TN Pound Neglects Animals, Mayor Calls It “Good Care”

A woman says she went to the Smithville pound in TN last week during normal work hours to find the placed locked and no employees on site. Even more disturbing, she says a dead dog and a litter of living puppies were in the parking lot. Local animal advocates are calling upon the mayor to at least staff the facility during open hours and/or allow volunteers to care for the pets. But the mayor gots explanations:

Mayor Jimmy Poss of Smithville said the shelter only has one full time and one part-time employee, who had both called in sick Thursday.

An animal rescue group in Dekalb County is calling for more employees or volunteers to work at the shelter, but the Mayor said that’s extra help the shelter doesn’t need right now.

See? Yeah, me neither. But everyone can quit worrying about the animals left in the pound unattended, presumably without food or water, laying in their own waste, suffering from who knows what conditions.  And definitely no one needs to be concerned about the dead dog found outside the pound or the litter of pups running in the road. Because explanations:

Poss said even with budget constraints, the Animal Shelter takes good care of the dogs they have, even though some may be delivered to them sick.

I see what you did there. That whole irresponsible-public-is-to-blame thing. Smooth.

Mercifully, the irresponsible public stepped up and all the wandering pups are now in foster homes.  That’s what I call “good care”.  That thing the Smithville pound is doing?  That’s neglect, cruelty and fraud against taxpayers to my mind.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Update on Gallia Co Dog Wardens Charged with Cruelty

The 57 cruelty charges against 3 current and former Gallia Co dog wardens in Ohio stem from illegal killing protocols at the Gallia Co pound according to Gallipolis city solicitor Adam Salisbury. Specifically at issue is the allegation that the wardens were injecting sodium pentobarbital into a shoulder or hip muscle of shelter pets before injecting it into the heart muscle, causing needless pain and suffering.

The Ohio SPCA however is alleging a different type of cruelty entirely – at least with regard to 11 dog carcasses they obtained and had necropsied at Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Teresa Landon with the Ohio SPCA says the intramuscular injections were not evident at the time of necropsy:

“There is no evidence of (the dogs) being injected (with sodium pentobarbital) in the muscles,” Landon said, citing OSU’s necropsy results. “They were injected in the heart and lungs.”

Good, right? Because we were concerned the dog wardens, all trained and certified in proper euthanasia protocols, had possibly gotten lazy or just didn’t care about the animals they were killing. But it looks like we can cross lazy off the list:

[M]any of the [necropsied] dogs suffered “body changes compatible with blunt thoracic and head trauma” before and during the euthanasia process.

“Several dogs were bleeding on the head or had blood coming out of their mouth,” [Landon] said. “They died horrible deaths.”

For anyone not sure of what they just read, Ohio SPCA appears to be alleging that the Gallia Co dog warden beat the dogs about the head and chest and/or strangled them before and while he was jabbing a syringe full of Fatal Plus into their hearts. In addition, the Ohio SPCA’s report includes witness testimony indicating dogs at the Gallia Co pound were trapped using a squeeze gate on the kill room wall.  The witness alleges dogs were never sedated prior to heartsticking (as required by law), were often jabbed multiple times in the heart and would sometimes stagger around the kill room for 30 minutes before finally dying.  The gruesome torture inflicted on these poor pets put me immediately in mind of the Memphis kill techs, finally brought to justice in 2012 after an undercover police officer witnessed them sadistically killing dogs and cats at the pound.

While the new allegations in the Gallia Co case step the heinous nature of the charges up a notch, Gallia Co sheriff Joe Browning seems more concerned with finding out how the Ohio SPCA got the 11 carcasses they sent for necropsy:

It was not clear Saturday night if whoever took the dog carcasses from Gallia County could face charges. Browning said Saturday night that the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office “will have to look into it.”

Yeah, definitely find and charge that person.  That’s the real crime here.

The two current dog wardens are sitting at home being paid by taxpayers.  All 3 have entered not guilty pleas.

(Thanks Arlene and Clarice for the links.)

Miami-Dade Pound Manager: “Obviously we’re doing something right”

The troubled Miami-Dade pound in FL is funded by taxpayers, in part to provide a safety net for stray pets in the community.  But when a Good Samaritan tried to help a dog he found loose on a highway by bringing him to the pound recently, he was turned away.  A Miami-Dade pound employee was caught on video telling the man the pound had no room and that he’d have to try again another day to get shelter for the dog.

Local news reporter Jacey Birch showed the video to manager Kathleen Labrada who described what happened as a “miscommunication”:

“For strays the doors are always open. We have no option in taking in strays,” said Labrada.

We have no option but to do the jobs taxpayers pay us to do. Except when we don’t do our jobs, in which case miscommunication.

But in this SuperFantasticWishTime exchange, the reporter doesn’t fail to do her job:

“If you euthanize for space, how could the shelter ever be at over-capacity?” asked Birch.

“The goal is to never euthanize for space,” said Labrada.

“But you do euthanize for space?” asked Birch.

“The shelter will euthanize for space as needed, but we take many actions to prevent that from ever happening,” said Labrada.

Like not accepting animals?

“In February, we saved 88 percent of the dogs and 82 percent of the cats, so obviously we’re doing something right,” said Labrada.

“Isn’t it because you’re not accepting the animals anymore?” asked Birch.

“No, not at all. We’re open for intake seven days a week,” said Labrada.

Jacey Birch: 1
Kathleen Labrada: 0
Stray pets in Miami-Dade County: We have no option but to miscommunicate you.  Obviously.  Because otherwise we’d have to do our jobs.  Which sounds like work.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Town of Hempstead Kills Owned Pets, Owners File Lawsuit

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Last month, 2 mixed breed dogs called Cici and Yankee escaped their yard and went for a run around the neighborhood in Long Island, NY.  Both were known by neighbors to be friendly and playful.  But apparently any loose animal that looks like a Pitbull type dog in Nassau Co warrants the summoning of the National Guard:

An incident in Lakeview involving Pit bulls three days prior caused  police to send multiple police officers including detectives and a police helicopter.

Nassau Co police responded to a report that Cici and Yankee were chasing kids and started shooting at the dogs, hitting Yankee.  The dogs ran home and the Town of Hempstead sent an ACO to the residence where police had gathered.  The owner, who is unable to read English, signed a form he was given by the ACO and the dogs were taken to the pound.

There are no reports indicating the dogs bit anyone, growled at anyone or even cast a stern glance in anyone’s general direction.

The family went to the pound the next day it was open to reclaim Cici and Yankee and were told both had already been killed.  The form the owner signed without understanding what it said due to the language barrier reportedly transferred ownership of the dogs to the Town of Hempstead to do with as the pound saw fit.  The family was apparently so shocked at this news that they went home and returned the next day, believing they must have been given the wrong information.  But they were again told their pets had been killed.

The Town of Hempstead, well known for its alleged abuse of shelter animals, offered this response to a reporter:

“We are confident that the police don’t throw their weapons and shoot at animals unless they present a danger to the public.”

Oh the Town of Hempstead is jokes.  If police shot at the dogs, they must be the spawn of Satan because police.

Cici and Yankee’s owners have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead for killing their pets without due process.  The town is apparently rolling in dough.  I hope the owners get every penny and just maybe, some stuffed shirt mooching off taxpayers there will take notice and effect change.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Open Thread


Animal related links, questions, stories and orders go in the comments.

Treats on the Internets

There is an update on the Lawrence, IN pound case where the sole ACO neglected pets to death and the police department in charge never bothered to check.  The ACO pleaded down to 4 animal neglect charges and probation.  (Thank you Clarice for the link.)

30 people, including an asthmatic 84 year old woman, showed up to swing a sledgehammer at the Medina Co gas chamber destruction celebration in OH. (Thanks Casey for the link.)

A Baltimore police officer has been charged with animal cruelty after allegedly beating his girlfriend’s 7 month old puppy to death and texting her a photo of her pet’s dead body.  Can we dip this guy in red paint to alert non-psychopaths he may come across in life that they are in imminent danger?  (Thanks Clarice.)

A 54 year old zoo employee dying of cancer in Holland was granted his final wish to say goodbye to the animals.  One of the giraffes walked to his bedside and gave him a kiss.  (Thanks Valerie.)

Smithsonian video: Poaching leads to psychological damage in elephants.  (Thanks Valerie.)

A place to take refuge, when needed.  (Thank you Clarice.)

Escambia Co Burns Through Its Third Pound Director in Eight Months

Directors keep resigning from the troubled Escambia Co pound in Florida. The latest is veterinarian Alphonso Steward III who just took over operations in November 2013.  He replaced a director who only lasted 2 months on the job.

Animal advocates claim an inordinate number of shelter pets were dying after Dr. Steward performed routine neuter surgeries on them. For his part, Dr. Steward blames the deaths on his tech, whom he says cleaned cages with a “noxious spray” and exposed the pets to toxic fumes during their surgical recovery.

In addition, Dr. Steward told the local paper that the pound’s kennel manager, Phyllis Trout, was giving information to animal advocates in an effort to drive him from the pound.  Dr. Steward said Ms. Trout is responsible for selecting animals for the kill list at Escambia Co:

 “If her friends knew how many animals she would sign off every week, they wouldn’t be as friendly to her any more. She signs off as many as 20-30 animals a week.”

The county is launching an investigation into the post-surgical deaths under Dr. Steward:

Interim Escambia County Administrator Larry Newsom said the county is bringing in an independent, third party veterinarian from out of town to look at the animal deaths, and the county will look into any issues with the hiring of Steward.

Neither linked article indicates if any of the carcasses of the animals in question have been frozen for examination but without the ability to conduct necropsies on these animals, the investigation will be limited.

Wherever the truth lies in all this muck, the fact remains that needless death is standard operating procedure at the pound.  Lifesaving is not the prime directive.  Reform needs to start there.  Focusing on anything else will result in more pets in trash bags and more drama, which seems to be the only area where Escambia Co excels.

Escambia Co needs to take a long, hard look at its institutionalized pet killing and determine why its directors keep running from the place.  Maybe county administrators could use some of that noxious spray on their eyeballs to see if it helps erode the accumulation of awful.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

We Interrupt Your Celebratory Michael Vick News for This Reminder

As football fans swoon with the news that the NY Jets have signed Michael Vick and he may be a starting quarterback next season instead of a backup, I thought I’d just take a moment to remind the internet that Michael Vick tortured and killed dogs, was never charged with animal cruelty for those crimes and never served a day in jail for them.  Vick pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture in 2008.  The animal cruelty charge was dropped in the plea agreement.  Do not peddle your “He’s paid for his crimes” excuse here.

At the time, the Humane Society of the United States had harsh words regarding Vick’s slap on the wrist from the state of VA which added no time to his 23 month federal sentence:

The Humane Society of the United States said it wished that Vick’s sentence was stiffer.

“We had hoped that the Commonwealth of Virginia would send a stronger message that dogfighting crimes are cruel and unacceptable,” Michael Markarian, the executive vice president of the Humane Society, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Michael Vick is already paying his debt to society with a federal prison sentence, and his example has demonstrated to people across the country that dogfighting is a dead-end activity that can jeopardize your freedom and your future.”

Of course that was before HSUS saw dollar signs and partnered with Vick to whitewash his image.

Some of us were never fooled and still remember.

An excerpt from Jim Gorant’s book The Lost Dogs:

Vick and friends had not simply eliminated these [failed fighting] dogs with a cold efficiency, they’d beaten them first.  The revelation added another layer of brutality to the already nasty case.

And then there was one last body that stood out from the rest.  It had signs of bruising on all four ankles and all along one side.  Its skull was fractured in two places and it had four broken vertebrae.  Brownie had said that all of the dogs that didn’t die from being hanged were drowned, except one.

As that dog lay on the ground fighting for air, Quanis Phillips grabbed its front legs and Michael Vick grabbed its hind legs.  They swung the dog over their head like a jump rope then slammed it to the ground.  The first impact didn’t kill it.  So Phillips and Vick slammed it again.  The two men kept at it, alternating back and forth, pounding the creature against the ground, until at last, the little red dog was dead.

Number of days in prison Michael Vick served for torturing and killing “underperforming” dogs?  Zero.  Number of animal cruelty convictions on his record?  Zero.  The value of Vick’s one year contract with the Eagles last year?  10 million dollars.

On-Call KY ACO Charged with DUI

Take a look at the And-For-My-Next-Trick-I’ll-Jump-Through-These Rings-of-Fire adoption application required to save a pet from being killed by the Scott Co pound in KY.  The last question on the form is:

Would you allow a home visit by a representative of the Scott County Animal Shelter?

See, the Scott Co ACO must judge you. To see if you are good enough to save a homeless pet from going to the landfill.

Scott Co ACO Leitha Burton was on-call Monday night when she took the county AC truck home with her.  But instead of responding to emergency animal calls that night, ACO Burton allegedly got drunk and her truck smashed into two vehicles and a house on her street, causing over $30,000 in damages.

When police arrived at the crash scene, they reportedly found ACO Burton alone:

Police say Burton was charged with DUI because she admitted to drinking and driving, and because she smelled of an alcoholic beverage and was unsteady on her feet.

While ACO Burton reportedly admitted to drinking and driving the county truck shortly before the crash, she claimed another woman had been driving at the time of the crash and that the driver had run away before police arrived.  Police are investigating.  Meantime, it’s business as usual in Scott Co:

Scott County Judge-Executive George Lusby says Burton won’t be disciplined without a conviction and her use of county property will be examined.

Any adoption applicants volunteering to have ACO Burton drive over to their house to pass judgement on them?

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

AL ACO Ties Dead Dog to Tailgate of AC Truck

AL – Marshall Co ACO Kevin Hooks responded to a call on Monday regarding a pack of 5 dogs who had killed a pet owner’s dog.  The owner had shot one of the 5 dogs to death.  ACO Hooks captured 3 of the surviving dogs and loaded them onto his truck.  He tied the dead pack dog’s body to his tailgate and drove 35 miles back to the city pound used by Marshall Co.

During the trip, several drivers reportedly got out of their vehicles at a red light and knocked on the truck’s window, trying to alert the ACO that a dead dog was hanging out the back of his truck.  But he disregarded the concerned citizens and continued on to a busy highway where a woman photographed the back of the truck and posted it on Facebook.  Local news outlets ran the story.

Hooks told WHNT NEWS 19 he had live stray dogs in the other cages and wanted to keep them from destroying the dead dog.  Hooks said he also wanted to avoid making two 70-mile round trips.

“The mistake he made was not making two trips,” said [Marshall Co Commission] Chairman Hutcheson. “He should have took the live animals and put them in the location and then he should have came back, put the large animal inside the box, closed it up so it wasn’t visible to the public.”

Dogs are sentient beings who are aware of the difference between living animals and dead animals.  They form bonds in life and they grieve when those they’ve bonded with die.  The notion that this incident was objectionable only because the dead dog was visible to the public is outrageous.  Even more troubling, I get the impression that ACO Hooks might have placed the dead dog inside the cage with the live dogs if he felt certain they wouldn’t have made a mess he would have had to clean up later.

Let’s be clear, the reasons this incident is unacceptable are:

  • A dead dog was tied to the tailgate of an AC truck and placed within sight and smell of his caged packmates who had just witnessed his killing.
  • A dead dog was tied to the tailgate of an AC truck and driven past countless citizens, some of whom tried to alert the ACO to the inappropriateness of the situation but were ignored.
  • A dead dog was tied to the tailgate of an AC truck.  Full stop.

Even if it was impossible to make the return trip to transport the dead dog separately, I can’t help thinking what a difference two black trash bags could have made in this situation. If trash bags are not carried on the AC vehicle (and they should be), the ACO could have asked the pet owner for two or picked up a box of them at a store.  Double bagging the dead dog would have been a reasonable alternative if the return trip was deemed impossible for whatever reason.

ACO Hooks’s faux-pology to a reporter demonstrates his failure to understand the situation:

 “Well yes I’m sorry that we alarmed the public by transporting the animal in a way that it raised an alarm to the public. I believe it could have been handled better if time had permitted” Hooks said.

But since time was an issue, it couldn’t have been handled any better so totally not sorry.  If ACO Hooks does not have time to do his job in a manner consistent with respecting the animals in his care, changes need to be made. But don’t expect major reform as a result of this incident:

The Chairman of the Marshall County Commission says he took disciplinary action against Kevin Hooks, but is keeping him in the position for now.


Note:  The images of the dead dog at the links have been sufficiently blurred to avoid disturbing most readers in my opinion.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me these links.)