21 Year Old Cat Illegally Impounded and Killed by Animal Control in CT

Wallingford, CT – Scott and Kim Palmer got their cat Zima from a neighbor 2 years ago when Zima was 19 years old. They converted an insulated shed in their yard for Zima, putting in several beds, a heater, and installing a window so Zima could enjoy the sunshine. The cat house was accessible via a covered kitty door.

Kim Palmer arrived home on November 12 to find Zima was missing. She began searching the neighborhood and went to Pent Road Animal Control. She was told at the pound that Zima had been impounded and killed due to possible rabies. Ms. Palmer said that Zima had been vaccinated and couldn’t possibly have been rabid. She went home to get her husband and they both returned to the pound, only to find the door locked. They have never received any reasonable explanation for why Zima was impounded and killed.

Connecticut’s animal laws can be read here. The statutes require cats to be vaccinated for rabies, which Zima reportedly was. And there are very narrow parameters which allow an ACO to impound a cat:

§ 22-332d. Impoundment and disposition of certain cats. Authority to spay or neuter unclaimed cat

(a) Any animal control officer for a municipality which has adopted an ordinance under subsection (b) of section 22-339d may take into custody any cat found to be damaging property other than property of its owner or keeper or causing an unsanitary, dangerous or unreasonably offensive condition unless such cat can be identified as under the care of its owner or a registered keeper of feral cats. The officer shall impound such cat at the pound serving the town where the cat is taken unless, in the opinion of a licensed veterinarian, the cat is so injured or diseased that it should be destroyed immediately, in which case the municipal animal control officer of such town may cause the cat to be mercifully killed by a licensed veterinarian or disposed of as the State Veterinarian may direct. The municipal animal control officer shall immediately notify the owner or keeper of any cat so taken, if known, of its impoundment. If the owner or keeper of any such cat is unknown, the officer shall immediately tag or employ such other suitable means of identification of the cat as may be approved by the Chief Animal Control Officer and shall promptly cause a description of such cat to be published once in the lost and found column of a newspaper having a circulation in such town.

Cats who are not deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian must be held at the pound so their owners can reclaim them. And that’s if the cat was causing property damage – otherwise, it seems that an ACO has no authority to impound a cat. It appears that the Pent Road pound may have violated state laws by impounding and killing Zima. When the local paper reached out to the assistant ACO for comment on the case, she had nothing to say.

There is a provision in the state laws for owners who have had their pets taken by ACOs to complain:

§ 22-335. Removal of municipal animal control officer. Complaint against municipal animal control officer

Any municipal animal control officer may be removed by the authority which appointed him or by the commissioner, and a successor may be appointed by such authority or commissioner. Any owner of a dog or cat aggrieved by the taking of such dog or cat by a municipal animal control officer may make complaint to the appointing authority of such municipal animal control officer or to the commissioner; and if, upon investigation of the complaint, the authority or the commissioner finds that the municipal animal control officer took the dog or cat otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, or abused or cruelly treated the dog or cat, the authority or the commissioner may remove the officer and appoint his successor.

I hope the Palmers file a complaint. How many other owned pets has the Pent Road pound impounded and immediately killed? How many owners have given up hope after finding the facility’s doors locked and/or being met with the staff’s refusal to provide explanations as to what happened to their pets?  Where are the records for Zima and all the other pets killed at this facility indicating a vet determined them to be medically hopeless and suffering?

Cats are second class citizens in far too many so-called shelters in this country.  It’s past time for that to change.  Oh but nobody WANTS to kill animals, it’s all the irresponsible public’s fault, spay-neuter would solve everything and [insert your favorite myth here].

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Capital Area Humane Society Increases Lifesaving for Cats by Engaging Public

It’s been depressing watching these so-called animal shelters and consultants announce they are going to “save more cats” by turning lost, owned cats back out into the street and/or selling lost, owned cats immediately upon impound.  Reuniting lost pets with their owners is not only part of the job at any shelter, it’s one of the best parts of the job to my mind.  I guess that’s why these groups feel compelled to lie about their reasons for failing at it so egregiously, blaming the “irresponsible” public even as they themselves violate the law and their own ethical responsibilities as temporary caretakers of the community’s pets.

An extremely handsome cat named Bill, listed as adoptable on the Capital Area HS website.

An extremely handsome cat named Bill, listed as adoptable on the Capital Area HS website.

It would be easy enough for any shelter to look at this trend of treating stray cats as second class pets and say “Works for us – let’s join in!”  After all, cats are harder to shelter than dogs and if you’re lazy and don’t care about keeping families together to being with, why should you bother coming up with actual solutions to the myriad issues surrounding cat sheltering?  But the staff at the donor funded Capital Area Humane Society in Ohio didn’t take the easy way out when it came to revamping their cat protocols.  They didn’t blame the public, they embraced the fact that most people who bring cats to a shelter are trying to do the right thing.  They didn’t break up families for personal profit, they gave surrendering parties supplies to keep families together, even if just temporarily.

Staff at the Capital Area Humane Society used to spend 3 hours a day killing cats and had a live release rate of just 32% for cats.  They knew their cat protocols needed an overhaul.  On September 1, staff began implementing new admission protocols for all surrendered animals but cats, including strays, have particularly benefited:

With the new protocol, an animal that is brought in to the Humane Society near Hilliard receives an exam, vaccinations and necessary medications for a nominal fee, which might be waived if the client dropping off the animal can’t pay. The client is then offered supplies, such as food and litter, and the option of fostering or keeping the animal.

The shelter also slashed adoption fees on cats and is now selling kittens for $25 and cats over 6 months of age for $10.  And a new partnership with five area rescue groups is allowing the community to step up even more.

By October 23, the kill rate for cats at the shelter had dropped by 58% and the killing of healthy, friendly cats for space dropped by 93%.

An example of how the new system works for stray cats:

Caity Waites of Huber Heights, near Dayton, said she and her roommate received assistance with three stray kittens under the new system, turning to the society when a number of other shelters said they couldn’t help.

After the veterinary exam, the women agreed to foster the animals until the society could take them. They ended up finding homes for two themselves and keeping the third.

[...]

“It was just the easiest thing in the world,” Waites said. “They just genuinely wanted the kittens to get homes. The whole experience was completely seamless and friendly and caring from start to finish.”

I’m so glad these people were able to foster and find homes for two of the kittens and decided to give the one kitten a permanent home.  These are good people, as are most people who turn to a shelter for assistance with pets.  I only hope their kitten never gets lost and if she does, she isn’t picked up by one of the lazy shelters with a policy of either putting the kitten back out on the street or immediately selling her for profit.

Improvements can and should be made in poorly performing shelters.  Taking a fresh look at how cats are sheltered is a good idea.  Breaking up families, putting owned cats back on the street and blaming the public have no place in any shelter.  It’s the opposite of why we have shelters in our society.  Good on the Capital Area HS for putting in the hard work to save more cats.  Keep going.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Lincoln Co Pound Manager Threatens to Kill Up to 100 Cats for Convenience

Tipped over in his carrier for a photo, this cat is listed as an adoptable pet by the Lincoln Co pound on Petpoint.

Tipped over in his carrier for a photo, this cat is listed as an adoptable pet by the Lincoln Co pound on Petango.

On Wednesday, David Workman, the manager at the long troubled Lincoln Co pound in NC, issued a public threat to kill up to 100 cats if they didn’t get adopted by Friday. The pound had 184 cats on Wednesday.

Workman wanted the media to know that killing is a last resort, which totally jives with giving the public less than 2 days notice to adopt 100 cats. And that hey, you know what? – there actually is a sad in this story:

[N]one of the employees enjoy doing that process [of killing animals] so that is the most unfortunate thing about it.

Most unfortunate thing. Not the mountain of dead pets who had the right to live but fell victim to pound workers who fail to do their jobs. The staff at the Lincoln Co pound won’t enjoy killing 100 cats. *sniff* Gosh, that is truly tragic.

Also:

Workman added that overpopulation can be avoided if families just remembered to get their cats spayed or neutered.

Pet overpopulation is a myth. But even if it was real, it does not give shelters the right to kill pets. And most owners neuter their pets. The reason that some don’t is not because they freaking forgot. It’s because they can’t afford it, do not have (or know about) low cost spay-neuter clinics in their area and/or lack transportation for the pet to and from the clinic. And since spay-neuter is not magic, the Lincoln Co pound would do well do start addressing its actual problems and stop blaming the public for its failings.

You know what I’ve heard is an enjoyable thing at animal shelters? Getting all the healthy/treatable pets out alive. The most unfortunate thing is that Lincoln Co seems content to operate in the dark ages.

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Michigan Humane Goes Rogue on Mandatory Holding Periods for Stray Cats Lacking Identification

The war on cats by so-called humane animal organizations continues.

Michigan state law regarding mandatory holding periods for impounded animals is clear:

Act 224 of 1969287.388 Disposition of dogs or cats; time; notice; record; exceptions.

Sec. 8.

A dealer, a county, city, village, or township operating a dog pound or animal shelter shall not sell or otherwise dispose of a dog or cat within 4 days after its acquisition. If the dog or cat has a collar, license, or other evidence of ownership, the operator of the pound or shelter shall notify the owner in writing and disposition of the animal shall not be made within 7 days from the date of mailing the notice. Each operator of a pound or shelter shall be required to maintain a record on each identifiable dog or cat acquired, indicating a basic description of the animal, the date it was acquired and under what circumstances. The record shall also indicate the date of notice sent to the owner of an animal and subsequent disposition.

This section does not apply to animals which are sick or injured to the extent that the holding period would cause undue suffering, or to animals whose owners request immediate disposal.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

On October 21, the long troubled Michigan Humane Society reportedly sent a mass email advising volunteers of its new policy for impounded cats lacking identification.  The portion relevant to the new policy:

Currently, there is no statutory hold for cats.  It has been MHS practice to hold stray cats for at least 4 days before placing them up for adoption. However, in order to save more cat lives, MHS, effective immediately, will maintain no hold time for stray cats who are immediately adoptable and do not have any form of traceable identification.

Cats with any form of traceable identification will be held for 7 days while we attempt to contact their owners.

(Red font added for emphasis.)

Despite the claim made by MHS that “there is no statutory hold for cats”, the law is clear.  Every animal is entitled to at least a 4 day holding period so their owners, if they have any, can find them.  MHS knows this.  And they know the holding period is crucial to allowing families to find their lost pets. Snipped from the MHS webpage entitled “What to do if you find a stray animal”:

Is this animal lost or abandoned?  Regardless of his appearance, start with the assumption that the animal may be a loved animal who is greatly missed by his family.  Even a normally healthy, friendly animal who has become lost may take on a “homeless” appearance and frightened demeanor.  The animal’s coat may become dirty and matted and he may lose weight rapidly or sustain injuries.  And the absence of a collar or tag does not always mean the animal left home without one.

[...]

The best chance for an animal to be reunited with his family is if you turn him in to the appropriate holding facility.

[...]

If you have found an animal without identification and wish to keep the animal:
you must make a report to the animal control organization responsible for your geographic area and you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner.

[...]

Regardless of whether you hope to keep the pet or not, you must take appropriate steps to locate the original owner. This will prevent “property” disputes in the future if you do decide to keep the animal, and will give the pet the best opportunity to find his original owner whether you bring him to the shelter, or keep him at your home during your search.

[...]

FILE A FOUND REPORT ASAP with the local animal control or police in the city or county where you found the dog, cat or other animal. [...] You may be given the option to keep the animal during the stray hold period; this is at the discretion of the shelter.

Despite the stance MHS has adopted on its website that lost, owned pets may not be wearing identification, that keeping them for the mandatory stray hold is legally required and that searching for the owner is an absolute must, MHS seems to have zero interest in practicing what it preaches.

Last year around this time, SB560 – a bill MHS crafted – was introduced in the state Senate.  The bill would have reduced the mandatory holding period for stray cats lacking identification from 4 days to 2 days, making it harder for families to reclaim their lost pets.  SB560 died in committee and the law mandating the minimum 4 day holding period remains.

So after failing to get the law changed to their liking, MHS has apparently decided to claim the law does not exist.  Assuming MHS has put into practice the policy change detailed in the email, it means they are putting stray “adoptable” cats who lack identification immediately up for sale.  This is a clear violation of state law.  Failing to obey the mandatory holding period law for stray cats means that families are needlessly and illegally being broken up by MHS.

The Michigan Political Action Committee for Animals is asking concerned citizens to contact the state Department of Agriculture:

[C]ontact the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and file a complaint that our state’s largest and wealthiest private shelter is violating state law by ignoring mandatory stray hold times for cats, denying owners the opportunity and the right to reclaim their lost cat.

(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the heads up on this story.)

Charleston City Council Considers Bill Allowing the City to Steal Owned Cats

In West Virginia, Charleston city council’s ordinance and rules committee passed a draconian cat bill this week and sent it to the full city council for consideration.  How extreme is it, you ask?

Assistant city attorney Mandi Carter said the ordinance is different from the city’s already-on-the-books animal nuisance ordinances in that it gives the city the power to pick up and impound cats on private property without permission.

The bill includes fines for cat owners but fails to define how ownership is to be determined.  It also fails to address community cats – free living cats not socialized to people whose home is the outdoors – the group that is presumably the source of most of the complaints the city receives about cats.

The sole nay vote on the committee came from at-large Councilman Chris Dodrill:

“I totally understand that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. But I also don’t think we should pass bad laws just to do something,”

Councilman Joe Deneault told the local paper, in essence, the council should pass bad laws just to do something:

“We’ve been looking for a perfect solution forever, and we haven’t even come close to finding it. This is a measure toward some solution. It may not be perfect, but it is certainly better than doing nothing,” he said.

And when he says forever, he means not forever.  Councilman Dodrill:

“We talk about this once a year for an hour. … I think we can work harder and figure something else out that’s going to work.”

On top of all this, the shelter and police department responsible for enforcing the proposed ordinance say they do not have the cage space or humane officers to do so. And even if they did, enforcing such a law would be a waste of time anyway:

“If time is spent on cat calls, there are animal control concerns, safety concerns, that go unattended in the community. So, vicious dogs; dog fighting; children being bit by animals. And when so much time is spent on cat issues, true animal control public safety issues go unanswered,” [Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association Director Chelsea] Staley said.

Ms. Staley told the committee that residents can use things like citrus and coffee grounds on their property to discourage cats from entering. Some guy who spoke in support of the ordinance wanted to know if irresponsible cat owners were going to foot the bill for the orange peels and the stuff left in the coffee filter that otherwise goes in the trash. Sounds like there was legitimate debate anyway.

The Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association has put up an online petition calling for the bill to be tabled and replaced by something that makes a tiny bit of sense and doesn’t include stealing people’s cats.

If the Charleston city council would scrap this bill and be willing to consider a TNR program for its community cats, I would personally pledge to send my used citrus fruits and coffee grounds to that one guy worried about the cost.  Win-win?

(Thanks Clarice and Anne for the links.)

Mass Cat Killing Threatened in Indianapolis Pound

Vaccination is the name of the game when it comes to preventing and minimizing outbreaks of panleukopenia in shelter cats.  Some takeaways from the Koret Shelter Medicine Program info sheet on panleukopenia:

Kittens are at highest risk for this disease, and adult cats with current vaccinations are at very low risk.

[...]

Vaccination for panleukopenia is highly effective if performed correctly.

[...]

All cats 4-5 weeks of age and older should receive a modified live panleukopenia vaccine immediately upon shelter entry[.]

In addition to vaccination upon intake, shelters must follow appropriate cleaning protocols and housing requirements for all cats in order to prevent and minimize panleukopenia outbreaks. During an outbreak, Koret’s recommendations include:

  • Quarantine and isolate all at-risk cats for [the virus's incubation period of] 14 days.
  • Minimize foster kitten return and place new intakes into non-contaminated rooms.

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control is currently facing an outbreak of panleukopenia. Last week the pound killed 20 cats in response to the outbreak and announced that 80 more would be killed. Dawn Contos, the pound’s community outreach coordinator, told the media that the public is being asked not to drop off cats in need for the next 2 weeks. Any cats who are brought to the pound will be killed.

When asked about how the outbreak could have been prevented, Ms. Contos told WTHR:

“I don’t know that a vet could have prevented this. Honestly, what prevents panleukopenia is vaccinating your cats.”

She doesn’t know whether a vet could have prevented the outbreak. Because Indianapolis ACC doesn’t have one. The position, along with that of director, has been vacant almost all year. So in the absence of a leadership team, I guess the plan is kill every cat in the place and let the flying spaghetti monster sort them out.

She’s right on the vaccination issue though. So totally right. Although I notice she terms it as “your cats”, implying the so-called irresponsible public is at fault, when the cats currently at the shelter are in effect your cats, Ms. Contos. Taxpayers pay you and the rest of the staff to shelter them and protect them from harm.  And the question must be asked, have you been vaccinating your cats per standard shelter protocols? Because if you have, there is no reason to worry about your adult cats – they are protected. In addition, some of your cats have likely already been vaccinated by their previous owners – so they are protected even if you have failed in your duties. And your kittens can safely be quarantined and monitored for symptoms.  There is simply no need for a mass killing, whatever the case.

As often happens when these stories make it to the media, the irresponsible public immediately stepped up to save lives:

Several animal shelter and rescue organizations have worked to save more than 100 cats from what they considered unnecessary death at Indianapolis Animal Care and Control[.]

So while the Indianapolis pound continues to flail without a director or veterinarian, the public continues to work hard, trying to do the staff’s jobs for them, even as the pound spokesman attempts to foist blame on the very people networking, donating, fostering, and adopting.

IACC – your cats are alive today and safe in the care of the public.  You’re welcome.  But you’ll be taking in more cats, since that’s what taxpayers pay you to do.  Will you start doing your jobs now?

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Helmetta Pound Mired in Failure, Director Appears Oblivious

After receiving a number of complaints regarding the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ, the Middlesex County Health Department inspected the pound on September 26 and September 30.  The South Brunswick Post reports that the first inspection report indicated multiple problems including the importation of dogs from the south without proper health certificates, housing healthy cats in the isolation area with sick cats, failure to record identification numbers on dog and cat records, failure to record parvo test results and cages not being cleaned with appropriate frequency.

Also on September 26, a letter from the Director of the Office of Health Services for the Middlesex Department of Public Safety and Health to the Helmetta pound advised that a cat was adopted out and subsequently diagnosed with panleukopenia.  The letter indicated “that all felines adopted within the next 10 calendar days must be seen by a veterinarian and cleared for adoption prior to finalizing of said adoption.”

This lead to conflicting reports of whether the Helmetta pound was closed for adoptions or not.  Pound director Michal Cielesz further muddied the waters by making what appear to be wildly contradictory statements to the South Brunswick Post:

“We are doing our due diligence to make sure we do the right thing,” she said.
[...]
Ms. Cielesz said that there were two or three cats in the adoption room with “upper respiratory infections coming on.”

We’re doing the right thing but there are sick cats in the adoption room with healthy cats?

“The cats were checked in the morning and we had a vet here,” she said. “We were examining the kittens. The kittens were bright, alert, and responsive. We came back a half a hour later and (one had) passed away. I don’t know what happened and there was a veterinarian here.”

Bright, alert and responsive to dead in 30 minutes or less?  How does this not raise an All Hands on Deck emergency within a shelter housing 150 cats?

But this isn’t the Helmetta pound’s first rodeo.  The NJ SPCA has also issued written warnings to the facility and will conduct unannounced follow up inspections to verify compliance.  And the New Jersey State Humane Police sent a letter to the Helmetta Borough Administrator last month regarding an investigation conducted in August.  The issues detailed in that letter include “failure to supply a living animal necessary care” for 3 sick kittens and administering improper doses of medicine to animals.

The Helmetta pound kills feral cats as a matter of policy.  And not only are they importing animals from the south, they reportedly shipped a group of cats to a shelter in SC.  Gee, last I checked, we have plenty of shelter cats already in SC.  And since most of them are going to the landfill, there is no way we should be importing more from NJ.  I don’t know what brain trust was behind that brilliant plan but hopefully they’ll go back to their day jobs soon.

In the meantime, the Helmetta pound director dismisses critics because haters gonna hate:

“It’s a personal campaign,” Ms. Cielesz said. “It’s not about the animals. I don’t think this (controversy) benefits the animals.”

Well it doesn’t “benefit the animals” in the same way that housing sick cats with healthy ones does or setting up shop as an animal importer/exporter when you can’t manage to get vet care for sick kittens or even notice when one is just minutes away from death.  But yeah, it’s prolly a personal thing.  Whaddaya gonna do?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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.)

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