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.

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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.)

F-Star-Star-Star Yeah Augusta Chronicle

Although many newspapers feel comfortable endorsing political candidates in the lead up to an election, most do not weigh in on the needless killing of dogs and cats at their local shelter.  Of those that do, the editorials tend at best to nudge the shelter director with a kindly worded request for improvement and at worst blame the so-called irresponsible public for the killing and demand MSN enforcement.  But in a piece published yesterday, the editorial staff at the Augusta Chronicle in GA has changed all that.  They go to eleven:

Augusta-Richmond County is needlessly killing animals – dozens a day, hundreds a week, thousands a year.

All because leaders at the county’s Animal Services department refuse to work with volunteer rescue groups who help find homes for the dogs and cats that turn up at the animal shelter.

Apparently, it’s simply easier for Animal Services Director Sharon Broady and her staff to warehouse, kill and dispose of the animals than to process the paperwork needed to get them into caring homes.

The piece goes on to question why the Augusta pound is killing 70% of its animals while turning away rescuers and volunteers and why the director refuses to adopt out intact animals with spay-neuter agreements when the only alternative she allows is death.

Why is Broady’s default setting on “kill”?

She told The Augusta Chronicle via email interview that she is open to exploring options of lowering euthanasia rates. We suggest she consult a dictionary if her idea of “open” is to refuse to cooperate with rescue volunteers and blindly adhere to a policy that sends dozens of animals to the county landfill each day.

About 6,500 dogs and cats were killed last year.

Broady says lowering the kill rate would require “a new facility, additional staff, to include another veterinarian, vet techs and a much larger budget.”

She needs more resources? We don’t buy that facile argument for a split second. Broady has volunteers practically kicking her door in, begging to take these animals off her hands.

There are likely plenty of policy changes she can make to cut the kill rate that don’t require a bigger budget.

I’ll have what they’re having.

Referring to the Augusta pound as a “sick, sad death house”, the Chronicle offers up examples of places such as Kansas City where the killing of healthy/treatable pets has been drastically reduced after compassionate animal lovers committed to lifesaving took charge of operations.

Look long and hard at all these other agencies that are correctly and humanely executing their duties without executing tons of animals. Start doing what they do. Check your pride at the door. The animals whose life or death depends on us deserve that much.

Augusta Animal Services’ problem isn’t financial. It’s about attitude. And this agency has precisely the wrong attitude to fulfill a successful mission of caring for and adopting out Augusta’s most vulnerable animals.

While the editorial staff does not mention the No Kill Equation or the fact that there are hundreds of open admission shelters saving more than 90% of their pets all over the country, they clearly get the idea that a shelter should shelter, not kill, animals and that the need for meaningful reform is urgent:

Augusta Commissioners have ultimate authority for this slaughter. They have the responsibility to put an end to it. Commissioners, a compassionate and caring community is looking to you now. Do your jobs, and either make Ms. Broady do hers, or find someone else who will.

Out with the old, in with the editorial staff at the Augusta Chronicle. Someone should send them a copy of Redemption and a link to the No Kill Advocacy Center so that they can see what’s achievable in Augusta.  Local animal advocates, you’ve got the newspaper editorial staff on your side.  No small thing.  Seize the moment and publicly demand an end to the killing of healthy/treatable animals at the pound.  And then keep demanding it, six ways from Sunday, loudly, until it happens.

(Thanks Jodi for the link.)

No Kill Advocacy via Media Outreach in Huntsville, AL

Following the recent news that the city of Huntsville, AL is researching the No Kill Equation for possible implementation at the pound, the group No Kill Huntsville is engaging the community by putting up some digital billboards:

No Kill Shelter astronaut

Image courtesy of Aubrie Kavanaugh

No Kill Shelter salon #2

Image courtesy of Aubrie Kavanaugh

No Kill Shelter girl  dog

Image courtesy of Aubrie Kavanaugh

Aubrie Kavanaugh of No Kill Huntsville writes:

No Kill Huntsville continues to push local elected and appointed officials to embrace no kill programs and to end the destruction of healthy and treatable pets using tax dollars. John Hamilton, the new city administrator, told a media outlet recently that the city is exploring the possibility of becoming a no kill community. This is a degree of forward progress in a city which has known about, but chosen not to implement, the No Kill Equation for more than five years.

Although the city’s recently stated position is seen in a positive light, the members of No Kill Huntsville plan to continue to push the issue in the community and to be the group which seeks to hold city leaders accountable. A huge part of that is reaching the public, many of whom either don’t know what happens at the local shelter or may not realize that there are other ways to function. The latest tool in the toolbox is a digital billboard campaign which is set to run during the months of July and August (thanks to some help from a local sponsor and an animal-friendly advertising company) and a new television PSA (below) getting air time on the local network stations. Although the group has a fully developed web site and is very active on social media, the members acknowledge that the key to change is connecting with the very people who can be educated on what is taking place using their tax dollars and then encouraged to speak out to local officials in support of change.

The hope is to reach a wider audience using visual content which goes beyond the computer screen. No Kill Huntsville is using a degree of humor to reach the community, but there is a method to the madness. Since Huntsville is home to the Marshall Space Flight Center and does, in fact, have a host of rocket scientists living in the community, the group is taking advantage of that. Here in Huntsville, we call ourselves the Rocket City and the Star of Alabama. This region is smart, proud, progressive and creative. If we can support the space program and the international space station, surely we are smart enough to learn from successful no kill communities and stop killing healthy and treatable pets.

Thank you Aubrie for the update. Keep going.

 

NJ Pound Kills Owned Dogs Upon Impound

Daphne and Rocko cuddling, as pictured on the News 12 website.

Daphne and Rocko cuddling, as pictured on the News 12 website.

When NJ pet owner Jennifer Arteta went on a trip out of the country this month, she left her beloved young dogs Daphne and Rocko in the care of her father.  For reasons unknown, Ms. Arteta’s father left Daphne and Rocko at the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on June 5.

When Ms. Arteta returned from her trip on June 7 and learned what had happened, she immediately went to the pound to reclaim her pets.  Workers denied that the dogs had ever been there.  Ms. Arteta noticed Rocko’s leash and collar at the pound and pressed staff on the issue but they continued to deny any knowledge of the dogs.  Finally, someone admitted the dogs had been killed immediately upon impound on June 5.

NJ state law is clear on the 7 day mandatory holding period required for animals surrendered to pounds:

d. A shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound receiving an animal from a certified animal control officer pursuant to subsection a. of this section, or from any other individual, group, or organization, shall hold the animal for at least seven days before offering it for adoption, or euthanizing, relocating, or sterilizing the animal, except if:

(1)the animal is surrendered voluntarily by its owner to the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, in which case the provisions of subsection e. of this section shall apply; or

(2)the animal is suspected of being rabid, in which case the provisions of subsection j. of this section shall apply.

e.If a shelter, pound or kennel operating as a shelter or pound is not required to hold an animal for at least seven days pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection d. of this section, the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound:

(1)shall offer the animal for adoption for at least seven days before euthanizing it; or

(2)may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home prior to offering it for adoption if such a transfer is determined to be in the best interest of the animal by the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound.

The Elizabeth Animal Shelter appears to be in clear violation of the law regarding the immediate killings of Daphne and Rocko. The staff presumably knows this and thus the reason for the repeated lies to the owner. And it’s probably why they are hiding from the local media:

Neither the Elizabeth Animal Shelter, the city health department nor the mayor have returned requests for comment.

Ms. Arteta is heartbroken and describes Daphne and Rocko as a bonded pair who were likely scared and confused during their last hours alive.  She has set up a Facebook page seeking justice for her pets and is planning to address the city council regarding the matter tonight.

Let’s all say it together:  Nobody wants to kill animals.  If we haven’t worked in a shelter, we have no right to criticize.  It’s the irresponsible public’s fault that shelters “have to” kill pets.

Now that the bullshit is out of the way, maybe we can have a real conversation about monsters and the evil that is done in the name of the word “shelter” in this country.

(Thanks Arlene and another reader for sending me this story.)

Input Needed Regarding Tethering Ordinances

Request from a reader:  A municipal animal control is researching the issue of tethering.  The unit is considering drafting a tethering ordinance and is trying to find relevant studies, as opposed to opinions.  Any ordinance they may come up with will be drafted with the following in mind:

  • They do not want to increase impounds.
  • They do not want to penalize low income dog owners.

Can you help provide links to any information you think might be useful regarding the issue of tethering?  Again, they are hoping to find actual studies, not opinion based articles.  Do you have a link to a tethering ordinance you believe to be a good model?  As a responsible tetherer, I am pleased to see a group researching this issue thoroughly in advance and not simply caving to the Chaining=Torture hysteria too prevalent in the animal welfare world.

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