NJ Department of Health Investigating Linden Shelter

The city of Linden, NJ operates a shelter where they impound animals from several area cities.  The shelter failed its last inspection.  Animal control falls under the city health department.  Now the state health department is investigating the facility:

“The department is investigating numerous complaints received about the holding of animals at Linden Animal Shelter relating mostly to animals not being held appropriately, unsanitary conditions and improper euthanasia,” state Department of Health communications manager Daniel Emmer said in an email.

Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka says the allegations are “a total lie and an exaggeration” which seems to be wildly contradictory but hey, I didn’t go to Mayor School.

“Our goal is always to unite animals and their owners. And although we have the right to euthanize an animal, our policy is to try working with rescue groups to find good homes for animals that are not claimed.”

They have the right to kill any animals of their choosing.  But they have goals, which you know, kinda balances everything out.

Only animals that are not adoptable, because of age, illness or poor temperament, are euthanized, said Linden Health Officer Nancy Koblis, who oversees animal control.

Not adoptable and euthanized are my least favorite euphemisms in the world.  And in the mouths of killing apologists, they always seem to fall out together.

On Friday September 6, 2013, an area family’s 15 year old pitbull accidentally got lost.  The family began searching for him immediately and called Linden AC but no one there bothered to pick up the phone or call the family back.  The next day, the family went to the local police department and was told their dog had been picked up by Linden AC and taken to an area vet hospital.  They called the hospital, called the hospital emergency number and even drove there in hopes of finding their beloved pet.  The only person they were able to speak with was a veterinarian who had no idea what they were on about.  The family was forced to wait until Monday morning.  But as it turns out, their pet had been killed shortly after arrival at the vet clinic on Friday.  Linden Health Officer Nancy Koblis explained:

“It was an older dog and was not in good shape. The recommendation was to euthanize, which is what we did.”

According to the hospital’s medical history report, the dog was underweight, had a small tumor and was walking with difficulty, possibly from severe hip arthritis.

Yep, sounds like a 15 year old pitbull.  Who was dearly loved by his family who was looking for him and being given the runaround by pet killers.  But nobody WANTS to kill animals, ‘specially on Friday afternoons before quitting time for the weekend.  They have goals there and stuff.

Another complaint made against the Linden shelter from an area resident concerns the hosing of filthy dog runs with dogs still inside.  The resident is upset that the dogs are sprayed with their own urine and feces under the guise of “cleaning”.  But the mayor says people are mistaking what sound like spa days at the pound for mistreatment of animals:

“Our animal control officers do spray the dogs on a hot day and they enjoy getting a shower,” the mayor said. “If someone sees that, they might think something is improperly being done.”

What’s the wording again – a total lie and an exaggeration?  It’s growing on me.

AND there are improvements:

The facility also is making a more visible attempt to reunite animals and owners.

“We’ve done it all along, but probably not as much as people would like us to do,” Koblis said.

Probably not as much as the owners of the 15 year old pitbull we killed on a Friday afternoon then tried to hide so we could at least enjoy our beers over the weekend would like but hey, there’s no pleasing some people.

Workers at the shelter will be taking pictures of animals at the shelter that will be placed on the Internet by a rescue group in hopes that owners will be located, she said.

With no computer access at the facility, she said, animal control workers are unable to search the Internet for missing dogs.

Gee, they are going to start taking pictures.  Welcome to 2014.  But they don’t have computer access and there is no possible way to get that in New Jersey apparently.  Plus they don’t want to encourage the unwashed masses to come in trying to save lives or anything like that:

While the shelter has walk-ins who are looking to adopt, Koblis said, “we would rather give them to rescue groups, who will put them up for adoption.”

“We are not an adoption facility,” she said. “We do animal control. We hold the dog for at least seven days. Hopefully, the owner will come and look for it.

And by hopefully, I take it she means hopefully not since obviously they don’t hold all the dogs for 7 days – or 7 hours even – and nobody really feels like answering the phone or calling back owners looking for their lost pets.  But let’s not criticize.  For the love of ponies – these people have no computer access!

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

 

Weekend Jade

After 6 weeks of rest (loosely defined more recently as keeping her to a dull roar) to heal injuries sustained when a truck ran over her, Jade had her first non-emergency vet appointment on Friday.  She got vaccinated and had some blood work done (all normal and heartworm negative).  But the main attraction was determining how well her fractured pelvis had healed.  I brought my vet an image of the x-ray taken at the emergency clinic on the day of the accident and she found 3 fractures on it (I had only been advised of 2 at the time).  She did a physical exam and took a new x-ray.  This is a photo of that x-ray:

jade xray 072514a

My vet explained that, while her fractures had healed, she had (and I’m paraphrasing here) healed crooked. Specifically, the ball of the right hip was no longer sitting as it should in the socket.  I remember the emergency vet had warned me about the possibility that she may not heal as good as new so although I was prepared, I admit I had been hoping to hear that everything was perfect.  My vet said it’s possible she might go through life just fine, simply managing the right hip condition as-is or she may require a femoral head ostectomy at some point.  I will monitor her for any signs of pain, particularly on that right side.  But the very good news was that the vet gave the all-clear to let Jade rough house, run wild and generally act like a normal 9 month old pitbull puppy.

This weekend, Jade got to play with Schroeder, the dog closest to her in age here at home, whom she has been playing bitey face with through baby gates and across barriers for the past several weeks.  This was her first time off leash in the large part of the yard and her first time being able to play with another dog.

Thank you again to everyone who donated to help pay for Jade’s care.  She has an appointment to be spayed and chipped next month and thanks to your generous donations, I’ve already paid for that.  Between now and then, she will definitely be enjoying more running wild time with Schroeder.

The Myth of Unadoptable Shelter Animals

Puppy #269268 as posted on PetHarbor by the Memphis pound.

Puppy #269268 as posted on PetHarbor by the Memphis pound.

When we talk about shelter animals being adoptable, we are talking about them being able to love and be loved by a family who would give them a home.  By this definition, only those pets who have been deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian or in rare cases, dogs who have been deemed behaviorally hopeless by qualified parties after all rehabilitative efforts have failed would qualify as unadoptable.  All other animals in shelters are adoptable.  That is to say, there’s someone for everyone.  And it’s the shelter director’s job to find that someone for every one of the pets in their care.

In the case of feral cats, “someone” is the community – usually volunteer colony caretakers who feed and monitor free living neutered, vaccinated cats.  In other cases, “someone” might be an adopter, rescuer, foster or owner of a pet who’s gotten lost and been picked up by animal control.

Shelter directors encounter a wide array of pets and temperaments – from adorable toy breed dogs to large, strong dogs who don’t play well with others to cats too scared to interact with humans in a shelter environment.  Some pets will appeal to a large swath of the public, others to a narrower market.  It is the shelter director’s job to find that someone.

No pet is unadoptable due to age.  That is simply an excuse for killing, invented by lazy shelter directors who don’t feel like doing their jobs.  No matter how young or old, there is someone out there willing to love and be loved by that animal – in some cases, it’s the owner who has lost their beloved pet  It is ignorant and cruel to deny this.  Imagine if we applied the same standard to babies abandoned at hospitals or elderly people living on the streets.  Would we find such a person in need of care and tell them that due to their age, no one could ever possibly love them?  That there is no possibility anyone is looking for them due to their age and that death is truly the kindest option?  It sounds absurd because it is, no matter what group of sentient beings we are talking about.

Likewise, with the rare exceptions noted in the opening paragraph, no shelter pet is unadoptable due to health or behavior.  Like age, this is another excuse for killing invented by lazy shelter directors who won’t do their jobs.  Pregnant animals are adoptable.  Coughing animals are adoptable.  Pets with broken legs are adoptable.  Cats who hide at the back of the cage are adoptable.  Ninety pound dogs who haven’t yet been trained to walk on a leash are adoptable.  And again, there may be owners looking for any of these animals which is why that possibility can not be ruled out during the holding period and why shelters must make all their animals accessible by posting photos of all animals online immediately upon impound.

Granted, these special needs animals are not going to appeal to that wide swath of adopters and rescuers.  That’s why they call it work.  And why it’s so important that shelter directors have established relationships within the community, so they know how to best market pets with particular needs and who to call when they need help with certain animals.  Simply branding all, or any, of these animals as unadoptable and sending them to the kill room has become the standard protocol in too many so-called shelters in this country.  Shelter directors do it because they can.  And when they do it, they feed into the negative perception held by some that shelters only have broken animals.  That you shouldn’t adopt from a shelter because, as is often heard, there’s a reason those animals are there.  Their lives have no value – even the shelter director agrees because otherwise, why would he spend so much time killing them?  Nobody wants to kill animals, right?

The Companion Animal Protection Act is model legislation which takes away the discretion of shelter directors to kill randomly and in secret.  CAPA requires transparency and accountability from shelter directors.  It forces them to do their jobs by giving every animal in their care a chance to live and love and be loved.  For every animal advocate lamenting the arbitrary killing of pets by their local shelter director whom they believe will never willingly embrace the work of saving lives, getting CAPA passed in your community is an alternative worth exploring.

Memphis Pound Kills Puppy Despite Waiting List of Adopters

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov

Puppy ID # 269057 at the Memphis pound.

Puppy ID #269057 at the Memphis pound, as pictured on Facebook.

Puppy #269057 was impounded by the Memphis pound on July 18 as a stray.  He was housed in the “healthy hold” area during the mandatory holding period and photographed by Memphis Pets Alive.

Animal lovers networking this pup on social media report that there was a waiting list of people wanting to adopt him. His “review date” at the pound was July 24. On that date, despite having been in the healthy hold area for several days, MAS decided this puppy was so sick with parvo he had to be immediately killed the moment his mandatory hold expired.  No one on the waiting list was contacted.

Tragically, this pup wasn’t the first to be killed by MAS while adopters tried to save him and he won’t be the last.  How many more, Memphis?

(Thanks Lou Ann for sending me this link.)

Mailbag

Reader Tami writes:

Good news in cat rescue can be hard to find. The story of Julianne Westberry in SC has been particularly hard to swallow. She was trusted by so many. I worked side by side with her in the Anderson County Humane Society Spay/Neuter Clinic. She seemed to have a stream of foster homes and adopters. She was given the “Volunteer of the Year” award by ACHS in May 2014!  One month later, she was arrested for ill treatment of animals.

A passerby stopped to ask if the furniture on her porch was for sale. When the odor from inside, and the fly lined, paper covered windows were noted, authorities were notified. Authorities whose facility could be seen out the window of her house, less than 100 feet away!

Inside, they found 32 live cats, 37 deceased. More bodies were found by the owners of the rental house when they went in to clean up. It is believed, at least 25 more bodies. The true number of deceased may never be known. Many were so decomposed, they only way to know they ever existed was by fur and pieces of their tiny bodies. She pulled moms and kittens. Left them in their carriers. There, they died. One, Venus, was only ID’d by her microchip. I’ve seen pictures, not released to the public. Of the 32 survivors, 4 have since died. I have one, who was in some of the worst condition, in the care of my wonderful vets.

Thanks to the dedication of Ash Truesdale, volunteer with Foster Paws Rescue, it has been found that she pulled from 16 CONFIRMED shelters. In a little over a year, over 800 cats and kittens. She was using 3 different aliases. Her name, JW, J’s Kitten Cottage, and unbeknownst to them, the 501c3 of Anderson County Humane Society. She was accepting pledges for these cats. THAT may be the only way for these cats to get justice. Internet fraud.

It was also learned, many of the cats had been taken to her boyfriend’s farm. She lived there, most of the time. Those who have seen the farm give estimates of 70-300 cats that are alive. Others who died have been disposed of (so we are told). After JW was released, the boyfriend contacted Anderson County PAWS, the local impound, to owner surrender the farm cats. Anderson Co was given the go ahead to begin trapping. Cats would be trapped, taken to Anderson Co PAWS, and summarily killed. After all, they were “just cats”, not needed for criminal investigation and PAWS is “already full” from a previous hoarding /rescue that’s awaiting court. They don’t have the space, staff, funds, etc to save the cats.

Those following the case found out about Anderson Co’s plans on Wednesday, July 2. On Monday, July 7 at 6 PM, the cats would begin dying. “No exceptions”. 30 cats, already trapped and in custody had been given a death sentence. The facility would be closed on Friday July 4. Open for a limited time on Sat July 5.

Enter the “irresponsible public”…

Wednesday PM, July 2– much hand wringing and public outcry on the PAWS FaceBook threads as word spread.

Thursday, July 3– a meeting of about a dozen people. The only way to save these cats, these cats who had been promised a safe loving home, these cats who had already once escaped the needle or gas chamber, was to acquire a building. But we were going into a holiday weekend. People were out of town, businesses were closed. Ash knew folks would help, IF these cats could find safe haven (shelter) for a brief time.

Friday, July 4– Geneva Lawrence, a member of Kitten Action Team, spread the word. She had found someone to donate a facility for 6 weeks. Volunteers would be given keys at 5PM on Sunday, July 6. The cats HAD a building! An empty building.

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room.  [Photo via Facebook]

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room. [Photo via Facebook]

Again, the news was shared. A building was found. No cages, no food, no litter… The media was contacted. When the keys were handed over, a local news crew was there to document volunteers, with brooms and rags. Cleaning the building. Cages were loaned by multiple rescues. A wish list was set up. Amazon and UPS became aware of the multiple packages they would begin shipping. Transport from Anderson County to the building in Mauldin, SC was arranged for the cats. 

Volunteers were there on Monday, July 7 setting up for the arrival. Again, multiple news media were there. Currently there are over 50 cats and kittens. Kittens born at PAWS. Most of the females are pregnant. All are receiving care. All are alive. All of this, thanks to the public. As you like to say, the REAL humane society – small “h”, small “s” – wants to save lives. And they will.

Thank you Tami for sharing this good news and thanks to everyone who saved those non-evidence just cats from being killed at the pound.  Yay irresponsible public.

Hawaiian Island on Path to Exterminate 20,000 Cats

Abby, member of a manged TNR colony in Alabama.  (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

Abby, member of a managed TNR colony in Alabama. (Photo by Aubrie Kavanaugh)

The county of Kauai, one of the Hawaiian islands, assembled a nine member Feral Cat Task Force to make recommendations regarding the management of the community cat population.  The county paid $30,000 for the report, issued in March 2014.  The task force excluded the president of Kauai Ferals and was primarily comprised of individuals wishing to exterminate cats.

The final report highlighted the Billions and Billions of Birds myth often touted by cat haters and estimated the county’s feral cat population at 20,000.  The 10 year goal, as stated in the report, is for the island to have “zero feral, abandoned and stray cats” which is obviously an unattainable and unrealistic goal.  Gee, maybe they should have let the guy who knows feral cats have some input.

Among the recommendations made by the task force:

  • Expand the cat licensing ordinance to include colony caretakers.
  • Outlaw cats on county property.  Trap any cats found on county property for adoption or killing.
  • Require licensed cat owners to obtain written permission (revokable with 10 days notice) from any property owner willing to allow cats on his property.  Any cats found on property without written permission from the owner will be deemed stray and subject to trapping.
  • Implement a TNR program in two phases:
    1.  For the first five years, TNR colonies must be registered and monitored to maintain at least a 90% spay-neuter rate.  Sick, injured and new cats, including kittens, must be removed from the colony for adoption or killing.
    2.  After the initial five year period, TNR colonies must be registered and will only be allowed on fully fenced, private property.  The county will no longer pay for maintaining its community cats and the financial burden will be shifted to private citizens.
  • The county must hire additional animal enforcement officers in order to conduct the increased cat licensing, monitoring, trapping and killing.

In effect, the recommendations target outdoor cats for extermination – potentially including indoor cats who escape their homes – and punish colony caretakers with licensing fees and unreasonable restrictions making it impossible for them to reduce the colony size over time. The TNR program as outlined is destined to fail by design. This is what you get when you commission a report from people who want to kill cats.

Judy Dalton, one of the token non-cat hating members of the task force, expressed some reasonable concerns in her comments at the end of the report:

If there is going to be a reduction in the numbers of community cats, it is absolutely imperative that spay/neutering services be affordable and accessible to all cats – both owned and unowned. The cost to spay and microchip a female cat at the Humane Society was hiked from $10 to $50 last year – 5 times more than it has been in the past. This is beyond the affordability of most residents on Kauai where a female cat and 4 female kittens and 2 males would cost them over $300,
when a primary concern is putting food on their tables. As a result, female cats didn’t get spayed and their kittens were abandoned. I rescued more abandoned kittens this past year than the past 18 years that I’ve been doing so.
[...]
The spay/neuter van needs to continue and be available to feral cats, as it has been in the past and not be denied to feral cats as it was this past year.

In addition, Ms. Dalton lamented that experienced TNR supporters were barred from participating during the decision making work session of the task force, resulting in a lop-sided set of recommendations favoring cat eradication.

It’s up to the Kauai Co Council to consider the recommendations of the task force and determine what action to take regarding its community cats.  Anyone wishing to contact the council with polite comments supporting TNR and opposing cat extermination and the criminalization of cat owners should email: Councilmembers@kauai.gov

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

Lawsuit Alleges Animal Abuse at Fresno Shelter

Fresno County, CA contracts with Liberty Animal Control Services to provide its AC services.  In a lawsuit filed this month, both are being sued by two former employees for wrongful termination and whistle blower retaliation.  The suit alleges:

  • Liberty AC was contracted in September 2012 without the county verifying credentials of the three main operatives – specifically that the veterinarian had been disciplined by the state vet board for negligent animal care and that the state certified animal humane officer was not certified.
  • The plaintiffs were hired in January 2013 – one as an ACO and the other as an office manager.  Both observed cruel and illegal treatment of animals while on duty and complained about same repeatedly.
  • Liberty killed fully conscious animals via heartstick.
  • Liberty killed animals using dosages of drugs that were less than the recommended dosages.
  • Liberty ordered to staff to kill animals in front of other animals.
  • Liberty lied in its reporting about the number of animals killed and instructed staff to lie about how and when animals were killed, including to owners trying to redeem lost pets.
  • Liberty starved animals to death in order to avoid paying for injectable drugs and syringes to kill them.
  • Liberty mixed healthy animals, including newborn litters, with sick animals in order to ensure the spread of disease resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty failed to purchase cleaning supplies and failed to clean kennels in order to ensure the spread of disease resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty mixed aggressive, starving dogs with mild-mannered, starving dogs to encourage fights resulting in death so the company did not have to pay for injectable drugs and syringes to kill animals.
  • Liberty threatened staff members that if they became injured trying to break up a fight between the starving animals, they’d be fired.
  • Liberty failed to vaccinate animals but represented them as vaccinated.
  • Liberty encouraged employees to falsify records, labeling friendly animals as aggressive and healthy animals as sick in order to kill them.
  • Liberty’s three main officers used Fresno Co taxpayer money and resources for personal gain, including providing AC services to other cities.
  • Liberty solicited donations from the public while misrepresenting itself as a 501(c)3 organization.
  • Liberty sold donated goods and pocketed the profits.
  • The ACO plaintiff witnessed a pitbull being unlawfully killed by Liberty in June or July 2013 and questioned the killing.  The dog’s owner was told by Liberty the dog had died of a heart attack.  The ACO complained and was fired shortly thereafter.  He was informed the county had decided to stop funding his position.
  • The office manager plaintiff told her employer she was going to take her complaints to a government agency in September 2013.  She was fired shortly thereafter and informed the county had decided to stop funding her position.

Neither Fresno Co nor Liberty AC Services has commented on the lawsuit.

(Thanks Nathan for sending me this story.)

Court Orders Hocking Co to Stop Torturing Animals in its Homemade Gas Chamber

The Ohio SPCA has been trying to get Hocking Co to stop gassing animals for years.  But the county has fought, both in court and in the court of public opinion, to keep gassing.  After all, the county’s gas chamber is homemade and everyone knows homemade things are the best.

This month, the 4th District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Ohio SPCA and ordered the Hocking Co dog warden to stop gassing animals and start killing them via injection.  The dog warden is already certified to kill animals by injection, it’s just that he didn’t feel like it, because who would when you’ve got a homemade gas chamber to play with?

At issue in the ruling:  Ohio law requires that animals be killed humanely, including being rendered unconscious immediately and painlessly.  The Hocking Co homemade gas chamber leaked carbon monoxide and wasn’t actually the swell killing device the county made it out to be:

A former assistant Dog Warden and humane agent, Chris Vickers, testified that when they were in the gas chamber, he heard dogs “screaming like they had been hit by a car and injured”. Gassing took several minutes and was not always effective in causing death. He would see dogs struggling, fighting, urinating and defecating on themselves. He routinely found blood, bite marks, feces and urine on their bodies when he removed them from the chamber after gassing.

“Not always effective in causing death” sounds like some pets were still alive after being tortured in the Hocking Co gas chamber.  Those animals were presumably put back inside for more torture until they finally died.  Yeah, I can see why the county is so head over heels with this thing.

The county lawyer argued that killing animals by injection is stressful for both people and animals.  No mention was made of the stress from working in a place filled with carbon monoxide fumes and the sounds of pets being tortured to death.  Also:  homemade!  Like on Etsy!

Hocking Co has 30 days to appeal the ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.  When contacted by the local news for comment, county officials hid.

The ruling may force other counties in Ohio to stop gassing pets as well since they too must comply with state law ensuring humane death for animals.  The gas chamber is not humane and the recent court ruling upholds that.

Let’s be clear:  Killing healthy/treatable animals for convenience is not in any way humane – even if it’s done by injection.  But for rare cases when euthanasia is warranted to end the suffering of a medically hopeless pet, the most current humane method should be used.  Thankfully, many communities have ended the practice of convenience killing in their open admission shelters.  Hocking Co could join them, assuming the dog warden and county officials have stopped crying in their beer over the loss of their beloved torture device.

(Thanks Arlene for sending me this story.)

Weekend Jade

Chewing stuff reveals many good ear settings.

Chewing stuff reveals many good ear settings.

Tomorrow marks six weeks since I met Jade, after she met the underside of a truck. We have a vet appointment later this week for the official six week check up to see if her fractured pelvis has healed. If we get the ok from the vet, Jade will be Off. The. Leash.

Open Thread

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