The “Irresponsible Public” Seeks Justice for Dog Killed by Maricopa Co

A concerned shelter pet advocate contacted Maricopa Co Animal Care & Control in AZ last month regarding the photo posted online of a Chihuahua being held down with a chokepole.   This was the response received:

On Sep 20, 2012, at 10:59 AM, Karen Dickey – ACSX <> wrote:

Thank you for your concern. Unfortunately, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control does receive a few dogs that are not manageable on a leash. A catch pole, which works like a leash with a stiff pole instead of a floppy lead is used to keep the biting dog away from the animal handler. Dogs are placed into a portable kennel or rolling cart and transported from intake room to stationary kennel. This method of temporary handling is an acceptable means of assisting the dog in the new environment and safe guarding the handler.


Karen Dickey, Executive Assistant to an Executive Officer
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
2500 South 27th Avenue
Phoenix AZ 85009
(602) 506-2772 office
(602) 506-2739 fax

A follow-up e-mail yielded the following response, which was also received by other shelter pet advocates:

Sep 21, 2012, at 11:08 AM, Karen Dickey – ACSX <> wrote:

On September 15, 2012 Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) obtained a fractious Chihuahua running stray. In an attempt to scan for a microchip, vaccination against deadly disease, and treat for parasites, the dog was placed on a catch pole for safe management being the dog’s behavior did not allow the use of a leash, a Y pole, or close contact. No matter the size of the dog, a dog’s bite can cause extreme pain, infection, and medical complications. The dog was taken to its kennel in a roller cart to reduce the stress on the dog and move the dog around in a safe manner.

The picture posted on and then spread to Facebook was in the best interest of the dog. It gave an opportunity for the dog to be identified by its owner. Many attempts were made by volunteers and staff to take a better picture. However, the dog’s behavior made it impossible to obtain such picture. A picture gives the owner another chance to identify his animal. Unfortunately, the owner did not come to reclaim the dog. After the legal holding period of seventy-two hours, no rescue organization came forward to accept the small, yet still very fractious Chihuahua. With no outlet for the dog, the dog was humanely euthanized.

MCACC has a duty to protect the public and its staff from being bitten. The catch pole is a humane method of restraining a fractious dog by the Humane Society of the United States,, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

This type of incident is not uncommon. This dog was not unlike the many dogs entering the shelter system that show continued aggression toward the public and the staff during their stay. It is unfortunate this dog continued to lunge at the kennel door during its stay and at one point caused a staff member to be injured.


Karen Dickey, Executive Assistant to an Executive Officer
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
2500 South 27th Avenue
Phoenix AZ 85009
(602) 506-2772 office
(602) 506-2739 fax

To the best of my knowledge, no further information has been provided by MCACC about the nature or circumstances of the injury referenced at the end of this letter.  Since Ms. Dickey mentioned HSUS in her response, a shelter pet advocate contacted the AZ director for HSUS regarding the dog and received the following reply:

From: Kari Nienstedt <>
Subject: RE: strong concern about shelter operations
Date: Friday, September 21, 2012, 3:25 PM

Hi [redacted], thanks so much for bringing this photograph to my attention. Catch poles are one tool in the toolbox for shelters dealing with aggressive animals of any size, but like any tool they must be used appropriately. We encourage all shelters to review their handling procedures on an ongoing basis and recommend that they engage the services of a professional animal handling expert for continuing education to ensure all of their staff is properly trained on the most current humane handling methods.

I have reached out to MCACC to make them aware of your concerns as well. They are committed to the humane treatment of animals and take any allegations of abuse very seriously. Any concerns about their shelters should be sent directly to them so they can investigate and take any appropriate action.

Kari Nienstedt
Arizona State Director
c 480.381.4410 f 202.351.0499

The Humane Society of the United States
P.O. Box 4936 Scottsdale, AZ 85261

[excessive HSUS propaganda trimmed]

So there it is.  Lots of blah, blah, blah from those in positions of leadership and one poor Chihuahua – abused with a chokepole, records apparently tampered with to cover it up, then killed without having been scanned for a microchip.  As usual, it is up to the so-called irresponsible public to demand justice and defend the most basic rights of shelter pets – even if we are forced to do it after it’s too late to save them.

If you want to take action on behalf of this dog, there is an action item at the end of this post.  Shelter pet advocates continue to fight for her and you can support those efforts by following the No Kill Maricopa Co page on Facebook.

12 thoughts on “The “Irresponsible Public” Seeks Justice for Dog Killed by Maricopa Co

  1. I think HSUS has a mad lib style form letter they use for anything regarding shelters, because that letter was boilerplate. They love their buzzwords and phrases … “one tool in the toolbox,” “review their procedures,” “continuing education,” “reached out,” “committed to humane treatment,” “investigate and take any appropriate action” … and all their staff are trained to throw them around liberally. They left out the cupcake recommendation, though. Disappointing.

  2. “The picture posted on and then spread to Facebook was in the best interest of the dog.”

    Wow. Talk about your cognitive disconnect. So, they were able to get close enough to the dog to kill him, but not able to sedate him for examination and a better picture? How does that work, then?

    1. I guess the dog must have been a snarling, thrashing whirling dervish the entire time in the cage. Otherwise, they could have just snapped a cage photo, at least.

  3. It always is disturbing to me when people or organisations referencing to a “expert” organisation that never operated a animal shelter but know it all.

  4. Towel burritos work to protect dog and person, and, lets the person actually impart some reassurance to a frightened animal that the person isn’t hurting it. Any animal beagle-sized or smaller can almost always by wrapped, and most of them calm down. Dog forbid any catch-pole-happy shelter director ever try a kinder way of handling animals.

  5. When will you folks realize that it is all our fault and they are simply doing what’s best for the animals? I’m sure if you ask that poor little dead dog, s/he would tell you that being held down with a chokepole being controlled by a much larger adult was very comforting and reassuring. That is nothing more than HSUS/shelter BS!!!
    And we are supposed to believe what they tell us when this is what we see them doing? Not buying what you’re selling, folks.

    1. Just a comment for those who might not read this regularly – the first part of my post was sarcastic . . . I don’t really believe that.

  6. *Sigh*

    Not very surprising. All shelters seem to know how to do is shift blame or sweep stuff under the rug. I emailed MCACC as well not only about the dog in general but about going no-kill. I didn’t even receive a reply, and I live in Arizona!

Leave a Reply