2012 was plagued by a spate of oops-killings at our public shelters. We all make mistakes. But when pet killing is your business, your mistakes mean death for cherished family members and heartbreak for families.
On a night in February, a beloved dog called Ace escaped his yard and was picked up by Polk Co Animal Control in GA. The family contacted the pound as soon as it opened the next morning but Ace had already been killed, his body sent to the dump. Oops. The county said it would police itself and decide if any policy violations occurred in the killing of Ace.
In May, Victoria Henry’s two dogs escaped her yard and were picked up by the Memphis pound. Ms. Henry visited MAS several times and was able to reclaim one of her pets but the other dog, Nola, remained missing. MAS refused to release Nola’s records to Ms. Henry. It was later revealed that MAS had killed Nola before the legally mandated holding period had expired due to a series of chronic failures within the system. Oops.
In August, an owned cat named Poobs was trapped by a cat hating neighbor in South Dakota. She was healthy and current on her vaccinations. But she was understandably upset in the trap. The officer who picked her up from the cat hating neighbor determined on the spot that she was too aggressive to live. He shot her to death in the trap before even impounding her. The owner never had a chance to reclaim Poobs. Oops.
A municipality in PA hired an ACO to trap feral cats for killing. Area cat owners began noticing their pets going missing. Apparently the ACO was killing all cats caught in traps, including residents’ pets. Oops. Concerned citizens attended the Borough Council meeting searching for answers but the council appeared defiant when faced with angry cat owners:
“If you were so interested, you would have found out about why we’re starting to trap,” said one council member.
Right. If you weren’t in on our death-for-community-cats plan at the ground floor, you must not really love your pets and therefore, they deserve to die.
The Humane Society of Yuma (HSOY) in Arizona turned away a family attempting to reclaim their lost dog in September. The family made an agreement to return for the dog and when they did, HSOY told them the dog had been killed. Oops. HSOY issued a statement about the killing which concluded:
It’s a tragic reminder to come look for your pet as soon as it goes missing.
Or we might kill your pet and imply that it’s your fault.
A worker at Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services in FL recognized a pair of bottle baby kittens who had been sent out to foster. The foster had just brought them back to the pound in order to transfer them to another foster, who was on the way to pick them up. The employee reportedly did not know the new foster was on the way and killed both kittens before the new foster could get in the front door. Oops. Characterizing the killings of two healthy kittens the public was willing to save as an “unfortunate miscommunication,” city spokeswoman Monica Landeros said the pound “has begun necessary improvements” to avoid similar killings in future. When the local paper asked her for specifics on these improvements, she refused to answer.
In Hernando Co, an ACO killed a stray dog whose owner, if he had one, wasn’t given the legally mandated time to redeem him because he was killed after just 2 days at the pound. The dog looked somewhat similar to another dog who was actually on the kill list. Oops.
In September, a Pitbull named Scar escaped his yard and a Pitbull hating neighbor took him to the Central California SPCA, claiming he had been bitten. The owner tried to reclaim him but the pound refused to release Scar before an investigation was completed. When the investigation revealed the neighbor was lying, the owner was contacted to pick up Scar. But when she arrived at the pound, she learned the dog had been killed. Oops. The devastated owner could not stop thinking about Scar being walked to the kill room at the pound:
“I kept thinking that what was he thinking when they were going to take him for a walk?”
The Central CA SPCA later sent the owner a letter of apology which included an offer of a free pet and a promise of additional training for the staff.
Also in September, a cat hating neighbor trapped an 8 year old boy’s pet and gave him to the police who took him to the Cache Humane Society in UT. The child’s father attempted to reclaim the cat, named Toothless, but was turned away over protocol about where the redemption fee had to be paid. Upon return, the man learned Toothless had been killed because someone forgot to leave a DO NOT KILL note on the cage door. Oops. In the words of the heartbroken 8 year old boy:
She had just forgotten to write a note to save a member of my family. They killed him and I don’t know why.
I found no information that the Cache HS ever apologized to the family, offered a new pet, or anything at all.
The McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, TN killed 50% of the pets in its care in 2011. In October 2012, McKamey impounded a dog named Zion for a 10 day quarantine after the dog jumped on a stranger. Owner Matt Sadler called to check on Zion and visited him multiple times during the quarantine period which was very difficult for him:
“That was my best friend,” Sadler says. “He was there for me through my parents’ divorce and a lot of really hard tough times in my life.”
When the 10 days were up, Mr. Sadler immediately went to McKamey to bring his pet home. But staff at the pound had already killed Zion. Oops. The pound director apologized, offered the owner a free pet and said the employees who made the paperwork error that resulted in Zion’s killing would be retrained.
Also in October, Memphis Animal Services was caught in a slew of conflicting statements when owner Tish Tonole, who had visited the pound several times looking for her lost dog Oliver, learned that he had been killed while she was searching for him. Oops. Ms. Tonole told me, “He was my best friend. He slept with me every night. I would wake up in the middle of the night to find his head in the crook of my arm and his paws in the air. He was a sweet, kind, good dog. He just wanted to be loved by everyone.”
These are just some of the cherished family members who were “accidentally” killed in 2012 by the public facilities paid to protect them from harm. Millions more were killed by so-called shelters on purpose. Because they can. Because they want to. Because enablers, including those from the multi-million dollar national animal organizations like HSUS and ASPCA on down to “Friends of” the pet killing facility groups, cover up the truth with a Blame the Public blanket of excuses, denials and rationalizations.
There are no excuses. Pets are family. Animal services = family services. There are proven programs available to every pet killing facility in the country which would end the killing today – both the oops and the intentional kind. Are lost, stray and homeless pets as well as loving owners doomed to a repeat performance in 2013 or will you do something to force an end to the slaughter of our family members in shelters?