21 Year Old Cat Illegally Impounded and Killed by Animal Control in CT

Wallingford, CT – Scott and Kim Palmer got their cat Zima from a neighbor 2 years ago when Zima was 19 years old. They converted an insulated shed in their yard for Zima, putting in several beds, a heater, and installing a window so Zima could enjoy the sunshine. The cat house was accessible via a covered kitty door.

Kim Palmer arrived home on November 12 to find Zima was missing. She began searching the neighborhood and went to Pent Road Animal Control. She was told at the pound that Zima had been impounded and killed due to possible rabies. Ms. Palmer said that Zima had been vaccinated and couldn’t possibly have been rabid. She went home to get her husband and they both returned to the pound, only to find the door locked. They have never received any reasonable explanation for why Zima was impounded and killed.

Connecticut’s animal laws can be read here. The statutes require cats to be vaccinated for rabies, which Zima reportedly was. And there are very narrow parameters which allow an ACO to impound a cat:

§ 22-332d. Impoundment and disposition of certain cats. Authority to spay or neuter unclaimed cat

(a) Any animal control officer for a municipality which has adopted an ordinance under subsection (b) of section 22-339d may take into custody any cat found to be damaging property other than property of its owner or keeper or causing an unsanitary, dangerous or unreasonably offensive condition unless such cat can be identified as under the care of its owner or a registered keeper of feral cats. The officer shall impound such cat at the pound serving the town where the cat is taken unless, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, the cat is so injured or diseased that it should be destroyed immediately, in which case the municipal animal control officer of such town may cause the cat to be mercifully killed by a licensed veterinarian or disposed of as the State Veterinarian may direct. The municipal animal control officer shall immediately notify the owner or keeper of any cat so taken, if known, of its impoundment. If the owner or keeper of any such cat is unknown, the officer shall immediately tag or employ such other suitable means of identification of the cat as may be approved by the Chief Animal Control Officer and shall promptly cause a description of such cat to be published once in the lost and found column of a newspaper having a circulation in such town.

Cats who are not deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian must be held at the pound so their owners can reclaim them. And that’s if the cat was causing property damage – otherwise, it seems that an ACO has no authority to impound a cat. It appears that the Pent Road pound may have violated state laws by impounding and killing Zima. When the local paper reached out to the assistant ACO for comment on the case, she had nothing to say.

There is a provision in the state laws for owners who have had their pets taken by ACOs to complain:

§ 22-335. Removal of municipal animal control officer. Complaint against municipal animal control officer

Any municipal animal control officer may be removed by the authority which appointed him or by the commissioner, and a successor may be appointed by such authority or commissioner. Any owner of a dog or cat aggrieved by the taking of such dog or cat by a municipal animal control officer may make complaint to the appointing authority of such municipal animal control officer or to the commissioner; and if, upon investigation of the complaint, the authority or the commissioner finds that the municipal animal control officer took the dog or cat otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, or abused or cruelly treated the dog or cat, the authority or the commissioner may remove the officer and appoint his successor.

I hope the Palmers file a complaint. How many other owned pets has the Pent Road pound impounded and immediately killed? How many owners have given up hope after finding the facility’s doors locked and/or being met with the staff’s refusal to provide explanations as to what happened to their pets?  Where are the records for Zima and all the other pets killed at this facility indicating a vet determined them to be medically hopeless and suffering?

Cats are second class citizens in far too many so-called shelters in this country.  It’s past time for that to change.  Oh but nobody WANTS to kill animals, it’s all the irresponsible public’s fault, spay-neuter would solve everything and [insert your favorite myth here].

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Helmetta Pound Raided and Locked Down by NJ Authorities

Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound's isolation room.

Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound’s isolation room.

Authorities have finally taken decisive action to protect the animals suffering at the troubled Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ.  Tragically, that action came too late for many animals.

Fifteen officers from the NJ SPCA along with a veterinarian and Middlesex County health officials arrived unannounced at the Helmetta pound yesterday to conduct follow up inspections and determine if the facility had been brought into compliance regarding previously issued warnings.  Those issues included mixing sick animals in with healthy ones, animals living in filthy cages, and importing dogs from the south without health clearances.  The pound director reportedly locked the doors upon their arrival, refusing to allow them inside, but ultimately relented.

Inside the facility, officials found 230 animals, mostly cats - the overwhelming majority of whom had no water in their cages.  Some animals were dying:

Three cats and one dog were removed from the shelter because they were in critical condition, [NJ SPCA chief Frank] Rizzo said. One cat died on the way to the veterinarian office in nearby Jamesburg. One animal had to be euthanized at the vet’s office. The animals that died have been taken as evidence, he said.

The county health department placed the pound on quarantine with no animals being allowed in or out until further notice.  The borough was given 24 hours to have a veterinarian assess all the animals, many of whom are sick:

“Disease control is basically nonexistent in this facility, and healthy animals are becoming unhealthy, and sickness just transfers just back and forth, so there’s just a lot of sick animals in that building,” said Rick Yocum, President of the NJ SPCA.

Gee, I wonder why the director initially locked the inspectors out.

In the wake of complaints from animal advocates who have documented neglect at the pound and made their concerns public, two communities have recently terminated their animal control agreements with Helmetta.  Helmetta mayor Nancy Martin hid from the media yesterday but last month, she clearly had zero fucks to give about the animals suffering at the pound:

“We have a vet that comes in two hours a week,” she said. “I don’t understand why people are saying things that are not true, or totally blown out of proportion.”

The mayor will have to address the issue now since there are still many communities who contract with Helmetta for AC services and they will undoubtedly be seeking answers.

Continuing updates are being posted by animal advocates on the Reform Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter page on Facebook.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

OK Mayor Bans Shelter Volunteers, Rolls Around in Pile of Tax Dollars

Volunteers at the city pound in Pryor, OK have been banned.  And in a classy way:

“Lisa and I showed up on Sunday morning to walk dogs and they just said that we weren’t needed anymore, that they were going to have two part time employees and another full time employee and that our help was no longer required,” [volunteer Kathy LaValle] said.

Ms. Lavalle has volunteered at the city pound since 2011, heading up adoption events and networking pets online.  She’d like to know why she and the other volunteers are being turned away suddenly:

Kathy Lavalle is exhausting her resources trying to find out why she is not allowed to help out at the shelter anymore.

“I have texted, I’ve called, emailed,” Kathy Lavalle said. “I can’t get an answer.”

Pryor mayor Jimmy Tramel says the vols should quit harshing his mellow:

[Y]eah we could’ve done a better job, but that didn’t happen,” Tramel said.

Mayor Brozilla told the media that the reason for the suspension of the volunteer program is that the city needs “to put a procedure in place” outlining the terms to which volunteers must agree in order to donate their time at the pound.  He needs 30 – 45 days to come up with the terms.  Ms. LaValle said the volunteers met with the city to discuss these terms a year and a half ago and the matter is long settled.

While the mayor is reinventing the wheel for 45 days, taxpayers will be shelling out $3000 to pay the pound staff overtime as they compensate for the free labor normally performed by vols.  The mayor is totes chill with this too:

“Sure it’s tax money, but for the safety of the volunteers, the safety of the employees and safety and well being of the animals, it’s going to cost us some money,” Tramel said.

Hey, it’s only tax money.  So FREE CASH basically.  Woohoo!

Volunteers are worried that without their free help, more pets will be needlessly neglected and killed at the pound.  I imagine the mayor’s response to that concern is something along the lines of “Coulda, woulda, shoulda!”

You know who I would like to shake hands with?  Mayor Rice-A-Broni’s campaign manager.  You sir, are a genius.  A magical genius who somehow managed to put ALL THE LIPSTICK on a pig, sufficient to win an election.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Michigan Humane Goes Rogue on Mandatory Holding Periods for Stray Cats Lacking Identification

The war on cats by so-called humane animal organizations continues.

Michigan state law regarding mandatory holding periods for impounded animals is clear:

Act 224 of 1969287.388 Disposition of dogs or cats; time; notice; record; exceptions.

Sec. 8.

A dealer, a county, city, village, or township operating a dog pound or animal shelter shall not sell or otherwise dispose of a dog or cat within 4 days after its acquisition. If the dog or cat has a collar, license, or other evidence of ownership, the operator of the pound or shelter shall notify the owner in writing and disposition of the animal shall not be made within 7 days from the date of mailing the notice. Each operator of a pound or shelter shall be required to maintain a record on each identifiable dog or cat acquired, indicating a basic description of the animal, the date it was acquired and under what circumstances. The record shall also indicate the date of notice sent to the owner of an animal and subsequent disposition.

This section does not apply to animals which are sick or injured to the extent that the holding period would cause undue suffering, or to animals whose owners request immediate disposal.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

On October 21, the long troubled Michigan Humane Society reportedly sent a mass email advising volunteers of its new policy for impounded cats lacking identification.  The portion relevant to the new policy:

Currently, there is no statutory hold for cats.  It has been MHS practice to hold stray cats for at least 4 days before placing them up for adoption. However, in order to save more cat lives, MHS, effective immediately, will maintain no hold time for stray cats who are immediately adoptable and do not have any form of traceable identification.

Cats with any form of traceable identification will be held for 7 days while we attempt to contact their owners.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

Despite the claim made by MHS that “there is no statutory hold for cats”, the law is clear.  Every animal is entitled to at least a 4 day holding period so their owners, if they have any, can find them.  MHS knows this.  And they know the holding period is crucial to allowing families to find their lost pets. Snipped from the MHS webpage entitled “What to do if you find a stray animal”:

Is this animal lost or abandoned?  Regardless of his appearance, start with the assumption that the animal may be a loved animal who is greatly missed by his family.  Even a normally healthy, friendly animal who has become lost may take on a “homeless” appearance and frightened demeanor.  The animal’s coat may become dirty and matted and he may lose weight rapidly or sustain injuries.  And the absence of a collar or tag does not always mean the animal left home without one.

[...]

The best chance for an animal to be reunited with his family is if you turn him in to the appropriate holding facility.

[...]

If you have found an animal without identification and wish to keep the animal:
you must make a report to the animal control organization responsible for your geographic area and you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner.

[...]

Regardless of whether you hope to keep the pet or not, you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner. This will prevent “property” disputes in the future if you do decide to keep the animal, and will give the pet the best opportunity to find his original owner whether you bring him to the shelter, or keep him at your home during your search.

[...]

FILE A FOUND REPORT ASAP with the local animal control or police in the city or county where you found the dog, cat or other animal. [...] You may be given the option to keep the animal during the stray hold period; this is at the discretion of the shelter.

Despite the stance MHS has adopted on its website that lost, owned pets may not be wearing identification, that keeping them for the mandatory stray hold is legally required and that searching for the owner is an absolute must, MHS seems to have zero interest in practicing what it preaches.

Last year around this time, SB560 – a bill MHS crafted – was introduced in the state Senate.  The bill would have reduced the mandatory holding period for stray cats lacking identification from 4 days to 2 days, making it harder for families to reclaim their lost pets.  SB560 died in committee and the law mandating the minimum 4 day holding period remains.

So after failing to get the law changed to their liking, MHS has apparently decided to claim the law does not exist.  Assuming MHS has put into practice the policy change detailed in the email, it means they are putting stray “adoptable” cats who lack identification immediately up for sale.  This is a clear violation of state law.  Failing to obey the mandatory holding period law for stray cats means that families are needlessly and illegally being broken up by MHS.

The Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals is asking concerned citizens to contact the state Department of Agriculture:

[C]ontact the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and file a complaint that our state’s largest and wealthiest private shelter is violating state law by ignoring mandatory stray hold times for cats, denying owners the opportunity and the right to reclaim their lost cat.

(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the heads up on this story.)

Lapeer Co Pound Sells Family’s Purebred Dog “to the Highest Bidder”

Daisy, as pictured on the WNEM website.

Daisy, as pictured on the WNEM website.

Too many animal shelters seem to be engaged in a war against pet owners – insistent upon breaking families apart while demanding to be called “compassionate” and “humane” by critics.

Like many pet owners, Steve and Kathy Foster of Lapeer Co, MI consider their dogs family.  They have pictures of their dogs on the family portrait wall in their home.  And when they found a stray border collie in rough shape last month, they were willing to help.

The Fosters took the dog, whom they named Daisy, to the vet to get her the care she needed, including vaccinations and spay surgery.  But then Daisy got lost.  The Fosters searched the area, called neighbors and local vets and posted about Daisy on social media in an effort to find her.  After a week, they learned Daisy had been impounded by Lapeer Co Animal Control.  Kathy Foster called the pound and asked what she needed to do in order to redeem her dog:

She said she was told she had to pay $180 and she didn’t have much time. That’s because the shelter had two people ready to adopt Daisy.

Having just paid the vet $420 to fix Daisy up, the Fosters didn’t immediately have $180 to bail her out of the pound:

“I said I don’t have $180 right now. And she said well that’s the only way you can get her back,” said Kathy Foster.

Lapeer Co AC reportedly sold Daisy just minutes after Kathy Foster called and said she didn’t have the cash. Local news station WNEM asked the Lapeer Co pound director why Daisy wasn’t allowed to return to her family. The director cast blame on the Fosters, indicating they were at fault for failing to report the stray dog and failing to immediately license her. And steel yourself, because this next part is jarring:

TV5 spoke to Carla Frantz, the Lapeer County Animal Control chief, over the phone on Monday evening. She said the dog exhausted the county’s four day stray hold policy, and once it does that, it becomes county property. Because the Foster’s could not come up with the money, Daisy, who now goes by the name Bella, was adopted out to the highest bidder.

It sounds like the Lapeer Co pound saw dollar signs when they looked at freshly vetted, purebred Daisy. And they were so eager to collect those dollars, they wasted no time selling her “to the highest bidder” when they got the call that Daisy’s family couldn’t immediately pay the ransom.

The Fosters are heartbroken and want the pound to change its policy about breaking up families for profit. It’s too late for their family, but they hope to spare another family the same pain in future.

The Lapeer Co pound killed roughly half its animals last year. The state of Michigan does not require them to disclose how many families they broke up while auctioning owned pets so that number is unknown. But this year, we know it’s at least one.  Oh and remember – don’t criticize, it’s a hard job and we all want the same thing and DOMFL.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Commerce Mayor to Public Meeting Attendees Supporting No Kill: Shut Up and Get Out

A public meeting of the Commerce city council in Texas was held last week. Dozens of people showed up in support of no kill, some planning to address the council during the public speaking portion of the meeting. They intended to speak about the needless killings at the Commerce pound. But they were denied that opportunity when the city council skipped the portion of the meeting where the public is allowed to speak. After the meeting was abruptly adjourned, taxpayers asked why they were denied their right to address the council.

“This is an issue that does not have to be brought forth,” Commerce Mayor John Ballotti said. “I get to pick what items we go over. That is the end of the discussion. You may all leave.”

Members of the city council hid from the media after the meeting and the city manager confirmed that the mayor is the Supreme Picker of Who Gets to Talk and When They Get to Do It.

The city later issued a statement regarding the pound to the media. You can read it in full here. The gist of it:

  • The irresponsible public is all the irresponsible.
  • Animal Control workers have a hard job.
  • Everything at the pound is fine.
  • Killing is a kindness.
  • PETA kills 90% of the animals it accepts and you know they’re ethical because it says so right in the name.

So there’s that malarkey.

Here’s my question: Are taxpayers in Commerce truly only allowed to address their city council at the whim of Mayor Supreme Picker?  Can anyone point me to where it says that in the law?  If such a law does exist, I would raise hell about that if I lived in Commerce.  If it doesn’t exist, I would raise hell about the mayor and the city manager disenfranchising taxpayers of their right to petition government for redress of grievances – which by the way is a right guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which Mayor Supreme Picker must uphold even if he hates it.  End of discussion.

(Thank you Patricia for the link.)

Mass Cat Killing Threatened in Indianapolis Pound

Vaccination is the name of the game when it comes to preventing and minimizing outbreaks of panleukopenia in shelter cats.  Some takeaways from the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on panleukopenia:

Kittens are at highest risk for this disease, and adult cats with current vaccinations are at very low risk.

[...]

Vaccination for panleukopenia is highly effective if performed correctly.

[...]

All cats 4-5 weeks of age and older should receive a modified live panleukopenia vaccine immediately upon shelter entry[.]

In addition to vaccination upon intake, shelters must follow appropriate cleaning protocols and housing requirements for all cats in order to prevent and minimize panleukopenia outbreaks. During an outbreak, Koret’s recommendations include:

  • Quarantine and isolate all at-risk cats for [the virus's incubation period of] 14 days.
  • Minimize foster kitten return and place new intakes into non-contaminated rooms.

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control is currently facing an outbreak of panleukopenia. Last week the pound killed 20 cats in response to the outbreak and announced that 80 more would be killed. Dawn Contos, the pound’s community outreach coordinator, told the media that the public is being asked not to drop off cats in need for the next 2 weeks. Any cats who are brought to the pound will be killed.

When asked about how the outbreak could have been prevented, Ms. Contos told WTHR:

“I don’t know that a vet could have prevented this. Honestly, what prevents panleukopenia is vaccinating your cats.”

She doesn’t know whether a vet could have prevented the outbreak. Because Indianapolis ACC doesn’t have one. The position, along with that of director, has been vacant almost all year. So in the absence of a leadership team, I guess the plan is kill every cat in the place and let the flying spaghetti monster sort them out.

She’s right on the vaccination issue though. So totally right. Although I notice she terms it as “your cats”, implying the so-called irresponsible public is at fault, when the cats currently at the shelter are in effect your cats, Ms. Contos. Taxpayers pay you and the rest of the staff to shelter them and protect them from harm.  And the question must be asked, have you been vaccinating your cats per standard shelter protocols? Because if you have, there is no reason to worry about your adult cats – they are protected. In addition, some of your cats have likely already been vaccinated by their previous owners – so they are protected even if you have failed in your duties. And your kittens can safely be quarantined and monitored for symptoms.  There is simply no need for a mass killing, whatever the case.

As often happens when these stories make it to the media, the irresponsible public immediately stepped up to save lives:

Several animal shelter and rescue organizations have worked to save more than 100 cats from what they considered unnecessary death at Indianapolis Animal Care and Control[.]

So while the Indianapolis pound continues to flail without a director or veterinarian, the public continues to work hard, trying to do the staff’s jobs for them, even as the pound spokesman attempts to foist blame on the very people networking, donating, fostering, and adopting.

IACC – your cats are alive today and safe in the care of the public.  You’re welcome.  But you’ll be taking in more cats, since that’s what taxpayers pay you to do.  Will you start doing your jobs now?

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

ACLU Stands Up for First Amendment Rights of Animal Advocates in Baltimore County

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

Dog ID #04167 at the Baltimore Co pound, as pictured on Petfinder.

The troubled Baltimore Co pound in MD has banned the public from photographing pets in the facility and the ACLU has written to county officials condemning the ban:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland says Baltimore County officials violated free-speech rights by banning photography at the county-run animal shelter, a move the ACLU describes as an effort to stifle critics.

The letter describes the photo ban as showing “a government agency endeavoring to limit its exposure to criticism and public accountability, and to stifle any perceived criticism that does arise, even where the agency’s purpose of serving the animals of Baltimore County is undermined as a result.”

County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler says the complaint is baseless and stems from a small group of pesky do-gooders:

“This is a story manufactured by a handful of advocates who were disrupting shelter employees from doing their jobs,” Kobler said.

Don Mohler, chief of staff for the County Executive, also has excuses:

“[The animal advocates] wanted to manufacture a crisis, and they would wait around until a dog soiled the cage and immediately take a picture and post it — inferring that the dog had been living in those conditions for a period of time, and that’s not true,” Mohler said.

Such dedication.  Waiting around for a dog to pee in his cage so they could snap a photo.  But in case you don’t buy that, he’s got another good one:

“This is not about photography,” Mohler said. “This is about the fact that there is a group of advocates who really want Baltimore County to release wild cats into the community.”

The county apparently has a kill policy for cats it determines to be feral.  And pesky do-gooders, along with the overwhelming majority of the general public, think that’s wrong.

Not to be outdone, Kobler also offered a back-up excuse for the photo ban to the newspaper:

“For some animals, the shutter click and the flash can frighten animals that are already nervous in a shelter environment. So sometimes, the staff members might ask people not to take an animal’s picture,” she said.

Both Kohler and Mobler said that the public is generally allowed to take pictures of the animals.  Except when they’re not.  But that’s because reasons.

So to recap, it’s not that Baltimore Co is trying to silence critics and violate their Constitutional rights, it’s assorted other things:

  • Volunteers photographing shelter pets are disruptors who prevent the staff from doing their job of killing more than 60% of the animals in their care.
  • They wait around all day for a dog to lift his leg in the cage just to capture the puddle on the floor.
  • They actually don’t care about photographing animals, they just want the county to stop killing feral cats and start doing TNR like other progressive shelters.
  • The flash from the camera scares animals and the county officials just aren’t going to stand by and let shelter pets be frightened.  After all, there’s killing to be done – lots of it.  Calm, friendly killing – not like the flash of a camera.

If for some insane reason you are still not feeling reassured, I got you:

County Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat, said the shelter has made strides in overcoming past issues. He trusts it’s being run well.

“Every time there’s a policy, there’s a reason,” he said.

So there you go.  There’s some reason for the photo ban.  This guy apparently doesn’t know what that reason may be but strides have been made and everything is fine, probably.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Lake Co Pound Director Kills 147 animals in 9 Days, Gets Fired

Last year, Jacquelyn Johnston was a clinic supervisor at the Miami Dade pound.  She killed animals for convenience in spite of the fact that the county commission had unanimously passed a no kill resolution after voters overwhelmingly demanded it.  In an e-mail to rescuers last summer, Johnston described some of the pets she was going to kill unless rescuers saved them with just a few hours notice:

“Sweet big boy, now has URI’’ — upper respiratory infection.

“Nervous and shy, but warms up if you spend time with her.’’

“Older pet but would make a great senior retiree…’’

“Adopter never showed up, super sweet, already spayed, 35-40 lbs.’’

“This is the one who came in from a caring homeless man, conformed pittie’’ — pit bull terrier, illegal in Miami-Dade

“Has ticks that we are treating. Needs out by tomorrow, no more time.’’

“Just a puppy and been here too long.’’

On October 1, the troubled Lake Co pound in FL hired Johnston as director. The sheriff’s office that runs the pound reportedly clearly explained to Johnston that getting animals out alive was her number one priority and that killing animals was only to be done as a last resort.

Johnston apparently thought she was in keeping with this directive when she immediately embarked on a massive killing spree. In nine days, Johnston had killed 147 animals. Someone alerted the sheriff’s office and Johnston was fired on the spot. Too late for 147 animals, including “some dogs that could have made good pets for people” according to Lt. John Herell with the sheriff’s office.  But let’s face it, the death toll could have climbed even higher had she not been shown the door.

While I do not claim to know what Johnston was thinking while she was on her killfest at Lake Co, it seems to me the situation is symptomatic of our broken shelter system.  Instead of sheltering animals, they kill them.  Instead of calling it killing (which is what it is), they call it euthanasia – a kindness.  Instead of doing their jobs to protect and rehome animals, they violate their most basic right – the right to live.  When we criticize them for killing, they tell us they are doing the best they can, we all want the same thing and that we shouldn’t judge unless we are willing to go down there and kill animals ourselves.

Everything is ass backwards and tragically, this is the norm, not the exception in our broken shelter system.  When you explain to someone who would kill “just a puppy” for convenience that killing is a last resort at your facility and her job is to get animals out alive, she likely recognized the same old song and dance.  Riiiight, nobody wants to kill animals, nudge nudge, wink wink.

And then she started in doing what she apparently perceived to be her job:  Say one thing publicly, do the opposite behind closed doors.  Call it pet overpopulation, kill animals.  Blame the irresponsible public, kill animals.  Say you’re doing your best to get pets into homes, kill animals.  This is what these people do.  They are monsters.  I don’t know if they were always monsters or if working a job where they kill friendly dogs and cats for a paycheck made them that way, nor do I care.  What I care about is saving shelter pets.

If Lake Co cared about protecting the lives of the animals in their care, they wouldn’t have given this new hire a few talking points, a box of Fatal Plus and sent her on her way.  Lake Co should have built protections for the animals into the system.  No animal killing without veterinary authorization, for example.  No animal killing without approval from the sheriff’s office.  No animal killing without a minimum 2 business days notice posted online listing all animals to be killed along with their photos.  But apparently all Lake Co gave Johnston was the key to the drug cupboard and a nudge nudge wink wink directive that killing is a last resort.

Johnston is not an anomaly.  She is typical of the type of long term employee who seeks out work in pet killing facilities.  She knew the routine.  She listened to the Lake Co sheriff’s office talk about saving animals and got the message:  kill.  This is why shelter reform is so desperately needed in this country.  Not only are shelters killing animals, they are employing monsters.  In Lake Co, Johnston was stopped and the animals she hadn’t yet managed to kill got lucky.

Are the animals housed in your local pet killing facility lucky?  Or is the director there still killing at will, probably with the support of your elected officials who don’t care to know the truth?  And are you being marginalized for your animal advocacy, being told you don’t understand what a hard job it is and that nobody wants to kill animals?

To the person or persons who spoke up for the animals being needlessly killed in Lake County – thank you.  Keep going.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Helmetta Pound Mired in Failure, Director Appears Oblivious

After receiving a number of complaints regarding the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ, the Middlesex County Health Department inspected the pound on September 26 and September 30.  The South Brunswick Post reports that the first inspection report indicated multiple problems including the importation of dogs from the south without proper health certificates, housing healthy cats in the isolation area with sick cats, failure to record identification numbers on dog and cat records, failure to record parvo test results and cages not being cleaned with appropriate frequency.

Also on September 26, a letter from the Director of the Office of Health Services for the Middlesex Department of Public Safety and Health to the Helmetta pound advised that a cat was adopted out and subsequently diagnosed with panleukopenia.  The letter indicated “that all felines adopted within the next 10 calendar days must be seen by a veterinarian and cleared for adoption prior to finalizing of said adoption.”

This lead to conflicting reports of whether the Helmetta pound was closed for adoptions or not.  Pound director Michal Cielesz further muddied the waters by making what appear to be wildly contradictory statements to the South Brunswick Post:

“We are doing our due diligence to make sure we do the right thing,” she said.
[...]
Ms. Cielesz said that there were two or three cats in the adoption room with “upper respiratory infections coming on.”

We’re doing the right thing but there are sick cats in the adoption room with healthy cats?

“The cats were checked in the morning and we had a vet here,” she said. “We were examining the kittens. The kittens were bright, alert, and responsive. We came back a half a hour later and (one had) passed away. I don’t know what happened and there was a veterinarian here.”

Bright, alert and responsive to dead in 30 minutes or less?  How does this not raise an All Hands on Deck emergency within a shelter housing 150 cats?

But this isn’t the Helmetta pound’s first rodeo.  The NJ SPCA has also issued written warnings to the facility and will conduct unannounced follow up inspections to verify compliance.  And the New Jersey State Humane Police sent a letter to the Helmetta Borough Administrator last month regarding an investigation conducted in August.  The issues detailed in that letter include “failure to supply a living animal necessary care” for 3 sick kittens and administering improper doses of medicine to animals.

The Helmetta pound kills feral cats as a matter of policy.  And not only are they importing animals from the south, they reportedly shipped a group of cats to a shelter in SC.  Gee, last I checked, we have plenty of shelter cats already in SC.  And since most of them are going to the landfill, there is no way we should be importing more from NJ.  I don’t know what brain trust was behind that brilliant plan but hopefully they’ll go back to their day jobs soon.

In the meantime, the Helmetta pound director dismisses critics because haters gonna hate:

“It’s a personal campaign,” Ms. Cielesz said. “It’s not about the animals. I don’t think this (controversy) benefits the animals.”

Well it doesn’t “benefit the animals” in the same way that housing sick cats with healthy ones does or setting up shop as an animal importer/exporter when you can’t manage to get vet care for sick kittens or even notice when one is just minutes away from death.  But yeah, it’s prolly a personal thing.  Whaddaya gonna do?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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