TZI Recommends Shelter Should Not Let You Have Your Lost Cat Back

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her.  (Photo by Casey Post)

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her. (Photo by Casey Post)

In August 2013, the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program issued a summary of recommendations to the Hillsborough Co pound in FL following a consultation.  The recommendation regarding stray cats was particularly troubling to me since it threatened the bond between people and their lost pets.  From the report:

Eliminate the required hold period for stray cats. Stray cats lacking identification are extremely unlikely to be reclaimed by owners and are at high risk for shelter – acquired disease and euthanasia. Eliminating even a few days in the shelter may be the difference between life and death for them. The shelter can simultaneously have an option for immediate live release paired with a required hold period of 3 days prior to euthanasia.

Not only is Maddie’s Fund failing to attribute a low return to owner rate to its proper source – the pound, it fails to acknowledge one of the primary purposes of municipal shelters:  to reunite lost pets with their owners.

The No Kill Advocacy Center weighed in on the elimination of stray holding periods when HSUS suggested it in its 2013 white paper on California shelters:

[I]f a dog or cat comes in as a stray, and he does not have identification, he can be adopted to someone else immediately without giving his family any time to reclaim him. This is unfair to families who deeply love their animal companions. [...] Accidents happen; animals get lost and end up at shelters. Since the choice presented — immediate adoption or sickness/death — is a false one, breaking up families by having them lose all rights in their animal with no reclaim period of any kind appears draconian.

I am deeply opposed to the elimination of holding periods for any pet whose owner might be looking for him. It’s the shelter’s job to treat the bond between pets and their people as sacrosanct. Which is why I was shocked to read that the Target Zero Institute, in its recommendations to the troubled Amarillo pound in TX, has taken the travesty even further. TZI not only recommends eliminating the holding period for stray cats lacking identification but for all cats found outside – including friendly, possibly microchipped pets who may be wearing collars and/or tags and whose owners are searching for them:

The TZI recommends returning outside cats back to their original neighborhoods following sterilization, rabies vaccination and ear tipping. [...]TZI recommends returning cats to their ‘outside home’ where they have a food source as evidenced by a healthy body weight. These may be feral cats that cannot be handled or friendly cats found outside.

If Amarillo, or any other municipal shelter, adopts TZI’s barbaric recommendation regarding cats found outdoors, your pet could be turned into the shelter by a cat hating neighbor or anyone at all, or he could simply be trapped by an ACO and, so long as he appears to be “visually healthy”, he would be immediately vaccinated, neutered, ear-tipped and put back on the street. This would happen as a matter of policy – even if you were actively searching for your pet, even if you had microchipped him and even if you had placed a collar and an ID tag on him. If he’s found outside, TZI wants him immediately anesthetized, put through surgery and turned loose in the area where he had gotten lost (or presumably where the cat hating neighbor says he was found).

TZI says in its report that this practice will save money by reducing the number of cats who “have to be cared for, fed and ultimately [killed] in large numbers” at the pound.

No cats “have to be” killed.  Full stop.  If you don’t get that, get out of the shelter consulting business.

All cats impounded by shelters should be immediately – in the field whenever possible – scanned for microchips and checked for ID tags.  No exceptions.  A chip or ID tag should equate with a free ride home from the ACO.  Those cats lacking identification should be photographed and posted online by the facility immediately.  Anyone visiting the shelter looking for a lost pet should be shown every pet in the place as a matter of course.  Reuniting families is part of the job.  It seems to me to be one of the best parts, by the way, and I can’t imagine why anyone who supposedly cares about shelter pets would want to eliminate it.

Now that Maddie’s Fund and HSUS have opened this awful door and TZI has barreled through it with a bulldozer, I can’t help but wonder what’s next.  Will some consultant recommend that shelters stop housing all dogs found outdoors too?  Gee but we can’t turn dogs back out onto the streets, can we?  So what will “have to be” done with them?

I’m not a shelter consultant, just someone who loves pets and believes dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of their status in the community.  I don’t get paid for my ideas nor do I have any big money backing me behind the scenes.  Here’s my unsolicited recommendation to shelters and their staff, for what it’s worth:  Do your jobs.  Stop looking for ways to avoid the hard work of sheltering by bringing in big money consultants.  You are accountable to the local taxpayers who pay your salaries and who love their pets.  Start acting like it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Texas ACO SorryNotSorry He Got Caught on Camera Dragging a Dog

The Humane Society of Northeast Texas is no stranger to violence against the animals in its care.  But an incident of an ACO dragging a dog around the pound by a leash was caught on video last month, forcing the city to take action.  Prepare to be underwhelmed.

The little dog can be seen on multiple camera views being dragged like a sack of potatoes by Saylor Knox, the ACO paid to protect him from harm:

Knox’s boss, Environmental Health Supervisor Buck Farrar, says there is no excuse for the behavior, but here are some excuses:

Farrar said that while nothing excuses the behavior, the office was short-handed that day, Knox was hurrying, and the dog was behaving in an unruly manner.

“There is nothing that can condone taking action that can be perceived as abusive toward the animal. Do I believe that there was any ill intent on his part, that he was deliberately doing that? Absolutely not,” Farrar said.

“It’s the perception.”

Short-handed. In a hurry. Bad dog. He wasn’t deliberately dragging the dog. That’s just the perception of anyone who watched the video. It’s all in your mind.

As part of the city’s discipline, Knox was forced to write a letter to the HS regarding the incident. It looks like he copied one out of the Shelter Pet Abusers Handbook:

“I apologize for the way it appeared and for anything I did that implied I intended to harm the animal in any way,” Knox wrote.

Sorry for your stupid perceptions, people.

“I was attempting to expedite the call quickly being that the dog was being extremely unruly and vocal in the eyes of the public. I did the best I could in the circumstance, taking ample time both on the truck as well as once I had the dog secured in the animal control officer run, trying to get the dog to warm up to me.”

We’re doing the best we can, yay. Also, have we mentioned lately that the little dog was B-A-D? Because he was.

Apparently the wheel has not yet made it to Longview because if it had, the pound could keep a cart handy to move cages containing dogs too frightened to walk.

Knox refused to be interviewed by local media, as did the pound’s director.  There is no mention in the article of whether the dog survived the pound or was killed.  As far as the remainder of Knox’s disciplinary action, he was suspended for two days.  A city employee in another department was also suspended for two days in August “after administrators discovered she incorrectly filed paperwork for several months”. So I PERCEIVE that the pet mistreating ACO who gets paid to issue citations to citizens who mistreat pets is exactly the same as the paperwork messer-upper. Got it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

RSPCA Killing Healthy/Treatable Pets with Bolt Guns and Bullets

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the UK reportedly killed 53,000 animals in 2011, many of them healthy or treatable.  The RSPCA’s 44% kill rate can not be blamed on an open admission status:

In 2009, the RSPCA, which is one of Britain’s biggest charities and receives £120 million a year in donations, stopped accepting stray animals and unwanted pets.

While the number of animals being adopted to new homes by the RSPCA has fallen, the number of convictions against pet owners has risen by 20%.  Critics claim that the organization’s focus on securing convictions has led to the drop in animals being adopted out as well as thug tactics against pet owners:

[In 2011], spinster Georgina Langley, 67, of West Hougham, Kent, was raided at her home by the RSPCA and had five of her 13 cats put down.
The charity prosecuted her for neglect, but Mr Smith, 62, came to her aid. After sending two of the cats’ bodies to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) for an independent post-mortem, he said: ‘There appears to be no good reason why the RSPCA allowed these animals to be put to sleep.
‘The RVC post-mortems concluded the cats were healthy, with no signs of incorrect feeding or major problems with fleas or other illnesses.
‘They were very heavy-handed with an elderly lady and kept her standing out in her garden in the rain for hours while they searched her house.
[...]
Following a three-day trial in May 2012, the RSPCA dropped 11 of the 13 charges against Miss Langley.

The RSPCA, which routinely kills animals with a bolt gun, also shoots healthy/treatable pets to death as a form of “euthanasia” according to a whistleblower who worked for the organization for 2 years:

Ms Aubrey-Ward claimed large numbers of animals, particularly dogs, were put to sleep after being classed ‘unsuitable for rehoming’, but that the definition could be widely drawn to often include older animals, those needing veterinary care, dogs deemed ‘aggressive’ or larger dogs which were ‘hard to home’.
[...]
Ms Aubrey-Ward, 44, a divorced mother of four from Martock, Somerset, joined the RSPCA as a trainee inspector in 2007. But she soon found herself at odds with what she described as its ‘antiquated military-style’ regime which placed ‘prosecution and persecution’ of owners ahead of protection of their pets.
[...]
Later, she rescued a heavily pregnant ‘staffie’ bitch from a cruel owner, along with an aggressive male dog. ‘With some TLC in a nice kennels, and someone to work on her behaviour, she would have been OK. The dog warden and I tried hard to find a space for her but we couldn’t,’ she said.

‘The warden took the dogs to RPSCA Hillingdon, where a vet said they should be put to sleep if nowhere could be found for them, and they were killed round the back. The dog warden noosed them and I shot them.’

An RSPCA spokesman told the Daily Mail:

‘We do need to put animals to sleep when it is in their interests.
‘Nobody who works for the RSPCA wants to have to put rehomeable animals to sleep but it is a sad reality of the work that we do.’

Unadoptable.  Putting to sleep.  Killing is a kindness. Nobody WANTS to kill animals. DOMFL. I see pet killing hypocrites are exactly the same across the pond as they are here.

If you can’t own it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Weekend Jade

I snapped dozens of photos of Jade and Schroeder playing today.  They were all a blur except this one.

Jade checks out whether Schroeder has locking jaws.

Jade checks out whether Schroeder has locking jaws.

Open Thread

Post anything animal related in the comments.

beagle ciggolden cigcocker cig

Treats on the Internets

The new shelter director in Moore Co, NC instituted some major changes after taking charge:  Rescue groups without a 501(c)3 are no longer allowed to save animals from the kill room and volunteers are now prohibited from walking dogs and caring for shelter pets on days the place is closed.  Instead paid staff will come by for 2 hours on those days.  Moore Co took in 3206 dogs and cats in 2013, killing 2172 of them – a 68% kill rate.  More than a dozen volunteers have reportedly quit this summer.

The mayor of Magnolia, AR issued a statement blaming “negligent owners”, lack of funding, and lack of manpower for the illness and killing of dogs at the overcrowded city pound.  Gosh, if only there was some way he could effect change in Magnolia.  But the mayor says it’s a “problem that can only be helped by our own citizens” because hey, he’s only the boss of the entire city.  (Thanks Bonnie for the link.)

A man who helped a woman rescue stray cats in their AL neighborhood stabbed her to death.  (Thanks Valerie.)

MN police chief killed a boy’s pet chicken because reasons: chickens carry diseases/didn’t realize he chopped the head off and left it behind for family to find/going to introduce legislation to allow chickens so it’s all good.

The Spot Abuse campaign is designed to increase awareness of the link between animal abuse and other forms of domestic violence.  (Thanks Ona for the link.)

The Pennsylvania SPCA brings puppies and kittens to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania so workers can relieve stress by cuddling the pets on their breaks.  (Thanks April.)

Images of Soviet space dogs in pop culture.

Primer on British animal idioms for dumb Americans.

Requiem for a Shark Dog

Jefferson Co, OH Dog Warden Charged with Animal Cruelty

Misty, as shown on the WTOV website.

Misty, as shown on the WTOV website.

Allegations of animal abuse at the Jefferson Co pound in Ohio are not new.  In fact, county commissioners installed cameras at the facility specifically to address these concerns.  On Saturday, a camera at the Jefferson Co pound reportedly caught dog warden William Bell hitting a dog named Misty in the head with a shovel.  There were volunteers who witnessed the incident as well, including children.

Bell had reportedly broken up a fight between Misty and another dog in an outdoor yard by separating the two.  After Misty was alone and lying down, Bell reportedly returned with a shovel and whacked her in the head with it.  Misty sustained head and neck injuries and was apparently treated by a vet.

The vet’s report, along with the video evidence, hasn’t yet been made public by Jefferson Co but they won’t be able to hide it forever.  The county prosecutor has reviewed the evidence and charged Bell with misdemeanor animal cruelty.  Bell is currently on paid leave.

And the excuses are already pouring in.  Jefferson Co commissioner Tom Gentile told a local news reporter that no situation is “perfect”:

Any time you have human beings as employees, things are going to happen. That’s just part of management.

Those problematic humans.  You never know whether they are going to pilfer paper clips from the supply closet or take a shovel to a dog’s head.  It’s all in a day’s work.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla wanted the TV news to know that Bell could have swung the shovel harder:

“I thought at first it was gonna be a heavy swing where he really hurt that dog, but I don’t think that that’s the way it was, but apparently it was bad enough.”

Maybe the sheriff would like to demonstrate a light swing of the shovel on his own head, so we can better understand.

If convicted, Bell faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail.  The Jefferson Co prosecutor explained that Ohio law is limited when it comes to punishing animal abusers and that even if Bell had beaten Misty to death, the charges would be the same.

Bell’s violence against Misty is obviously part of a pattern of abuse.  It’s why the cameras were installed in the first place.  And he is paid by taxpayers to protect the community’s animals from harm.  The county commissioners are supposed to decide on Bell’s future as dog warden by the end of today.  Because that’s a thing that must be thinked about.

Ho hum.  Another day in We All Want the Same Thing Land.  And remember, don’t criticize unless you are willing to go down there and start beating dogs in the head your own damn self.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

PETA Asks KY Shelter to Kill More Animals

McCracken Co in KY parted ways with the local humane society after a whistleblower’s testimony resulted in cruelty charges (related to heartsticking fully conscious pets and unlicensed workers killing animals) against two employees in 2011.  In June of this year, the animal shelter task force recommended re-establishing a partnership with the local HS “as long as agreement is reached to provide humane care for the animals”.  Which this “humane” would somehow be different than the previous “humane” which resulted in the cruelty charges, I guess.

Also puzzling:

Diana Cruickshank of the task force outlined the policies of the Humane Society of Lexington, which has been listed as a possible model for Paducah. [...] A person in Lexington gave her data indicating that 40 percent of the 10,000 animals captured each year are euthanized[.]

*blink*

That’s the model?  If a 40% kill rate is your shoot-for-the-stars aspiration, you need a new task force McCracken Co.

And just because everything is FUBAR, enter PETA:

[Judge-Executive Van] Newberry said the county has received a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals asking them to euthanize more animals – something he found shocking.

Oh hey yeah, that is weird.  Except that PETA runs a large pet killing hellhouse itself and is known both for encouraging other facilities to kill more animals and giving them frowny faces when they stop.  But I love that the county politician was all head-scratchery:

The letter said keeping animals long-term in an overcrowded shelter was more cruel than euthanizing them, but Newberry said the county shelter currently takes any animal and tries its best to keep them until they are adopted.

Warehousing animals or killing them.  These are the only two options, per PETA.  And yet, like Mr. Newberry, I can’t help but long for Door Number Three.  The one where the shelter does the job taxpayers pay for and actually shelters animals or at least “tries its best to keep them until they are adopted”.  Just like hundreds of other open admission shelters are doing all over the country.  As if it’s their job.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the community’s lost and homeless pets in McCracken Co and I’m concerned.  But at least they didn’t fall for the It Says ETHICAL Right Here On The Letterhead shenanigans from one of the killiest animal organizations in the country.  That’s encouraging.  I hope McCracken Co applies similar common sense strategies to the sheltering issues it currently faces.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Norfolk Whistleblower Alleges Pound in Violation of State Law, Retains Attorney to Fight Termination

The city of Norfolk, VA kills animals at its pound.  So far in 2014, more than 1600 animals have been killed.  Nearly 600 of those animals were killed because the staff at the Norfolk pound didn’t like their behavior in addition to the 230 animals who were killed for being feral.  Fifty-four animals were killed for being too old while another 125 were killed for being too young.  Five animals were killed for being pregnant, which means their unborn offspring were suffocated inside their mothers but Norfolk doesn’t bother counting them.

The Norfolk pound currently has 8 dogs listed for adoption on its website.  They’re doing the best they can, totally.

A former Norfolk pound employee who says she was fired for being a whistleblower has retained an attorney to fight the city’s termination of her employment:

Adrienne Alper, 26, worked for the city-run shelter for about seven months before she was fired in December. She says the shelter didn’t follow procedure when workers euthanized animals, and that management targeted her after she spoke up about it.

She alleges that staff “often carried out euthanasia procedures in a cruel and inhumane manner.”

Specifically Ms. Alper is alleging that Norfolk was killing animals in their cages instead of taking them to the kill room – a violation of state law.   She also expressed concern at the needless killing of animals, including a surrendered mama Pitbull and her litter of puppies who were killed upon impound.  She says she attempted to go through proper channels before taking her concerns outside the pound:

“I talked to my immediate supervisors but they kind of brushed me off,” Alper said. “They just said that it was the way they did things and the way it was done for years.”

Tragically, Ms. Alper took her concerns to PETA, the Norfolk based pet killing organization. I can only imagine PETA’s concern might have been that the pound wasn’t killing even more animals, faster and more efficiently.  And maybe they had some hurt feels that no one called them to come watch the killing of the Pitbull family.  PETA would have brought popcorn, no doubt.

Ms. Alper was fired soon after and says her termination letter specifically cited the PETA meeting and “alleged that Alper did not get along with co-workers and accused one of them of killing puppies”. I guess she should have said puppies and adults, to be fair.

The city stands by the puppy killers at its pound, noting that surrendering parties sign a form stating their animals might be killed.  So it’s all good, I guess.  Presumably the city’s lawyers will have a tad more than that to offer if the case goes to court.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for the links.)

Van Wert County Dog Warden Indicted on Felony Cruelty Charges

One year ago, the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department in Ohio was assigned supervision of the county pound due to concerns about the lack of response to calls.  On July 20, 2014, the sheriff’s office received a complaint from a concerned citizen that pets were being neglected and starved to death at the pound. An investigation was opened and Rich Strunkenburg, the county dog warden and the sole humane law enforcement agent, was placed on paid leave. County commissioners voted to fire Mr. Strunkenburg on July 31 and last week, a grand jury indicted him on 4 felony counts of animal cruelty.

Mr. Strunkenburg, who has been living rent-free in a home next to the pound, was allegedly tossing animals into cages and leaving them there with no veterinary care, food, or water, to suffer and die in their own waste.

Sheriff Tom Riggenbach said an investigation found three dogs and six kittens dead in their kennels. He said some kennels appeared not to have been cleaned in weeks, others in several days. The deceased animals, some of whom may have been dead for two or three days, had not been removed from their kennels.

It took officers four days to sufficiently clean the pound.

Mr. Strunkenburg is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday:

If he’s convicted, each count of a fifth-degree felony carries a jail term of six months to a year, with a fine of up to $2500.

The prosecutor says the severity of the crimes against these animals could certainly warrant arguing that if there’s a conviction, the judge stack the sentences on top of each other instead of combining them into one, meaning a potential of up to four years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.

Talk is cheap.  And crimes against animals are typically not prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, especially when police would be testifying against one of their own.  It sounds as if Sheriff Tom Riggenbach is already making excuses for the horrifying conduct of Mr. Strunkenburg:

“We do know that an attempt was made to contact the company that is used to dispose of dead animals from the kennel, and they were not able to respond that week,” the sheriff said.

The animals appeared to have been ill when they arrived at the shelter and died of those illnesses, though the sheriff said they were not provided with medical care.

Did the sheriff go to vet school and did he conduct full necropsies on these animals?  Because if he didn’t, I don’t see how in PonyLand he is qualified to eyeball a pile of dead pets that happened on his watch and determine that they were sick upon impound and died of their ailments.  Oh and yes let’s make careful note that the indicted dog warden called the disposal company to haul off the evidence of his crimes but they couldn’t come out fast enough.  Still, full credit for mashing the buttons on the phone in the right order.

Although would-be volunteers have been turned away when they offered to help care for the animals at the pound in past, the county says they will now be allowed in.  Gee, how bold.

Has the county kicked the indicted dog warden out of the rent-free house yet?  I’d like to see him on the streets and relying upon the county system to make sure he is sheltered during his time of need.  See if he ends up in the hands of a kindred spirit.

(Thanks Clarice and Arlene for sending me this story.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 914 other followers