Shelter Reform Advocacy in Medina Co, Ohio

In last week’s post on Medina County’s pride over the gassing of cats, I mentioned local advocate Casey Post.  Ms. Post told me this week she spoke at a public meeting of her county commissioners about cat killing at the shelter.  She wrote:

I was so nervous, I was shaking. When my voice started to shake, I took a breath and plunged on. I had practiced this speech a lot (while out walking dogs – surprisingly good time to practice speeches) and did fine on autopilot. It’s very hard for me to speak publicly as I am a serious introvert and never comfortable in any situation more formal than grocery shopping. But I did it.

A reporter asked me for my phone number afterwards and two men out in the lobby thanked me for speaking. One said that he was impressed and that what I said was important. The other said “people need to know”. The representative from the Treasurer’s office also thanked me and told me about the two kittens found in a ditch she’s just taken in. I told her that I was super nervous, but that I would get better with practice and I’m coming back every week until I get what I want.

Thank you for speaking publicly on behalf of the cats at the Medina Co pound, Ms. Post.  We need more people willing to speak at public meetings of elected officials about ending the killing of shelter animals.

Here is the text of the comments delivered to the Medina Co commissioners by Casey Post this week:

I’ve supported the Medina County Animal Shelter.
Every dog bed in the shelter, I donated.
Every cat bed in the shelter, I donated.
I’ve filled my car with food, litter, cleaning supplies and toys and driven it out to the shelter to donate it all.
I’ve donated collars, leashes, and carriers.
In the winters, I donated giant buckets of pet safe ice melter so shelter workers and dogs would not slip on their way to the outside kennels.
I’ve gone to Beuhler’s and gotten a giant circle sub along with 24 gourmet muffins and brought it all to the shelter staff to thank them for their work in our community.
The Medina County Animal Shelter was on my tithing list and got $100 a month, every month, from me.
I supported Medina County Animal Shelter. It’s important that you understand this.
The Medina County Animal Shelter is mismanaging over 250 cats per year to death.
When a stray dog enters the shelter, he is scanned for a microchip, his picture is taken and put up on PetFinder, and he is held for a period of time to allow his owner to reclaim him. The live release rate for dogs at our shelter is 92%.
When a stray cat enters the shelter, he is put into a cage and made available for immediate adoption. He is not scanned for a microchip, his picture is not taken, and he is not advertised in any way. The live release rate for cats at our shelter is 45%.
The shelter staff says that they do not have time to market their cats.
If they did not have time to feed their cats, and cats were dying from lack of food, you would say that it is irresponsible and unethical for them to continue to take in cats.
There are cats at the shelter RIGHT NOW who would survive their shelter stay without food. They will NOT survive their stay without marketing.
Given the fact that marketing is at least as important to the cat’s survival as food, I contend that it is irresponsible and unethical for the shelter to continue to accept cats in any way, shape, or form.
Let Medina County Animal Shelter go back to doing what they do best and be a DOG ONLY shelter.
Otherwise, I would propose that we change the name of the shelter to better reflect their function within our community. We can call it, “Medina County Dog Shelter and Cat Disposal Facility.” Because right now, that is how our shelter is run.

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19 Comments

  1. dianne singer

     /  October 30, 2013

    Brilliant, Ms. Post, well done. Excellent speech.

    Reply
  2. db

     /  October 30, 2013

    Don’t give up! The cats are counting on you. Hopefully, you will get some support from true animal lovers. Bless you for all you are doing.

    Reply
  3. Casey Post

     /  October 30, 2013

    To give you all an idea of the level of fear involved here for me regarding public speaking, I got all shaky just reading this blog post!

    Seriously. This public speaking thing is terrifying for me.

    But right now, there’s no one else doing it so I guess it’s down to me. That morning of the meeting, I put on my “This Is Serious Business” bra (the one with the cross straps in the back, oh yeah) and hoped that it would help hold my heart in my chest while I took that long walk up to the podium…(wearing a top over the bra, of course!)

    I spoke. And I didn’t die from the fear, so I’m going to the next County Commissioners’ meeting on Monday and doing it again. I’m already composing my next speech.

    So remember – if you think that you’re scared to speak up? You aren’t more scared than I am. Trust me, I’m one of those people who has to brace herself for a haircut because of the level of interaction involved. I rehearse in my head what I’m going to say before I take the dog to the vet for a checkup. I try to buy things off the shelf at the grocery store so I don’t have to talk to the people behind the counters. Public speaking? Personal terror.

    But I’m doing it because it needs to be done. Because Medina County wants change. Medina County needs change. Because Medina County WILL change. And if I have to, I’ll lead the charge the whole bloody way.

    Shaky voice and shaky hands and power bra and all.

    Reply
  4. Way to go Ms. Post! I too was very scared the first time I spoke in front of the Supervisors all of them looking “down” at me while I stood at the podium . Today? Not all, your voice will give those who don’t have a voice, change! Keep going, know there is many of us just like you and it works.

    No Kill Sonoma County

    Reply
  5. When I started advocating for animals at Houston’s city pound, I absolutely HATED public speaking. I am not an extrovert and the first time, I was just as nervous as Casey. But, I realized thatif I didn’t speak out, no one would do it and tens of thousands of animals were going to continue to be inhumanely treated and killed at Houston’s pound. My concience FORCED me to speak.

    Five years later, I can’t say that I “like” public speaking especially at city council or county commissioners meetings, however it has gotten easier.

    Casey, we animal advocates are behind you 100%. Don’t let up until the animals are safe.

    BTW: “cat disposal facility” is probably the best description that I have seen for one of these so-called “shelters”. I have been trying to find a description more accurate than “kill shelter”, which seems to be an oxymoron, and less blunt than “slaughterhouse”.

    Reply
    • Casey Post

       /  October 30, 2013

      Well, if they’re conducting wholesale slaughter of dogs and cats in your shelter, then it’s certainly functioning like a pet disposal facility. My shelter is unusual, I think, in that they have such a high live release rate for dogs, but that their numbers for cats are so dismal. I suspect it’s because dogs bring in licensing fees and cats do not. Which makes me fear that even dogs have no intrinsic value to shelter management, they live only by grace of licensing fees.

      Reply
      • The adoption fees on cats would bring in revenue.

        Also, it cost money to kill animals. Nathan Winograd calculated it to be around $110 to house, then kill an animal. That is $110 lost when that animal is not adopted out. Even if the cat is returned to the owner for free, or released to a rescue group for free, the “shelter” avoids the costs associated with killing pets and disposing of their body….Not to mention the public goodwill garnered when the “shelter” actually works hard to increase live releases. People are not likely to donate money to a facility that is killing a large number of animals. However, people will donate their last dime to save animals when they know that the facility is working hard to save lives. It is a win-win.

      • Casey Post

         /  October 30, 2013

        Our cats come in with a $10 surrender fee. No vetting at all. Cost to adopt is $15. If they moved cats out quickly with social media, they could be making a quick profit. I know that one of the cats I adopted from them was in the cage for all of three minutes (the guy surrendering the cat was walking out of the lobby as I was going in and it’s about 20 steps to the cat cages from there). That very sick, terrified little cat netted them $25 without any effort at all.

        What is the cost to run the gas chamber? The cost to run the incinerator to dispose of the bodies (conveniently built into the building itself)? The cost to house/feed a cat for a week, then kill it?

        Just from a purely economical standpoint, it doesn’t make sense. They should be BURNING to move cats out quickly and make some money off of them. Hell, with the right marketing and donation gathering (food, litter, etc.), they could end up being more profitable than the dogs.

        The cats would be better off if the shelter stopped taking them in. The workers would be better off not having to care for a cat for a period of time, then stuff it in a gas chamber and kill it. The profit margin would be better off if they stopped spending so much money to dispose of all the cats they don’t bother to market. The county’s reputation would be better off as “the one with best dog shelter around” rather than “the one that gasses all those cats”. So why are they fighting me on it?

      • Casey, that is the question of the century that all No Kill advocates have been asking for a long time. Why are they fighting us when it is so common sense?

        When I first started working on Houston’s pound, the Health Dept director told me that he would not use the word No Kill. He said he would implement all the programs of the No Kill Equation, but refused to use the words. That should have shown me that he was not serious about saving lives. Nothing changed.

        Now, after a lot of public shaming, politicians are saying the words, and our city pound has even claimed that they are doing everyting in the NK model and that they are using Nathan Winograd’s assessment report “as their bible”, but they then do absolutely nothing differently. It is no surprise when the kill rates actually INCREASE even after all of their nicely spun claims.

        The whole thing really is insane, but so common in kill shelters and from their supporters.

      • Eucritta

         /  October 30, 2013

        Has anyone done a study of organizational culture in the shelter system? Thing is … it seems to me we’re often butting up against what Edgar Schein called ‘Assumptions,’ the third tier or organizational culture – shared assumptions, perceptions, and beliefs, some of them unconscious – which can be in opposition to the second tier, ‘Values,’ which is what’s expressed in such things as mission statements etc. But it’s been a long time since I read much in it, and even then it was never my focus.

        There’s also a fair bit that looks like what used to be called ‘groupthink’ … where the self-righteous belief in the group leads to outside or expert opinions being shut out, dissent ferreted out and silenced, and collective beliefs are reinforced and rationalized rather than examined.

  6. Lisa B

     /  October 30, 2013

    Wow, that was eloquent and succinct! What an incredible example of local activism!

    Reply
  7. VERY proud of you Casey Post! It takes courage to speak up and you have set an example that will inspire others to do the same.

    Reply
  8. loranc

     /  October 30, 2013

    Good for you Casey!! I used to have a hard time speaking until I realized (as you have done) that if you don’t do it animals die. I saw a TED talk recently by a woman who said if you go into the “power” position for a few seconds before you go into an interview or up to speak you will change YOUR dynamic and speak easier. I thought it was a little silly but did it recently and it worked : ) All you need to do is stand with your feet shoulder width apart and put your hands on your hips like Wonder Woman. Helps take some of the stress out and lets your mind focus.
    I like your Power Bra idea. Keep up the AMAZING job. Can’t WAIT to see what you do next!!

    Reply
  9. You go, girl!

    Reply
  10. Sherri

     /  October 30, 2013

    Amen Casey. You Rock! Thanks for having the guts to speak up. The cats need you. NO KILL needs you. You are an inspiration to all. Keep it up!

    Reply
  11. Sherri

     /  October 30, 2013

    Casey, BTW…I was appalled to learn that they had no time to deal with the cats. All the stuff you donated, all the money you sent them, all the things you gave them. Had you known that the shelter had NO TIME for kitties…wouldn’t you have redirected your efforts to help with their largest problem – “we can’t move cats?” Seriously, it only takes one person (like yourself) to start a movement, get peoples heads out of their butts and see that what was going on there was obviously big time mismanagement. Those shelter employees need a little less circle subs and muffins and a hell of a alot more compassion. SHelter director,…whoever you are…you need to find another job! I’m from Ohio originally, and am ashamed that Ohio has one of the worst animal save rates in the country…way too many puppy mills, too very many kill shelters and just not enough being done to save animals and care for them. These people in these shelters are like robots “we’ve always done it this way” “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”…. please….times have changed. Its no longer acceptable to a large portion of pet loving humans to senselessly euthanize perfectly good adoptable cats because of a really poor excuse such as “we have no time”. Apalling. So, again, I thank you for your voice. It is what is needed in Medina County and all accross Amreica.

    Reply

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