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.)

Robeson Co Moves to Kill More Shelter Puppies

The Robeson County pound in NC killed 62% of the dogs in its care in 2015.  Expect that number to go up.

Last month, the Robeson Co Board of Death Health adopted a policy which will, in effect, mean death for many puppies at the county pound.  Specifically, any puppy under 4 months old eyeballed by pound employees and deemed to be a pitbull, American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog or a mix of any of these, will be killed unless an out of state rescue group swoops in to save the dog. It has to be out of state because you know, they said so.  The policy comes in response to four recent dog attacks in the area – three of which allegedly involved pitbulls.

Bill Smith, director of the Robeson Co Death Health Department, said it’s not necessary to include any other breeds in the policy because hey, three out of four.

Or make that one out of two:

According to the Robeson County Health Department, 114 dogs have been declared vicious in Robeson County since 2012. Fifty-seven of those animals were listed as a pit bull or pit bull mix.

But whatever, it’s some anyway.  And some makes for good policy.  I guess adopting a policy based on the actions of a dog, regardless of breed, would be too… sensible?

It is proven fact that shelter workers do not accurately identify breeds, even when the dogs are grown up to what they actually look like, let alone when they are squished up puppy versions, so visual assessment by Robeson Co pound workers will doom all kinds of puppies to death – not just “pitbulls”.

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Rescue groups in other states are already overburdened trying to save puppies and dogs in their own areas with scant resources.  This is an unrealistic alternative and yet it is the only one Robeson Co is providing for these mislabeled puppies who have harmed no one.

Robeson Co residents need to stand up and tell their elected officials that killing healthy, happy puppies at the shelter will not prevent dog attacks.  Never has, never will.  The county should end this discriminatory policy and replace it with one which addresses a dog’s actions, not the shape of his head.

(Thanks Susan, Lisa and Lou Ann.)

 

 

Starving Dogs Cannibalize Dead Kennel Mate in OK Pound

(Warning:  graphic images and descriptions at links.)

Abe Thomas, animal advocate and rescuer, as depicted in a screengrab from the KTEN website.

Abe Thomas, animal advocate and rescuer, as depicted in a screengrab from the KTEN website.

When a potential adopter, Abe Thomas, visited the Idabel pound in Oklahoma on Tuesday, he found a cage containing three dogs – one was dead and being eaten by the other two, who appeared to be starving.  He says the dogs had no food or water and “were living in their feces, urine.” Mr. Thomas filmed what he saw on his cellphone and posted it on Facebook.

Mr. Thomas left the pound but worried that the adult dog, a gray pitbull, would be blamed for something she didn’t do and killed simply due to breed bias.  So he went back and bailed her out of the pound, calling her Joy while he looks for a permanent home for her.

The pound’s sole ACO, who has been on the job for 24 years, admits the pitbull looks emaciated but says she’d only been at the pound four days and hadn’t had a chance to put on weight yet.  He feeds the dogs once a day.

Area animal advocates say this is not an isolated incident and the animals at the pound have long been neglected.  The ACO says the city generally holds dogs for ten days before taking them to a vet to be killed.  Tulsa World called area vets to ask how many animals they kill for the pound but none called back.  I guess going on the news and talking about how many pets you kill for the city doesn’t exactly encourage clients to open their wallets for your vet services.  So uh, hide.

Speaking of which:

Tulsa Humane Society President Gina Gardner said she had reached out to Foshee on Wednesday and offered to come to Idabel and assist with anything the shelter needs. She said Foshee had so far declined her offer.

Predictably, city officials are in CYA mode:

The Idabel mayor calls this a “gross misunderstanding.” She claims the dog died of natural causes and this must have happened in a few short hours.

The mayor alleges Animal Control Officer Cecil Richards fed the dogs Tuesday morning then came back after lunch to find the scene along with Thomas.

The Idabel police department is in charge of supervising the pound and they investigated themselves in the matter.  And good news, the investigation seems incredibly thorough, despite its lightning speed:

“What was found through that investigation is that yesterday morning, our animal control officer went to work around 8:00 a.m., he went to the dog pound, cleaned out the dog pens, sanitized them, fed and gave water to the dogs” claims the mayor in during a phone interview with KSLA News 12.

[…]

Mayor Foshee-Thomas says the animal control facility has nothing to hide and welcomes anyone to stop by and visit the animals. Abe Thomas says that he and numerous others would happily volunteer their time to make sure the animals are properly cared for. The mayor says that the city plans on doing more checks at the shelter and that in the future, more aggressive dogs will be housed separately.

Right.  Because aggressive dogs cause other dogs to die of natural causes.  Then they make friends with their surviving kennel mate and launch plans to eat the dead dog because aggression.  Any behaviorist will tell you that.  As for the results of the “investigation” anyone who read any of the articles on this story could have come up with that information, since the ACO’s timeline of events was repeated countless times in the media.

Thank goodness Mr. Thomas bailed the pitbull out of there because it sounds like his suspicions were justified.  Here is Joy at Mr. Thomas’s house, getting a belly scratch from a reporter:

Screengrab from KTEN website.

Screengrab from KTEN website.

There is a group on Facebook advocating for reform at the Idabel pound.  I know the mayor doesn’t want any help but feeding the dogs, particularly the emaciated ones, more than once a day would be something the ACO could do.  And should do, although that in itself wouldn’t be nearly enough to be considered meaningful improvement.  I wonder if one of the reasons area vets killing dogs for the city are hiding is because they don’t want to be asked how many pound dogs are emaciated when they stick the needle in them.  I hope the local advocates will FOIA records for the animals who have been killed in Idabel and expose what’s going on there.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

Nashville’s Faux Rescue of 38 Dogs Represents Years of Failure

Bad:  Earlier this month, Metro police in Nashville arrested six people in connection with a drug trafficking investigation.  While raiding the home of Michael A. Davis, one of the six charged, police discovered dozens of chained pitbull type dogs in the yard.  Some of the dogs were emaciated and others had open wounds (photos of the dogs here).  In addition, police found items often associated with dogfighting including canine treadmills, syringes, and a rape rack.  WSMV reports that 38 dogs were transferred to the Nashville pound last Tuesday as a result of the raid.

Worse:  The night of the seizure, five of the “rescued” dogs, all of whom were apparently unsupervised, were involved in a fight which erupted after two of them got loose.  One dog was killed, another was seriously injured and the other three sustained minor injuries.  After the needless death and suffering on the rescuers’ (non-existent) watch, officials decided it might be a good idea to supervise the dogs 24 hours a day.

Worst:  After the seizure, the county “discovered” that people had been begging the Nashville pound to help the dogs chained at the Davis home for years.  As far back as 2010 and as recently as 2013, citizens had been reporting that Davis’s dogs were being neglected and possibly used for fighting.  The county was “concerned with the lack of documentation of these complaints” and will investigate itself in the matter.  In the meantime, two of the pound’s ACOs are being paid to not work during the investigation.

This waggy dog, shown on the Nashville.gov website, appears to be in decent shape, unlike some of the other dogs seized by law enforcement in the raid.

This waggy dog, shown on the Nashville.gov website, appears to be in decent shape, unlike some of the other dogs seized by law enforcement in the raid.

It sounds as if these dogs could have been rescued – for real, not the fake kind where they end up dead and injured the night they get “saved” – years ago if the Nashville pound had been doing its job.  Unfortunately, Nashville has long considered its “job” to be killing and if the dogs had been rescued in response to the previous complaints, they likely would have been killed under Nashville’s only recently modified Kill Them All pitbull policy.  Tragically, this way too late botched rescue is probably the best these abuse victims could hope for in Nashville.

(Thanks Karen and Clarice for the links.)

Town of Hempstead Kills Owned Pets, Owners File Lawsuit

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Last month, 2 mixed breed dogs called Cici and Yankee escaped their yard and went for a run around the neighborhood in Long Island, NY.  Both were known by neighbors to be friendly and playful.  But apparently any loose animal that looks like a Pitbull type dog in Nassau Co warrants the summoning of the National Guard:

An incident in Lakeview involving Pit bulls three days prior caused  police to send multiple police officers including detectives and a police helicopter.

Nassau Co police responded to a report that Cici and Yankee were chasing kids and started shooting at the dogs, hitting Yankee.  The dogs ran home and the Town of Hempstead sent an ACO to the residence where police had gathered.  The owner, who is unable to read English, signed a form he was given by the ACO and the dogs were taken to the pound.

There are no reports indicating the dogs bit anyone, growled at anyone or even cast a stern glance in anyone’s general direction.

The family went to the pound the next day it was open to reclaim Cici and Yankee and were told both had already been killed.  The form the owner signed without understanding what it said due to the language barrier reportedly transferred ownership of the dogs to the Town of Hempstead to do with as the pound saw fit.  The family was apparently so shocked at this news that they went home and returned the next day, believing they must have been given the wrong information.  But they were again told their pets had been killed.

The Town of Hempstead, well known for its alleged abuse of shelter animals, offered this response to a reporter:

“We are confident that the police don’t throw their weapons and shoot at animals unless they present a danger to the public.”

Oh the Town of Hempstead is jokes.  If police shot at the dogs, they must be the spawn of Satan because police.

Cici and Yankee’s owners have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead for killing their pets without due process.  The town is apparently rolling in dough.  I hope the owners get every penny and just maybe, some stuffed shirt mooching off taxpayers there will take notice and effect change.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

“Human Error” Blamed for Oops-Killing in Prince George’s Co

Screengrab from the WUSA website.

Screengrab from the WUSA website.

Prince George’s County in MD has had a body shape based ban on dogs since 1997.  Like every other similar ban, it tears families apart and offers no benefit of any kind.  But Prince George’s Co continues to uphold the ban.  Because AHHH Pitbulls!

When a bully breed type dog was surrendered at the Prince George’s Co pound by her owner last week, a local rescue group moved swiftly to save her.  Within hours, they found a foster home where the healthy dog, who was about to give birth to a litter of puppies, could raise her family in safety and comfort.  The rescue advised the pound they were sending a volunteer to pick her up.  But someone at the pound failed to mark the dog’s record with a DO NOT KILL so Prince George’s Co killed her before the rescuer arrived.  Oops.

Lisa Marie Czop, the rescue volunteer who tried to save this dog, told me she received a text message from a pound worker that read, “Don’t worry about the pregnant dog I emailed you about” which she soon learned meant the dog had been oops-killed.

The Public Information Specialist for Prince George’s Co told the local news:

[T]he animal was selected for euthanasia due to the lack of space at the Facility and her condition.

Her condition was reportedly healthy.  I believe that the county spokesman is using the word “condition” to indicate that the dog was pregnant and had a body shape deemed illegal by the county.

Lisa Marie Czop wrote to me in an e-mail:

The issue is the leadership at the shelter, and specifically in this case, the kennel manager who makes the decisions to euthanize, does not have life-saving as the top priority of the shelter.

In my opinion, the best outcome would be to remove leadership from this shelter, specifically Chief Taylor. However, a more realistic goal in light of all of this media attention may be to establish some oversight by the County of this shelter so that they can answer to the fact that they are euthanizing significantly more animals than the shelters around them.

County Executive Rushern Baker is the highest level of County leadership that the shelter reports to, and his office phone number is 301-952-4131.

When a pregnant dog who is near term is injected with Fatal Plus, she dies.  But her puppies remain alive inside her uterus, forced to slowly suffocate to death.  This dog had a right to live, as did her unborn puppies.  This dog and her unborn puppies were wanted and a rescue group had advised Prince George’s Co they were coming to pick her up.  But the county killed her anyway, blaming “human error”.

I would offer that the human error at the Prince George’s Co pound is the systematic killing of healthy pets and harboring bias against certain dogs based on body shape.  Within this culture of killing, pound workers view discrimination and death as standard operating procedure which is why no one jumped up and down screaming, “No, this is not right!” when this dog was taken to the kill room.  If Prince George’s Co was doing its job and saving every healthy/treatable animal in its care, that’s exactly what would have happened because no compassionate worker committed to protecting pets’ lives would stand by and allow this dog to be killed and her puppies, who likely could have survived outside the uterus, to smother.

I’ve been hearing for years that shelter works do not want to kill animals.  I’m tired of hearing it.  Show me.  Start doing your jobs and providing shelter to the animals in your care.  Follow the example set by the hundreds of open admission shelters in this country that are saving more than 90% of their animals.  Stop the excuses.  Stop the killing.

(Thank you Anne T. for the link.)

Prospect of Killing Fewer Pitbulls Gives Nashville AC the Shakes

Metro Animal Control in Nashville has been killing every Pitbull they touch for 15 years.  Pet advocates have been pushing for reform of this nonsensical excuse for killing and indeed have achieved something.  Kind of a lousy, stinking something but um, yay I guess.

Here’s the deal:  Metro AC has decided to end the policy of killing all dogs deemed “Pitbull” simply because they’ve been labeled that by Some Guy.  It could potentially mean a lot less killing since they take in so many Pitbull type dogs every year.  But apparently they can’t just go cold turkey on the less killing thing – they have to wean themselves off slowly.  So Metro AC has set up a weaning program for their pet killers.  They’re going to kill every Pitbull puppy they get their hands on until June 1.  It’s going to be hard to stop killing Pitbull puppies though so to ease the pain, they’ll keep killing all adult Pitbulls until September.

Come September, they’ll only kill Pitbulls who have “behavioral problems”.  Determining that is about as easy for an ACO as determining which dogs are Pitbulls because:

  1. No dog behaves normally in a pet killing facility and no single behavioral assessment should ever be used as an excuse for killing a dog.
  2. “Pitbull” is not a breed of dog and it is impossible to determine genetics on mixed breed dogs based upon body shape.

So I assume even after they wean off killing everything that looks like a Pitbull just because Some Guy said so, Metro AC will still be killing plenty of Pitbulls just because Some Guy said they look like a Pitbull and have a behavioral problem.  Win?

Here’s your money quote from Metro Animal Services manager Billy Biggs:

“Hopefully it’s going to be a big reduction in euthanasia here. Nobody here likes to euthanize things.”

There is a sweet Pibble type dog – I mean thing – in a red harness wagging her tail off in the video of Metro AC at the link.  I guess they’ll be killing her and all the other dogs shown because they got impounded during the weaning phase.

Nashville, you know the public believes killing dogs based on body shape is wrong.  That’s why you are changing your policy.  Don’t be a bunch of whiny asses who need to wean off killing.  Just stop it.  Today.  Right this second.  You know, since you don’t “like” doing it anyway.  And let that waggy dog in the red harness out of your pet killing facility.

(Thanks Devry for the link.)

Mor(e)on Mobile Co Pet Killing Facility

I get a knot in my stomach when I hear that an advisory committee has been appointed to make recommendations about a pet killing facility.  Nothing good ever seems to come from it.  Add Mobile Co, AL to that list.

Yesterday Mobile County commissioners received their first report from the advisory committee charged with making recommendations about the deeply troubled pound.  Here is my summary of the recommendations and seriously, I did not make these up:

  1. Use part of the county’s Maddie’s Fund grant to pay the Maddie’s Fund University of FL program for a shelter evaluation.
  2. Shorten the hold time for cats deemed feral (such as Porkchop) to 3 days so they can be killed quicker.
  3. Continue the “breed specific policy” that no puppy over 3 months old deemed a pit bull, chow or wolf hybrid will be allowed to live.

Bear in mind this is a place that kills many animals upon impound in violation of state law.  They clearly can’t tell a well cared for pet from a feral cat and I can only imagine how well they do in determining dog “breeds”. (Pitbulls and wolf hybrids are not “breeds” and it’s nearly impossible to determine lineage for mixed breeds based on body shape.)

No doubt fans of Maddie’s Fund will be supportive of the idea of sending the county’s grant money to another Maddie’s Fund program in exchange for a shelter evaluation.  I am not so excited.  My thinking, wacky as it may be, is to clear out everyone committed to pet killing in Mobile Co and replace them with compassionate people committed to no kill – starting with a director.  Once there is strong leadership in place, use the grant money to assist in implementing the programs of the No Kill Equation.

In other words, stop killing animals, start doing your jobs.  The road map to success already exists and is available to everyone.  No middle man required.  Put that in your advisory committee pipe and smoke it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

That Tree Branch Could Be a Schoolbus Full of Kiddies!

One of those “aggressive dogs”, per NC state lawmaker Rodney Moore. Wearing a striped sweater. And gyrating.  The owner really should get a permit.

Discussion: Are we blinding ourselves to dangerous dog behavior in bully breeds?

Dr. Stanley Coren writes in Psychology Today that we tend to explain away what he describes as “a disproportionate number of dog bite related injuries and deaths [by Pitbull type dogs]” because we love them as family members.  Does his thinking ring true to you?

(Thanks Christine for the link.)