Protecting the Lives of Animals in Gaston Co

I truly sympathize with livestock owners whose animals are injured or killed by roaming dogs.  No one wants to see that happening and trapping the offending dog(s) is the right thing to do.  In that regard, authorities in Gaston Co, NC have taken appropriate action in this recent case:

Authorities believe they have captured the dog that has been attacking and killing barnyard animals on a farm between Gastonia and Cramerton.


Animal Control Sgt. Jim Phil said they set a trap baited with food on the property of a nearby landowner last week.

A dog was caught in the trap that same day and the livestock owner was brought in to see if the dog was a match for the one he’d seen attacking his animals.

“He said he was 95 percent sure that was the dog,” said Phil. “Hopefully we got it.”

This is the Gaston Co AC’s website posting for the trapped dog, who is noted as “shy” and listed as a Pitbull:

Click to enlarge.

I was unable to verify if the dog was killed on Wednesday as the pound is closed but unless an owner redeemed him, I assume that’s what happened.

Based on the history the dog is believed to have, it would not be eligible for rescue from the shelter, [Sgt. Phil] said.

“This would not be one we’d want to adopt out,” he said.

Why?  Gaston Co AC killed about half its pets last year, some by injection, others via the gas chamber.  While I can certainly understand not wanting to adopt the dog out to someone who would fail to keep him properly confined, why should AC make the assumption that every rescue group or adopter would fail this dog and put more livestock at risk?  To my mind, it’s an unreasonable assumption because clearly many rescue groups and adopters have demonstrated they can provide appropriate confinement for dogs.  Further, the faulty assumption results in the dog’s death.

AC has no way of knowing who might want to rescue or adopt this dog.  It might be someone who lives in a city without livestock and who intends to keep him fed, well cared for and appropriately confined.  Why deny the dog that opportunity?  Also, what if it was the wrong dog?  The dog in the photo doesn’t especially look like a Pitbull to me and the one eyewitness was not even 100% sure this was the same dog.

Sure, I know it’s possible no rescue or adopter who fit the desired specifications might have stepped up for this dog.  But if AC would have allowed the dog a chance to live, it’s possible that the right person might have applied.  With the dog going directly from his cage at AC to the landfill, we’ll never know.

In an interview with a researcher, a representative of Gaston Co AC made reference to the public’s increasing awareness and desire for no kill:

The interviewee notes the facility/animal services want to be on the “positive side” of the “changing paradigm of placement being preferable to euthanasia.”

Until we evolve beyond the-answer-to-killing-is-more-killing mentality, we can not expect to influence the pet owning public in the positive way in which shelters, including Gaston Co, say they desire.  In order to demonstrate that a shelter favors placing an animal over killing him, the pet must be offered for placement.  In failing to offer this dog for responsible placement with a screened rescue group or adopter, Gaston Co has demonstrated that it favors placement over killing only at times of convenience.  The county should expect to see the results of its failed leadership directly reflected in the local community’s attitude toward pets.  Local shelters can choose to lead by example or to fail by example.  In this case, Gaston Co made the wrong choice.



13 thoughts on “Protecting the Lives of Animals in Gaston Co

  1. Indeed, only in bizarro-universe is a dog held for possible redemption by the owner who has allowed him to go on an extended livestock-killing spree, but denied placement with someone who is not that person.

  2. “To my mind, it’s an unreasonable assumption because clearly many rescue groups and adopters have demonstrated they can provide appropriate confinement for dogs.”

    This is a great point in an even better article. Why not see the dogs get to a safe group that will take proper care of them? It makes me wonder. Is the agency just too busy or even lazy to handle things the appropriate way. It’s really a shame.

  3. The amount of people who are agreeing with the no kill philosophy are gaining in numbers, as Facebook shows. The movement is gaining in strength. It is basicly, a revolution.

    Tonight on Current TV channel, the documentary “How To Start A Revolution” is showing at 10:00pm. CST. It was 12am. Time showing in your area may vary.

    If you want to build on this “revolution” see it or record it for others. It is equally important for the “Occupy Wallstreet” groups.

  4. Well, dogs who kill other animals aren’t just carnivorous, preditory animals acting on natural instincts. Nooo they are horrible vicious awful beasts, doncha know. (yes this is sarcasm). We live in a society where dogs can be put on a “Dangerous Dog” list or even be seized and killed just for killing a cat!

    1. “JUST” for killing a cat? JUST? I don’t think taking the dog’s life is appropreate for killing a cat, yet the dog must be contained & compensation for the cat’s life must be met. The purpose of compensation is a deterant to future cat attacks.

      Your cat’s life isn’t replaceable but the dog’s owner has a responsibility to compensate for the loss. Taking the dog’s life isn’t compensation, it’s vengence and just ain’t right.

      I have a horror story about a neighbor dog killing cats of mine over, and over, and over, more than 10 times. MAS wouldn’t do anything, police wouldn’t do anything and only after taking the owner to court the THIRD time did anything ever get accomplished. His homeowner’s insurance company’s rates I believe was the reason for finally removing their dog.

      The court decided my cat’s life, or any past cats had no value, but the bite to the leg was worth $300, divided equally with my $250 lawyer. That’s Memphis’ attitude towards “pet’s” lives.

  5. Not sure how I ended up here tonight, but since I did, I’ll tell you how this story ended. Over the last few years, we have cobbled together a small, scrappy group of volunteers that work exclusively with Gaston AC. We convinced AC that Ronan was misunderstood(!), they allowed us a few extra days, and Ronan went to rescue in NY.We get occasional updates on him, and videos. He’s living with kids, and appears to be quite happy!

    1. Thanks for giving this guy a chance to have a life. Hope you are helping change the culture of killing there . . .

      1. Well, considering Gaston’s history, I don’t think I’d call a 30% euth rate a culture of killing (year to date thru June 2012). We work HARD, and yeah, there are a few people there that will never be on our side….but for the most part we have built a nice partnership with AC. There’s still plenty of work to be done though.

      2. Sorry if you were offended, but I was going off of the information in the article. 70% out the door alive is better than 50% out the door alive, but I’m glad that you are still working to save more.

  6. I got the stats off my computer, but they originated in the county’s monthly reports, that are online. Actually this year, we’re at 31%, I was a slight bit off. I can’t get to a link right now.
    You can go to the volunteer facebook page and get a visual feel for what’s going on. The page does not delete any pictures—they go into safe or rainbow bridge albums. To date this year, I believe there are 12 safe albums and only 3-4 bridge albums. Overall, we were doing really well until vacation/puppy/kitten season hit.
    It’s not offensive, but I’ll admit it gets tiresome. There are some mouthy people out there that have taken to the internet and slammed Gaston for so long…..but now that we have proven you can make something positive out of nothing, they and their bullhorns are nowhere to be found.
    This is not a done deal. We still have to be careful what we say and who we say it to, and there are still things that go wrong. But when you walk into AC now, you’re greeted with a smile, and you’re offered assistance, and some of the staff will even say things like….”come over and look at this dog. She isn’t pretty, but look how proud she is when you ask her to sit. Please help her.”

    1. And THIS is why running a shelter as a slaughterhouse is bad for people – it makes them into monsters. But if you make lifesaving a priority, you make them a bit more human.

      1. All we’re trying to do is act respectful and compassionate. We’re not out to make friends, we’re out to save animals. But in practice, what’s happening is the opposite of what you just wrote. We’re treating the people more humanely, and it’s trickling down to the animals.

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