Reports of Needless Suffering and Death at Companion Animal Alliance

Many people heard the buzz about the Companion Animal Alliance (CAA) in Baton Rouge, LA and their supposed no kill efforts.  Local volunteer Amanda Brice has put together a well documented 14 page recent history of the pound, aptly title “Not No Kill”.  If you are unfamiliar with CAA’s story and/or if you would like to see how a volunteer can make an important contribution simply by documenting online activity, please take a look at this document.

Ms. Brice used to help out with the cats at the Companion Animal Alliance. She stopped visiting the facility because her offers to care for the stray cats, whom she felt needed the most help, were refused and she no longer feels welcome there. Management advised her that volunteering with the stray cats is a “privilege, not a right”.

Ms. Brice says that CAA does not vaccinate all pets upon intake and the sick cats are not separated from the healthy ones. One employee has been in charge of caring for the stray cats at CAA but when that person took a leave of absence, Ms. Brice says she saw the cats were being neglected. She offered to help but her offer was refused by management.

Ester, as pictured on Facebook.

Ester was cat ID #34488 at CAA. Ms. Brice selected her to photograph and network because she had a URI and was being housed in the stray area which the public is steered away from at the pound. Ester’s photo was posted on a rescue group’s Facebook page on November 15, 2011. An adopter wanted her and called the pound on November 17 but no one ever got back to her. Amanda says Ester was killed shortly thereafter. I requested Ester’s records from CAA but the response was that her ID number was “not in system”. What happened to Ester’s records?

Delan, as pictured on Facebook.

Delan was cat ID #24439 at CAA. Ms. Brice says an adopter wanted him and paid for him on November 17, 2011 but he wasn’t scheduled for neuter surgery until November 23.  The adopter asked if she could take him home during that period and bring him back for the surgery but CAA refused, keeping him housed in the stray area.  While waiting, Ms. Brice says Delan fell over dead in his cage. I requested Delan’s records from CAA but the response was that his ID number was “not in system”. What happened to Delan’s records?

Image of records requested from Companion Animal Alliance (I starred Ester and Delan’s entries for clarity). Click to enlarge.

I will be posting a follow up to review apparent discrepancies in the records of the other cats on the above list.

I reached out to CAA director Kim Sherlaw for comment but have not received a response.

Thank you Amanda Brice for speaking up for the stray cats at CAA. 

Door #1: Kill, Door #2: Hoard – Wait, There’s a Door #3?

On June 27, 2012, the Commercial Appeal quoted James Rogers, interim director at the Memphis pound, as follows:

“If we did not euthanize we would have 6,000 animals. That’s from Jan. 1 to today. I can’t care for 6,000 animals.”

Let’s peel back the layers of Wrong here.

It’s not “euthanasia” when you are killing healthy/treatable pets.  Nor is it euthanasia when you allow medically hopeless pets to suffer for days on end before relieving their misery.

The options are not limited to killing and hoarding (which is how I would describe a shelter designed to care for 555 pets attempting to house 6000).  I would argue that the option being overlooked here is in fact the very job that taxpayers believe shelters should do:  live release.  Specifically, live release entails providing appropriate care of pets until they are adopted, fostered, transferred to rescue groups or redeemed by owners.

Finally, why is the outrageous notion of possibly caring for 6000 pets even being offered by Mr. Rogers when he keeps his pound relatively empty anyway?  A visitor to MAS on Saturday, July 28 was allowed to see only a portion of the pets, as per usual, but reports that of those, about 25% of the cages were empty.  In the puppy room though, it was more like 90% empty cages (video of puppy room below).

Empty cage bank in an area accessible by the public at the Memphis pound on July 28, 2012.

The “Pet of the Day” cage in the lobby of MAS was once again empty on Saturday, July 28, 2012.

Enough with the sorry excuses MAS. Start doing your job by humanely caring for pets and releasing them alive.

Here are 10 basic reforms which could be instituted immediately to help improve the live release rate at the Memphis pound:

  1. Accept help from volunteers.
  2. Hire people to fill the vacant staff positions.
  3. Unlock the doors to the animal rooms so the public can see and touch and fall in love with the pets.
  4. Let owners of lost pets have them back without charging exorbitant fees.
  5. Stop impounding feral cats for killing.  These cats already have a home and there is no reason to impound and kill them.
  6. Open up the shelter 7 days a week so that more adopters can visit.
  7. Hold offsite adoption events – at least 7 per week, 1 per day in high traffic areas, to get started.  Increase these over time.
  8. Straighten out the listings on PetHarbor to include accurate information for every animal at MAS.  Post a link on the city’s website directly to the MAS listings on PetHarbor so people know to click to look for their lost pets and to see adoptable pets.
  9. Issue pleas to the public and rescue groups at least 2 days prior with details of any animals MAS intends to kill.
  10. Turn the webcams back on to reassure the public that animals are not being neglected and abused.

Shelter Pet of the Day

Dog #A244264 at the Memphis pound, as shown to a visitor to the “healthy hold” area on Saturday, July 28, 2012.

It appears as if this little dog has a large quantity of vomit or diarrhea (I don’t know) that was left in the cage long enough for the liquids to separate (and drain toward the back) from the solids. There is kibble in the food bowl. Has this dog been eating? Is he healthy enough to be given kibble? Is he healthy enough to be in “healthy hold”?

Cage card for sick dog, as photographed by a visitor to MAS on July 28, 2012.

Dog #A244264 at the Memphis pound, as pictured on PetHarbor.

Memphis Animal Services
2350 Appling City Cove
Memphis, TN 38133
Phone: (901) 636-1416
TTY: (901) 636-1416

This shelter’s kill rate for January – May 2012 was 65%.

Cats Seized from Alleged Hoarding Situation Sent to Gassing Pound in NC

WBTV reports that a home in Iredell Co, NC was visited by animal control officers in May:

They found 23 cats and the house was clean. Months later conditions got bad.

How bad?  Supposedly there were 198 cats and 3 dogs at the home yesterday when AC came with a warrant and seized all the pets.  WBTV states 15 will be killed.  Cruelty charges are pending against the owner.

Chris Royal, director of the Iredell County pound says some of the cats have ringworm.  And although she runs a gassing facility which killed 87% of the 3153 cats it received last year, she uses this media opportunity to chide the public regarding neutering:

“This just goes to show you,” Royal said. “If they would have their cat spayed or neutered, they would not have had the problem they have – 198, that is a lot of animals.”

Would neutering keep them out of your gas chamber?  I didn’t think so.

WSOC is reporting different numbers.  When AC visited in spring, they found “30 – 40 cats” and clean conditions.  WSOC also says 50 cats are sick and will be killed.  But they have the same total figures.

Whatever the exact numbers were a few months ago, it’s a staggering increase to get to 198 today and not explainable solely by a failure to neuter.  Neither report includes images from conditions inside the home and the cats pictured at the pound appear to be in good health.  I don’t know if the 15 (or 50) cats “have to” get stuffed into the gas chamber for ringworm or if there has been some other eyeball diagnosis by a layman that they are using as an excuse for killing instead of treatment.  But the director says they don’t have room for the cats and given her track record on killing, I fear for the non-ringworm cats.  Assuming the pound does no better and no worse than they did with their cats in 2011, that would mean at least 87% (probably more since RTO is not an option for any of them) will be killed.

Could the owner have been offered assistance with spay-neuter, education, and placement of some of the cats, allowing her to keep a smaller number which AC could monitor in future?  Seizing these cats is kinder to them than leaving them where they were – how exactly?  If even one of the healthy/treatable cats goes into the gas chamber at the pound, I call this entire operation an epic fail.

(Thank you Lisa for alerting me to this story.)

Fraudulent GA Shelter Director Fired

The director of the Boggs Mountain Animal Shelter in GA has been fired after a local news reporter exposed her for defrauding the public.  Not only was she working a scam where she claimed to run a “no kill” shelter while sending pets from the facility to die at a kill shelter she also operated, she had a shady history on the financial front – something you’d think the board would have investigated before putting her in charge of donations.  On top of all that, she was once arrested for animal cruelty after shooting a hunting dog that had strayed onto her property.  She was ultimately not prosecuted for that killing but it is not uncommon in the south for hunting dogs to get separated from their owners and stray onto someone’s else’s land.  There are laws in some areas to protect dogs in these situations although I don’t know what the law is in the area where the incident happened.

As regards her current alleged crimes, local authorities and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are conducting criminal probes.  The state Department of Agriculture went into the Boggs Mountain facility, counted the animals and gave permission for them to be transferred out to other shelters and rescue groups.  A Boggs Mountain board member who had been made aware of the fraud by a whistleblower but took no action has now resigned.

Protesters will be attending a rally at noon today at the Rabun Co courthouse in Clayton, GA.

Shelter Pet of the Day

Submitted by reader Jody who met this dog at MAS and was moved by her loving demeanor.  Jody named her Sweet Pea.

Sweet Pea, ID# 242974 at the Memphis pound. (photo by Jody Fisher)

Cage card for Sweet Pea (photo by Jody Fisher)

Short vid of Sweet Pea by Ona Cooper:

Memphis Animal Services
2350 Appling City Cove
Memphis, TN 38133
Phone: (901) 636-1416
TTY: (901) 636-1416

This shelter’s kill rate for January – May 2012 was 65%.

Dog Suffers for 4 Days at Memphis Pound

Dog #243148 was impounded by a Memphis ACO as a stray on the morning of June 30, 2012.  She was listed as a 2 year old female Pitbull wearing a choke chain.  At the time of impound, she weighed 96.3 pounds which is at least twice the weight of a typical female Pitbull.  The reason she was so heavy was that her belly was full of fluid due to end stage heart failure.  Visitors who saw her at the pound that day described her as looking like a beached whale with half of her total body weight appearing to be in her belly, unable to get up, even when treats were tossed through the cage bars to her.

The impounding ACO recognized that something was wrong and put in a request for the vet to examine the dog on June 30.  That didn’t happen.  The dog sat without treatment all day and all night.  The following day, the records indicate the vet “examined” the dog long enough to note only that she had a “very enlarged abdomen”.  No treatment.  The day after that, July 2, the dog received what appears to be a real exam and the notes include “severe ascites, belly tap positive”.  The vet recommended euthanasia due to “severe cardiac failure”.  That didn’t happen.  The dog received no treatment and was left to sit for another day and night.  She was finally euthanized on July 3.

It’s heart wrenching to think of any dog suffering needlessly like this but it’s even worse when it happens to a dog that made it to a shelter.  Being taken in by the municipal facility taxpayers rely upon to protect pets from harm should mean an immediate end to suffering for any animal – either by way of treatment or, if medically hopeless, euthanasia.  It is unacceptable to allow shelter pets to suffer in a cage for days.

How many more, Memphis?

 

KY Shelter Kills More Than 200 Dogs

Not only did the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter kill over 200 dogs due to “exposure” to canine distemper, they got a local vet to justify it to the media – a vet who says she’s never “known of” any distemper cases in 14 years.  A different vet, who serves on the pound’s board, describes distemper to the TV news reporter as “mainly a community problem”.

Now that all that is out of the way, and since the reporter did not ask:  WHY?  Why didn’t the shelter reach out to the public to see if anyone could offer temporary quarantine to dogs who were asymptomatic?  Why didn’t they quarantine asymptomatic dogs themselves?  Did they even try to save any of these dogs?

The article says vaccination and cage cleaning are important to preventing distemper.  Why wasn’t the shelter leading by example and providing vaccination upon intake and disease prevention cleaning protocols?  How is distemper “mainly a community problem” if the shelter is failing to meet minimum standards and responds to disease outbreak with a mass killing?

Even the Chosen Few are Not Immune at MAS

The Memphis pound, like many others, mislabels dogs as Pitbulls/mixes regularly.  A couple of examples from PetHarbor (click to enlarge):

At MAS, a dog who is labeled a Pitbull type stands a greatly diminished chance of being adopted.  For starters, the city targets Pitbull types for killing and very few ever get offered to the public.  For the lucky few who make it to the adoption floor, their chances are limited by the fact that the pound requires a background check and a fence inspection for Pitbull adopters.  The person wanting to adopt must have a 6 foot fence of a type deemed appropriate by a Memphis ACO, provided the ACO can get out to the person’s home to inspect.  If not, the adopter is out of luck – and so is the dog.

The fence we have would not qualify and I know the same is true for many pet owners.  Even if it did, I’m not particularly keen on giving my personal info to a place with multiple animal cruelty charges pending against staff members so they can check my background.  I’m all for checking adoption applicants for previous animal cruelty charges but beyond that, what business is it of anyone there and what relevance does it have to one’s ability to take care of a dog?

The adoption requirements should be the same for every pet at MAS – a state issued ID, a completed adoption application and a check for animal cruelty convictions.  Placing special restrictions on a certain type of dog is breed bias and when the “breed” is as loosely defined as Pitbull/mix, it seems to be applied haphazardly, to the detriment of the dogs at the pound.

All of which brings me to a beautiful puppy named Moonbeam at MAS.  She was mislabeled a Pitbull mix but still lucky enough to make it to the adoption floor.  The only form of marketing that was done for her to my knowledge was a post on the Facebook page belonging to the “Friends” group on July 13, 2012.  She was not taken to any offsite adoption events (since MAS very rarely participates in any) nor was she included in any pleas to rescue groups (since MAS very rarely sends any).  This post, since deleted, was her only chance to be seen by someone who might have a 6 foot fence and be willing to submit to a background check and have an ACO come to their property for an inspection:

Screengrab of a now deleted post from the “Friends” of MAS Facebook page (click to enlarge)

For comparison purposes, I include this dog on the MAS PetHarbor site this morning, who is labeled a Border Collie/Lab (ignore the “chocolate point” coloring description):

Screengrab from PetHarbor.com (click to enlarge)

I don’t know if anyone wanted to adopt Moonbeam and was discouraged by the Pitbull mix label and/or the special hoops they were required to jump through in order to give her a home. But I do know that she is dead – killed by the very people who should have protected her. Killed on July 23, just 10 days after the FB posting above, due to “time/space”. In an effort to cover up the needless killing of this beautiful puppy, the cowards who call themselves the “Friends of MAS” deleted her post from their FB page, as they do with all the pets who end up in the dumpster at MAS.  They refuse to acknowledge the mass slaughter of pets at the pound and they certainly aren’t going to answer questions about it.  Better to just delete-delete-delete.

But I won’t let Moonbeam be deleted.  She was real.  She was alive.  She was just a baby.

The “Friends” put a flower collar on Moonbeam and took her picture, then posted her with the mislabled “Pitbull mix”, saying the special requirements for adopters were “for her protection”.  The “Friends” failed to challenge that the puppy was not a Pitbull mix.  Even worse, they failed to challenge the breed discrimination that was limiting her chances of adoption, and instead promoted it as some sort of benefit to the puppy.  And finally, when she was killed a week and a half later, the “Friends” attempted to cover up the killing by deleting Moonbeam’s post.  With “Friends” like these, it’s no wonder MAS continues to flail in the ditch year after year.

I’m sorry you were so completely and utterly failed at every level Moonbeam.  You were a pretty little girl who deserved so much better than what you got from MAS and its “Friends”.  You had a right to grow up and to be loved and to live and tragically, no one at the pound was advocating for your rights.  Rest in peace, sweet pup.

How many more, Memphis?

Lewisburg City Officials Bring The Stupid

Reader Salette Andrews took action in response to the killing of dogs slated for rescue at the Lewisburg pound in TN.  She wrote city leaders to express her views regarding the city blaming volunteers for not being quicker than the ACOs in the kill room and to educate them about no kill.  In response, she heard from Lewisburg City Manager Tommy Engram and Mayor Barb Woods.  I’m posting their responses below, the bolding is mine.

From: Tommy Engram <teengram@bellsouth.net>
Date: Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 5:20 PM
Subject: Re: Lewisburg’s Image
To: tengram@ctyoflew.com, Salette Ann Andrews
Cc: woodsba2@gmail.com, sthomas@cityoflew.com, hdavis@cityoflew.com, owhitehead@cityoflew.com, rmcrady@cityoflew.com, rminor@cityoflew.com, cforbis@ctyoflew.com, sbroadway@fpunet.com, jbl@marshallcountytn.com, annamay1955@yahoo.com, johnchristmas_108@yahoo.com, john9962@bellsouth.net, ewhill@marshallcountystone.com

Dear Ms. Andrews,

I agree that I am a servant of the people. I do not agree with your other statements.

As a former member of a governing body, you should know how to read a city code. Lewisburg does not now nor has it ever provided a zero kill shelter. That is not in the city ordinances and it is not in the city budget.

I am not a former council member. I have been on this job for three weeks. I have no authority to change either the laws or the budget. In fact, I have changed absolutely nothing relating to animal control and we did not grow this problem during the past three weeks.

Also, you surely realize that volunteers who are spending their time organizing a protest are not spending their volunteer hours finding homes for dogs. That is what will cause more dogs to die. I do not appreciate your effort to twist my words to suit your purpose. You present yourself as a professional. As a professional, you should hold yourself to a higher standard.

Thank you for sharing your opinions.

Tommy Engram, Ph.D.
City Manager
Lewisburg, Tennessee
931-675-9424

***

From: Barb Woods <woodsba2@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 2:07 PM
Subject: Re: Lewisburg’s Image
To: Salette Ann Andrews

The city manager had barely been on the job 2 weeks when the “volunteers” called in the tv cameras and held an unannounced camera event. Oddly There had been no crisis worth tv coverage for the 4 months prior when there was no city manager.

You may want to find out why when volunteers knew the vet would be there to euthanize at 10:00a.m. on Wednesday no one came before that time to get the dogs??? Maybe have been an oversight or could it have been planned?

***

So there you have it folks.  The Lewisburg ACOs who killed dogs knowing rescuers were on the way to save them aren’t to blame.  It’s the volunteers who, instead of spending “hours” of their own time doing the shelter staff’s job for them, are exercising their rights as Americans to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  Plus, the killings were all part of an evil plot by the volunteers to have dogs die so they could be on the tee vee machine.

Let’s suspend logic for a moment and suppose the city pols make some valid points.  If Mr. Engram truly believes that volunteers should stop protesting in order to spend time rescuing dogs from his pound, he should ask himself what motivation any rescuer would have to do so knowing that the dogs they work so hard to save will be killed anyway.  As for the theory posited by Ms. Woods, that the volunteers were allowing dogs to be killed for a television publicity stunt, isn’t it a tad embarrassing that a group of dog lovers can outwit an elected mayor on the media front?  I mean, shouldn’t the mayor be able to manipulate the tv cameras better than ladies who scoop poop and pick ticks off dogs for free?

I hope the volunteers of Lewisburg will continue to speak out for the dogs at the pound and to hold the city accountable for its failure to protect pets from harm.  We are with you.  Let us know if you need help.

 

Thank you Salette Andrews for writing on behalf of the dogs at the Lewisburg pound and for sharing the responses you received.

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