Rowan Co Pound Gets a Million Dollar Donation and Totally Blows It

rowan co cat

Cat ID #A103582 at the Rowan Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

In February 2016, the Rowan Co pound in NC unveiled a new cat wing.  The $1.1 million, 160 cage area of the facility was supposed to be an enormous upgrade for cats who were previously housed in groups inside dog runs. Anti-microbial floors, an isolation area and separate ventilation systems for each room were designed to keep cats healthy. Donor Christine Morykwas paid the bill but she didn’t simply hand over the money and hope for the best. She demanded better care for the cats:

[…]Morykwas required Rowan County to adopt specific medical treatment and sanitation protocols.
[…]
[F]our full-time staff members and four part-time staff members who are specifically responsible for cleaning the cat wing [were added].

On August 23, the state of NC failed Rowan Co on its routine inspection, primarily because of the suck-ass conditions in the cat wing:

The inspection found feces smeared on the inside of cat cages, dirty and wet cage surfaces, a generally messy cat isolation room, a record keeping system that makes it hard to identify cats, peeling paint in dog holding areas and other issues.
[…]
In the stray cat room, an inspector found three cat cages that were “very dirty.” One of the cages contained a mother cat and five kittens and was streaked with feces and litter.

Upon seeing all the filth in the cat wing, the inspector asked when the afternoon cleaning begins. The director responded with a reassuring *shrug*. Another staffer offered that the inspector happened to be there on the only weekday when they actually have no afternoon cleaning crew but said the staff did do spot cleaning. The inspector, who was there more than 2 hours that afternoon, noted that she did not see any evidence of spot cleaning. In fact, no one bothered to clean up even the most egregious offenses the inspector was pointing out during the time she was there.

The fancy anti-microbial floors hadn’t been swept or mopped, apparently in some time.

There were no cage cards or any other animal records in the cat wing.  When the inspector asked to see records for cats under medical care, she was told there were no paper records as everything was done on the computer.  When she asked to see the computer records, the staff was unable to access them.

The Salisbury Post asked Rowan County Manager Aaron Church about the failed inspection and he issued this really swell statement:

“Summer brings an increase of animals,” he said in an emailed response. “This is our first summer with the cat wing and issues during the beginning are to be expected. However, we have excellent staff and fully expect that things will continue to improve while providing a service to the citizens and animals of Rowan County.”

Your “excellent” staff members are not doing their jobs. The “issues” are negligence and/or incompetence. In order to “continue to improve” you have to have some improvement to start with. It’s been 6 months.  How much longer do you need to figure out that shit smeared cages are supposed to be cleaned?  Did Rowan Co think the anti-microbial floors were going to sweep themselves?

The county manager told WCCB that the pound’s veterinarian, Dr. Robert Krawczyk, was fired on August 23 – the date of the failed inspection. He’d only been on the job for 3 weeks:

Church tells me the decision to terminate Krawczyk was, in part due to the inspection, as well as previous issues.
The termination letter (see pictures) accuses Krawczyk of “improper comments to staff and visitors,” “failure to properly document medications,” “failure to complete an assigned daily task,” and “lack of attention to detail in applying medical treatment and evaluations.”

Yes, he definitely sounds excellent. You know who else is excellent?

Church tells me he and Shelter Director Bob Pendergrass talked about the inspection for three hours today. He says, “Bob doing an excellent job,” and, “Bob is new to the position and we have a lot of employees.”
To be exact, there are 8 animal control enforcement officers, 4 full time shelter attendants and 4 part time shelter attendants as well as the director and the shelter vet (now vacant; the search for a new shelter vet is already underway, says Church.).

Oh man, it’s a hard job.  I feel sooooooooo sorry for people who have hard jobs.  It sounds like work.  Oh the humanity!  Somehow, presumably during the never ending toil of hard labor and beneath a sweaty brow, the director managed a response:

Pendergrass sent me a statement today, that says, “The purpose of the state inspections is to help us be aware of and address any issues that their experience reveals during the inspection so that we can to do a better job. Staff is meeting internally and working hard to come up with a plan to address those concerns with a plan of action. We have a great staff and will make sure that they are addressed thoroughly.”

Great staff? Why I’ve heard they’re excellent!

But let’s get one thing straight, bub:  The purpose of the state inspections is not to babysit you and remind you to wash your hands before dinner and make your bed.  The purpose of the state inspections is to hold you accountable – to reassure taxpayers that you are at least meeting the bare minimum standards required to prevent you from being shut down.  You failed.  You should be exceeding these rock bottom minimums by a mile – because it’s your job.

Three days after the failed inspection, the Salisbury Post published a piece from the Rowan Co pound director.  In it, he perpetuates the long debunked myth of pet overpopulation and touts his facility’s “outstanding record” which you know, long live irony.

And since we have just enough room left for one more enabler, enter County Commissioner Craig Pierce:

Despite the improvements, he said county officials “aren’t sitting on our laurels” and continue to pursue animal-related policy changes. The alternative, he said, is for the Rowan County Animal Shelter to euthanize a larger percentage of its animals.

“If all we had to do was euthanize the animals, we could have the cleanest shelter ever,” Pierce said.

Oh dear.  Maybe you should just go sit on your laurels.  In that corner over there.  No waaaaay over there.  Keep going.  I’ll tell you when to stop.

Ms. Morykwas is not pleased:

“Just like you can lead a horse to water, you give these people a million-dollar cat wing, and they still can’t do it right,” she said in an interview with the Salisbury Post. “I don’t regret it, but I’m saddened by what’s going on. It would convince me not to invest anything else.”

[…]

“There just needs to be a complete overhaul,” she said. “Maybe one of these centuries, we will finally get someone in there that knows what they’re doing.”

Rowan Co is not committed to lifesaving.  Taxpayers need to demand better – starting with their county officials all the way down to part-time shelter staff.  It takes a special kind of incompetence to completely screw up a million dollar donation in a matter of months (or weeks, in the vet’s case).  I’d hate to think what these people are capable of over the long term – and what their enablers are capable of attempting to justify.

(Thanks Lisa.)

Weekend Jade

082816 jade

Weedeater.

Open Thread

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

albert

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Adoptable Fat-Headed Dogs in Memphis: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Memphis Animal Services got a new director this summer. Dogs labeled as pitbulls at the facility would not notice.

MAS continues its long tradition of discrimination against any dog labeled pitbull or pitbull mix by staff – regardless of how inaccurate the labels might be.  And it’s not because of any terrible law on the books – it’s a choice made by the pound, because they can.  These dogs are largely kept behind locked doors in “stray”, away from the areas where the public is allowed to look for a new pet.  Even if an adopter knew MAS had more dogs in the “stray” cages and was able to get an employee to unlock the doors and escort them through the area, they wouldn’t be allowed to take home a pet they fell in love with because MAS discriminates against pitbulls.  Adopters are required to submit to background checks and to a fence inspection by MAS staff (if they get around to it before the dog is killed) before being allowed to save a dog labeled pitbull.

And if all of this doesn’t convince you of breed discrimination by MAS, take a look at the 17 dogs on the “disposition list” for Friday.  These dogs all appear to be young and healthy, most of them have been tested for heartworm and come up negative, and all of them were labeled pitbull or pitbull mix by MAS staff before being locked away in the stray area.  Yesterday afternoon, rescuers received emails from MAS notifying them that all these dogs have until 4:45pm Friday.

There are a number of 3 – 6 month old puppies in the bunch and many beautiful adult dogs as well.  All photos were posted by Memphis Pets Alive on social media:

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(Thanks Jenn.)

Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals – Sumter Co Edition

buddy sumter co

Buddy, as pictured on Facebook.

A dog named Buddy was on the kill list at the Sumter Co pound in Florida this month.  Animal advocates say the Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter Co, which partners with animal control, posted him with the wrong picture and an incorrect ID number, making his chances for rescue rather slim.  But thanks to the efforts of rescuers who did not give up on Buddy, a foster was found at the last minute.

A rescuer reportedly called the Sumter Co pound at 4:45pm on August 15 to let the staff know that Buddy was definitely going to be pulled.  The HS/SPCA, which has limited hours and is never open past 3pm, was already closed but someone reportedly did answer the call about Buddy:

Their response was he has to be out of the building by 5pm. Well the HSSPCA was closed and we were in Tampa. We told them he could be pulled in the morning and they said policy says he has to be out of the building by closing.

It was impossible for anyone to physically get to the facility to pull Buddy within the 15 minutes allotted by the pound.  Buddy was reportedly killed the next morning, immediately upon opening, before rescuers could get inside to save him.

This is usually where the people in charge issue some response along the lines of oops.  Not in this case.  In fact, the HS/SPCA board chair, Celine Petrie, not only made no attempt to claim the killing was in error, she went so far as to issue a general non-apology, not mentioning Buddy and by the way, she wants credit for the lives they did allow rescuers to save:

“While we regret every animal where a life is lost, we have saved 1,054 animals this year,” she said.

She can’t conjure up any fake sympathy for Buddy, specifically? Does she even know his name? She sure knows the exact number of lives rescuers have saved, which she wants credit for.  Just a vague “where a life is lost” – as if it’s something other than a friendly, healthy dog being held down on a kill table and having the life snuffed out of him by people who knew he was wanted.  Some cold brew there.

Fifty animal advocates attended the Sumter Co commissioners meeting this week seeking reform.  They asked the county to do more than respond to vicious dog calls during off-hours:

After hearing their concerns, commissioners asked County Administrator Bradley Arnold to work on addressing the problems in the next county budget, which will be enacted next month.

While it remains to be seen whether this leads to any improvement at the Sumter Co pound, it doesn’t address the real issue.  The county has people working at the pound who intentionally killed a pet whom they knew had a home waiting for him.  Until the county gets rid of all those capable of this kind of violence, along with everyone making excuses for them, there will be no meaningful reform in Sumter Co.

Buddy’s killing is a betrayal of public trust in Sumter Co.  Worse, it is a betrayal of the rescue community, on whose backs the animals are being saved.  Worst of all, it is a betrayal of Buddy, a sentient being who had a right to live but fell into the hands of public servants paid to protect him who, instead of doing their jobs, killed him with malice aforethought.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Weekend Jade

082116 BLUR

Out of more than 50 shots, most of which admittedly only captured body parts, this was the least blurry. 

Open Thread

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

service.dog and boy

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Name That Animal

I hope no one minds if we just play a Name That Animal today.  I need a tiny, dashing bird in my life today. Oh look!

nta

As a reminder – this is just for fun. The only rule is no researching. Post your guesses in the comments. Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is something you might come to regret later in life optional. Answer will be posted in the comments tonight.

New MAS Director Writes “I approve humane euthanasia for this pet” an Awful Lot

Below are some of the many pets killed at the Memphis pound on July 12, 2016.  The complete records, as provided by the city via FOIA request, can be found here (part 1) and here (part two).

This is one of four kittens who lived at MAS for a week. Records indicate the kittens were housed in FERAL 01, were eating cat food well and would sleep together in a pile. There are no notes indicating any of the kittens were sick, malnourished, or losing weight. All four were killed on July 12 when MAS suddenly determined, after they’d been apparently thriving for a week, they were too young to survive.  Oops?:

mas kitten too young

This cat’s intake condition was listed as “injured” on July 7 but there are no notes that any veterinary care – even an examination – was ever provided. It’s unclear if he truly was injured.  Romeo was killed for “time/space” on July 12.  Oops?:

mas cat time

Kitten ID 288617 was part of a litter surrendered to MAS.  The family was housed in cage number ER 04:

mas 288617 card

All the kittens’ medical notes are identical and were presumably copied and pasted into each individual record on July 9:

mas 288617 med

The family was killed on July 12 because three of the kittens had colds:

mas 288617 kill

This would appear to be the kittens’ mother, Mona.  Her record indicates she was housed in cage number ER 04, with her litter:

mas mona card

MAS provided no medical notes for Mona so presumably, none exist.  (She was not the only pet killed by MAS on July 12 for whom no medical notes were provided.)  Mona was killed on July 12 for having a cold.  There appear to be no records supporting this claim:

mas mona

This is Molly, kitten ID 288616 at MAS.  She was housed in cage number FERAL 01, just like the kittens who were killed for being “too young”:

mas 288616 card

Molly’s age is listed on her cage card as 2 months. Her medical notes on July 9 appear to have been copied and pasted from records belonging to Mona’s litter of kittens who were described as newborns and housed in ER 04. Note that on July 9, Molly’s apparently incorrect notes state she has a cold but on July 10, “none noted” appears next to URTI, seeming to reaffirm that Molly was indeed healthy:

mas 288616 med

Molly, who was apparently healthy and whose records appear to contain notes from a different litter of kittens, was killed for having a cold on July 12.  Oops?:

mas kitten 288616

These are two of four pups who were killed despite having a rescue offer to take them after MAS determined they had been exposed to parvo. Note that their “outcome” indicates “transfer – rescue”.  Oops?:

rescue pup mas
rescue pup2 mas

Local animal advocates report that the Memphis pound has never once filled all of its roughly 550 cages since its opening several years ago. There are always many empty cages at MAS, yet animals are still killed for space which, like the overwhelming majority of killings at MAS, seems to make no sense.

In the fall, MAS will reportedly bring in Target Zero, a group which has targeted and created zero no kill communities and which advocates for dumping lost cats lacking identification back on the streets instead of sheltering them. Afterward, MAS will reportedly adopt a plan to continue killing pets for time/space (or not) for another 3 years before ending the practice. Killing for being too young/or not, having a cold/or not, being injured/or not and for having a rescue on the way will continue forever, I guess, since none of these excuses are being addressed by the new director.  And in fact, she’s signing off on them left and right.

Look, I don’t know if some or all of the animals killed by MAS on July 12 were killed by mistake. Maybe some or all were killed intentionally – despite being healthy or in some cases, treatable, despite cage space being available, despite having rescue on the way – whatever. What I do know is that killing shelter pets is wrong.

Euthanasia to end the suffering of medically hopeless pets who have been given a poor/grave prognosis by a veterinarian is something completely different than killing. It’s part of animal sheltering – a very small part. Words matter. Attempting to whitewash the needless killing, by mistake or by design, of healthy/treatable pets by referring to it as “humane euthanasia” is wrong.

The main focus of any animal shelter should be lifesaving – immediate and responsible lifesaving. If that is ever to be the focus at MAS, it must start with a director immediately and responsibly committed to it. It appears that MAS, as ever, is lacking in this area.

Some in Memphis want to excuse the new director’s killing by claiming “these things take time”. To my mind, that is nothing more than enabling the behavior. I don’t need to wait and see how many more animals MAS puts into the dumpster over the next three months, three years or three anything. Molly is too many. Mona is too many. Romeo is too many. Every pet at MAS who is left to die in his cage or is killed under the guise of “humane euthanasia” when he isn’t medically hopeless and suffering is too many.

How many more, Memphis?

(Thanks Lou Ann.)

Weekend Jade

080816 jadenewt

Sneaky idea face