Pets Still Being Needlessly Killed at Orange Co Pound

The Orange Co Register apparently likes to get readers’ hopes up and then cut them down.  The title of the CA paper’s most recent piece on the local pound is “More pets survived at O.C. shelter in 2012“. Yay.  But if you read past the first few sentences, you get to the sad truth of the matter:

The 54 percent overall death rate was pretty much the same as 2011.

Not yay.

The director of the pound, Ryan Drabek, told the paper via e-mail that in 2012 “1,868 stray animals total came into our shelter with some form of identification (license, microchip, ID tag, etc.).”  The Register crunches the numbers:

Of animals that came into the shelter with some sort of identification last year, 61 percent were returned to their owners and 13 percent were euthanized.

Let’s be clear on the overall numbers.  The Orange Co pound took in 29,723 animals in 2012 and returned 3346 of them to their owners.  That is a RTO rate of 11%.  Of the 1868 pets who were impounded with identification, the pound killed 243 or 13% of them.  That’s 243 pets with tags and/or microchips, thrown into the dumpster by the people paid to shelter them.

Not yay.

And if you make it to the end of the article, there’s this horrifying tidbit:

Feral cats and kittens younger than 6 weeks old accounted for 70 percent of the total cats euthanized at the shelter in 2012, Drabek said.

Feral cats and kittens younger than 6 weeks old have the right to live.  Being feral is no more a medically hopeless condition than is being newborn.  If these basic truths are not self-evident to you as an animal shelter director, there is cause for concern.

The ASPCA is reportedly giving the pound $20,000 to start doing TNR for feral cats since trap-and-kill “has done little to decrease the number of wild felines in Orange County.”  I hope the pound stops killing ferals but I’m concerned that the director does not seem to know it’s wrong to kill healthy/treatable cats.  Further, since no one is giving them $20,000 to stop killing neonate kittens, I assume that slaughter will continue in 2013, which is tragic.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Case Update: Senior Dog Who Froze to Death at Virginia Beach Pound

Remember the police department that runs the Virginia Beach pound announcing they would investigate themselves for wrongdoing in the case of the elderly Pitbull they left outside to freeze to death in 21 degree weather?  Well the results of the necropsy are in:

[T]he dog had severe heart and lung disease as well as possible diabetes, all of which contributed to the dog’s death, as well as hypothermia.

Let me preface this thing by pointing out that I am not a veterinarian and I have no idea who conducted the necropsy and reported these findings on Batman, the poor deceased pet.  It could be the most qualified forensic vet on the planet for all I know.  I am not in any way claiming I have any knowledge which trumps that of the vet who reported these findings.

That said, bullshit.  “Severe heart and lung disease” could quite probably apply to every dog who reaches old age and is living in the sunset of his life.  It doesn’t mean he was going to fall over dead that day anyway, which is what I think the police department is hoping people will believe.  And “possible diabetes” –  I’m sorry, what?  Did the dog have diabetes or not?  Why not put down “possible Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever”? I mean, they didn’t rule that out, did they?  Again, a possible medical condition does not indicate that Batman was about to keel over that day.

Batman survived the common old age canine disorders of heart and lung disease before he was impounded by Virginia Beach AC.  Batman died because the people who are paid by the public to protect him from harm failed to do their jobs.  They left him outside in 21 degree night temperatures where living things freeze.  Any attempts to distract from that terrible truth make the police department look even guiltier.

[T]he case remains under investigation by Virginia Beach police.

Gee, can’t hardly wait.

(Thank you Arlene for the link.)


Taylor Co Advocates Battle Officials for the Lives of Shelter Pets

The Taylor Co pound in KY is by all accounts, a hellhole.  There have been allegations of inhumane conditions and practices, including pets being buried alive and burned alive, for years.  A disturbing video posted recently on YouTube shows images of suffering pets (and at least one dead dog) at the pound.  (It’s a 6 minute video which took me 3 installments to get through.  Use your discretion.)

Last month, Taylor Co used a $150,000 grant from the KY Department of Agriculture to open a new shelter.  This month, the county judge-executive announced the facility would no longer operate as a shelter.  The vague plan was to use the new building as a holding facility only and transfer pets after one day to some unnamed location(s).  The local news asked why the county would cease operating an animal shelter so soon after opening a new one:

The judge executive says the shelter is closing because of constant public information requests from animal groups that cost $100,000 to produce.

First off, the cost to copy public records is normally passed along to the party filing the request.  Secondly – $100k?  Is Taylor Co paying the records clerk $1000 an hour to copy records onto gold paper?  Sorry but that claim smells fishy to me.  It sounds more like the county calling the wahmbulance because pesky animal advocates are demanding the people at the shelter do their jobs.  In retaliation, the county is going to take its ball and go home.  And tell Mom.

Thankfully the state Department of Agriculture developed an interest when the news broke that Taylor Co was closing the shelter just opened with its $150,000 grant:

[Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner James] Comer says, “We consider a shelter a shelter, and if they received grant dollars to have an animal shelter to be able to make animals up for adoption, then that’s what they’re supposed to do.”


Comer says if the shelter’s in breach [of contract for the state grant], he could force the county to keep it open or have the $150,000 returned to the state.  “We’re going to go in there and clean it up,” he says.

We’ll see.

AL Pound Kills Freshly Bathed Cat Upon Arrival

Things to do when a Good Samaritan brings a kitty into your animal shelter:

  1. Ask the finder the location where the pet was found.
  2. Get kitty vaccinated, scanned for a microchip, photographed and logged into your records system.  Get him set up in a cage where every visitor to the shelter can see him.
  3. Upload kitty’s photo, description and area where found to your shelter’s website, Facebook page, and any other social media accounts.
  4. Assume the cat is a lost pet and start reviewing your shelter’s current lost cat reports as well as Craigslist and the Facebook page for lost pets in your area.  Contact all owners whose descriptions even vaguely match the kitty.
  5. Let your ACOs in the field know that anyone going by the area where the cat was found needs to look for Lost Cat fliers and knock on some doors.
  6. Hold the kitty at your shelter for the period mandated by state law.
  7. If no owner reclaims him, contact anyone who expressed interest in adopting him during his hold period and offer him for adoption.

These tasks clearly take several days and possibly longer to complete.  But the first five should generally be completed within the cat’s first hour or two at the shelter.

Kaitlyn Hughes gave her cat Porkchop a bath one day in January.  Porkchop was a neutered, vaccinated orange tabby cat.  The next day, he slipped out the door without the owner realizing it as she left her apartment.  When she returned home, she figured out what must have happened.  Ms. Hughes put out wet and dry food, water, a toy, and a pair of her shoes hoping to attract Porkchop.  She searched the apartment complex where they lived and began putting up fliers.  A neighbor told her the next morning that he had mistaken Porkchop for a stray and taken him to the Mobile Co pound.  Ms. Hughes immediately went to the pound to reclaim her pet.  It turns out, the Mobile Co pound killed Porkchop less than 10 minutes after receiving him from the Good Sam.

I don’t see any possible explanation for this killing other than someone at the Mobile Co pound was eager to kill Porkchop.  There is no way anyone can claim they did everything they could for him – indeed, they appear to have done nothing at all for him.  I don’t think it’s reasonable to consider the possibility that there was some sort of clerical error or other mix up.  Porkchop was only alive at the pound for a few minutes, hardly enough time to get him confused with another cat.  Nor do I think laziness is a plausible explanation.  We have heard sometimes that shelter staff are too lazy to set up a cage for an incoming pet so instead of doing their job, they will simply take the pet to the kill room.  But in Porkchop’s case, immediate action was taken upon his arrival which doesn’t strike me as the behavior of a lazy person.  I would posit that whoever killed Porkchop  was very eager to do so and the swift death could possibly be described as a thrill kill.  No other explanation strikes me as plausible.

But don’t criticize shelter workers because we all want the same thing and nobody wants to kill pets and people don’t spay-neuter…

Ms. Hughes was understandably distraught over the needless killing of her beloved pet.  Someone at the pound suggested she take home another orange tabby, because he looked just like Porkchop.  Animal Services=Family Services.  Which part of that equation does the Mobile Co pound not get?

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Action Alert: New Jersey

Via Nathan Winograd:

Legislation (A3825) has been introduced in New Jersey that would eliminate holding periods and allow shelters to kill animals immediately if the shelter determines, in its sole discretion, that an animal is not fit for adoption. Specifically, if “the animal is inappropriate for adoption as determined by the owner or operator of the shelter, pound or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, because of the animal’s medical, physical, or other condition, or aggressive or dangerous behavior.” The term “other condition” is not defined and there are no standards of any kind:

A similar bill was vetoed by the governor in 2011 because it would have killed savable animals. Please contact the Assembly Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and urge a No vote:

Assemblyman Nelson Albano, Email:
Assemblyman Gilbert L. Wilson, Email:
Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, Email:
Assemblyman Robert D. Clifton, Email: 
Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer, Email:

Please share with your NJ contacts.

Discussion: Tubal Ligations and Vasectomies on Puppies

If you are unfamiliar with tubal ligations and vasectomies for pets, here is an excellent primer.  Basically they are surgical procedures to render pets incapable of reproduction and are far less invasive than traditional spay-neuter.  The procedures allow pets to keep their gonads, and their hormones, and therefore do not affect breeding behavior.  As such, Dr. Khuly notes that tubal ligations and vasectomies for cats are not likely to offer much benefit for owners:

They’re just not behaviorally amenable to in-home living when their ovaries and testicles hold such aggressive sway over their behavior.

But for dogs, the scenario is different.

From a public policy standpoint, vasectomization and tubal ligation offer the advantage of a less invasive, more rapid brand of sterilization.

In addition, the procedures can reportedly be safely performed in very young puppies.  This offers the option to shelters and rescues to send home all puppies already rendered incapable of reproduction.  There would be no need to follow up with the adopter at a later date in order to encourage him to follow through with the neuter surgery.  And none would slip through the cracks.

There is also a significant health benefit for the dog.  A recent study has added to the body of evidence supporting that neutering dogs before one year of age puts them at significantly higher risk for health problems including joint disorders and cancer:

Specifically, early neutering was associated with an increase in the occurrence of hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and lymphosarcoma in males and of cranial cruciate ligament tear in females.

With tubal ligation and vasectomies, the owner can always opt to have spay or neuter surgery performed after the puppy is grown, if desired.

In her post, Dr. Khuly points out that vets are not taught tubal ligations and vasectomies in school.  This would seem to be a glaring omission from the curriculum since the need for the procedures, especially at shelters and low cost spay-neuter clinics which many animal rescue groups utilize, is obvious.  I can imagine many breeders making use of the service as well, were it available at the private vet clinic they already use.

It seems to me that tubal ligations and vasectomies in dogs could have a meaningful impact on both intake and outflow at shelters and rescues.  Puppies could be sent home at 8 weeks of age, instead of holding them as some groups do until they are considered old enough for neuter surgery or sending them home intact, with a promise to neuter later.  And they could be sent home already rendered incapable of reproduction, thus reducing future unintended litters.  With the very real potential to reduce serious health problems, there seems to be no downside to this elective procedure.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Do you see any potential drawbacks?  Why aren’t more vets and particularly shelter vets performing tubal ligations and vasectomies on puppies?  Should no kill advocates be encouraging shelter vets and those at low cost neuter clinics to learn and offer the procedures?

Mental Health Break: Video

I had tears in my eyes from laughing along with the babies.  I would note that these clips are all cases where the interaction between baby and dog was closely supervised by the camera holder (presumably the parent) so I hope no one is going to complain about the babies being in grave danger.  I also note how gentle the dogs are in every single clip which is lovely to see. Pets are family.

Latest Round of Pet Food and Treat Recalls

The following recalls and withdrawals are posted on the FDA website under the Animal & Veterinary category.  Most are within the last week or so.  Click the links for additional details, including lot numbers.

Treats recalled for salmonella: Petco, Kasel, Menards, BIXBI, Boots and Barkley, Nutri-Pet, Nature’s Deli, Sam’s Club, Best Bully Sticks.

Honest Kitchen foods recalled for salmonella:  Verve, Zeal and Thrive

Chicken jerky treats recalled for salmonella:  Nutri-Vet and Nutri-Pet

Treats and greens recalled for salmonella:  Kaytee (These are treats made for birds.)

Nature’s Variety food recalled due to clear plastic pieces:  Instinct Raw Organic Chicken Formula

Hartz treats withdrawn for antibiotic residue:  Hartz Chicken Chews and Hartz Oinkies Pig Skin Twists Wrapped with Chicken

Milo’s Kitchen treats recalled for residual antibiotics:  Chicken Jerky and Chicken Grillers home-style dog treats

Info from the CDC:

How do I know if my dog or cat has Salmonella infection?

  • Dogs and cats that become ill from Salmonella infection generally will have diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Affected animals may seem more tired than usual, and may have a fever or vomit.
  • Some cats do not have diarrhea, but will have a decreased appetite, fever, and excess salivation.
  • Some dogs or cats may have Salmonella infection but may not appear to be sick.

If your dog or cat has these signs of illness or you are concerned that your pet may have Salmonella infection, please contact your pet’s veterinarian. Let your veterinarian know if your pet recently consumed a recalled product. Do not feed your pet any more of the recalled products. Dispose of the products immediately.

To be on the safe side, I follow the same protocols when touching pet food and treats as I do for raw eggs – I wash my hands immediately with soap and water.

Added, February 25, 2013Hy-Vee grocery store brand dog foods recalled for aflatoxin.

Open Thread

surrey wendy 021013

Post your vertical beagle, horizontal beagle or any other animal related links, stories, questions and comments.

Treats on the Internets

Shelter advisory board member Jeanne Chancellor appears to support punitive legislation against pet owners in Memphis in the form of licensing.  Because I guess there isn’t enough killing at the Memphis pound already.  (Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Police in Birmingham, AL responded to a domestic disturbance call at a home and the friendly Lab who lived there greeted them at the door.  One of the officers shot her to death on sight.  Police are investigating themselves in the matter.  (Thank you Clarice.)

A parent of one of the Newtown massacre victims talked with CBS News about the lengthy process she was enduring in order to adopt a kitten and how it compares to gun access:

“I don’t know enough about guns, but I think it’s a little easier to get a gun than to get a kitten.”

A couple in FL was walking their Golden Retriever when she slipped her lead and bolted in front of a pickup truck.  Thankfully the driver of the truck was able to stop in time and no one was hurt.  To celebrate, a man got out of the truck and shot one of the dog’s owners.  Cos you know, that dog made him stop his truck.

Have you ever seen a dog performing some behavior that humans find entertaining and you wonder if the dog actually enjoys it?  In this case, I think the question has been answered.  (Thank you Claire for the link.)

A 7 year old GA kid begged his parents for a kitty.  They finally agreed to foster a cat for a local rescue.  On his second day, Mr. Meowy (Don’t you love it?) alerted the family to a fire that was just starting and they were able to save their home.  They’re keeping him.  (Thanks Clarice for this link.)

Online petition to make Charlotte, NC a no kill community.  (Link sent in by Lauren.)

Most of Guam’s native bird species are are apparently extinct because of the brown tree snake which came to the island on U.S. military ships after WW II.  U.S. government scientists have hatched a plan to airdrop dead mice laced with acetaminophen in wee parachutes, hoping the snakes will eat them and die.