Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments.

cat rad

Shelter Pet Abuse and Cowards In Taos County, NM

In New Mexico, the city of Taos as well as the county of Taos pay a group called Stray Hearts more than $230,000 a year to perform animal control duties. Stray Hearts hired veterinarian Eugene Aversa to work at the facility in November 2013, providing medical care to the animals. He resigned last month, after a complaint made by shelter volunteers and staff led to a hearing before the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine, the findings of which were damning:

Eugene Aversa was found to have violated state codes in his treatment of or failure to treat 18 animals.
[...]
In its order, the seven-member board suggested Aversa was not qualified to work as a veterinarian at Stray Hearts. The order said Aversa “did not exercise the same degree of care, skill and diligence that reasonably prudent New Mexico veterinarians would have employed” in several cases. The doctor’s care for some animals was found to have constituted “gross negligence,” including in the case of a dog with a fractured paw which eventually fell off, a dog with cancer and a cat with a fractured paw as well as exposed bone.

Details of individual animals forced to suffer under Aversa’s “care” are disturbing to read.

A cat named Taffy was being given fluids by Aversa when the needle slipped out from under Taffy’s skin and the fluids spray Aversa in the face. The state report indicates Aversa threw Taffy to the floor in response. A worker found Taffy dead in her cage the next day, “with blood everywhere.”

A dog named Petey came to the pound in March 2014 with a fractured paw and Aversa left him to suffer until late July when he finally performed surgery on the dog. The state report says Aversa subsequently refused to change Petey’s bandages regularly and his paw eventually “fell off.”

Felicia Valencia, who assisted Aversa during procedures, says it took 90 minutes for a kitten to die after being “euthanized” by Aversa, and that the kitten’s suffering was only ended when Aversa finally jabbed a needle in the pet’s heart.

Ms. Valencia says when she spoke up about the abuse she witnessed, the shelter administration fired her.  Several Stray Hearts board members have resigned this year and the director recently quit.  Aversa’s malpractice and the shelter administration’s failure to take action to stop it has obviously taken a toll.  Still, the administrators appear to be trying to sweep the whole thing under the rug:

 Asked whether Aversa had been qualified to work at the shelter, the nonprofit’s chair said Tuesday she was “not qualified to comment on the veterinarian’s qualifications.”

Yeah, that’s not the only thing the administrators for Stray Hearts aren’t qualified to comment on.

The state veterinary board suspended Aversa’s license for 30 days and ordered him to shadow a shelter vet for 64 hours without pay. Once the required hours have been put in, Aversa will again be allowed to practice, and will be on a probationary status with the board. Which will surely bring comfort to any animals he hurls to the floor or leaves to suffer in pain until their fucking feet fall off.

If you live in Taos County, contact county manager Stephen Archuleta and tell him you don’t want one more penny of your tax money paid to Stray Hearts unless the entire board steps down.  Let the vols and staffers who filed the complaint run the place while things get sorted out.  Or find another group to contract for animal control.  Maintaining the status quo is unacceptable.  If Stray Hearts won’t do right by the lost and homeless animals in Taos Co, it’s up to the public to demand immediate changes be made.  At minimum, the shelter animals in Taos Co deserve a vet who won’t hurt them but will instead do his job to help them and shelter administrators who recognize that hurting pets is intolerable and will take action to protect the animals, not the abuser.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Name That Animal

This is just for fun and the only rule is:  no researching.  Post your best guesses in the comments.  Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is optional heavily frowned upon by management.  Answer will be posted in the comments tomorrow morning.

Yes, you can hold him next.

Yes, you can hold him next.

Arkansas Pound Employee Fired After Dog Found Starving

Lucy, as pictured on the KATV website, after being starved in the Brinkley pound.

Lucy, as pictured on the KATV website, after being starved in the Brinkley pound.

The city of Brinkley, Arkansas has fired its sole employee who was paid to work at the pound after a dog was found starving in the facility. The German shepherd dog called Lucy had been in the pound since June and was taken by a rescuer last week. A vet determined she was 30 pounds underweight and sick. Brinkley mayor Billy Hankins was shown pictures of Lucy and swiftly fired the pound employee:

“In no circumstance would I ever do this to an animal, no way. If I had of known about the condition of this dog before the 16th of October, there would have been immediate action,” Hankins said.

The Brinkley city attorney said the city will investigate itself in the matter. But the rescuer is not satisfied and has retained an attorney:

According to the dog rescuer’s attorney, Clint Lancaster, the investigation is not good enough for her.

“My client has given me a recording which I am not authorized to release which tends to indicate that the mayor knew this was going on for [quite some time],” Lancaster said.

Hmm. The two people who volunteer at the pound say they have been locked out for the past month. But now the mayor says he’s meeting with the volunteers about how to improve conditions at the facility and it’s conceivable that the city might go so far as to maybe even paint the place, possibly:

“We’re looking at even painting it, trying to brighten it up, anything that is necessary to make this where we feel like the dogs are safe ,” Hankins said.

You know what would brighten up the Brinkley pound for Lucy? Groceries. Someone doing his job. Unlocking the damn place so volunteers can get in.

But the mayor says not to criticize because actually, they could be worse:

“Once we pick a dog up and impound him, after 5 days if the dog has not been claimed by the owner then we take charge in a humane matter. As far as disposing of the dog, that would be euthanized,” Hankins said.” I might say there has been 50 dogs, at least the report I’m getting, we have saved their lives by not sticking with this ordinance.”

Maybe 50 dogs (somebody said, I think) we let people save, even though we could have killed them under the ordinance we made, but we let the public take them out alive because we’re awesome like that. True, we paid one guy to run the pound while we provided no oversight whatsoever and he wasn’t even managing to throw food down regularly for the animals but hey, we could be even more killy so shut up.

In the meantime, the irresponsible public has removed all the dogs from the Brinkley pound while the city investigates itself and the mayor browses paint color palettes online. The city isn’t taking in more dogs until the current crisis is resolved. Or at least painted over, I guess.

(Thank you Arlene for the link.)

UPDATED: Shelter Pet of the Day: Memphis

Dog #272194 at MAS, as depicted in a screengrab from a video on Facebook.

Dog #272194 at MAS, as depicted in a screengrab from a video on Facebook.

I am not a behaviorist but smiling in dogs is generally accepted as an expression of positive emotions and at the very least, a submissive offering.

But at the Memphis pet killing facility, smiling appears to have earned dog #272194 a spot on the kill list.  Memphis shelter pet advocate Jody Fisher inquired about the dog yesterday and a supervisor at MAS responded:

From: <DeKeishia.Tunstall@memphistn.gov>
Date: October 20, 2014, 12:36:03 PM CDT
To: Jody Fisher
Cc: <James.Rogers@memphistn.gov>, <James.Edgeston@memphistn.gov>
Subject: RE: Adoption Event

Good morning Ms. Fisher.

Hope you are doing well.

Animal ID # A272194 was moved from our Adoption floor to a kennel in Stray due to some negative behaviors i.e. growling, snarling, showing teeth exhibited during our adoption event last weekend.

The pet was moved to ensure public safety.

Are you interested in pulling this one? If you are, please be advised the pet exhibiting some behaviors suggestive of aggression. Also, if you are interested, you will need to come in no later than close of business today to process this pet out.

Please let me know if you will be in.

Thanks,
De Keishia

Today, Jody asked for 2 business days to network this dog.  She was advised the dog needs to be out of MAS today.  Based on the number of animals the pound currently has listed on PetHarbor, there appear to be roughly 450 empty cages at the facility today.

Screengrab from PetHarbor showing 110 animals listed by MAS on October 21, 2014.

Screengrab from PetHarbor showing 110 animals listed by MAS on October 21, 2014.

Please share this dog with anyone you know who likes smiley dogs – which is everyone on the earth except staff at MAS I guess.  She is being kept in a cage behind locked doors at the Memphis pound.  The public is barred from seeing her.  If anyone wants to meet her, they’ll have to find a staff member willing to help.  And because MAS chooses to arbitrarily discriminate against certain dogs based on body shape, any potential adopter will have to jump through special hoops in order to save this dog.  [/motivational speech]  The pound is open from 1pm to 7pm today:

Memphis city pound
2350 Appling City Cove
Memphis, TN 38133
(901) 636-PAWS (7297)
MAS@memphistn.gov

Dog #272194 at MAS, as depicted in a screengrab from a video on Facebook.

UPDATE, added October 22, 2014: This “suggestive of aggression” dog is no longer behind the iron curtain at MAS. She was saved last night by the irresponsible public. Here she is with her first victim:

Thank you to everyone who helped network this girl and get her away from the pound staff who wrongly labeled her a public safety threat, hid her in the back room and would have killed her. I’m smiling right now too by the way, in case anyone at MAS wants to write me up.

UPDATED: Police Officer Reportedly Calls Dog to Him Then Shoots Dog to Death

Max, as shown on the WFAA website.

Max, as shown on the WFAA website.

In August, police in Cleburne, TX responded to a call about 3 loose dogs who had escaped their fenced yard.  One dog was reportedly captured without incident before police arrived.  The other two were located by a police officer, whose identity is being kept hidden by the department, who reported that the 7 month old puppy behaved in a threatening manner toward him, including growling, and that he had to shoot the puppy to death.

The puppy’s owner received the news and could not believe it.  Her puppy, called Max, had never acted in an aggressive manner and the story didn’t make sense to her.  So she FOIA’d the officer’s body cam footage of the shooting.  That footage (which I have not watched) reportedly shows the officer coaxing the two loose dogs to him, the dogs behaving in a friendly manner and the officer killing the puppy.

The Cleburne police department is investigating itself in the matter and hiding as many details as possible:

Cleburne police are now investigating, but say the short video clip of the dog being shot doesn’t tell the whole story.

[...]

A statement [police spokeswoman Kelly] Summey provided said the dog was indeed being aggressive before he was shot.

[...]

Summey wouldn’t tell News 8 if the officer in question is on leave during the investigation, or how long the investigation will take.

Summey also didn’t know how many dogs have been fatally shot by police in Cleburne in recent years.

You are not seeing what you are seeing.  We won’t tell you anything.  We know nothing.  Seems legit.

If anyone here has a stronger stomach than I have, please share your impressions of what’s shown in the video.  Do you hear any growling?  Do you see any body language from the dogs that would reasonably be interpreted as threatening?  Does it appear that the officer would reasonably be in fear of his safety based on the actions of the dogs?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

***

UPDATE, added October 21, 2014 – The Fox affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth reports:

A city spokesperson said Monday that the Texas Rangers are being asked to conduct an investigation into the shooting, adding that the city will also be asking another outside agency to conduct a review.

[...]

In a police report regarding the incident, the officer involved said, “I raised my duty weapon to the ready position – pointed at the growling dog’s head. As soon as I lifted my pistol, the dog began coming up the hill, continuing to growl and display its teeth…I fired three shots at it.”

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Weekend Jade

Jade with her front feet on the elevated concrete pad I use to bathe dogs (on rare occasion).

Jade with her front feet on the elevated concrete pad I use to bathe dogs (on rare occasion).

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments.

[x]

[x]

ACLU Stands Up for First Amendment Rights of Animal Advocates in Baltimore County

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

The troubled Baltimore Co pound in MD has banned the public from photographing pets in the facility and the ACLU has written to county officials condemning the ban:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland says Baltimore County officials violated free-speech rights by banning photography at the county-run animal shelter, a move the ACLU describes as an effort to stifle critics.

The letter describes the photo ban as showing “a government agency endeavoring to limit its exposure to criticism and public accountability, and to stifle any perceived criticism that does arise, even where the agency’s purpose of serving the animals of Baltimore County is undermined as a result.”

County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler says the complaint is baseless and stems from a small group of pesky do-gooders:

“This is a story manufactured by a handful of advocates who were disrupting shelter employees from doing their jobs,” Kobler said.

Don Mohler, chief of staff for the County Executive, also has excuses:

“[The animal advocates] wanted to manufacture a crisis, and they would wait around until a dog soiled the cage and immediately take a picture and post it — inferring that the dog had been living in those conditions for a period of time, and that’s not true,” Mohler said.

Such dedication.  Waiting around for a dog to pee in his cage so they could snap a photo.  But in case you don’t buy that, he’s got another good one:

“This is not about photography,” Mohler said. “This is about the fact that there is a group of advocates who really want Baltimore County to release wild cats into the community.”

The county apparently has a kill policy for cats it determines to be feral.  And pesky do-gooders, along with the overwhelming majority of the general public, think that’s wrong.

Not to be outdone, Kobler also offered a back-up excuse for the photo ban to the newspaper:

“For some animals, the shutter click and the flash can frighten animals that are already nervous in a shelter environment. So sometimes, the staff members might ask people not to take an animal’s picture,” she said.

Both Kohler and Mobler said that the public is generally allowed to take pictures of the animals.  Except when they’re not.  But that’s because reasons.

So to recap, it’s not that Baltimore Co is trying to silence critics and violate their Constitutional rights, it’s assorted other things:

  • Volunteers photographing shelter pets are disruptors who prevent the staff from doing their job of killing more than 60% of the animals in their care.
  • They wait around all day for a dog to lift his leg in the cage just to capture the puddle on the floor.
  • They actually don’t care about photographing animals, they just want the county to stop killing feral cats and start doing TNR like other progressive shelters.
  • The flash from the camera scares animals and the county officials just aren’t going to stand by and let shelter pets be frightened.  After all, there’s killing to be done – lots of it.  Calm, friendly killing – not like the flash of a camera.

If for some insane reason you are still not feeling reassured, I got you:

County Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat, said the shelter has made strides in overcoming past issues. He trusts it’s being run well.

“Every time there’s a policy, there’s a reason,” he said.

So there you go.  There’s some reason for the photo ban.  This guy apparently doesn’t know what that reason may be but strides have been made and everything is fine, probably.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Case Update: “Peanut” Kilby Asks Judge for Reduced Sentence

Atlanta’s Fox-5 reporter Randy Travis will forever be a hero to me for jamming himself in the doorway of a fake “no kill” shelter he was exposing while a board member tried to shut him out.  The director of the facility he exposed, Lowanda “Peanut” Kilby, was found guilty on 60 counts of racketeering and theft charges in connection with the pet killings she conducted in secret.

This week, Kilby’s lawyer asked a Rabun Co superior court judge for a reduction in the 25 year sentence on the grounds that it was unfair and had been influenced by Randy Travis’s public expose on the news.  The judge refused.  Kilby had previously been heard on a jailhouse phone call attempting to cheat justice by suggesting a favor be called in from a judge she said owed her.  That didn’t work either.  She’s now requesting a new trial.

While it’s Kilby’s right as a citizen to work the court system to the best of her lawyer’s abilities, I just hate that she still has hope she’s getting out of this.  Through her “Lucky Dog” program, she snuffed the life out of countless pets whose sponsors thought they were being rehomed.  She showed no mercy.  She took all hope away from those animals.  She needs to serve her time and feel “lucky” it’s not yet a crime to needlessly kill healthy, friendly pets because if it was, she would have been prosecuted for much more than racketeering.  She’s in her own Lucky Dog program right now and should be thankful that there isn’t someone like her in charge of it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 920 other followers