Open Thread

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Treats on the Internets

Regular readers may recall that nearly a year ago, the mayor of Decatur, AL ordered the local pound director to drastically reduce the number of pets from roughly 300 to just 45, despite the fact that the pound has hundreds of cages.  The mayor has apparently been lobbying to have the director fired and this week, the city council voted 4 – 1 to terminate the director amidst allegations of poor management at the pound and mishandling of donations.  I wonder if the mayor is specifically looking to hire someone who will agree to leave almost every cage at the facility empty.  Stock up on Fatal Plus and prepare for an onslaught of resumes from lazy freeloaders, I guess.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

A boarding kennel with a history of dozens of cases where staff gave animals the wrong medications during their stay is being sued by the owners of one of its victims who died as a result of the mixup.  The kennel owners asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that since the dog was a mixed breed, her life was worth nothing.  The ALDF has filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of the dog’s family.  (Thanks Clarice.)

A teenager was arrested on suspicion of setting fire to the Manchester Dogs Home shelter in the UK last week, killing 60 dogs.  Two local men heard the dogs howling, jumped the fence and kicked in the doors to the burning building, slipping leads on dogs, walking them outside and tying them to a fence before going back for more.  They saved 20 lives.  Compassionate people immediately responded to the news by opening their wallets, with roughly 1.5 million pounds being raised.  I love the irresponsible public, whom the Guardian wants to point out, is totally irresponsible.  (Thanks Kim for the links.)

More than 100 animals, most of them Irish Wolfhounds, were seized from an elderly owner in Galveston Co, TX who is ill with cancer.  The animals were taken to the Houston SPCA.  (Thanks Bonnie for the link.)

On Tuesday, Wyoming Co ACOs entered a private home on a tip and removed 75 cats, some dead, from deplorable conditions.  The home has been condemned and the owners charged.  The ACOs failed to check a locked room in the home which contained a live dog with no food or water.  The dog died before being discovered the next day.  (Thanks Arlene.)

The city of San Diego plans to work with US Wildlife Services to exterminate feral pigs from the county by chasing them with dogs, shooting them from the ground and shooting them from helicopters.  (Thanks Kellee.)

The FBI is slated to start including crimes against animals in its database of crime statistics.  (Thanks Valerie.)

Can a good photo of a shelter pet cause someone to fall in love?  You tell me.  (Thanks Casey.)

You Can’t Find the Pet You Want at Your Shelter Because the Director Killed Him

Infographic from the Shelter Pet Project.  (click to enlarge)

Infographic from the Shelter Pet Project. (click to enlarge)

 

Reliable data tells us that, of the people who will add a pet to the family within the next year, approximately 17 million of them have not yet decided on a source for that pet.  We have approximately 3 million friendly, healthy pets – or pets with treatable conditions such as colds – being killed every year in U.S. shelters.  So we have 3 million shelter pets to market to 17 million people each year.  This is an achievable goal.  It also completely disproves the notion that there aren’t enough homes for shelter pets.  And it’s not just Maddie’s Fund and the No Kill Advocacy Center saying so – the Humane Society of the Unites States now publicly agrees.  Pet overpopulation is a myth.

Not only are there enough homes for all the shelter pets being killed in America – there are way too many homes.  In other words, if we were to convince through marketing even half of this group of 17 million to adopt from shelters, we’d run into a serious shortage.  Because the fact is we don’t have nearly enough shelter pets for everyone who wants to add a pet to the family this year.  But right now, that’s not the problem.

The problem is that many people who would potentially be interested in saving a pet from the pound do not feel inclined to actually go there and adopt.  There are numerous reasons for this – and they are all readily fixable:

1.  The shelter is depressing.  Who wants to visit a place that functions primarily as a pet killing facility?

Solution:  Make lifesaving the primary function of the shelter.  Reach out to the community and engage them in your lifesaving mission.  Make the shelter environment warm and inviting, reflective of your focus to find homes for every healthy/treatable pet under your roof.

2.  The shelter is closed during the hours most people can visit.  Too many facilities are closed on evenings and weekends.

Solution:  Stay open on evenings and weekends.  Make sure the community knows you are open.  Run promotions during those hours.

3.  The shelter doesn’t have the specific type of pet the adopter wants – e.g. a calico cat or a dog weighing less than 15 pounds or a pet they feel a connection with when they meet.

Solution:  Stop killing animals.  The reason shelters often don’t have the type of pet people are looking for is because the staff is killing them.

Shelter directors and their staff are needlessly killing an estimated 3 million healthy/treatable pets every year. These are the animals who would have been adopted by some of the 17 million people looking to add a pet to the family this year and open to the idea of shelter adoption. Sometimes shelter directors make themselves feel better by labeling these animals “unadoptable” which is, at best, delusional and at worst, an outright lie created for the purpose of fulfilling pet killers’ desire to inflict violence upon shelter pets.

The math speaks for itself.  The proven solutions to common problems faced by all shelters are available.  So why are so many shelters still killing animals?

There are more than enough homes.  The animals are wanted.  People are out there every day of the week looking for the very pets being killed and thrown into the dumpster by regressive shelter directors.  How much longer will we as a society allow this to continue?  There ought to be a law.

The Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) is model legislation which takes away the discretion of shelter directors to kill randomly and in secret.  We can’t wait any longer for shelter directors to stop killing because it makes sense and it’s the right thing to do.  Like so many social injustices in our society, this one too will only be remedied by legislation:

The goal was never mere promises that we would strive to do better as a society. The focus was always on changing the law to eliminate the ability to do otherwise. The suffrage movement did not seek discretionary permission from election officials to vote, an ability that could be taken away. Its goal was winning the right to vote, a right guaranteed in law. The civil rights movement did not seek the discretionary ability to sit at the front of the bus or to eat at the same lunch counters. Its goal was winning the right to do so, a right guaranteed in law. Without legal rights, one’s fate is contingent on who the election official is, who the restaurant owner is, who the mayor is and in the case of animals entering shelters, who the director is.

“We’re doing the best we can” isn’t good enough. Blaming the public does not save lives.  We are a humane society and we don’t want pets needlessly killed in our shelters.  We want our shelter directors to do the work we pay them for – to shelter animals during their time of need.  Waiting for them to feel like doing their jobs is not going to cut it.  Legislation is needed.

If you want to be able to find the pet you feel a special bond with when you meet him at your local shelter, the director needs to stop killing animals and start doing his job.  CAPA can help you find your next pet.

TZI Recommends Shelter Should Not Let You Have Your Lost Cat Back

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her.  (Photo by Casey Post)

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her. (Photo by Casey Post)

In August 2013, the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program issued a summary of recommendations to the Hillsborough Co pound in FL following a consultation.  The recommendation regarding stray cats was particularly troubling to me since it threatened the bond between people and their lost pets.  From the report:

Eliminate the required hold period for stray cats. Stray cats lacking identification are extremely unlikely to be reclaimed by owners and are at high risk for shelter – acquired disease and euthanasia. Eliminating even a few days in the shelter may be the difference between life and death for them. The shelter can simultaneously have an option for immediate live release paired with a required hold period of 3 days prior to euthanasia.

Not only is Maddie’s Fund failing to attribute a low return to owner rate to its proper source – the pound, it fails to acknowledge one of the primary purposes of municipal shelters:  to reunite lost pets with their owners.

The No Kill Advocacy Center weighed in on the elimination of stray holding periods when HSUS suggested it in its 2013 white paper on California shelters:

[I]f a dog or cat comes in as a stray, and he does not have identification, he can be adopted to someone else immediately without giving his family any time to reclaim him. This is unfair to families who deeply love their animal companions. [...] Accidents happen; animals get lost and end up at shelters. Since the choice presented — immediate adoption or sickness/death — is a false one, breaking up families by having them lose all rights in their animal with no reclaim period of any kind appears draconian.

I am deeply opposed to the elimination of holding periods for any pet whose owner might be looking for him. It’s the shelter’s job to treat the bond between pets and their people as sacrosanct. Which is why I was shocked to read that the Target Zero Institute, in its recommendations to the troubled Amarillo pound in TX, has taken the travesty even further. TZI not only recommends eliminating the holding period for stray cats lacking identification but for all cats found outside – including friendly, possibly microchipped pets who may be wearing collars and/or tags and whose owners are searching for them:

The TZI recommends returning outside cats back to their original neighborhoods following sterilization, rabies vaccination and ear tipping. [...]TZI recommends returning cats to their ‘outside home’ where they have a food source as evidenced by a healthy body weight. These may be feral cats that cannot be handled or friendly cats found outside.

If Amarillo, or any other municipal shelter, adopts TZI’s barbaric recommendation regarding cats found outdoors, your pet could be turned into the shelter by a cat hating neighbor or anyone at all, or he could simply be trapped by an ACO and, so long as he appears to be “visually healthy”, he would be immediately vaccinated, neutered, ear-tipped and put back on the street. This would happen as a matter of policy – even if you were actively searching for your pet, even if you had microchipped him and even if you had placed a collar and an ID tag on him. If he’s found outside, TZI wants him immediately anesthetized, put through surgery and turned loose in the area where he had gotten lost (or presumably where the cat hating neighbor says he was found).

TZI says in its report that this practice will save money by reducing the number of cats who “have to be cared for, fed and ultimately [killed] in large numbers” at the pound.

No cats “have to be” killed.  Full stop.  If you don’t get that, get out of the shelter consulting business.

All cats impounded by shelters should be immediately – in the field whenever possible – scanned for microchips and checked for ID tags.  No exceptions.  A chip or ID tag should equate with a free ride home from the ACO.  Those cats lacking identification should be photographed and posted online by the facility immediately.  Anyone visiting the shelter looking for a lost pet should be shown every pet in the place as a matter of course.  Reuniting families is part of the job.  It seems to me to be one of the best parts, by the way, and I can’t imagine why anyone who supposedly cares about shelter pets would want to eliminate it.

Now that Maddie’s Fund and HSUS have opened this awful door and TZI has barreled through it with a bulldozer, I can’t help but wonder what’s next.  Will some consultant recommend that shelters stop housing all dogs found outdoors too?  Gee but we can’t turn dogs back out onto the streets, can we?  So what will “have to be” done with them?

I’m not a shelter consultant, just someone who loves pets and believes dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of their status in the community.  I don’t get paid for my ideas nor do I have any big money backing me behind the scenes.  Here’s my unsolicited recommendation to shelters and their staff, for what it’s worth:  Do your jobs.  Stop looking for ways to avoid the hard work of sheltering by bringing in big money consultants.  You are accountable to the local taxpayers who pay your salaries and who love their pets.  Start acting like it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Texas ACO SorryNotSorry He Got Caught on Camera Dragging a Dog

The Humane Society of Northeast Texas is no stranger to violence against the animals in its care.  But an incident of an ACO dragging a dog around the pound by a leash was caught on video last month, forcing the city to take action.  Prepare to be underwhelmed.

The little dog can be seen on multiple camera views being dragged like a sack of potatoes by Saylor Knox, the ACO paid to protect him from harm:

Knox’s boss, Environmental Health Supervisor Buck Farrar, says there is no excuse for the behavior, but here are some excuses:

Farrar said that while nothing excuses the behavior, the office was short-handed that day, Knox was hurrying, and the dog was behaving in an unruly manner.

“There is nothing that can condone taking action that can be perceived as abusive toward the animal. Do I believe that there was any ill intent on his part, that he was deliberately doing that? Absolutely not,” Farrar said.

“It’s the perception.”

Short-handed. In a hurry. Bad dog. He wasn’t deliberately dragging the dog. That’s just the perception of anyone who watched the video. It’s all in your mind.

As part of the city’s discipline, Knox was forced to write a letter to the HS regarding the incident. It looks like he copied one out of the Shelter Pet Abusers Handbook:

“I apologize for the way it appeared and for anything I did that implied I intended to harm the animal in any way,” Knox wrote.

Sorry for your stupid perceptions, people.

“I was attempting to expedite the call quickly being that the dog was being extremely unruly and vocal in the eyes of the public. I did the best I could in the circumstance, taking ample time both on the truck as well as once I had the dog secured in the animal control officer run, trying to get the dog to warm up to me.”

We’re doing the best we can, yay. Also, have we mentioned lately that the little dog was B-A-D? Because he was.

Apparently the wheel has not yet made it to Longview because if it had, the pound could keep a cart handy to move cages containing dogs too frightened to walk.

Knox refused to be interviewed by local media, as did the pound’s director.  There is no mention in the article of whether the dog survived the pound or was killed.  As far as the remainder of Knox’s disciplinary action, he was suspended for two days.  A city employee in another department was also suspended for two days in August “after administrators discovered she incorrectly filed paperwork for several months”. So I PERCEIVE that the pet mistreating ACO who gets paid to issue citations to citizens who mistreat pets is exactly the same as the paperwork messer-upper. Got it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

RSPCA Killing Healthy/Treatable Pets with Bolt Guns and Bullets

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the UK reportedly killed 53,000 animals in 2011, many of them healthy or treatable.  The RSPCA’s 44% kill rate can not be blamed on an open admission status:

In 2009, the RSPCA, which is one of Britain’s biggest charities and receives £120 million a year in donations, stopped accepting stray animals and unwanted pets.

While the number of animals being adopted to new homes by the RSPCA has fallen, the number of convictions against pet owners has risen by 20%.  Critics claim that the organization’s focus on securing convictions has led to the drop in animals being adopted out as well as thug tactics against pet owners:

[In 2011], spinster Georgina Langley, 67, of West Hougham, Kent, was raided at her home by the RSPCA and had five of her 13 cats put down.
The charity prosecuted her for neglect, but Mr Smith, 62, came to her aid. After sending two of the cats’ bodies to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) for an independent post-mortem, he said: ‘There appears to be no good reason why the RSPCA allowed these animals to be put to sleep.
‘The RVC post-mortems concluded the cats were healthy, with no signs of incorrect feeding or major problems with fleas or other illnesses.
‘They were very heavy-handed with an elderly lady and kept her standing out in her garden in the rain for hours while they searched her house.
[...]
Following a three-day trial in May 2012, the RSPCA dropped 11 of the 13 charges against Miss Langley.

The RSPCA, which routinely kills animals with a bolt gun, also shoots healthy/treatable pets to death as a form of “euthanasia” according to a whistleblower who worked for the organization for 2 years:

Ms Aubrey-Ward claimed large numbers of animals, particularly dogs, were put to sleep after being classed ‘unsuitable for rehoming’, but that the definition could be widely drawn to often include older animals, those needing veterinary care, dogs deemed ‘aggressive’ or larger dogs which were ‘hard to home’.
[...]
Ms Aubrey-Ward, 44, a divorced mother of four from Martock, Somerset, joined the RSPCA as a trainee inspector in 2007. But she soon found herself at odds with what she described as its ‘antiquated military-style’ regime which placed ‘prosecution and persecution’ of owners ahead of protection of their pets.
[...]
Later, she rescued a heavily pregnant ‘staffie’ bitch from a cruel owner, along with an aggressive male dog. ‘With some TLC in a nice kennels, and someone to work on her behaviour, she would have been OK. The dog warden and I tried hard to find a space for her but we couldn’t,’ she said.

‘The warden took the dogs to RPSCA Hillingdon, where a vet said they should be put to sleep if nowhere could be found for them, and they were killed round the back. The dog warden noosed them and I shot them.’

An RSPCA spokesman told the Daily Mail:

‘We do need to put animals to sleep when it is in their interests.
‘Nobody who works for the RSPCA wants to have to put rehomeable animals to sleep but it is a sad reality of the work that we do.’

Unadoptable.  Putting to sleep.  Killing is a kindness. Nobody WANTS to kill animals. DOMFL. I see pet killing hypocrites are exactly the same across the pond as they are here.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Weekend Jade

I snapped dozens of photos of Jade and Schroeder playing today.  They were all a blur except this one.

Jade checks out whether Schroeder has locking jaws.

Jade checks out whether Schroeder has locking jaws.

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments.

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Treats on the Internets

The new shelter director in Moore Co, NC instituted some major changes after taking charge:  Rescue groups without a 501(c)3 are no longer allowed to save animals from the kill room and volunteers are now prohibited from walking dogs and caring for shelter pets on days the place is closed.  Instead paid staff will come by for 2 hours on those days.  Moore Co took in 3206 dogs and cats in 2013, killing 2172 of them – a 68% kill rate.  More than a dozen volunteers have reportedly quit this summer.

The mayor of Magnolia, AR issued a statement blaming “negligent owners”, lack of funding, and lack of manpower for the illness and killing of dogs at the overcrowded city pound.  Gosh, if only there was some way he could effect change in Magnolia.  But the mayor says it’s a “problem that can only be helped by our own citizens” because hey, he’s only the boss of the entire city.  (Thanks Bonnie for the link.)

A man who helped a woman rescue stray cats in their AL neighborhood stabbed her to death.  (Thanks Valerie.)

MN police chief killed a boy’s pet chicken because reasons: chickens carry diseases/didn’t realize he chopped the head off and left it behind for family to find/going to introduce legislation to allow chickens so it’s all good.

The Spot Abuse campaign is designed to increase awareness of the link between animal abuse and other forms of domestic violence.  (Thanks Ona for the link.)

The Pennsylvania SPCA brings puppies and kittens to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania so workers can relieve stress by cuddling the pets on their breaks.  (Thanks April.)

Images of Soviet space dogs in pop culture.

Primer on British animal idioms for dumb Americans.

Requiem for a Shark Dog

Jefferson Co, OH Dog Warden Charged with Animal Cruelty

Misty, as shown on the WTOV website.

Misty, as shown on the WTOV website.

Allegations of animal abuse at the Jefferson Co pound in Ohio are not new.  In fact, county commissioners installed cameras at the facility specifically to address these concerns.  On Saturday, a camera at the Jefferson Co pound reportedly caught dog warden William Bell hitting a dog named Misty in the head with a shovel.  There were volunteers who witnessed the incident as well, including children.

Bell had reportedly broken up a fight between Misty and another dog in an outdoor yard by separating the two.  After Misty was alone and lying down, Bell reportedly returned with a shovel and whacked her in the head with it.  Misty sustained head and neck injuries and was apparently treated by a vet.

The vet’s report, along with the video evidence, hasn’t yet been made public by Jefferson Co but they won’t be able to hide it forever.  The county prosecutor has reviewed the evidence and charged Bell with misdemeanor animal cruelty.  Bell is currently on paid leave.

And the excuses are already pouring in.  Jefferson Co commissioner Tom Gentile told a local news reporter that no situation is “perfect”:

Any time you have human beings as employees, things are going to happen. That’s just part of management.

Those problematic humans.  You never know whether they are going to pilfer paper clips from the supply closet or take a shovel to a dog’s head.  It’s all in a day’s work.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla wanted the TV news to know that Bell could have swung the shovel harder:

“I thought at first it was gonna be a heavy swing where he really hurt that dog, but I don’t think that that’s the way it was, but apparently it was bad enough.”

Maybe the sheriff would like to demonstrate a light swing of the shovel on his own head, so we can better understand.

If convicted, Bell faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail.  The Jefferson Co prosecutor explained that Ohio law is limited when it comes to punishing animal abusers and that even if Bell had beaten Misty to death, the charges would be the same.

Bell’s violence against Misty is obviously part of a pattern of abuse.  It’s why the cameras were installed in the first place.  And he is paid by taxpayers to protect the community’s animals from harm.  The county commissioners are supposed to decide on Bell’s future as dog warden by the end of today.  Because that’s a thing that must be thinked about.

Ho hum.  Another day in We All Want the Same Thing Land.  And remember, don’t criticize unless you are willing to go down there and start beating dogs in the head your own damn self.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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