Shelters Must Be Prepared to Help Surrendered Animals Even When Forms Aren’t Completed in Triplicate

Animal advocates have been hearing for years from people who kill animals at shelters that the public is irresponsible, that pet owners are animal dumpers and that death is better for many pets than being adopted out to a home.  We know all those things to be false, obviously.  But among too many shelter workers, there persists a judgmental attitude toward anyone surrendering a pet.  The notion that the surrendering party is trying to do right by the animal by taking him to a place with the words ANIMAL SHELTER on the sign is lost on those who insist on branding these people as trash.

The truth is, no one at an animal shelter knows for sure why a pet is being surrendered.  The surrendering party may relate circumstances regarding the pet that are fabricated, for example.  This might be attributable to the person’s unwillingness to explain his personal circumstances (terminal illness, eviction, domestic abuse, etc.) to a stranger.  The surrendering party may be unable to relate the true circumstances regarding the pet due to mental illness  (e.g. someone who suffers from delusions).  Sometimes people surrendering pets make up stories that they believe will prevent the staff from immediately killing the animal (e.g. claiming an owned pet to be a stray and therefore subject to a mandatory holding period).  The bottom line is that pets can not speak and the person speaking for them may or may not be relating the full and complete history associated with the animal.  Shelter staff absolutely must take this into account when accepting animals.

Beyond this, and regardless of any shelter worker’s personal feelings, staff members must do their jobs.  That is, when you hang out a shingle that says ANIMAL SHELTER and someone brings you an animal in need of shelter, do it.  It would be ideal if every surrendering party complied with all your requests such as scheduling an appointment, completing a surrender form and providing the pet’s vet records.  But in real life, that’s not always going to happen.  Be prepared for it.  Expect it.  Handle it.  Above all, take the animal that is in front of your face.  That animal may be lost, stolen, abused, sick or simply homeless – you don’t know for certain.  The only thing that is 100% verifiable is that someone has brought you the pet and told you there is no one to provide care for him.  Do your job.  Take that animal and shelter him while things get sorted.

Tragically, too many shelters stand on ceremony when it comes to accepting pets being surrendered.  If the surrendering party does not comply with one or more of the required protocols, the shelter attempts to refuse service – a service the staff is being paid by the public to provide.  This leaves the animal completely unprotected, which is the opposite of what the shelter is there to do.

Dog chasing vehicle after failed surrender at Denver Animal Shelter, as shown on TheDenverChannel.com.

Dog chasing vehicle after failed surrender at Denver Animal Shelter, as shown on TheDenverChannel.com.

Last week, a man tried to surrender a dog at the Denver Animal Shelter in CO.  He declined to complete the surrender form and presumably some sort of confrontation occurred, resulting in the man running from the lobby to his vehicle.  He tried to leave the dog in the lobby but the dog got outside and chased after the man’s car.  Witnesses say the man ran over the dog before picking him up.  When the man returned later that day and again attempted to surrender the dog, the shelter staff apparently insisted on the completion of the surrender form which caused a problem and resulted in the man running to his vehicle and the dog chasing after him.  Again.

The Denver Animal Shelter staff appears to have been unprepared to help the dog the first time the man attempted to surrender him.  That’s failure number one.  But for the staff to intentionally initiate a repeat of the failure when the man brought the dog back is positively outrageous.  At that point, the staff knew the dog was in need and knew the man did not want to fill out the form.  Failing to protect the dog a second time after witnessing the disastrous results of their first failure is unacceptable.

It is currently unknown whether the dog is alive.  The man told a local news reporter that he drove to Los Angeles and abandoned the dog on the street.  That’s one of his stories anyway.  Who knows what really happened to the dog?  The only thing we know for sure is that the staff at the Denver Animal Shelter did not help the pet when he was in need – which was their job – twice.  But staff did do one thing – they issued a citation to the man for cruelty and neglect.  He is due in court on July 2.  Yay animal “shelter”.

(Thanks Davyd for the link.)

 

Chicago Pound Oops-Kills One Dog, Chokepoles Another to Death

Chance, as pictured on the Chicago Sun-Times website.

Chance, as pictured on the Chicago Sun-Times website.

The long troubled Chicago pound is again in the news – and not in the Good News column.  An article in the Chicago Sun-Times states that Chance, a stray dog at the pound who was slated for rescue, was killed because “a city employee neglected to put the dog on a do-not-kill list.”   Oops.

Pro tip:  If you are an animal shelter, ALL THE ANIMALS are on the do-not-kill list.

In addition, another pound employee recently strangled a dog to death on a chokepole as he was being impounded.  The pound’s director adds in the usual element of mystery in explaining away the dog’s killing:

Sandra Alfred, executive director of Animal Care, said “we don’t know exactly how” that dog died but added that “the staff could have acted more appropriately than they did.”

The dog could have had terminal cancer and his time on this earth happened to expire at the moment he was being strangled at the pound. That totally could have happened.

The employee who strangled the dog could receive a “severe” suspension of 20 days or more. Possibly. Unless, you know, cancer.

A donor committed to giving $2 million to the Chicago pound for renovations complained to city officials after Chance’s oops-killing.  Maybe that will get the attention of someone who makes policy at the pound.  Because obviously needless pet torture and killing won’t.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

IL Pound Uses Holding Period as an Excuse to Extend Dog’s Suffering

Dear Animal Shelters,

1.  Don’t kill our pets.

2.  Don’t leave our sick or injured pets to suffer without veterinary care.

Sincerely, 

Everyone

Pets impounded at shelters are either lost, in which case their owners want them back, or they are in need of a home, in which case the shelter should release them to an adopter or a rescue group so that can happen.  Since it is unknown which category strays fall under at the time of impound, the shelter staff should get to work right away to determine that.  Check the pet for an ID tag and scan him for a microchip.  If either is found, start making calls to find the owner.  Photograph the pet and post him online.  Check the shelter’s lost pet list along with the local lost pet listings online and in the newspaper.  Shelter the animal for at least the mandatory holding period so that his owner can reclaim him.

Concurrently, get the pet checked out by a veterinarian.  Determine if he is in need of treatment.  If the need for veterinary care is urgent – that is, if it would cause the pet to suffer pain or other harm by not receiving treatment during the holding period – treat the pet.  Continue looking for the owner while the pet is receiving the needed vet care.  If the shelter refuses to provide care for stray pets, issue an immediate plea to the public for a foster or rescuer to provide the urgent vet care during the holding period while the owner is being sought by the shelter.  Obtain the urgent vet care – do not allow the pet to suffer simply because the shelter has not yet determined if the pet will be reunited with an existing owner or adopted to a new one.

This is so not hard.  Not killing impounded strays while simultaneously looking for a possible owner and obtaining vet care is an actual thing that is being done by hundreds of open admission no kill shelters all around the country.  Yet many pet killing facilities view these actions as contradictory in nature.  Owned cats are killed during the holding period for being elderly,  for exhibiting normal behavior after being trapped, and because some people get a thrill out of killing friendly kittens.  Owned dogs are killed during the holding period because staff allowed them to get into a fight with another dog, for being elderly, and because someone in the police department decides to play vet.

To make matters worse, so-called animal advocacy groups such as HSUS and Maddie’s Fund are actively encouraging shelters to not hold unidentified cats so their owners can find them but to instead give them to strangers as fast as they can get them out the door.  When did stray pets become the disfigured stepchild we need to keep chained in the attic?

In Granite City, IL last weekend, AC impounded a seriously injured dog as a stray.  Instead of looking for the owner while getting him the vet care he needed, AC apparently did nothing but toss him in a cage.  The dog’s hip was dislocated and his leg was missing bone and tendons.  Volunteers and rescuers advocated for the dog, offering to take him to a vet for desperately needed treatment of his injuries.  But AC refused all offers, citing the mandatory holding period as an excuse to extend the dog’s suffering for days.  Rescuers ultimately did the pound staff’s job for them and located the owner, who opted to surrender the dog due to an inability to pay for care.

Local pet lovers raised hell over the pound’s mistreatment of the dog, who is now receiving care at a local vet clinic.  In response, the mayor advised AC that in future, pound staff should not sling suffering pets into cages and leave them there for days simply because there is a holding period but instead should contact rescue groups so that urgent vet care can be obtained.

Just so we’re clear:  The mayor had to tell AC not to leave stray pets in pain for days on end and explain that the words “holding period” and “urgent vet care” are not impossible to reconcile.  If I am this mayor, I’m wondering what the hell else needs to be explained to the staff at the pound.

Holding periods are supposed to be a protective measure to prevent families from being torn apart.  They aren’t supposed to be eliminated because shelter directors won’t do their jobs.  They aren’t supposed to be used against us with egregious violations in the form of killings or an excuse to force an injured pet to suffer.  Shelter directors don’t get to punish the public by hurting our lost pets.  It’s obvious what holding periods are for and it has to do with protecting the human-animal bond, not using them as a weapon.

The dog who suffered at the hands of Granite City AC may lose his leg as a result.  But yeah, we all want the same thing and don’t be negative and blah.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

 

FL Pound Kills 16 Dogs in Response to Parvo Outbreak, Cites ASPCA Guidelines

Last Monday, Lake County commissioners “began investigating the deaths of several puppies which appear not to have received the proper vaccinations before they were cleared for adoption” at the pound.  On Tuesday, one dog, followed by several more at the Lake Co pound, reportedly began exhibiting parvo-like symptoms.  On Wednesday, the county veterinarian recommended shutting down the facility – dog adoptions and intakes were both halted.  That night, asymptomatic dogs were given booster vaccinations.  By Thursday, cat adoptions had also been suspended.  Somewhere in there, 16 symptomatic dogs were killed.  I have found no publicly available information indicating any dog was ever tested for parvo or diagnosed by a veterinarian.

The county claims that all animals are vaccinated upon intake but given the current investigation, that appears to be questionable.  When asked why the 16 dogs did not receive supportive care, Brian Sheahan, Lake Co community safety and compliance director, offered 2 justifications for the killings:  treatment is “extraordinarily expensive” (not necessarily) and the county is “following the ASPCA guidelines” regarding parvo.  That second thing appears to be accurate, tragically.

The ASPCA recommendations for shelters which have one dog diagnosed with parvo are the same for those with more than one dog diagnosed:

Dogs that are owned by the shelter but not strong adoption candidates are immediately euthanized.

As for the definition of “not strong adoption candidates” – it’s anything goes.  And if that’s not broad enough for you, the ASPCA gives additional leeway:

Dogs and puppies diagnosed with CPV may be euthanized for the following reasons:

1) No space at veterinary clinic to treat
2) Not adoption candidate
3) Failure to improve with treatment (defined by shelter veterinary discretion)
4) Parvo in addition to other illness

It’s disappointing to see that the ASPCA is not only providing cover for the needless killing of shelter pets but hasn’t updated its guidelines to reflect lifesaving as a priority for shelters dealing with parvo.  Diagnosis of disease is never a license to kill pets.  Decisions must be made on an individual basis utilizing the prognosis for each animal provided by a veterinarian.  It’s unclear if testing even occurred at Lake Co, let alone obtaining a prognosis for each individual dog from a vet.

Lake Co is no stranger to failure.  The public has long been critical of the needless pet killing at the facility.  The current director, on the job for just months, is quitting.  The county manager stated last week that he would request an audit of the pound’s intake and vaccination protocols.  Wow, you really want to go that far?  Color me underwhelmed.

Apparently the county politicians are only interested in scraping the tip of the iceberg then applying a band-aid to the pound’s image.  I hope the public will continue to demand meaningful reform at the Lake Co pound, including the implementation of the proven programs of the No Kill Equation.  Continued killing while hiding behind the skirts of the ASPCA is not going to cut it.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Fitchburg Animal Control Kills Owned Pet During Holding Period

Capone, as pictured on the WHDH website.

Capone, as pictured on the WHDH website.

On April 20, 2014, MA pet owner Maghan Moynihan says her family’s 2 year old dog Capone escaped through an open door while not wearing his collar.  She immediately got in her car, searching for him on every street in the area.  She also called Fitchburg ACO Sue Kowaleski, with whom she had established a relationship due to Capone’s previous escapes, to advise that he was lost.

Ms. Moynihan says she didn’t receive a return phone call from the ACO until Tuesday morning.  Oddly, the ACO was calling to ask her if Capone had ever been aggressive.  Ms. Moynihan said that Capone had absolutely never displayed any aggression and that she trusted the gentle pet with her children, ages 4 and 8.  Odder still, the ACO showed up at the Moynihan family’s home a few hours later.  This time, the ACO requested Ms. Moynihan and her partner drive down to the pound to identify a stray dog whom the pound had killed for aggression recently. That dog was Capone:

“It was horrible. He was freezing cold. He was on a table. They had a blanket over him. They pulled it down to show us the face. We all lost it in there.”

Ms. Moynihan was heartbroken and wants to know what happened but the pound has provided very little information to date. It is known that Capone got into a building on the day he escaped where a Good Samaritan held onto him until AC arrived. The Good Sam, who was with Capone most of the day, described the dog as being friendly to him and his girlfriend, growling only at their dog and at the ACO who impounded him with a chokepole.

Regarding the circumstances that resulted in Capone’s quick killing:

Amy Egeland, the part-time manager of the Fitchburg Animal Shelter, also said she is unable to comment because of the investigation. The shelter is mostly staffed by volunteers, including Carol Stacy who said Capone was a vicious, aggressive dog that indirectly caused Egeland to be injured and was a known problem animal in another city.
[...]

Stacy said Capone was aggressive and tried to escape his cage in front of Egeland and visiting certified animal experts who train and evaluate the visitors. Stacy said Capone got halfway out of his cage and attacked another dog, which became agitated and attacked Egeland.

So it was the other dog, not Capone, who injured the shelter manager.  But Capone, having bitten no person, is the one who had to be killed?

He was a problem in another city? Does the city of Fitchburg play the Telephone Game in order to determine which pets they want to kill?

Fitchburg staff and/or vols failed to keep Capone properly confined at the pound and allowed him to get into a fight with another dog they had irresponsibly placed directly in front of his cage. Then they killed him, effectively destroying the evidence of any wrongdoing.

“It wasn’t that sweet little dog people are making it out to be,” said Stacy.

This is how the Fitchburg vols talk about family pets who were killed during the holding period? Just eww.

The city now claims that ACO Kowaleski was sick on the day Capone escaped and did not receive Ms. Moynihan’s message. Though ACO Kowaleski was apparently available to talk on the phone to Ms. Stacy regarding Capone:

She said Kowaleski was notified of what happened but did not see Capone. Kowaleski authorized [Assistant ACO Michael] East to euthanize the animal, Stacy said.

The city of Fitchburg’s website gives ACO Kowaleski’s phone number as the solitary contact for owners to report lost pets.  There are no other contact names or numbers.  The opening sentence on the pound’s Petfinder page reads:

Fitchburg Animal Shelter holds all stray dogs for 7 days.

I keep going back to that initial phone call to the owner by the ACO on Tuesday morning, asking if Capone was aggressive. Does this whole thing not reek of cover-up?

The city of Fitchburg still has not provided Ms. Moynihan with answers regarding why Capone was killed during the holding period. The city police department is investigating the city AC department in the matter. Ms. Moynihan wants the person who authorized Capone’s killing to be fired. And she wants people to know that her pet was family to her:

“He loved playing with other dogs, he loved playing with the kids. He was just like my son. Just another kid.”

Fitchburg taxpayers, this is your animal “shelter”. Demand that the city staff start doing their jobs to shelter animals and hold lost pets so their owners can reclaim them. Maybe if the city starts doing its job instead of killing owned pets, the pound might attract more compassionate volunteers, which would also be a plus.

(Thanks Clarice and Bonnie for sending me this story.)

A Betrayal of Trust in Fort Worth

Sid , as pictured on the CBS website

Sid, as pictured on the CBS website

A complaint reportedly filed with the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners by pet owners Jamie and Marian Harris alleges the following:

  • In May 2013, the Harris family brought their 175 pound dog Sid to the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas for treatment of an anal gland problem.
  • Veterinarian Lou Tierce performed a “cold laser” procedure on the 5 year old dog.
  • Sid’s health did not appear to improve in the months following the procedure.
  • In September 2013, Sid was hospitalized and Jamie Harris went to the clinic to visit him.  Sid dragged himself across the lobby to see him, unable to use his hindquarters.  The vet advised Sid was experiencing a reaction to medication and more significantly, that he was suffering from an “irreparable” congenital defect in his spine and should be euthanized.
  • The family consented to the euthanasia and said goodbye to Sid, with the understanding that Dr. Tierce would perform the euthanasia and dispose of the remains after the family left the clinic.
  • On April 21, 2014, the family received a phone call from a woman who identified herself as Mary Brewer, a technician at the clinic.  The woman told the Harrises that Sid was still alive and had been living “almost 24 hours a day in a cage, littered with his own feces and urine, and that he had been injured by another employee” in the months since the family had consented to the euthanasia.  The technician said she had not spoken up sooner about Sid because she feared for her job and needed the paycheck it provided.  She quit her job the day she called the Harrises.
  • Jamie and Marian Harris drove to the clinic, leaving one friend to guard the front door and another to keep watch at the back exit.  The husband distracted the receptionist while the wife sneaked into the back.  She found Sid in a cage, released him, and he walked outside with her with no apparent lameness.
  • Dr. Tierce followed them outside and explained he did not euthanize Sid because some of his employees threatened to quit if he did.

Sid was immediately taken to a vet who examined him and reportedly told the Harrises it appears that Sid had been repeatedly used for blood draws, possibly for transfusions or plasma treatments for other dogs.  A second vet reportedly confirmed the finding and an MRI determined that Sid has no congenital spine defect.

The Harrises filed complaints with the police and the state veterinary board.  On Tuesday, police and officers from the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners raided Dr. Tierce’s clinic.  Animal control seized two dogs as evidence.  

Dr. Tierce was arrested on Wednesday on a cruelty to animals warrant and later released on bail.  He told reporters gathered in his clinic lobby that the accusations are “a bunch of hooey” and blamed a disgruntled employee who sought revenge.  And in case neither of those really good explanations seems believable, he offered up a hero card:

“The lady wanted me to euthanize their dog, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

The Harrises have retained an attorney in the matter:

The family’s attorney, James Eggleston, wrote in a letter: “Dr. Tierce has harvested organs of other pets and, according to a former employee, has kept one dog alive almost five years harvesting blood/plasma.”

Other clients who believed their pets had died or been euthanized at the clinic are now seeking verification that their beliefs are true.

The state veterinary board is planning to meet on an emergency basis regarding the case and the county health department is reportedly involved due to the filthy conditions found at the clinic.

The implications of the case are many but the heart of the matter centers around the human-animal bond and the difficult decision to end the suffering of a medically hopeless pet upon advice from a veterinarian.  Pets are family.  When they are sick, we try to help them get better.  We trust our veterinarians to guide us in our efforts.  And when that vet tells us there is no more hope and that it would be kinder to end our family member’s pain than to force them to suffer, we cry.  We don’t want to admit that all hope is lost but we are not veterinary doctors and must have faith that our vets are advising us truthfully.

In this case, that trust was betrayed and in an especially cruel manner.  Sid was not medically hopeless and suffering as the vet had allegedly advised his family.  Euthanasia was not required.  To tell the family otherwise was cruel.  Being a dog, Sid likely grieved for the family who did not return for him as he sat in his cage for months on end.  For a veterinarian to intentionally inflict that kind of emotional pain upon a dog is cruel.  A dog of Sid’s size can not live in a cage without experiencing physical pain.  Keeping him confined was cruel.  And if the only time he experienced human interaction was when he was repeatedly stuck with needles and used as a blood donor, that is cruel.

It’s important to note that this egregious betrayal of trust in Fort Worth did not happen in a vacuum.  The community looks to its publicly funded animal “shelter” to be a leader in protecting animals from abuse and shielding the human-animal bond from those who would betray it.  The Fort Worth shelter director and staff have a civic duty to lead by example.

But the Fort Worth pound designs its policies and procedures around needlessly killing the pets it’s supposed to be sheltering.  And they even have a handy visual aid on the website to illustrate their chronic incompetence which results in the needless killing of healthy/treatable animals.  In short, the Fort Worth pound is an institution based on betraying the trust of the community.  And now they are in charge of the “evidence” in a betrayal of trust case that happened in their community.  Whatever the outcome of the case, I hope the two seized dogs remain safe and that the pound did not use their impoundment as an excuse to kill two other dogs to “make space”.

(Thank you Arlene, Clarice and Davyd for sending me links on this story.)

Odessa Pound Kills Owned Pets upon Impound, Two Days in a Row

Prince (photo by Marie Luera)

Prince (photo by Marie Luera)

Three years ago, Marie Luera and her family adopted littermate male kittens from the long troubled Odessa pound in Texas.  She named them Binx and Mojo.  They joined a third kitten at home called Prince.  All three cats were neutered and vaccinated and lived as indoor/outdoor pets.  At night, they slept in bed with the kids.  When Binx and Prince didn’t come home late last week, Marie became concerned.  Neither cat was microchipped and both had persistently removed the collars Marie had tried to keep on them.

The Odessa pound is closed on weekends but Marie checked the website which states:

Dogs and cats that are not wearing a current vaccination for rabies are held for three days.

Since she had last seen Binx and Prince on Wednesday night, she felt reassured that, had they been impounded by animal control, they would still be there on Monday.  She went to the Odessa pound Monday morning as soon as the place opened.  She and her husband walked through the facility but did not see either Binx or Prince so she asked the staff member at the counter about her pets.  The staffer explained that the pound had been accepting a lot of cats lately from one man and that it was possible that man had brought in one or both of her pets.  The staffer told Marie she would check “the dalmatian book” which Marie noted was a notebook with cartoon puppies from 101 Dalmatians on it, filled with red cards.  Inside, the staffer located cards for cats matching the descriptions of Binx and Prince.

Binx (photo by Marie Luera)

Binx (photo by Marie Luera)

Binx had been trapped by a man living on Marie’s street and turned into the Odessa pound last Thursday at 10:03 a.m.  He was killed at 11 a.m. for “aggression”.  Prince had been trapped and turned in by the same man on Friday, also at 10:03 a.m.  He too was killed at 11 a.m. for “aggression”.

Marie was devastated.  She considers her pets to be family members and told me “they are not just animals”.  She requested the cats’ records but the pound refused to provide them, telling her she’d have to file an official FOIA request, which she has since done.   She also requested a copy of the pound’s policy regarding cat evaluations and staff training.

Marie says the pound manager told her the protocol for evaluating cats is for a staff member to attempt to touch the caged cat upon impound.  If the cat hisses or swats, the cat is killed.  It’s unclear to me whether either Binx or Prince was ever removed from the traps in which they were impounded or how the staff could have had the time or handling skills required to scan them for microchips in the 57 minutes each was allowed to live at the pound.

Marie’s children are 11, 9 and 7.  She had to deliver the tragic news to them about Binx and Prince.  She hopes that by speaking out publicly and demanding reform, she might prevent the same tragedy from happening to another family.  She told me while struggling through tears:

I don’t want another mother to have to tell her kids that their family members are never coming home.

Marie says the Odessa pound offered to chip her surviving cat, Mojo for free.  Marie declined because she didn’t want cat killers touching her only remaining cat.  Instead, she took Mojo and the family dog to a facility of her choosing to be chipped on Tuesday.

Let’s be clear:

Evaluating feline behavior upon impound is useless, unless the facility is actively seeking an excuse to kill cats.  It’s debatable whether cats can be reliably evaluated in a shelter environment at any time during a standard 3 – 5 day holding period but certainly at the time of impound (and after having been trapped) would have to be ruled out by anyone who cares about shelter animals.  And regardless of the outcome of the evaluation, no healthy/treatable cat should ever be killed for behavior.  Cats do not represent a threat to public safety based upon how much they fear humans or how much they love them.

Killing caged cats who hiss or swat is indicative of a shelter policy designed to give cat killers hard-ons.

Failing to hold cats for the designated period so their owners can reclaim them is inexcusable, regardless of whether a cat hisses.  Just because organizations like HSUS and Maddie’s Fund are encouraging shelters to eliminate holding periods for cats lacking identification doesn’t make such action any less offensive.  Pets are family.  Cat owners deserve the same opportunity as all other pet owners to reclaim their lost family members from shelters.

Refusing to provide copies of records to owners of pets who were needlessly killed is outrageous.  The technicalities of record requests can be sorted out later.  That’s just evil people twisting the knife around, at best.  Or maybe it’s people scrambling to falsify public records prior to release in an attempt to cover their asses, I don’t know.  In fact, Texas state law requires shelter records to be kept on site and to be made “available for inspection at reasonable times”.  I would suggest that during regular business hours while the owner of two lost pets your pound needlessly killed is standing there asking to see the records would qualify as a reasonable time.

“The dalmatian book” – seriously?  Do you people even hear yourselves anymore?

How many more horrors must be revealed at the Odessa pound before the city demands meaningful reform?

 

PETA Shames Medina Co for No Longer Killing Cats

Allegra, a cat at the Medina Co SPCA, judges your stupidity.

Allegra, a cat at the Medina Co SPCA, judges your stupidity.

PETA kills animals – mainly dogs and cats in need of love, temporary sheltering and new homes.  But the organization goes a step further by encouraging and rewarding (with vegan cookie gift baskets) municipalities that threaten to kill pets and shaming those that implement changes designed to eliminate needless killing.

Such is the case with Medina County, Ohio, where officials were pressured by the so-called irresponsible public into finally giving up the gas chamber which they’d been using to kill most of the cats impounded at the shelter.  The county stopped accepting cats and entered into an agreement with the Medina Co SPCA to take over cat sheltering from the county late last year.

Medina Co SPCA executive director Stephanie Moore writes:

The Medina County SPCA mission is to care and rehabilitate animals that are suffering from cruelty, abuse, neglect and abandonment. We entered an agreement with the county on December 16th 2013 to start taking in the healthy adoptable stray cat population that previously went to the county facility and were then euthanized by carbon monoxide. We entered this agreement so they would stop using the gas chamber, which they did.

We told the county that we would have to wait list cats as we do not euthanize for space here and we would need to have room before a healthy stray could enter our program. Initially we had many people bring us cats from hoarding homes and our first one was the day after Christmas with 49 cats. All of our animals must be quarantined for 10 days, spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before adoption, all of which does take time.

But in a letter to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, PETA equates the SPCA’s responsible management of cat admissions with “refusing to take in cats who are in need” and then drags out all the yawn-inducing tricks from its tired trick bag:  

  • Nobody wants to kill animals.
  • Killing is a kindness.
  • The cats who aren’t immediately accepted by the SPCA will be hit by cars, purloined by hoarders or placed in iron maidens by people “desperate” to deliver cat kindness.
  • We have to keep killing pets until EVERYONE IN THE GALAXY spays and neuters.  (Which will be never, for anyone keeping track.)

I asked Stephanie Moore for some details on the Medina Co SPCA’s managed admission program for cats.  She writes:

 We currently have a wait list of around 2 weeks. We have 11 people waiting to surrender a total of 32 cats. Sick, injured, abused, or neglected cats we will take anytime as that is our mission (even ferals if they are sick or injured). We never turn an animal away that is suffering.

We feel we are doing a tremendous job in saving the healthy stray cat population in our county and our number of cats has nearly tripled compared to the same time frame before we started this program.

Well gee, apparently homeless cats in need of sheltering in Medina Co have more options available to them than the iron maiden.  Despite the claims made in PETA’s shammy letter, cats can go to the SPCA immediately if they are in need of emergency care or they can go to the SPCA within about 2 weeks if they are healthy.  And unless they are medically hopeless and suffering, they won’t be killed – which sounds pretty damn good.  To everyone except PETA obviously.

(Thanks Casey for the link.)

WV Animal Control Officer Violates Law in Dog Killing, Will Keep Job

A Fayette County dog bit a child on March 11, 2014 and stitches were required as a result of the injury. Fayette Co ACO Russell Parker seized the dog and was advised by the owner that the dog had not been vaccinated for rabies. The owner stated the dog had attacked another person in past and agreed to have the dog euthanized.

The Fayette Co animal control director is the only person licensed to euthanize animals for the county and she works at a veterinary clinic. When ACO Russell was advised by the county health department on March 12 that the dog’s head needed to be sent to a lab for rabies testing ASAP, the individual licensed to perform euthanasia was contacted. She stated she would come to the county facility after her shift ended at the clinic that afternoon to perform the euthanasia. The dog’s owner had already paid the vet clinic for the euthanasia.

ACO Russell decided the euthanasia could not be delayed and opted to shoot the dog to death with a small caliber rifle. He did not inform the animal control director of his intentions.  Nor did he exercise the most obvious option of immediately transporting the dog to the vet clinic for the euthanasia. After killing the dog, he reportedly used some sort of tool to remove the head and sent it to a lab for testing.

West Virginia code allows for the shooting of dogs under limited circumstances and there are specific protocols which must be followed:

(c) In an emergency or in a situation in which a dog cannot be humanely destroyed in an expeditious manner, a dog may be destroyed by shooting if:

(1) The shooting is performed by someone trained in the use of firearms with a weapon and ammunition of suitable caliber and other characteristics designed to produce instantaneous death by a single shot; and

(2) Maximum precaution is taken to minimize the dog’s suffering and to protect other persons and animals.

The animal control director filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office regarding the killing. The sheriff’s investigator determined that ACO Parker was in violation of the law as he did not use a firearm capable of killing the dog with one shot. In fact, ACO Parker shot the dog three times before he finally died, causing needless pain and suffering.

Fayette Co sheriff Steve Kessler concluded that despite the violation of the law which resulted in the dog’s agonizing death, there were no grounds to fire ACO Parker. His reasoning:

  • ACO Parker was trying to to get the dog’s head to the lab as quickly as possible for the sake of the bitten child and thought this was the only way to do it.
  • Using a weapon of insufficient caliber to kill the pet with a single shot as required by law is exactly the same as when a technician tries to euthanize a pet by injection, misses the vein and must re-insert the needle.
  • Serving as an ACO is a “dirty, nasty” job which pays slightly more than minimum wage.

As to the first point, it does not seem credible to me that ACO Parker thought shooting the dog to death was the only way to get the head submitted for testing right away. He didn’t even explore the alternatives such as driving the dog to the clinic himself or requesting the services of another clinic. Regarding the second point, a missed venipuncture with a small needle is in no way, shape or form the equivalent of a small caliber rifle shot. One does not cause the same pain and suffering as the other, as posited by Sheriff Kessler in his press release.  And lastly, whether or not the sheriff thinks sheltering animals is a “dirty, nasty” job is irrelevant, as is the pay.  The sheriff is sworn to uphold the law which in this case, was violated.

Local animal advocates had been calling for ACO Parker’s termination.  Sheriff Kessler stated that ACO Parker has been disciplined but refused to elaborate.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

Calling All Cars! Angry Pet Lover in Parking Lot, Talking and Stuff!

We last checked in with the Chester Co SPCA in August 2013.  At that time, the facility was refusing to release its kill stats, abandoning its offsite cat adoption program due to it being a “hassle” despite reports that impounded cats were taken directly from counter to kill room, and importing puppies from other states without obtaining the required health certificates.  Former staffers and volunteers described the Chester Co SPCA as a “kill factory”.

Today, there doesn’t appear to be any progress to report.

A volunteer who had bonded with a dog at the Chester Co SPCA grew concerned after he was placed on a six month quarantine for kennel cough (What the what?) and she found him in a cage covered in filth.  When she expressed her concern to staff, she was told she was not allowed to go into the quarantine area.  Problem solved, eh?

The volunteer scheduled an appointment to meet with the volunteer manager concerning the dog on March 24.  After the meeting took place, the volunteer was told to never return to the Chester Co SPCA.  When she asked why, the only information she was provided was that there had been a sekrit vote.

The vol reportedly went to the parking lot where she met another vol with whom she began a conversation.  During that time, the Chester Co SPCA called the police to have her removed from the premises, claiming she was trespassing.  The officer handed her a letter from the pound making her banishment official and told her to leave the parking lot, which she did.

Apparently calling the police on people trying to help animals is SOP at the Chester Co SPCA:

Monday’s incident is the second time in less than a month that police were called to the shelter because of a dispute between staff and volunteers. On Feb. 22, West Goshen Police were called after an altercation between its executive director, two board members and two volunteers. The two volunteers were also fired prior to that incident, according to police.

No doubt the local police unit is thrilled with the Chester Co SPCA’s trespassing calls against volunteers.  I hope no one in Chester Co is being robbed or assaulted while the Sekrit Vote Club is taking law enforcement resources away from the community.

How do you know when your local pound needs a complete overhaul?  Well, this.  For example.

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