March 21, 2013
In the face of feline disease outbreak in a shelter, when is it appropriate to kill every exposed cat in the place? How about never? Does never work for you? It works for me.
The Caldwell Co pound in NC had several cats die. Preliminary testing on two of them indicated Calicivirus. Then the story gets weird:
More samples were sent off for extensive tests and those results are not back yet. The virus is usually passed though the air from cat to cat, said Veterinarian Dr. John Thuss. “It normally is just a moderate illness, sort of like the flu in humans,” he said.
Thuss thinks there could be other factors involved in this case but cannot be sure until all the test results are back.
The Koret Shelter Medicine Program has an information sheet on Calicivirus:
Feline calicivirus is shed primarily in saliva and oculonasal discharge, but can be found in all body secretions during acute disease. Although FCV can be spread by droplets sneezed out to a distance of ~ 4 feet, true aerosol transmission of FCV is unlikely.
If Dr. Thuss believed the disease that was killing cats at the pound was transmitted by air, it wasn’t Calicivirus. This underscores the need for the additional test results. One area where Koret and Dr. Thuss are in sync is the potential involvement of other factors. Again from the Koret information sheet:
The obvious first step in deciding whether outbreak control measures are necessary is to definitely diagnose FCV and rule out other common causes of the observed signs, such as feline panleukopenia. Even if FCV is a contributing factor, the outbreak can often be resolved by controlling the co-factor, which may be more amenable to intervention. [...]
I can’t stress this enough: the vast majority of suspected [Virulent Systemic Feline Calicivirus] cases or outbreaks we are contacted about turn out to have another primary cause such as panleukopenia, disinfectant toxicity, or the cumulative effects of severe crowding, poor sanitation, problems with air quality and rampant disease from many causes adding up to a picture that looks a lot like VS-FCV.
So additional testing is critical to determine the true cause of the illness so that informed treatment decisions can be made. Koret adds:
In the meantime, of course, affected and exposed cats should be isolated as with any possibly infectious outbreak.
Sounds like a reasonable plan. Instead, the Caldwell Co pound killed all the “exposed” cats (exposed to air?), stopped accepting cats from the community and cleaned the cages (and I guess, the air?). All this before the needed test results were back. No informed decisions, no isolation, no treatment – just needless killing. And then they started taking in cats again – before the test results were back.
So Caldwell Co never knew what they were dealing with, killed 15 cats anyway, closed their doors to community cats in need, then re-opened, still ignorant of which virus(es) may have been killing cats in their facility.
If you watch the video at the link, the pound apparently houses cats in dog runs, which has got to increase the stress level for the cats and weaken their ability to fight disease. Oh and the coup de grace: the shelter says the public is at fault for not vaccinating their cats. No mention from the shelter on whether they vaccinate all cats upon intake, as per standard disease prevention protocol.
(Thank you Lisa for the link.)
This post is another installment featuring records for some of the pets needlessly killed by the Memphis pound during the week of December 5 – December 12, 2012. These are 4 cats who were all housed in an area of the pound that is off limits to the public and their cage cards are all marked “feral” under the “kennel no.” Clearly at least one of the cats was not feral but still none were offered to the public for adoption, rescue or foster. Nor were any TNR’d (if truly feral, TNR is a humane option for cats). They were all healthy at the time MAS director James Rogers signed off on their killings noting, “no holds requested”. How could anyone request a hold on cats that no one outside of MAS staff even knows are there? When did anyone have a chance to touch and fall in love with these cats?
Cat # 248920 was wearing a leather collar when impounded for quarantine. The city provided no records indicating that this cat bit anyone. Although the impounding ACO’s notes were requested, none were provided so presumably either the officer failed to make any notes or the city failed to provide the requested records. The medical records indicate this kitty was healthy and “very friendly”. She was killed on December 12, 2012.
Cat #249058 was impounded as a stray and records indicate he was a healthy 1 year old kitty. He weighed just 3 pounds when MAS killed him on December 12, 2012. No one bothered to take his picture for his record.
Cat #249093 was listed as a healthy, stray 2 month old kitten. The weight listed on the kill record on December 12 was 2 pounds.
Cat #249295 was owner surrendered in the field on December 11. Although the impounding ACO’s notes were requested, none were provided so presumably either the officer failed to make any notes or the city failed to provide the requested records. He was apparently healthy and weighed 3 pounds when MAS killed him on December 12.
Killing is the default disposition in Memphis. Until compassionate people stop enabling the killing and start taking a stand for no kill, the community’s pets will continue to be routed to the landfill via the MAS kill room.
February 3, 2013
If you read recently about the Smithsonian study that stated free roaming cats kill up to 24 billion birds and small mammals annually, you probably had questions. Some of those questions may have been:
- Where can I buy whatever the Smithsonian researchers are smoking?
- Are there 24 billion bird and mammal skeletons weighed down with wee cement shoes at the bottoms of every river in the United States?
Thankfully, Peter Wolf at Vox Felina has answers to all these questions and more (well, not the second one actually). His post entitled Garbage In, Garbage Out looks at the research in detail and brings to light various flaws. Serious flaws. For example, he notes that the studies referenced in the paper are, in various cases, outdated, imprecise, misrepresented and counted more than once. Using these studies to extrapolate such things as the number of cats with access to prey and the number of birds and small mammals killed by these cats results in even greater imprecision. Thus the title of Vox Felina’s post. And then there is the issue of agenda, specifically to undermine TNR, and the authors’ apparent bias:
[Peter] Marra (a vocal critic of TNR) served as Nico Dauphiné’s advisor at the Smithsonian until October 2011, when she resigned after being found guilty of attempted animal cruelty. And [Tom] Will, also an outspoken critic of TNR, helped Dauphiné land her post-doc fellowship there with a letter of recommendation.* (Her position was funded by USFWS, just as [Scott] Loss’ is today.)
While I am grateful there are smart minds like Peter Wolf willing to put in the work to debunk this study, I think many people will simply apply the common sense test to the outrageous claims made in the paper. Which is to say, a quick glance at the sky, the trees and the ground reveal that indeed, bird and small mammal populations are thriving. And cats are not the wildlife mafia.
As one commenter put it on Gawker (Warning: bad language alert):
right. it’s not fucking encroachment by archer-daniels midland, or death by monsanto poisoned seeds or bayer or ortho pesticides and herbicides, oh no, it couldn’t be those things. it couldn’t fucking be from air, water and soil pollution, fuck no; everyone knows those things are *good* for billions of birds.
it’s frisky the cat. only cats. cats are to blame.
+1 for common sense.
January 15, 2013
On its website, the Mt. Vernon Animal Shelter in NY is described as “a municipal shelter that serves as a safe haven for thousands of domestic animals”. Two months ago, the shelter reportedly stopped accepting cats “when they worried they could not contain the spread of such diseases as feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus and ringworm.” Now they are planning to use killing as a means to fight those diseases.
I am concerned that a municipal facility stopped helping cats in need. I am concerned that a municipal facility does not know how to manage such common diseases as FeLV, FIV and ringworm. And I am concerned that the city-appointed vet advising the shelter seems to be just as clueless:
“It becomes a public health problem,” [Dr. Robert Jiao] said. “The priority is what’s best for the whole animal population and what’s best for the public.”
FeLV is a public health problem, I guess. The article goes on to state that cats who are “particularly sick, old and aggressive” and who don’t respond well to treatment – including rehabilitation for aggression – will likely be killed. Shelter cats being rehabbed for aggression and those judged to be failing get marked for death? Gee, that sounds extreme – and wacky.
Jiao said some of them will likely be euthanized, signaling a return to a policy that was always in place but has largely been ignored in recent years.
“The desire is sacrifice the few to benefit the many,” he said.
Has anyone surveyed the few to ask if they mind being “sacrificed”? I thought not. Since when is an old cat a public health problem? Or any problem? And how is this return to an old protocol in any way consistent with the shelter’s stated purpose of serving as a safe haven? I hope Mt. Vernon can move forward, not back, with its policies and learn how no kill shelters manage FeLV, FIV and ringworm in cats without cutting off the community cats in need and without killing.
(Thank you Clarice for sending me this story.)
January 10, 2013
October 25, 2012
In 2011, the Humane Society of Carroll Co in MD killed 2457 of the 3053 cats who came through its doors. When Laura Shenk of the group Animal Advocates of Carroll Co MD noticed a cat adoption special on the pound’s website this month, she and her group set about promoting the $30 fee. The promotion appeared to be working since 18 cats were adopted in the first week which is more than twice the average number of cats adopted weekly at the facility.
The adoption special was suddenly removed from the HS of Carroll Co’s website, without explanation, on October 8. In its place was a notice that cats could be adopted for a $50 fee which was later changed to a vague “please call for pricing” notice. Ms. Shenk contacted shelter director Nicky Ratliff to explain that her group had heavily promoted the $30 fee special and believed the shelter should honor the fee for the entire month, as originally advertised.
By way of response, Ms. Ratliff had 2 suggestions: 1. Don’t mention the fees when promoting the shelter cats (presumably so the shelter would not find itself in the awkward position of having to explain why the advertised price is not the actual price) and 2. Start your own cat rescue. (This is one I have heard from pet killing facilities on numerous occasions. Their counter to advocates’ demands of, “Do your job!” is “No, YOU do our job!”)
On October 11, I sent an e-mail to Ms. Ratliff inquiring as to why the adoption fee special was discontinued. I have not received a response to that e-mail.
Ms. Shenk then brought her concerns to the county board. She was advised that the $30 advertised fee represented a $20 discount from the regular fee and was too costly for the shelter to absorb. Her group offered to pay the $20 difference in adoption fees for up to 35 cats in order to allow the shelter to honor the originally advertised fee special for the remainder of the month. This offer, which would have amounted to a $700 donation, was refused by Ms. Ratliff in an e-mail to a county board member:
From: Ratliff, Nicky
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 1:56 PM
To: Windham, Roberta J.
Subject: Laura Shenk’s offer to assist
I just asked my staff if anyone had called us to inquire about the $30.00 spayed and neutered cats/kittens or had anyone mentioned it when they came in to adopt and they said not a single person has called or said anything. For that reason we will not be once again changing our website for the remaining 11 days of the month that we are open to the public.
That being said, we do appreciate the offer from Laura and please advise her that if she or her group would want to donate specifically to our spay/neuter account they are welcome to do so and we would appreciate their financial assistance. Thanks, Nicky
So I guess that because nobody asked about a fee special the shelter removed from its website, there is no need to accept a $700 donation from a group of advocates trying to help the shelter reduce its horrifying 80% kill rate for cats. This makes sense to at least one person on this earth apparently. Unfortunately that person is killing most of the cats in her care and unwilling to accept free money from animal advocates to kill less.
But nobody wants to kill pets, right?
October 16, 2012
Who is the best unsocialized kitten marked for death at a euthanasia class but saved by Shelby Co No Kill Mission instead? Everyone KNOWS it’s Shirley T!
An update from Kelly on how kitteh’s socialization is going:
Shirley T now calls out for me and BEGS for can food. Oh….and she sure LOVES her bed and her naps!!
I too demand canned food from my bed but sadly, I am ignored.
If you are interested in being at Shirley T’s beck and call, apply within.
September 13, 2012
I don’t know if this guy is single but if so, someone should snatch him up immediately.
WBTV reports that a home in Iredell Co, NC was visited by animal control officers in May:
They found 23 cats and the house was clean. Months later conditions got bad.
How bad? Supposedly there were 198 cats and 3 dogs at the home yesterday when AC came with a warrant and seized all the pets. WBTV states 15 will be killed. Cruelty charges are pending against the owner.
Chris Royal, director of the Iredell County pound says some of the cats have ringworm. And although she runs a gassing facility which killed 87% of the 3153 cats it received last year, she uses this media opportunity to chide the public regarding neutering:
“This just goes to show you,” Royal said. “If they would have their cat spayed or neutered, they would not have had the problem they have – 198, that is a lot of animals.”
Would neutering keep them out of your gas chamber? I didn’t think so.
WSOC is reporting different numbers. When AC visited in spring, they found “30 – 40 cats” and clean conditions. WSOC also says 50 cats are sick and will be killed. But they have the same total figures.
Whatever the exact numbers were a few months ago, it’s a staggering increase to get to 198 today and not explainable solely by a failure to neuter. Neither report includes images from conditions inside the home and the cats pictured at the pound appear to be in good health. I don’t know if the 15 (or 50) cats “have to” get stuffed into the gas chamber for ringworm or if there has been some other eyeball diagnosis by a layman that they are using as an excuse for killing instead of treatment. But the director says they don’t have room for the cats and given her track record on killing, I fear for the non-ringworm cats. Assuming the pound does no better and no worse than they did with their cats in 2011, that would mean at least 87% (probably more since RTO is not an option for any of them) will be killed.
Could the owner have been offered assistance with spay-neuter, education, and placement of some of the cats, allowing her to keep a smaller number which AC could monitor in future? Seizing these cats is kinder to them than leaving them where they were – how exactly? If even one of the healthy/treatable cats goes into the gas chamber at the pound, I call this entire operation an epic fail.
(Thank you Lisa for alerting me to this story.)
Cat #241683 was impounded by MAS on June 5, 2012 at 11:43 am. He was badly injured, possibly degloved by a fan belt. He was left to sit without treatment (presumably in a cage and not in the trap where MAS photographed him) until the next day. On June 6, the MAS veterinarian examined the cat and although she described him as “very stressed” due to lack of socialization, she was apparently able to scrub the multiple large wounds all over his body without sedation or anesthesia of any kind. Perhaps the cat was in such a weakened condition that he was unable to put up a fight, as any house cat would, and especially any feral cat. The vet scrubbed the wounds, gave the cat a shot of penicillin and a shot of depo medrol. I am not a vet but as far as I know, penicillin is an antibiotic and depo medrol is a steroid which can suppress the immune system. Neither is a pain medication.
In the memo of this cat’s records, the vet notes that the cat is suffering and should be euthanized “but should be okay for holding period”. No mention is made of any pain medication or further monitoring. The records seem to indicate that no one ever checked on this cat again to see if his suffering had worsened. And after viewing so many MAS security camera videos, I don’t feel confident that cat #241683′s cage was cleaned daily or that he was even fed or watered daily while at MAS.
Cat #241683 was killed on June 10, 2012 by MAS, after suffering for 5 days with no pain medicine and only one vet treatment (which was at least questionable to my mind). He was likely very frightened during those 5 days but apparently too weak to resist. Every minute of every hour of every day at MAS must have been agonizing for this poor cat. I don’t know if his injuries were treatable but if they were, I believe any animal shelter would have an obligation to do so in order to restore the cat to health so he could be neutered, vaccinated and offered for adoption if appropriate or returned to his home in the community if feral. If his injuries were too extensive for treatment and the prognosis was poor or grave, I believe any animal shelter would be obligated to humanely euthanize this cat as soon as the vet determined he was medically hopeless and suffering. He should have been rushed to the front of the line at the vet clinic immediately upon intake, not left to sit for a full day before receiving his initial exam and then left to suffer an additional 4 days after that.
I’m sorry this cat was hurt. But once he made it to an animal shelter, the staff there should have done their jobs and taken immediate steps to help this animal. Instead, the actions, and inactions, of the staff at the Memphis pound brought 5 more days of additional suffering to this cat. This is not why taxpayers pay for a municipal animal shelter.
What now MAS – another compassion class to tell the media about or perhaps a new logo contest? It is long past time to stop focusing on how things appear and address the way things are for the animals at the pound. Shame on anyone who ever saw cat #241683 suffering at MAS and did nothing to help him. If no one there was going to take action to help the cat, at least someone could have blown the whistle on the cruelty. Alas, there was nothing. And if not for the persistence of the irresponsible public in demanding access to public records, cat #241683 would have simply been another anonymous dead animal at MAS. Fire. Them. All.