A Litany of Failures

Failure #1:  Two county commissioners visited the Mercer Co Animal Shelter in WV last week after receiving complaints about overcrowding.  They discovered the shelter was housing more than 350 pets and ordered that all pets who had been there more than 10 days be killed.  They did not bring the matter to the county commissioners’ meeting nor was any public hearing held.  Per the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, this is a violation of the state’s Sunshine Laws:

When asked about this by the Daily Telegraph, [Mike] Vinciguerra said, “Two county commissioners — Jay Mills and myself — toured the shelter and made the decision to enforce the regulations. There was no commission meeting. We just talked about it together. We didn’t take a vote or have a meeting.”

Failure #2:  No appeals were made to the public for help in saving the pets.  A group of local volunteers were able to get 165 pets to safety with very little notice.

Failure #3:  The reason why the shelter had stopped killing pets after the normal 10 day hold period was not because the director, staff and volunteers were committed to saving lives, but rather because there is no county administrator to oversee the pound.  (Is the director incapable of supervisory duties?)  As such, matters such as killing fell through the cracks, as Mr. Vinciguerra explains:

We also had a staff member who left and that was the person responsible for ordering the medicine that they use to euthanize the animals. We had to wait for another staff member to come back from vacation before we could resume euthanizations.

Right.  What?

Failure #4:  The director and volunteers come across as killing apologists with the director refusing to tell the paper how many pets were killed.  (Just what sort of Sunshine Laws does WV have anyway?)  Throwing their lot in with Mr. Vinciguerra, they whip up a little Blame the Public storm to justify the secret number of pets killed:

“People were just tired of taking care of their animals, I guess.” – Mike Vinciguerra, county commissioner

“People aren’t spaying and neutering.” – Lori Nisbit, director

“I don’t know the county commission’s side, and we aren’t trying to slam them, but I don’t think they went about this in the proper way,” Young said. “They didn’t seek any help from the public. They did it on a Friday when people were caught off guard, and it’s hard to get a hold of people on the weekends. I don’t think they realize that euthanizing these animals is a really hard job.” – Cheryl Young, volunteer

Once the locals get done not slamming anybody and blaming the public and feeling sorry for themselves because killing is hard, maybe we could get somebody (anybody?) there to step up and demand reform.  If not, I suppose they will simply carry on in their failing ways, in violation of the law and against all ethical obligations to stop the killing.

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9 Comments

  1. Peter Masloch

     /  September 22, 2011

    Unfortunately, this is normal for WV. Hardy County, as example, almost has a 100% kill rate.

    Reply
  2. mikken

     /  September 22, 2011

    Why do shelter directors divorce themselves from their role in the community? “No one is s/n!” “People dump their pets for stupid reasons!” “Everyone is so irresponsible!”

    Dude, what are you doing to educate your community? What are you doing to help make s/n available? What are you doing to encourage pet retention? Oh…nothing? Then you’re not fulfilling your role in the community as a proper shelter director. You’re a glorified 1972-era dog catcher. Congrats.

    Reply
    • I’m just thankful the person who quit wasn’t the one who flushed the toilet and pulled their panties up for the rest of the staff. I’d hate for them all to wait until some poor guy got back from vacation to get that done.

      Reply
      • patience

         /  September 22, 2011

        The ‘medicine’ is a controlled substance and a DEA license is required. I don’t know what the laws are in WV, but there is a possibility they didn’t have anyone who could legally order it. I guess they didn’t think to ask a veterinarian to supply it for them. Absolutely horrible.

    • Erica

       /  September 22, 2011

      Just goes to show what a little reaching out to the community can do….that’s good news for once!

      Reply
  3. Frankie

     /  September 22, 2011

    I am new to your blog, but can share what we have learned here in Northern California. First, I feel so bad for the people and animals in Marlboro County. The first concern would be providing better living conditions during the animals stay. Not every animal is adoptable, and some that are still may not find a home in time.
    Our shelter does not euthanize, however we are very precise in the animals we select. We pull animals we feel have the best chance for placement. Sadly, there have been occasions that no matter how much time we devote to an animal it can’t adjust, and must be returned to the open admission shelter to be put down. Even knowing we have done all that we could, there is a sense of failure. We work hard to keep the focus on the animal or how we can help it, not getting lost on it’s personal history. We don’t care why the animal is in the shelter.
    Our closest full service shelter is in Sac and they have been cooperative with our mission. We keep our tone respectful and understand that if we had to take every animal coming through the door we would euthanize too.. Judgement and bickering devide the community while hurting the animals by turning the adoptive public off.
    Are there many shelters like Marlboro in South Carolina, and are the citizens of that state proactice in their sheltering system ? Up here in the mountains we are united in our help for each other and the animals with referrals, being very rural we don’t have a network of fosters. We do advertise in Sacramento and Reno, both about 3 hours away. We are able to place about 100 dogs and 30 cats per year. People in the mountains tend to grow their own cats. It’s a small start, but a start.
    Frankie

    Reply
  4. I just tweeted and facebooked: Is your local GOV failing you and your pets? Speak UP! Ask for #nokill of #animalshelter #pets http://ow.ly/6CleW

    Reply

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