This is how it’s done.

When volunteers at the Saginaw Co pound in MI saw neglect and abuse, they documented it, started a Facebook page and posted the images online:

Image via Facebook, with the following caption: “Emily […] was euthanized on her way to her new foster home. She spent 7 days at SCACC without any medical attention. She had visible mammary tumors, tumors in her lungs, bladder stones blocking her urethra and a heavy infestation of fleas. No one at SCACC had noticed that she was unable to urinate.”
Puppies in filth at Saginaw Co pound, as posted on Facebook.
Urine burns visible on neglected puppies at Saginaw Co pound, as posted on Facebook.

In an apparent act of retaliation, pound director Val McCullough instituted several policy changes including banning volunteers from caring for animals on weekends when the staff is off and banning photography at the pound. Ms. McCullough, in a pretty lame attempt to disguise petty vindictiveness, offered:

“It’s more of a safety precaution,” she said. “When nobody is here, we don’t know who’s here for sure. If somebody were to fall and get hurt, you know.”

Yeah, we know.

A volunteer on the pound’s advisory board filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office and a criminal complaint with the Saginaw Co prosecutor’s office. The sheriff’s office is investigating.

Volunteers mobilized local pet lovers to complain to the county commissioners.  The county summoned the director to appear at a public meeting on Wednesday in response to the hundreds of complaints received.

Pet advocates filled every chair in the room at the county meeting.  When the chairs were full, they stood in the doorways.  When there was no more room in the doorways, they stood in the hall.  When the hall filled up, they sat in an adjoining room so they could listen to the speakers at the meeting.

Speaker after speaker asked the county to reverse the new policies.  The director was a no-show.  But the county listened and reversed the policy changes.

This fight is not over.  The director is still in place, still mouthing platitudes to the media, such as:

“Unfortunately, it’s a cruel world,” she said. “We would love to be able to find homes for all these animals.”

But she has no army of apologists backing her. The “Friends” at the Saginaw Co pound are friends to the pets, not the regressive director.  They speak out publicly.  They take action.  They don’t give up.

If you want to institute reform at your pound, this is how you do it.

(Thank you Clarice for alerting me to this story.)

28 thoughts on “This is how it’s done.

  1. Why is it that they hire directors of animal shelters who are so obviously ill-equipped, unable, unqualified, and cruel to those it is supposed to care for? Surprisingly, it is the same way with our United States government. Dictatorship, all the say around.

  2. Way to Go, Saginaw Community! I just can’t figure out why this doesn’t happen in Memphis–certainly Memphis is a large enough city to potentially have a big animal-support community, but where are they? Why don’t they come out of the woodwork? It’s clear that when the community really rises up and stands their ground the pro-Kill administrators can’t win.

    Meanwhile, *in Clarksville, we have a potential MAS-type situation developing* since the firing of Karen Josephson by the Mayor. Here is a letter that was posted recently that sums it up pretty well:

    _From: “Francene Vincent”
    Date: August 9, 2012 8:29:50 AM CDT
    Subject: Animal Control

    *Animal Control is everybody’s problem*

    By Hank Bonecutter | August 9, 2012 |

    With the firing of Karen Josephson as the Montgomery County Animal Control director, an already serious problem is getting worse. It’s a very emotional and political issue, and it won’t get any better until we all take responsibility for our pets.

    Josephson was fired over some administrative shortcomings, and missing receipts, but what she was really fired for, in my opinion, was bringing too much publicity to the problem, and having a big heart. Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers had just had enough of the non-stop headlines. The daily reminder that this is a serious problem, and only getting worse, was too much for the mayor.

    It’s been a year of too many headlines for Mayor Bowers.

    When Josephson was hired, she came with “glowing” recommendations and was going to get the department in shape. She had an impeccable record and reputation. She lowered the “kill” rate at our facility, and was adopting animals at a fever pace. She was trying to work with all of the animal rescue groups, without showing favoritism, which in itself is a daunting task.

    She was also being “stabbed in the back” by some her own employees, and some local animal activists who think they have all the answers. One very prominent animal “lover” even brags about her role in the firing of the previous director, David Selby.

    Yeah, you should be proud.

    Local veterinarian Dr. Ron Whitford has been very critical of how the Animal Control facility was being run, and how animals were being euthanized. He has also “called out” the Clarksville-Montgomery County Humane Society for their non-stop fundraising, and still no spay-neuter clinic. Whitford has been the subject of attacks by local animal lovers, and has been threatened by people who claim he’s “a dangerous vet.”

    Why haven’t other veterinarians spoken up? Curious.

    Now, Mayor Bowers has appointed Sgt. Tim Clifton of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office as the new director. Clifton has absolutely no experience in animal control, animal adoption, or any of the responsibilities of the job. But he does have the qualification of closing off the department to the public. Volunteers have already been turned away, very little publicity has been dispensed about how the public can help, and make no mistake, you will not read another story about unwanted and abused pets, and how overwhelmed that department is.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    What’s most disappointing, is the lack of interest among other public officials. Not a single elected official has come to the aid of that department. There’s been a lot of talk, but no action. So, animals die. It’s just a matter of time before the city has to get involved, because that’s how terrible the problem is and we just can’t continue to put our head in the sand.

    I have given untold amounts of publicity to the animal problem in my career. I have given my own money and raised awareness to the problem, but nobody cares. Fort Campbell dumps hundreds of unwanted pets on our facility and we get no help from the base. Animal activists, and rescue groups are labeled as “fanatical.” One particular animal lover has been barred from the facility.

    And animals die.

    So please, if you have a heart, spay or neuter your pet. If you have a heart, DO NOT take your pet to Montgomery County Animal Control. If you’re concerned about the animals, then hold our public officials accountable for their actions, or lack thereof._

    Obviously, the Mayors of the various communities in TN know one another, and probably communicate. My concern is that the approach that Mayor Wharton has taken at MAS is being seen as a viable “solution” to the Animal Control “problem”, and that Mayor Bowers has decided to adopt this approach.

    If so, my concern is that this situation will start spreading like a Virus throughout TN and other states (not that it’s unique)– but if this approach is seen as “winning the war against animal advocacy groups” it can only get worse.

    Which brings us back to Saginaw: if all of us, in every community, would stand up and fight back–it can and does work! But it has to be a concerted, unceasing effort–one Board meeting or newspaper article will not do it. We all agree that these situations are appalling, etc., but what have YOU done recently to aid our Cause?

    I guess I’m just an old hippie, but the Vietnam War, and the gains made towards Civil Rights and Womens’ Rights, among others, did not happen overnight–we marched, protested, wrote letters, sat in, chained ourselves to buildings–whatever it took–for YEARS before the tide turned, BUT IT DID TURN, because our causes were JUST.

    We have to do MORE people, than just read and write letters to this Blog. Shirley does her best to stir us up and keep us informed of what’s happening, but us all writing in and agreeing that “something should be done” isn’t really accomplishing anything.

    STOP waiting for someone else to do something, and DO IT yourself!
    If we’d waited for all those above-mentioned causes, we’d still be in “Nam, women would be in the kitchen, and black people would still be at the back of the bus.

    OK, I’ll shut up now, but I’m getting very frustrated.

    1. Sorry for the lack of formatting of my post above–I can’t figure out how to do that on this blog.

      1. Simple html is accepted on WordPress comments but you can always use a ________________ to indicate a break. I formatted the above for you. Hope it’s how you wanted.

  3. If the “Friends” of MAS did not step up and demand change under the last two directors, why would they demand change now? Fact is, the leadership of FoMAS is very comfortable with the way things are. They enjoy their little power base and control and they continue to enable the unnecessary killings and neglect at MAS, just as they enabled the horrific abuses in the past.

    The good people who join up with FoMAS who really want to help animals, who really want to make a difference are either run off for being too mouthy/pushy or are shielded from the truth enough that they believe the BS (the animals that we are trying to get adopted have to be killed today “for space”! They can’t keep them forever, you know! If only the irresponsible public would spay and neuter their pets!”).

    At least that works for a while. Until too many cracks in the “truth” form…and it becomes very disheartening to walk dogs and put them in funny feather collars and give them names only to find out that someone killed them when you weren’t looking. And then to find out that someone killed thousands of animals in that same building – animals that never got seen, never got walked or named or ever saw the sun again once they entered that building. I expect seeing all the bags of bodies wheel barrowed out and dumped into the backs of the trucks every day isn’t on the official volunteer tour, is it?

    So you go to the leadership of your volunteer group and ask why things can’t be improved – all the animals photographed and marketed, proper medical care, a TNR program put into place, etc.? And then you’re kicked out for being mouthy and pushy and not really caring enough or not being supportive enough or whatever.

    Yes, they like things just the way they are. And as long as the good people who really care allow the FoMAS leadership to bully them, things will continue just the way they are.

  4. If the city doesn’t take ownership of hiring a compassionate director the only route to effect change is political. A “Memphis Animal Welfare” PAC or 501c4 must be formed, and new candidates backed that support shelter reform and no kill. Once their positions are threatened politically you will see change and not before.

  5. That probably means this shelter will kill more dogs and faster. Wouldn’t want them left living in such horrid conditions.

  6. Hooray to those helping with this situation! Good job. We need more people like you elsewhere, like MAS. This is very inspiring.

    As for the rest of the post, I don’t know what’s sadder/more deplorable; the lack of medical care/attention, the awful shelter direction’s actions/words or the dreadful conditions the dogs were forced to live in. I guess all of the above.

    1. I spoke with a woman that used to volunteer there… she says the people of Memphis are afraid for their lives and the lives of their own pets. She won’t even come on this blog because of the MAS spies.

      1. If the volunteers would band together and stand together, they could make change happen.

  7. Change hasn’t happened at MAS since even before the 2009 bust. They are killing less, but that is still unacceptable.

    I’m very familure with the Vietnam/anti-war protest, womens & civil rights protests. I was there and involved. It wasn’t easy & many good people did time behind bars for standing up against tyrany. And this is exactly what this is: TYRANY. Tyrany of our elected officials doing what is easiest & cheapest for them without any compassion for life that doesn’t vote.

    Like a previous post, nothing will change by bitching about it on this & other blogs unless action is taken by folks getting together, standing up, being counted as one voice for change. If they don’t know we’re here, it’s a waste of time.

    So, who wants to start a real protest?

  8. Kind of wish you would not have used the word ‘pound.’ Old antiquated term that, even in regards to the Saginaw County Animal Care Center during this director’s tenure, should not be used anymore. I spoke at the last meeting and that was part of my speech. To some, it was simply a ‘pound’ and the animals not worth the effort (those are/were the ones we, the citizens of Saginaw County wanted out). But, even in the shape it was in, we needed to consider it a shelter to make people aware of how far it was falling short in that respect through the management of those in charge of that facility. Baby steps, but change is coming. What is needed now is as much help as possible for those animals that have been in that facility for far too long and have become ill with kennel cough and are suffering kennel stress and need out through either adoption or foster care. People who want to foster can contact Paws4Life Rescue for information on that. People who want to adopt….check out the Saginaw Adoptable Pets page to see the dogs that are there: current adoptables and strays have updated photos posted again thanks to the Courts & Public Safety Committee meeting that reversed the now former director’s idiotic policy that volunteers were no longer allowed to take and post pictures.

      1. I understand that rule of thought…I guess mine is the opposite. That to continue to refer to it as a “pound” doesn’t throw it in the face of those in charge that they are supposed to be running a shelter….a place where they are supposed to provide refuge, asylum, safe harbor, sanctuary and where their complex emotional lives are acknowledged. So, I refused to cut any slack for those in charge who referred to it as a ‘pound’ to call it that, as well. On the whole, it was and is the volunteers who spend their time that kept this facility running as a shelter….and it was the recent policy changes that the director tried to put into place that brought residents of Saginaw County and even people from outside the county to this meeting to cry foul. Those policies were as follows:

        1-That the former adoption room will now be the isolation room, and that any animals placed in that room will not receive any medical treatment and only receive palliative care.

        2-That once the stray hold is up on the animals in the isolation room, they will be given 48 hours to either be removed by a rescue or adopted, if neither of those things happen then they will be euthanized.

        3-That the animals in the adoption program will no longer receive medical care.

        4-That those who assist with the adoption program will no longer be allowed to take pictures to document animals for their stray album.

        5-That the volunteers will no longer be allowed in the building on the weekends and or holidays. That the only ones allowed in the building on weekends and holidays are the kennel aides.

        6-That the kennel aides do not interact or socialize with the animals and also do not let them out for exercise.

        7-That the small room previously known as the med room which also houses such things as washer, dryer and wash tub, will now become the adoption room and also house small stray animals.

        The Courts & Public Safety Committee, at the end of the meeting on August 8, 2012, enacted a motion that immediately reversed those policies.

        This all started back at the beginning of the year when an organized group of volunteers along with some other county residents began calling for a change in the unwritten policy that SCACC did not adopt out any dogs that they deemed as a pit bull or pit bull mix. If it was a stray, it lived out its stray hold then was killed. If it was an owner surrender, it was immediately killed. This was a policy that the previous director put into place and Val McCullough continued to support when she took over 4 years ago. There are a few quotes in news stories from the past 8 months that shows she was opposed to any change in that policy. No matter what safe guards that were being suggested by the group of concerned citizens, she refused to consider it. Better, more thorough adoption criteria, home visits, spay/neuter by the shelter before being released, mandatory microchipping, etc…she was against it. Then, at the end of June, she began to allow a group of volunteers to begin transporting certain dogs labeled as pit bulls that she approved of to be transferred to other shelters in the state as long as the shelter was licensed by the Department of Agriculture. It was a small step in the right direction.

        Suddenly, at the end of July, she reversed the adoption ban all together. SCACC would now start adopting out pit bulls. We, who are pit bull advocates, were thrilled and concerned at the same time. While the removal of the adoption ban was what we were seeking, it was a wholesale free for all….none of the safe guards were put in place to make sure these dogs went into responsible and loving homes. These safeguards were also being suggested for ALL of the adoptable animals at the shelter. She also enacted this policy without the approval of the Board of Commissioners…who are basically her bosses and need to sign off on a big policy change like this. An emergency meeting was called for the BOC and this policy change, along with the increasing lack of medical attention for the animals in the shelter were brought up at this meeting on July 27, 2012.

        Previous meetings between Val and the group regarding the pit bull policy had been taking place at the SCACC Advisory Board meetings….but none of this information was being properly passed along to the overriding Board of Commissioners….needless to say, the board members were none to pleased to hear of her not following proper protocol regarding this policy change and were also surprised to hear of the cases of neglect that were being documented. They referred these issues be addressed at the next Courts & Public Safety Committee meeting. Basically, Val was called to task by the people who spoke at that meeting and the BOC members. It was AFTER that meeting on July 27, 2012 that she then enacted the above 7 policies (again, not taking them to the BOC for ratification)…and, in many peoples’ opinion, stepped over into the realm of criminal neglect. Through social media, the word was spread about what was happening at the shelter and that is how there was such a show of support at the August 8th meeting. So, she tried to close the doors on the volunteers after she was taken to task at the end of July and it backfired on her in a massive way.

  9. Lorraine Martinez – I just saw this post from you. THANK YOU! There is indeed some real “MAS” type stuff going on with Mayor Bowers and her staff in Montgomery County. I so much appreciate the support of the citizens after my FIRING. And I say many thanks to the citizens for blasting Mayor Bowers and their Commissioners demanding change. We made ALOT of progress while I was Director! Change because the citizens got engaged and involved! BUT – as you can see – that is something that THIS Mayor and others in Tennessee DO NOT WANT. Mayor Bowers is married to the Captain of the county’s Sheriff’s Dept – and the Deputy they replaced me with has been a direct report to the Mayor’s husband…not to mention a nice man who’s career as a School Cop really qualifies him to be a YES MAN. Just what they want. The Mayor’s staff just got tired of me asking “WHY and WHY NOT?” And they got tired of me shedding a bright light on the dark places in this long time group of controllers. THANKFULLY – Mayor Bowers has decided to run again – because her hand chosen right hand guy is not electable. So let’s just VOTE HER OUT!

    1. Looks like the “good old boy” mentality is alive in the MAS, too. It is only when this is not allowed, along with nepotism, will this kind of action stop.

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