With a Twist

If you’re one of those people who enjoys a good plot twist, I hope you’ve been following the story of the SD dog breeder who had his property raided by Second Chance Rescue and HSUS in September of last year.  They seized 172 dogs and fostered out a bunch of them.  In February, a judge ruled the search and seizure warrant used in the raid was illegal.  Oops.  HSUS should totally dock the pay on some of their lawyers.

Last month, Second Chance Rescue filed documents with the court indicating the cost of caring for the dogs was in the neighborhood of $400,000.  They want the owner whom they illegally took the dogs from to pay the $400 grand or give up his ownership rights.  Understandably, the owner declined their generous offer.

This week, Second Chance reportedly told the foster families they could buy the foster dogs from the owner for $100 each.  The owner has apparently received payment for 35 dogs so far this week.  The case is still in the courts so perhaps more twists are to come.  Stay tuned.

Montclair, NJ Community Wants to Improve Shelter

The animal shelter in Montclair, NJ reportedly has a kill rate of approximately 11%.  That’s a pretty good save rate when compared to the national average.  Apparently some local pet advocates have complaints about how the shelter operates and are asking the shelter, which was taken over by the municipality last year, to become a no kill facility:

Montclair’s municipal government is denying accusations from local animal rights activists that there is a “crisis situation” at the Montclair Animal Shelter resulting in a high euthanasia rate for sheltered animals.

[…]

Sue Portuese, the municipality’s health director, said municipal officials and shelter employees are working to correct some of the problems raised by critics. The shelter, open two hours every weekday, has increased its hours to include one evening per week, as well as weekends, Portuese said.

In addition, the shelter is planning several off-site events to promote the facility and attract possible pet owners, she added.

Those sound like good improvements.  Frankly, if they are saving 89% of their pets by being open only 2 hours a day and without offsite adoption events, I’m very impressed.  But while the shelter seems to be on the right track, there’s nothing wrong with members of the community advocating for no kill.  After all, becoming no kill is a community effort and if that’s what the public wants, I think we should encourage them, not discourage them:

In an economic environment where teachers and police officers face layoffs, it is challenging for an animal shelter to obtain the amount of money it needs to run a shelter properly, according to John Snyder, a vice president of The Humane Society of the United States.

“And if [Montclair] had not been in this business and they just walked in, they might be in a learning mode,” Snyder told The Times.

Municipalities and other governmental agencies can’t “just warehouse animals” in shelters, he said. Running a shelter requires community involvement, a good foster network, behavioral training, and myriad resources, Snyder said.

“You can’t flip a switch and say you don’t want to euthanize animals anymore,” he said.

OK thanks Debbie Downer.  I started out feeling positive and encouraged about this shelter.  Now I’m all glass-half-empty.

Montclair is already saving most of its community’s pets – it’s not like it’s a giant leap to becoming no kill.  There is no need for HSUS to sound the old warehousing (pdf) alarm.  Montclair is already doing a good job.  They would probably appreciate some encouragement.  And maybe some cash, if you can spare it.  Oh that’s right – you totally can.

Nuh-uh, Internet!

Speaking of e-mail forwards, I’m seeing one that says not to buy the US Postal Service “Stamps to the Rescue” because the money from sale of these stamps is going to HSUS.  As far as I know, this is 100% false but I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

The concern expressed in the e-mail is that people will be motivated to buy these stamps thinking they are helping shelter pets when in fact the money is going to HSUS which spends less than 1% of its annual budget to help shelter pets.  It is true that many people support HSUS because they believe they are helping shelter pets in doing so.  It’s also true that HSUS gives only a microscopic percentage of its millions to shelters who actually care for pets while HSUS itself does not operate a single animal shelter.  And finally, the USPS website lists HSUS as one of the supporters of its Stamps to the Rescue program.

Where the misinformation comes in is that the money from the sale of these stamps goes to HSUS.  I have found nothing to verify this claim.  My assumption is that money from the sale of these stamps, like the sale of other stamps, goes to the USPS.

The reason USPS is selling these stamps is to raise awareness of the millions of shelter pets needlessly killed in shelters every year.  USPS has sold many stamps in past as part of a social awareness campaign – you might have seen the pink ribbon stamps for breast cancer awareness for example.  Unlike the breast cancer awareness stamps, which sold at a higher than normal price with the extra money being donated to breast cancer research, the rescue stamps sell for regular price.  So there is no extra money to be donated to anyone.

There are donations being made in conjunction with the sale of the stamps but it is not money being sent to HSUS.  It is food being donated to shelter pets.  Specifically:

During the launch of the stamps, Halo will be donating a million meals to animal shelters around the country.

One of the owners of Halo is Ellen DeGeneres.  Maybe you like her.  Maybe you think she sucks.  Maybe Halo is great pet food, maybe not, I don’t know.  But let’s be clear:  All she is doing with regard to the sale of these stamps is lending her celebrity to promote awareness of the plight of shelter pets and giving away a bunch of Halo pet food to shelters.  End of story.

I’m planning to buy these stamps and encourage my boss to do so as well.  Just because I strongly disagree with HSUS’ fundraising tactics and lobbying activities, I’m not going to automatically kill every single thing they’ve got their name attached to just for the sake of doing so.  They probably signed on to the stamps campaign to help get themselves more donations.  They are probably counting on someone who sees their organization listed as a supporter to assume that HSUS must help shelter pets too, just like this stamp program is helping shelter pets.  I agree that’s shady and misleading.  But HSUS gets no money so far as I know from the sale of these stamps.  Their name does not appear on the stamps – only the words “Animal Rescue – adopt a shelter pet”.  So I’m going to support the program because the misleading tactics likely behind the HSUS support of this program are far outweighed by the potential benefit of raising awareness of the plight of shelter pets by putting these stamps on as many letters as possible.

More on 98 Dogs Seized in NC

Background here.

Some specifics on the seized dogs have emerged:

  • Two Chihuahuas will require surgery. One has a busted left eye socket, which has left the dog blind. The other has a puncture to her side that allows air to leak from her lungs.
  • A 10- to 12-year-old greyhound is missing much of her lower jaw and nearly all of her teeth from poor dental care. The dog is pregnant. A shelter veterinarian said the dog shouldn’t have been bred after age 2 or 3.
  • An adult Weimaraner is malnourished to the point where the outline of his ribs and hip bones could be seen through his skin. Officials said the dog weighs about 40 pounds, but should weigh about 75 pounds.
  • Other dogs have dozens of ticks — more than 30 on one greyhound; mammary tumors; bloody diarrhea; heartworms; missing teeth; bruising; and open wounds.

This in contrast to the kennel’s web site claims:

On its Web site, Rush Kennel bills itself as “North Carolina’s No. 1 dog kennel,” a place where Weimaraners, Labrador retrievers and other breeds frolic in a fenced play yard before the day ends with a massage, pool bath and pedicure.

18 complaints against the kennel are on file with various agencies.  Among the complaints:

  • A Winston-Salem woman who purchased two poodles last May. One died from worms two days after purchase. The other was diagnosed with glaucoma.
  • A South Carolina woman who said she went to purchase a Weimaraner puppy from the kennel. She asked to see the dog’s parents and but was told “that it wasn’t allowed,” and also told she could not see where the dogs were kept.
  • A man who reported the puppy he picked up from the kennel in January was infected with worms and parasites, and very underweight. The man said he called the kennel to request copies of X-rays and veterinary records, but an employee refused and became defensive before hanging up on him.
  • A woman who purchased a Weimaraner puppy in 2003. At 22 months the dog developed a “terrible cough, began to appear thin and began to tire easily.” The dog was diagnosed with “multiple heart defects and congestive heart failure.” The dog had to be euthanized. The woman wrote that a cardiologist told her the dog’s conditions were hereditary and “a breeder should not have bred a dog with the defect.”
  • A New York woman who said the Yorkshire terrier puppy she bought in June 2008 arrived at her residence “obviously sick, urinating on itself, lethargic, and “it smelled bad” and “it was not moving.” The woman said she received no medical records with the dog and took it to a veterinarian, where the puppy died.

Apparently local AC officers would regularly ferry discarded dogs from the kennel to the local shelter – 40 – 50 of them in the last 8 – 9 years.  The shelter director, Marsha Williams:

“We would have to treat them for whatever illness or other problems they had,” she  said. “They were not in very good shape when they were brought in to us. She said they were tired, like they were too old or she didn’t want to breed them anymore.”

So apparently local animal control, the shelter, the Better Business Bureau and the State Department of Agriculture were all aware of potential problems at this kennel but nobody ever did anything.  NC does have animal cruelty laws on the books but it looks like in this situation, nobody could be bothered to enforce the law.

And now, the HSUS is using the opportunity to again push to get their “puppy mill bill” passed in NC.  Authorities are not enforcing the laws already on the books, why would we add more and where will the funding for enforcement of this new law come from?  It makes no sense to me.  Failure to enforce existing animal welfare laws is not a logical stepping stone to creating new laws.