Sanctuary: a place of refuge or safety

lion public domain image

Lion (Public Domain)

A suck story out of Elbert County, Colorado:  Lion’s Gate Sanctuary was apparently flooding due to the location of the property, leaving the 11 lions, tigers and bears who lived there in poor conditions.  The animals were reportedly elderly and frail.  The sanctuary owner submitted a request to county commissioners to allow for relocation of the sanctuary to another appropriately zoned property in the county.  When the county refused to approve the relocation, the owner had a veterinarian kill all 11 animals.  Suck #1.

The county commissioners say they denied the transfer for very excellent reasons, including that such a move would be hard on the old animals and maybe they wouldn’t survive the trip.  Also, the request was apparently thin on details.  So yeah, I guess those are both absolutes which leave no room for negotiation of any kind.  Suck #2.

The owner says she tried to find placement for the animals at other sanctuaries but there were no takers.  Then there’s this:

The news that Lion’s Gate had euthanized all its animals stunned Pat Craig, the founder and executive director of Colorado’s largest animal refuge, The Wildlife Sanctuary in Keenesberg.
[…]
“[T]hey have so few animals, they would easily be able to place every animal with another wildlife sanctuary,” Craig said.” “I can guarantee you that a lot of organizations would be glad to help.”

Hmm. Guarantee? A lot of organizations? But the owner says none? Whatever the truth is, that’s suck #3.

But wait, there’s more:

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department told Denver7 they were aware of the mass euthanasia and the burial of all 11 animals on the sanctuary grounds. But it said that though it was done before the department was informed, it found no regulations were broken.

Suck #4.

In this country, mass animal killings have been institutionalized by our municipal shelter system.  As in the sanctuary case, mass killings in shelters are largely unregulated and left to the discretion of directors.  Killing – wholly different from euthanasia to end the suffering of a medically hopeless animal – should not be optional, let alone unregulated.  There ought to be a law.

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science

Hempstead Shelter Kills Lost Pet While Under Audit for Needless Killing

In February, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos announced his department would conduct an audit of the long troubled Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in NY. The audit was prompted by a number of complaints from local residents and animal advocates:

Among the complaints to be investigated are animal neglect and abuse, unnecessary deaths, unsanitary conditions and unqualified staff.

Diane Madden, president of Hope for Hempstead Animal Shelter, spoke at Maragos’s presser:

“Shame on Supervisor Santino, that we are here again, just a few short years later after the first audit,” Madden charged. “There was an audit done by New York State [Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office in 2012] and the [Nassau County] district attorney at the time [Kathleen Rice] called it a case study in mismanagement. …we’ll have to retrace those steps, because that audit has basically been shredded.

“Since Supervisor Santino took over, the animal shelter has worsened,” she added. “He’s brought in more patronage, he’s bullied out more experts and he’s provided no-show jobs for his [Republican] party. And the people that complained about their experiences—rescuers, current staff, past staff and volunteers—all of their pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” she added. “It’s critical that this audit be done, not just financially but operationally…Taxpayers are being cheated, and it’s long overdue that [this] is stopped.”

Maragos was asked why he chose to pursue this audit when OTHER THINGS BE HAPPENING. (I’m sorry but this excuse for neglecting shelters always gets me. As if there is a rule that we can only care about and/or do one thing at a time and shelter pets should automatically go to the bottom of any list.)

“Usually we don’t jump on the first complaint,” Maragos responded. “[In this case} we have people coming to us where life or death is involved. I think we have a responsibility to move very expeditiously and that’s what we’re trying to do here. We could not have ignored his audit. It’s within our power to care, and to represent the residents of Sullivan County.”

It’s within our power to care. That is a very good answer.

The town’s attorneys are arguing that the comptroller has no authority to examine animal treatment or anything else outside the purview of financial matters. The comptroller is willing to issue subpoenas, if necessary, to get the information the town is apparently desperate to keep hidden.

Earlier this month, a 13 year old dog named Oso who had suffered a back injury last year but was still getting around, got out of his yard and was taken to the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter. Veterinary tests were requested by town officials because “Oso was not eating and walking oddly.” A bladder tumor was discovered by a vet. Oso was reportedly monitored overnight but had not improved by morning so they killed him.

In the meantime, owner Jessica De La Rosa had seen a posting on social media Friday night about Oso being taken to the Hempstead shelter. She called when the place opened the next morning to claim her dog:

[S]helter employees told her that her dog was put down and she needed to come to the shelter to identify him.

So basically, “Fuck you, fuck your whole family and fuck you.”

Ms. De La Rosa is calling for shelter reform:

“I didn’t know he was sick. Everyone loved him and he was able to walk on his own,” De La Rosa said tearfully during a news conference Thursday. “There’s no need to put down a dog without their owner’s consent.”

The Town of Hempstead, which has a history of killing owned pets, whipped out the Blame the Owner manual in response to this poor woman’s heartbreak:

Town officials at the animal shelter said they found no reports of a missing dog before he was euthanized the next morning. The dog had no collar or microchip.

They seem nice.

You know, having a 13 year old dog generally means you are not too terrible of a dog owner. An odd walk, an undiscovered bladder tumor, a refusal to eat in a strange place when lost and confused and in the care of strangers – these are all very normal things for a 13 year old dog. One who was loved, by the way. In case that matters to anyone at the Hempstead shelter.

(Thanks Clarice.)

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robin eggs

Manly Men Totally Not Compensating for Anything Hope to Kill Baby Bears in Alaska Thanks to GOP

You and I and all American taxpayers fund 16 wildlife refuges in Alaska representing 85% of our country’s federal wildlife refuges.  So we all – not just Alaskans – have a vested interest in the management of these 76 million acres.

For years, Alaskan state officials have been asking the feds for permission to extend their so-called predator control tactics to these refuges – basically seeking sanction to allow for cruel and unbalanced killing of bears and wolves.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service has repeatedly denied these requests and last year, the denial was made permanent via a federal rule.  This year, the Republican controlled Congress and President Trump have officially revoked that rule, creating an opening for kill-freaks to get their rocks off:

These [anti-predator] tactics include killing black bear cubs or mother with cubs at den sites; killing brown bears over bait; trapping and killing brown and black bears with steel-jaw leghold traps or wire snares; killing wolves and coyotes during denning season; and killing brown and black bears from aircraft.

Now sure, that all sounds horrible and revolting and vomity but have you considered the other side’s argument?

“Some of you will say, ‘Oh, we have to protect the wolf puppies,”‘ [Representative Don] Young [(R- AK)] told colleagues on the floor of the House.
“That’s not what it’s about. It’s about the law.”

Oh those uppity we-shouldn’t-shoot-animal-familes-in-their-dens people.  Sheesh.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R- AK) adds that anyone who gets ill thinking about sadists running down animals in helicopters for slaughter should be comforted knowing that it’s still illegal to use “gas against wolves” in Alaskan wildlife refuges.  So see, not actually worse than Hitler on the Sean Spicer scale, I guess.

And as usual with political issues, we can follow the money:

At the heart of the disagreement between state and federal wildlife managers is what each group thinks should guide its purpose. The federal government has argued that the goal on refuges and in parks should be biodiversity. The state Board of Game has an interest in ensuring maximum sustained populations for hunting.

In other words, kill the predators so there are more prey (e.g. moose and caribou) for richie rich trophy hunters who have powerful lobbying groups like the NRA behind them, supporting the revocation of this rule.  And never mind about a balanced ecosystem or any of that science stuff which, as we now know, is FAKE NEWS.

But as we have seen with other flailing attempts by the Trump administration to govern, the courts may end up sorting this out:

Geoff Haskett, former Alaska regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, […] left the agency and is now acting director of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Even though President Trump signed the congressional resolution, Haskett believes it will not give the state of Alaska carte blanche to begin predator control on federal refuges.

“It doesn’t change the laws and authorities and existing regulations that the service already has,” Haskett said. “It’s really back to square one.”

Ken Marsh, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, agreed. Without a blanket rule, federal refuge managers likely will consider predator control requests on a case-by-case basis, he said, under provisions of federal environmental law.

Thankfully, common sense and decency still have defenders. And they are willing to go to court. Stay tuned.

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mourning_dove_on_nest

[x]

Treats on the Internets

Texas – Copperas Cove AC was apparently transferring animals from its kill list to a rescue called Reliant Upon God Activity Center Animal Shelter in Florence.  After a surprise inspection of the rescue facility by the state in March, the county obtained a warrant and seized 89 cats and 1 dog citing poor conditions, improper housing and sick cats in need of vet care.  The owners have been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and a judge determined the animals will not be returned to them.

An 85 year old woman took a wrong turn on a road trip and ended up stranded with her cat in the CO mountains for 5 days.  She had to ration a tiny amount of food for herself and drink melted snow but the cat had plenty of cat food and just basically spent the 5 days in the car catting.  Hikers found and rescued the pair.

A CO mail carrier saw a family carrying their elderly dog up and down their porch stairs and decided to build them a ramp from the materials he had used to make a ramp for his own senior dog, who has since died.  Each other is all we’ve got.

A family in Australia went to great lengths to save a neighbor’s drowning 25 year old horse who ended up in their front yard during a flood.  She collapsed inside their house and they stayed up with her all night, keeping her head above water, inspired after seeing her incredible will to live.  The horse is now back home with her piggy bestie.

Fancy alligator family already living on golf course upgrades to larger pond.

Shelter Pet of the Day

larry
Larry is a 2 year old boxer mix who “loves everyone and every dog he’s ever met.”

Saving GRACE
12721 West Watson Road
Sunset Hills, Missouri 63127
(314) 435-3128

(Submitted by Hayley)

Feds Strip Manatees of Endangered Species Status Despite Serious Threats

manatees teco

Manatees gathered near the TECO power plant in Tampa.  (Photo via Save the Manatee)

Your tl;dr Summary:

Feds: There are more manatees so that endangered species thing is solved.

Scientists:  What about the fact that we are providing a lethal habitat for them?

Feds:  There are MORE MANATEES.

***

Data from recent years shows that manatees are being killed in record numbers due to human induced threats such as boat strikes and red tide.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced its decision to remove the animals from the endangered species list (downlisting them as “threatened”) citing an increase in population.  Current estimates put the Florida manatee over 6600. But Save the Manatee points out that population numbers were not the only issues that landed the animals there in the first place:

[H]uman threats to manatees and habitat, not low population counts, were the reason for the manatee’s Endangered Species listing. The species still faces these threats today and mitigating these factors is the standard for recovery.

Not only have the factors not been mitigated, they’re going to get worse:

We believe this is a devastating blow to manatees,” said Patrick Rose, Executive Director for Save the Manatee Club (SMC). With regard to Florida manatees in particular, Rose stated, “FWS decided to prematurely downlist manatees without a proven viable plan for reducing record-high watercraft-related manatee deaths and without establishing a long-term plan for the anticipated loss of artificial winter warm water habitat on which more than 60% of the Florida manatee population depends. A federal reclassification at this time will seriously undermine the chances of securing the manatee’s long- term survival. With the new federal administration threatening to cut 75% of regulations, including those that protect our wildlife and air and water quality, the move to downlist manatees can only be seen as a political one.”

Politics, politics everywhere and all the boards did shrink.

Downlisting is dangerous for manatees for several reasons.  It puts manatees on a slippery slope where disputed population numbers alone may be used to remove protections in future.  People will see the current measures as being adequate in saving the animal when in fact many of the issues threatening the manatee remain unaddressed.  As an example, an increasing number of manatees gather near the artificially warmed waters near power plants in winter.  There are currently no plans in place to replace these habitats if and when these power plants shut down.

The Washington Post reports:

The Center for Biological Diversity also opposed the federal reclassification, calling 2016 “the deadliest year to date” for the animals[.]
[…]
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) called it “HUGELY disappointing” and promised to reach out to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

WaPo also reminds readers about the orphaned manatee calf rescued by a Florida zoo last fall who died 3 months into his care because he had eaten so much trash off the ocean floor – a tragic example of the continuing human threat to manatees.

So yay, there are more manatees but geez, it seems like before removing them from the endangered species list the feds should conduct an in-depth and comprehensive examination of all the factors threatening the animal and obtain input from manatee advocates who study them – not just punch up a calculator.

Nobody knew that protecting lives could be so complicated, I guess.

What you can do: Contact the USFWS (and/or tweet them) and ask them to reconsider removing the manatee from the endangered species list and focus their efforts on addressing the human induced threats to the manatee’s habitat and long-term recovery.

Save

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