Dog Who Never Should Have Been in Burlington Pound Gets Oops-Killed

When a friendly dog who’d apparently been shot with a paintball gun showed up at the home of the Lassiter family in Alamance Co, NC on January 6, they took him in from the winter rain.  He quickly settled in with the couple, their children and their other dog.  They tried to find his owner, if he had one, but didn’t have any luck by the time a neighbor called AC on the dog three days later.  Michelle Lassiter arrived home to find the dog she had named Si on the AC truck in her neighbor’s yard.  She explained the circumstances to the ACO and asked if she could have Si back but he refused, stating the dog had to go to the pound.

“If he would have given her the dog off the truck, then there’s no opportunity for the real owner to get the dog,” [Lt. Mike] Hoover [of the Alamance Co sheriff's department] said Friday.

The Lassiters say they tracked Si down at the pound but when they expressed a desire to adopt him if he went unclaimed, the staff treated them rudely. And then the bill started ballooning:

They originally were told they’d need to pay the standard $25 impound fee plus $5 for each additional day Si was held there. Then, when they’d prepared to spring him, employees told them Si couldn’t be released without documentation of his rabies shot or payment of a $50 fine.

The Lassiters were given an additional 3 days after the mandated holding period to meet the requirements placed upon them. Michelle Lassiter left her contact information with the pound, told them she wanted to adopt Si and specifically requested to be notified if they were going to kill him. She was prepared to come get Si, whom no owner had claimed, within the designated time period and called the pound again to make sure there would be no additional requirements. That’s when she was informed Si had been killed. Oops.

The Burlington pound investigated itself in the matter:

An internal investigation found that a shelter employee didn’t follow policies related to receiving and recording information about parties interested in animals held there, Burlington Animal Services Director Jessica Arias said Friday.

Each animal taken into the shelter has a file. An employee who spoke to Lassiter about the dog didn’t properly file her contact information. Arias said the issue is a personnel matter and was being dealt with “appropriately and swiftly.”

A personnel matter? Hardly. This is a systemic failure. The 2012 state report indicates the Burlington pound primarily functions as a pet killing facility where more than 70% of the animals impounded are killed:

Carnage in Alamance Co

Carnage in Alamance Co

It’s obvious that so many friendly pets are killed at the Burlington pound every day, no one there even bats an eye at the practice. This is not a personnel matter. Unless you want to argue that workers at the pound are not doing their jobs to shelter animals, in which case I’d be inclined to agree. But blaming the needless killing of a friendly dog who had a family waiting for him on a paperwork oops is a no sale.

If anyone at the Burlington pound is truly interested in doing their jobs, they could start by taking advantage of a foster offer to keep a dog out of their pet killing facility for the mandatory holding period.  The Lassiters could have kept Si at home for the holding period and the pound could have photographed him and posted his information at the pound and online in order to find an owner, if he had one.  Instead, they insisted on taking yet another dog into their pet slaughterhouse.  Next, the staff could start being polite to adopters.  Because nobody WANTS to kill animals, or so I’ve heard.  And how about looking for ways to get animals into homes instead of jerking people around on fines and vaccination records and assorted obstacles?  And finally, if they really want to start doing their jobs, they should stop killing animals.

The next time a Burlington pound employee sees a healthy/treatable pet in the kill room, he should recognize immediately that a mistake of epic proportions is occurring and take immediate action to protect the animal.  That’s what should happen, if employees at the Burlington pound were doing their jobs.  Tragically, killing friendly animals is something that happens thousands of times a year in Alamance Co and no one at the place appears to give a damn.

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19 Comments

  1. Donna Lake

     /  January 20, 2014

    I’m sorry, but this is just terrible. I read this almost everyday. The Ass**** that did the
    OOPS killing should be fired. The workers know when someone is interested in a dog or
    kitty, I think it’s done on purpose, just to say I can. To bad i don’t live close.

    Reply
  2. I’M SO SICK OF THIS. THEY MUST INVESTIGATE THE NONFUNCTIONING SHELTER AND GET NEW MANAGEMENT AND STAFF
    WHO CARE!

    Reply
  3. mikken

     /  January 20, 2014

    This is the pervasive mentality of kill shelters. Killing is so common, so “normal” for them that one more makes no difference.

    How long before they try to “make it better” by offering the family another dog from the shelter to “replace” the one they killed? Because, you know, they’re all pretty much interchangeable to these people.

    Reply
  4. db

     /  January 20, 2014

    Tragically, killing friendly animals is something that happens thousands of times a year in Alamance Co and no one at the place appears to give a damn.

    This says it all, for this kill facility (I refuse to call them “shelters” any longer) and all the others.

    Reply
  5. I’ve always about the legality of this? Can shelters forcibly remove a found pet? Are you legally obligated to turn a found pet over?

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  January 20, 2014

      Depends on local laws. Some places require you to turn a found pet over to the pound, some don’t.

      Reply
      • I’ve heard our local pound overlord telling people that they *must* turn over found animals if they mention it, but I just looked at our local laws and they include nothing about turning over found pets, only that a person who feeds and cares for a ‘stray’ for 14 days becomes legal owner. I suspect in many places where people are told this, the pound may be lying.

      • I would argue that even if a municipality has a such a law, any pound whose primary function is pet killing should be required to accept all reasonable offers of fostering lost pets offsite – with “reasonable” being defined as any situation where the pet is more likely to survive the hold. It is absurd to hear shelter pet killers and their enablers endlessly complaining about the irresponsible public and lack of resources to care for all the pets in need while simultaneously impounding pets who have a reasonably safe place to live with people who love them. Sometimes I feel like I must be insane.

  6. This is from Alamance ordinances:

    Within 72 hours of the time the animal has come within his possession
    notified the Animal Shelter. Upon receiving such notice, an animal
    control officer shall obtain the animal and place it in the animal shelter if
    requested by the person in possession

    Now, from my reading, that would suggest a person only has to contact the shelter, NOT turn over the pet unless they agree to.

    Reply
    • (To be clear, I am NOT blaming the people who found the dog for the end result in any way whatsoever. When you have public officials at your home already in the process of removing the dog and telling you the ‘law’ requires it, what are you meant to do? I’m saying I’m pretty sure the pound straight-up lied about the legal requirements, and I think that’s not terribly uncommon.)

      Reply
    • I agree with your interpretation. “…place it in the animal shelter if requested by the person in possession” is the key wording.

      I am all for reuniting lost pets with owners and I would absolutely support the municipality photographing and documenting lost pets being housed by compassionate finders, then sharing the information online and at the facility. If an owner comes forward to claim the pet during the hold period, the pet should be reunited with his owner. But forcibly removing a stray pet from someone who loves him just to take him to a pet killing facility is counter intuitive to me.

      Reply
      • It’s entirely counter-intuitive. You can’t complain you’re ‘forced’ to kill for space when you are ACTIVELY seeking to fill cages with dogs that are safe where they are. Absolutely photograph and document, but WHY would you insist on taking the dog in? There’s no difference between having the dog physically at the pound and having a photo in terms of reuniting said dog with owner, at least not if the staff is willing to answer calls and page through some photos (which should simply be part of their job.) And let’s be honest…even if an owner HAD shown up, that poor dog would have likely ended up dead anyway. The owner would have been told there were fees to pay, etc. etc., and by the time they returned with the money…oops!

        When I’ve heard our local pound overlord insist on this imaginary law, it’s typically because she honestly believes that any animal not under her control is in danger. I vividly remember someone talking about how they had found a stray momma cat about to give birth and someone else offered to foster the momma and kittens when they were born. This person had previous experiences with pregnant cats and kittens, including bottle rearing. Pound overlord overheard and insisted that momma HAD to come to the shelter. Just HAD TO, because no one was remotely capable of caring for the kittens. This shelter kills greater than 85% of the cats in their care, so the reality is that the shelter was the most dangerous place those cats could possibly end up. Yet from the overlord’s POV, her death factory was a haven. There’s no understanding that.

  7. tiffany

     /  January 21, 2014

    I have 7 dogs of my own that I have rescued and I love each and every one of them. It makes me sick when I hear of these places that claim to be there for the well being of the animals (a.k.a. animal shelter), but then they give the poor defenseless animals 5 – 7 days tops and if not adopted then they murder them because they are “over crowded”. Well how about working with other ?Shelters? or teaming up with true animal activists who truly do work for the good and protection of them such as rescuers and people who provide foster homes for them until permanent homes can be found when they have their so called over crowded problem. They can have pictures for the ones that are being kept off in other places and arrangements made for them to be visited there in regards of adoption, that is all a part of the foster parent/home contribution. These poor animals have feelings too. They can feel pain just like we can. They can suffer just as much as any human. Just because they walk on 4 legs not 2, have a tail that sticks up off their butts and waves like a flag, and if they are a male dog can lick their own balls which is something that human men wish they could do just don’t have the guts to admit, doesn’t mean that they don’t feel emotions…..because I can guarantee you they do. My dogs are happy when I come home, sad when I leave, they pout when they don’t get their way, they get mad at each other, they get scared when it thunders during a rain storm. You can see all these different emotions in the different expressions on their faces and in their eyes if you just pay attention to them and look at them.

    it’s a good thing we have better solutions for our orphanages when they become “over crowded” than we do for the ?shelters?. What is that sometimes called…………..oh….yeah……….FOSTER CARE/HOMES!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  8. After reading various entries in this blog I’ve found I agree with almost all the sentiments, but am surprised how people are quick to condemn the people who work at animal shelters for being cruel and heartless.

    It’s easy to understand, pay someone minimum wage, often without any benefits and not even a full schedule and then put them in charge of feeding and tending (as in cleaning up after them when they go to the bathroom) and you’ll quickly get the dream staff of people who can’t kill the animals quick enough.

    If people want compassionate, caring staff at properly maintained shelters, then the people in a city or town have to be willing to pay for it all.

    Merely condemning the people who are taking such jobs as a last resort often out of desperation for doing lousy jobs just makes the people doing the condemning feel like they are doing something when they are doing less than nothing.

    That we may be animal lovers willing to spend whatever we can to ensure our animals are well cared for and happy has no bearing on how people paid low wages who have NO connection to animals they are put in charge of will treat them.

    If you want a caring staff that takes care of the animals in shelters the best way to ensure it is to ensure the BUDGET is FULLY funded, and I don’t mean just being able to pay people enough so that they are too busy trying to figure out how they will survive to spare an extra minute and figure out how to make the animals in their charge could be better cared for.

    And save the excuse that they knew what the job was when they took it. So do we, and we are to blame for allowing such an important role to be a minimum wage, part time job that will only attract the most desperate individuals to fill them.

    The few volunteers and occasional person who can afford to take such a job just because they love animals does not begin to compensate for the # of people taking the job as a last resort.

    That is the core reason why shelters are such messes.

    The easiest way to fix shelters is to fight for full funding enough to build a good shelter and pay enough to get good people to do the job. Doing anything less is feel good whining meant to make the person complaining and getting angry feel like they are doing something when they are doing nothing.

    Oh and no I’ve never worked at a shelter, but just a few visits to them over the years made it obvious what the problem was.

    And yes I have several dogs, and have had many pets over the years, but I’d never expect anyone to care as much as I do in the capacity of doing a part time minimum wage job at a shelter. I’ve never had any of my animals end up in a shelter or get lost, but if one did, and I found one in a shelter, I’d count myself lucky if I found one safe and healthy.

    Reply
  9. Kittypurr

     /  January 26, 2014

    Hey Johnny Morales- go bug far yourself- I run a rescue- I don’t get paid a dime. I do this because I love the animals and am trying to save their lives.
    And so does every VOLUNTEER that is in our organization. You either have a heart and a brain or you don’t. $10, $20 or $50 an hour is NOT going to change that.

    Reply
    • johnnymorales

       /  January 28, 2014

      That’s self-righteous nonsense.

      I’m suggesting that people be paid to do a professional job, and by professional I don’t mean anything more than make them care enough about their paycheck that they will do the job right.

      If you think people would not care about losing a well paying job, well then I have serious doubts about your claim running an effective organization.

      You can have all the heart in the world and care deeply 24/7, but if you are struggling from paycheck to paycheck you won’t do an EFFECTIVE job.

      Reply
  10. Anne Thomas

     /  January 28, 2014

    There are many people who work for shelters in high-ranking positions who make a great deal of money and still don’t care about the animals and treat them horribly. I support paying people a fair wage and know that when people aren’t paid enough, they are stressed and often can’t do their work well. But just paying shelter workers well isn’t going to make them compassionate. There is far more to shelter reform than just paying people more.

    Reply
  11. db

     /  January 28, 2014

    I disagree – look at how we continue to legislate morality and it does not work. If people are no compassionate or have their own issues, then all the money in the world is not going to change that. I agree that a person should do a fair day’s work for a fair wage, but paying people more is not the answer.
    Look at all the rescues who truly love animals and operate on a shoestring budget. Then look at what some of the CEOs and administrators of wealthy animal “welfare” organizations make and all the killing they do.
    Sorry, but I can’t agree that more money for workers = more compassion and better care for animals.

    Reply

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