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.)

ASPCA’s KY Puppy Mill Rescue is Not What It Seems

Screengrab from the WAVE website

Screengrab from the WAVE website

Pulaski Co dog breeder Dennis Bradley told a local reporter with a hidden camera that he had 58 dogs on his property, at least a dozen of them under 8 weeks of age, in November 2013.  The reporter from WAVE in Kentucky filmed dozens of dogs crammed into filthy, rusted wire cages from which they were obviously never removed.  Among the breeds depicted in the video are Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers and Bloodhounds.  The reporter asks him how much for a Schnauzer puppy and is told $300 for a female and $250 for a male.  This certainly appears to be a dog breeding operation to my eyes, and a very poorly maintained one at that.

And yet:

Bradley, when contacted by the Commonwealth Journal in November, insisted his kennel wasn’t a puppy mill, but a non-profit rescue organization.

A non-rescue would seem to be the more correct answer. Has anyone seen Dennis Bradley’s 501(c)3 documents for his so-called rescue organization?  Perhaps they are on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.

The strangest aspect of the November story is that Dennis Bradley’s rescue breeding facility had already been raided by the sheriff in January 2013, at which time he was charged with animal cruelty:

Video taken by the sheriffs department shows some of Bradley’s dogs sick and near death. Two were in such bad shape they had to be put to sleep.

So why is Bradley still in business? Animal rescue groups say shutting down a puppy mill can cost up to $70,000 in shelter, food and medical expenses for the dogs they remove. Sometimes, groups like the Animal Rescue Corps will pay the cost, as it did when it broke up an alleged puppy mill in Wayne County in September.

No group stepped in to help Pulaski County financially, and investigators decided taking all 70 dogs they found on Bradley’s property would overwhelm the shelter system. So they removed the dogs in the poorest conditions and asked animal control to make sure Bradley took better care of the animals left behind.  [emphasis added]

More on the January 2013 raid:

“Upon arrival detectives discovered several dogs in pens/cages outside which were obviously sick. Several dogs suffered from having skin ailments and two appeared to be near death,” states the citation, filed by Det. Glen Bland. “Many of the dogs were living in poor conditions without proper shelter. Most pens were (too) small and were covered in mud and feces.”

Former Pulaski County Animal Shelter Director Darren Wesley would eventually remove 21 dogs from the property — some of which were euthanized after they tested positive for parvo.

After allowing dogs to languish in these conditions for another full year, authorities finally received assistance from the ASPCA and worked out a plea deal with the owner. Bradley pleaded guilty to one count of second degree animal cruelty. He received 24 months’ probation and surrendered all but 5 dogs, including one elderly dog. He will not be allowed to have more than 4 dogs or to re-start his breeding business during the probation period.  Does this strike anyone as a good deal that protects dogs or does it look more like the appearance of justice, suitable for framing around a full color donation plea?

The ASPCA took 43 dogs to the KY Humane Society in Louisville on Tuesday.

It’s nice that the ASPCA finally used its vast resources to help these suffering dogs but with all those donated dollars in their bank account, couldn’t they have helped sooner?  Even if they didn’t have a full team available to deploy any time within the past year, couldn’t they have sent one person and hired some local people to assist?  Or at least thrown enough cash at the problem that the county could afford to provide the needed care itself?  I notice once the ASPCA finally rolled into Pulaski Co, they moved super fast to get this plea for cash out to donors:

Screengrab from the ASPCA website

Screengrab from the ASPCA website

When a county sheriff raids a facility containing sick and dying dogs alongside newborn puppies, has video to document the inhumane conditions, provides sufficient evidence to get cruelty charges filed against the owner, but lacks the resources to help the dogs, this should be the kind of thing the multi-million dollar animal welfare groups get on yesterday – not one year later. Does it matter to anyone at the ASPCA that dozens of dogs were left living in horrible conditions in the care of someone charged with animal cruelty for an entire year for lack of resources? And then when they finally decide to show up, it’s all ASPCA logo jackets for the cameras and donation pleas and press releases – as if the ASPCA just busted this place this week.  In truth, the cruelty charge stems from the work done by the local sheriff one year ago and the dogs needed help then.

I imagine we might end up seeing these Pulaski Co dogs in a TV commercial with a Sarah McLachlan song. If and when that happens, remember they were knowingly left to suffer in tiny cages in the care of someone charged with animal cruelty for an entire year while the ASPCA closed its checkbook to Pulaski Co and counted its money.

(Thanks Karen J. for the links.)

What Happened to the Dogs at Safe Haven in Delaware?

A troubling situation developed in Delaware yesterday and more information is needed.  I am asking for help from readers if they come across any additional media reports or press releases from relevant parties regarding this story today.

The scattered facts, as I understand them:

Delaware has a law called the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) which requires shelters to give at least 2 business days’ notice to rescuers before killing any healthy/treatable animal.

The Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Delaware was set to close on November 30. I do not know the reason why.  They previously held an animal control contract but recently lost it. Safe Haven reportedly asked the ASPCA last month to help shut down the shelter in an orderly manner and ASPCA agreed.

Suddenly yesterday, the closing of Safe Haven got moved up – to yesterday. I do not know the reason why.

Safe Haven reportedly posted a comment on its Facebook page last night about what may be the unlawful killing of dogs there:

“Some dogs, due to severe behavior issues, were such a threat to other animals or humans, that they were unsuitable for adoption,” the statement said. “Some dogs were humanely euthanized.”

The Safe Haven Facebook page has since been deleted.

The News Journal also reports:

It’s not clear how many dogs remained at Safe Haven until this week, because the shelter did not post intake statistics on its website for the third quarter of 2013, which the state’s Companion Animal Protection Act mandates shelters do.

The law also requires shelters to maintain “a registry of organizations willing to accept animals for the purpose of adoption,” and are not supposed to euthanize any animal if organizations on the registry are willing to accept it.

[Former Safe Haven volunteer Karli] Swope said rescue groups she is familiar with had not received notices from Safe Haven indicating it was considering euthanizing any of its dogs.

The Sussex Countian spoke with several area rescuers who showed up at Safe Haven yesterday to pull dogs.  They claim Safe Haven officials had given them permission to come to the facility and save dogs.  But when they arrived, they found the ASPCA’s giant truck and a hostile environment:

However these people were turned away by the ASPCA, who eventually called the Delaware State Police and reported the prospective adopters were trespassing on private property.

[...]

Speculations surrounding whether the ASPCA was euthanizing the remaining dogs onsite were discounted by Capt. Sean Moriarty of DSP Troop 4 in Georgetown. Moriarty said he saw the dogs inside a large ASPCA truck, and they were all alive.

“I’m not sure exactly where they’re going; mostly out of state. Some are going to a facility in the state, but we don’t know where,” Moriarty said on Thursday at Safe Haven.

There were an unknown number of dogs, possibly 20, at Safe Haven at the time ASPCA locked the doors and called police to keep rescuers out.  I haven’t seen any reports indicating what ASPCA did with the dogs.

I am not an attorney but it appears to me that possibly both Safe Haven and the ASPCA may have violated Delaware’s CAPA law in the handling of dogs at the facility.  I hope some clarifications and additional facts come to light today and that the remaining dogs are safe.  I further hope the appropriate authorities will investigate to determine if Safe Haven and/or the ASPCA should be charged with violations of Delaware’s CAPA law.

(Thanks Karen for alerting me to this story.)

Hundreds of Dogs Seized in Multi-State Dogfighting Bust

Several of you have sent in links pertaining to the recent multi-state seizure of 367 dogs in connection with a dogfighting bust.  And almost everyone who did also asked the question:  What will happen to the dogs?

Since the ASPCA and HSUS are involved, I will speculate based on past performance:  Already overburdened rescue groups will be tasked with saving many of these dogs, forcing them to stretch their meager resources even further and to create space where none currently exists.  Local dogs in need of rescue will be displaced.   ASPCA and/or HSUS will probably leave some of the dogs at pet killing facilities under cover of night and will never reveal what happened to the dogs.  But none of this will occur until after ASPCA and HSUS feel they have sufficient video and photos of the dogs featuring people dressed in logo’d attire, for future exploitation purposes aimed at suckering compassionate animal lovers into padding their enormous bank accounts.

In short, the only ones likely to come out of this situation in the WIN column are those who get their paychecks from ASPCA and HSUS.  For everyone else involved, both human and canine, it’s a crapshoot, at best.

Discussion: What was the case against Caboodle Ranch all about?

A photo taken 10 days before the February 2012 raid, posted on the Caboodle Ranch Facebook page.

A photo taken 10 days before the February 2012 raid, posted on the Caboodle Ranch Facebook page.

More than a year after PETA and the ASPCA teamed up to shut down Caboodle Ranch, Craig Grant’s FL cat sanctuary, a legal resolution appears to be near.

Under the deal with the state, the criminal charges against Grant will be dropped if he agrees to take his medication, pay costs to the state attorney’s office and is not arrested within the next 24 months.

Grant’s attorney says the agreement won’t prohibit Grant from owning cats.

“He’s allowed to have animals. He’s allowed to have up to whatever many cats the local County ordinances allow,” said [Mr. Grant's attorney, David] Collins.

Some context here:  ASPCA seized 700 cats and 2 dogs, including Mr. Grant’s personal pets, from Caboodle Ranch and disposed of them as they saw fit.  Many were adopted during 3 mass adoption events.  I don’t know what happened to the rest of the animals and I suspect the ASPCA will never provide those details.

The ASPCA pads its bank account with nearly $150 million in donations every year and yet had the audacity to file a suit against Mr. Grant seeking “reimbursement” of the $1 million it says was spent caring for the seized cats.  How can an organization seek to be “reimbursed” for having spent funds on animal care when the money was donated by animal lovers who thought it would be used to help animals?  Check out the ASPCA invoice for expenses which includes a staggering number of flights in and out of Jacksonville, hotel fees, food bills and the following line items:

  • 267:  $4920.42 for utensils, etc.
  • 412:  $2048.60 to change light bulbs
  • 1173:  $18 for vegan cupcakes for shelter workers

And then there are the consulting fees:

  • 154:  $2000 for 5 days of consultant fees to Katie Flood
  • 310:  $800 for 2 days of consultant fees for James Brenneman
  • 914:  $3200 for 2 weeks of consultant fees for Aldo Wilson
  • 971:  $2800 for 2 weeks of consultant fees for Phree Phillips
  • 988:  $1000 for 5 days of consultant fees for Joanna Fogarty
  • 1005 $1000 for 5 days of consultant fees for Laura MacDougall
  • 1026 and 1027:  $2800 for 7 days of consultant fees for Tonya Loreman
  • 1043:  $800 for 2 days of consultant fees for Mary Manspeaker
  • 1052:  $4400 for 11 days of consultant fees for Elizabeth Maxwell
  • 1153:  $39,688 estimated consultant fees up to April 30, 2012

I picked out the above entries at random but there are many, many more entries for consultant fees.  ASPCA apparently needed a lot of consultants during the months following the seizure.  I thought ASPCA folks were supposed to be the experts?  I mean, with the amount of money spent on consultants, couldn’t they have gotten someone off the unemployment line with no animal experience and just put that person in charge instead?  At least then I could understand the need to fly in expert after expert, week after week, month after month, for their advice.

At any rate, the court did not award ASPCA their million bucks.  In fact, the judge’s ruling seems to indicate (to my layman’s understanding) that the ASPCA had not been officially appointed an agent of the state prior to the seizure and therefore had no standing to file for expenses incurred.  My question would then be, if the ASPCA had no official designation from the state to act in this case, on what legal basis did they dispose of the seized animals?

Mr. Grant clearly seems to have an interest in relocating and starting a new cat sanctuary.  Regardless of whether you believe Caboodle was a great place for cats, the nightmare of neglect and suffering described by the ASPCA and PETA, or fell somewhere in between, one must ask at this point – what was all this for?  The raid, the mass seizure, the mass adoption events which could have theoretically been used to find homes for cats already in shelters, the court cases – what was it all for?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

SC Shelter That Sent Dogs on Transport with ASPCA Now Selling Weimaraner Stud

Merlin, a puppy being sold by A Second Chance Animal Shelter.

Merlin, a puppy being sold by A Second Chance Animal Shelter.

Some of you might remember when A Second Chance Animal Shelter in Manning, SC shipped 41 of their dogs off to places that kill pets via the ASPCA.  At that time, I made inquiries to A Second Chance, an organization that describes itself as “low to no kill”, but they were less than thrilled about the prospect of providing me with information.  This time, I will let the group’s website speak for itself.  Here is a screengrab of Merlin’s listing there today:

screengrab second chance weim

The text beneath Merlin’s photo describes him as an “AKC Registered, male Weimeraner (sic) puppy” and instructs interested buyers to call for his selling price.  Today I received an e-mail from someone who inquired about Merlin as well as the response she says she received:

From: Mrs. Ramsey
To: adoptascc@ftc-i.net
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 10:23 AM
Subject: Merlin

I was so excited to see the AKC Weimeraner puppy on your Web site. I would like to know how much he is . I have been looking for one forever. He is so pretty. My cell phone is in the shop and I do not have a house phone so please send me all the information so i can show my husband. We have a female that needs a buddy . Thank you so much.

Mrs. Ramsey

***

From: Adoption Coordinator <adoptascc@ftc-i.net>
To: Mrs. Ramsey
Sent: Tue, Apr 30, 2013 10:47 am
Subject: Re: Merlin

Good Morning, Mrs. Ramsey.

Merlin’s adoption fee is $500.00. He’s up to date on vaccines and has his papers. He will not be neutered, unless you want him to be. May I ask what website you’re looking at? If you’re still interested in Merlin, please feel welcome to visit him anytime. Our hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 3pm. We can be reached by email or by the number listed below. We look forward to hearing from/seeing you.

Thank you for your interest in Merlin.

Kind Regards,

Leslie Jones, Adoption Coordinator
A Second Chance Animal Shelter
5079 Alex Harvin Hwy
Manning SC, 29102
(803) 473-7075

Website: http://www.ASecondChanceAnimalShelter.com

Adoption Coordinator.  I’m gonna go with LOL on that.

On its website, A Second Chance includes “population control” and “spay and neuter programs” in its mission statement.  LOL redux.

When I contacted A Second Chance in 2011, the organization described itself as “low to no kill”.  That appears to have changed, at least according to the website:

We are a “No-Kill” shelter and some animals will stay with us all their lives– those that are handicapped, those who cannot emotionally recover from their experiences and cannot be placed in a home, and some that are just not “cute” enough to be chosen.

Except for the 41 long term resident dogs shipped off with the ASPCA to places that kill animals, that could almost sound truthful.

It’s so nice that the ASPCA was able to clear out the black & uglies from this place to make room for profitable little stud dogs like Merlin.  I don’t imagine A Second Chance will be calling  the ASPCA to take Merlin off their hands anytime soon.

Why are shelter directors killing pets whom rescue groups are willing to save? Because they can.

Many pet lovers are shocked to learn that most municipal facilities that call themselves animal shelters do not actually shelter animals. In fact, these so-called shelters kill pets rescuers are willing to save, because they can. More still are astonished when they learn that some of the private non-profits calling themselves humane societies or societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals are guilty of the same crimes against pets as the municipal facilities that kill pets who are wanted.

In the case of public facilities, pet advocates can and should petition their government for a redress of grievances. But historically this has been a mixed bag of results with far too many elected officials blatantly thumbing their noses at taxpayers who call upon them to force animal shelter staff to do their jobs. Our public servants delete animal advocacy comments from their Facebook pages, ignore e-mails and petitions, and refuse to meet with advocates in person. When they do address the issue publicly, it’s usually to give the pet killing facility a pat on the back while wagging their fingers at the “irresponsible public”.

When it comes to the private HS/SPCA organizations, well-meaning advocates sometimes believe they should report the needless killing of pets there to the “national” HS/SPCA, meaning the Humane Society of the U.S. and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The sad truth is that neither of these organizations is affiliated with your local shelter, even if the names are similar. Furthermore, HSUS and ASPCA are primarily fundraising organizations and will likely not intervene to prevent wanted pets from being killed by your local non-profit organization.

But there is a solution that addresses the needless killing of wanted pets, and offers numerous other protections for shelter animals, at both public and private shelters. It’s called the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA).  CAPA has already been passed in DE and has been introduced by legislators in MN, RI and WV.  Modified versions have been introduced in NY, TX, IL and FL.  More states will be announcing modified versions of CAPA on their legislative agendas soon.

CAPA 4_0001

CAPA lays out a number of important requirements for public and private shelters that include lifesaving, transparency and community participation.  Specifically, neither public nor private shelter directors would have the discretion to kill pets under CAPA without giving public notice nor would they be allowed to kill pets that a rescue is willing to take.

Too often on this blog, we hear from pet advocates who have been shafted by shelter directors committed to killing for arbitrary reasons and, in some cases, in retaliation for shining a light on their dark secrets.  Here is a way to do something about that.  Augment your existing animal advocacy (fostering, rescue, networking, etc.) with some political advocacy that will not only save pets’ lives, but help the people who love them too.

Do you want accountability, transparency and legal access to the animals in your shelter’s care?  If so, you want CAPA.  Talk to your state or local legislators about getting CAPA introduced to protect your community’s pets from those who are needlessly killing them, because they can.  CAPA would make needless and secretive shelter pet killing illegal, regardless of whether the shelter is public or private.  Under CAPA, we would not only protect the lives of shelter pets but the hearts and minds of pet advocates who currently suffer at the whims of directors, standing by their cabinets of Fatal Plus and scoffing at the so-called irresponsible public’s attempts to actually shelter animals.

Mailbag

I get a wide array of mail.  I need to share it more often.  Sharing this one with permission from reader Arlene because it cracked me up.  To provide a little context, Arlene normally sends me links and info accompanied by polite commentary or questions.  But she apparently woke up on the feisty side of the bed when she e-mailed me a link to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and copied a blurb from the webpage:

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is available 24/365. A trained staff of veterinary toxicologists can access information to help diagnose problems and give treatment advice.

The fee is $65 to your credit card.

What made me chortle was Arlene’s subject line:

Did you know there were charges for this? After all the money they collect for doing nothing?

She makes a good case.  Millions in the bank, courtesy of compassionate animal lovers who think their donations are being used to help one eyed shelter pets shivering in cages, but the ASPCA won’t tell you if the chocolate chip cookie Buffy just ate is going to kill her unless you can cough up $65 in advance.

Top 5 Reasons the ASPCA Should Do Right by Displaced Sandy Pets

5.  Celebrity Rachel Ray gave the ASPCA half a million dollars less than 2 months ago to board pets displaced by Hurricane Sandy at its Emergency Boarding Facility in Brooklyn.  At the time, ASPCA president Ed Sayres promised, “The need is daunting, but the animals will not be forgotten.”  After caring for just 280 animals for such a short period of time, there must be tons of cash leftover.  The ASPCA should spend it fulfilling Ed Sayres’ promise.

4.  Even without Rachel Ray’s generous donation, the ASPCA already has plenty of money to care for the displaced Sandy pets for as long as necessary.  The Sarah McLachlan ad alone raised $30 million dollars in its first year and a half running on TV.  The NY Times described it as “a landmark in nonprofit fund-raising, where such amounts are virtually unimaginable for a single commercial.”  It’s been airing ever since.  Nathan Winograd says, “Last year, the ASPCA had total revenues which were just shy of $150 million dollars.”

3.  So much pet food was donated to feed pets impacted by Sandy, there were literally tons of excess which had to be given away in order to free up warehouse space.  Again, there are plentiful resources to care for the 136 pets still at the Brooklyn ASPCA shelter for as long as necessary.

2.  In any cases where the owner of the pet is known and the owner indicates an intention to take the pet back as soon as circumstances allow, the ASPCA should continue to provide temporary shelter, either at the facility or in a foster home, until the owner can reclaim the pet.  That shouldn’t even be a question.

1.  Killing healthy/treatable pets, such as the ones displaced by Sandy, is wrong.  Dropping them off at the pound to potentially get sick or be killed is also wrong.  Neither of these horrifying options should be on the table for the ASPCA.  Why are they?

(Thank you Marge and Tip for sending me 2 of the links included in this post.)

ASPCA to Displaced Sandy Pets: Sucks Being You

Reuters is reporting that 136 unclaimed pets at the emergency Hurricane Sandy shelter operated by the ASPCA in Brooklyn may be in danger:

Most of the owners that the ASPCA has identified live in temporary housing or with family and friends, environments that prevent them from bringing their animals home, [ASPCA spokeswoman Kelly] Krause said. A majority of the owners who had yet to claim their pets lived in the hard-hit Rockaways neighborhood in Queens.

[...]

It was too early to say whether any of the pets that remain left behind would be put down, Krause said.

Another possibility for the unclaimed pets, besides the death thing, is the ASPCA dropping them off at the pound.  Which, you know, pffft.

Gee, if only the ASPCA could scrounge up the funds to take care of these pets for as long as needed.  But I guess their multi-million dollar bank account is just too small to pay for actual pet care.  There are more one-eyed pet TV commercials to be produced and salaries to be paid and pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?

(Thank you Arlene for sending me this link.)

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