There is a video on Facebook of a dog being physically and emotionally abused by a pound employee in Charles Co, MD. I’m not posting it here because I want to make sure that no reader views it without reading a warning first. It’s disturbing. As in, I have had trouble sleeping since I first saw it on the weekend. I don’t think I’ll ever get the horrifying audio and visuals out of my mind. For anyone who chooses not to watch but would still like to know the basics of what happens in the video, I will summarize from memory but bear in mind that I only watched it once. I won’t be watching it again.
The dog, an apparently young black lab mix, is ostensibly being temperament tested by a pound worker using the method popularized by Sue Sternberg. There is at least one other person in the room. The worker holds a bowl of food over the dog, which the dog attempts to reach by jumping repeatedly. The worker screams at the dog and slaps her in the face. When she finally sets the bowl on the floor, the confused dog avoids it, obviously trying to offer a different behavior than the one that earned the abuse. The worker then encourages the dog to eat the food which she does. Then the worker pokes the dog in the face with a plastic hand on a stick and again abuses the dog.
It’s heartbreaking how the dog is trying so hard to please, placing her trust in the person, getting betrayed, trying again…
Someone with a stronger stomach than me might be able to correct my summary or offer a better one by re-watching the vid. But that’s what I remember from my one viewing.
Let me be clear: I think the Sue Sternberg behavioral assessment for shelter dogs is rubbish when applied correctly. This worker clearly is not applying it correctly. And questions must be asked:
- Is the worker in the video still being paid to work with animals at the pound?
- How many shelter dogs has this worker abused – during “testing” and at other times?
- Who trained this worker in temperament testing?
- Are all the workers at the pound conducting their temperament tests in this same manner?
- Is the pound killing dogs based on the workers’ assessments?
I reached out to the pound for comment on the video and Kim Stephens, a supervisor at the pound sent me a statement from the chief of AC:
As the Charles County Chief of Animal Control, I am responsible for day-to-day operations at the Tri-County Animal Shelter (TCAS) located in Hughesville, Md. Recently, I became aware of a video posted on Facebook depicting an interaction between a TCAS employee and an animal in the shelter’s care. The behavior depicted in the video is inconsistent with adopted TCAS practices and procedures, and will be thoroughly investigated.
C. Edward Tucker, Chief
Charles County Animal Control
The statement does not answer any of my questions. I believe the public has an immediate right to know if this worker is still hurting animals and being paid by taxpayers to do it. Further, I believe it is incumbent upon Mr. Tucker to immediately publicly disclose what steps he has taken to protect the animals at the pound from abuse in light of this video.
If you wish to contact Mr. Tucker, please keep your comments respectful. We can condemn the actions depicted in the video in the strongest possible terms while still being an effective voice for the animals by maintaining civility:
C. Edward Tucker, Chief (301) 609-3400, ext. 3, (301) 609-3425
Other parties to contact:
And since the Charles Co pound advertises on its website that it participates in the HSUS Emergency Placement Partner program, you may wish to contact HSUS to let them know what’s going on at the facility where they are sending animals in need of care.
(Thank you Arlene for sending me this video.)