The Santa Clara Co Animal Care and Control facility in CA took in roughly 2500 dogs and cats last year. Since 2008, the shelter has gotten its pet food for free from Hill’s (makers of Science Diet) in exchange for pushing the products on its website and to adopters. The contract is up for renewal and county supervisor Joe Simitian raised what sound like legitimate concerns at a recent county board meeting:
For starters, the county was giving the phone numbers and email addresses of adopting families to Hill’s, raising privacy concerns.
Moreover, the shelter wasn’t explaining why it was recommending the dog food. “The public doesn’t know the reason we’re hyping the dog food is that we’re getting it for free,” Simitian said, castigating the staff for using verbatim Hill’s language in its report.
And finally, the food has gotten less-than-rave reviews.
What are your thoughts? Shame on the county supervisor for throwing a monkey wrench into the free food deal which reportedly saves the county $19k a year? Shame on Hill’s for only offering to feed shelter pets for free if the shelter agrees to hand over personal information on adopters and read them their sales scripts? Shame on the county for failing to seek out other companies which might want to donate food for the shelter pets, simply as a charitable act? Is there some compromise which might be workable for Santa Clara Co? On the bigger issue of corporate shelter donations, should there be an industry standard where the donor is recognized in some form (e.g. via a plaque on the shelter wall) but not to the extent that Hill’s requires?
American Humane Association brings the drama:
The numbers are sobering: Every year, some 7-8 million animals end up in our nation’s shelters, which struggle valiantly to provide life-saving services to them. Nearly 4 million are euthanized. Now, new research published by American Humane Association indicates that hundreds of thousands of animals who manage to get adopted from the nation’s shelters are no longer in their homes six months later. These staggering statistics do not even factor in the number of homeless pets abandoned by their former owners to the streets, who wander aimlessly without a roof over their heads, unsure of when their next meal will be. What can be done to get these animals in to loving, forever homes?
Oh noes! This sounds terrible. Hundreds of thousands of shelter pets being jettisoned from their homes in addition to the untold hordes of pets already turned out into the streets. It’s little wonder any of us can make it out to the mailbox without wading through a sea of homeless pets. Adoption is pointless. There’s no way out. I see that now. Oh! This is the big one! I’m coming, Elizabeth!
Before I depart this mortal coil though, let’s take a look at the AHA study. The survey included 572 recent adopters from 3 cities – Charlotte, Ft. Worth and Denver. In each city, adopters were selected from one municipal facility and one private shelter. Results determined that roughly 90% of the adopters still had their pets after 6 months. Approximately 5% had returned the pets to the shelter and the remaining pets had been rehomed, gotten lost or died.
Gee, when I type it all out, it doesn’t sound so TerribleHorribleReallyQuiteBad anymore.
Let’s go back to that dreadful news on the AHA website:
New study: 1 in 10 adopted pets gone within six months
“Gone” sounds so, I don’t know – final. Like they were sold for use in the slave trade in some faraway land. Or they were fitted with cement shoes and tossed into the river because they couldn’t repay their gambling debts. But really, what the AHA study found was that 90% of adopters kept their pets. Isn’t that kinda yay? And 5% returned the pets to the shelter – the safe haven, if you will – presumably because the pet wasn’t a good fit for their family. Isn’t that kind of expected? And the remaining 5% either had a pet get lost or die or gave them to someone else. Again, this falls under the expected category to me, not the Hair on Fire Emergency that AHA seems to think it is. Things happen. Pets get lost. Pets die. People die. Pets need to be rehomed. No need to deploy the National Guard.
I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t read most of the rest of the study. You might like to read it in full. In the main, I don’t trust AHA since they kill dogs and cats. But with this study specifically, they seem to be making a mountain – a fiery, ash-spewing type of mountain – out of a molehill. I am concerned though that AHA may attempt to use the findings to encourage shelters to restrict adoptions even further. Better dead than taking a chance on anything else, right?
Overall, my take on this study is this:
- 90% pet retention 6 months post adoption=pretty good.
- 5% return rate=about what I’d expect.
- 5% other life stuff happens rate=about what I’d expect.
Stand down. Unbunch your panties. Keep calm and keep adopting.
Maricopa Co ACC in AZ impounded this obviously pregnant dog as a stray on April 22, 2013. Records obtained via FOIA request indicate that four days later the pound’s vet cut out her uterus which contained 10 full term puppies, old enough to survive outside the womb. These pups had a right to live. Medical records contain no mention of how the uterus containing the puppies was disposed of nor is there any notation of Fatal Plus being administered to the pups. They were presumably thrown into the trash can to suffocate and die.
Although this poor dog was cruelly subjected to a behavioral evaluation just 3 days after the killing of her pups, she passed. The day after, Maricopa Co noted she was “not kenneling well” and put her on the kill list. This dog had a right to live. Mercifully the so-called irresponsible public came through to save this dog from additional harm at the pound and she was taken in by a rescue group.
Remind me again how the mistreatment and killing of pets in animal shelters is the public’s fault?
From an article in the Las Cruces Sun-News titled “Report: Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley kill rate drops in 2012“:
The center took in more than 13,000 animals last year and just over half were euthanized.
The number is a 17 percent decrease from 2011.
Although the title of the piece specifically references a drop in the shelter’s kill rate, the “17 percent decrease” cited is reflective of actual numbers, irrespective of intake, which is misleading. In fact, the actual kill rate at this facility decreased a mere 5% from 2011 to 2012. (See page 13 of the shelter’s annual report for 2012.) The stunningly minor decrease in killing makes the director’s enthusiasm all the more confusing:
“Finally the programs that were implemented in 2008 are starting to bear fruit,” said center director Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, who took the helm in 2008. “You can see the euthanasia numbers are really, really dropping. It’s finally coming together.”
I was unable to locate any 2008 stats for this facility but on page 10 of the 2010 annual report, it says the 2009 kill rate was 60% and the 2010 kill rate was 56%. In 2011, the kill rate was 57% and in 2012 it was 52%. So taking into account the publicly available information for the kill rates in the years 2009 through 2012, there is an 8% decrease. The suggested 17% decrease in kill rates does not exist anywhere. The main thing happening at this facility is dog and cat killing – same as it ever was. It’s been 5 years. How many more years are needed before the staff start doing their jobs and stop killing pets?
In 2012, Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley killed more than 3100 animals for being feral or timid. Over 1200 animals were killed for space with the vast majority of them being Pitbulls. A greater number were killed for treatable medical conditions such as coughs, colds, ringworm, and tragically – pregnancy. (See page 11 of the 2012 annual report.)
“It’s finally coming together” would probably be the last words that spring to mind in describing this pet killing facility. More like, it’s continuing to come apart. I guess I see why the director attempted to spin the numbers to fool taxpayers and donors. It’s not like telling the truth would be a good option if all you had to show for your years of work was a landfill bursting with tens of thousands of dead dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. Assuming you wanted to keep your job killing animals, that is.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)
May 6, 2013
Between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012, Lake Co Animal Services in FL took in 13,527 animals. A recent audit revealed that 1609 of them remained unaccounted for. The pound’s recordkeeping is so slipshod that the species isn’t even reliably accurate on any given animal (e.g. cats identified by staff as dogs).
The pound is not air conditioned and in fact the feral cat rooms and isolation areas do not have exterior doors or windows. As such, the doors to these areas are left propped open in an attempt to get air which utterly defeats the purpose of having separate areas for feral cats and sick animals. Iso is kept dark unless a person goes in there and needs light. Every pet in the facility is caged virtually 24/7.
There was some sort of shady financial activity going on with the pound’s rescue coordinator receiving money personally in the form of “pledges”. Rescue groups have better access to the animals at the pound than the general public does and some of the animals go straight to rescue without ever being offered to the public at all.
During FY 2012, the pound killed 4571 animals. The decision process sounds to me as if it basically involved an individual walking the cages and picking pets for the kill room. The reason for killing an animal is not noted in the animal’s record.
Read the full audit here.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)
On the home page of the Lexington-Fayette Animal Care & Control website, it says “EVERY DAY, the dedicated staff of lfacc… Provides safe shelter and care to stray and homeless animals.” Apparently Sunday was not “EVERY DAY” because on Sunday, the KY pound picked up a lost Chihuahua named Peanut and killed him.
Saturday night, Peanut had followed his little girl down the street to a friend’s house. From there, he got lost. The family searched for him and ultimately learned the public agency charged with protecting Peanut had instead oops-killed him:
Animal Control is supposed to keep stray dogs for five days. Peanut was euthanized after one. Animal Care and Control officials didn’t want to talk on camera, but they said over the phone that when they brought Peanut in, he failed a health and temperament screening, then someone mistakenly thought he’d already been there for five days. That’s when the decision was made to euthanize him.
No animal coming into a shelter should receive a temperament test immediately since pets are naturally scared and out of sorts upon impound. No temperament test should be used as an excuse to kill a pet under any circumstances. And mandatory holding periods are in place for a reason – so families can find their missing family members.
Although the pound refused to speak about Peanut’s killing on camera, they offered an entirely vague reassurance that some unnamed person is to blame and has been fired. Put me down in the NOT REASSURED column on that. If the pound is contending that the decision to kill animals rests solely with one employee, that is yet another failure to provide true shelter to pets.
Pets are family. Any questions?
Fair Warning: Anyone who attempts to come on the blog and blame the owners for Peanut’s killing for not keeping him confined, not having him chipped or any other reason is going to be on the receiving end of a virtual boot. Whatever anyone’s opinion of Peanut’s owners, they loved him and they did not kill him. The pound did that – illegally and immorally. The pound is supposed to be there to protect pets when they are in need. Instead of offering Peanut protection, Lexington-Fayette AC & C killed him.
No one has been criminally charged for the illegal killing of Peanut as far as I know, nor do I expect that to happen. Because in our broken shelter system, killing is the default and failure of shelter personnel to follow the mandatory holding period laws is looked upon as nothing more than oops. Moreover, your standard fare pet killing in so-called shelters is exempt from the normal animal cruelty laws applicable to the so-called irresponsible public.
(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)
April 26, 2013
Remember when Kern Co pound director Jen Woodard noted in a report that one of the problems in the community is ignorance of “basic pet responsibility” which she attributed to the notion that “much of the community is uninterested in hearing this message”? Now hear this: Last week at the Kern Co pound, one dog killed another when they were left together unattended in a cage. Pairing animals is apparently a common practice at Kern Co:
Woodard says with up to 100 animals coming in each day to the shelter, separate kennels for all is impossible. But, officers evaluate every dog individually before it’s paired with others of comparable size. In this case, Woodard says neither dog had acted aggressively before.
Here is my concern: With up to 100 animals coming in daily, are officers being given sufficient time to evaluate dogs and are the dogs being given sufficient time to settle in at the pound before being evaluated? Of equal importance, are the officers trained as behaviorists? Or are the people doing the evaluating just winging it in between killing puppies with adopters waiting and hiding from the media?
I am all for pairing up pets to save lives if necessary but as with all things, there are ways to do it responsibly and ways that are going to result in dogs being mauled to death in the night. If Kern Co is pairing up animals responsibly to save lives, it’s not evident to me in this article. Especially when I read this bit near the end:
Woodard says since no one was there to witness what happened, they’ve scheduled a necropsy on the dog that died.
Way to dodge. The dog that died reportedly had bloody neck wounds consistent with a dog mauling. But yeah, maybe he had high cholesterol or aliens experimented on him or something. Doing the necropsy might have some value, except they already killed the other dog in the cage. Apparently Kern Co doesn’t require witnesses for that.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)
Rufus, a 1 one year old Beagle in Orange Co, FL was surrendered by his owner to AC after he bit a kid in the face. The owner, Nicole West, was reportedly filling the dog’s food bowl when her 4 year old son came up behind the dog and accidentally startled him. Rufus bit the kid’s lip and sutures were required.
West says she was told the beagle would be “tested for aggression,” and if he was found not to be aggressive, Rufus would be put up for adoption. But last week, West learned that her former pet was scheduled to be euthanized because of the severity of the bite.
The West family never believed there was any chance that Rufus would be killed and when they learned otherwise, they retained a lawyer to fight for his right to live. The attorney has filed an injunction to stop the killing temporarily and the family has utilized social media to spread awareness of the dog’s plight. Not only is the local news following the story now, but the mayor is involved as well. She has issued a statement saying that the dog will be well cared for by the pound while the legal case proceeds.
One of the most troubling aspects to this case is the pound’s position that Rufus must be killed because FL state law says so:
Orange County Animal Services has gone on record, saying because of the severity of the injury, state statute says they must euthanize Rufus even if the dog is not found to be aggressive.
Read the FL statutes about dogs who bite for yourself. I am not a lawyer but what I see is an outline for a legal process to determine whether a dog is dangerous after his first bite. I see nothing that indicates the pound is required to kill any dog after his first bite, regardless of the severity.
The pound’s position makes me concerned not only for Rufus but for all the other dogs who may have bitten a person or animal in Orange Co. How long has the pound been misrepresenting the law with regard to killing dogs who bite? How many dogs have they killed already and how many are they going to kill under this false representation that the state law requires it? Many dogs don’t have an owner with an attorney to protect them from Orange Co Animal Services. Is the mayor concerned about that?
(Thank you to everyone who sent me links about Rufus.)
Most readers here are aware that PETA does not shelter pets but instead kills almost every single dog and cat they take in at their Virginia “shelter”. The No Kill Advocacy Center has filed a petition with the state of Virginia to remove PETA’s designation as a shelter. The state had looked into doing this in recent years but I never heard of any resolution to the matter. The No Kill Advocacy Center has gotten the ball rolling again.
Make no mistake, removing PETA’s designation as a “shelter” is not merely a matter of semantics. If successful, the action would result in an end to the current practice of killing almost everything under PETA’s roof:
Since employees of “animal shelters” are the only non-veterinarians authorized by Virginia law to kill animals, removing PETA’s designation as a shelter will put the brakes on PETA killing.
While it’s true PETA may be able to find one or more veterinarians to work with them on future killing efforts, the group would no longer have a blank check from the state to kill pets as Ingrid Newkirk or anyone else at PETA sees fit.
Please send a brief note to the contacts below, requesting they grant the No Kill Advocacy Center’s petition to strip PETA’s Virginia pet killing facility of its designation as a “shelter”. As always, keep your comments polite and respectful in order to help the animals most effectively.
- Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Matt Lohr: e-mail email@example.com , Twitter @mjlohr71
- Virginia Animal Shelter Inspector Dr. Dan Kovich: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
A sample note which anyone is free to copy or modify:
As a compassionate person concerned about the welfare of dogs and cats, I want to make sure you know PETA does not speak for me. I do not support PETA’s killing of animals at its Virginia facility and I agree with the state’s findings that PETA is not an animal shelter. Please grant the petition from the No Kill Advocacy Center to remove PETA’s designation as an animal shelter.
@Mjlohr71 Please remove PETA’s “shelter” designation. PETA does not shelter animals, it kills them. I love pets & PETA doesn’t represent me.
April 15, 2013
South Bend Animal Care and Control in Indiana has had the same director, Gary Libbey, for 17 years. The shelter used to be in an old fire house but moved to a new $1.5 million building last year. WSBT.com reports the pound’s kill rate for 2012 was 66%. The director offered the standard excuses for the fact that he has operated the “shelter” primarily as a pet killing facility:
- The pound is open admission.
- They’re doing the best they can to get pets adopted.
- Shelter pet killing is unavoidable.
- There are too many animals, not enough homes.
But here’s something you don’t read every day: The city fired the director this month and is looking to move in a different direction.
Reacting to the news Wednesday, local animal activist Bill Sykes, who often butted heads with Libbey over the issue of euthanasia, stated, “I’m just glad things are headed in a new direction now.”
“We need someone in there who is compassionate and has empathy for discriminated against animals,” including feral cats and “pit bull-type” dogs, Sykes said.
Sounds good. But I couldn’t help but be concerned when I read this bit:
Common Council member Valerie Schey, president of Community Animal Rescue Effort, or CARE, of South Bend and a volunteer at the city’s animal shelter, agreed.
“Even though we’ve made significant strides in the care we provide with the new building, I still don’t feel the (euthanasia) numbers are where they need to be,” Schey said.
Schey said the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of animal rescue groups and shelters that works with Animal Care and Control in that city, serves as a good model for lowering the euthanasia rate here.
I dislike hearing talk of getting kill numbers “where they need to be”. It could be simply a matter of word choice but I am partial to terms such as “ending the killing” and “saving every healthy/treatable pet”. But if you are looking toward to the Mayor’s Alliance as your model for less killing, that’s not word choice, that’s just a really bad idea.
I hope for the sake of South Bend’s lost and homeless pets, the change in leadership brings about meaningful reform. The director position remains vacant as far as I can tell. The pound’s website still has the former director’s name and contact number listed.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)