Retaliatory Pet Killing at LA Shelter

We often hear excuses from shelters as to why they “have to” kill pets – overcrowding, people won’t spay and neuter, etc.  While we know there is no justification for killing healthy/treatable pets on an ethical basis, and we know the same to be true in practical terms as evidenced by the dozens of open admission no kill shelters all over the country – the killing continues and the excuses persist.  But to my mind, there is one group of shelter pets that no pound can attempt to justify killing:  pets who have a person – an owner, rescuer, foster, adopter or colony caregiver – willing to take them.  After all, nobody wants to kill pets, right?

In too many cases, animal shelters kill pets rescuers are willing to take as a form of retaliation for criticism of shelter practices.  Last month, a rescuer went to the Iberia Parish Rabies and Animal Control Department in LA in order to pay the fees for a Great Pyrenees.  The staff refused to release the dog.  The rescuer pressed the staff for an explanation and finally was told the dog was sick.  No problem – the rescuer offered to take the dog to a veterinarian immediately.  Still the staff refused.  The shelter director, Mike Stockstill, was not in the building.

Since this happened on a Friday and the rescuer knew that Tuesday was the regular kill day at the Iberia pound, she left to make a call to a rescue group for assistance.  The rescue representative called the shelter within 40 minutes to confirm that the dog would indeed be taken to a veterinarian and his medical expenses would be covered.  By the time that call was made, the shelter staff has already killed the dog.

The shelter director “said the dog had blood in its stool and was vomiting bile.”  Neither of these symptoms represents a medically hopeless condition.  In fact, dogs often vomit bile when they are hungry – a condition which can be cured with a bowl of food.  But in this case, there was no need to guess because there was a rescuer at the front desk with cash in hand, willing to take the dog to a vet for immediate treatment at no cost to the pound.

I believe this was a retaliatory killing – payback for criticism of shelter practices from the rescue community.  The director explained the killing as follows:

Stockstill said he later talked to the employee who refused to adopt out the dog.

“He said, ‘Mr. Stockstill they have threatened us so much. They have criticized us to such a great extent about adopting animals out that were not healthy, and this animal was no longer healthy, (so) I told them that it was no longer adoptable,’ ” Stockstill said.

I see no other possible interpretation of this killing except retaliation.  You criticize us for adopting out sick dogs, we kill a sick dog you want to save.  Maybe next time you won’t criticize us.  The message could not be any clearer had the rescuer woken up with a severed dog’s head on the pillow next to her.

No one at a shelter should have the discretion to kill pets rescuers are willing to take.  This is why we need rescue access laws like CAPA in every state.  Because retaliatory pet killings happen at shelters.  And there ought to be a law.

The director at the Iberia pound offers his version of a solution to this type of situation:

Stockstill said the volunteers should push the Iberia Parish Council to give more money to the shelter, so it can more vigorously pursue animal adoptions. He said the animal advocates should present a “legitimate proposal” in writing, which the council can act on.

I guess animal advocates should do the director’s job for him if they want him to adopt out more pets.  Which he’ll only consider doing if they get him more money.  Got it.  The only part I seem to be missing is how getting volunteers to do the director’s job and getting him more money will put an end to his sanctioning retaliatory killings at the pound.  Or have any impact on a shelter environment in which the staff would even consider the possibility, let alone act upon it, that retaliatory killing of pets whom rescuers are willing to save is A-OK.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me the link to this story.)

11 thoughts on “Retaliatory Pet Killing at LA Shelter

  1. This is one of my biggest nightmares. I hope the media has been notified and will expose this poor-excuse-of-a-human-being named Stockstill and the volunteers at that shelter….

  2. This is probably why they have this new ordinance here, in Hernando County, Florida that actually restricts the number of dogs you may own without a kennel license, and that you are mandated to turn over any strays you find to the Animal Control within 24 hours. It is time states and counties STOP paying to kill animals, once and for all.

    1. how does a law like that stop shelter killing? doesn’t it only make criminals out of multipet owners, most of whom are responsible, loving pet parent/owners. how does turning over a stray to be killed stop killing… I hope you are being sarcastic in what you wrote – please tell me you are!

    1. Sounded to me also like the rescuer was willing to do what the shelter director should be doing – treating an ill animal..

  3. This is such a sad story that is repeated far too often. While I think there are too many laws already, I think dogs and rescues should be protected by legislation.

    My URL is really weird below.

  4. He wants people to submit proposals? Sounds like his office should be flooded with No-Kill Toolkits ;)
    Just like anything, throwing money at the problem doesn’t fix anything. That money will probably just be used to buy more killing drugs.
    Stockstill also didn’t tell us his response to the employee. I would have loved to hear what he said, “There, there. I understand. Those bullies were picking on you, so you had to stand up for yourself by killing an innocent creature that they wanted to help.”
    Knowing he was sick.
    Wanting him anyway.
    Adoption fee vs cost of drugs to kill him…
    It just doesn’t make sense.
    Even if I were a soulless, regressive, shelter director, I would be pissed. They could have made money on that deal instead of losing money. You want people to “give money to the shelter?” How about adoption fees, idiot!!!

  5. This is a great reason to stop taking animals to shelters. The money spent on shelters should be given to qualified animal rescuers and they, plus a well educated staff which would allow the shelter to be “No Kill”.

    Retaliation Killing by an animal shelter in 2012 is unacceptable and uncivilized.

  6. This story sickens me. I hope that poor dog haunts the people that made that decision to kill him, but sadly I don’t think they would even care. I was so stressed last week when I found two pit bulls that I had no room to keep. I had to bring them to the shelter, where I had little hope of them getting adopted but I didn’t let up. I gave them my number to call before they had to euthanize and called multiple times. I think knowing someone cared in this instance helped because after being on the adoption floor for 1 day, they were adopted together to their forever home. There is just no excuse to kill a healthy pet or even one who may not be perfectly healthy but only needs minimal vet care.

  7. We definitely need nationwide shelter reform laws! I am sickened by the cruelty and pettiness of the people who are there to protect the animals! I don’t know how to begin this action, but it is definitely needed across the country! Let’s take the POWER away from these bastards!

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