Hempstead Shelter Kills Lost Pet While Under Audit for Needless Killing

In February, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos announced his department would conduct an audit of the long troubled Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in NY. The audit was prompted by a number of complaints from local residents and animal advocates:

Among the complaints to be investigated are animal neglect and abuse, unnecessary deaths, unsanitary conditions and unqualified staff.

Diane Madden, president of Hope for Hempstead Animal Shelter, spoke at Maragos’s presser:

“Shame on Supervisor Santino, that we are here again, just a few short years later after the first audit,” Madden charged. “There was an audit done by New York State [Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office in 2012] and the [Nassau County] district attorney at the time [Kathleen Rice] called it a case study in mismanagement. …we’ll have to retrace those steps, because that audit has basically been shredded.

“Since Supervisor Santino took over, the animal shelter has worsened,” she added. “He’s brought in more patronage, he’s bullied out more experts and he’s provided no-show jobs for his [Republican] party. And the people that complained about their experiences—rescuers, current staff, past staff and volunteers—all of their pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” she added. “It’s critical that this audit be done, not just financially but operationally…Taxpayers are being cheated, and it’s long overdue that [this] is stopped.”

Maragos was asked why he chose to pursue this audit when OTHER THINGS BE HAPPENING. (I’m sorry but this excuse for neglecting shelters always gets me. As if there is a rule that we can only care about and/or do one thing at a time and shelter pets should automatically go to the bottom of any list.)

“Usually we don’t jump on the first complaint,” Maragos responded. “[In this case} we have people coming to us where life or death is involved. I think we have a responsibility to move very expeditiously and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We could not have ignored his audit. It’s within our power to care, and to represent the residents of Sullivan County.”

It’s within our power to care. That is a very good answer.

The town’s attorneys are arguing that the comptroller has no authority to examine animal treatment or anything else outside the purview of financial matters. The comptroller is willing to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to get the information the town is apparently desperate to keep hidden.

Earlier this month, a 13 year old dog named Oso who had suffered a back injury last year but was still getting around, got out of his yard and was taken to the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. Veterinary tests were requested by town officials because “Oso was not eating and walking oddly.” A bladder tumor was discovered by a vet. Oso was reportedly monitored overnight but had not improved by morning so they killed him.

In the meantime, owner Jessica De La Rosa had seen a posting on social media Friday night about Oso being taken to the Hempstead shelter. She called when the place opened the next morning to claim her dog:

[S]helter employees told her that her dog was put down and she needed to come to the shelter to identify him.

So basically, “Fuck you, fuck your whole family and fuck you.”

Ms. De La Rosa is calling for shelter reform:

“I didn’t know he was sick. Everyone loved him and he was able to walk on his own,” De La Rosa said tearfully during a news conference Thursday. “There’s no need to put down a dog without their owner’s consent.”

The Town of Hempstead, which has a history of killing owned pets, whipped out the Blame the Owner manual in response to this poor woman’s heartbreak:

Town officials at the animal shelter said they found no reports of a missing dog before he was euthanized the next morning. The dog had no collar or microchip.

They seem nice.

You know, having a 13 year old dog generally means you are not too terrible of a dog owner. An odd walk, an undiscovered bladder tumor, a refusal to eat in a strange place when lost and confused and in the care of strangers – these are all very normal things for a 13 year old dog. One who was loved, by the way. In case that matters to anyone at the Hempstead shelter.

(Thanks Clarice.)

KY Study Exposes Troubling Failures at Municipal Shelters

Warning:  Toward the end of this post, there are some graphic photos which may be disturbing to some readers.

In 2004, the state of Kentucky went from an Anything Goes type of attitude toward animal control facilities to a Well, Not Literally Anything Goes view with the enactment of the KY Humane Shelter Act.  Counties were given 3 years to comply with the new law.  It covers the bare bones of humane treatment for shelter animals, which is to say, probably most of the animals won’t end up as bare bones if the facilities provide at least these minimums.  Provisions in the law include:

  • Cages big enough for the animal to stand up, turn around and lie down in
  • Clean cages with adequate protection from the elements
  • Clean food, daily
  • Clean water, always
  • Provide sick and injured animals with veterinary care or kill them
  • Maintain basic animal records such as dates, coat color, whether the animal was reclaimed, adopted or killed
  • Provide quarantine areas for rabies hold cases
  • Be open to the public at least 24 hours per week with hours posted so visitors can see them

As noted in the recent report issued by the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, there are a number of shortfalls with the law.  Namely, there are no inspections to determine if any of the 90 county shelters in the state are in compliance and it falls upon private citizens to file a lawsuit against any facility believed to be operating outside the law.  In fact, no one has apparently ever checked to verify that the state’s shelters are meeting the law’s very basic requirements for animal care.  So the vet school conducted a study to determine the level of compliance throughout the state.  Below is my summary of some of the findings:

  • Only 17% of Kentucky’s shelters were determined to be in complete compliance with the Humane Shelter Act.  Approximately half were failing to meet 3 or more of the law’s provisions.
  • 7% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not feeding the animals daily.
  • 11% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not providing clean water to all animals.
  • 6% of shelters kept no records on the animals.
  • 5% of shelters housed animals in cages too small for them to stand up or turn around.
  • 73% of shelters were over capacity with multiple animals per cage.
  • 12% of shelters were either closed to the public or open less than 24 hours per week.
  • 22% of shelters did not have hours posted.
  • 10% of shelters housed animals in a closed room with no air circulation.
  • 24% of shelters were either possibly or definitely not providing heat for indoor housing areas in winter.
  • 37% of shelters kept animals in dirty cages.
  • 42% of shelters had no quarantine area.
  • 23% of shelters did not take cats.

The study does not include a statistic on how many of the shelters provided vet care but does reference the lack of vet care as a problem:


A KY shelter puppy in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)


A KY shelter dog in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)


KY shelter kittens in obvious need of veterinary care (Photo from the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine study)

Bearing in mind how low the bar is for KY shelters – feed and water the animals, put them in proper sized cages, clean the cages, write down “brown male dog” on a card, etc. – it is completely unacceptable that any of the state’s shelters are not meeting these most basic requirements. What’s worse, with no mandated monitoring or enforcement, the burden of attempting to hold non-compliant shelters accountable falls to the taxpayers who are already footing the bill for these failing facilities. I hope the study will be useful for animal advocates trying to drag the state forward on these issues. In the meantime, animals are suffering in KY shelters and will continue to suffer while staff gets paid to not do their jobs.

(Thanks Clarice.)


Case Update: Klein Animal Shelter Director Guilty of Cruelty

Many readers likely recall the horrors documented by the state of Texas at the Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville.  For those who don’t, click through using caution because the images are very disturbing.  In a nutshell, the untrained staff was physically abusing animals, leaving injured animals to suffer in filth without treatment, cruelly killing animals in view of other animals, mixing dead animals with live animals in cages – all while the director spent her days running a fight club of which the staff were members.  The facility has since closed, and some of the rural counties which contracted with Klein for AC have failed to secure new contracts, instead taking found animals to private vets to be killed.

Today, an update on the case.  Former shelter director Angela Wallace will spend zero days in jail:

Ms. Wallace pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor offenses in late June: Cruelty to non-livestock animals and illegal euthanasia.
She was sentenced to two years probation – the maximum length of time for misdemeanors.
She was charged $3,000 in fines and $594 in court costs for both charges and was ordered to perform 140 hours of community service, Cherokee County Attorney Dana Young told the Progress. Other conditions of probation included completing anger management classes and not owning any pets. Ms. Wallace cannot work with animals again.

If you are wondering what happened to the felony charge against Wallace, she utilized a state law which allowed her to admit guilt while not being prosecuted for it. If you are wondering where the justice is for the animals who suffered such heartbreaking abuse during Wallace’s time at the shelter, I got nothing.  I also have no information on what is happening with the other two employees who were charged in connection with the case but presumably, if the person in charge got off with probation, the subordinates will probably get less.  Maybe a bouquet with a “sorry we charged you” card from the DA’s office, I don’t know.

(Thanks Stephen, Clarice and Nathan.)

Virginia ACO Charged with Felony Cruelty

Nottoway County, Virginia pays one man to care for the county’s lost and homeless animals.  That man is now on unpaid leave after being charged with two felony counts of animal abuse.  Both charges stem from shelter pets the ACO allegedly left to suffer without veterinary care until they were near death.

In one case, a terrier who was unable to stand was left in a cage without treatment or pain medication for two weeks before a rescuer transported him to a group willing to take the dog to a vet.  A court document indicates the ACO claimed he took the dog to a vet initially, received a $2000 estimate but opted instead to leave the dog at the pound for the five day holding period before killing him.  I wonder if he thinks fulfilling the holding period requirement earns him extra credit on the test.  When the rescuer requested copies of the vet records at the time the dog was being transferred, the ACO reportedly said he had thrown them out since he was just going to kill the dog anyway.  WRIC reports the dog had to be euthanized.

In the second case, a kitten was impounded with serious wounds and injuries which became infected as he sat in a filthy cage at the pound for at least five days without veterinary care.  The ACO reportedly said he had placed, then removed, a splint on the kitten’s leg (playing vet hospital is yay) and that he was holding the kitten while waiting for a feline leukemia test to arrive.  Which you know, testing for FeLV is important but not HOLD IT HOLD EVERYTHING THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD important.  The ACO reportedly told the rescuer not to post the kitten’s photo on social media.  Red flag, anyone?  Sure would be a shame if someone saw what state the kitten was in and offered to take him to a vet and ruin the ACO’s fun, I guess.  When the rescuer finally took the kitten to a vet, it was determined he had a badly infected leg wound, his pelvis was fractured and there was nerve damage to the bladder and rectum.  The kitten was unable to stand or urinate and had to be euthanized.

The Nottoway Co shelter pets are currently being cared for by a neighboring county while the ACO is on leave.  Hopefully the other county has some sort of checks and balances in place so that one horrible person can’t harm animals as the whim strikes him.  Shame on the elected officials of Nottoway Co for having zero interest in what the actual hell was going on in their shelter – which was actual hell, to be accurate.

(Thanks Nathan.)

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.)

Eyewitnesses Report Seeing Maricopa Co Pound Worker Abuse Dogs

Arizona – Two sisters who went to Maricopa County’s West Valley Animal Care Center looking for pets to adopt say they heard a pound employee yelling at a pair of dogs he was trying to put into a kennel. They say they saw the worker repeatedly and violently kick the dogs, although one got most of the abuse, until the cage door was ripped off its hinges, pinning one of the dogs to the floor. The women say they filed a formal complaint at the pound regarding the incident.

Their eyewitness account of animal abuse at the Maricopa Co pound spread on social media. Kim Kulpa, an area rescuer who saw the post, went to the pound and pulled both dogs.  She says one was visibly shaken and injured:

“He was cowering on the ground as soon as I walked up and his eyes were bloodshot and his face kind of puffy, I knew something’s not right with this dog,” Kulpa said.
She decided to rescue the dogs and took Hugo to a veterinarian for x-rays and says that the injuries supported the sisters’ story.
“He had bruises on both sides of his face. She felt he had a concussion. His body had a little bit of swelling,” Kulpa said. “Consistent with blunt force or being thrown against a gate, possibly.”

The pound has placed the accused employee on administrative leave and is investigating itself in the matter. But:

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Phoenix Police tell ABC15 that they have no record of any reports being made.

Off to a good start.

Raise your paw if you have full confidence in the county’s ability to investigate itself with integrity and transparency regarding this abuse complaint which law enforcement denies exists.

Thank you to the irresponsible public for advocating for and rescuing these dogs.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Action Alert: Harnett Co Shelter Pets Suffering in Heat

These videos were submitted by an animal advocate who wishes to remain anonymous. They were reportedly taken at the Harnett Co pound in NC this week and appear to show cats suffering in the summer heat:

I don’t know what type of system is in place to keep the animals cool during the summer months at Harnett Co but whatever it is, it appears to be terribly inadequate and may be a violation of state law.  It is my understanding that the NC Department of Agriculture, responsible for overseeing the state’s animal shelters, has already been advised of this situation.  Based upon the dates of the state’s inspections of the Harnett Co facility, it doesn’t look like the place has been inspected during the summer in years.

If you wish to take action on behalf of the animals:

Send polite, respectful letters requesting an immediate fix to the heat problem at the Harnett Co pound which does not involve further harm to the animals to:

Joseph Jeffries, County Manager
102 East Front Street
Lillington, NC 27546

Phone: 910-893-7555
Fax: 910-814-2662


Whistleblower Photographs Dead Dogs All Over the Floor at CA Pound

stanislaus co

The kill room at the Stanislaus Co shelter, as shown on abc10.com.

A man on a work release program was working at the Stanislaus Co pound when he saw a number of dead dogs on the floor of the kill room. He snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. People were upset by the photo, and rightly so. Taxpayers pay for community pets to be sheltered, not killed. Moreover, it is sinister to force pets about to be killed to see, hear and/or scent other animals who are being or have just been killed.

wicked witch of the west

The last to go will see the first three go before her, hahaha.

Stanislaus Co took to Facebook and spun the public backlash this way:

Stanislaus Animal Services says “Thank You” for the ongoing continued support we have received today from the community. We have received an overwhelming number of calls and messages for support of Animal Services expressing their concern and disbelief that an inmate in our community thought it was okay to post a picture on Face Book disrespecting deceased dogs and their owners. The picture is disrespectful to the families of these dogs and was posted purely for shock value. The picture was taken down by Facebook and this person in now in custody.

All good whistleblowers go to jail in Stanislaus Co apparently.  Also, nice smear on the “inmate”.  I guess we’re supposed to imagine he’s a kiddie rapist or a serial killer or something – you know, purely for shock value.

The local kool-aid drinkers ABC affiliate did a piece on the viral photo in which they asked such hard hitting questions as:

[W]ho would take such a picture?

Probably nobody ever again, after this guy was taken away to jail.

ABC 10 reassured the public that a bunch of dead dogs on the kill room floor is totally normal:

“What’s seen and depicted in that picture is that euthanasia is complete,” [director Phillip] Zimmerman said. “The employees do a double check to make sure these animals are expired. They are getting a gurney which you don’t see, and then they put them on that and take them to refrigeration.”

According to the Sacramento and Stockton Animal shelters, as long as a pet doesn’t have to see a fellow pet euthanized, this is the common practice.

And in the accompanying video, Annette Patton from the Stanislaus Co shelter says:

We never expose an animal coming into euthanasia to see other deceased dogs.

She also explains that pets are killed up on the table, not on the floor.

So ok. I didn’t go to journalism school but I am far less concerned about who took the damn picture than I am about all the dead dogs lined up on the floor. And I have questions:

  1.  Given that the shelter rep made clear that pets are killed in that room and on that table, can anyone come up with an even slightly plausible scenario that explains how these dogs did not see, hear and/or scent all these other dogs either being killed or having just been killed?  Because I can not think of A N Y T H I N G.
  2. Is this how 7248 animals were killed last year at the Stanislaus Co pound?
stanislaus co stats

Stanislaus Co stats, as posted on its website.

Depite what the killing apologists at ABC 10 say, having dead dogs all over the kill room floor is not totally normal. The standard, as specified by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, among others, is rather the opposite:

Animals should not be permitted to observe or hear the euthanasia of another animal, nor permitted to view the bodies of dead animals.

I don’t know if state or local statutes specifically address this issue but maybe, when the sheriff’s office is done tossing bread and water to whistleblowers in the clink, they could check into that.

You know what is “disrespectful” to these dogs and their families (including the families they might have had if the county had done their jobs and sheltered them until adopted)?  Killing.  You know who is doing the killing, in an apparently inhumane manner?  Stanislaus Co.  You know who hauled a whistleblower off to jail for exposing that reality?  Stanislaus Co.

Spin that, psychopaths.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Action Alert: Animals Suffering in Clinton Co Shelter

No food or water, crammed in filthy cages, sick and dying.  These are a few of the photos taken at the Tri County Animal Shelter in Albany, KY and posted on Facebook.  Warning: There are additional photos and some videos at the links.  They are very disturbing and some appear to show dead animals.

If animals were suffering in these conditions at a citizen’s home, HSUS and/or ASPCA would be there with their logo jackets on, media in tow, bringing animals out for the cameras (before dumping them on the local rescue community after they got their fundraising ops).  I have been checking online since these photos were posted and have seen no reporting on this so-called shelter.  HSUS and ASPCA will never go there with the media and remove the animals because they enable this behavior and call us troublemakers when we demand the workers do their jobs.  They tell us to bring them cupcakes in appreciation for the work they do.  Fuck their worse than useless platitudes.

Contact Clinton Co.  Tell them to treat this emergency situation in their shelter exactly as they would if animals in these conditions were found in a citizen’s home.  The animals need immediate vet care and charges must be brought against those responsible for the neglect and abuse:

Clinton Count Judge Executive Office
Richard C. Armstrong
(606) 387-5234

County Sheriff
Jim Guffey
(606) 387-5111

The idea that a meeting could be held and changes proposed is unacceptable in this situation.  This is a life and death emergency.  The animals need help NOW and the people responsible need to be put in the back of a police car and taken to jail.  This is institutionalized animal abuse, paid for by taxpayers, and overseen by Clinton Co officials.  Shame on all of them.

Hillsborough Co Shelter: News Roundup

Last month, the shelter director at Hillsborough Co reported an 89% live release rate to county commissioners.  Florida animal advocates are concerned that pets are being sold without appropriate screening and cite examples of dog flipping and a dog who cyclically got adopted then impounded as a stray again within weeks before ultimately being killed after a bite.

In addition, the Hillsborough Co shelter is reportedly failing to maintain its Do Not Adopt list – a list of people who are not allowed to own animals by order of the courts.  When asked in January why the list hadn’t been updated since 2014, the director blamed a glitch in the system.  In April, it was reported that the 4 people convicted of torturing a dog named Cabela, a reject from the dogfighting ring 2 of the men operated, still weren’t on the DNA list.  Cabela was turned over to a pair of teens for killing in 2015 because she wouldn’t fight.  They shot her and left her tied to railroad tracks.  She was rescued by police and received treatment from a vet.  Any of the 4 people involved in the case could walk into the Hillsborough Co facility and adopt a dog today.

Also in April, a worker at the secret shelter maintained by Hillsborough Co to house court case dogs reportedly mixed two cleaning agents together which created toxic fumes.  Four workers at the secret location got sick.  But the director maintained the animals, who breathed the same air as the workers, were unaffected.

Lastly, as regular readers may recall, Hillsborough Co recently disciplined an ACO for brainsticking roosters seized from a cockfighting ring.  A former supervisor at the shelter says she witnessed the current director willfully violate the county’s euthanasia protocols for roosters and kill non-sedated birds via injection of Fatal Plus into their necks.

These recent news tidbits provide a disturbing backdrop to an otherwise admirably improved live release rate.  And it makes me wonder what else is going on at the shelter that hasn’t made it on to the local news.

(Thanks Clarice.)