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

Post anything animal related in the comments.

[x]

[x]

Name That Animal

This is just for fun and the only rule is:  no researching.  Post your best guesses in the comments.  Reading other people’s answers before posting your own is optional.  Answer will be posted in the comments tomorrow.

nta

Lancaster Co SPCA Kills Dog for Growling, Because They Can

Scout and Josie, as shown on the NBC Philadelphia website.

Scout and Josie, as shown on the NBC Philadelphia website.

On July 1, a PA family surrendered their two healthy Australian shepherds to the Chester Co SPCA because they had been unable to rehome them after moving from a house to an apartment.  The 1 year old siblings, Scout and Josie, are described by owner Shana Goane as loving and friendly with no hint of any aggression issues.  Ms. Goane paid $500 to the Chester Co SPCA and asked that Scout and Josie be kept together, if possible.

Two days later, Ms. Goane called the Chester Co SPCA with good news:  she’d found a home for both pets.  But after pocketing the $500, Chester Co had shipped the dogs off to the Lancaster Co SPCA.  And the Lancaster Co SPCA killed Josie shortly after arrival for aggression.  Specifically, there was an alleged growl:

Josie began exhibiting aggression soon after she arrived, according to LCSPCA director Sue Martin.

“One of these instances included a senior staff having to remove the dog in order to clean the cage whereas the dog growled at them showing teeth,” Martin said. “Another staff member had to enter the kennel and remove the dog so the senior staff could safely exit the kennel.”

[...]

Martin emphasized that euthanasia is always a last resort[.]

Weak tea. I think I’ve seen this movie before. And it sucks.

Ms. Goane drove to the Lancaster Co SPCA to pick up Josie’s body and save Scout from all that prevention of cruelty and such.

That’s some racket they are running up there.  $500 to accept your friendly, young, healthy purebred dogs, only to ship them off to someplace else as soon as you leave the parking lot.  Then that place freaks the frell out when a dog who’s been taken from her home and housed inside two different shelters within a matter of hours says boo instead of doing backflips on command and immediately finding herself an adopter with cash in hand.

Oh but killing is always a last resort.  The first resort is the fabrication of crummy excuses to kill animals.  Then they go to the last resort.

There ought to be a law.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Memphis City Official Explains Why Killing Pets Even Faster is Going to Be So Awesome

Manhandled kitten, as posted by MAS on PetHarbor.com

Manhandled kitten, as posted by MAS on PetHarbor.com

If you are partial to flowery political speeches, you might like to read the city’s full explanation for why it’s retaliating against rescuers shortening hours at the Memphis pound and proposing to kill pets faster than ever.  But if you’d rather blind yourself with rusty pokers than read more bullshit excuses for killing animals, I’ve got you covered.  Here’s the takeaway:

The proposed change in hours will assist with the reduction of holding time of animals from 5 days to 3, saving 104 days annually in the cost of food, work hours (animal care techs and vets), housing, medical supplies, etc.

Shorter:  Dead pets don’t eat food and take up cage space.  The faster we can kill them, the less we have to do our jobs.

So there it is.  In case anyone was wondering where the city of Memphis stands on the issue of animal sheltering.  It’s a no.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this link.)

Treats on the Internets

Law enforcement tracked a suspect to a trailer park in Coffee Co, GA.  Families were outside including a dog, who ran up to one of the officers.  The sheriff’s deputy opened fire in the direction of the dog, missing him and instead shooting a 10 year old boy through the knee.  As we have said countless times, police encountering dogs need more tools in the toolbox besides GUN.  (Thanks Lis for the link.)

A deputy in Prince Edward Co, VA was serving a civil warrant at a home whose residents were away on June 27.  The deputy says the family’s golden retriever lunged at him.  He shot the pet twice in response and the dog bled to death.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

A NJ couple who was up with their newborn child in the middle of the night saw their 8 year old french bulldog escape.  Police picked the dog up quickly and turned him over to the local ACO.  The dog was found dead at the shelter a few hours later.  Police are investigating.  (Thanks Judy for the link.)

A lawyer in CA who loved cats left approximately $800,000 to the Marin Humane Society in his will, specifically earmarking it for cats.  The organization’s 2013 report indicates it received approximately 5700 live animals and killed 1300 of them – a kill rate of roughly 23%.  (Thanks Arlene.)

In honor of one of the children killed in the 2012 Newtown shooting massacre, a foundation is planning to open an animal sanctuary in 2016.  Six year old Catherine Violet Hubbard is remembered as an animal lover who collected returnable bottles and cans to raise money for treats for shelter dogs.  She also made business cards for a pretend shelter, listing herself as “caretaker”.  (Thanks Valerie.)

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray raised awareness for the city shelter’s foster and adoption programs yesterday by renaming city hall “Kitty Hall” and inviting foster kittens to mingle with the media and the public.  (Thanks Karen for the link.)

If you don’t have your own playful platypus in a pool, you can still get your fix.  (Thanks Valerie.)

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