when the rescue community – made up of volunteers who have jobs and families and can’t just drop everything immediately to go pick up a dog – don’t show up on the doorstep RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW to take the dogs, then that OBVIOUSLY means that there are TOO many unwanted pets and NO homes for them!!
    There is no reason that MAS (and every other high kill dog pound out there, I REFUSE to call them “shelters” unless they really ARE) couldn’t have put the word out days before.
    I do have a question about opening the stray area up – it seems like the “hold period” should be there to give the owners a chance to find their dogs? Then once the hold is up, the dogs should be put up for adoption. I would hate to have one of my dogs get loose and find that she was adopted out before I discovered where she was and got a chance to pick her up. Of course, I would much rather have that happen then find that they had just killed her!!

    1. Yes Barb, the hold period for owner redemption is very important. I suggest that MAS do it the way some other shelters do and note on the cage card the date the hold period expires. Adopters can see at a glance if the dog is immediately available or not. And they can place an “adopter interest” on any dog whose hold is not up yet. Then MAS can notify them when the dog is available providing no owner has come forward.

  5. I read the plea for help on the FMAS page here on FB…my first thought was, why in a city shelter in a metro area of one million people are there ONLY 30 adoption cages for dogs? I am frankly sick of hearing about their new shelter building they are going to move into soon. I’ll bet the kill rooms are bigger in the new place. But it is ridiculous and worse than that, absolutely cruel that the dogs in the other cages are not available for adoption. It has been sickening to see them dragged to their deaths in the photo captures you have shared on your blog.

  6. I looked at Dr. Bigsby’s website. He basically tells you to use the “slow-kill” method where you just give your dog heart-worm preventative to kill off the larva and wait for the adults to run their life cycle, which takes about a year and a half, typically. This still isn’t that cheap, because you can ONLY get heart-worm preventative through a veterinarian, and if you haven’t seen that veterinarian before, they will require you to get a heart-worm test first, which around here usually runs $90. Add to that $50 for a six month supply of heart-worm preventative.

    I can imagine it would be hard to adopt out a heart-worm positive dog. Not everyone is willing or able to incur those expenses. Not to mention the dog could already have sustained some damage to their heart and may have to be managed lifelong if the infestation is severe.

    1. As long as you don’t have a breed of dog sensitive to Ivermectin, you can get heartworm preventive over the counter for very little cost. Look for Ivomec online or at a feed store. One bottle of that would last many dogs their entire lifetimes.

  7. I don’t understand, why couldn’t they give us a little notice. I guess thank you for the “plea” its an ok start but why didn’t you inform us earlier? maybe Thursday so we could tell the folks at the officebfrieday morning? Now a vets letter on a Friday night/Saturday morning? I’m way too busy to get on my soap box to bitch and rant about this. So i’ll make this brief. All I can think of is a sign that says something like “your lack of planning doesn’t doesn’t make it my emergency”. I’m not saying this isn’t important and not an emergency. But they’ve had those poor babies their for several days. Giving us less than 24 hours to save there life is a bit irresponsible. Especially when, once again, they will pass the blame to us and not take responsibility of their lack of planning. Frustrates me to no end!! Ugh! But once again MAS, thank you for the baby baby baby steps towards a respectable shelter.

  8. A lot of shelter dogs are HW + in the South and a lot of shelters don’t test. So rescues have to assume any dog they pull is probably going to be HW+. It’s great when they test neg. but the assumption is they’ll be pos. and the rescue will need to cover the cost of treatment and provide a place for the dog to stay during it. Treatment for a 50-60 lb. dog, including x-rays, runs around $200 (with rescue discount). So the rescue usually does some fund-raising to cover the extra cost. Some rescues don’t want the hassle so won’t accept HW+ dogs. But plenty DO take them and that’s usually the safest way to get the dog out of the shelter and into treatment.

    I like the public just fine but unless the shelter provides some education on HW disease and prevention and the community has at least one vet willing to provide low-cost treatment, then adoption can be risky for the dog. It’s hard to enforce an agreement to treat, just as it’s hard to enforce a spay/neuter agreement. Better to let the rescues do the treating and make sure all the pets are already spayed/neutered before they leave the shelter.

    Still, I’d much rather see a HW+ dog get adopted than killed in the shelter.
    The pound where I live tries to get them into rescue first (vols raise funds for sponsorship for vetting) but will still allow them to be adopted and will work with the new owner to make sure there’s a treatment plan.

    What’s crazy to me is to make them sit there in the adoption area–so many of them–without an aggressive attempt to get them into rescue. Or a plan to help new owners with treatment. Or, since the shelter has a vet, why not move the dogs into a separate area and treat them before putting them up for adoption? These are cherry-picked dogs, not random dogs from the stray area. So they will most likely get adopted after treatment. If cages really aren’t available, then put them into foster homes during treatment.

    How amazing and bizarre that these dogs were never even put on Petfinder or any similar adoption website! They were never even crossposted all the time they sat there in the adoption area. And now there’s a “crisis” and they have to get out immediately or be killed. This is astoundingly DYSFUNCTIONAL on the part of Friends and MAS.

    1. Please note that this last minute plea for help for the HW+ dogs was not the fault of Friends of Memphis Animal Services. The email from Tracy Dunlap and the plea on the FMAS Facebook site happened as soon as the shelter veterinarian marked the dogs for euthanasia. Friends and volunteers worked diligently to get all 8 dogs out of the shelter before they were euthanized and we were successful. And in response to your comment regarding the lack of a plan to help new owners with treatment, Friends is contributing $100 (paid directly to the vet) towards the treatment of each dog.

      1. I am glad to hear that all 8 dogs were successfully pulled before they were killed. And I’m happy to hear that you are helping the new owners with heartworm treatment. Thank you.

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