IL Pound Uses Holding Period as an Excuse to Extend Dog’s Suffering

Dear Animal Shelters,

1.  Don’t kill our pets.

2.  Don’t leave our sick or injured pets to suffer without veterinary care.



Pets impounded at shelters are either lost, in which case their owners want them back, or they are in need of a home, in which case the shelter should release them to an adopter or a rescue group so that can happen.  Since it is unknown which category strays fall under at the time of impound, the shelter staff should get to work right away to determine that.  Check the pet for an ID tag and scan him for a microchip.  If either is found, start making calls to find the owner.  Photograph the pet and post him online.  Check the shelter’s lost pet list along with the local lost pet listings online and in the newspaper.  Shelter the animal for at least the mandatory holding period so that his owner can reclaim him.

Concurrently, get the pet checked out by a veterinarian.  Determine if he is in need of treatment.  If the need for veterinary care is urgent – that is, if it would cause the pet to suffer pain or other harm by not receiving treatment during the holding period – treat the pet.  Continue looking for the owner while the pet is receiving the needed vet care.  If the shelter refuses to provide care for stray pets, issue an immediate plea to the public for a foster or rescuer to provide the urgent vet care during the holding period while the owner is being sought by the shelter.  Obtain the urgent vet care – do not allow the pet to suffer simply because the shelter has not yet determined if the pet will be reunited with an existing owner or adopted to a new one.

This is so not hard.  Not killing impounded strays while simultaneously looking for a possible owner and obtaining vet care is an actual thing that is being done by hundreds of open admission no kill shelters all around the country.  Yet many pet killing facilities view these actions as contradictory in nature.  Owned cats are killed during the holding period for being elderly,  for exhibiting normal behavior after being trapped, and because some people get a thrill out of killing friendly kittens.  Owned dogs are killed during the holding period because staff allowed them to get into a fight with another dog, for being elderly, and because someone in the police department decides to play vet.

To make matters worse, so-called animal advocacy groups such as HSUS and Maddie’s Fund are actively encouraging shelters to not hold unidentified cats so their owners can find them but to instead give them to strangers as fast as they can get them out the door.  When did stray pets become the disfigured stepchild we need to keep chained in the attic?

In Granite City, IL last weekend, AC impounded a seriously injured dog as a stray.  Instead of looking for the owner while getting him the vet care he needed, AC apparently did nothing but toss him in a cage.  The dog’s hip was dislocated and his leg was missing bone and tendons.  Volunteers and rescuers advocated for the dog, offering to take him to a vet for desperately needed treatment of his injuries.  But AC refused all offers, citing the mandatory holding period as an excuse to extend the dog’s suffering for days.  Rescuers ultimately did the pound staff’s job for them and located the owner, who opted to surrender the dog due to an inability to pay for care.

Local pet lovers raised hell over the pound’s mistreatment of the dog, who is now receiving care at a local vet clinic.  In response, the mayor advised AC that in future, pound staff should not sling suffering pets into cages and leave them there for days simply because there is a holding period but instead should contact rescue groups so that urgent vet care can be obtained.

Just so we’re clear:  The mayor had to tell AC not to leave stray pets in pain for days on end and explain that the words “holding period” and “urgent vet care” are not impossible to reconcile.  If I am this mayor, I’m wondering what the hell else needs to be explained to the staff at the pound.

Holding periods are supposed to be a protective measure to prevent families from being torn apart.  They aren’t supposed to be eliminated because shelter directors won’t do their jobs.  They aren’t supposed to be used against us with egregious violations in the form of killings or an excuse to force an injured pet to suffer.  Shelter directors don’t get to punish the public by hurting our lost pets.  It’s obvious what holding periods are for and it has to do with protecting the human-animal bond, not using them as a weapon.

The dog who suffered at the hands of Granite City AC may lose his leg as a result.  But yeah, we all want the same thing and don’t be negative and blah.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)


13 thoughts on “IL Pound Uses Holding Period as an Excuse to Extend Dog’s Suffering

  1. Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Stockton Animal Shelter over Ongoing Abuses… “sic em boy”. This is gonna be a trend all over the country. Sue the bastards!

  2. Makes you wonder what else they have to tell them…”don’t leave dogs in a hot truck, don’t leave dogs out in the snow, feed and water dogs regularly…”

  3. On the link, it said the AC folks didn’t realize the dog was injured. REALLY? Can’t imagine what else is going on in that place . . .

    1. I guess the public outrage only left them with two choices – either own up to being criminally cruel or incredibly incompetent. But yeah, even that’s going to be hard to pull off with so many people “begging to help the dog”.

      “Hey, what’s with all these people wanting to take this dog to a vet?”

      “I have no idea. They all seem to think that the dog should see a vet just because it was hit by a car and can’t use a leg at all. It’s weird, right?”

      “It’s that “pet parent” culture, I guess. They’re all thinking that animals are capable of feeling pain and stuff. So ridiculous.”

      “Yeah, all crazy women. They should just let us do our jobs, after all, we’re the professionals!”

    2. It is refreshing to find a mayor who didn’t make excuses for the staff and try to shift the blame onto the dog’s owner or the public.

      1. Actually, it seems that he’s just like, “Oh, we’ve changed policy, so it’s all good now, please go away.” He was saying that it “wasn’t that bad” because the dog could walk (how the dog could walk with one broken leg and one dislocated hip (on the other side) is a mystery, but he seems to be backing shelter staff’s account of things.

        What I’d REALLY like to see is some freaking accountability for the cruelty. This case clearly violated state law, yet no one will be held responsible for it. We’re all just supposed to be grateful that the dog is still alive, I guess.

  4. I have to assume they thought ‘holding period’ meant ‘literally can’t be removed from the cage for any reason’.

    On a side note, I am so tired of fighting with people over the Maddie’s fund issue. No, you DON’T know how many owned cats are reclaimed, so stop phrasing things like you do. Yes, it DOES matter, because pretending you know lets you pretend only a fraction of cat owners care about their pets. No, losing my own cat to a new family wouldn’t be ‘sad’…it would be absolutely devastating, and while, yes, I would be glad to know he wasn’t killed, I would be much, much happier to have him back where he BELONGS. I just don’t understand why this is even a debate. It’s stealing pets!

  5. Are all shelter staff stupid! Maybe there should be some kind of test before they’re hired, because thinking is obviously not required for hiring!

  6. Actually, it’s not Maddie’s Fund. Those quotes you link to are from the shelter medicine program at the University of Fla. While it was created with a grant from Maddie’s Fund, and thus bears Maddie’s name, the program isn’t run or endorsed or controlled by Maddie’s Fund.

    Universities have strict rules of academic independence, and funders who donate to chairs, departments, or programs are never allowed to dictate policies to them.

    Disclaimer: I do some media consulting for Maddie’s Fund, but do not speak, and am not speaking, for them. I am only speaking for myself and the sake of accuracy and fairness.

    1. Has Maddie’s Fund issued any statement to clarify its position on holding periods? If my organization was OPPOSED to the elimination of holding periods for unidentified stray cats and I knew that the shelter medicine program bearing my name was FOR that, I would have issued a statement to clarify that my position is actually the opposite, to set the record straight. I’ve been watching for this from Maddie’s Fund for some time but haven’t seen anything. Please let me know if I’ve missed it. The absence of such a position statement implies endorsement in this case, in my opinion.

  7. It saddens me to read about all shelters and places that are blatantly caught being cruel and or neglectful to the animals, such as the story above about the poor dog and his leg and hip. And I am very glad the poor dog finally received the help and care that he so desperately needed and is going to be alright, or a alright as he can be if he has to lose his leg, and that he will hopefully be in a home with people who will care for and love him after all he has been through. But why is it there is no type of action taken against the people who put him in this position? They (the shelter) are the ones who were supposed to be protecting and helping him, attempting to find his owner, getting him the vet help he needed while looking for the owner. This, sadly I might add, is just one of many stories that I have read on shelters falling short of the duties they should be upholding for the betterment of the animals they are supposed to be standing for. When those animals have lived through hell, lost their lives, been made to suffer in ways most people don’t even want to think about, why is it that there is no real repercussions for the actions of the so called humans that are responsible. I makes no sense to me… just angers and saddens me. If you don’t want to stand for the animals, care for them, protect them, feed, water, love them, and find safe and loving homes for them then don’t open up or work in a shelter and pretend that you do. These poor animals don’t need your false and fake bull, they need the real deal.

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