Last year, Jacquelyn Johnston was a clinic supervisor at the Miami Dade pound. She killed animals for convenience in spite of the fact that the county commission had unanimously passed a no kill resolution after voters overwhelmingly demanded it. In an e-mail to rescuers last summer, Johnston described some of the pets she was going to kill unless rescuers saved them with just a few hours notice:
“Sweet big boy, now has URI’’ — upper respiratory infection.
“Nervous and shy, but warms up if you spend time with her.’’
“Older pet but would make a great senior retiree…’’
“Adopter never showed up, super sweet, already spayed, 35-40 lbs.’’
“This is the one who came in from a caring homeless man, conformed pittie’’ — pit bull terrier, illegal in Miami-Dade
“Has ticks that we are treating. Needs out by tomorrow, no more time.’’
“Just a puppy and been here too long.’’
On October 1, the troubled Lake Co pound in FL hired Johnston as director. The sheriff’s office that runs the pound reportedly clearly explained to Johnston that getting animals out alive was her number one priority and that killing animals was only to be done as a last resort.
Johnston apparently thought she was in keeping with this directive when she immediately embarked on a massive killing spree. In nine days, Johnston had killed 147 animals. Someone alerted the sheriff’s office and Johnston was fired on the spot. Too late for 147 animals, including “some dogs that could have made good pets for people” according to Lt. John Herell with the sheriff’s office. But let’s face it, the death toll could have climbed even higher had she not been shown the door.
While I do not claim to know what Johnston was thinking while she was on her killfest at Lake Co, it seems to me the situation is symptomatic of our broken shelter system. Instead of sheltering animals, they kill them. Instead of calling it killing (which is what it is), they call it euthanasia – a kindness. Instead of doing their jobs to protect and rehome animals, they violate their most basic right – the right to live. When we criticize them for killing, they tell us they are doing the best they can, we all want the same thing and that we shouldn’t judge unless we are willing to go down there and kill animals ourselves.
Everything is ass backwards and tragically, this is the norm, not the exception in our broken shelter system. When you explain to someone who would kill “just a puppy” for convenience that killing is a last resort at your facility and her job is to get animals out alive, she likely recognized the same old song and dance. Riiiight, nobody wants to kill animals, nudge nudge, wink wink.
And then she started in doing what she apparently perceived to be her job: Say one thing publicly, do the opposite behind closed doors. Call it pet overpopulation, kill animals. Blame the irresponsible public, kill animals. Say you’re doing your best to get pets into homes, kill animals. This is what these people do. They are monsters. I don’t know if they were always monsters or if working a job where they kill friendly dogs and cats for a paycheck made them that way, nor do I care. What I care about is saving shelter pets.
If Lake Co cared about protecting the lives of the animals in their care, they wouldn’t have given this new hire a few talking points, a box of Fatal Plus and sent her on her way. Lake Co should have built protections for the animals into the system. No animal killing without veterinary authorization, for example. No animal killing without approval from the sheriff’s office. No animal killing without a minimum 2 business days notice posted online listing all animals to be killed along with their photos. But apparently all Lake Co gave Johnston was the key to the drug cupboard and a nudge nudge wink wink directive that killing is a last resort.
Johnston is not an anomaly. She is typical of the type of long term employee who seeks out work in pet killing facilities. She knew the routine. She listened to the Lake Co sheriff’s office talk about saving animals and got the message: kill. This is why shelter reform is so desperately needed in this country. Not only are shelters killing animals, they are employing monsters. In Lake Co, Johnston was stopped and the animals she hadn’t yet managed to kill got lucky.
Are the animals housed in your local pet killing facility lucky? Or is the director there still killing at will, probably with the support of your elected officials who don’t care to know the truth? And are you being marginalized for your animal advocacy, being told you don’t understand what a hard job it is and that nobody wants to kill animals?
To the person or persons who spoke up for the animals being needlessly killed in Lake County – thank you. Keep going.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)