TN Shelter Oops-Kills Man’s Pet, Director Describes an Isolated Incident

The McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, TN states its mission on its website:  “To enhance the lives of companion animals and people by encouraging a culture of responsibility and compassion.”  In 2011, McKamey killed 50% of the pets in its care.  A culture of responsibility and compassion?

In October, a 3 year old Lab mix named Zion reportedly jumped on a pizza delivery person.  Owner Matt Sadler indicates the incident was minor but required that Zion be seized for quarantine by the McKamey Animal Center:

“The lady didn’t want to press charges, it wasn’t anything serious, but the law has a 10-day quarantine period,” he says.

Because Zion was a month past due on his yearly rabies vaccine, he was held for the full 10 days at McKamey Animal Center.

I don’t know what specific law was cited when McKamey told Mr. Sadler he had to turn over Zion for quarantine but it sure seems odd to me that a dog who jumped on a stranger and had a rabies vaccine that was just one month overdue would be impounded.  How does that protect the community or the community’s pets?  How does it serve taxpayers?  It makes me wonder if Zion really had to be surrendered for quarantine or if McKamey was abusing its power.

Mr. Sadler called to check on Zion and visited him multiple times during the quarantine period which was very difficult for him:

“That was my best friend,” Sadler says. “He was there for me through my parents’ divorce and a lot of really hard tough times in my life.”

When the 10 days were up, Mr. Sadler immediately went to McKamey to bring Zion home.  But staff at the pound had already killed Zion:

Executive Director Karen Walsh says two employees missed a step filing paperwork.

When the quarantine ended, despite calls and visits from Matt, it was not known that Zion was to be reclaimed. He was euthanized in error.

Oops.  In keeping with what appear to be standard protocols among oops-killing pet facilities, McKamey apologized, offered the owner a free pet and says the employees who made the paperwork error will be retrained.  Also: blah.

A culture of responsibility and compassion?  Maybe it’s time to turn on the waterworks:

With teary eyes, Walsh explained how devastated her staff is by the mistake that she calls an isolated incident.

Yeah, about that.  In 2009, I posted about the killing of 2 Pitbulls who had been seized by McKamey and killed before the owner could retrieve them following a court case.  The dogs had not bitten anyone nor were there any accusations of neglect or mistreatment.  McKamey officers took the dogs out of the owner’s yard.  In the aftermath of those killings, a judge issued an order to McKamey to stop exercising sole discretion over the killing of pets being held for court cases.  In my post, I posited:

AC officers are supposed to help animals – not abuse their authority to seize and destroy them. I wonder if this is an isolated incident at McKamey or if there is a culture of abuse of power there and a history of killing pets waiting to be redeemed by owners.

Wonder no more.

A culture of responsibility and compassion?  Mission fail.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

12 thoughts on “TN Shelter Oops-Kills Man’s Pet, Director Describes an Isolated Incident

  1. Just awful! i will never understand this thinking” hey, sorry we killed your dog, but we will give you- FOR FREE- any dog in this shelter.” Infuriating and no one is held accountable….training, re-training, re-training the re-training, just doesn;’t work. Fire them all!

  2. I used to volunteer at this shelter. I can tell you from my experience they do not stand by their mission statement. The facility is clean and somewhat comfortable for its animals but the higher up staff leave a lot to be desired. I would walk dogs 3 times a week, I went to a particular run to walk a dog I liked to walk. When I got there he was gone. I was hoping he was adopted, this wasn’t the case. I asked the person that took care of that run where he was. They looked at the ground looking sad and said they came and got some dogs and that is all they knew. I asked upper management what happened to the dogs and was told to mind my own business. I told them, Listen, I give you my time out of the goodness of my heart and I deserve some respect, I am not one of your employees. I was told if I didn’t like it, then I was free not to come back. Needless to say I thought of a few choice words to say to them but didn’t. I stopped volunteering there because of upper management. .

  3. @ don’t know what specific law was cited when McKamey told Mr. Sadler he had to turn over Zion for quarantine but it sure seems odd to me that a dog who jumped on a stranger and had a rabies vaccine that was just one month overdue would be impounded…

    According to the current Rabies Compendium published by the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians:

    “…a) Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets. All dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies and revaccinated in accordance with Part III of this compendium. If a previously vaccinated animal is overdue for a booster, the animal should be revaccinated. Immediately after the booster, the animal is considered currently vaccinated and should be placed on a booster schedule, depending on the labeled duration of the vaccine used.”

    “…(2) Animals overdue for a booster vaccination should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis based on severity of exposure, time elapsed since last vaccination, number of previous vaccinations, current health status, and local rabies epidemiologic factors to determine need for euthanasia or immediate revaccination and observation with isolation.”

    “… Within 28 days after initial vaccination, a peak rabies virus antibody titer is reached, and the animal can be considered immunized (29,31–33). An animal is currently vaccinated and is considered immunized if the initial vaccination was administered at least 28 days previously or booster vaccinations have been administered in accordance with this compendium.”

    It appears that many are interpreting “If a previously vaccinated animal is overdue for a booster, the animal should be revaccinated” in the first section quoted to mean that upon the “due date” all antibodies from earlier vaccinations disappear and the animal has no immunity whatever. Thus they believe that the series of vaccinations must be repeated: the first vaccination after an “expired” vaccination is regarded as the initial vaccination and must be boostered a year later.

    That interpretation disregards the two following sections referring to this situation, which say, though not clearly, that a booster is a booster, and will assure immunity to the same extent as the booster given a year after initial vaccination.

    The compendium does not say, anywhere, that an animal which is overdue for a booster (one year or three year) should be regarded as never having been vaccinated. But apparently that is the policy of the McKamey facility and probably the vast majority of animal control agencies and animal shelters/rescues.

    If anyone can point to a place in the compendium that advises “an animal whose booster is overdue should be treated as having had no previous vaccination” I would be glad to have my understanding corrected. And I would then request that the NASPHV clearly state that in the next update of the compendium.

    1. Thank you for this info Elaine. On top of all this, I don’t understand why a dog who jumped on a person has to be quarantined at the pound for rabies. The article does not state he bit the person.

  4. This is just..infuriating. What dog DOESNT jump on people?? They should be killed for that?! Ugh!

    1. Maybe missed “CARRYING A PIZZA.” Or perhaps they figured the dog was salivating and the pizza person might have had a hangnail?

  5. Where I live, if a pet bites someone, provided it wasn’t a vicious attack, the pet is quarantined at the owner’s home for 10 days I think it is. The health department pays the pet owner a visit to view the pet and I think they phone at the end of the ten days if the rabies vaccination status is out of date or unknown.

    I don’t see any reason to impound pets at taxpayers’ expense if it’s not necessary. Taxpayers need to know there are better ways and should protest these ridiculous policies.

    Oops killings can be eliminated if you make your shelter part of your no-kill community,

  6. “Every animal determined by the health department to pose a risk of rabies and every animal that has bitten a human and/or has been exposed to rabies or is suspected of having rabies shall be, at the discretion of the health department, quarantined for a minimum of 10 days at the owner’s home or at the McKamey Animal Center. Or, the owner may choose to keep the animal in a veterinary hospital if permitted by the Director of Health (County Health Department).”

    It’s unfortunate that this person was not aware of options they may have been able to invoke based on local ordinance.

  7. Shelters don’t quarantine dogs for snapping. I thinkl there is obviously more to this story than meets the eye. If you look at aLl the history on the great work this shelter has done I think calling this am “oops” is disrespectful to all involved.

  8. This shelter has my friends dog which was stolen out of her yard and will not release him back. She lives in Sequatchie County and had no clue the dog would be so far away. The moment she seen the post she contacted this shelter and the next day went to pickup her furbaby. They would not release him back. Here is the message they sent to her located in the comments section of my post. Just heartbroken by this facility and what they stand for. They are all about money. She even sent pictures of the furbaby and still will not release. If this was my baby I promise what ever it took I would do the same thing. This is crazy. They have blocked me because I questioned whether or not they are looking out for the owners or in it for money. Really disappointed. She checked all local shelters and posted on Facebook. I honestly can’t believe this.

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