Burlington Co SPCA Picks on Compassionate Elderly Rescuer

Kate Decker is a 68 year old retired public relations executive living in Burlington Co, NJ.  She has two homes on her property – her own (she is a widow) and the one formerly occupied by her parents, who are now deceased.  Over the past 30 years, she has dedicated herself to saving dogs, many of them Pitbull types, who would otherwise have been killed in municipal pounds:

Instead, she said, she trained them to be therapy dogs she takes to nursing homes or to work with the mentally impaired, such as autistic children.

[…]

Decker recalled taking a therapy animal to a nursing home and watching an Alzheimer’s patient talk to the dog, then to her. On the way out, she said, health-care workers were amazed, saying they had never seen the woman speak.

Ms. Decker keeps a couple dozen dogs and works with them daily, along with two assistants, to make sure each animal receives exercise, training, fresh air and quality time with people and other dogs.  The outdoor dog yards are fenced.  The dogs are housed throughout the two heated homes as well as a heated garage on the property.  Her neighbor reports that the dogs are no trouble whatsoever to the neighborhood and that Ms. Decker is devoted to their care.  There are no pet limit laws in the county.  A reporter who recently spent three hours visiting the property observed happy, healthy dogs being well cared for and described the home as “stately”.

You are probably thinking this lady is up for some sort of community service award.  Hold that thought.

In October 2012, the Burlington Co SPCA reportedly received an anonymous complaint about Ms. Decker.  An officer visited her home in response.  Ms. Decker says the officer forced her way inside the house.  Cheryl Mosca, recently appointed deputy chief and treasurer of the county SPCA, says Ms. Decker invited the officer inside but was “not completely cooperative” in allowing a thorough search:

Decker said the officer looked around and asked to see veterinary records. She retrieved the records from another room, and the officer left after reviewing them, she said.

Several days later, Decker said, she noticed that a gold watch given to her by her parents when she was 16 was gone. She filed a theft complaint, alleging the animal welfare officer was the only one who had entered the house between the last time she saw the watch and when it disappeared.

Moorestown police investigated. No charges have been filed.

In December 2012, Cheryl Mosca led a raid on the property after a search warrant was obtained:

Wayne Becker, Decker’s neighbor across the street in Moorestown, said he recalled the day of the raid. He saw several vehicles outside the house and checked whether Decker needed help.

Becker, retired from the Coast Guard, said one of the officers, who was armed, blocked him and ordered him to leave, which he did.

“This was like a military operation, but it did not have the discipline of the military,” Becker said[.]

Ms. Decker states that during the raid, she was prevented from calling anyone or caring for her dogs for five hours.  She says officers threatened to seize and kill her dogs.  She was subsequently charged with 66 counts of animal neglect:

Half of the charges are criminal, half are civil. Authorities allege she failed to keep water in all of the crates, and stacked some crates two high without a barrier between the top and bottom crates.

[…]

Charges against Decker do not include allegations of abuse or that animals were malnourished, dehydrated, or denied veterinary care.

[…]

During the raid, there was a strong animal odor, animal waste in the home, and the house was not clean, Mosca said.

If this seems like petty retaliation and abuse of power to you, you may be on to something:

The county SPCA has a checkered past. An investigation of the enforcement agencies statewide in 2000 found that many, including Burlington’s, did not comply with state and federal regulations.

In Burlington County, the former treasurer was convicted of stealing.

Maybe the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in Burlington Co political circles.

Ms. Decker must face a municipal trial next month and if convicted, could be fined up to $66,000.  She is refusing to give up any of her dogs because she considers them to be family members.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

“Compromised Feline Welfare” at Hillsborough Co Pound

Screengrab from the Hillsborough Co pound's PetHarbor listings

Screengrab from the Hillsborough Co pound’s PetHarbor listings

It sucks being a cat at the Hillsborough Co pound in Florida.  Way.

Although the pound’s TNR program was officially sanctioned by local politicians on May 1, not one action has been taken to implement the program:

“I’m not [a] patient person,” said Sherry Silk, director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “Come on; it’s been six months and we haven’t saved a single cat.”

Not only has Hillsborough Co failed to save a single cat via its TNR-INO (In Name Only) program while citing colony caregivers for feeding TNR’d cats, its cat killing machine continues to mow down nearly every feline in its path.    In fiscal year 2012, the live release rate for cats was 18.9%.  The pound is currently killing 600 adult cats and kittens every month.

In August, the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program issued a report detailing recommendations for the Hillsborough Co pound.  Some of the findings:

  • Nursing mama cats who are impounded as strays are automatically sent to the kill room after their mandated holding period expires.
  • Some kittens designated as available for adoption are housed in rooms which are off limits to the public.
  • Animals’ records – both computer and paper – regularly contain incorrect age, sex and holding period data.
  • Cats are often housed in tiny holding cages with the access door to the other side of the cage kept closed, even when the other side is empty, leading to “compromised feline welfare”.
  • Cats are left in uncovered traps and carriers in a high traffic hallway while awaiting cage placement, putting them at increased risk for illness due to stress.

One of the recommendations from the Maddie’s Fund consultants is to designate a feline advocate at the facility:

This person should assure individual cats are housed in the appropriate ward, have no unnecessary holds, and are tracked appropriately for foster, transfer, or adoption.

And by “unecessary holds”, Maddie’s Fund includes any holding period for stray cats who lack identification. A key recommendation from the report:

Eliminate the required hold period for stray cats. Stray cats lacking identification are extremely unlikely to be reclaimed by owners and are at high risk for shelter – acquired disease and euthanasia. Eliminating even a few days in the shelter may be the difference between life and death for them. The shelter can simultaneously have an option for immediate live release paired with a required hold period of 3 days prior to euthanasia.

So lost cats with their sex/age/holding period information data possibly entered wrongly by Hillsborough Co staff, possibly housed in rooms which are off limits to the public and possibly designated in advance as Straight to Kill Room are unlikely to be reclaimed by their owners?  And the recommendation is to eliminate the unidentified stray holding period entirely because they might get sick at this “compromised feline welfare” facility?  Snaaaaaap.

The No Kill Advocacy Center weighed in on the elimination of stray holding periods when HSUS suggested it in its recent white paper on California shelters:

[I]f a dog or cat comes in as a stray, and he does not have identification, he can be adopted to someone else immediately without giving his family any time to reclaim him. This is unfair to families who deeply love their animal companions. […] Accidents happen; animals get lost and end up at shelters. Since the choice presented — immediate adoption or sickness/death — is a false one, breaking up families by having them lose all rights in their animal with no reclaim period of any kind appears draconian.

If Hillsborough Co accepts the Maddie’s Fund recommendation to eliminate the state mandated 5 day holding period for unidentified stray cats, it will not only cause undue harm to owners of lost cats trying to find them, it will fast track cats to the kill room – the most likely outcome for cats at Hillsborough Co.  What Hillsborough Co needs is someone to run into the cat ward and yell, “Iceberg – dead ahead!”  Instead, Maddie’s Fund is busy re-arranging the deck chairs.

Screengrab from the Hillsborough Co pound's PetHarbor listings

Screengrab from the Hillsborough Co pound’s PetHarbor listings

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Photo Call

Once again this year, I’d like to put together a post for Christmas day celebrating the human-animal bond in pictures.  If you would like to submit a photo for inclusion, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Photo should feature at least one pet and one human in keeping with the human-animal bond theme.  It need not be an entire human, e.g. just a hand patting a pet is ok.
  • Please include a brief caption identifying the pets, people, and what area you are from.  Your caption can be specific (e.g. “Shirley and shelter pet Fluffy in South Carolina”) or vague (“Neighborhood kids with our Pitbull in New England”).  If you prefer to remain anonymous, please clearly indicate that.
  • Photo should have no copyright issues – that is, the photo should be taken by you, a family member or someone who isn’t expecting payment for the use of the photo.
  • Please e-mail photos to me no later than December 21, 2013.

Take a look at ghposts of Christmas past:

Discussion: Shelter Pets Designated “RESCUE ONLY”

Something that pops up on my radar frequently is when a facility that kills animals issues a plea on behalf of a pet and features wording such as “NO ADOPTERS, RESCUE ONLY”.  The plea often includes a deadline which may be a matter of hours or possibly days.  The logical assumption is that if the animal does not get pulled by a rescue group before the deadline, he will be killed.

The reasons that shelter staff designate certain animals “NO ADOPTERS, RESCUE ONLY” are often related to an animal’s special needs which may be behavioral or physical in nature.  For example, a dog who was impounded after attacking another dog, a cat suffering from burns received in a fire, or any pet who appears to be suffering from some unknown medical condition.  The shelter may or may not have had the animal evaluated by a professional who may or may not have provided a plan (behavioral modification training or medical care) and an estimate for costs.  That information may or may not be included in the plea but most likely, anyone taking the animal is going to get a second opinion from someone they trust before proceeding with treatment anyway.

It’s important to note that there is no standard agreement between shelters and rescues.  That is, it’s up to each individual shelter director to determine which rescues he/she is willing to work with and which ones he chooses to deny.  Depending on the director, most rescues may be welcome or no rescues may be welcome or only those who have never criticized the killing at the shelter or only groups who have a 501(c)3 status with the IRS and/or some other criteria.  When limiting an animal’s survival options to rescue groups, it doesn’t ordinarily mean ALL rescue groups.   And when compared to the population of the animal loving public, there are relatively very few rescue groups anyway and in all likelihood, some of them will be refused at the director’s discretion.

Taking into consideration that animal rescue groups are typically overburdened in communities with pet killing facilities, the number of groups which may have the resources to immediately respond to a plea for a special needs animal is likely going to be very small.  From those few, the shelter director will deny any groups of his choosing.  If the animal is lucky, there may still be a group left to help him.  If not, it’s the kill room.

Meanwhile though, a compassionate  individual might come across the animal’s plea and determine he has the resources to help.  But that person sees the “NO ADOPTERS” designation and, feeling helpless, turns away from the plea.  In fact, maybe he turns away from all future pleas from this shelter in order to spare himself the pain of seeing animals the shelter has forbidden him to help in favor of killing.

My question is this:  Under what circumstances, if ever, is it acceptable for a shelter to drastically reduce the pool of potential caregivers for an animal, whom the shelter intends to kill, by designating an animal “NO ADOPTERS/RESCUE ONLY”?

Charlotte Charity Collects Money for “Shelter Pet Enrichment”, Buys Soda for Pet Killers

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg pound in NC is a pet killing facility under the police department with a sordid history of, shall we say, questionable judgment.  It comes as little surprise that Char-Meck would partner with this crock-o-501c3 called the Shelter Pet Enrichment Fund which asks people to donate on its homepage:

Your support allows us to enrich the shelter environment at CMPD Animal Care & Control and create happy pets ready for their forever home.

And when they say “enrich the shelter environment”, they mean for the people who kill pets instead of doing their jobs.  You didn’t think it was enriching the environment for the pets – the ones that are going into the wheelbarrow anyway – did you?  Silly human.  Shelter Pet Enrichment means something different in Charlotte, apparently.

The Char-Meck pound posted overnight on its Facebook page:

snacks for pet killers

There were also several photos on Facebook displaying the Cracker Jacks, sodas and other junk food purchased for the staff.

cracker jacks

sodas

Oh yeah and that “staff that will be working through the holidays”?  The Char-Meck pound states on its website that it will be closed on Thursday and Friday this week. The original posting on the website read:

In recognition of Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov 28) and Black Friday (Friday, Nov 29), Animal Care & Control will be CLOSED. We’ll reopen on Saturday, Nov 30 at 11am.

They later duh-changed it to remove the reference to Black Friday as a holiday.  So while Char-Meck won’t be sending any pets out alive on Thursday or Friday, at least the people there doing the killing will be hopped up on sugar which will surely be a comfort to the animals.  Consider your environment enriched, suckers.

(Thanks Lisa and April for sending me info for this post.)

Shelter Reform Advocacy in Medina Co, OH: Success!

Regular readers know that I have been posting about shelter pet advocate Casey Post’s efforts to reform her local shelter in Medina Co, OH.  This week, Ms. Post again addressed her county commissioners but was forced to improvise a speech due to last minute developments on the reform front.  I asked her to talk about what happened at the meeting, provide details on the deal made to save cats in Medina Co to the best of her knowledge, and discuss her plans for the future.

Ms. Post writes:

I got to the meeting room early, as usual. I had planned to deliver an open letter to the Commissioners from a euthanasia expert who certifies techs and vets in our state. His letter listed all kinds of methods for killing that were used in the past (horrific) and then indicated that the gas chamber was among those we’ve advanced beyond. He encouraged the Board to “be leaders” and embrace the newer method of euthanasia by injection and assured them that anyone who is certified is capable of handling even feral cats both safely and humanely. I was then going to discuss the benefits of neutered/vaccinated feral cats and ask for a change in shelter policy of immediately killing ALL ferals, regardless of their neutered/vaccinated status. I knew that Commissioner Hambley had just seen a low cost s/n operation in our county and was now aware that the public was spending their own money to get these cats neutered and vaccinated, so I had hope that he would at least consider the private effort going on there.

The Clerk of the Board (she’s very nice, VERY professional, and a cat owner) walked in and asked me if I was happy with the deal that was made. I told her that no one had informed me of a deal! She tried to find a copy of the article in the paper that had just come out that morning for me, but someone had taken hers. Thank goodness for wifi and smartphones. I searched for the news on what had gone down and found that there was a tentative deal with the Medina County SPCA where THEY would take all friendly strays and owner surrender cats for the county, but would not be accepting feral cats.  [Ed. note:  Reader Lisa submitted this link which reports on the deal.] Ferals would be referred to the low cost s/n clinic (I’m assuming at the trappers’ own cost – $25, but they do have a “pay it forward” program for people who can’t afford it that others donate to) so that the cats can be TNR’d. The only segment of the public NOT being served in this deal would be the people who want ferals just GONE, who don’t want to TNR. But, the MSCPA intends to apply for a grant to do TNR in 2014 for the county and they may be able to include relocation in that program for those who demand it.

So this deal would get the cats out of the hands of the Medina County Animal Shelter (and their amazing less-than-50% survival rate) and away from any possibility of a gas chamber (MSPCA euthanizes by injection with an actual veterinarian and they say that they do it as little as possible – not sure how they’re going to work the space issue, but I do know that they use volunteers and fosters, which puts them light years ahead of the shelter which allows neither and there is talk of keeping a waiting list if needed). This deal has potential to address the issue of the feral population in a humane and sensible way. It also has the potential to get our gas chamber designated as “surplus equipment” to be dispensed with as is best for the county (I vote scrap metal!). Bonus – all the Kuranda cat beds that I donated to the shelter would end up at MSCPA, where they will be needed. So hell yes, I’m pleased with the deal.

By now, the meeting room is packed (no, not with anti-gas chamber people, alas, but with people there to discuss transportation funding) and the time is coming up for me to speak and I’m not sure what to say – all I have is questions and the letter I was going to read out was no longer needed! I got up to speak first (because hey, why not?) and tried asking some questions of the Board, but they will not answer questions during the public comment bit, so instead I asked for the shelter to stop killing vaccinated/neutered ferals. I explained that this policy was both counterproductive to the effort to control the feral population and it also removed the rabies buffer between people and wildlife that these cats provide. I figured since the county suddenly seemed to be embracing the idea of TNR, I would try to save the ear-tipped or microchipped ferals that are still going straight into the gas chamber at the shelter (and will continue to do so until the MSPCA takes over cat duties). One of the commissioners made a note, so hopefully something will happen there.

After me, a woman got up to speak to ask about the gas chamber – would it be removed? When? She was nervous to speak too, but also determined. She wants that gas chamber GONE. I spoke with her and apparently, she’s been trying to make one of these meetings for weeks now and told me that I’m “her hero” for fighting this and she is in until the gas chamber is on the scrap pile. She’s another one of us who had NO IDEA what was going on at the shelter and she’s been a frequent visitor and has adopted cats from there, so she too feels betrayed.

The discussion session was interesting because of the money – the MSPCA wants $13K to take the county’s non-feral cats. A commissioner asked how much money is in “the kennel fund” (this is the money used to fund the dog part of the shelter via licensing fees – it could not by law go to caring for cats at the shelter, but CAN be given to a “humane society” for the purposes of caring for cats, so that’s where the $13K would come from). The County Administrator stated that the kennel fund has “in excess of $300,000”. The collective gasp, then silence in the room was a thing of beauty. All I could think was, “I had to DONATE dog beds and pet safe salt to them because they didn’t have THE MONEY???” At this point, one commissioner said, “Well then. I have no problem taking thirteen thousand dollars from there.” There was a question about how the shelter staff felt about this plan – apparently, they’re fine with it. The commissioners then voted to proceed with the deal.

Now, the deal is not yet completed and could still fall apart. The MSPCA and the county have to sign off on it – I’m told that this will occur some time next week. How soon after that the MSPCA will be accepting cats, I do not know, but we all hope it will be sooner, rather than later. In the meantime, we are trying to get the current cats out of the shelter and away from the gas chamber (which they will keep using until they have no more cats to stuff into it, apparently). Two cats (that we know of – there were more that we don’t know about because of the kill-anything-we-think-is-feral-whether-it-actually-is-or-not policy) were gassed last week and it would be fantastic if we could make them the last.

The woman who spoke after me asked me if I was going to the next meeting. I told her that I didn’t think so, that I wouldn’t know what to say since the deal-signing would happen AFTER the meeting. She vows to go to the next one to continue to press them on the removal of the gas chamber. She’s feisty and I like her a lot.

Do I completely trust that everything will be sunshine and rainbows from here on out? Absolutely not. But I will definitely be keeping an eye on things – not just at MSPCA, but also at the shelter. And if I need to keep advocating for change, I will. If the MSPCA goes wrong with it, then it wouldn’t be the weekly meetings – it would have to be the MSPCA board that I would have to petition for change as they are their own entity. Fortunately, they don’t seem to be the sort of people who would be ok with killing more than 50% of the cats that come in.

I’m backing off the meetings while the deal goes through because it seems like a very good deal. Laura (the other speaker) is going to spearhead the “destroy that filthy gas chamber” movement and that I’m backing her up in that. I’ll be keeping an eye on how things go from here on out both at the MSCPA and at the shelter, but I have reason to be cautiously optimistic for the future of Medina’s cats.

Advice for others trying to advocate? Attack policies, not people. I didn’t want to get into a position where the commissioners felt backed up against a wall to defend shelter employees (which was why I explained that they were victims of this shelter model, too). Also, listen to what it is that they’re really saying – in my case, it was, “We’re not really concerned with the gas chamber itself because we think it’s humane. We just don’t want to be swimming in cats.” It took me a while to understand that while I was talking shelter policies, they were talking shelter-as-population-control. If you truly believe that the gas chamber is humane, and that your shelter killing over 50% of the incoming cats is doing the community a “service”, you would be resistant to the one lady standing up and saying that you’re wrong. That’s where even a little physical back up really helps. Mark stood up and said, “I think she’s right. This is bad for Medina and I don’t want it.” Suddenly, I’m not the lone voice. Combine it with the letters and emails that came in to the commissioners and now they start to think maybe something needs to change, after all.

***

Read how Ms. Post became motivated to advocate for shelter reform.

Read her previous speeches to the county commissioners:

An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about Ms. Post and her reform efforts which appeared after her second speech to the county.

How Would Your Pet Fare If Impounded by Putnam County Animal Services?

The sheriff’s office runs the pound in Putnam Co, Florida. The website states “the shelter is on N Highway 17, at the landfill.”

I reached out to the sheriff’s office for comment after seeing this photo posted on Facebook:

Photo posted on  Facebook of a sign at the Putnam Co pound in Florida

Photo posted on
Facebook of a sign purportedly displayed at the Putnam Co pound in Florida

I haven’t yet received a response from the sheriff’s office but if I do, I will update this post.

In researching this facility, I found… enablers!

Facebook posting in which a member of the public advocates for the lives of pets at the Putnam Co pound and gets swatted down by their "Friends".

Facebook posting in which a member of the public advocates for the lives of pets at the Putnam Co pound and gets swatted down by their “Friends”.

We so often hear from killing apologists that “Nobody wants to kill animals.” Since it is impossible to accurately assess temperament in ANY dog or cat upon impound at a shelter, the sign at top is instructing pound employees to ignore standard protocols, pretend to assess all animals upon impound and then, based upon the false assessment, kill all “feral” and “aggressive” animals whom the state does not mandate be held. And their “Friends” blame the public for the killing – the very people they demand rescue, donate and adopt from the shelter.

These people want to kill animals.  Or to put it more accurately, these people really want to kill animals.

How would you expect your pet(s) to score in an assessment administered immediately upon impound at a pet killing facility by people who want to kill animals?  I imagine most of mine would fail.  In which case I’d be relying on the state of Florida statute requiring a mandatory stray holding period to save their lives.  Assuming someone didn’t trap and falsely “owner surrender” my lost pet or that no one at Putnam Co put an X in the wrong box somewhere or DOT DOT DOT.  Gee, it seems like evaluation and killing upon impound is not the swell idea it’s made out to be.  I don’t suppose anyone in Putnam Co would be interested in scrapping that plan in favor of doing their jobs to shelter animals?

(Thanks Bonnie for the link to this photo.)

The South Will Rise

While places like Union Co, NC continue to go moldy, communities all around the south are defying stereotypes and adopting progressive no kill protocols.

In Spartanburg, SC, city ACOs used to pick up cats and take them to the pound where roughly 8 out of 10 would be killed.  Area caretakers of feral cat colonies had a contentious relationship with the officers who would round up their maintained colony cats, along with other cats, and take them away for killing.

But late last year, Spartanburg Animal Services investigated trap-neuter-return for community cats and decided it was worth a try.  Funded by a grant, the city’s ACOs launched the program in January 2013.  They are on track to meet their goal of providing neuter and vaccination services to 750 feral cats this year.  The feline kill rate has dropped to virtually zero in 2013 thanks to TNR and the relationship with the community has bloomed into a supportive and useful one.  And Spartanburg Animal Services has been educating the masses via its Facebook page on which they document their outstanding TNR success.

In North Carolina, Lincoln Co animal advocates successfully lobbied their county commissioners for shelter reform.  Citing the will of the people to save shelter pets instead of killing them, commissioners unanimously voted this month to adopt the programs of the No Kill Equation:

“We are excited about leading the way in the state of North Carolina, through our commitment to become a no kill municipal shelter,” said Alex Patton, chairman of the county commissioners. “It is the right decision and one shared by the majority of our citizens.”

In Calhoun Co, AL, an advisory board was formed after concerns were raised about animal cruelty and botched killings at the pound.  The county is now slated to turn pound operations over to a non-profit group with goals for significant improvements:

 “I kept hearing from the previous board that it’s impossible to be a no-kill shelter,” [board member and attorney Tom] Wright said. “That’s not right to me, because that should be your goal. That’s what we want to work towards.”

Makes sense to me.

So even as many old-think shelter directors and politicians in the south remain mired in the killing ways of decades gone by, more and more southern communities are throwing off the yoke of archaic practices and starting to look at what makes sense:  Animals shelters should shelter animals. The public does not want animals in shelters killed.

No kill is not only possible, it’s happening in hundreds of communities all over the country.  Regressive directors and their enablers will continue to see their stranglehold on shelters eroded as more advocates take political action and the public continues to be educated about lifesaving alternatives.  And when history reflects upon those who fought to keep killing in the south and elsewhere, they will find themselves a mere Meisterburger footnote at the end of the chapter entitled “Compassion and Common Sense”.

The Rest of the Country Disdains the South Because of Places Like Union Co, NC

Wanda Sue Larson, a Union Co Department of Social Services child-protection investigations supervisor, and Dorian Lee Harper, an emergency room nurse, had 4 adopted children and a foster child living at their North Carolina home:

[Union Co] Sheriff Cathey said all five children in the home slept on the floor in a single bedroom, where the foster child was regularly handcuffed to a piece of railroad to keep him from running away.

But the foster child, a boy, escaped in December 2012 and ran to a neighbor’s home, begging for food and claiming he did not know where he lived.  The neighbor called 911 and the deputy responding to the call filed a complaint with DSS:

Less than a week later, the deputy received a letter from DSS investigator Lisa Kawyn, saying that the deputy’s complaint “does not meet statutory definition of abuse, neglect or dependency,” and the matter was closed, the sheriff said.

In mid-November 2013, a neighbor called animal control, run by the Union Co sheriff’s office, regarding a missing pig being sought by one of the children at the home.  When the deputy arrived, he found the shivering 11 year old foster child handcuffed to the front porch rail by the ankle with a dead chicken tied around his neck with twine.  Authorities removed all 5 children from the home as well as 103 animals, who were described as living in deplorable conditions:

Here’s the breakdown: 56 chickens and turkeys, 10 ducks, 10 dogs, eight geese, four donkeys, three horses, three guinea hens, two llamas, two cats, two finches, one cockatiel, one peacock and a pot-bellied pig named “Wilbur.”

Rescue groups, neighbors and area farmers took in the livestock.  Nine dogs were taken to the Union Co pound where workers quickly stuffed five of them into the gas chamber.  Three were gassed because they were old and two because they were aggressive.

Age is not an excuse to kill a pet and there is no possible way any gas chamber enthusiasts could determine a dog was so dangerous he required killing within a matter of days.  But then, this is what Union Co does.  Despite operating expenses of more than $1.2 million in 2012, Union Co killed more than 75% of the dogs and cats in its care.

But you know, they’re not monsters.

[Lt. Michelle Starnes, who oversees pound operations for the Union Co sheriff’s office] said the smallest dog, a terrier mix named “Max,” was returned to the children who lived at the Austin Road home because he was their favorite.

Union County, you blew it when you let one of your own child-protection investigations supervisors abuse children at her home.  She was clearly not held to the same standards and protocols as other parents who adopt and foster kids in your county.  You bombed again in December 2012 when you failed to investigate in any way the matter of a starving, abused child who escaped his captors and cried out to you for help.  When this month’s incident forced you to stop looking the other way, you sick degenerates pulled old and malnourished dogs from the home and tortured them to death in your barbaric gas chamber.  And finally, you twisted smackoffs forced a Sophie’s Choice upon the child victims you failed in this case by having them pick a “favorite” dog to save from your pet killing facility.

Mercifully, Larson and Harper have finally been “charged with intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment, and animal cruelty, because of the conditions of animals found at the home.” No word on charges against any of the good ol’ boys in the Union Co sheriff’s office or DSS, nor do I expect any.  Inflicting misery on sentient beings seems to be the job description for Union Co officials – and they’re very good at what they do.  We should probably bring them cupcakes.

(Thanks Lisa for sending me this story.)

Google Searches

Perhaps a tiny bit of insight here. (Note: These searches were not performed on my own computer specifically to avoid Google suggestions based on my past searches.)
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