Medina Co Animal Shelter is Proud of Gassing Cats

Warning:  Bad language ahead.

These words are featured prominently on the Medina County Animal Shelter brochure:

We are proud of our department and want to keep up our good image and public relations.

The Ohio shelter has indeed been very public about its better than 90% save rate for dogs.  But the shelter’s “good image” and “public relations” have both been on the ropes recently.

Local pet advocate Casey Post wrote the county commissioners in July about the disappearance of the shelter’s Facebook page where people had been clamoring for photos of cats – the majority of whom are killed at the Medina Co facility – so they could network them.  She received a response from county commissioner Steve Hambley in which he indicated he had spoken with dog warden Del Saffle about the yanked Facebook page.  Mr. Saffle advised that using Petfinder alone is sufficient as far as online marketing goes and “that our successful adoption rate provides evidence that is is still a very efficient and effective tool for encouraging placements.”  In other words, killing more than half of the cats who come through the front door is so fabulous, why try harder?  In fact, why even maintain the current level of effort?  Let’s yoink the Facebook page and get rid of all those comments from pesky animal advocates in one stroke.

Then on September 23, Plain Dealer reporter Donna Miller showed up at the county commissioners’ meeting to ask for specifics about the pound’s little known gas chamber.  Mr. Hambley admitted the county had modified the killing protocols for dogs to allow for injection only but that cats were still being killed in the gas chamber.  He used the go-to excuse relied upon by every gasser in the country – the fact that the AVMA still endorses it as a killing method.  He touted the county’s high adoption rate – which is for dogs, though he failed to mention that.  And in typical killing apologist fashion, Mr. Hambley attempted to turn the tables on the person questioning the killing by asking if she had ever handled feral cats.  Not only is that question irrelevant, it implies that every cat killed in the gas chamber is feral which is baseless and unjustifiable even if it was accurate.  Most importantly, the question is nothing more than a diversion tactic used by those who know what they’re doing is wrong.

Mr. Hambley noted that feral cats are going to be stressed out with any sort of handling.  So I guess what the heck, stuff them in the gas chamber, amirite?  He also pointed out that he has done some checking and that the only alternative for handling feral cats is to “take a giant fork and pin the cat down.”  So again, gas chamber, obviously.  And the coup de grace from Mr. Hambley:  He noted than many counties in Ohio won’t even accept cats so Medina is completely awesome for opening its (gas chamber) doors to the beasts.

Three days later. Donna Miller published an article in the Plain Dealer exposing Medina County’s filthy secret:  The animal shelter which brags about its canine save rate without ever mentioning what it does with cats is in fact stuffing more than half of its cats into a gas chamber:

The Medina County Animal Shelter used carbon monoxide to euthanize 247 cats last year and 221 cats so far this year, shelter records show. It is one of four county kennels in the state still using a gas chamber to kill unwanted pets.

The other 84 county kennels are using sodium pentobarbital injections, which is recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Humane Society of the U.S., American SPCA, National Animal Control Association and Association of Shelter Veterinarians as the most humane way to euthanize pets.

And the money quote:

“The cats killed in Medina County’s gas chamber were healthy,” said Dog Warden Dell Saffle, who runs the kennel.

I swear to popsicles these people do not even hear themselves anymore.  Where is my giant fork?

After learning that her local shelter, the one she thought needed some assistance in cat marketing, was actually gassing the cats they were failing to market, advocate Casey Post again contacted county commissioner Hambley.  This time, she wasn’t encouraging him to reconsider networking pets on Facebook.  Ms. Post flat-out told the commissioner the pound needed to stop accepting cats immediately and that the gas chamber should be dismantled.  She suggested the Medina Co pound sell its cat cages and supplies, using the proceeds to fund lifesaving efforts as a dog-only shelter.  From her letter:

To continue to accept cats under current circumstances is both unethical and contrary to the will of the community.

Ms. Post, who has adopted from the Medina Co pound herself, wrote to me about her cat Clifford:

I see my sweet Clifford. My perfect little grey cat who gets along with everyone, who is super adaptable and completely inoffensive, who was described to me by the shelter worker as “doesn’t like to be held”…and knowing that if I hadn’t taken him that day, he would have been fucking stuffed in a fucking gas chamber?

I get it Casey.  We all do.  There are such things as monsters in this world.  But there are also compassionate people willing to put themselves into uncomfortable situations and fight for what is right.  There are more of us than there are of them.  And we have sweet souls like Clifford to motivate us.  That’s how I know we can’t lose.

Keep going.  Let us know if you need help.

26 thoughts on “Medina Co Animal Shelter is Proud of Gassing Cats

  1. “Mr. Hambley attempted to turn the tables on the person questioning the killing by asking if she had ever handled feral cats.”

    MY question to Mr. Hambley is, “you don’t NEED to handle feral cats. Why don’t you stop trapping them to stuff them in the gas chamber and we won’t have to address your question?”

  2. Thank you.

    I was such a supporter of this small shelter – there’s only 10-12 dogs in there at any given time and less than 20 cats, I thought that they just needed help. That they didn’t realize that by not marketing their cats *at all* was hurting adoption rates. I told them that many people don’t even know they have cats available and that they needed to get photos up, let people know…

    I bought a Kuranda bed for every dog run. I got half of the cat cages Kuranda beds (and was going to get more with my Christmas bonus). I would go to the pet store, load up two shopping carts with food and litter and donate all of it to them whenever I could afford to. I donated carriers, collars, leashes, and money (both monthly donations and whenever I stopped in). Every winter, I shipped them pet safe ice melter because they had no money in the budget for it and slipping was an issue for both workers and dogs. I thought that they just had a rural mentality and needed to be informed, needed some help…after all, the cages were always clean, the shelter didn’t smell, and the save rate for dogs was over 90%, so surely they must be doing a good job, right?

    Then I found out that they’re not interested in change. That cats are disposable. That because cats aren’t licensed, they have no value. That they WANT to kill cats and that stuffing them in a gas chamber is easy for them.

    Every cat that comes in is an “owner surrender”, even if the person states that they found the cat as a stray. There is a $10 surrender fee for cats. They do not scan cats for microchips (they do scan dogs, though – dogs are worth something), they do not take photos of them, they do not post them on any site as found.

    I can only imagine how many lost cats were killed because Medina County Animal Shelter can’t be bothered to let anyone know they have cats there.

    I am sick with this. But all the energy I put into supporting this shelter, into trying to educate and inform them (they had never seen a Kuranda bed before I donated them, they didn’t know that any such thing existed – at the time, I thought that was just part of the rural mentality, but now I know it’s a symptom of not giving a shit about improving), into trying effect change by friendly exchange…all of that is now going to stopping this horror. Medina County Animal Shelter must stop accepting cats.

    Please email them with this simple message – “Medina County Animal Shelter must stop accepting cats immediately.” Email here – and mark it Attn: Commissioner Hambley.

    Snail mail is to –

    Commissioner Hambley
    144 North Broadway Street
    Medina, OH 44256

    Tell them that you don’t want to think of Medina County as a slaughterhouse for cats. Tell them that you want the animal shelter to stop accepting cats immediately.

    Thank you, Shirley. And thank you everyone who writes.

      1. Dot, I am almost certain that AC does not pick up cats. I would call and ask, but I cannot bring myself to actually speak to these people just yet. The thought of it makes me nauseated.

        All cats that come in are considered “owner surrender” whether they are or not because there is a surrender fee of $10 per cat. All cats go immediately into a cage and are immediately available for adoption. They *may* take cats that are injured or that they deem feral right to “the back” for killing, I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me. No problem though, because they’re ALL owner surrenders, right? Cats get seven days to be adopted, then they die, even if there are rows of empty cages.

        Cats receive no medical care, no vaccinations, and are in the same room as the dogs.

      2. I am making up a sheet for the shelter to direct people how to deal with found cats (clearly the shelter needs the instruction as well). People with owned cats who need to rehome their animals will be directed to rescue groups and FB pages to reach out to the community for assistance (this is how I ended up with my current fosters – irresponsible public in action). People with feral cats will be directed to groups with TNR knowledge and resources (I am currently throwing my monetary support to Kitten Krazy’s Pay it Forward program where people who cannot afford the low cost TNR s/n clinic can get s/n for free). We don’t have a vast amount of resources locally, but we do have some and I will do what I can to help build them up. And I see some issues with a couple of the local rescue groups where improved marketing can help move more animals out – that is something I will address as well.

        Some cats will end up on the street. But they did anyway with the shelter – some folks didn’t want to pay the surrender fee and just walked out and dumped the cats down the street from the shelter.

      3. Recently a very small group of people started Pet Lifeline. The group helps low in come folks to get their animals s/n and have helped me with the “Landfill Cats”, a Cat that was living behind the “Goodwill” store and a colony in another area. Also they help with food and shots. here’s the link and another link to how to build a feral cat shelter. (very helpful and funny)

    1. The real tragedy here is enough to make you weep – this shelter is so small and so well positioned in an economically healthy community, they could adopt out ALL of their cats at any given time if they would only market them. They could EASILY end the killing today with just a little effort on their part…but it’s too much work. They “don’t have time”. They can’t be bothered.

      So instead of marketing their cats, they stuff them in a gas chamber. That’s their solution.

  3. My small, local shelter doesn’t have the funding or facilities for cats. I’m not going to complain anymore. I’ll just keep doing my thing; feeding ferals, TNR and rehoming when I can. The thought of a situation like Medina is sickening…

    1. Thank you for helping. And don’t give up on shelter reform – no county has to choose between refusing to help cats in need or killing them. There is a reasonable alternative which is happening in open admission shelters all over the country: Cats can be sheltered.

  4. And the worst thing, to me, is that they don’t see anything wrong with the brutal and mass murder of cats. Right now what I’d like to say would probably get me booted! Is there a secret school somewhere where stupid, evil, mean people learn to “work” with animals? How do we get so many of them?
    Take heart – there are more of us than them, but the them is doing so much harm to these precious spirits.
    Damn them all to hell.

  5. I think they’re too far gone to realize it’s wrong! Since when did our society become so indifferent to the abuse animals suffer in shelters? Something must be done quickly!

  6. This is the e-mail I sent, which anyone is free to copy:

    Subject: Attn: Commissioner Hambley
    Date: Wed, October 23, 2013 6:33 am

    If the Medina County Animal Shelter is going to continue gassing more than half of the cats in its care instead of doing its job, I urge the county to stop accepting cats at the facility immediately. The killing of healthy and treatable cats is unacceptable and unnecessary in the face of lifesaving alternatives such as the marketing of pets via social media, offsite adoption events, and for feral cats – a Trap-Neuter-Return program. Please let me know if Medina County will immediately cease the needless killing of healthy and treatable cats.

    Shirley Thistlethwaite

  7. Go Casey Go! You ROCK! A big thank you for standing up to those bastards! Keep up the good fight and update us often!

  8. one day these fucking animal slayers will give an account of their hearts full wicked cruelty to the Creator & owners of these dogs and cats and they will be looking into their sentence and cast without mercy into their eternal flame

  9. Obvious that this shelter is run by cat haters. I believe the job description says dogs and cats. If the director only likes dogs fine- he should not be in any position where he is exposed to cats as he will obviously kill them. He and the staff needs to be FIRED!!

  10. I will email as well, this is just ridiculous. I take care of a feral colony as well as 7 ‘house’ cats. Mr. Hambley is an idiot. It may be the cats are so reactive to him and his employees because they can smell the evil that he is. You’ve done amazing things, it’s too bad they can’t accept change.


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