(Warning: graphic images and descriptions at links.)
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:
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.)