Eleventy Million Degrees

Best Friends Mentions DE Legislation

Pursuant to my post about the silence from the “big three” animal welfare organizations on the DE shelter pet legislation, I’ve been checking for updates.  Although I still haven’t found anything from HSUS or ASPCA, I did see a post from BFAS on DE’s landmark legislation dated July 26.  It does not include any mention the No Kill Advocacy Center or their Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA).  (Note:  CAPA is the No Kill Advocacy Center’s model legislation to protect pets and help build no kill communities.)

The BFAS post put me in mind of their statement on why they didn’t support Oreo’s Law (which they refer to as “Kellner/Duane”) earlier this year:

In January of this year, we detailed our preferred template for a shelter access bill that we could support and posted it on our website. The Kellner / Duane bill never fully conformed to this despite our collaborative efforts with the bill’s sponsor, Micah Kellner.

[...]

Despite our growing belief that Kellner / Duane would not clear the first hurdle, we worked directly with Kellner’s office until mid-March, attempting to bring the bill into line with our preferred model.

On July 23, Nathan Winograd blogged the following regarding the DE legislation:

The law was modeled on the No Kill Advocacy Center’s Companion Animal Protection Act [...].

While the No Kill Advocacy Center worked with supporters on the language of the bill, we did not discuss it publicly, fearing that the large animal protection groups would work to undermine its passage, just as they did in New York, just as they did in San Francisco, just as they tried to do in California in 1998 (Hayden), and just as they try to do everywhere reform advocates are trying to end the systematic killing of animals in their communities.

Thoughts?

Further, as I alluded to in my previous post, there seems to be a shift in Best Friends’ interest in Delaware’s efforts to work toward no kill.  In 2008, they appeared to be supportive of the No Kill Advocacy Center and Nathan Winograd’s efforts to inspire DE on no kill.  In 2010, when those efforts came to fruition in the form of legislation, nary a word about either.  Again, from the BFAS statement on Oreo’s Law:

We want the infighting to stop now.  [...]  Collectively we can accomplish progressive things without beating each other up. Simply put, the humane movement needs to be humane. Our goals will never be accomplished by being hateful. Without question, that will ultimately be self-defeating. This is one of the founding principles of Best Friends.

[...]

At every turn we have opted for inclusion of as many people as possible who share our vision, whether they work in rescue or animal control, large organizations or small.

Those sound like good principles that a lot of us could support.  But are those sentiments consistent with what appears to be, in my view, Best Friends’ exclusion of people who not only share the same vision but have achieved success in legislating that vision in DE?

Again, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Web Non-Alert: DE Saving the Lives of Shelter Pets

I recently posted about what is really a pretty big deal for shelter pets in Delaware and potentially for shelter pets in every state in the country which might choose to follow suit.  Basically, Delaware is affording multiple, mandatory statewide protections to pets in shelters including the stipulation that killing is a last resort.  For those of us hoping to see no kill become a nationally embraced philosophy in our lifetimes, this is huge.  H-U-G-E.

I wanted to check out the reactions of the big national animal welfare groups to the great news in Delaware.  I began by doing a Google search but came up with nothing beyond local and regional coverage.  So I went to the websites of the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Best Friends Animal Society.

HSUS wants the public to know how to help butterflies keep cool in the heat, ASPCA tells us how we can win tickets to Lilith Fair, and BFAS is promoting spay-neuter on puppies and kittens (which I oppose, but that’s for another post).  I know all three of these organizations to be extremely web savvy.  So why couldn’t I find even a mere mention of the groundbreaking legislation to protect shelter pets in DE?  Did I simply miss it?  Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Perhaps even more curious, BFAS did post a link to an article in 2008 where Nathan Winograd talks about the possibility of Delaware becoming a no kill state.  If Best Friends was interested in this issue for DE in 2008, why are they not reporting on this giant leap forward for the state now?

After failing to find anything from the “big three” animal welfare groups, I continued searching the web for other reactions.  I found something from the Animal Law Coalition praising the DE legislation but cutting on those who supported Oreo’s Law in NY at the same time:

The Delaware law focuses on building working relationships between shelters and rescues to save as many animal lives as possible and at the same time ensuring that they don’t end up in a hoarding or other situation where they are abused or neglected.  It’s unfortunate the proponents of Oreo’s Law would not consider amendments similar to the Delaware law.

Is this a fair criticism?  Are the proponents of Oreo’s Law who allegedly refused to consider these amendments different from those who worked on the DE legislation?  Of course there will be state differences as far as who worked on the two laws – animal advocates in NY and those in DE.  But what about the national group behind these two laws?  Wasn’t the No Kill Advocacy Center behind both?  And is it necessary to buzzkill the wonderful success in DE by throwing sand in the eyes of fellow animal advocates?

Nathan Winograd also mentions Oreo’s Law and the DE Companion Animal Protection Act but has a very different take:

Like Oreo’s Law sought to do, the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act mandates collaboration between shelters and rescue groups. A shelter cannot kill an animal if a rescue group is willing to save that animal’s life.

To read more about the exciting news from Delaware – including the law itself – visit the No Kill Advocacy Center.

Follow Up on SC Cruelty Case

Charles Bell, the SC man who was charged with animal cruelty after locking his black dog in a wire crate and leaving her in the sun to die in his yard, entered a guilty plea in court yesterday.  He received a fine of $1092 and must serve 30 days in jail – but only on the weekends.  In addition, he must surrender his other pets to animal control.  This will be the second time in two years Mr. Bell has been ordered to surrender his dogs to AC.  I guess we’ll stay tuned for the next time.

By way of explanation for his actions, Mr. Bell offered the following:

When Bell was asked to give his side of the story in court, he told the judge he is, in fact, an animal lover and he left his 15-year-old son in charge of the dog’s care.

Bell told the judge that he and his son noticed that the dog kept escaping from its kennel, so they placed it in the crate at certain times throughout the day.

This sounds as if they had some sort of rotational plan in place during the day but there is no evidence of that so far as I’ve read.  Further, if part of your daily rotation includes leaving a dog in a crate in the sun to die, I’d have to say your plan is faulty Mr. Animal Lover.

After the proceedings, Mr. Bell told a reporter, “I can only be judged by God and only he knows the truth”.  So there’s some “truth” to the matter of Mr. Bell cruelly causing the death of his dog and only God knows it?  Ooh- sounds mysterious.  And lame.

Gee, This Coyote Walks Well on a Leash

The KY owner of a female Shiba Inu named Copper put up posters in her neighborhood after her 11 year old dog escaped her fenced yard on July 3.  A police officer saw the poster and recognized the dog as one he had picked up and taken to the Frankfort HS.  Although the shelter initially accepted the dog, they later called police back and told them they’d have to pick the dog up because they don’t take coyotes.  Police picked Copper up and took her behind a home improvement store for release.

Run, be free, Copper, return to the wild!  [Insert 'Born Free' theme here]

[Frankfort Police Maj. Frank Deaton] said he doubted it was a coyote since it peacefully went with the officer who released it.

Police and volunteers are helping the owner look for Copper and have set up cages in hopes of trapping her.

Florida Dangerous Dog Case: Ulu

In March, Marion Co passed a dangerous dog ordinance.  At the end of that month, the county seized Sandra Shaw’s Siberian Husky, called Ulu, under this ordinance.  Ulu had accidentally escaped his fenced yard and, as the owner was not home at the time, two family members went out looking for him.  Two witnesses in the neighborhood saw Ulu wandering loose and ultimately saw him kill a cat who was also outside unattended.  A court case over the custody and status of Ulu ensued.

Ms. Shaw wanted to keep Ulu at home pending the outcome of the dangerous dog investigation but the county denied that request basically stating that she might not be able to confine the dog properly.  Her lawyer countered that “county officials cannot prove, have not shown, or even have a procedure to show, how Shaw lacks the ability to control her pet”.  In fact, she had ample ability to contain Ulu, as will become evident.

The county also denied the owner’s request to visit Ulu at the shelter because she might spread disease to other dogs there.  Her lawyer countered that the county allows potential adopters to visit with dogs at the shelter and Ms. Shaw would be limiting her contact to her own dog.

The county was charging Ms. Shaw $15 a day to keep Ulu.  They did offer Ms. Shaw a way to take Ulu home – accept the dangerous dog classification for her dog, waive her rights to challenge it, and pay all the fees including a $250 dangerous dog registration fee.  Her attorney countered that by denying visitation, the county was trying to force owners to give up their rights and pay the fees, which were a source of revenue for the county.

During the legal process, Ulu was declared a dangerous dog under the ordinance.  The owner’s attorney requested, and was granted, permission for the owner to take Ulu home during the appeal process, and on July 20, the dangerous dog classification was vacated by a judge.  The transcript from the hearing upon which the judge made his decision is here (pdf).  If you’re a legal buff, or someone concerned about your rights as a pet owner, it’s very interesting reading.

The lawyer pokes all kinds of holes in how AC handled the matter from start to finish, failing to follow their own procedures to allow for a fair and thorough investigation.  They never interviewed Ulu’s owner to see how the dog escaped the yard.  This is significant because, not only is it a legal requirement, but had they interviewed the owner, they would have learned there were three fences set up to contain Ulu (and the owner’s other dogs) including a padlocked gate.  The padlock was accidentally left unlocked by a family member who was doing yard work and Ulu slipped out.  Ulu had never been in trouble with AC before and neighbors didn’t even recognize him.

Also significant is the fact that the owner of the cat was never advised that by involving AC, there would be a dangerous dog investigation.  Further, the cat’s owner did not want the dog declared dangerous, didn’t believe him to be dangerous and considered the entire matter to be an unfortunate accident.  Had the cat’s owner been aware that Ulu was a neighborhood pet, she testified that she would have handled the matter differently and simply settled things in a neighborly way.

Finally, there is the issue of provocation.  The county was seemingly ignorant of their own ordinance which specified that a dog could be declared dangerous only if it killed another pet “unprovoked”.  Since neither of the witnesses who saw Ulu kill the cat witnessed the beginning of the altercation, there was no way to know what had happened.  The attorney offered some plausible scenarios – that perhaps Ulu had approached the cat in a friendly manner but the cat had arched her back or hissed or swatted the dog’s nose.  Since there were no witnesses, this information was unknowable but the county ignored this fact in proceeding with the dangerous dog designation.

I admit at first blush, my reaction to this case was “Dog kills cat – meh” but when I got into the details, my interest increased immensely.  To my mind, the county’s actions can be described as nothing short of an attempt to railroad everyone involved into having Ulu declared dangerous and getting the fees paid.

For example, testimony reveals the the ACO received noticed of the first hearing a week in advance but didn’t notify the owner until the day before.  That notification came in the form of a note taped to the door which said the hearing was tomorrow and if you can’t make it, you need to provide at least 2 days advanced notice.  When the owner’s attorney contacted the ACO to say they needed sufficient time to prepare and requested the case file, he received an e-mail reply including the case file just minutes before 5pm with notice that he must respond before the end of the day.

That’s just one example.  The transcript is full of that kind of funny business.  While I’m delighted that Ulu’s owner was able to hire an attorney to fight these shenanigans in court, I fear that many dog owners, myself included, would be unable to do so.  I wonder how much ransom money the county will be able to extort from owners desperate to get their dogs back under this ordinance.  Or worse, how many dogs might be killed because the owners are unable to pay the fees.

Shame on Marion Co.  Their shelter is closed on Sundays and Mondays and only open from 10am to 5:30pm the rest of the week.  Instead of wasting months worth of time and resources on cases such as Ulu’s, maybe they could devote some of those resources toward keeping the shelter open during the days and hours the public is most likely able to get there.  Or fix the kennel cam so that taxpayers can see how their money is being spent caring for all the pets at the shelter and not just one dog.  I have other ideas too, less fit for print.

Thank you to reader Susan for alerting me to this story.

A Pretty Big Deal

…for shelter pets in Delaware, and potentially for shelter pets of every state in the country which might aspire to follow the same path:

Across the state and the country, animal rights supporters are praising legislation passed by the General Assembly in June to codify rules for the treatment and care of animals in Delaware shelters.

[...]

Shelter administrators say the new standards will drive down euthanasia numbers and put Delaware on the road to becoming the first “no kill” state in the country.

Some key points in the legislation:

  • Shelter pets must be vaccinated within 8 hours of intake
  • 3 day mandatory hold for found pets
  • Shelters must maintain online lost and found listings

And:

After five days, the shelter can euthanize an unclaimed animal, but only if there is no available space to house the animal and it can’t be handed over to a private rescue group or placed in foster care.

Basically, the law increases a shelter pet’s chances of staying healthy, being reunited with the owner if lost, and being kept alive to be adopted if homeless.

Nathan Winograd has lots more details in a positively giddy post on his blog.

Congratulations Delaware!


(If I’m dreaming, please don’t wake me up.)

And Now For Something Completely Different

So how does this grab you?

Twelve bottles of The End Of History ale have been made and placed inside seven dead stoats, four squirrels and one hare.

Before you make up your mind, consider these words from the brewer’s co-founder:

”The impact of The End Of History is a perfect conceptual marriage between taxidermy, art and craft brewing. The bottles are at once beautiful and disturbing – they disrupt conventions and break taboos, just like the beer they hold within them.”

[...]

“The animals used to bottle The End Of History all died of natural causes – better to be celebrated and valued than left to rot.”

Here’s your VIP (Very Important Poll):

CO Nurse Charge with Aggravated Cruelty

Warning – some graphic details below.

I think most of us can understand that emotions run high in the face of a pet tragedy.  If you agreed to take care of a big dog for someone who was out of town and that dog killed your little dog, you’d probably feel all sorts of negative feelings:  possibly guilt for leaving the dogs together unsupervised, grief over the sudden loss of your pet, and anger at the dog who did the killing.

I can’t say what a nurse in Colorado was feeling after this situation happened in her home but she went off the deep end.

After her boyfriend’s Aussie/Lab mix, whom she was looking after while he was away, apparently killed her Poodle, 31 year old Nicole Anderson called her sister and her ex-husband to see if either had a gun.  The ex-husband allegedly came over (without a gun, I’m assuming) and held the dog down while Ms. Anderson slit her throat.  She then tossed both dogs’ bodies in the trash and cleaned up the place.

At the hospital where Ms. Anderson worked, co-workers reported “that she kept repeating ‘the blood, the blood’ and ‘it didn’t go well’ while at work the morning after”.  In addition:

She also told one co-worker that “once we got to the trachea, it was easy after that,” according to the affidavit.

Thankfully, her co-workers called the Larimer Humane Society.  Ms. Anderson has since been charged with felony animal cruelty and is no longer employed at the hospital.

Anderson’s ex-husband, Robert Anderson, was contacted by investigators via phone but did not agree to meet with police in person, according to the affidavit. There is no physical evidence linking Robert Anderson to the crime scene, and he has not been charged with any crimes, the Larimer Humane Society said.

So meeting with the police is optional during a criminal investigation?  Huh.

As always, I seek to find some sort of explanation for the actions:

When co-workers asked Anderson why she didn’t take the dog to the pound, she told them it was late at night and “no one was open,” according to the affidavit.

[...]

Co-workers also said Anderson told them she couldn’t bear to put the dog in a kennel for three weeks, until her boyfriend came back, the affidavit reads.

Couldn’t bear to kennel the dog.  Because that would be, what – expensive?  Cruel?  Less satisfying than carving up the dog’s throat?

“There was no record of Nicole Anderson calling Animal Control, police or otherwise needing emergency assistance,” according to the affidavit.

Apparently she requested no help of any kind from any authorities but rather assumed “no one was open”.  The Larimer HS keeps an ACO on duty 24/7 to assist the public.

Treats on the Internets

From KC Dog Blog:  “Does Pay as You Wish Pricing Have a Place for Animal Shelters?”

NC shelter in Guilford Co can’t afford an exam table, computers or even a full staff – and they’re low on kibble.

Berks Co Humane Society in PA has set up a hotline so people who see dogs left in cars in the heat can report the location to an animal officer for investigation

UK reporter goes undercover to see how vets run their practices – report is not good.  I guess we don’t need to tell FrogDogz that.

National Canine Research Council defines “resident dog” vs. “family dog”

Via HumaneWatch:  Charity watchdog AIP (American Institute of Philanthropy) finds HSUS’ fundraising costs can be as much as 49%.  In other words, HSUS spends 49 cents to raise every dollar they get.  AIP gives HSUS a letter grade of “D”.

21 horse deaths have been reported so far in the current federal wild horse roundup in Nevada

Study finds little difference in bacteria levels between grass-fed beef and conventional beef  (Bacterial loads aside, I’d rather see cows in pastures than feedlots.)

Since Friday is generally a yahoo kind of day, I usually drop by Disapproving Rabbits to soak up some bunnylolz.  No matter what kind of furry pet you have, you can probably relate to this one.

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