Compassionate People are Potential Allies in the Fight for Shelter Reform

In spring of this year, Hillsborough Co, FL resolved to lower the 65% kill rate at the pound, but not to stop the killing of healthy/treatable animals entirely.  The county hired Ian Hallett, former deputy chief animal services officer in Austin, to run the pound.  He started work in June.  I don’t know how things have been going since then as the only stats I could find on the county’s website are for 2011.

On October 29, someone reported gunshots fired in a Tampa neighborhood.  Police found a dog who had been buried with just her head sticking out the ground.  She had been shot twice in the face.  Animal Services was called:

The woefully underweight 2-year-old pit bull mix whimpered as Hillsborough County Animal Services Officer Rene Northrop dug with her hands, trying to unearth the pooch that had been buried alive up to her snout.


It took 15 minutes to free the dog, but much longer to assess her injuries. Her head was bloody, her body was too thin, but still she was loving and friendly, immediately bonding with Northrop on the way to the vet, [Sgt. Pam] Perry said.

The dog, now named Phoebe, is being treated by a vet and will be available for adoption after she has healed.  There is video of Phoebe here which shows her in recovery as well as some still photos of her in the ground.

As no kill advocates, we need to always be on the lookout for people to whom we can reach out.  Just because a facility kills pets doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone that works there is committed to continued killing.  By offering information on proven alternatives and support for no kill efforts, we can hope to bring more people to the no kill movement, even if they don’t seem to be a likely candidate at first glance.  Remember that at some point, many of us in the movement today believed killing shelter pets was “necessary” because of so-called overpopulation.  You only know what you know, right?  And it’s important to be able to recognize compassion in people whenever we come across it.  Compassionate people are our target market.

Now I do not know ACO Rene Northrop or have any clue what her views are on no kill.  But I know she saw a badly injured dog and dug her out of the earth with her bare hands to save her.  The dog liked her right away.  I tend to think dogs are pretty good at picking out compassionate humans.  Since Hillsborough Co already seems to have an interest in reducing the killing at the shelter, maybe it would be good to reach out to Ms. Northrop and see if she is open to working towards ending the killing.

Do you have a Rene Northrop working in your local kill shelter?  Do I?  I don’t know but this is a good reminder to keep our minds open to the possibility that a potential ally in the fight to reform our shelters may already be inside.

7 thoughts on “Compassionate People are Potential Allies in the Fight for Shelter Reform

  1. A heartwarming story. I know there are people like this officer in shelters but they are the exception. Bit lets keep looking, reading and writing about them. Thank you for letting is know about goodness and caring.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. What a sweet, loving dog, too – in spite of the awfulness she experienced. I watched the video and saw a pup with a wagging tail and giving all kinds of kisses to her rescuers. I hope they find the “person” who did this to her and I hope that “person” gets what s/he deserves. No doubt Phoebe will be adopted when she’s ready.

    Good job to the officer who saved her life. There are good people out there. We just seem to hear more about the bad ones. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. You pretty much took the words right out of my mouth, as always, so no need to say more than that! :)

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