Updated: Treats on the Internets

Two dogs who were picked up by the lone ACO for the city of Kenedy, TX died overnight six days later.  Animal advocates have alleged abuse at the city facility, which has a 5% adoption rate, but the ACO says the city has “adequate” amounts of food and water for the dogs, therefore the allegations are moot.

An Avondale, AZ ACO was arrested after witnesses called 911 to report the on duty, uniformed officer allegedly driving drunk in his city vehicle.  The ACO has been placed on administrative leave.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

The pound in Surry Co, NC has put someone new in charge and is now opening its doors to rescues.  A group recently drove from VA, where shelter pets are also killed, to take a couple dozen dogs from Surry Co.

The city of Amarillo, TX has been plagued with allegations of cruelty by pound workers, including disturbing video evidence which has surfaced online.  This week, the city council proposed two amended ordinances to give pound employees increased ability to charge citizens with cruelty.  Anyone minding the store?

Miami area high school students studying to be veterinary technicians find homes for 500 dogs a year, preventing the pets from ending up at the pound.  The school is under renovation and students are hoping to place all the dogs currently in residence before they must vacate.  (Thanks Valerie.)

Added:  The former GA shelter director who was convicted of 60 felony counts has been sentenced today by a judge to 25 years in prison (must serve 15 years) and a $30,000 fine.  The fraud and theft felonies are related to the “Lucky Dog” scam in which she pocketed donations to keep pets alive and then killed the animals.

Shelters Must Be Prepared to Help Surrendered Animals Even When Forms Aren’t Completed in Triplicate

Animal advocates have been hearing for years from people who kill animals at shelters that the public is irresponsible, that pet owners are animal dumpers and that death is better for many pets than being adopted out to a home.  We know all those things to be false, obviously.  But among too many shelter workers, there persists a judgmental attitude toward anyone surrendering a pet.  The notion that the surrendering party is trying to do right by the animal by taking him to a place with the words ANIMAL SHELTER on the sign is lost on those who insist on branding these people as trash.

The truth is, no one at an animal shelter knows for sure why a pet is being surrendered.  The surrendering party may relate circumstances regarding the pet that are fabricated, for example.  This might be attributable to the person’s unwillingness to explain his personal circumstances (terminal illness, eviction, domestic abuse, etc.) to a stranger.  The surrendering party may be unable to relate the true circumstances regarding the pet due to mental illness  (e.g. someone who suffers from delusions).  Sometimes people surrendering pets make up stories that they believe will prevent the staff from immediately killing the animal (e.g. claiming an owned pet to be a stray and therefore subject to a mandatory holding period).  The bottom line is that pets can not speak and the person speaking for them may or may not be relating the full and complete history associated with the animal.  Shelter staff absolutely must take this into account when accepting animals.

Beyond this, and regardless of any shelter worker’s personal feelings, staff members must do their jobs.  That is, when you hang out a shingle that says ANIMAL SHELTER and someone brings you an animal in need of shelter, do it.  It would be ideal if every surrendering party complied with all your requests such as scheduling an appointment, completing a surrender form and providing the pet’s vet records.  But in real life, that’s not always going to happen.  Be prepared for it.  Expect it.  Handle it.  Above all, take the animal that is in front of your face.  That animal may be lost, stolen, abused, sick or simply homeless – you don’t know for certain.  The only thing that is 100% verifiable is that someone has brought you the pet and told you there is no one to provide care for him.  Do your job.  Take that animal and shelter him while things get sorted.

Tragically, too many shelters stand on ceremony when it comes to accepting pets being surrendered.  If the surrendering party does not comply with one or more of the required protocols, the shelter attempts to refuse service – a service the staff is being paid by the public to provide.  This leaves the animal completely unprotected, which is the opposite of what the shelter is there to do.

Dog chasing vehicle after failed surrender at Denver Animal Shelter, as shown on TheDenverChannel.com.

Dog chasing vehicle after failed surrender at Denver Animal Shelter, as shown on TheDenverChannel.com.

Last week, a man tried to surrender a dog at the Denver Animal Shelter in CO.  He declined to complete the surrender form and presumably some sort of confrontation occurred, resulting in the man running from the lobby to his vehicle.  He tried to leave the dog in the lobby but the dog got outside and chased after the man’s car.  Witnesses say the man ran over the dog before picking him up.  When the man returned later that day and again attempted to surrender the dog, the shelter staff apparently insisted on the completion of the surrender form which caused a problem and resulted in the man running to his vehicle and the dog chasing after him.  Again.

The Denver Animal Shelter staff appears to have been unprepared to help the dog the first time the man attempted to surrender him.  That’s failure number one.  But for the staff to intentionally initiate a repeat of the failure when the man brought the dog back is positively outrageous.  At that point, the staff knew the dog was in need and knew the man did not want to fill out the form.  Failing to protect the dog a second time after witnessing the disastrous results of their first failure is unacceptable.

It is currently unknown whether the dog is alive.  The man told a local news reporter that he drove to Los Angeles and abandoned the dog on the street.  That’s one of his stories anyway.  Who knows what really happened to the dog?  The only thing we know for sure is that the staff at the Denver Animal Shelter did not help the pet when he was in need – which was their job – twice.  But staff did do one thing – they issued a citation to the man for cruelty and neglect.  He is due in court on July 2.  Yay animal “shelter”.

(Thanks Davyd for the link.)

 

Pets Go Missing After Animal Control Gets Involved

Doozie Bean, as pictured on The Evening Tribune's website.

Doozie Bean, as pictured on The Evening Tribune’s website.

Annie Allison and her family have owned their beloved cat Doozie Bean for 9 years. He’s been missing since May 7, when he was reportedly trapped in a neighbor’s yard by the ACO for Hornell, NY. Prior to setting the traps in the neighbor’s yard, Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan states the ACO was supposed to knock on doors of area homes to alert residents. In addition, any cats trapped are supposed to be held for 5 days in order to give owners a chance to reclaim them. The ACO in this case, Gary Hadsell, appears to have not followed procedures.

After Ms. Allison brought her concerns to Mayor Hogan, the mayor denied any knowledge of traps being set. He says he talked with ACO Hadsell who reportedly admitted losing one of the cats he trapped. The ACO also apparently denied ever trapping Doozie Bean, claiming he has the ability to immediately distinguish feral cats from owned pets based on their behavior in the trap. The article doesn’t say if he also pulls rabbits out of hats or whether he’s available for kiddie birthday parties.

Mayor Hogan says ACO Hadsell has resigned. This too is clear as mud:

When reached for comment on his resignation, Hadsell said, “I don’t believe I did (resign). If you have any questions, call Shawn Hogan.”

Mayor Hogan also says that because of what happened with Doozie Bean, his city is getting out of the trapping business.

In the meantime, Ms. Allison and her family are heartbroken. She continues to search for Doozie Bean, driving around for hours, whistling for him and shaking cat treats out the window.

***

Blue, as depicted in a screengrab from the WREG website.

Blue, as depicted in a screengrab from the WREG website.

In West Memphis, AR a dog named Blue got spooked during a thunderstorm Saturday night and got lost.  A police officer took him to the West Memphis pound.  When Blue’s owner inquired at the pound Sunday, he was relieved to hear his pet was there.  But Blue’s cage was found empty.  Pound director Kerry Sneed says she personally locked the gate on Blue’s cage Saturday night and that it did not appear that he had escaped on his own.

For several hours Sunday morning, Sneed said there was a window of opportunity for people on the property to steal the dog.

Well gee.  Is that the sort of failure that taxpayers in West Memphis are supposed to accept?  What is being done to actually shelter animals from harm once they arrive at the so-called shelter?  Anything?

The owner, George Johnson, continues to walk the streets, calling for Blue.  He has made his e-mail address public in an effort to get any possible leads on the whereabouts of his pet: rjhealthfirst@yahoo.com

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Advocates Speak Out Against Killing in Lafourche Parish Pound

In November 2013, then Lafourche Parish veterinarian went public with allegations that the local pound director, Kelli Toups, was forcing suffering animals to linger without care in their cages.  There appear to have been no significant improvements since then.  The Louisiana pound remains closed on weekends and Wednesdays with kill days on Tuesdays and Fridays. There are reportedly no offsite adoption events.  This year, a local rescuer who says she has saved more than 1000 dogs and cats from the pound in the past 2 years cut ties with the facility, citing the “flat out lazy” staff and outrageous policies.

Area rescuers report that Ms. Toups regularly e-mails them a list of dozens of cats on the kill list, giving rescuers just 24 – 48 hours to save them.  The pound is undergoing renovations, making the cat room half its normal size.  Instead of using that as an opportunity to hold special cat adoption promotions and events, the pound is apparently sagging over it like a slug on a crutch, using it to justify continued failures.

Shelter critics say the issues boil down to three main problems: the size of the shelter, archaic rules and regulations, and a lazy staff.

[…]

Toups denies any wrongdoing and […] would not discuss the staff and whether it’s lazy.

Last week, dozens of protesters went to the pound and voiced their concerns.

“They say we’re a group of wishers wishing for the moon if we’re looking for a no-kill shelter, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We just want to see the least amount of euthanasia as we can possibly have. We’d like to have a shelter that doesn’t have to kill animals twice a week to make space for more animals,” [shelter advisory board member Gisele] Landry said.

No need to wish for the moon – we already have one. We also have hundreds of open admission no kill shelters all over the country where healthy/treatable animals are not killed but instead are sheltered. Lafourche Parish could have one too.  It’s entirely achievable with hard work and a commitment to lifesaving.

Advocates should not stop short of demanding that the shelter staff members do their jobs, just as those in open admission no kill shelters everywhere do.  No one has to kill animals for space.  Killing is a choice.  Lafourche Parish can choose to follow the proven programs that have ended the killing in other communities or can continue to make excuses.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments.

The Always Faithful memorial is the World War II War Dog Memorial located in Guam dedicated July 21, 1994

The “Always Faithful” memorial in Guam, dedicated July 21, 1994

Former Director of GA Shelter Found Guilty by Jury

Lowanda “Peanut” Kilby, the former director of the now defunct Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter in Rabun Co, GA has been found guilty on 60 felony counts by a jury.  Prosecutors say Kilby used the no kill brand to bilk donors into giving money to her “Lucky Dog” program which she then funneled into her personal Paypal account – to the tune of $10 grand.

Screengrab of Kilby's scam programs at the Boggs Mountain shelter [via Metro]

Screengrab of Kilby’s scam programs at the Boggs Mountain shelter [via Metro]

Regular readers will recall that Kilby ran a pay-to-play scam where she would guarantee dogs at the fake no kill shelter would be allowed to live if they received a sponsorship of $100.  Kilby would pocket the cash, kill the “Lucky Dog”, then send the sponsor a yay-your-sponsored-dog-got-adopted letter.  Kilby was fired in July 2012 after a tenacious Atlanta news reporter received a tip and exposed the scam on the evening news.

After being charged in September 2013 with 60 felony counts including theft and racketeering, Kilby spent 2 hours in jail then went on a cruise.  Her trial this month lasted less than 2 weeks and it took the jury less than 4 hours to return the guilty verdict on all 60 counts.  Kilby has yet to be sentenced but presumably won’t be going on another cruise anytime soon.

Since the killing of healthy shelter pets is tragically legal, Kilby was not charged with animal cruelty.  Instead she has been relegated to the Michael Vick Hall of Shame for those who needlessly and cruelly kill pets and never pay for their crimes.  Like Vick, Kilby will at least pay for her racketeering crimes.  There ought to be a law.

Note:  Since the verdict is a recent development in the story, updates are likely to be posted throughout the day at various news outlets.  Please share links to any updates you come across in the comments.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

False Promises: Spay-Neuter is Not Magic

Stray neutered cat, recently taken in by a Good Sam who prevented him from ever going to a shelter.  (Photo by Casey Post)

Stray neutered cat with few teeth, recently taken in by a Good Sam who prevented him from ever going to a shelter. (Photo by Casey Post)

In general, the voluntary spaying and neutering of pets is a positive.  It reduces/eliminates the behaviors associated with reproduction, which most owners find undesirable qualities in a pet. This makes pet ownership easier to manage for many people.  It eliminates the birth of unintended puppies and kittens which again, is a plus for most owners.  These benefits show up in the community in the form of more owners being able to keep their pets and fewer homeless pets being in need of a shelter.

But spay-neuter falls short in two major ways:

  1. It does nothing to save the dogs and cats in shelters today.
  2. It’s of no use to pet owners who can not afford to pay for the services and/or get their pets to the clinic, or those who don’t know low cost services are available.

Contrary to what far too many shelter directors and killing apologists say publicly, spaying and neutering is not THE answer.  That is, voluntary spay-neuter is an important part of the solution but there are many other significant pieces to the puzzle.  Spay-neuter doesn’t stop shelter directors from killing any and all animals of their choosing.  Legislation is required to end that barbaric practice.  And voluntary spay-neuter is just one component of the No Kill Equation – the only set of programs proven to end the killing of healthy/treatable animals in shelters.  Spay-neuter alone has never ended the killing of healthy/treatable shelter pets anywhere.

In addition, those who blame the public for the killing and point to spay-neuter as the one and only solution often combine the blame with a threat:  Until everyone spays and neuters, we’ll keep killing animals.  The truth is that the day “everyone spays and neuters” is not going to be today, tomorrow, or next month.  That means that the pets in shelters today, tomorrow and next month are at risk of being needlessly killed which is unacceptable no matter how you frame it.

In fact, the day “everyone spays and neuters” will be never.  Some people choose not to spay and neuter for various reasons with which animal advocates may or may not agree.  But that is irrelevant since pet overpopulation is a myth and there are more than enough homes for every shelter pet in the U.S.  There are hundreds of communities all over the country that have ended the killing of healthy/treatable shelter pets and not one of them waited until everyone spayed and neutered their pets.  Puppies and kittens are still being born in those no kill communities, shelter directors are still doing their jobs, and the world is still turning.

In addition to failing to help the animals in shelters today, spay-neuter has serious accessibility issues.  Too many low cost spay-neuter clinics are mired in difficulties – both from within and without.  In Alabama for example, private vets are working to drive the few low cost spay-neuter clinics out of business – and they’re succeeding.  Other clinics in the U.S. have lengthy waiting lists  or don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you lists that discourage people from applying.  If more low cost clinics would start subsidizing fees (up to 100% if necessary) for low income owners who need assistance, offering transport for pets who would otherwise be unable to get to the clinic, and working with caretakers of community cats, their reach could be expanded.  And perhaps the most obvious and overlooked challenge:  making people aware that the clinics exist.

Nathan Winograd explains why spay-neuter is an important part of, but not the entire solution to, shelter pet killing since it helps reduce intake numbers:

[W]e want intakes low enough that even a lazy, bureaucratic, uncaring, inept director (in short, your average kill shelter director) can run a No Kill shelter with ease. In other words, we want to eliminate those communities with high intake rates (like Washoe County) needing thoroughly committed and hardworking leadership to succeed.

In other words, shelter pets can’t wait for all the Meisterburgers to die out and get replaced by heroic figures willing to commit themselves, body and soul, to stopping the killing of shelter pets. We have a proven road map and we need to force, through legislation if necessary, the existing shelter leadership to follow it. Reducing intake through low/no cost voluntary spay-neuter is one way to help make that happen.

Spay-neuter has not ever and will not ever eliminate shelter pet killing but even in the worst case scenario with a shelter director committed to killing, it can help deliver fewer victims to the facility’s front door.  The benefits of spay-neuter should not be underestimated nor should they be overestimated as a panacea for the myriad problems in our broken shelter system.  No kill starts with a commitment to protecting the lives of shelter animals and a willingness to do the hard work required to save them all.  Everything else is a tool in the toolbox.

Treats on the Internets

The convenience killing of 5 pups at the Surry Co pound in NC, whom rescuers were given less than an hour to save, prompted one rescuer to address the county commissioners and demand the firing of the pound’s director.  (Thanks Teresa for the link.)

A video (which I have not watched) reportedly shows an Indiana police officer abusing a police dog.  The officer, who has not been named, was placed on administrative leave while the police department investigates itself.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

A Louisiana police officer reportedly handcuffed a dog owner on a trespassing charge in a parking lot and as the man lay on the ground, shot his dog to death.  The friendly dog had been tied to a fence in the parking lot and there was at least one additional witness to the killing.  The police department is investigating itself.  (Thanks Clarice.)

Jerky treats, imported from China, have reportedly sickened or killed more than 5600 pets to date, mostly dogs.  Now 3 humans have gotten sick from the treats.  The FDA continues to allow the treats to be sold.  My advice:  Do not feed jerky treats to your pets. Don’t touch them. Don’t leave them where someone else might touch them. Don’t even look at them.  (Thanks Arlene for the link.)

A stray pitbull in DeKalb Co, GA waited with high school kids at a bus stop and when the school bus arrived, boarded the bus and took a seat, refusing to leave.  His story made it on the local news and someone adopted him.  (Thanks Valerie for the link.)

Delightfully drawn sloth (non)facts

York Co SPCA Kills 36 Cats in Response to Ringworm Outbreak

Ringworm is a treatable condition which appears as a skin infection in pets.  Both oral and topical medications may be prescribed by a vet in treating pets with ringworm.  As with all diseases, it’s essential that animal shelters have protocols in place to prevent ringworm since treatment involves time, space and money – resources which shelters must use carefully.  The Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis has very detailed recommendations for shelters on both prevention and treatment.  These include:

  • Carefully inspect all incoming animals and all animals being considered for foster care or group housing. Look for any areas of hair loss, scabbing, or crusting, especially focal areas affecting the face, ears, feet or tail.
  • Segregate affected or suspected animals and institute cleaning protocols to prevent further spreading.
  • Environmental decontamination
  • During an outbreak or in areas that have frequent problems with ringworm, separate housing of all kittens in an easy to bleach area for at least two weeks, followed by careful re-inspection for signs of ringworm.

It sounds like hard work but obviously for a shelter, it comes with the territory.  After all, the name is not Animal Shelter, When It’s Easy and Convenient.

Dingo, a cat with ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo, a cat with ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo after receiving treatment for ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo, after receiving treatment for ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

On April 1, the Fox affiliate in central PA reported that the York County SPCA killed 36 cats in response to a ringworm outbreak, for convenience:

York County SPCA executive director, Melissa Smith, says likely a stray cat spread its undetected ringworm to 120 cats.

Smith says, “That was too large a number for us to successfully treat so we decided to decrease that number down to a more manageable amount we could quarantine.”

Decrease that number. Ew.

Apparently the quarantine area at the York Co SPCA can house 90 cats so they killed 36 cats for convenience. And if you don’t like them apples, you will probably not like hearing that the decision to needlessly kill cats for convenience is your fault:

It’s a decision Smith says is preventable by spaying or neutering your pet.

If only we irresponsible public types would spay and neuter, the staff at the York Co SPCA would start doing their jobs. Wait – I did spay and neuter my pets. Now what’s the excuse? The York Co SPCA board president explains:

The York County SPCA recently experienced an outbreak of ringworm that ultimately resulted in the difficult decision to euthanize 36 cats. In a perfect world, there would be no unwanted animals, no need to operate animal shelters, and thus no need for those who dedicate their lives to the well-being of animals to make the heart-wrenching decision of euthanasia.

Such decisions are made out of necessity, not by choice, in thousands of similar humane organizations across the country on a daily basis. Sadly, an ideal world is one we continually strive for but not the reality of the world in which we live.
[…]
Many are demanding the resignation of Executive Director Melissa Smith, who has been a tireless advocate for the well-being of animals for nearly 25 years. Let us be unmistakably clear: Melissa Smith has the full support of the York County SPCA Board of Directors and will continue to do so.
[…]
Euthanasia is a disease that can be cured. The ultimate blame for this measure should be assigned not to those who must routinely make such heart-wrenching decisions, but to those who do not properly care for their animals, leave them unattended, allow them to reproduce, and whose lack of responsibility inevitably causes countless unwanted animals to end up in our and similar shelters throughout the country each day.

To recap:

  • The world is imperfect. Therefore, it’s anything goes, including cat killing!
  • Thousands of other shelters needlessly kill pets every day. Which makes it ok.
  • “Euthanasia is a disease that can be cured.” So it’s exactly like ringworm!
  • Don’t blame those doing the killing for the killing of pets. Blame your awful selves.
  • We are awesome. You guys suck.

Notably absent from the Yay Cat Killings/Boo You People PR:

  • Any mention of the York Co SPCA’s protocols to prevent ringworm
  • A detailed explanation for how those protocols failed
  • Whether any/all of the 120 cats were actually tested for ringworm
  • Why the York Co SPCA chose to kill for convenience instead of issuing a plea to the public for assistance
  • Why donors should continue to have faith in the York Co SPCA
  • What changes are being implemented in order to avoid, or at least minimize, another outbreak.

I guess the organization was so busy congratulating itself on its tireless animal advocacy filling up the dumpster with dead cats, no one remembered to appear accountable.  But when they are not killing cats, they are probably doing their jobs, right?  I mean, they would be, if it was a perfect world.  Until then, sucks being a cat at the York Co SPCA.

(Thank you Beth for the links.)

Gaston Co Kills Owned Pet Upon Impound, Tries to Hide Killing from Owner

Ace, as pictured on the WBTV website.

Ace, as pictured on the WBTV website.

The Gaston County pound in NC spent more than $1.3 million last year and killed well over 1/3 of its pets.  The pound falls under the county police department.

When Ace, a senior Chihuahua mix owned by Brian Humphries, dug out of his yard on May 3, his family immediately began looking for him.  Ace had walked with a limp since birth but got around very well (obviously!) and was not in any pain.  The family searched the neighborhood all weekend and tried the Gaston Co pound, only to find it closed.  Mr. Humphries kept checking the pound’s website to see if Ace’s photo had been posted but never saw his beloved pet.  When the pound opened Monday morning, Mr. Humphries was there to look for Ace.  But pound staff denied that Ace had been picked up by the county.

Since Mr. Humphries was unable to find Ace anywhere, he kept calling the Gaston Co pound, pressing them for information.  Finally the pound staff admitted Ace had been picked up on May 4 and killed immediately upon impound.  The reason? Ace “wasn’t able to put much weight on the leg” he had limped on his entire life.

The reason that most shelters make exceptions for the mandatory holding period is to avoid forcing a pet who is medically hopeless and suffering to linger in a cage for several days.  An example would be a pet who’d been so severely injured by a car that a vet determines there is no reasonable hope of saving the animal’s life. But this was a senior dog who “wasn’t able to put much weight” on one of his legs – hardly a case where immediate euthanasia to prevent further suffering in a medically hopeless animal is required.

Still, when asked by Mr. Humphries for an explanation as to why Ace was killed so quickly, the county police chief e-mailed a response “citing North Carolina law which says the animal can be put down before the minimum holding period is up if the animal is seriously ill or injured.” And Gaston County Animal Control Sgt. Jim Phil classed the whole thing up by blaming the owner:

“There was no kind of ID on this dog,” he said. “If we don’t see that on the dog, it doesn’t do us much good. That’s a responsibility as dictated by the county leash law. If the dog wasn’t running loose, we wouldn’t have picked it up.”

Gosh, the Gaston Co police seem nice.

Mr. Humphries is heartbroken and angry:

“They continued to deny they’d done it,” he said. “If they had given me another 10 to 15 hours from when they picked my dog up, I would’ve been up there to claim him.”

“He might have injured himself getting out of the fence and they could still say, ‘Well he’s injured, so we’re going to kill him.’”
[…]
“That was my little buddy, and my daughters’ too,” he said.”

Pets are family. But in Gaston Co, the so-called irresponsible public gets blamed for everything, including the scrapping of a proposal to go no kill last year:

Officials say the problem stems from people not spaying or neutering their pets.

So long as Gaston County officials continue to kill pets and blame the public for the killing, animals will pay the ultimate price. But since the county hasn’t been able to kill and blame its way out of its myriad pound problems so far, maybe they’d be open to trying something different? Maybe doing their jobs even?  Or not:

WBTV reached out to Gaston County Animal Services multiple times. They have not returned our calls.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

(Thank you Clarice, Bonnie and Patricia for the links.)