Logan Co: Closing the Barn Door after the Horse has Bolted

The Logan Co pound in WV has been closed for quarantine.  A local television station reports that three dogs have tested positive for distemper and volunteers at the pound suspect 17 other dogs have died from the disease recently.  Dozens of dogs remain inside the facility:

“If they are not laying there dying they are being put down,” said SAFE volunteer Michelle Starr.

Well that sounds pretty awful.  It’s hard to imagine anything worse but don’t give up hope so quickly because there’s this:

Twenty-six dogs had to be vaccinated at the Logan County Animal Shelter after a distemper outbreak, and one dog had to be put down.

*facepalm*  Gee we’ve got a confirmed distemper outbreak, I guess we’ll have to vaccinate – there’s just no way of avoiding it at this point.

If the Logan Co pound had been vaccinating upon intake across the board, utilizing routine cleaning practices and quarantining new arrivals, they might not have dogs dying left and right.  Vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake is key to preventing and minimizing distemper outbreaks.  From the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on Canine Distemper Virus (CDV):

The most important factor in disease risk is vaccination: a “fully” vaccinated animal over four months of age is at very low risk of CDV infection. However, even incompletely vaccinated animals may survive a possible exposure.

It sounds like Logan Co does little to nothing to prevent disease outbreak at the pound:

SAFE volunteers said the distemper outbreak is not an unusual problem. They provided 13 News with a letter from Michael Koch, a veterinarian at Tug Valley Veterinary Clinic in Williamson. Koch said in the letter that he has treated several animals from the pound. In the document Koch writes:

“All of the patients I have examined have been afflicted by at least one infectious or contagious disease. Some of them have had multiple diseases. I have diagnosed Sarcoptic mange, infectious canine tracheobronchitis, canine distemper, parvovirus, coccidiosis, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. All of the patients have been in a very poor state of health.”

Pound officials said they do the best they can to regularly care for the animals and disinfect the facility, pointing out that animals are often not vaccinated when they come to the facility and are already in very poor condition.

They’re doing the best they can.  It’s the public’s fault for not vaccinating and providing proper vet care – which the pound doesn’t do either but hey, why quibble over details?

Logan County Commissioner Danny Godby confirmed that workers put down at least eight dogs within the past month after testing positive for parvo.

Vaccination upon intake.  Vaccination upon intake.  Vaccination upon intake.

“We are doing our best to save these animals,” said [County Administrator Rosco] Adkins.

So I’ve heard.

(Thanks Clarice for the links on this story.)

CT ACO Charged with Animal Cruelty, Still on the Job

Karen Lombardi is an ACO for the town of Woodbridge, CT.   She was recently charged with animal cruelty in connection with a November 2012 incident in which she allegedly hurt a dog.  The incident was witnessed by two co-workers who reported it to police:

[Kennel worker Karen] Myers told police she was at Woodbridge Animal Control, struggling to outfit [a dog named] Timone in a sweater, when Lombardi came over and said, “I’ll show you how to do that.” Myers said Lombardi then grabbed the dog and slammed it against a wall while screaming, “You hold still or I’ll smash your (expletive) skull in.”

Ms. Lombardi continues to work directly with pets as a town employee:

Woodbridge Police Chief Eugene Marcucci said Tuesday that Lombardi would not face suspension because of the cruelty charge. The Police Department oversees animal control.

If you go back and read the description of the alleged cruelty incident replacing the location with a shelter for people and the dog with a child, I would guess the police would not be so quick to keep the person on the job while the court case proceeds.  Why isn’t a temporary reassignment to a position that doesn’t involve hands-on animal care considered appropriate in this case?

Pets are family and should be protected.  In fact Ms. Lombardi, charged with cruelty herself, continues to get paid to protect local pets from cruelty.  It seems appropriate that she should request a temporary reassignment of duties, even if her superiors aren’t demanding it, for the sake of protecting the integrity of the job (if nothing else).  How can the public have faith in animal control when the person accused of smashing a dog against a wall is the one judging whether local pet owners are taking good enough care of their pets?

Former ACO Charged with Animal Cruelty in MA

Sometimes people find it hard to relate statistics and reports to needless pet suffering and killing but a photo of a single mistreated animal will stir their blood.  In some cases, these photos are too disturbing to post on the blog.  (Warning:  all the links below contain disturbing images of a dog who appears to be deeply suffering and on the brink of death.)

Anna Nelson is the former ACO for Wareham, MA.  An anonymous tip led the current ACO to her home and her senior dog:

The 10-year-old terrier mix could hardly stand and was diseased and jaundiced.

“It was incredibly malnourished, had parasites — internal and external — and in fact, too ill to be saved. It had to be euthanized,” said Rob Halpin of the MSPCA.

Ms. Nelson is facing a felony animal cruelty charge.  She was a no show for her arraignment, forcing authorities to issue a warrant and send police to arrest her.  Although she allegedly neglected her suffering pet for months, when her own ass was in hot water she promptly posted bail to get herself out of jail.  Ms. Nelson is due in court today.

Kershaw Co: More Pet Killing, More Reporting Problems, More Excuses

These are the 2012 stats for the Kershaw Co pound in SC:

  • Total Intake:  3851
  • Total Killed:  2858
  • Kill Rate:  74%  (not included on report)

But a closer look reveals that once again, the math does not add up.  If you take a look at this portion of the report which tallies the animals killed, you’ll notice that the months of January and February are missing entirely:

Portion of annual report from the Kershaw Co pound in SC, obtained via FOIA request.  (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report from the Kershaw Co pound in SC, obtained via FOIA request. (click to enlarge)

And in this portion, February and August are missing:

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

I guess we’re just supposed to take them at their word that the TOTAL column figure is correct.  Although there is apparently no way of knowing for certain from this report how many pets Kershaw Co killed in 2012, the fact that so many animals were killed for behavior and for being sick is revealing.  The number of animals killed annually by any shelter for behavior should be zero or in the case of special circumstances, some number extremely close to it.  Illness is not a reason to kill a pet unless a veterinarian determines the pet is medically hopeless and suffering.  The percentage of animals killed due to illness should be very small, definitely in the single digits with regard to percentage of total intake.  “Orphan” is not a medically hopeless condition and the number of animals killed for that reason should be zero.  Space is yet another excuse for needless killing and an outright admission that the shelter is failing to do its job.  The number of animals killed for space should be zero.

The portion of the report tallying intake numbers is also missing January and February so the totals do not add up here either:

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

The above portion from 2012 includes a comparison figure from 2011 which also fails to match up.  The 2012 report indicates that 4211 is the total intake number for 2011 but the 2011 report said that number was 4328.

Portion

Portion of the 2011 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

It took me months to get the 2012 records from the county.  I guess now I know why.  In between the pound’s rigorous pet killing schedule and categorizing of excuses, someone was attempting to learn math.  Unfortunately for the dogs and cats in Kershaw Co, it looks like the pound is more successful at killing than anything else.

Mailbag/Discussion

Snipped from a letter from a reader expressing concern about advocates who proclaim they unequivocally believe in no kill but when faced with challenging animals, consider killing a reasonable option.  These people often employ many of the same excuses they have previously condemned pet killing facilities for using themselves, in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable:

If he/she who has been so loud gives up so easily, really, how many actually believe? How many will really do anything not to kill when the chips are down, when it affects them personally?

What are your thoughts?  How many no kill advocates truly believe that every shelter dog and cat has a right to live, even when it’s inconvenient or presents personal hardship?  Do any of us know ourselves well enough to answer the question or must we wait until we are actually tested to see where we stand?  Do excuses such as “Our situation is unique” apply differently to shelters vs. individual advocates when it comes to killing pets?

There is a saying that a group is only as strong as its weakest link.  What is the no kill movement’s weakest link?

Priority: Life

Should we put resources into saving the sick, the old and the aesthetically imperfect pets in shelters when there are so many perfectly healthy, young and adorable pets being killed every day in this country?

Ask Wendy.

Good morning sunshine.

Good morning sunshine.

Responsibility on the Back of a Milk Carton at CA Pound

Remember when Kern Co pound director Jen Woodard noted in a report that one of the problems in the community is ignorance of “basic pet responsibility” which she attributed to the notion that “much of the community is uninterested in hearing this message”?  Now hear this:  Last week at the Kern Co pound, one dog killed another when they were left together unattended in a cage.  Pairing animals is apparently a common practice at Kern Co:

Woodard says with up to 100 animals coming in each day to the shelter, separate kennels for all is impossible. But, officers evaluate every dog individually before it’s paired with others of comparable size. In this case, Woodard says neither dog had acted aggressively before.

Here is my concern:  With up to 100 animals coming in daily, are officers being given sufficient time to evaluate dogs and are the dogs being given sufficient time to settle in at the pound before being evaluated?  Of equal importance, are the officers trained as behaviorists?  Or are the people doing the evaluating just winging it in between killing puppies with adopters waiting and hiding from the media?

I am all for pairing up pets to save lives if necessary but as with all things, there are ways to do it responsibly and ways that are going to result in dogs being mauled to death in the night.  If Kern Co is pairing up animals responsibly to save lives, it’s not evident to me in this article.  Especially when I read this bit near the end:

Woodard says since no one was there to witness what happened, they’ve scheduled a necropsy on the dog that died.

Way to dodge.  The dog that died reportedly had bloody neck wounds consistent with a dog mauling.  But yeah, maybe he had high cholesterol or aliens experimented on him or something.  Doing the necropsy might have some value, except they already killed the other dog in the cage.  Apparently Kern Co doesn’t require witnesses for that.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Stokes Co: The Killings Will Continue Until Donations Improve

As I have written repeatedly on this blog, parvo is preventable and treatable and every animal shelter has an obligation to both prevent and treat this disease. Parvo in shelters is prevented through the practice of vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake, good housing practices and standard disease prevention cleaning protocols.

Parvo is not the dreaded disease it once was. There are excellent prevention and treatment protocols available for shelters and pet owners to follow. Any shelter or state whose policy is to kill every dog in the place in the face of an outbreak (suspected or confirmed) is operating in The Before Time.

Meet Stokes Co, NC. As of Wednesday, the pound had killed 12 dogs and planned to kill 18 more after one dog adopted from the facility reportedly contracted parvo. County Manager Rick Morris, veterinarian Deborah Cowan, who is also chairwoman of the Stokes Co Animal Control Advisory Council, and pound director Phillip Handy “decided on Tuesday to ban adoptions of dogs at the shelter, euthanize the dogs there and put down any dogs brought to the shelter without vaccination records.” And there’s more:

That policy will remain in place until an outdoor kernel is built so that the shelter staff can clean the shelter’s indoor kennels of feces and urine and place down chemicals to kill the virus, Cowan said.

And not to put too fine a point on the new policy but, ok:

“If you bring it here and it has no vaccination it will be euthanized,” said Veterinarian Deborah Cowan[.]

Gee, is she accepting new patients?

Candis Loy, the president of Animal Rescue of Stokes County, said that euthanizing the dogs is regrettable. “I don’t think they have a lot of choices,” said Loy, a member of the animal control advisory council.

Yeah, the pound has no quarantine area so not “a lot of choices” besides killing. Because how could any animal shelter be expected to be cleaned without an outdoor kennel? That’s bananas.  Just kill them all.

But even when they get the outdoor kennels built, that still won’t be good enough:

Shelter advocates say it’s only a temporary fix until a new shelter can be constructed.

Fundraisers are already under way for a new shelter that will cost around $400,000.

“We are begging, we are pleading, we’ve been getting down on our knees asking people to help,” stated Cowan who says they need $40,000 right now to secure a discount on a new facility that could be up and running by 2015.

In the past 3 years, they’ve raised $13,000 toward the new shelter. At this rate, the killing will end never. And I suspect that’s exactly how the killing apologists in Stokes Co like it.

Orange Co Animal Services Wrongly Says State Law Requires the Killing of Biting Dogs

Rufus, a 1 one year old Beagle in Orange Co, FL was surrendered by his owner to AC after he bit a kid in the face.  The owner, Nicole West, was reportedly filling the dog’s food bowl when her 4 year old son came up behind the dog and accidentally startled him.  Rufus bit the kid’s lip and sutures were required.

West says she was told the beagle would be “tested for aggression,” and if he was found not to be aggressive, Rufus would be put up for adoption. But last week, West learned that her former pet was scheduled to be euthanized because of the severity of the bite.

The West family never believed there was any chance that Rufus would be killed and when they learned otherwise, they retained a lawyer to fight for his right to live.  The attorney has filed an injunction to stop the killing temporarily and the family has utilized social media to spread awareness of the dog’s plight.  Not only is the local news following the story now, but the mayor is involved as well.  She has issued a statement saying that the dog will be well cared for by the pound while the legal case proceeds.

One of the most troubling aspects to this case is the pound’s position that Rufus must be killed because FL state law says so:

Orange County Animal Services has gone on record, saying because of the severity of the injury, state statute says they must euthanize Rufus even if the dog is not found to be aggressive.

Read the FL statutes about dogs who bite for yourself.  I am not a lawyer but what I see is an outline for a legal process to determine whether a dog is dangerous after his first bite.  I see nothing that indicates the pound is required to kill any dog after his first bite, regardless of the severity.

The pound’s position makes me concerned not only for Rufus but for all the other dogs who may have bitten a person or animal in Orange Co.  How long has the pound been misrepresenting the law with regard to killing dogs who bite?  How many dogs have they killed already and how many are they going to kill under this false representation that the state law requires it?  Many dogs don’t have an owner with an attorney to protect them from Orange Co Animal Services.  Is the mayor concerned about that?

(Thank you to everyone who sent me links about Rufus.)

Name That Animal

This is just for fun and the only rule is:  no researching.  Post your best/worst guess.  Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is optional.  Answer will be posted in the comments later today.

nta