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.)