In looking back, we look ahead. We see where we have succeeded and where we have failed. We refocus our efforts while making necessary adjustments. We learn as we grow. Here is a review of some of the notable stories from the blog over the past 12 months. I tried to focus mainly on local issues. For a month-by-month look at highlights and lowlights at the national level, please read Nathan Winograd’s post.
The state of NC ordered a temporary halt to killings at the Robeson Co pound after it was discovered the facility was sending live pets to the dump. The contracted veterinarian who was killing pets for the pound was reportedly failing to properly verify death before the pets were tossed onto the truck for disposal at the nearby landfill. Instead of committing to end the practice of killing healthy/treatable pets by adopting the proven methods employed by no kill communities around the nation, the Robeson Co pound’s response to the discovery of these barbaric practices was to get the manager certified to kill pets in-house.
A ND pound which failed to vaccinate upon intake and further failed to follow its own protocol of not allowing contact between dogs was responsible for the killings of 36 dogs after one dog at the pound tested positive for rabies. Many of the dogs had been adopted out and were living with families at the time the entirely preventable killings took place.
In Amherst Co VA, a pound took a family’s 2 dogs away after their house burned down. Then they oops killed both pets. The pound was reportedly just trying to “help”.
Records obtained from a NC pound confirm that 4 of the Alabama 44 (dogs who were taken from their owner by HSUS) were killed shortly after HSUS dropped them off for disposal as the pound deemed fit.
Memphis Animal Services (MAS) director Matthew Pepper refused to allow an owner to redeem his intact dog in violation of the law. The dog died in the pound’s care shortly thereafter. In the face of negative press surrounding the dog’s death, Matthew Pepper dressed up in a dog costume and danced for the TV cameras.
After whistleblowers alleged cruelty and neglect at the pound in the Town of Hempstead, NY, it was reported that the pound’s annual budget of more than $7 million was in part being used to pay the salaries of the pound’s 29 employees – 9 of whom made over $100 grand.
The unwashed masses rallied to save a severely neglected dog named Boomer in Petaluma, CA.
Dayna Kennedy, the shelter manager at UPAWS in MI, offered some great insight on the care and marketing of long term shelter residents.
A compassionate pet advocate sent me a package of photographs and documents to back up allegations of neglect at PAWS Pueblo in CO. When I contacted the board for comment, they did not remember the dogs I was inquiring about (many of whom were long term residents) but nonetheless offered alternative explanations for the neglect including asking me if it rained in SC.
A video surfaced on YouTube showing the director of the Town of Hempstead pound chanting “Kill the Kitty!” while a kitten was being abused by other staff members prior to killing.
In Brown Co OH, a dog warden seized 37 dogs from an owner and, suspecting mange, stuffed them immediately into a homemade gas chamber in order to avoid possible spreading of the skin mites to other pets at the pound.
In Chesterfield Co SC, 22 dogs were shot to death by ACOs at a landfill.
MAS – a facility which does not vaccinate upon intake as a routine disease prevention protocol – responds to a distemper outbreak at the pound with mass killings.
A rescuer in Hoke Co NC repeatedly offers to pay for vet care for an emaciated dog at the pound but is refused. The Hoke Co pound allows the dog to suffer and die over a period of weeks.
The live streaming webcams at MAS continue to reveal snapshots of animal cruelty and needless killing.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg pound tells a TV interviewer the facility is low on cats while failing to mention that most every cat who comes through the door is killed. Many of the cats on the pound’s PetHarbor pages are pictured being cruelly restrained via chokepoles.
A good Samaritan took 11 homeless cats and kittens to the Harlingen Humane Society in order to help them find homes. After hearing from the shelter staff that the cats would merely be held for 3 days then killed, the good Sam found alternative shelter for the cats and attempted to retrieve them from the so-called Humane Society. She learned all 11 had been killed immediately upon intake.
Shots from the MAS webcams reveal more animal cruelty while the pound’s stats show that the supposed increase in lifesaving which pound defenders had been touting does not exist.
Memphis rescue group Meows and BowWows shares photos of cats rescued from MAS being shown love and affection.
MAS webcams capture a mama dog and litter of 4 pups being surrendered to MAS. A few days later, the webcams show the staff putting the pups – who were never offered for adoption or even visible to the public – into a trash can which is wheeled to the kill room.
I saw a lil punkin on the MAS webcams in obvious need of care and offered to help but it was too late. I was told the dog had been killed in order to “prevent suffering” but MAS records revealed the dog was allowed to suffer without treatment for several days at the pound before they killed her.
The Memphis city attorney threatens me with legal action for trying to help pets at the pound. I perceived the threat as an infringement of my civil rights and asked the TN attorney general to investigate. I have yet to receive a response from the AG.
MAS webcams captured a worker hanging a cat by the neck in kitty tongs prior to killing.
Kapone, a family’s beloved Pitbull, goes “missing” after being picked up by a Memphis ACO.
A MI court ordered the killing of Dusty, a shelter dog, based upon a bogus “temperament test”.
Memphis Mayor AC Wharton continues to offer dumb excuses for needless killing at his failed city pound. I continue to debunk them.
Sweet Jane, rescued from MAS after being seen on the webcams, debunks the city’s claims that the Pitbulls in stray area would not make good pets and don’t deserve to be seen by the public.
After several months of paid leave, the ACOs in Chesterfield Co SC who were accused of serious crimes, are fired due to budgetary concerns.
Pounds in TX and GA allow dogs to needlessly suffer and die of heatstroke.
In response to cries for an end to the gassing of pets at Shawnee AC in OK, the police chief makes a number of bizarre statements defending the practice.
MAS director Matthew Pepper quits.
I fact check more claims from Memphis regarding the pound and calculate that MAS adopted out 11% of its pets in the first half of 2011.
Because of widespread malfeasance at MAS, which implicates the staff, the director, the city council, the city attorney, and the Mayor, Nathan Winograd and I ask the TN attorney general to initiate litigation with the goal of placing the agency into receivership. We have yet to receive any response from the AG.
In response to a concerned citizen providing photographic evidence of abuse at a pound in Jeffersonville, IN, the city enacts a new policy that only staff will be allowed in the kennels area in future.
A Utah ACO was charged with animal cruelty after he reportedly left a dog to suffer and die of heatstroke in an outdoor pen, then fabricated a story in the city records about the dog being adopted.
Local volunteers manage to get 165 pets to safety after two county commissioners visited the Mercer Co Animal Shelter in WV and ordered that all pets who had been there more than 10 days be killed due to overcrowding.
The city of Memphis wants to kill the webcams at the pound – I believe I know why.
A video on YouTube appears to show puppies being housed in a pen flooded with filthy water at a pound in Marlboro Co SC.
The unwashed masses coordinate efforts to save a swimmer puppy named Harper after a FL pound determines she should be killed.
The pound manager and ACOs at Bay Co AC in FL attempt to justify the facility’s outrageous 76% kill rate while cages sit empty by blaming the public.
The Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach, FL announced plans to remove its overnight drop-off cages and put up a gate in front of the parking lot to prevent people from being able to avoid guilt trips from the shelter staff when surrendering pets in person. No word on addressing the reason people were using the drop off cages.
The irresponsible public reunites a stolen dog with his desperate owner in NC.
Olympic Animal Sanctuary posted a great video showing how Steve Markwell handled a fearful dog in a high stress environment in a humane manner.
The city of Memphis shut off the public’s view of the pound via the webcams.
The Wake Co Animal Center in NC took a healthy looking dog named Sassy to a local TV studio for a “pet of the day” segment then returned to the pound and killed her.
In response to the public outcry over ASPCA’s publishing, promoting then disappearing of documents on one of its websites which clearly defined the group’s talking points against no kill
advocates, the ASPCA posted a lame-o comment on Facebook amounting to “Whoopsie!”.
After conducting an audit of MAS, the Memphis rotary club reports MAS staff have ties to dogfighting, sell dogs and “supplies” out the back door and that every stuffed shirt in the city was primarily concerned with getting the webcams removed.
Detroit AC killed a friendly dog called Ace despite appeals from citizens and a judge’s order barring the killing.
The former medical director of the Humane Society of St. Lucie County in FL went to the media with allegations that pets at the facility were being killed for treatable conditions and were not sedated prior to killing.
Two former employees of Calhoun Co Animal Control in AL make allegations of cruelty at the pound including beating pets to death, dogs being bagged alive after botched heartsticks, and throwing puppies in a sink filled with urine, feces and blood (from previously killed pets) to die slowly after botched kill shots.
The mayor and ACO in New Brockton, AL will both have their animal cruelty cases go to trial after a citizen tipped off the sheriff’s department about the cruel conditions at the local pound.
The SC Law Enforcement Division is investigating embezzled funds at the Charleston Animal Society – the recipient of ASPCA cash – in SC.
The pound in Gregg Co TX killed more than 150 dogs in response to a distemper case at the facility.
The AZ Humane Society convinced an owner of a kitten to surrender his beloved pet in exchange for the promise of prompt vet care and then killed the kitten shortly thereafter. The place then hired a publicist in an attempt to staunch the bleeding of donations from the outraged public.
The actions of good Samaritans led to the return of several stolen pets in different parts of the country.
As I look over these many stories of neglect, cruelty and needless killing of pets by our municipal animal shelters, I take heart that amidst the betrayal, there are people of compassion and strength fighting the status quo. I know that the hope for the no kill nation which the majority of Americans believe we should be, lives in the hearts of rescuers, pet advocates, average citizens and those shelter workers who are open to embracing change. I feel that 2011 put us closer to achieving our goal and that 2012 will get us even closer still.
“Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.”
– E.M. Forster, Howard’s End