San Diego Co Pound Volunteers Go Public with Concerns

Dog ID #1683976 pictured on the County of San Diego Animal Services website.
Dog ID #1683976 pictured on the County of San Diego Animal Services website.

More than a dozen current and former volunteers with the County of San Diego Animal Services recently shared some concerns with The San Diego Union-Tribune. Among the volunteers’ complaints are needless killings, poor conditions, and retaliation against volunteers who speak out. The allegations mirror some of those made in lawsuits filed by former vets at the facility.

Former pound volunteer Bonnie Kutch quit after years of service and now volunteers with a different shelter. She says of the county pound:

“They were euthanizing perfectly good dogs to make space for other dogs coming in, and not devoting enough effort to getting the existing dogs adopted,” she said.

Additional problems noted by the group of vols:

Not only are officials too quick to put down pets, volunteers say, they resist practices that could lead to more adoptions, such as opening on Sundays like many shelters do so more animals can be adopted out at a time convenient to the public.

The volunteers say many shelter animals languish in cages for days or even weeks at a time without walks, making them “kennel crazy” and lessening their chance to be adopted.

Vols who asked if they could walk dogs say they were told to wash dishes instead or were kicked out.

Longtime pound director Dawn Danielson killsplained all the things to the Union-Tribune, including claiming that the county has maintained a 0% kill rate for dogs deemed healthy and friendly for the past 6 years. (Never you mind about the 6600 pets killed last year. They were all unhealthy and unfriendly, it says so right here in this note I just typed.) And as for those pesky vols wanting to get dogs out of their cages for walks, this ain’t no doggie day spa:

“It’s nice to get the dogs out, but it’s not required,” Danielson said. “We want them to be able to urinate and defecate in their kennels” because it helps prevent infections.

Right. Ask anyone in the business of trying to prevent infections. They’ll tell you the first thing you want to do is shit on the floor you eat off of.  That’s Hygiene 101 right there.

She said her priority with adoptable dogs is to promote “kennel enrichment,” spending quiet time with the animals inside their cages so they learn to be calm when potential adopters arrive.

Quiet time – good one.  I imagine the line to sign up for squeezing into cages with unexercised shelter dogs so they can jump on you with their poopy paws while pleading “Let me OUT!” in the most dramatic way they can manage is probably super long.  Any vols still have their front teeth?

Anyway, the director isn’t asking for much:

“All we ask of our volunteers is to follow the rules and to work with us and follow our philosophy.”

The philosophy apparently being Suck.  And Kill.  And also Suck.  Who wouldn’t want to get on board with that?

(Thanks Clarice and Teresa for the link.)

7 thoughts on “San Diego Co Pound Volunteers Go Public with Concerns

  1. All we ask of our volunteers is to follow the rules and work with us and follow our 1956 philosophy of how to care for dogs.

    Interesting that she knows the words “kennel enrichment”, but doesn’t seem to understand the vital role that getting OUT of a kennel plays in a dog’s well-being.

    Sounds like this longtime pound director needs to start spending time elsewhere. Like maybe remotest Africa. Or the moon.

      1. So now we are going to clutter up outer space? Yeah, I guess that would be better than anywhere on earth where there are living beings who need to be cared for.

  2. A San Diego coalition that the pound is part of announced its intention last summer to stop killing for space — the change was covered by the same paper, but a different reporter, in July:

    The head of the SD Humane Society, which apparently is located right next door to the pound, was the lead interviewee. He was very positive about the relationships between the different groups in the coalition, drawing special attention to them:

    “The unique part of this relationship is that we get along so well in this coalition,” Weitzman said. . . . “That is not typical of animal welfare throughout the nation. Everybody has their own way of doing things, and it’s very difficult to come together. This community came together.”

    The story goes on to recount the various initiatives that have been saving lives in San Diego, and many of them seem to have come from the SD Humane Society:

    “Two years ago, the San Diego Humane Society opened a behavioral center to make unruly animals more adoptable. Weizman said it is used by all coalition members and annually rehabilitates about 1,000 animals, mostly dogs, that otherwise would have been euthanized.

    “The coalition also launched a program three years ago that offers free or subsidized spaying and neutering. In 2009, the Humane Society opened a rare 24-hour kitten nursery, which has found homes for 10,000 cats.

    “The coalition last year also expanded the number of foster homes for animals from 400 to almost 1,500, allowing the shelters to take in more animals, Weitzman said.

    “In another important change, agreements among coalition members allow shelters that cannot treat an animal with a life-threatening condition to send it to another shelter that can treat it.”

    So it seems pretty clear that the pound director, who doesn’t understand basic things like the fact that dogs need to be walked and that pooping and peeing in kennels is undesirable, is failing massively in comparison to the group next door, which is doing great, and other organizations in the coalition.

    But the SD Humane Society also seems to be conspicuously silent about the pound’s failings, perhaps due to the SDHS chief’s desire for everybody to “get along so well.” This is another kind of failure — it leaves the volunteers on their own as they try to bring about change, making their effort far more difficult. We can hope that the head of the SDHS and other humane leaders are working quietly behind the scenes to get the pound director replaced. But there’s no way to know whether they are or not. These executives need to show some leadership, the operative word being “show.”

  3. I wonder if the lucky few folk who can manage to adopt from this lovely place are encouraged to let their dogs use the indoor floors for a toilet area? Because it’s so healthy apparently, and after I sweated all those hours of house breaking.
    And keep the dogs in a nice cozy cupboard for days on end, because of the enrichment opportunities.
    This is beyond ignorant or lying, it’s either delusional or evil. Or all of the above.

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