NJ Township Bans Feeding Outdoor Cats

The West Orange Township Council in NJ passed an ordinance at a meeting this month prohibiting residents from feeding all wildlife, including friendly outdoor cats who of course are not wildlife but shut up:

The matter was brought before the council at the behest of Theresa De Nova, the township’s health officer, whose office has been inundated with complaints regarding the number of feral and stray cats roaming through neighborhoods. Though both feral and stray cats are homeless felines, there is a significant difference between the two: Stray cats are socialized to people while feral cats are not. Under the new ordinance, residents are not allowed to feed either kind.

Ms. DeNova can now threaten cat feeders with court and fines, which she seems very excited about.  Most residents do not share her enthusiasm:

But the majority of people in attendance were opposed to the ordinance, at times calling out their opinions from the benches and loudly applauding like-minded speakers. Their opinion was clear: They love the town’s stray cats and to stop feeding them would be cruel.

“My interpretation of this amendment is that the council is hopeful of two things,” resident Sherry Ross said. “One is that the cats will weaken, sicken, starve and die as a result of not being fed. Or else they will leave and they will be somebody else’s problem. Neither of those is an efficient or humane solution.”

Many in attendance at the meeting mentioned TNR as a humane method to reduce the feral cat population over time.  But Ms. DeNova says she needed the power to make criminals out of cat feeders this very minute, if not sooner:

De Nova acknowledged that she would be willing to pursue methods like TNR in the future, but she stressed that she needed a measure on record immediately to use as a tool to fight the problem before it gets worse.

There does appear to be a problem in West Orange Township.  And it does seem to be getting worse.  But it doesn’t have anything to do with feeding cats.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Fulton Co Protests Pound’s Killing Policy for Pitbulls

More than 80 animal advocates turned up at a peaceful protest at the Fulton Co Dog Pound in Ohio last weekend designed to raise community awareness regarding the pound’s regressive pitbull policy. Fulton Co kills any dog or puppy who is not reclaimed by an owner and whose body shape resembles that of a pitbull or pitbull mix in the opinion of the dog warden or his assistant. This cruel policy not only defies logic, it defies legal recommendations on the local and state level:

The commissioners unanimously passed Resolution 2012-47 in May, 2012, just after and in spite of the Ohio Legislature’s removal of breed-specific language from state code and against the recommendation of their legal counsel, Fulton County prosecutor Scott Haselman, to remain breed neutral. The policy states that no dog identified by the dog warden or assistant dog warden as a “pit bull” or “pit-bull” mix will be adopted out or transferred to a rescue group from the pound.
[...]
Dog Warden Brian Banister, who according to county records recommended and initially drafted the policy, said he agrees with the county’s decision about “pit bulls.”

Area animal advocates have been trying to present a case for judging each dog and puppy as an individual, based on behavior, instead of having a blanket policy of death for all unclaimed dogs and puppies based on body shape. But the county already knows everything:

The two leaders of Fulton County No Kill, Carol Dopp of Chesterfield Township and Tasha Grieser of Archbold, Ohio, said dogs should be judged by their behavior, not their physical appearance. The pair met with County Administrator Vond Hall in mid-August to discuss the matter with the intent of placing it on a county commissioners’ meeting agenda. They were rebuffed.

Mr. Hall said he approached the commissioners, who refused to open a discussion about the policy and have not met with representatives of either group.

“The board members fully understand the position the No-Kill group has, and they also fully understand their own position,” he said. “They do not see the need to discuss what they feel they already understand.”

It’s got to be a good feeling, knowing everything and not needing to listen to your constituents, your county attorney or your state’s legal recommendations. They probably sleep like babies. And act like them:

[A] Fulton County resident and dog trainer who is certified in a behavior-evaluation protocol developed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offered to evaluate the county’s dogs at no charge. That offer was refused.

*stomps feet*
We. Already. Know. Everything.
Why isn’t anyone listening to us?

“We are not a shelter,” Mr. Hall said.

Problem number one, in what appears to be a lengthy list in Fulton Co.  By the way, it’s not necessary to call yourself a “shelter” in order to stop killing stray dogs and puppies whom people are willing to save.  You can just call yourself a human to do that.

Mr. Hall said [...] those people protesting the policy appear to be “expressing concern about the animal, not the public.”

Wait – I thought the people protesting were the public. But heaven forfend anyone be concerned about an animal, especially one with fat head and a waggy tail.

(Thank you Arlene for the link.)

You Can’t Find the Pet You Want at Your Shelter Because the Director Killed Him

Infographic from the Shelter Pet Project.  (click to enlarge)

Infographic from the Shelter Pet Project. (click to enlarge)

 

Reliable data tells us that, of the people who will add a pet to the family within the next year, approximately 17 million of them have not yet decided on a source for that pet.  We have approximately 3 million friendly, healthy pets – or pets with treatable conditions such as colds – being killed every year in U.S. shelters.  So we have 3 million shelter pets to market to 17 million people each year.  This is an achievable goal.  It also completely disproves the notion that there aren’t enough homes for shelter pets.  And it’s not just Maddie’s Fund and the No Kill Advocacy Center saying so – the Humane Society of the Unites States now publicly agrees.  Pet overpopulation is a myth.

Not only are there enough homes for all the shelter pets being killed in America – there are way too many homes.  In other words, if we were to convince through marketing even half of this group of 17 million to adopt from shelters, we’d run into a serious shortage.  Because the fact is we don’t have nearly enough shelter pets for everyone who wants to add a pet to the family this year.  But right now, that’s not the problem.

The problem is that many people who would potentially be interested in saving a pet from the pound do not feel inclined to actually go there and adopt.  There are numerous reasons for this – and they are all readily fixable:

1.  The shelter is depressing.  Who wants to visit a place that functions primarily as a pet killing facility?

Solution:  Make lifesaving the primary function of the shelter.  Reach out to the community and engage them in your lifesaving mission.  Make the shelter environment warm and inviting, reflective of your focus to find homes for every healthy/treatable pet under your roof.

2.  The shelter is closed during the hours most people can visit.  Too many facilities are closed on evenings and weekends.

Solution:  Stay open on evenings and weekends.  Make sure the community knows you are open.  Run promotions during those hours.

3.  The shelter doesn’t have the specific type of pet the adopter wants – e.g. a calico cat or a dog weighing less than 15 pounds or a pet they feel a connection with when they meet.

Solution:  Stop killing animals.  The reason shelters often don’t have the type of pet people are looking for is because the staff is killing them.

Shelter directors and their staff are needlessly killing an estimated 3 million healthy/treatable pets every year. These are the animals who would have been adopted by some of the 17 million people looking to add a pet to the family this year and open to the idea of shelter adoption. Sometimes shelter directors make themselves feel better by labeling these animals “unadoptable” which is, at best, delusional and at worst, an outright lie created for the purpose of fulfilling pet killers’ desire to inflict violence upon shelter pets.

The math speaks for itself.  The proven solutions to common problems faced by all shelters are available.  So why are so many shelters still killing animals?

There are more than enough homes.  The animals are wanted.  People are out there every day of the week looking for the very pets being killed and thrown into the dumpster by regressive shelter directors.  How much longer will we as a society allow this to continue?  There ought to be a law.

The Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) is model legislation which takes away the discretion of shelter directors to kill randomly and in secret.  We can’t wait any longer for shelter directors to stop killing because it makes sense and it’s the right thing to do.  Like so many social injustices in our society, this one too will only be remedied by legislation:

The goal was never mere promises that we would strive to do better as a society. The focus was always on changing the law to eliminate the ability to do otherwise. The suffrage movement did not seek discretionary permission from election officials to vote, an ability that could be taken away. Its goal was winning the right to vote, a right guaranteed in law. The civil rights movement did not seek the discretionary ability to sit at the front of the bus or to eat at the same lunch counters. Its goal was winning the right to do so, a right guaranteed in law. Without legal rights, one’s fate is contingent on who the election official is, who the restaurant owner is, who the mayor is and in the case of animals entering shelters, who the director is.

“We’re doing the best we can” isn’t good enough. Blaming the public does not save lives.  We are a humane society and we don’t want pets needlessly killed in our shelters.  We want our shelter directors to do the work we pay them for – to shelter animals during their time of need.  Waiting for them to feel like doing their jobs is not going to cut it.  Legislation is needed.

If you want to be able to find the pet you feel a special bond with when you meet him at your local shelter, the director needs to stop killing animals and start doing his job.  CAPA can help you find your next pet.

TX Pound Gets Huffy When Local Advocates Ask Them to Stop Hiding and Killing Pets

The Humane Society of the New Braunfels Area in Texas hides many of the animals impounded by the facility. When a citizen contacted the organization in July expressing concern over this practice, Amanda Craig, president of the HS of the New Braunfels Area, responded with an explanation. This is a portion of that response:

I have to assume, due to the content of your email, that your knowledge and opinion of our shelter have been influenced by the No Kill New Braunfels group. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify a few things and invite you to be a part of our future success.

The only animals that are not photographed are the stray animals that are still on hold, animals who enter the shelter in such poor medical condition that they cannot be treated, animals that enter the shelter that are too aggressive for adoption and feral cats. I will elaborate on the “stray hold” policy. When strays enter our shelter they are “held” for 3 business days minimum. During that time they may not be put up for adoption or presented to the public via photographs/internet. The reason for this is that, in the past, there have been issues with people “shopping” our stray area. The reason that people do this is to look for a pure bred and/or intact dog to breed or fight in order to make a profit. You see, if an “owner” claims a dog the fee is typically much less than the adoption fee so it is financially beneficial for these corrupt individuals to claim a stray as their own rather than buy or adopt if they can manage to get away with it. However, during that hold time, if an owner comes in who has legitimately lost a dog, we will happily show them every single kennel in our stray hold area in hopes that we can reunite them with their dog. Based on the level of detail that a person can give about the dog they claim to have lost, we are able to determine if they are truly missing a companion animal or if they are simply “shopping”.

Shorter: No Kill New Braunfels sucks and here’s a bunch of baloney we made up so we don’t have to do our jobs.

For the month of July, when that e-mail was written, the HS of the New Braunfels Area took in 359 dogs and cats, hid an unknown number of them and killed 243 – a kill rate of approximately 68%. But of course, better off dead than living with PET SHOPPERS. Because you know all the evil people in the world are posing as lost pet owners and looking to adopt an animal off death row in the New Braunfels pound. That’s common knowledge.

But alas, No Kill New Braunfels keeps the ball rolling and stays focused on lifesaving with this recent newspaper ad:

Newspaper ad from No Kill New Braunfels in TX (click to enlarge).

Newspaper ad from No Kill New Braunfels in TX (click to enlarge).

How ya like me now, bitchez?

(Thanks Linda for info on this story.)

Outrage in Davidson Co, NC: “10 People Beating a Dead Horse”

Warning: Dead pet photos below text. Do not scroll beyond text if you wish to avoid.

In 2013, the Davidson Co pound in NC took in 3440 cats and killed 3167 of them. The facility took in 3319 dogs and killed 2322 of them. The pound also took in 8 bats, 3 foxes, 6 raccoons, 1 skunk and 1 snake and killed them all.  The Davidson Co pound is a gassing facility.

Some of you have likely seen photos of the dead pets on the NC highway after they fell out of a truck transporting them from the Davidson Co pound where they had been killed. The photos were initially posted on Facebook by a concerned citizen who thought a pet killer was at large in the community. It was later confirmed that the Davidson Co truck’s tailgate had come open while transporting the carcasses.

When asked for comment by the Winston-Salem Journal regarding the incident, pound director Judy Lanier made her views plain as day:

“It was an internal employee mistake that’s been dealt with in less than 30 minutes,” she said. “Basically it’s a nonstory. There is one thread on one Facebook page where you’ve got less than 10 people beating a dead horse.”

This is the leadership in your animal “shelter” Davidson Co. The concerned citizen who photographed the dead pets was correct – there is a pet killer at large in your community.  And you’re paying that person’s salary.

Davidson Co, get rid of this pound director and start fresh with someone willing to do the hard work of saving shelter animals’ lives like they do in hundreds of other open admission shelters across the country. The tools are available today, for free. Why not try? I don’t think there’s any chance you could possibly do worse.

Screengrab from Facebook showing a trail of dead pets on a NC highway.

Screengrab from Facebook showing a trail of dead pets on a NC highway.

10547683_10204307225943264_6244524054674198720_n

Screencap from Facebook showing the deceased pets removed from the highway by the so-called irresponsible public in an effort to give them dignity in death.

(Thanks Clarice and all who sent me info on this story.)

Action Item: Ask Dothan Police Chief to Thoroughly Investigate Abuse at Pound

In Dothan, AL, animal control is run by the police department.  On the pound’s Petfinder page, which has zero animals listed for adoption, it states:

Because of the high number of dogs and cats we receive each week, we are forced to euthanize animals regularly.

And by forced to euthanize, they apparently mean getting kicks by torturing puppies to death.

William Henry Roberson, age 57, has reportedly worked for the city of Dothan for 21 years, including the last 14 as an ACO.  Shortly after showing up for work on Friday, ACO Roberson allegedly intentionally locked a live mixed breed puppy in the facility’s freezer, which I presume is full of dead pet carcasses.  Approximately 20 – 30 minutes later, another employee found the puppy, who died shortly thereafter.

ACO Roberson has been placed on administrative leave, arrested and charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.  Bond was set at $500.

If this is the first time this man has tortured an animal, I will eat my hat.  I will eat all the hats.  No compassionate person shows up for work at a job he’s been doing for 14 years and suddenly decides to inflict pain and suffering on a puppy for the first time.  It seems only logical to believe this is part of a pattern of abuse with this ACO, one which his co-workers may or may not have observed over the last 14 years.  The difference this time is that someone turned him in.  Thank you, someone.

“It’s obviously disheartening when somebody who’s charged with protecting and caring for these animals then intentionally harms one,” [Dothan Police Lt. Will] Benny said.

Not ONE.  There is a pattern here, I guarantee it.  Will the Dothan police department, investigating itself in the matter, bother to dig deeper to determine if evidence of a pattern of animal abuse exists?  Or will they just take a play from the city shelter abusers handbook and label the guy a bad apple, the torture a one time incident, and move on quietly with the business of animal killing?

Politely worded e-mails to Dothan police chief Gregory J. Benton requesting a thorough investigation to include any possible incidents of previous animal abuse at the pound and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law may be sent to dpd@dothan.org. And while you’re writing, maybe include a link to No Kill 101 from the No Kill Advocacy Center. In case the police don’t want to be “forced” to continue the needless killing of pets at the pound. Hundreds of other communities have ended the killing. The tools are available, at no cost. Can’t hurt to try. And we already know it hurts not to try.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Redemption Screening Tonight in Charlotte

I am taking a wee trip to Charlotte, NC

taking a trip

to attend the premiere of this movie:

finalmovieposter

at the Pease Auditorium at Central Piedmont Community College, 6pm. If you are also attending, please say hello.

To see where the film will be shown in upcoming weeks, check this page.

Louisville Metro Animal Services Under Investigation for Cruelty

Heather Adkins, a former employee at Louisville Metro Animal Services in KY, went public with the tragic story of Sadie, her foster dog from the pound.  In a letter posted last month on a local blog, Ms. Adkins states that Sadie was impounded by LMAS in March 2013 with a dangling front leg.  The owner who reclaimed her received an official notice from LMAS requiring veterinary care for the dog within 48 hours.  Since the owner never obtained the vet care, a court date was set.  When the owner no-showed in court, LMAS failed to take any action.

Sadie was again impounded by LMAS in July 2013 and held for one month.  After the owner communicated that he would not be reclaiming Sadie, LMAS put her on the kill list.  Ms. Adkins didn’t want to see the friendly dog needlessly killed so offered to take her home to foster around September 1.  She began investigating options on how to get Sadie the vet care she needed within the rules set by LMAS, which still legally owned the dog:

In the meantime, I told Tabitha Gray, the vet staff supervisor about Sadie’s situation. I told her Sadie would be a wonderful adoption candidate because she loved other dogs, loved cats, loved people, and was an all-around sunny dog. Tabitha informed me her vet staff wouldn’t do anything for Sadie because they wouldn’t see a financial return on her.

Within a couple days, Kim [Ward, foster coordinator at LMAS] emailed me back to say hold off on collection any money, because [then assistant director] Margaret [Brosko] wanted to use Sadie as a PR tool. They’d received a donation from a citizen that was specified to be used to save a pit bull, and Sadie would be perfect for this. I agreed, because I didn’t care how Sadie got the surgery, as long as she did.

Months passed. Ms. Adkins kept in regular communication with her supervisors at LMAS asking about when Sadie could get her surgery but was put off at every turn. In mid-November, Sadie began self-mutilating – chewing off part of her paw on the dangling leg. Ms. Adkins rushed Sadie to her personal vet for care and paid out of pocket for the emergency treatment. She contact Ms. Brosko to advise her the situation had reached a crisis point and Sadie could not wait any longer for her surgery. Ms. Brosko replied that the money raised for Sadie had been spent on another dog and basically, sux being you.

Ms. Adkins did not give up. She offered to start from scratch with the fundraising herself but again, was put off by those in charge. Three weeks went by before she was finally given permission to raise money for Sadie’s surgery. Sadie continued to self-mutilate and Ms. Adkins continued to have her treated at her own expense. Fundraising for Sadie took place during January and February 2014 and was successful. But Sadie’s last self-mutilation, which occurred at the same time the fundraising reached its goal, took a heavy toll:

Within two days, Sadie went downhill. She began to cough and be lethargic. On Wednesday, she vomited several times. On Thursday, I took her to see Dr. Pollett, who did X-rays and found Sadie had actually consumed some of the bandages this time. She then suggested I contact the Arrow Fund and ask for help.

Ms. Adkins contacted the Arrow Fund and the group immediately offered to take Sadie. She was taken to a vet by the Arrow Fund. But it was too late:

Her condition at this point was too severe—she’d developed pneumonia from the constant vomiting, on top of the bowel obstruction, on top of the leg that needed medical attention. They opted to euthanize her.

In repayment of her heroic efforts to save Sadie, the management at LMAS officially reprimanded Ms. Adkins for seeking outside assistance. And they threatened to fire her for the negative publicity, including FOIA requests, regarding Sadie. Ms. Adkins finally quit.

A group of advocates seeking justice for Sadie retained an attorney who recently sent a letter to the Jefferson Co attorney requesting an animal cruelty investigation at LMAS. In response, the Louisville Metro Council announced an ad hoc committee will conduct an 8 week probe of the agency. In addition to investigating the allegations of neglect and cruelty that caused Sadie to suffer for months, the committee will be asking why the facility has been without a director for more than a year.

Margaret Brosko, who has since been promoted to the mayor’s communications office, is hiding from the media.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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.

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.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 920 other followers