The Tuh Files: There is a Shortage of Dogs in Michigan

In August, Bloomberg ran a piece claiming there were 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit, MI – a claim widely disputed by various animal advocates.  (We talked about it on the blog at the time.)  Michigan Humane Society, which doesn’t hold an animal control contract but functions primarily as a pet killing facility anyway, was not one of the agencies disputing the figure at the time.  In fact, they tried to fundraise off the claim.

Regardless of the what actual number is, Detroit does have stray dogs and they are being killed at a horrifying rate at area animal shelters.  When asked about the ACOs who work in the field, rounding up the city’s stray dogs, AC head Harry Ward told Bloomberg:

“We are really suffering from fatigue, short staffed” and work too much overtime, he said in an interview.

Kristen Huston from All About Animals Rescue talked about the problem of widespread breeding among owned pets allowed to roam the streets of Detroit:

She said many dogs that appear to be abandoned actually have owners who allow them to wander. Those dogs often end up breeding with others, exacerbating the problem.

Daniel Carlisle of Detroit Dog Rescue also addressed the problem of uncontrolled breeding among stray dogs in the city:

“And the warehouses are large doghouses. They’re walking into these places, they’re bedding down in them and they’re mating.”

But while the city ACOs are working overtime to get stray dogs off the streets and into the kill rooms at area shelters, Michigan Humane is importing dogs from TN in a pretty white van with their logo on it, all shined up for the TV news crews.

Because there is a shortage of dogs in Michigan.

Because everyone in Michigan neuters their pets.

And other myths.

From WATE:

“Our centers are not full,” said Erin Campbell with the Michigan Humane Society. “We don’t often have small dogs or puppies. It seems spay and neutering has taken off so that’s why don’t have the puppies that are in the south.”

When a pet killing facility imports shelter animals from out of state, it appears they are doing it for personal profit and/or publicity.  They are obviously not doing it to save animals since they are killing pets they already have.  In the case of Michigan Humane, they are claiming to have empty space while simultaneously asking for donations to help save the supposed 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit.  And driving to Knoxville for more.  Apparently 50,000 dogs don’t stretch as far as they used to.

I hope the next time Michigan Humane sends its shiny logo van to the south to import more dogs into its pet killing facility, the local news will do a piece on displacement killing.  And fraud.  It’s always disappointing when reporters don’t lift the veil on the feel-good stories being fed to them.  All it would take is the tiniest bit of research to uncover the fact that Michigan Humane kills pets instead of saving them while bilking compassionate donors out of millions of dollars.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Caswell Co Pound and Transport

The Caswell Co pound in NC has a website that’s rather, uh – brief.  The reason I looked it up was that a reader sent me two screengrabs from Facebook which allegedly show puppies at the Caswell Co pound just before they were loaded for transport to NJ.  The kennel appears to be wet and a patch of what looks like suds may have washed into the space from beneath the guillotine door.  Were there other dogs on the other side of this kennel and if so, were they healthy?  Is that diarrhea on the floor?  Did these puppies have health certificates for their trip?

If shelters are going to transport vanloads of puppies, it needs to be done legally – that is, in compliance with the laws of every state the dogs are being transported through; and ethically – with attention paid to the health status of the dogs (as well as those they’ve been exposed to) and with careful consideration of the local dogs being displaced by the imports.  I hope Caswell Co is attending to the legal and ethical considerations regarding the transport of any pets.

I used to be more in favor of mass transport for shelter pets but I’ve modified my view in the past couple of years.  There seems to be no shortage of transport horror stories – pets escaping en route, pets getting sick and dying after arrival, pets who don’t sell quickly being killed or warehoused in sub-standard conditions, etc.  Then there is the notion that northern shelters and rescues “need” to import high value pets such as puppies and lapdogs because the ones they have get adopted quickly and all that’s left is big, black mixed breeds, Pitbull types and others who are challenging to adopt out.  This idea goes against the most basic tenet of no kill – that every individual pet has a right to live and that right must be protected.  If some of these importing shelters and rescues won’t put in the hard work to find the right matches for the least adoptable pets in their own communities, who will?

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

Screencap from Facebook

126 Pets Seized from FL Rescue Group

On the morning of November 8, police executed a search warrant at the Animal Rescue Konsortium (ARK) shelter in DeLand, FL.  Authorities had received complaints about sub-standard conditions at the shelter and the city sent a veterinarian to tour the facility.  Approximately 100 cats and 26 dogs were seized and farmed out to several different groups.

DeLand Deputy Police Chief Randy Henderson said the city has a no kill philosophy and saves 99.4% of its pets.  As such, he said he personally made phone calls to various no kill rescue groups and shelters in order to secure temporary housing for the seized pets from ARK.  Some advocates remain concerned:

No-kill advocates contacted The Beacon and said some of the rescued animals were taken to shelters in Flagler and Seminole counties that don’t have no-kill policies.

“That is true,” Henderson said. “But nothing can happen to these animals until court.”

Nothing can happen to the seized animals perhaps, unless they get sick or exhibit behavior that someone at a pet killing facility deems unacceptable.  Then I imagine things could quickly change.  And what about the pets displaced by the ARK animals at these facilities?  They are presumably being killed.

The alleged “deplorable conditions” at ARK remain unclear and circumstances seem a bit dodgy:

Shelter supporters have said the complaints were lodged frivolously by a rival animal-rescue group, and also said police and firefighters who entered the shelter got a skewed impression of conditions, because the morning clean-up had not yet been done by ARK volunteers.


“This is an attempt by several people in this area to shut us down. They want to prevent us from working with Second Chance Animal Shelter to maintain the city’s status as no-kill,” [Maggi] Hall [ARK president] said.


Karen Clark, director of another animal-welfare group, We Help Animals, was on the scene as police officers worked inside ARK. Clark said she was one of the people who filed written complaints about the shelter.

Clark said she has never been inside the ARK facility, but complained about overcrowding, sick animals, sick animals being adopted out, improper nutrition, and the failure to give adopters proper paperwork for their dogs.

A hearing is scheduled for November 19 to determine what will happen to the seized pets.  ARK’s attorney “asked that DeLand officials provide him with all written complaints filed with the city; all affidavits given or used in support of the search warrant and city code enforcement records about ARK and its property.”  This certainly sounds like a reasonable request.

Deputy Chief  Henderson “said the reports are still being written and that case specifics will not be released until after the outcome of the hearing or pending the need for further investigation.”

WESH has video and a number of photos from the seizure posted on its website.  The animals depicted appear to be healthy and socialized.  The worst thing the photographer saw was apparently this dog’s elbow callus, on which he/she zoomed in to give viewers a better look:

Image from the WESH website depicting a dog seized from ARK on November 8.

No charges have been filed.  I will post an update on the case after the hearing or whenever developments warrant.

(Thank you Clarice for sending me links on this story.)

HSUS Moves Hurricane Pets into Unnatural Disaster Areas

The Guilford Co pound in NC kills roughly half its dogs and cats – unless the pet happens to look like a Rottweiler, Chow Chow or “Pitbull”.  Guilford Co kills 100% of any pets who resemble those types of dogs.

Not surprisingly, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) thinks the pound is swell.  And when HSUS recently trucked nearly 200 pets from pounds in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Isaac, the multi-million dollar organization thought Guilford Co would be a great place to send 17 of them.

I wonder how many of the remaining dogs and cats “rescued” by HSUS will also be sent to places that kill pets.  Even if the shelter taking in the animals doesn’t kill these particular individuals, the issue of displacement killing comes into play.  Either way, pets are likely to be needlessly killed in the name of “rescue”, courtesy of HSUS, while the organization rakes in more donations to pay salaries and other expenses unrelated to saving shelter animals.  Let me know if you see a story about your local pound receiving any of these Hurricane Isaac pets.

PETA Transfers Pets to Other Facilities Which Also Kill Animals

In 2011, PETA killed 96% of the dogs and cats its facility took in.  Very few dogs and cats make it out of the PETA pet killing facility alive.  Among the few who did last year, PETA claimed it had transferred 41 pets to other VA facilities.  FOIA requests were filed with the municipal facilities to try and determine what happened to these animals after PETA dropped them off.  (Note:  The VA Beach SPCA is a private facility which adopts and kills animals so is not subject to FOIA requests.)

In reviewing the records, I found that in most cases, the numbers did not seem to match up between what PETA stated and what the receiving facility stated.  In addition, every facility PETA sent animals to is a killing facility.   As such, the issue of displacement killing (killing animals already in the pound when new transfers arrive) must be considered.  While these facilities do not keep track of how many dogs and cats were killed due to displacement, it is a real possibility.

In the table below, the first two columns are from the annual PETA filing with the state of VA.  (Column 1 is the facility PETA says pets were sent to and Column 2 is the number of animals PETA says it sent.)  The last two columns are information from the receiving facility.  (Column 3 indicates what the receiving facility said in response to the records request and Column 4 is the receiving facility’s kill rate for dogs & cats.)

Suffolk AC 2 dogs transferred Records do not exist 57%
Norfolk Animal Care Center 3 dogs transferred 3 RTO, 1 killed, 1 adopted 46%
Portsmouth HS 3 dogs transferred 2 RTO 28%
Chesapeake AC 1 dog transferred Record not located 54%
Isle of Wight Co AC 1 dog transferred Records not provided 29%
VA Beach SPCA 25 dogs, 6 cats transferred Records not provided but director Unknown
says all 31 were adopted

Note:  Chesapeake AC and Isle of Wight AC both indicated they would need more information than what PETA provides on its annual filing in order to locate the records of the 1 dog each facility reportedly received from PETA last year.

While there are still some unanswered questions regarding the pets PETA says it transferred last year, it is clear that at least 1 was killed and other pets may have been killed due to being displaced at the receiving facilities.  For more on the tragedy of PETA’s 2011 kills, click here.

What is Displacement Killing?

Facilities which kill healthy/treatable pets do so without cause and in spite of clear evidence of proven alternatives such as exist in the dozens of open admission no kill shelters throughout the country.  Pounds may or may not assign a particular “reason” for the killings:  space, illness, injury, too young, etc.  Whether or not a “reason” is provided, there is no justification for killing healthy/treatable shelter pets.  While euthanasia of pets who are medically hopeless and suffering (or dogs deemed dangerous by a qualified party) occurs in all shelters, it is the only time a pet’s life is ended at no kill shelters.  At pet killing facilities, lives are ended regularly based on arbitrary criteria such as date of impound.  This is different from euthanasia and I believe it’s appropriate to call it killing.

There are a growing number of kill shelters who, in an apparent effort to gain positive media attention and bilk unsuspecting donors, have jumped on the import bandwagon.  That is, they “rescue” pets from other kill shelters, often from the southeast, and have them transported to their facilities.  The animals (usually dogs) arrive at their destination and are presumably evaluated for adoption.  If a dog is sick or otherwise deemed unadoptable by the pet killing facility, he may be killed.  This is obviously not a rescue.

But there is a phenomenon, less obvious to the public, but apparent just the same, called displacement killing.  Any facility which kills healthy/treatable pets and then imports more animals from other pounds is guilty of displacement killing.  That is, some of the healthy/treatable animals already at the facility at the time the imports arrive will be displaced and killed.  Again, the facility may or may not provide a “reason” for the killings such as space, etc.

A healthy senior dog whom the kill shelter has failed to market successfully might be displaced by an imported puppy.  The staff might attempt to justify the killing of the older dog by saying things like, “No one wants him because he’s old”, “We’ve kept him a long time already and still no interest from adopters” or “Wouldn’t it be better to use his cage for a puppy who will probably be adopted more quickly and for a higher price?”  This is displacement killing.

A dog with a treatable medical condition such as mange might be displaced by an imported dog with an attractive coat.  The killing of the dog with mange might be explained away as, “Why spend resources on treating a mange dog who will take some time before his coat returns to a healthy appearance which would be appealing to adopters when we are getting this dog whose coat already looks nice?”.  This is displacement killing.

The killing might not correlate directly, one to one, between the existing animals and the imported animals.  It may be a general excuse for killing such as, “We need to weed out all the coughing dogs before the imports arrive so our population doesn’t get them sick” or “Let’s depopulate the large dogs, which we have a disproportionate number of, in order to highlight the small dogs we are importing who we know will be in high demand”.  This is displacement killing.

Displacement killing may be even more vague.  It may simply be a matter of a kill shelter maintaining its live release rate of say, 60% while importing dogs.  This too is displacement killing.  Had the additional animals never been imported and the shelter maintained its 60% live release rate, more lives would have been saved – those of animals already at the facility.  While one could argue that lives were still saved – those of the imported animals – it must be considered that the imports may have been adopted had they been left at their original shelter or might have been rescued by a no kill rescue group or shelter where no displacement would have occurred.

I am all for transporting shelter pets to where they are wanted.  This is how I got Surrey from TN.  But transporting Surrey to my house in SC did not displace any pets since I do not kill animals.  Rather, it freed up a space at the pound where she was on the kill list.  I know there are many other situations where shelter pets can be transported in order to save lives.  But importing additional animals into a facility which already kills pets is counterproductive.