MO Mobile Home Park Residents Receive Notice to Poison Cats

kspr

Screengrab from the KSPR website showing a portion of a notice sent to mobile home park residents in Reeds Spring, MO

Residents of the White Eagle Woods mobile home park in Reeds Spring, MO were shocked to receive a notice, signed “White Eagle Woods – LLC”, telling them to poison area cats or face penalties:

The notice requested all residents to “leave a bowl of antifreeze out to poison” the stray cats. It goes on to read that if the problem is not eliminated, rent will increase for all tenants. If any tenant is caught feeding a stray cat, they will face immediate eviction.

Mark Rich is the owner of White Eagle Woods. Park resident Jeff White describes him as a cat killer:

“I’ve actually witnessed him shooting two different cats and I’ve heard other people say they’ve seen him put out antifreeze. I found a pie plate underneath that home over there with antifreeze in it. And between the well house and the water tank, I found a cat food can with antifreeze in it,” White said.

In fact, the KSPR news crew saw evidence of what may be a crime during its visit to the park:

On Thursday, KSPR found the charred remains of one cat that had been burned in a pile of debris. An investigator with the Humane Society of Missouri, along with deputies from the Stone County Sheriff’s Department were also present. An investigation is underway.

Mr. Rich would only speak briefly by phone with the KSPR reporter before hanging up. He denied writing the notice received by residents and said he would allow the park’s cats and kittens to be trapped and taken to shelters. Presumably he is unaware of the trend being promoted by some for shelters to return friendly cats found outdoors to their original location instead of returning them to their owners or finding them new homes.

Proponents of shelters not doing their jobs to protect friendly cats and kittens found outside will no doubt dismiss this story as an outlier.  Which will surely bring comfort to owners of lost cats being poisoned as well as friendly cats who were just looking for a home when they were abandoned by the shelter and left to drink antifreeze.  Because hey, shelters already aren’t doing their jobs, why should we bother trying to make them?

I don’t know whether the adult cats at the White Eagle Woods mobile home park are truly feral, friendly and loving, somewhere in between, owned pets who are or are not allowed outdoors by their owners, or a mix of all of the above.  But the news crew was able to film some of the cats, including kittens, and age alone makes kittens eligible for taming, even if born to a feral mother cat.  I also don’t know if any shelters in the area have been told by “experts” not to do their jobs to protect friendly cats found outdoors.  But if they any of the area shelters have this policy in place or are considering this option, it would surely lead to disaster for these cats.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

TZI Recommends Shelter Should Not Let You Have Your Lost Cat Back

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her.  (Photo by Casey Post)

Cleo, a feral cat who has been vaccinated and neutered, and whose caregiver loves her. (Photo by Casey Post)

In August 2013, the Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Program issued a summary of recommendations to the Hillsborough Co pound in FL following a consultation.  The recommendation regarding stray cats was particularly troubling to me since it threatened the bond between people and their lost pets.  From the report:

Eliminate the required hold period for stray cats. Stray cats lacking identification are extremely unlikely to be reclaimed by owners and are at high risk for shelter – acquired disease and euthanasia. Eliminating even a few days in the shelter may be the difference between life and death for them. The shelter can simultaneously have an option for immediate live release paired with a required hold period of 3 days prior to euthanasia.

Not only is Maddie’s Fund failing to attribute a low return to owner rate to its proper source – the pound, it fails to acknowledge one of the primary purposes of municipal shelters:  to reunite lost pets with their owners.

The No Kill Advocacy Center weighed in on the elimination of stray holding periods when HSUS suggested it in its 2013 white paper on California shelters:

[I]f a dog or cat comes in as a stray, and he does not have identification, he can be adopted to someone else immediately without giving his family any time to reclaim him. This is unfair to families who deeply love their animal companions. [...] Accidents happen; animals get lost and end up at shelters. Since the choice presented — immediate adoption or sickness/death — is a false one, breaking up families by having them lose all rights in their animal with no reclaim period of any kind appears draconian.

I am deeply opposed to the elimination of holding periods for any pet whose owner might be looking for him. It’s the shelter’s job to treat the bond between pets and their people as sacrosanct. Which is why I was shocked to read that the Target Zero Institute, in its recommendations to the troubled Amarillo pound in TX, has taken the travesty even further. TZI not only recommends eliminating the holding period for stray cats lacking identification but for all cats found outside – including friendly, possibly microchipped pets who may be wearing collars and/or tags and whose owners are searching for them:

The TZI recommends returning outside cats back to their original neighborhoods following sterilization, rabies vaccination and ear tipping. [...]TZI recommends returning cats to their ‘outside home’ where they have a food source as evidenced by a healthy body weight. These may be feral cats that cannot be handled or friendly cats found outside.

If Amarillo, or any other municipal shelter, adopts TZI’s barbaric recommendation regarding cats found outdoors, your pet could be turned into the shelter by a cat hating neighbor or anyone at all, or he could simply be trapped by an ACO and, so long as he appears to be “visually healthy”, he would be immediately vaccinated, neutered, ear-tipped and put back on the street. This would happen as a matter of policy – even if you were actively searching for your pet, even if you had microchipped him and even if you had placed a collar and an ID tag on him. If he’s found outside, TZI wants him immediately anesthetized, put through surgery and turned loose in the area where he had gotten lost (or presumably where the cat hating neighbor says he was found).

TZI says in its report that this practice will save money by reducing the number of cats who “have to be cared for, fed and ultimately [killed] in large numbers” at the pound.

No cats “have to be” killed.  Full stop.  If you don’t get that, get out of the shelter consulting business.

All cats impounded by shelters should be immediately – in the field whenever possible – scanned for microchips and checked for ID tags.  No exceptions.  A chip or ID tag should equate with a free ride home from the ACO.  Those cats lacking identification should be photographed and posted online by the facility immediately.  Anyone visiting the shelter looking for a lost pet should be shown every pet in the place as a matter of course.  Reuniting families is part of the job.  It seems to me to be one of the best parts, by the way, and I can’t imagine why anyone who supposedly cares about shelter pets would want to eliminate it.

Now that Maddie’s Fund and HSUS have opened this awful door and TZI has barreled through it with a bulldozer, I can’t help but wonder what’s next.  Will some consultant recommend that shelters stop housing all dogs found outdoors too?  Gee but we can’t turn dogs back out onto the streets, can we?  So what will “have to be” done with them?

I’m not a shelter consultant, just someone who loves pets and believes dogs and cats have a right to live, regardless of their status in the community.  I don’t get paid for my ideas nor do I have any big money backing me behind the scenes.  Here’s my unsolicited recommendation to shelters and their staff, for what it’s worth:  Do your jobs.  Stop looking for ways to avoid the hard work of sheltering by bringing in big money consultants.  You are accountable to the local taxpayers who pay your salaries and who love their pets.  Start acting like it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Nobody WANTS to Kill Animals – Monongalia County Edition

Although there are currently only 11 pets, all dogs, listed on the Petfinder page for the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center in Morgantown, WV, it does state that the facility adopts out both cats and dogs.  In fact, there is an alert that the pound is overflowing with cats:

Screengrab showing a portion of theMonongalia County Canine Adoption Center page on Petfinder.

Screengrab showing a portion of the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center page on Petfinder.

While it’s hard to reconcile the idea that the facility is overflowing with cats but is advertising zero as available for adoption online (the pound’s website takes you to Petfinder), it’s possible some insight may be gleaned from a recent story covered by local media.

Tom Wiley, a Morgantown landlord, is currently the subject of a police investigation after two separate tenants reported he went into their apartments and stole their cats.  Although pets were not allowed in the apartments, neither tenant was given any prior notice that their cats would be stolen by the landlord.  The law requires that prior notice be given before a landlord removes anything from a tenant’s apartment.

Both cat owners say they tried to find out what happened to their pets, including contacting the landlord.  One was told by Mr. Wiley that her cat had been “taken care of” even though he refused to say exactly what he had done.  The other says she was ignored by Mr. Wiley until he finally responded to a REWARD FOR LOST PET sign she posted.  He told her he had taken her pet to the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center.

In fact, Mr. Wiley allegedly took both cats to the same pound where they were both killed upon intake.  One of the cats, Cali, had been adopted from PURR and was microchipped.  Had workers at the pound bothered to scan Cali prior to killing her, they could have obtained PURR’s contact information and someone from the group would have reclaimed her.  It seems like so little to ask – that pound employees do their jobs – and yet:

Officials at the pound said they were unable to scan the animal properly because of its aggressiveness the day it was taken in.

Read:  And they couldn’t wait to kill her.

The cat was supposedly too aggressive to scan for a chip but they somehow managed to kill her which, unlike a scan, would require direct contact.  I don’t want to know how.

Cali’s owner says she was not aggressive.  Although one can imagine she was likely scared after being stolen by a cat hater, transported by who-knows-what means and brought inside a pet killing facility.

Killing surrendered animals upon impound is always bad policy at any “shelter”.

  1. Pets have the right to live.  The fact that they have been surrendered to a shelter does not trump that right.
  2. The shelter does not know for certain if the surrendering party is actually the pet’s owner.
  3. Pets may be microchipped with contact information of someone willing to reclaim them if contacted.
  4. Someone may be looking for the surrendered pet.
  5. It’s the shelter’s job to find the animal a new home, if needed.

In addition, no domesticated animal’s behavior can accurately be assessed at the time of arrival at a pound.  Some animals may be able to be assessed after a settling-in period, others may never reach that state.  Behavioral assessments are of limited value in a shelter environment but the notion that any animal can be evaluated upon impound is outrageous.

I can’t help but wonder whether the Monongalia Co pound workers even asked Mr. Wiley whether he owned the cats.  For all I know, he truthfully told them he’d stolen the pets from tenants and they gleefully busted out the Fatal Plus to teach the irresponsible public a lesson.  Maybe they have an established relationship with Mr. Wiley, as many pet killing facilities do with cat haters.

And what about the zero adoptable cats listed online by the Monongalia Co pound – are they all “aggressive”? Is it just the pound’s dumpster that is “overflowing” with cats?

(Thanks Vicki for sending me this story.)

Rowan Co Institutes Mandatory Killing for Cats After 7 Days, Pretends It’s to Prevent Disease

The Rowan Co pound in NC group-houses cats in a dog run.  Kittens are in a neighboring dog run.  The pound sells all pets for $70 with no discount for rescue groups.  There is no foster program listed on the website.  Rowan Co killed 1452 cats in 2013 – more than half of all the cats they took in.  The pound currently has 11 pets listed on Petfinder – all dogs.

A dog named "60881" posted on Petfinder by Rowan Co and described as "**LAST DAY IS MONDAY 8/4/14!!**", as shown on the website on August 7, 2014.

A dog named “60881” posted on Petfinder by Rowan Co and described as “**LAST DAY IS MONDAY 8/4/14!!**”, as shown on the website on August 7, 2014.

Yesterday, Rowan Co issued a public notice via e-mail and social media that states the county wants to keep the pound free of feline panleukopenia virus and as such, has instituted some new cat policies. My summary:

  • Please don’t touch the cats.
  • In order to reduce “airborne dust particles”, the county is switching the kind of cat litter it uses.
  • All cats and kittens will be killed after 7 days.

The notice further asks that people help educate the public about the importance of vaccination and provides a link to an article on Wikipedia as well as one on the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program website. I clicked that link and snipped the following bits of information on panleukopenia:

  • [A]dult cats with current vaccinations are at very low risk.
  • Control is dependent on effective vaccination, keeping cats separate during the time they may be incubating the disease, and careful cleaning and disinfection of all areas in which cats are housed.
  • Vaccination for panleukopenia is highly effective if performed correctly. A good vaccine program can substantially reduce spread of infection in a shelter. [...] All cats 4-5 weeks of age and older should receive a modified live panleukopenia vaccine immediately upon shelter entry.

I didn’t see anything about not touching cats or cat litter or arbitrary killing of all cats after 7 days on the Koret page.  Maybe they forgot.  Or maybe Rowan Co, whose pound primarily functions as a killing facility with regard to cats, is simply giving itself excuses to kill cats.  More.

It sounds to me as if Rowan Co should be implementing a vaccination upon intake policy for all cats, appropriately quarantining new arrivals, developing a foster program and conducting the prescribed housing and cleaning routines recommended by Koret.  The county’s newly announced protocols are not based on current shelter medicine science.  If the county truly wants to reduce the occurrence of panleukopenia in the pound, they might start by reading their own link and doing their jobs.  But that sounds like work.  And arbitrary killing is apparently so much easier.

(Thanks Jane for the story.)

Mailbag

Reader Tami writes:

Good news in cat rescue can be hard to find. The story of Julianne Westberry in SC has been particularly hard to swallow. She was trusted by so many. I worked side by side with her in the Anderson County Humane Society Spay/Neuter Clinic. She seemed to have a stream of foster homes and adopters. She was given the “Volunteer of the Year” award by ACHS in May 2014!  One month later, she was arrested for ill treatment of animals.

A passerby stopped to ask if the furniture on her porch was for sale. When the odor from inside, and the fly lined, paper covered windows were noted, authorities were notified. Authorities whose facility could be seen out the window of her house, less than 100 feet away!

Inside, they found 32 live cats, 37 deceased. More bodies were found by the owners of the rental house when they went in to clean up. It is believed, at least 25 more bodies. The true number of deceased may never be known. Many were so decomposed, they only way to know they ever existed was by fur and pieces of their tiny bodies. She pulled moms and kittens. Left them in their carriers. There, they died. One, Venus, was only ID’d by her microchip. I’ve seen pictures, not released to the public. Of the 32 survivors, 4 have since died. I have one, who was in some of the worst condition, in the care of my wonderful vets.

Thanks to the dedication of Ash Truesdale, volunteer with Foster Paws Rescue, it has been found that she pulled from 16 CONFIRMED shelters. In a little over a year, over 800 cats and kittens. She was using 3 different aliases. Her name, JW, J’s Kitten Cottage, and unbeknownst to them, the 501c3 of Anderson County Humane Society. She was accepting pledges for these cats. THAT may be the only way for these cats to get justice. Internet fraud.

It was also learned, many of the cats had been taken to her boyfriend’s farm. She lived there, most of the time. Those who have seen the farm give estimates of 70-300 cats that are alive. Others who died have been disposed of (so we are told). After JW was released, the boyfriend contacted Anderson County PAWS, the local impound, to owner surrender the farm cats. Anderson Co was given the go ahead to begin trapping. Cats would be trapped, taken to Anderson Co PAWS, and summarily killed. After all, they were “just cats”, not needed for criminal investigation and PAWS is “already full” from a previous hoarding /rescue that’s awaiting court. They don’t have the space, staff, funds, etc to save the cats.

Those following the case found out about Anderson Co’s plans on Wednesday, July 2. On Monday, July 7 at 6 PM, the cats would begin dying. “No exceptions”. 30 cats, already trapped and in custody had been given a death sentence. The facility would be closed on Friday July 4. Open for a limited time on Sat July 5.

Enter the “irresponsible public”…

Wednesday PM, July 2– much hand wringing and public outcry on the PAWS FaceBook threads as word spread.

Thursday, July 3– a meeting of about a dozen people. The only way to save these cats, these cats who had been promised a safe loving home, these cats who had already once escaped the needle or gas chamber, was to acquire a building. But we were going into a holiday weekend. People were out of town, businesses were closed. Ash knew folks would help, IF these cats could find safe haven (shelter) for a brief time.

Friday, July 4– Geneva Lawrence, a member of Kitten Action Team, spread the word. She had found someone to donate a facility for 6 weeks. Volunteers would be given keys at 5PM on Sunday, July 6. The cats HAD a building! An empty building.

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room.  [Photo via Facebook]

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room. [Photo via Facebook]

Again, the news was shared. A building was found. No cages, no food, no litter… The media was contacted. When the keys were handed over, a local news crew was there to document volunteers, with brooms and rags. Cleaning the building. Cages were loaned by multiple rescues. A wish list was set up. Amazon and UPS became aware of the multiple packages they would begin shipping. Transport from Anderson County to the building in Mauldin, SC was arranged for the cats. 

Volunteers were there on Monday, July 7 setting up for the arrival. Again, multiple news media were there. Currently there are over 50 cats and kittens. Kittens born at PAWS. Most of the females are pregnant. All are receiving care. All are alive. All of this, thanks to the public. As you like to say, the REAL humane society – small “h”, small “s” – wants to save lives. And they will.

Thank you Tami for sharing this good news and thanks to everyone who saved those non-evidence just cats from being killed at the pound.  Yay irresponsible public.

Nebraska Humane Society Kills Two Cats for Hissing

Chloe and Truman, as shown on the WOWT website.

Chloe and Truman, as shown on the WOWT website.

The Lovewell family in Nebraska had 2 snuggly cats since they were kittens – Chloe, age 13 and Truman, age 7.  Due to a chronic health issue with a family member, the Lovewells decided to take the cats to the Nebraska Humane Society where they believed the cats would find new homes.  No one at the facility led them to suspect otherwise and had anyone done so, the family says they would not have left them there.

But that night, the Lovewells were unable to sleep and realized they could not bear to part with their pets, no matter what.  They called the Nebraska HS first thing the next morning to let them know not to adopt out Chloe and Truman as they wanted them back.  But their calls were sent to voicemail.  And anyway, the Nebraska HS had already killed both pets:

Nebraska Humane Society spokesperson Pam Wiese said, “They were acting aggressively, hissing and spitting and swatting and we couldn’t really handle them. If you can’t handle them, you can’t get them into a kennel to get them into adoptable condition.”

It sounds like the cats were scared at the time they entered the facility – which is normal behavior for cats.  The staff at the Nebraska HS should know this and should have protocols in place to allow cats time to settle.  Instead, the facility apparently has a policy that if a pet is not immediately made “into adoptable condition” – wearing a bow tie and playfully rolling a ball of yarn around the cage I suppose – he needs to be made into dead condition.  The Humane, it hurts.

The Nebraska HS says it will now explain to all surrendering parties that their pets might be killed.  And someone will start answering calls from people wanting to reclaim their pets.  Oh.  I was hoping they were going to stop killing animals and conducting useless behavioral assessments at the time of impound.  I guess humane doesn’t mean what I think it means.

Note:  Comments bashing the owners for surrendering the cats will be deleted.  Every single one of us has made decisions we regret.  Sometimes we can correct them, sometimes we can not.  This family tried.  They believed, as most people do, that a place calling itself a humane society was staffed by animal lovers who would not kill their pets.  Now they know better.  Blame the people doing the killing.

(Thanks Karen for the link.)

Request from a Reader for Cat Taming Suggestions

Reader Casey Post writes:

Every morning when I feed my outdoor ferals, I check their shelter just in case someone has vomited on the blanket during the night (hey, mouse parts happen). One morning, I see two eyes looking back at me…a small brown tabby with an ear tip! Long story short, he’s not feral, he’s super sweet and in need of a dental. The vet says that he’s already missing teeth, but she needs to extract one more and clean up the rest. She estimates him to be around eight years old. I named him Virgil.

Virgil  (Photo by Casey Post)

Virgil (Photo by Casey Post)

Not long after Virgil’s appearance, another strange cat is spotted from afar – a black and white. But this cat melts away as soon as he sees me. I start leaving food out by the front door for him, hoping to get a better look to see if he’s a neighbor’s cat. Eventually, I get a glimpse – and see that he too is ear tipped! Now I live on a dead end street, so I figured that Virgil had been dumped (I did post him as found everywhere, called around, no one recognized him or claimed him) and the chances of TWO strange ear tipped cats appearing in the neighborhood at the same time reinforces the idea. So I set my trap out next to the now-familiar food dish for a couple of days, then one day put the food dish IN the trap – success! I caught my black and white.

But this cat is not outgoing and friendly like Virgil. I set him up in a cage until I can get him to the vet (it’s the weekend, of course) and one day he meows at me! Okay, not feral. But definitely doesn’t feel comfortable with me touching him. Our vet appointment comes around and I plan to just scruff him (now named Gary, just to have something to call him) and pop him in the carrier (top loading – oh yeah, you want that if you’re alone with a difficult cat). The plan was sound – the room was closed and closet shut, pillows stuffed around the bed so that an escape would not result in a cat hiding under there, everything going great. Until I actually put a hand on Gary – he explodes in terror, clawing my arm. It’s okay, I’m not going to let go, just.need.to.get.cat.in.carrier. Focused. Determined. Bleeding. No yelling, no panic, just blood, it’s okay, it’s only two feet to the carrier…but no, it was not to be. He’s in a panic and I’m clearly going to kill him, so uses those claws to dig into my arm and swing around enough to BITE. Hard. That’s it, I dropped him. Couldn’t help it. Calmly exit room, wash out injuries thoroughly, bandage up, call vet to say that we’re going to be just a little bit late…

Now Gary is loose in the room, but with nowhere to go. So I give him somewhere to go – the carrier. I make it the only safe spot and continuously and slowly herd him towards it. Eventually, he goes in and I get the door closed and latched. Hooray!

Off to the vet. Vet gets a warning about the whole “will bite if you try to scruff him” thing, so vet is aware. He does try it, gives up, goes for sedation. Then more sedation. This poor cat really is convinced that death is coming for him from people handling him. Her. Vet discovers that Gary is a female! Also that she has less than wonderful lung sounds (I thought she might be asthmatic, but vet thinks URI – especially since she’s got a squinty eye, too). We get blood drawn, test for FIV/Feleuk (neg/neg), and get her microchipped while she’s out. Vet would like chest x-rays, but that’s a different building and they would have to sedate her again and that’s too much for one day, so at a later time. We get a Convenia shot (not something I’d normally go for, but with a cat whom you absolutely cannot handle, this is your best antibiotic choice), treated for parasites, and a nail trim (just in case). The vet sends me home with “let’s hope this is all she needs”.

This is where Gary is now -

Gary's taming cage.  (Photo by Casey post)

Gary’s taming cage. (Photo by Casey Post)

This is our “taming cage”. Her carrier/safe place, her litter box (right by the door so I can clean it, a Kuranda so she can get up a level and see out the window, a toy, her water. The carrier door is tied open so she doesn’t jostle it and accidentally close it to shut herself out. A fearful cat with no place to hide is not good. The whole set up is on top of a desk – setting it up ON TOP OF SOMETHING is very important – a cat on the floor feels much more vulnerable than a cat up on a desk. And I can shut Gary in the carrier to clean the cage safely for both of us (or transport her to the vet again, if needed, without bloodshed this time). I have a cardboard scratcher for it, but haven’t worked out where I can hang the thing, yet. The best place is between the Kuranda and the water bucket, but that would result in cardboard bits in her water. Still working on that.

Gary  (Photo by Casey Post)

Gary (Photo by Casey Post)

This photo was taken through the bars – and no, she’s not drugged up with sedatives here, her tongue just does that. Virgil’s does too (which I had attributed to his poor dental state), but now I wonder if they’re related? Gary’s teeth are decent, according to the vet, so the tongue thing may be a family trait.

So right now, I’ve got one very friendly and one not-so-friendly cat that I suspect came from the same household. I’m going to have to assume (for now) that Gary is a friendly cat who is just terrified out of her environment and having lost all that was familiar. My goal is to help her realize that this is a safe place, that she doesn’t have to be pointy bits of death at me. I want to get her URI cleared up and get her healthy. If she cannot be “tamed down”, then she can go back outside and join my little feral colony (there is a means to acclimate her out there for a few weeks before releasing her, so she knows that this place is now “home” and the ferals can get used her presence and she to theirs).

But *someone* transported her here to dump her. Which makes me think that she’s not normally a violently fearful cat. So I’ve got two Feliway diffusers going in the room, I’m spraying Spirit Essences “Scaredy Cat” over her carrier’s top grate four times a day, and I make sure that she sees me petting and brushing Virgil (and him loving it). I talk to her gently and I can even reach in with a soft brush to brush a little of her (but she’s not thrilled with that, yet, but she just flinches away, no lashing out or growling). I’ve also started adding L-lysine to her food twice a day, in case the URI is herpes-related.

If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions for us, it would be appreciated!

York Co SPCA Kills 36 Cats in Response to Ringworm Outbreak

Ringworm is a treatable condition which appears as a skin infection in pets.  Both oral and topical medications may be prescribed by a vet in treating pets with ringworm.  As with all diseases, it’s essential that animal shelters have protocols in place to prevent ringworm since treatment involves time, space and money – resources which shelters must use carefully.  The Koret Shelter Medicine Program at UC Davis has very detailed recommendations for shelters on both prevention and treatment.  These include:

  • Carefully inspect all incoming animals and all animals being considered for foster care or group housing. Look for any areas of hair loss, scabbing, or crusting, especially focal areas affecting the face, ears, feet or tail.
  • Segregate affected or suspected animals and institute cleaning protocols to prevent further spreading.
  • Environmental decontamination
  • During an outbreak or in areas that have frequent problems with ringworm, separate housing of all kittens in an easy to bleach area for at least two weeks, followed by careful re-inspection for signs of ringworm.

It sounds like hard work but obviously for a shelter, it comes with the territory.  After all, the name is not Animal Shelter, When It’s Easy and Convenient.

Dingo, a cat with ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo, a cat with ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo after receiving treatment for ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

Dingo, after receiving treatment for ringworm (Photo by JF Richards)

On April 1, the Fox affiliate in central PA reported that the York County SPCA killed 36 cats in response to a ringworm outbreak, for convenience:

York County SPCA executive director, Melissa Smith, says likely a stray cat spread its undetected ringworm to 120 cats.

Smith says, “That was too large a number for us to successfully treat so we decided to decrease that number down to a more manageable amount we could quarantine.”

Decrease that number. Ew.

Apparently the quarantine area at the York Co SPCA can house 90 cats so they killed 36 cats for convenience. And if you don’t like them apples, you will probably not like hearing that the decision to needlessly kill cats for convenience is your fault:

It’s a decision Smith says is preventable by spaying or neutering your pet.

If only we irresponsible public types would spay and neuter, the staff at the York Co SPCA would start doing their jobs. Wait – I did spay and neuter my pets. Now what’s the excuse? The York Co SPCA board president explains:

The York County SPCA recently experienced an outbreak of ringworm that ultimately resulted in the difficult decision to euthanize 36 cats. In a perfect world, there would be no unwanted animals, no need to operate animal shelters, and thus no need for those who dedicate their lives to the well-being of animals to make the heart-wrenching decision of euthanasia.

Such decisions are made out of necessity, not by choice, in thousands of similar humane organizations across the country on a daily basis. Sadly, an ideal world is one we continually strive for but not the reality of the world in which we live.
[...]
Many are demanding the resignation of Executive Director Melissa Smith, who has been a tireless advocate for the well-being of animals for nearly 25 years. Let us be unmistakably clear: Melissa Smith has the full support of the York County SPCA Board of Directors and will continue to do so.
[...]
Euthanasia is a disease that can be cured. The ultimate blame for this measure should be assigned not to those who must routinely make such heart-wrenching decisions, but to those who do not properly care for their animals, leave them unattended, allow them to reproduce, and whose lack of responsibility inevitably causes countless unwanted animals to end up in our and similar shelters throughout the country each day.

To recap:

  • The world is imperfect. Therefore, it’s anything goes, including cat killing!
  • Thousands of other shelters needlessly kill pets every day. Which makes it ok.
  • “Euthanasia is a disease that can be cured.” So it’s exactly like ringworm!
  • Don’t blame those doing the killing for the killing of pets. Blame your awful selves.
  • We are awesome. You guys suck.

Notably absent from the Yay Cat Killings/Boo You People PR:

  • Any mention of the York Co SPCA’s protocols to prevent ringworm
  • A detailed explanation for how those protocols failed
  • Whether any/all of the 120 cats were actually tested for ringworm
  • Why the York Co SPCA chose to kill for convenience instead of issuing a plea to the public for assistance
  • Why donors should continue to have faith in the York Co SPCA
  • What changes are being implemented in order to avoid, or at least minimize, another outbreak.

I guess the organization was so busy congratulating itself on its tireless animal advocacy filling up the dumpster with dead cats, no one remembered to appear accountable.  But when they are not killing cats, they are probably doing their jobs, right?  I mean, they would be, if it was a perfect world.  Until then, sucks being a cat at the York Co SPCA.

(Thank you Beth for the links.)

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?

 

Cats Beaten to Death, Displayed in Tree in NYC Suburb

Violence against animals has long been recognized as a trademark among criminals who commit serious violence against people.  That’s why it’s imperative that police find the person or persons responsible for bashing in the heads of dozens of cats then bagging their bodies and displaying them like ornaments in a tree in a NYC suburb.

The bagged remains of approximately 25 cats, some just skeletons and others killed as recently as three days prior, were discovered by a public works crew last week.  The Westchester County SPCA performed necropsies on some of the most recently killed cats and determined that blunt force trauma to the head was the cause of death.  A baseball bat, a metal pipe and two shovels were found near the scene and investigators are working to determine if they are connected to the killings.

One possible motive being considered:

[Ernest Lungaro, director of enforcement at the Westchester County SPCA] said there are many feral cats in the area and there has been some tension over feeding stations that some residents have established.

“Some people get frustrated with the people who feed them,” he said. He said it was possible the dead cats were put in the trees “to taunt the people that are feeding the cats.”

Investigators have yet to determine whether the cats were feral or owned pets.  Alley Cat Allies has nonetheless posted a reward for information on the case:

Alley Cat Allies is offering a cash reward of $750 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the deaths of at least 25 cats found in Yonkers, NY. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the SPCA of Westchester confidential hotline at 914-941-7797.

In the meantime, I think it’s generally good practice for colony caretakers to carry a cell phone, to feed by the full light of day, and to attend to colonies with at least one other person whenever possible.  No one wants to feel bullied into changing their routines because of some sick individual(s) but taking reasonable precautions in the face of such extreme violence seems sound to my mind.  I wouldn’t want anyone – colony caretaker or otherwise – to run into this person (or persons) all alone.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

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