Jackson Co: Out of the Frying Pan

…and into the Fire of Stupid.  I recently blogged about the pound in Jackson Co Oregon where they sometimes kill microchipped pets.  One of those pets was a cat named Max, whom the shelter deemed aggressive while in the trap, and killed.  This was an easily preventable tragedy and can be prevented from ever happening again: Jackson Co must check ALL PETS for microchips, regardless of the pet’s behavior.  They must contact owners of microchipped pets and post them online so that owners can find them.  Further, they must cease impounding feral cats.

But at a recent Animal Control Advisory Committee meeting, these items didn’t get much attention.  Instead, misinformed attendees clamored for mandatory spay-neuter (MSN) laws and even tossed in some wildly misleading (and I’m being generous here) information:

More than 32 states have mandatory spay/neuter laws, with a minimum requirement that all animals adopted from a shelter be spayed or neutered, said Lisa Frost, an Ashland attorney and shelter volunteer.

Frost urged the committee to move forward in implementing a mandatory spay/neuter program to help curb pet overpopulation and reduce the numbers of feral, stray and abandoned animals who are euthanized.

Where to begin?  There is no such thing as pet overpopulation.  The danger to community pets in this country lies primarily with the agencies designated to protect them which are instead killing them.

MSN does not reduce/eliminate shelter pet killing and it’s failed everywhere it’s been enacted.  Some examples:

  • The city of Los Angeles enacted MSN in 2008 and after the first year, shelter intake and killings were up.  Killings increased after the second year as well.  The third year was yet another failure.
  • Intakes and killings increased in Las Vegas after the city enacted MSN in 2010.
  • When CA was considering statewide MSN legislation in 2007, the past president of the California Veterinary Medical Association wrote a lengthy letter to the Board detailing his opposition.
  • Killings and costs both went up in King Co, WA after MSN was passed in 1992.

As a result, most every major animal welfare group in the country opposes MSN.  That list includes:

32 states do not have statewide MSN as the article leads the reader to believe.  In fact no states have statewide MSN.  There are various cities and counties around the country which have enacted MSN but they have all failed.  All.

To be clear, MSN is completely different than requiring shelter pets to be neutered.  The article makes it seem as if the two are related.  They are not.

Also during the meeting, another resident told how her cat Max (incredibly, a different cat) had also been trapped by a cat hater, brought to the pound, deemed agggressive and killed before she could find him.

More mess o’ stupid:

There is no county ordinance forbidding cats to be “at large,” said Colleen Macuk, shelter director. But owners are responsible for their animals’ actions. It is also legal for others to bait and trap “nuisance” cats and take them to the county shelter. In fact, it is required that trapped cats be taken to the shelter to prevent the possibility of animal abuse, said Macuk.

“We don’t turn them away because of the alternative,” Macuk said.

Well gee, I wish you would turn them away.  Because the alternative is that they might, ya know - live.  (It’s just this little thing I’m fond of.)

The director explained that Max (the recently killed cat) was deemed aggressive while in the trap so they stuck him with a needle on the end of a pole to kill him.  He was never checked for a microchip.

With the county’s resources, wild and aggressive cats cannot be safely or humanely held to perform this task [of checking for chips] without putting staff at risk of bites or scratches or injury to the cat, Macuk said.

Heaven forfend the poor cat might get injured.  Better to go straight for the kill stick.

Adding to the problem is the lack of manufacturer uniformity regarding chips and scanners. The shelter has two scanners, which are capable of reading all but two types of chips, she said.

Gee, all but two.  That sounds… inadequate.

In 2011, the shelter received 2,883 cats. Only eight were microchipped, Macuk said.

Well but – how do you know, right?  I mean, you’re not checking them all so maybe 8 had chips or maybe 800 did.  Or maybe 2800.  Nobody knows.

“One thing we’ve committed to is that we’re going to scan them all after they’ve been euthanized,” Macuk said, referring to cats that were deemed unsafe for staff to handle.

An excellent plan with only one possible drawback…

 

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26 Comments

  1. FixCharlotte

     /  January 26, 2012

    Life…..Death. HMMM. Head -> Desk.

    Reply
  2. “In 2011, the shelter received 2,883 cats. Only eight were microchipped, Macuk said.”

    Were they checked for microchips before or after they were killed?

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  January 28, 2012

      I would hazard a guess that those cats were checked prior to being killed and that they don’t EVER scan for chips after killing them. Well, until now when Macuk decided to do it I guess they *might* but what good is that?

      Reply
  3. Jennifer

     /  January 26, 2012

    I worry about an attorney who does not get the facts straight!

    I know very few cats that would like being in a trap! How long was he in the trap? He was also transported to the shelter this way and who knows what the trapper did to the cat before he brought him to the shelter. Is this the only way they determine if cats are aggressive is how they act in a trap? I guess they kill every so-called feral cat.

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  January 28, 2012

      While I haven’t looked at the shelter stats – with this can of worms opening up I would have to assume that they kill most cats that have the misfortune of ending up there.

      And I COMPLETELY agree with you about the attorney who not only has inaccurate facts, but also combines information together that is not related…she must be a hot mess in court!

      Wondering what their policy is on accepting animals – to take in cats from ANYONE with the assumption of them being feral – don’t they have policies in place to avoid a disgruntled ex boy/girl friend or neighbor or ANYBODY from dumping animals just to have them killed? Does anyone know where you can find this out?

      Reply
  4. alice in LALA land

     /  January 26, 2012

    did someone shake a stupid stick over these ,people? wand them AFTER they are dead. Jesus help me

    Reply
  5. If they are sedating the cats as they should before killing them why not check of the micro chip then and if they have one don’t give them the kill juice.

    Don’t see how a new mandatory spay-neuter (MSN) will prevent them from killing people’s pets if they are not checking all incoming pets for a microchip.

    And don’t they have microchip scanners that can check for all brands of chips, if so, why don’t they have one?

    Reply
  6. mikken

     /  January 26, 2012

    Clearly they are not competent in animal handling. If they cannot manage a fractious cat with anything but death, they need to be replaced.

    And as Joni says – why aren’t they sedating, first?

    And WTF is the idea of scanning DEAD animals?!?!? So we can notify the owner that hey, we just killed your cat that you lost and have been frantically searching for every waking moment for a week and a half now, thanks. Do they even check descriptions against lost pets? Bet they don’t because they don’t have RTO as a priority. They don’t have lifesaving as a priority. They don’t have humane animal handling as a priority.

    How do shelters like this and Memphis and so many others still exist? How does this level of incompetence continue to be rewarded?

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  January 26, 2012

      Lawsuits. They need to be sued into joining us in the current century. Destruction of property, breach of trust, cruelty to animals, and theft of companionship.

      Sue their asses off so they realize that they are doing it wrong.

      Reply
    • Eucritta

       /  January 26, 2012

      How does this level of incompetence continue to be rewarded?

      Not an answer, but this is something I’ve been thinking about in these contexts:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

      Reply
  7. What’s wrong with using the sedation that is sprayed in the mouth to sedate the cat? Do they not use that anymore. And how close does a scanner need to be to pick up on a chip? (I figure they are not using box cars to trap cats)

    Reply
    • Good point. With a good scanner with fresh batteries, I often get a read 6-8 inches from a dog. Should be no different scanning a cat. My raccoon-sized box trap is maybe ten inches high. Should not be a problem to scan a cat in a trap. They will often hunker against one side, making it even easier to get into scanning position.

      Reply
      • They say in the article that the scanner has to be right up against the pet so therefore they can’t check on any cat who is behaving normally in a trap.

      • Erica

         /  January 28, 2012

        I wonder if they’ve even tried to scan from any distance to see if it will work? My guess is they haven’t, but maybe they should!

  8. This may honestly be the stupidest thing I’ve ever read from a shelter. It isn’t even good ‘blame the public’ PR- it’s just flat out asinine. There are SO many ways around killing the animal first-

    Here’s the simplest one- get a crush cage. It’s a cage with a moveable section. You use it to gently press the cat back against the wall of the cage- that way you can inject the cat with a SEDATIVE easily without risking the animal thrashing and getting hurt. It doesn’t look pretty, but it only takes a few seconds to get things over with and the animal isn’t hurt. AND they aren’t expensive at all.

    I will GLADLY purchase and donate such a set-up for the shelter. It’s also smaller than a live trap, so you can more easily scan for a chip without touching the animal. I’m e-mailing them this offer.

    I’ve got two cats who I know would FREAK in a cage, but neither is aggressive at all in their normal day to day life. If a shelter KILLED them because they acted like CATS- just thinking about it makes me want to cry and scream at the time.

    Reply
    • Thank you Triangle. Please let us know if they accept your offer. This is one of those cases where ANYTHING AT ALL would be an improvement.

      Reply
      • That was my thought- a crush cage wouldn’t be my first go-to device, but I think it would work the best for people not familiar with working for animals because it removes the fear factor.

        No reply yet, though.

    • Erica

       /  January 28, 2012

      I think *most* cats would behave that way in any closed up box. I have had many cats and each one hates getting put into the carrier to go to the vet’s. Of course they will use it as long as the door is open but when you close that door it is another story.

      Reply
  9. As an aside- I’m a vet tech and have dealt with many very aggressive felines. I’ve been bitten three times badly enough for a hospital trip. I will be the first to admit that aggressive cats are both frightening and honestly dangerous. They can really do damage.

    But we didn’t have the option to just kill people’s pets that were brought in for care. We had all kinds of tools and techniques in our arsenal. A crush cage, a cage shield (which fits inside a typical kennel cage and blocks the animal from biting you), a rabies pole, a cat bag, muzzles, gloves, a net…

    But tactic one was ALWAYS to let the animal be in a dark place alone for a while to see if they calmed now. The other tools were brought out only if there was no other option for everyone’s safety. Most of the time, just letting the animal calm down magically solved the problem. I’ve spent hours just sitting outside a cage talking to a dog or cat and getting them used to me be slowly so I didn’t need to fight with them.

    It seems like so many shelter workers don’t know the very basics of working with animals. So they see this hissing cat, and they probably honestly feel scared- which the animal of course senses, and the situation just snowballs.

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  January 28, 2012

      The first response – to let the cat out of the trap/carrier/cage and give it time to adjust to its surrounds is a no brainer – at least to most people. The cheapest, easiest method. I know that being at a shelter that they DO get ferals and they probably have concerns with getting a hold of a feral cat to kill it, BUT at least to me – it would make more sense to give the animal time to get use to things around them prior to trying to sedate, scan, or even kill it. There HAS to be a way that they can both be able to give the cat a chance to clam down in a dark, calm environment AND be able to do what they need to with it (scan it) without worrying about the next step (depending on what the scan reveals) and being able to have the employees in a safe environment. Personally, I have gotten my fair share of bites and scratches from feral cats when I have handled them – and yes a few hospital trips were involved – but I had to do what was best for the cats and sometimes that meant putting my arm, back, neck, face, etc on the line to do what needed done. I was willing to sacrifice bits & pieces of me for the cats best interest. I know that they have to worry about workers comp and law suits and such – but there has to be someone that is willing to risk bits & pieces of them for the cat’s best interest there too!

      Reply
      • Since they are already apparently skilled at sticking the the cat with the syringe on a pole, why not load the syringe with a sedative instead of Fatal Plus? That way they could scan, vaccinate, anesthetize, neuter, ear notch – everything they could ever possibly want to do to a cat, feral or not.

  10. Normal healthy happy pets change behavior when put into shelter situations or when caught with traps and catch poles. Then they are probably roughly handled: the cage with cat in it is loaded back and forth like a bag of driveway salt, or the catchpole with a live scared out of his or her wits dog is whirled around like a fish on a fishing pole!!!

    Also I googled this dog pound. THEY don’t even spay or neuter pets upon adoption (if they are lucky to be adopted!) http://www.co.jackson.or.us/page.asp?navid=105. Adopted pets are released with a part of the adoption fee going towards a spay or neuter voucher. If a shelter works with local vets it is not hard to just put the adoption fee towards the spay or neuter and the shelter or volunteers can pop over to the vet to drop lucky fido off for surgery. Then the new owners can pick up their pet from the veterinarian’s office or the shelter if they are coming a couple days later. It’s not hard. A shelter near me does it this way with the few exceptions that leave intact being puppies and pets not ready for surgery which usually go to rescue anyways. And who is really checking that the adopted pets from the shelter are spayed and neutered per the adoption contract anyways? I think before the shelter starts enforcing this stupid MSN law they should refine their own strategies to prevent releasing intact pets back into the community. duh.

    Reply
    • I fear to ask how they are monitoring compliance with spay-neuter after adoption. Hopefully they aren’t killing the pets and then checking for a spay scar.

      Reply
  11. mmttw

     /  January 27, 2012

    I know they exist, but I have never met a cat that would just quietly sit in a cage or kennel. You could take my dorky cat who doesn’t get too worked up over anything and stuff him in a cage, and I think you would have a wrestling match on your hands.

    If you add to that the part about it being a stranger who didn’t like cats that was handling the cage, and the strange and scary smells and sounds that are in a shelter, you have a recipe for disaster for the cat.

    They need a waaaaay better system.

    Reply
  12. I kept reading this post and by the end I was thinking -no way they did they say outloud “we wil scan all cats after we kill them” -but they did and new leadership is called for. This is again a poor example of leadership and why shelters are actually in0 place. Too much stupid is killing shelter pets everyday.

    Reply
    • Erica

       /  January 28, 2012

      “Too much stupid is killing shelter pets everyday.”

      Couldn’t agree more!

      Reply

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