Mass Killing at Ohio Pound is Just One of Many Awful Responses to Crisis

The Franklin County dog pound in Ohio received test results positive for distemper on one dog on September 3.  The facility remained open and adopted out 67 dogs before finally closing on September 9.

Franklin Co has since killed 84 dogs due to “distemper concerns” and 6 more dogs “for unrelated reasons”.  Rescue groups who tried to save some of the exposed dogs from being killed, including mama dogs with litters, were turned away despite having appropriate quarantine and medical care arranged.  All while enabling the killing which, you know, is weird:

Misti Martin-Fuller is the executive director of the I Have a Dream Rescue.
“The staff who are actually having to hold these dogs, walking them down the aisle, and actually administer the drugs? They’re not at fault,” Martin-Fuller said.

The ones doing the actual killing who won’t let us save the dogs? Oh heavens no, not to blame.

Also weird:  Rescue groups went to a county judge to obtain a temporary restraining order to stop the killings.  The judge granted the order but is requiring rescues to post a $100,000 bond which they are unable to do.  The county’s response, natch:  we’ll stop killing if rescues cough up the cash.

Donald Winstel, who just took over as shelter director, wants everyone to know that killing is hard:

For now, he said, counselors have been made available for shelter employees.

“Imagine what it would be like to be the caregivers of these dogs, and then, in some cases, to be involved with the process of euthanizing them,” Winstel said. “We understand those feelings. We’re going through that, too.”

They understand those feelings and they’ve got counselors for themselves but locals who recently adopted dogs are having to find out from the news that their pets might be contagious, might get sick and that if they do, it might be serious:

The shelter is not notifying those who were recently adopted of distemper but they are providing care and consultation at no cost to people concerned.

And I think with that, congratulations are in order:  Well done, Franklin Co.  If only you’d been able to squeeze in a reference to the irresponsible public, you would have had Kill Shelter yahtzee.

(Thanks Clarice.)

Fayette County Shelter’s License Revoked by State of PA

The inappropriately named Fayette Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been quarantined and had its license revoked by the state of PA.  State inspections in July and August found the staff failed to separate sick dogs from healthy ones and failed to follow proper sanitation and vaccination protocols to prevent the spread of disease.

Specifically, the staff suspected many dogs were sick with kennel cough, distemper and/or parvo.  Feces potentially carrying disease from the dogs indoors was being hosed with water only, no disinfectants, while feces in the outdoor facility was left in piles, including on dog beds.  Not only were dogs not being vaccinated immediately upon intake, the state found that dogs who had been there more than 10 days still weren’t vaccinated.

Between July 29 and August 7, 7 dogs were killed and 3 were found dead in their crates among a population of 65 adult dogs and puppies. State inspectors observed several coughing dogs who were lethargic and had mucus visible in their eyes and noses.  One dog was housed in a pen so small he could not stand up.  Moldy dog food was being stored in pens and the entire facility was infested with a “centipede type insect”.

Pat Ballon, a board member for the SPCA, says the place is $130,000 in debt and will likely remain closed.  Also, there’s a conspiracy:

[A]ll of a sudden, Ballon said, the state has come down on the group by employing questionable inspection tactics or enforcing mandates that have never been a problem in the past.

“Nothing has changed for 30 years and all of sudden, everything’s bad?” he said. “Somebody’s got it in for us.”

Because the cackling state inspector came twirling his mustache in the morning, instead of the afternoon:

Ballon said the staff members earn about $8 an hour, so he wonders how he could convince someone to shovel excrement at night so the place would have been ready for an inspection early the next morning — an inspection that he expected in the afternoon as it had been done in the past.

The sick dogs got their mucus on, mixed themselves in with the healthy dogs, the dog food went moldy and the centipedes stormed the place because it was morning.

“Do you think a county employee is going to work here for $8 an hour, no benefits, to shovel waste all day?” he said.

So because you don’t pay your staff a living wage, you can’t be expected to follow the state’s rules for providing humane living conditions for the dogs in your care.  I get it.

Adding to the list of woes, Ballon says once the state revoked the SPCA’s license they could no longer sell dogs to earn income.  But the main reason they’re so broke is because nobody wants to kill animals:

First and foremost, Ballon said, Fayette SPCA Board members, employees and volunteers are reluctant to euthanize animals. He said there were only about five percent, roughly 150 animals, of the more than 3,000 taken in by Fayette SPCA last year were euthanized. Ballon said most shelters euthanize between 40 to 60 percent of their animals annually.

Trusty old “Other places are worse” – love that guy.

Ballon appears to be of the opinion that if the Fayette SPCA had killed more dogs, they wouldn’t be in dire straits now.  But the state inspectors who even now are out tying fair maidens to railroad tracks, probably indicate that the staff wasn’t even doing the minimum to provide humane care for the dogs, the result of which was sick dogs dying alone in crates during the night.  Which would seem to be the opposite of preventing cruelty.

An area no kill shelter has since taken some of the dogs from the Fayette SPCA.


(Thanks Jan, Clarice and Arlene for sending in links on this story.)

Oak Ridge Police Department Conducts Mass Killing in Response to Distemper Outbreak

TN – The Oak Ridge police department, which runs the pound, closed the facility one week ago after two dogs tested positive for distemper:

As a precaution, all animals brought into the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter are being vaccinated on arrival. The shelter is separating dogs with any kind of cough or nasal discharge from dogs available for adoption.

These are not precautionary practices that a facility should institute in the face of an outbreak but rather standard protocols which should be in place 365 days a year.  It’s unclear to me what standard operating procedures are in Oak Ridge:

[Lt. Robin] Smith said the shelter staff vaccinates all animals, but it takes about 10 days for the vaccine to do any good.

So wrong.  As Maddie’s Fund indicates, vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake for all shelter animals is critical and provides protection within hours:

Immunity is not typically an “all or nothing” condition. For some diseases of concern in shelter settings, particularly respiratory illness, vaccination serves to protect from serious symptoms rather than infection.

Additionally, animals will begin to be protected from the worst effects of other diseases, such as canine distemper in a very short time. At the 2011 Shelter Medicine Conference at the University of Florida, Dr. Annette Litster, Director of Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, told the audience, “With canine distemper virus, challenge studies have shown a really incredibly fast response to a modified live vaccine, or a recombinant vaccine. Within four hours of an effective vaccine, those dogs are protected – provided there’s not a problem with maternal immunity – from the really severe neurological effects of challenge with canine distemper. There’s complete protection within 7 days after vaccination from the challenge studies that have been published.”

If the Oak Ridge pound had been vaccinating upon intake across the board, utilizing routine cleaning practices and quarantining new arrivals, those in charge might have a better understanding of disease prevention and management.  From the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on Canine Distemper Virus (CDV):

The most important factor in disease risk is vaccination: a “fully” vaccinated animal over four months of age is at very low risk of CDV infection. However, even incompletely vaccinated animals may survive a possible exposure.

Relying on incorrect information not based in science, Oak Ridge killed every one of the thirty dogs in the pound – including the majority who appeared to be healthy:

Smith said that the shelter staff refused outside help with the euthanasia. He said they wanted to do it themselves and ensure the animals knew they were loved and cared for.

“I have never been prouder of that staff doing a horrible job that needed to be done,” [Chief James] Akagi said.

Death be not proud. That “horrible job” did not need to be done.  The job that needs to be done here is for the police department in charge of the pound to educate itself on how vaccinations work to prevent disease in conjunction with standard cleaning and isolation practices.  Ensuring animals are loved and cared for includes at least minimal education on standard disease prevention and management practices for shelters.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Logan Co: Closing the Barn Door after the Horse has Bolted

The Logan Co pound in WV has been closed for quarantine.  A local television station reports that three dogs have tested positive for distemper and volunteers at the pound suspect 17 other dogs have died from the disease recently.  Dozens of dogs remain inside the facility:

“If they are not laying there dying they are being put down,” said SAFE volunteer Michelle Starr.

Well that sounds pretty awful.  It’s hard to imagine anything worse but don’t give up hope so quickly because there’s this:

Twenty-six dogs had to be vaccinated at the Logan County Animal Shelter after a distemper outbreak, and one dog had to be put down.

*facepalm*  Gee we’ve got a confirmed distemper outbreak, I guess we’ll have to vaccinate – there’s just no way of avoiding it at this point.

If the Logan Co pound had been vaccinating upon intake across the board, utilizing routine cleaning practices and quarantining new arrivals, they might not have dogs dying left and right.  Vaccination prior to or immediately upon intake is key to preventing and minimizing distemper outbreaks.  From the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on Canine Distemper Virus (CDV):

The most important factor in disease risk is vaccination: a “fully” vaccinated animal over four months of age is at very low risk of CDV infection. However, even incompletely vaccinated animals may survive a possible exposure.

It sounds like Logan Co does little to nothing to prevent disease outbreak at the pound:

SAFE volunteers said the distemper outbreak is not an unusual problem. They provided 13 News with a letter from Michael Koch, a veterinarian at Tug Valley Veterinary Clinic in Williamson. Koch said in the letter that he has treated several animals from the pound. In the document Koch writes:

“All of the patients I have examined have been afflicted by at least one infectious or contagious disease. Some of them have had multiple diseases. I have diagnosed Sarcoptic mange, infectious canine tracheobronchitis, canine distemper, parvovirus, coccidiosis, hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. All of the patients have been in a very poor state of health.”

Pound officials said they do the best they can to regularly care for the animals and disinfect the facility, pointing out that animals are often not vaccinated when they come to the facility and are already in very poor condition.

They’re doing the best they can.  It’s the public’s fault for not vaccinating and providing proper vet care – which the pound doesn’t do either but hey, why quibble over details?

Logan County Commissioner Danny Godby confirmed that workers put down at least eight dogs within the past month after testing positive for parvo.

Vaccination upon intake.  Vaccination upon intake.  Vaccination upon intake.

“We are doing our best to save these animals,” said [County Administrator Rosco] Adkins.

So I’ve heard.

(Thanks Clarice for the links on this story.)