Advocates Allege Animal Neglect and Death at Montgomery Co Pound

The Leaf Chronicle reports on a couple of incidents which happened in May at the Montgomery Co pound in Clarksville, TN:

A litter of kittens was found rolling around one of their dead siblings, which had been there for hours if not days. The full litter and their mother had to be put down.

Also in May, a litter of “four puppies were found sitting in the drain covered in fecal matter.”  One of the puppies died.

Local advocates say these are not isolated incidents but part of a pattern of neglect at the pound.  The director, Tim Clifton, defends the pound’s care of pets:

“This is not a 5-star doggy hotel,” Clifton said. “We’re an animal control facility.”

Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers has indicated that she would investigate claims of neglect but stands by Clifton, on the job for the past year, and says he’s improved things greatly.  She specifically notes that the kill rate is down 25% and all 9 full time staffers are now certified to kill animals. Both contend the care provided at the pound is more than adequate.

Volunteers and advocates claim otherwise.  They say that staff hoses down kennels with dogs inside as well as numerous other violations of the county’s animal shelter manual.

One advocate e-mailed Clifton about the dead kitten incident which happened in May.  His response, in its entirety:

“I will not dignify that absurd slanderous lie with a response. If you would like to come down, we will talk about it, or better yet come take some animals,” Clifton wrote[.]

But in fact Clifton acknowledges the kitten did die and the entire family was killed after discovery.  At issue is what volunteers claim they saw:

Shawna Lund, Wendy McKay and Raven Gutierrez, three volunteers, found the dead kitten.

“Raven got Shawna because she noticed there was a really weird smell in the cat room,” McKay said.

The volunteers say the kitten had been dead long enough to go into rigor mortis and expose the other kittens to infection, giving the full litter of kittens a green eye excrement.

“When she pulled it out, the cat was stuck to the edge of the bed, and we literally had to pull him out,” McKay said.

The volunteers tried to clean the eye excrement off of the other kittens, in one case to horrible effect.

“We were putting warm compresses on it,” McKay said. “Shawna kind of rubbed too hard, one of the eyes just exploded out.”

The full litter and its mother had to be put to sleep because of exposure to the dead kitten, which the volunteers say lasted many hours and possibly days, a time span Clifton denies.

Clifton denies the dead kitten was stiff or stuck to the bedding.  He says he watched an employee clean the cage that morning and that cages are cleaned several times throughout the day as well.  And:

“A kitten did die, but it was a brand new litter of kittens,” Clifton said. “Brand new kittens can die.”

No one seems to be advocating for the fact that the surviving kittens and mother had a right to live, which is troubling to me.

The Animal Control Committee has been hearing concerns from local advocates but doesn’t plan to address them in any meaningful way until the October 24 meeting.  Until then, kittens can die, I guess.  Oh and yay for 9 people killing animals at the Not 5 Star Doggy Hotel.

On a side note, I was horrified to see a Facebook posting from the pound in Lee County, SC indicating they were sending 27 dogs to Clarksville, TN.  Rescues there clearly have their hands full already.  How can Clarksville rescue groups justify importing dogs from out of state while pets are suffering and dying at their own pound?

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Kershaw Co: More Pet Killing, More Reporting Problems, More Excuses

These are the 2012 stats for the Kershaw Co pound in SC:

  • Total Intake:  3851
  • Total Killed:  2858
  • Kill Rate:  74%  (not included on report)

But a closer look reveals that once again, the math does not add up.  If you take a look at this portion of the report which tallies the animals killed, you’ll notice that the months of January and February are missing entirely:

Portion of annual report from the Kershaw Co pound in SC, obtained via FOIA request.  (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report from the Kershaw Co pound in SC, obtained via FOIA request. (click to enlarge)

And in this portion, February and August are missing:

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

I guess we’re just supposed to take them at their word that the TOTAL column figure is correct.  Although there is apparently no way of knowing for certain from this report how many pets Kershaw Co killed in 2012, the fact that so many animals were killed for behavior and for being sick is revealing.  The number of animals killed annually by any shelter for behavior should be zero or in the case of special circumstances, some number extremely close to it.  Illness is not a reason to kill a pet unless a veterinarian determines the pet is medically hopeless and suffering.  The percentage of animals killed due to illness should be very small, definitely in the single digits with regard to percentage of total intake.  “Orphan” is not a medically hopeless condition and the number of animals killed for that reason should be zero.  Space is yet another excuse for needless killing and an outright admission that the shelter is failing to do its job.  The number of animals killed for space should be zero.

The portion of the report tallying intake numbers is also missing January and February so the totals do not add up here either:

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

Portion of the 2012 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

The above portion from 2012 includes a comparison figure from 2011 which also fails to match up.  The 2012 report indicates that 4211 is the total intake number for 2011 but the 2011 report said that number was 4328.


Portion of the 2011 annual report for the Kershaw Co pound (click to enlarge)

It took me months to get the 2012 records from the county.  I guess now I know why.  In between the pound’s rigorous pet killing schedule and categorizing of excuses, someone was attempting to learn math.  Unfortunately for the dogs and cats in Kershaw Co, it looks like the pound is more successful at killing than anything else.

SC Shelter Attempted to Cover Up Killing of Family Dog

Bodey, as depicted in this image on the WECT website.

Bodey, as depicted on the WECT website.

Bodey was a 2 year old Lab belonging to Christopher and Desislava Mertens of Horry Co, SC.  He had been raised from puppyhood and was a beloved family member.  When the Mertens were overseas on vacation recently, they found out Bodey had gotten lost.  They made every effort to find him:

“We did Facebook, Craigslist, every page we could think of as far as spreading the word,” said Christopher Mertens.

They enlisted the help of friends and local shops, putting up posters and online posts every day.

The Mertens also called the Horry Co Animal Care Center but were told there were no records indicating Bodey was there.  Having heard that a neighbor may have called AC regarding Bodey, the owners pressed on, eventually tracking down the ACO who had impounded him.  That ACO finally told the couple that Bodey had been adopted.  They asked if they could leave their information for the new owners so they might be able to see Bodey and know he was safe.  The pound refused.  The family continued to worry and ultimately contacted the local news for help.  A WCET reporter obtained records from the county showing Bodey had been impounded, held for 7 days, and killed.

The Horry Co pound initially told the family that Bodey wasn’t there and never had been.  That was a lie.  Then they said Bodey had been adopted.  That was another lie.  Only when the reporter got involved and demanded the public records was the truth known.  I wonder if the county would have ever told the truth about killing Bodey.

The couple was devastated:

“If you pick up a dog and you give that dog five days to live, but you don’t post a picture of him, or put up anything notifying anyone of that, you’re not giving that animal a chance, period,” said Mertens.

The county, despite having been exposed as liars, admits no wrongdoing in the attempted cover up:

The sad reality, the county says, is thousands of animals are brought to the Animal Care Center every year. The decision to put an animal down is based on the animal’s health, the potential to be adopted, and the amount of space in the shelter.

Whatever lets you sleep at night, Horry Co.  It’s monsters like you that keep me awake.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

SC Shelter Turns Away Rescuers and Their Cameras

Lancaster Co AC in SC kills 80% of its dogs and 90% of its cats.  The numbers alone are horrifying but recently shelter director Joel Hinson put up some roadblocks for rescuers who were previously saving some of the pets from the dumpster – for the protection of the animals, natch.  Specifically he has disallowed shelter pet photos by rescuers (photos are now allowed only by staff) and is turning away any rescuers who don’t have a federal 501(c)3 status:

[R]ecently, he said, it has been difficult to distinguish between legitimate nonprofit rescue groups and “people looking for a cheap animal to sell and make money off of.”

He explained his reasoning for the added requirement to the local paper:

“When you apply for these credentials they have to have a mission statement. They’re saying they’re going to get them sterilized, get them their shots and get them to a good home,” Hinson said. “We think if you take your time to spend the money, and do the paperwork through a lawyer, to get your 501, they’ve taken the time and commitment to make this all happen.”

Whether you agree, disagree or remain undecided about the idea that IRS status is a good indicator of rescuer behavior, I think we can all agree that any shelter director killing more than 80% of the pets in his care should be looking for ways to increase the live release rate, not winnow it down further.  Sure it sucks if there are some rescue groups going into the Lancaster pound “looking for a cheap animal to sell and make money off of.”  But you know what sucks worse?  Killing those animals instead.  Although Mr. Hinson doesn’t see his new rules as negatively impacting the number of pets who get rescued:

“If people really care about the animals, the same people can still pull the animals as long as they are affiliated with a 501(c)3,” he said.

Got that rescuers?  If you really care about the animals, you will come up with $1000, get a lawyer and invest the time needed to acquire federal non-profit status.  If you don’t have the money, or the lawyer or the time – apparently you don’t really care about the animals.  Unlike say, Joel Hinson, I guess.

Animal control has also stopped letting rescue groups take photos of the animals in the shelter because, Hinson said, some groups would post the photos with inaccurate information about when the dog or cat would be euthanized. The photos would create uproar on Facebook and prompt dozens of calls to animal control begging them not to kill the dog or cat, Hinson said.

Yeah, I bet that’s annoying.  Callers begging to save the lives of pets and they might even have the kill date wrong!  Sounds too much like work.  The solution is of course to bar all rescuers from photographing animals at the pound.  Then no one will post any erroneous information on Facebook ever.  And surely the staff at the pound has nothing else to do besides getting good quality photos of the animals and promptly posting them online with accurate info.

And then there’s the concern from rescuers that if they spend $1000 on getting a 501(c)3 status, they won’t be able to afford parvo treatment for the puppies they save from Lancaster pound.  Mr. Hinson has a solution for that too.  You’re probably thinking it’s vaccination upon intake for all animals, right?  Oh but you are so wrong:

The biggest help preventing the spread of diseases, he added, would be a larger shelter that allowed officials to separate puppies from dogs and keep the animals away from people during the quarantine period.

Keep the animals away from those filthy, parvo-carrying people.  Dang, I hate people.  Especially the kind that complain about pet killing with the wrong dates in mind and the ones who have no 501(c)3 for their rescue group.  They don’t really care about the animals.  They just want to come in and touch them with their grubby little hands and take their pictures to post online.  It’s gross.

(Thank you Stella for sending me the link to this story.)

SC Shelter: Hookworms, Plague – eh, what’s the diff?

When a dog is infected with hookworms, the adult worms produce eggs in the intestine which are expelled with the dog’s feces.  Once on the ground, the eggs hatch and develop into larvae.  The larvae can survive in the soil, provided temperatures are above freezing, for only a few months while waiting for a new host.  They can enter a new host by burrowing into the feet or skin that touches the ground or by being ingested when a dog eats soil containing the larvae.

Hookworms are very common in pups (mama dogs can transmit them to the puppies before birth) and in stray pets.  Luckily they are easily treatable with non-prescription dewormers.  Many of the packaged heartworm medications also contain the medicine to kill hooks.

Shelters should expect that many of their pets will have hookworms.  Bleach is effective in preventing eggs in the environment from developing into larvae.  With routine deworming upon impound and standard cleaning practices, having dogs infected with hooks does not present a serious problem for shelters.

When an Horry Co man had to go out of town on business for 10 days, he arranged for someone to look after his pair of 4 month old puppies.  During this time, the pups escaped from home and animal control picked them up.  The person looking after the pups and the owner both called AC many times trying to find out where the pups had been taken.  In fact, the pups had been taken to the Horry County Animal Care Center where they were killed after 5 days because, although no one is claiming the puppies were sick, both had blood in their stool and one of them tested positive for hookworms.

Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier gave misleading information about blood in the stool/hookworm infestation to the local NBC affiliate covering the story:

“The type of health issues that these two puppies were displaying that actually infect the general population so these two puppies were actually euthanized,” Bourcier said.

And she deflected blame from the shelter that actually did the killing to the owner who didn’t have ID tags on his his 4 month old puppies or have them microchipped:

Bourcier said if proper identification had been present, it would have been easier to find the proper owner.

Then, natch:

Bourcier said this is a good time to raise awareness on how important it is to get pets spayed or neutered.

Right.  Had these 4 month old puppies been neutered, the monsters at the pound wouldn’t be so effing ignorant about common intestinal parasites in pets.

Owner Frank Jones was so devastated after learning his puppies were killed, he went to the hospital, feeling as if he was having a heart attack.  But he’s not giving up.  He has vowed to continue attending county council meetings until somebody takes action.  And he’s got a reasonable suggestion that would help owners find their lost pets who have been taken to the pound:

Jones wishes there was some sort of social media displaying when a person’s animal is picked up by Horry County.

“Why can’t we have an amber alert? My poor dog Peanut, I wanna see a Peanut alert. I wanna see every time they pick up a dog, I don’t see why they can’t put it on a web site and show the picture of it,” Jones said.

I don’t see why either.  Because nobody wants to kill animals, right?  Making a little effort to help get pets back home should be a no-brainer.  Unfortunately, no-brainers seem to hold leadership positions in Horry Co.

Bourcier said there are several efforts to alert the community when a possible pet is picked up by Animal Control.

The Horry Co Animal Care Center does have a Facebook page, but it doesn’t appear to be very active so I don’t think she’s referring to that.  The shelter’s website has some animals on it but the listings appear to be outdated so that must not be one of the “efforts to alert the community” either.  I can’t tell if the pets they have on Petfinder are current but their page says:

We accept all types of animals and never refuse to accept an animal that needs a safe place to go to in Horry County.

Gee, that’s great.  They accept any animal who needs a safe place to go in Horry Co.  But where is this safe place located and why weren’t Mr. Jones’ 2 puppies taken there?

Kershaw Co, SC Pound Reports False Lifesaving Rates

Kershaw Co, SC contracts with a non-profit group, the Kershaw Co Humane Society, to run the pound.  That group is operating the shelter primarily as a pet killing facility where roughly 3 out of 4 pets were killed in 2011.  And yet the HS issued a report to the county breaking down its kill rate by month with astonishingly low – and false – kill rates:

I have asked about these false numbers but no one has offered any explanations.  I want to set the record straight:  The Kershaw Co pound did not kill 3% of its pets during any month in 2011, nor 10%, 11% or anything even remotely close to those numbers.  It killed 73% of the pets in its care in 2011.  Although I asked repeatedly for the 2011 stats from the HS, I never received any responses.  I ultimately had to FOIA the report from the county which is when I discovered the false kill rates being reported.

If you receive a report on how your local shelter is doing, be sure to check the claims made within it.  Not everyone is truthful in their reporting and especially those who know what they’re doing is wrong and want to hide it from the public paying their salaries.

From the 2011 stats for the Kershaw Co pound:

  • Total Intake:  4328
  • Total Killed:  3147
  • Kill Rate:  73%  (not included on report)

Kershaw Co can do better.  A new Facebook page has been set up to help advocates fight back against those running the pet killing facility and their failure to save lives or even tell the truth about what they are doing.  If you would like to add your voice to those supporting the right of shelter pets to live in Kershaw Co, please “LIKE” the No Kill Kershaw County page on FB and join the conversation.

“Sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”

As if we don’t have enough to deal with:

Animal shelters throughout South Carolina will get a visit this week from a shelter services expert with a national humane organization.

Heather Bialy is Director of Shelter Services with the Humane Society of the United States.  She is scheduled to visit shelters and animal rescue groups throughout the state this week.

The tour includes meetings with shelter representatives, a survey of shelter facilities and trainings for shelter staff.

“The Humane Society of the United States is proud to work with local shelters and to assist them with many of the struggles they face on a daily basis,” said HSUS South Carolina State Director Kimberly Kelly.

Time to spruce up the kill room with a hang-in-there-baby kitten poster.

SC Shelter Pet Photos

3 month old female puppy, ID #C2099, at Dillon Co Animal Shelter in SC, as posted on Facebook.

8 week old female puppy, ID #2336, at Dillon Co Animal Shelter in SC, as posted on Facebook.

9 month old female puppy, ID #1166, at Chesterfield Co pound in SC, as posted on Facebook.

Kitten at Chesterfield Co pound in SC, as posted on Facebook.

Kitten at Chesterfield Co pound in SC, as posted on Facebook.

Kitten at Chesterfield Co pound in SC, as posted on Facebook.

Kitten at Chesterfield Co pound in SC, as posted on Facebook.

Spartanburg Co Pets in the Trash

Nancy Jeanne Smythe allegedly put her healthy 8 year old Shih-Tzu out with the trash yesterday.  A garbage collector noticed the dog beneath some trash in the can and took him to Ms. Smythe’s house.  She denied the dog was hers but later admitted ownership.  ACOs were called to the scene and when they arrived, they found that Ms. Smythe had again put her dog in a trash bag and attempted to hide him beneath some garbage in the bin.

Ms. Smythe has been charged with a misdemeanor in connection with the case but authorities will be asking to have the charge upgraded to a felony.  Her dog has been taken to a shelter.

Statistically speaking, the Spartanburg Co dog stands a good chance of being put in a trash bag a third time – this time after being killed by the so-called shelter.  Of course, there would be no charges brought if that happens.

The county severed ties with the Spartanburg HS last year after SHS made it clear where its priorities stood – not with saving the lives of pets, which it mostly kills, but with the almighty dollar.  Astonishingly, the county council is once again considering using the SHS pet killing facility for the community’s stray pets.  And executive director Sandy Christiansen is again bringing the crazy:

“There’s nothing to indicate that the county citizens who allow dogs to run loose have changed their behavior, so we predict that there’ll be about 1,000 running loose when the puppy and kitten litters begin producing in the warmer months. That is a public health and safety issue from our standpoint, and we’re willing to work to do what we can to help the situation.”

Because of you bad Spartanburg Co citizens – and make no mistake, you are bad, very bad – there will be 1000 pets running loose in the county this spring.  Save us SHS!

But let’s be clear, when Mr. Christiansen says SHS will “help”, he means kill cats and dogs.  Because that’s what SHS has historically done – kill roughly 8 out of every 10 pets in its care.  And there’s nothing to indicate SHS has changed its behavior.

I hope Spartanburg Co residents will make their voices heard by contacting the county council and speaking for the homeless pets in the community.  Putting healthy/treatable pets in the trash is wrong – no matter who does it.  Private citizens and public shelters must be held accountable.

SC Shelter Director Fired; Rescuers Allege Not Enough Killing

Last Saturday, a rumor of a planned mass killing of dogs at the Chester Co pound in SC began circulating on Facebook.  The county denies that any mass kill was ever going to take place.  That same day, the county fired the pound’s director and will not say why.

Rescuers began showing up to pull dogs, fearing a mass kill.  They allege the pound was filthy and overcrowded because “the previous director was not euthanizing enough animals or adopting enough of them out”.

Not killing enough.  The article indicates the pound killed roughly 1/3 of the pets in its care last year.

A rescuer named Janet Richardson offered the following:

“Their hearts go out, and they’re thinking with their hearts, but in the end that’s not what’s best for the animals,” Richardson said.

What’s best for the animals is that they are well cared for until they are adopted out.  Period.  Thinking with one’s heart is not necessarily a bad thing.  A compassionate director is part of the No Kill Equation.

Interim Director Mary Anne Tolbert worked at the shelter for several years and has just come back to take over operations. She said it was too hard for the staff there to put animals down. A lot of them were kept in the shelter much longer than they should have been.

“You want people in animal control who love animals for one thing, but sometimes, you get attached,” she said.

Again, a feeling of being attached to the animals in your care is not a bad thing if you work at an animal shelter.  And needlessly killing friendly pets should be hard – for any human being.

“We’re all here for the same reason,” [Tolbert] said. “We should work together.”

Are we?  I’m not so sure after reading this article.  I “think” with my heart and love animals and get attached to strays.  I believe every shelter pet has a right to live and should be well cared for until adopted.  I’m here for no kill.  What are you here for?