Discussion: Animal Cruelty or Shelter Failure?

There is an interesting case in VA involving a dog owner charged and convicted of animal cruelty over his decision to euthanize his ailing dog.  He is appealing the conviction.  Please read the article and share your thoughts.  Some questions to help generate discussion:

Did the animal shelter staff adequately serve this member of their community who had no experience with end of life decisions for his dog?

How could the ACO determine how many seizures Buxton had and what, if any, amount of suffering he experienced during the 4 day period cited when no one outside the family had any contact with the dog?

Does an owner who sets up a chair in the backyard to stay with her terminally ill pet while he paces all night sound like someone AC should charge with cruelty?

Besides telling the owner he needed to be a county resident in order to have his dog euthanized at the pound and possibly telling him to take the dog to a vet, what else should shelter staff have done?

For those of you experienced with end of life decisions for your pets, have you encountered grey areas which caused you to struggle with the decisions?  Did you ever consider during these times that your local AC might charge you with cruelty?

(Thanks Lisa and Michele for the link.)

Another Video Rahm Emanuel Never Wanted You to See

Some of you may remember in spring of last year when it was reported that a Chicago ACC employee strangled a dog to death with a chokepole.  The city refused to release the internal video of the killing and the press had to sue to get it.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration fought against the video’s release, as it did in the case of the killing of a human being by a police officer, but was eventually forced to let the public see the truth.  And it’s as awful as you’d imagine:

The video (with no audio) shows the dog thrashing, then going quiet, lying motionless on the ground after one or more of the poles apparently cut off the animal’s airflow. A few seconds later, the video shows the dying animal being dragged down the hall by the neck.

Note:  poleS.  Pound employees strung the dog, named Spike, up in two chokepoles.  Other people stood watching while the dog was being tortured.  And if this isn’t vomity enough for you:

City records obtained by the [Better Government Association] under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act indicate the two ACC workers “struggled with the dog until the dog eventually collapsed,” and a supervisor “came into the unloading area and informed the Officers to ‘Let him breathe.’”

While one of the ACC workers indicated “his pole was loose,” the other employee “proceeded to drag the dog by his neck down the hallway and into the Euthanasia Room then proceeded to use the control pole to lift the dog by the neck into the cage,” the city records show.

After the choking incident, “a veterinarian examined the dog and confirmed he was alive,” the spokesman said. “However, the dog died within 30 minutes prior to the scheduled euthanasia.”

So they strangled Spike until he fell out, then dragged him by a metal noose around his neck, then hanged him in the noose to get him into a cage, had some sort of VET verify the dog still had a pulse, then left him to suffer until he died. But don’t worry, the workers who tortured the dog and those who watched but did nothing to save him – well actually, go ahead and worry:

Three employees were suspended without pay. The longest suspension was 20 days.

Gee.  Sounds serious.  Apparently the city of Chicago has a tiered justice system, with city employees sitting at the top, spitballing everyone below.  Prepare to be spat upon:

Today Chicago Animal Care and Control’s acting director, Ivan Capifali, says in a written statement:
“Following a review of the episode that occurred in March of 2014, CACC quickly disciplined three employees and provided special training on animal handling to CACC employees. In fact, a video on animal handling that was created by CACC in partnership with the National Animal Care and Control Association (NACA) is not only shown to all new CACC staff, it is now used by NACA in training nationwide.”

Chicago, that shining city upon a hill, excels so damn hard at killing then trying to suppress the evidence, it must be held up as an example for the entire country. You know your city is good when protesters stand outside the mayor’s house, demanding he resign.

I’m sorry the people paid to protect you from harm tortured you to death, Spike.  I’m sorry too that everyone involved is still uh, protecting animals from harm at the Chicago pound.

The city is reportedly looking for a new director to run the pound.  I can’t imagine any compassionate person would be willing to work with animal abusers and enablers.  But I guess compassion is not a job requirement in Chicago.

(Thank you to everyone who sent me this story.)

Yes Virginia, There are Real Monsters

David Wills, who led Michigan InHumane in the 80s then worked as a vice-president for HSUS, was arrested and charged last month with crimes relating to the sexual abuse of a child in Texas.  It’s his third arrest this year.

He is charged with two felonies, Continuous Trafficking of a Child and Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child.

Wills and a woman from Brownsville, Maria Losoya, are accused of forcing a female under the age of 14 to perform a long list of sexual acts including prostitution.

Wills, who fled both Michigan InHumane and HSUS amidst massive embezzlement scandals, bonded out of jail on his previous two arrests but this time would have to raise $100k in order to get out. Perhaps he has invested his embezzled funds wisely over the years and can cough up the cash. But hopefully not.

Predators often seek out jobs where they can access victims – preferably voiceless, vulnerable victims who can’t fight back.  And the link between animal cruelty and domestic violence is well established.  Does anyone think it’s a coincidence that Wills previously held leadership positions with organizations known to harm animals?

To those who blindly defend organizations that kill shelter pets and attack anyone who criticizes the killing with worn out excuses like “of course everyone who works here loves animals”, “we are all on the same team”, blahcetera: David Wills is not on my team.  You can keep him.

(Thanks Nathan for the link.)

Another Pound in the Magical North Under Investigation by Police

It sounds like at least some of the public employees in Oxford, CT don’t like local resident Vickie Tkacz. Ms. Tkacz is a nurse who also breeds dogs and apparently has trouble keeping her dogs in her yard.

In 2011, two of Tkacz’s Newfoundlands got loose and one of them killed another dog. That same year, a 7 week old puppy named Mia went missing from Ms. Tkacz’s home. She says she searched all over for Mia and called Oxford Animal Control repeatedly to inquire if Mia was there. Ms. Tkacz says she left numerous messages for ACO Cori Wlasuk for an entire week. Those messages were apparently never logged:

After the seventh day, Animal Control Officer Sandy Merry returned Tkacz’s calls and told her that the dog had been adopted because they didn’t hear from Tkacz within seven days, Tkacz said.

Ms. Tkacz reportedly saw a photo of a Newf on ACO Wlasuk’s Facebook page recently and recognized the dog as being from her lines. She believes that dog is Mia and that the ACO was the “adopter” from 2011. Ms. Tkacz filed a police report alleging the theft of the dog. She says she can prove Mia’s identity via DNA testing.

State police are currently investigating the pound and although the details of the investigation haven’t been made public, it presumably has to do with the alleged theft of Mia. First Selectman George R. Temple has closed the pound indefinitely while the investigation continues.

Temple told Tkacz at last week’s [Board of Selectmen] meeting that he sees her dogs roaming from time to time.

“Well I’m sorry I can’t contain them,” she replied. “Give me a ticket, but don’t steal them.”

This is the kind of situation every AC should be prepared to deal with – if containment is the issue, work with the owner to find a solution.  There are always going to be conflicts between AC and some of the residents they serve.  They should be handled in a professional manner by ACOs trained in conflict resolution.

It sounds like in this case AC was perhaps less interested in helping and more interested in punishing, possibly stealing an expensive puppy in the process.    I hope DNA testing is conducted to definitively determine if the Newf living with the ACO is Mia.  And if that turns out to be the case, I hope justice is served.

It is up to AC to lead by example.  If the selectman doesn’t like the behavior of a local dog owner, maybe he needs to take a look at how his town’s AC is demonstrating personal responsibility with regard to dog ownership.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)


Weekend Jade

2015 1224 jade wen

A long winter’s nap.

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments, anytime.  New Open Threads are posted weekly.

weddell seals


Merry Christmas!

Celebrating the human-animal bond with photos and captions submitted by readers:

xmas anne s

This is a photo of my daughters and our pit bull Trixie, having a sleepover in the living room. Trixie was a stray living in a vacant lot. Wiley, she was able to evade all efforts to capture her until she spotted my husband with the word “sucker” written across his forehead and trotted right on up to him. And that’s how we got a third dog. – Anne S.

xmas amd.JPG

This is of happier times. Left to right Kathryn with Roxie, Paul with Sidewinder, Shane with Paige (daughter) and Beethoven. – Anne Marie

xmas lisa

Lisa and Sir Digby Chicken Caesar. Digby came from the Rowan County, NC, pound. He’s the kind of impulsive, over-exuberant dog who jumps all over potential adopters and gets labeled a “behavior problem” at many pounds. Fortunately for Digby, he ended up jumping on the right person, and now he’s in training to be an agility and flyball dog. – Lisa

xmas cr

A girl and her dog. R.I.P., Rosie, May 8, 2002-March 23, 2015. A very good dog. – Claire

xmas leslie

Gladys, a 15-year-old deaf cat owner-surrendered to the shelter, embracing my arm shortly after joining my family in August. Any time I pet her, she grabs my arm like this. – Leslie in San Lorenzo, CA

xmas susanne

Harry whom I rescued from certain death at Worcester County Animal Control, is the most lovable and dignified soul. He loves to snuggle and be carried around in a sling while you do chores. I love him so much. – Susanne

xmas susanne2

My son Zak and my rescued pit bull type dog Jenny. I pulled Jenny from animal control where I vol to save her from being killed in July 2011. I intended to foster her but failed as a foster and adopted her myself. She is one of the loves of my life! – Susanne

xmas jenn

Here is a photo of me saying “see ya later!” to a shelter dog on his way to a rescue foster home. I put out a call for help (as a shelter volunteer) for this little guy, now named Rocco, as he was getting overlooked at the shelter and his spirit was dying. Rocco was adopted by his foster family because he immediately deeply bonded with the husband. They adore him and send me pictures of him often. I love this picture of us! – Jenn

xmas stacey

SPCA of Brazoria County (Texas) shelter employee Sam feeding an orphaned kitten. – Stacey

xmas bobbie

This is Justus, a would be Black and Tan Coonhound, probably Doberman mix, and I think he has Poodle in there somewhere. When his rescue didn’t want to keep him because he wasn’t a B&T, I adopted him at cost. He is my traveling companion and my big bud. He is a “Whineramer,” because he whines, and a Guy Magnet, because when my girlfriend kept him while I was in the store, 4 guys came up to see him…..Justus also still considers himself a lap dog. In this photo, he is lending support to my back. – Roberta

xmas eu

Bertie Woofster & Eucritta in Northern California.

xmas jane

This photo is of my son, Zach with former foster dog Milkshake. – Jane

xmas karen

Vera at her nursery in Seattle with Bruce. – Karen F.

xmas danielle

Sometimes Indy insists on holding hands when we snuggle. – Danielle S, GA.

Thank you to everyone who sent in these truly lovely photos for this post. And thank you to all my readers for sharing part of your day here all year long. I appreciate you and everything you do to help animals in need. Pets are family.

Treats on the Internets

Ownership of a dog adopted from the Athens-Clarke County Animal Shelter in GA is being disputed between the man who says he lost her and the woman who adopted her.  He says:  Dog got lost, he called shelter twice, they said they didn’t have dog, then he saw his dog’s picture on the shelter’s website, called again and was told the dog had already been adopted.  He FOIA’d the dog’s records to get the adopter’s information.  She says:  She adopted the dog in good faith then 3 months later this guy starts harassing her about getting his dog back.  She has filed a restraining order against the man.  The shelter says:  We followed the law.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Syrian families have been ravaged by war.  Some have walked hundreds of miles with their dogs, hoping to find refuge.  Cats have been taken aboard rafts by their people.  Other cats, left behind when the owners were killed or forced to flee for their lives, are being cared for by a local resident.  Many animals have fared far worse.

A dog with a phony rabies certificate was imported from Egypt to the U.S. by a rescue group.  He turned out to be rabid.  The other 7 dogs and 27 cats who were imported with him were not infected.

Someone apparently brought more than 60 dogs to a remote, wooded area in Searcy Co Arkansas, poisoned them, then opened fire.  Fifty-six dogs were found dead, another one was grievously wounded and had to be euthanized by the game warden.  Four survivors have been captured and are being sheltered by the Searcy Co HS.  Volunteers are still trying to capture at least one other survivor.  Police are investigating.  (Thanks Susan.)

Researchers found that dogs may be capable of some form of empathy, which is apparently news to researchers.

Not the Xmas card you were expecting?

Christmas: Nailed It



Gloucester Co Pound: Vile and Not Random

When the Gloucester Co pound in NJ killed Moe, an owned microchipped cat upon impound in September, county spokeswoman Debra Sellitto defended the killing, stating that it “wasn’t a random decision.”

*ding ding ding*  Correct!

How not random was it?  An October inspection of the pound conducted by the NJ Department of Health found that between January 2 and October 9 of this year, the county killed 312 cats, 71 dogs and 1 pet rabbit before the required 7 day holding period had expired.  But wait, there’s more not random horrible.  The state inspector noted the following (my summary):

  • Cats, including Moe and other healthy cats, were routinely killed by jabbing them in the gut with Fatal Plus instead of the required IV injection.
  • Cats were not weighed, as required, to determine the amount of Fatal Plus necessary to kill them.  Instead cats were generally given 1 ml and kittens were given 1/2 ml – except those who were given a little more or a little less, based upon the whim of the kill tech.  Hey, it’s only science, why fuss?
  • There were no records indicating that any of the other animals killed at the pound were weighed either.
  • After animals were jabbed with the Oh Whatever amount of Fatal Plus, no one was verifying they were actually dead before disposing of them.
  • The certification documents for the kill techs did not specify what methods they were certified in, as required.
  • A few animals were being scanned for microchips upon impound or before killing but most were not.
  • Cats in the isolation room were each placed into a holding cage while their primary cage was cleaned.  The holding cage was not cleaned between cats.
  • A lethargic kitten with a thick nasal discharge had her face down on the cage floor in the feral cat room.  She could barely open her eyes.  Despite being clearly ill, she was housed with a healthy kitten and only removed from the cage during cleaning.  After being returned to the cage, no notes were made indicating the kitten was sick and in need of veterinary care.
  • Cages were not being disinfected properly because who has time for that?

So yeah, not random.  A systemic failure to meet even the minimal care standards required by law.  But remember, don’t criticize:

“It is truly an unfair evaluation to say that the director and staff of the animal shelter are cruel. The staff of the GCAS are dedicated to animals. Otherwise they would not be working there,” said Sellitto. “Bill Lombardi and his staff go above and beyond every day for the animals that are surrendered to the shelter, by working hard to find them loving and caring homes so they are not brought back to the shelter.

Maybe stop going “above and beyond every day” and just try to get to bare minimums. Any day. Cause that would be an epic improvement.

As for accountability – Barnacles!

At least one person faces disciplinary action, according to Sellitto, noting the county is not required to disclose personnel files due to employees’ privacy rights.

So basically yes, the Gloucester pound kill techs, who may or may not have been properly trained in killing animals, are jabbing some amount of Fatal Plus into pets who haven’t been scanned for microchips nor held for the required 7 days before being tossed into the Probably Dead bin – all of which is against the law – but using the word ‘cruel’ is way over the line. After all, everyone loves animals or they wouldn’t work here.  Just ask this snotting kitten lying on her face – note the cage has been cleaned, improperly sure but still. Plus, some mystery person might be disciplined over all this loving animals so haven’t you people gotten your pound of flesh yet?

(Thanks Clarice and Jan for the links.)