Proposed Changes after HSUS Evaluation of Dallas Animal Services

The shocking cruelty reported in the media that shamed Dallas Animal Services into paying for a $25,000 shelter evaluation by HSUS has prompted some planned changes at the shelter.  First let’s take a look at the HSUS evaluation from November 2010, which included the following items:

  • HSUS dinged the shelter because a worker was observed spending 5 minutes trying to coax a scared dog out of a carrier with treats.  (page 28)
  • HSUS recommended the shelter consider killing feral cats before the 72 mandatory holding period if they were planning to kill them after the holding period anyway.  (page 33)
  • The shelter was leaving parvo dogs in cages with other dogs.  Puppies described as “moribund” were laying on top of food in a dish.  A worker removed them for euthanasia and returned to the run where the rest of the litter and an adult dog were still housed.  Without so much as washing her hands, the worker put additional kibble in the bowl and left.  (page 42)
  • While the shelter lacked an official foster program, some staff members would take home orphaned pets or those in need of socialization.  HSUS recommended this practice be halted.  (page 60)
  • HSUS observed “several friendly cats” killed by IP injection.  The doses of FatalPlus logged in the records were too low (by about 33%).  Yet “the HSUS team was impressed by staff’s approach to euthanasia and the level of competence displayed during the site visit”. (pages 67-68)

The evaluation reveals a number of deeply troubling issues at the shelter (and to my mind, some terrible recommendations from HSUS).  I did not see any recommendations from HSUS that Dallas Animal Services needed to get more staff certified to kill pets.  They do make their standard recommendations about making the kill room cheery for the employees and offering counseling in compassion fatigue.   The shelter however is planning to increase the number of euthanasia technicians from 17 to 31:

The city destroys thousands of animals each year,and the change is intended to help relieve the stress that action puts on a handful of people, [Assistant City Manager Joey] Zapata said.

Instead of so much focus on killing, I’m wondering why neither HSUS nor the city of Dallas seem to be focused on increased lifesaving.  Instead of killing feral cats more quickly, how about establishing a TNR program?  Instead of discouraging staff from taking home newborn and other special needs pets, why not encourage a comprehensive foster program and allow staff to participate if they so choose?  Instead of spreading out the killing among more staff members, why not train more staff in progressive adoption techniques and keeping pets healthy in a shelter environment?

And to the worker who spent 5 minutes trying to coax a scared dog out of a carrier – yeah, it may not be the most efficient use of time according to HSUS but I just want to say thank you.  I take heart in knowing there are people like you at the shelter.


18 thoughts on “Proposed Changes after HSUS Evaluation of Dallas Animal Services

  1. Oh, great- is this the same HSUS that our Mayor has arranged to come to Memphis to give their suggestions on how to improve MAS?! This is like one bad nightmare, after another.

  2. Has the Mayor found out that HSUS kills dogs and cats rather than save them? Did he know that this organization would be right up his alley? Hmmmmm. You can bet he did!

  3. I’m appalled that these shelters continue to hire HSUS to do evaluations – for heaven’s sake, what does HSUS know about running any shelter?

    1. Considering that they’ve visited Dallas Animal Services twice, but the euthanasia rate only came down when a non-professional stepped in (Sgt Walton, a police officer), I think it’s safe to assume that the HSUS knows f*ck-all about running a shelter. I mean, why castigate a worker for attempting to coax a dog out of a carrier with treats? Pacelle needs a good slapping.

  4. Lest we forget, this is the HSUS’ second visit to Dallas Animal Services.

    Dallas County taxpayers coughed up a big chunk of change for a previous HSUS evaluation some years ago, before the 2010 visit. This is commonly referred to as throwing good money after bad. But we have some serious HSUS kool-aid drinkers at City Hall.

    Combined with the idiocy contained within the local Animal Shelter Commission – many members are affiliated with the HSUS, THLN and even PETA – I’m beginning to think that even hiring Jody Jones to run the shelter (allegedly she is a believer in the No Kill Equation) won’t make any difference.

    Recently it was announced that many long-time shelter employees are being laid off, including the ones who are well-known for treating animals well.

      1. Yes, 53 shelter employees received RIF (reduction in forces) notices about two weeks ago. Much of the manual labor (cleaning kennels, house-keeping, etc) will now be contracted out. This included all “senior” animal keepers and senior ACO’s. Some of whom have worked diligently with local rescues. And some who have worked there for twenty years.
        HSUS visited Dallas about seven or eight years ago, and that was the catalyst for a bond election which resulted in the DAS Animal Shelter. 17.3 million dollars worth. It was to be a GREEN “flagship” of sheltering. However, it has been wracked with nothing but controversy from day one. Most of last year, significant portions of the shelter were without air conditioning, resulting in “some” animal deaths. The wastewater system has never worked properly in all those years. Over 200 animals went “missing” last year. A cat died in the wall, with full knowledge of the staff. The manager on whose watch that occurred, is on leave and pulling a full paycheck. He was indicted on animal cruelty charges, but still has not gone to trial a year later. A severely injured dog was forced to attempt to walk on a catchpole (broken pelvis and hind legs), a cat was removed from the night box with a catchpole (specifically prohibited because of the high risk of serious injury) and about had a paw ripped off, and suffered some eye injury as well. The commission that “advises” DAS is heavily comprised of THLN, PeTA, and other “rights” organizations. DAS is a mess. Thank God…Kent Robertson is gone, and few of us had any real hope that Jody would be able to accomplish anything, as the politics in Dallas will NOT allow it. Dallas most likely hired her simply to allow some of the hot rhetoric to “die” down after the past year of EXTREME controversy. But they will not allow her to implement any real progressive programs. Dallas is deep in debt. Animal Services is a department of Code Compliance, and is approached with the same urgency as tall weeds, or an abandoned house. Instead of giving Jody tools, and skilled people, they have found they can contract the work out, and save a great deal of money. Of course, all of that will be at the expense of the animals. 53 EMPLOYEES. And now just about all of them will share the “kill room” duties. Yes, quite a solution.

  5. Gee, I’m soooo glad the HSUS is on the side of the animals! Oh wait…they’re not! Nice to see millions of dollars in donations being put to such good use…

    1. Memphis sure knows how to stay on the map- for all of the wrong reasons…..and who suffers- our four legged friends……we just need to make MAS NO KILL and move on- why is our Mayor making things so difficult? And each day, the mass killings continue….

  6. $25,000 for boilerplate.. nice work if you can get it.. and it looks like the HSUS can.. just take that report.. where it says Dallas.. insert Memphis.. job done

  7. i read through all the sections you highlighted.
    the section about the staff person coaxing the dog didn’t bug me- they weren’t really knocking the employee for compassion, they were saying there was a lack of standardized training for employees- as evidenced by this situation. If a dog is acting fearful in a kennel, are treats going to work to coax it out? probably not (depends on the level of fear- if it’s just timid- maybe. but if it’s cowering or growling- i’ve yet to get that to work). That doesn’t mean that HSUS wasn’t saying don’t be compassionate- just that maybe staff need some additional training/tools to deal with animals.
    i get what they were getting at with the whole 72 hour holding ferals- that it sucks to keep a wild animal in a cage surrounded by humans just to kill it in the end. But deeming an animal ‘feral’ is a tough designation to make- i know in our state a vet is the only one that can authorize a euthanasia prior to a stray holding period.
    the parvo thing was horrible
    the foster thing- most of their comments were ok- that you should make sure to have the appropriate resources in place before starting a foster program, that there should be policies and guidelines in place before animals are removed from the shelter, etc. I can support that. but their comments about the employee fostering- they definitely felt ‘off’
    the low dose IP injection is unacceptable. if the cats weighed like 6 lbs or less then 2ccs would be ok (assuming no need to dose for effect is in place). So i agree that 3mls is a good base to use for adult cats
    did you read all 122 pages? if so, bravo!

  8. pacelle needs to get into another line of work . . . hopefully nothing that has to do with live animals

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