SC Pound Policy: Take Newborn Kittens Away from Nursing Mothers and Kill Them

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public.  Because kittens.  (photo by Casey post)

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public in Ohio. Because kittens. (photo by Casey Post)

The Greenville Co pound in SC has implemented two new policies concerning cats:

1. Kittens born at the pound who weigh less than 100 grams will be taken from their mothers and killed immediately.  The reason, as stated in an e-mail written by Susan Bufano, the community relations coordinator for the Greenville Co pound, in response to a concerned citizen:

It is not a normal, healthy birth weight and our vet has determined that they will probably not survive.

“Probably not” indicates to me an inherent admission that there is some hope for survival. And I think that hope is very reasonable, considering the following:

  • The ASPCA says 100 grams is “an average birth weight for kittens… depending on breed and litter size.”  Average means some kittens will weigh a little more than 100 grams, some a little less.  Size of the mother cat and number of kittens in the litter must be taken into account when evaluating birth weight of each individual.
  • This government study which looked at newborn kitten weights in five different cat breeds found that only two breeds, Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat (both large cats), had kittens which averaged more than 100 grams at birth.  The other three breeds studied – Birman, Persian, and Siamese/Oriental Shorthair – all had kittens whose average weight at birth was between 82 and 97 grams.
  • A random veterinarian I found via Google wrote: “Kittens have a normal birth weight of 100 ± 10 g (3.5 ± 0.35 oz). Kittens with a birth weight of less than 90 g (3.2 oz) have poor survival rates.”

Given this information, it’s not at all clear to me that the Greenville Co pound policy is based in science.  That is, the notion that kittens weighing less than 100 grams at birth “will probably not survive” appears dubious, at best.  And to be clear, taking newborn kittens of any weight away from their nursing mothers in order to kill them is something only monsters would do.  Kittens have a right to live and their mothers have the right to care for them.  No animal “shelter” policy trumps those rights.  Any “shelter” staff members who do not recognize that fact should resign immediately, before any additional animals are harmed due to their failures.

The other new policy at the pound:

2. Orphaned kittens under one pound are deemed “rescue only” and must leave the shelter within three hours. The reason, per Ms. Bufano’s e-mail:

We want our fosters to focus on the animals who have the highest likelihood for survival[.]

It was so hard on wonderful, loving fosters to take these neonate kittens home only for them not to thrive (and, the small weight also ended up indicating illness in the mothers) and pass away, regardless of how hard they cared for them. I witnessed the agony of many fosters who blamed themselves, when we all know that some kittens just don’t make it. They will be fine one day and die the next.

So, the decision was made to save the animals that had the most chance at survival. In doing so, we are anticipating more life saving, not less.

Wow, apparently it takes a whole mountain of bullshit to allow monsters to sleep at night.

By branding pets “rescue only”, shelters shut out an enormous pool of potential help:  the general public.  It’s not a good strategy to increase lifesaving.  Also bad:  using phony we-care-about-rescuers’-feelings as an excuse for killing kittens.  How did someone even think this twisted thing up?  Also also bad:  requiring rescue groups, typically operated out of people’s homes on shoestring budgets, to somehow get orphaned kittens out of the Greenville Co pound within three hours of arrival.

Rescuers often have day jobs, families, and other pets in need of care and will rarely be in a position to drop everything in order to quickly snatch kittens from the kill room at the pound.  That is, assuming the pound has promptly notified rescue contacts by mental telepathy since e-mail or voicemail obviously won’t suffice in these situations.  How would you like to be the rescuer who checks her e-mail at lunch or after work and finds out a litter of orphaned kittens you would have been willing to save was killed by Greenville Co because you didn’t check your messages sooner?  How is threatening to kill newborn orphaned kittens consistent with the county’s purported concern for rescuers’ emotional well-being?

While those who kill shelter pets instead of doing their jobs often blame the so-called irresponsible public for the killing, it is the shelter staff, following antiquated and inhumane policies designed to kill pets instead of helping them, who are to blame for the killing.  In fact, no rescuers, fosters, adopters and no one outside of the Greenville Co pound should blame themselves for the needless killing being done there.

Greenville Co pretends to be interested in lifesaving and pretends to care about the emotional toll taken on the compassionate public willing to help shelter pets, all the while implementing policies so cruel and archaic, no one with a conscience need perform more than a cursory examination to determine how heartless and inconsistent with animal sheltering those policies are.  Shame on Greenville Co for pretending to care.  There are few worse things in this world.  And they do those there, too.

Added, April 19, 2014:

Bringing up from the comments, from spaycritter, for those wanting to know who to contact about the needless killing of kittens at the Greenville Co pound:

Just an FYI– emails/calls to GCACS will be spun into gold.. Seriously , they will be said to “create drama , and take away from the staff’s ability to care for the animals in our facility”… at least , that’s what has been said on past attempts to shine a light. A better tactic is to contact the bosses of the boss..Here is contact info for those interested
Go to the county admin and county council..And since Greenville County contracts with Spartanburg County, contacting the same offices of S’burg county would be good..
https://www.greenvillecounty.org/Departments.asp#sectC
http://www.co.spartanburg.sc.us/govt/depts/cc/index.htm
http://www.co.spartanburg.sc.us/govt/depts/admin/index.htm

 

 

Proposed Legislation in MA Would Impact Shelters, Rescues and Fosters

Massachusetts is considering a set of state regulations that would subject foster homes to inspection by the Department of Agriculture, require rescue groups to register with the state every 12 months and establish minimum standards of care for shelters, rescues and foster homes.  These standards of care include:

  • Animals must be removed from cages during disinfection which is required “periodically and always before introducing a new animal.”
  • Animals must be kept clean and dry.
  • Veterinary care must be provided in a timely manner.
  • Animals must be allowed exercise outside their cages “regularly” and “be housed in compatible groups without overcrowding”.
  • Facility must maintain a temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, including offsite adoption events.

Some additional notes from the proposed regulations:

  • Wire cage flooring is acceptable provided it meets some vague criteria.
  • Euthanasia must be performed by a veterinarian or a trained individual under the direction of a vet in accordance with AVMA guidelines.
  • “No Organization may offer for sale, advertise, or transfer” any animal who tests positive for heartworm or shows signs of other internal or external parasites.
  • Groups wanting to import dogs and cats must register every 12 months with the state.  Imported dogs and cats must have an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued by a vet in the animal’s state of origin and must have been recently vaccinated.  Imported pets, other than owner surrenders from the New England states and New York, must be taken upon arrival to an isolation facility for 48 hours.  After the mandatory isolation period, the pet must be taken to a vet and receive a health certificate in order to be released from isolation.

Some MA animal welfare groups are unhappy with the proposed regulations.  If you live in MA, you have very little time left to make your voice heard:

The Department of Agriculture says it wants to hear your opinion on the proposed rules. You have until October 8th to give the state your feedback.

[…]

If you’d like to send the Department of Agriculture your comments regarding the proposed regulations, please email Michael Cahill at: Michael.cahill@state.ma.us

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

UPDATED: NC Kittens Need Foster Home

Update: September 8, 2013 – The kittens have found a foster. Thank you everyone.

Kittens in need of foster - Yanceyville, NC (photo by Dot Kirby)

Kittens in need of foster – Yanceyville, NC (photo by Dot Kirby)

Reader Dot rescued this orphaned litter of 3 week old kittens from the landfill – which is where they’ll be sent if she takes them to her local pound.  Dot has a full house of canine fosters and is unable to care for these kittens.  They are not eating solid food yet and will need to be bottle fed for a little while longer before they transition.  If anyone can help, please contact:

Dot Kirby

Yanceyville, NC

dittodotcom@embarqmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/dot.kirby.3

If you are unable to foster, please share so we can find a good place for these kittens.

Oh!  Here’s a video of them being all kitteny adorable!

 

UPDATED: Urgent: Pets in Need of Foster in New Orleans

UPDATE, added August 21, 2013:  All 4 pets have foster care lined up.  Thank you to everyone who shared.

Original post:

Reader Melissa and her family are heading for a homeless shelter.  She is hoping to find immediate foster homes for her 4 pets as the shelter will not allow them.  She posted her story on Facebook and has given me permission to post her contact info here.   If you can offer any assistance, please call Melissa at (225)567-5057 or e-mail her. If you can’t help out yourself, please share with your animal loving friends so we can find care for these 4 pets. Melissa wants to stress that her hope is to be in a position to reclaim all 4 pets as soon as possible as they are beloved family members.

The following photos and captions are all taken from Facebook.

"Sugar is a 4 year old spayed female. She is very obedient and well behaved. She is housetrained, crate trained, and gets along with cats, other dogs, small children, and people of all shapes sizes and ages. She is microchipped."

“Sugar is a 4 year old spayed female. She is very obedient and well behaved. She is housetrained, crate trained, and gets along with cats, other dogs, small children, and people of all shapes sizes and ages. She is microchipped.”

"Tasha is a 13 year old spayed female. She was originally rescued after Hurricane Katrina. She is very quiet and a little shy, but very sweet. She has lived in lots of different places and been around a lot of different people. She gets along with cats, other dogs, and small children as well, and is perfectly housetrained and also crate trained. She is very well mannered and calm and just likes to have a little spot to rest."

“Tasha is a 13 year old spayed female. She was originally rescued after Hurricane Katrina. She is very quiet and a little shy, but very sweet. She has lived in lots of different places and been around a lot of different people. She gets along with cats, other dogs, and small children as well, and is perfectly housetrained and also crate trained. She is very well mannered and calm and just likes to have a little spot to rest.”

"Mr. Towel is a 3 year old neutered male who is very calm and easy to care for in the house and gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. He is microchipped."

“Mr. Towel is a 3 year old neutered male who is very calm and easy to care for in the house and gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. He is microchipped.”

"Kitty Kumquats is a 5 year old spayed female. She gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. She is very well behaved and easy to care for. She is microchipped."

“Kitty Kumquats is a 5 year old spayed female. She gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. She is very well behaved and easy to care for. She is microchipped.”

I am keeping a good thought for you Melissa, and for your entire (human and pet) family.

Foster Pet of the Day

Carter, a foster dog available for adoption in CA.

Carter, a foster dog available for adoption in CA.

Submitted by Marji who writes:

Carter is currently living with me in Grass Valley. He is a foster dog of Center for Animal Protection & Education (CAPE) :
PO Box 67176
Scotts Valley, CA 95067-7176
831.336-4695
Email: postmaster@capeanimals.org

carter aCarter is a 7-yr-old mastiff mix with a big head and bigger heart! He is blind, but that doesn’t deter him from exploring his world with enthusiasm and joy. He was adopted from Palo Alto Animal Services 7 years ago at the age of 4-months. When he was 6, his guardians returned him to the shelter without realizing he was blind. Once they found out, they took him back, keeping him for another year before realizing that caring for two toddlers and a galumphy 75-lb dog was too difficult.

Lucky for Carter, I was excited to foster him! He is a gentle-natured dog who is far easier to care for and more low-maintenance than my 14.5-yr-old 35-lb dog! He knows sit, come, stay, down. He LOVES tennis balls. Sometimes you have to pat the ground next to the tennis ball and he’ll pounce like a puppy! He runs zoomies around the yard and figures out new spaces pretty quickly.

Carter just wants a permanent retirement home, preferably with someone who is home part of the day (he loves his people).

The rescue I am fostering for would probably be willing to transport him out of state, but I’d really love someone who can meet him first…and maybe wouldn’t mind sending me updates about how awesome he is!

He would do best as an only dog, but he might do well with a large, older, VERY tolerant dog. Not many dogs can tolerate it when his nearly 80-lb frame runs into them.

Shirley, I’m really surprised to still have Carter. I guess I knew he’d be more difficult to place but living with him? He’s so easy! I’ve had him for two months and would really just love it if he could find a home where he gets all the attention he deserves.

Not That Size Matters…

When I attended a workshop at the 2011 No Kill Conference that included Susanne Kogut on the panel, she mentioned that at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA (where she was director at that time), 39% of intake went to foster.  In 2011, CASPCA took in 3828 dogs and cats.  That works out to nearly 1500 pets in foster care. Wikipedia has the combined population of the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle Co, both of which are served by CASPCA, at 118,398.

At the January 31 board of directors meeting of  New York City Animal Care and Control, Interim Executive Director Risa Weinstock addressed the subject of fostering.  She explained recent developments:

The AC&C has created a fast-track program just for fosters. Until recently, fosters had to take all the training courses expected of a shelter volunteer.  With the new streamlined process, Weinstock said the AC&C  recently added 17 new people who could be fosters.

Patrick Nolan, newly named Chairman of NYC ACC, spoke up to say that he was an approved foster himself and asked how many people the shelter has on the foster list.  Ms. Weinstock reportedly answered that there were 47 people on the foster list.  Bear in mind that 17 of them were just added under this new fast-track program.  So there were 30 until very recently.  And one of them is the chairman of the pound.  I am presuming the other 29 people are regular citizens but I don’t know.

NYC is home to more than 8 million people.  In the past couple of years, NYC ACC has been taking in roughly 30,000 animals a year.  If NYC ACC were to send 39% of intake out to foster like CASPCA does, that would indicate a need for about 11,700 foster placements.  But until recently, the pound had only found 29 people (who aren’t the chairman) willing to foster out of 8 million.  How hard are they looking?  How committed are they to saving pets’ lives?  Fostering is a key program in the No Kill Equation.  I wouldn’t recommend ignoring it.

So yeah, it’s great that NYC ACC’s new fast-track program has significantly increased the foster list.  But if NYC is aiming to one day save more than 90% of its pets like Charlottesville does every year, the pound is going to need a fastER-track program to develop any sort of foster program that will have a meaningful impact on lifesaving.  If anyone on the board is concerned with that.

(Thank you Anne D. for the link.)

Pre-Announcement Announcement

I was going to wait until I had more info to share, such as a name and other important items, but I am too happy to wait.  So this is the pre-announcement announcing the arrival of a new beagley family member, who will be announced in more detail in an upcoming announcement.

This little girl was in a catch and kill pound which allows someone in to photograph dogs.  The photographer then sends out an e-mail with the pictures and that e-mail gets forwarded by various pet advocates.  Someone forwarded me the e-mail containing the beagle pic one week ago and with the help of some people I’ve never met, the dog was pulled, fostered and transported to within 90 minutes of me.  I picked her up yesterday.

The ride home.  Those toenails were trimmed shortly after arrival.

The ride home. Those toenails were trimmed shortly after arrival.

Her bones are sticking out, half her tail got left somewhere at some point and she looks generally like she’s been through the wringer.  But she is as gentle and sweet as can be.  She’s been sleeping in one of the beagle beds like she has never slept before in her life.  She’s only gotten up when it’s time to eat or to go out and potty.  We have a vet appointment today for a tune-up and an all points inspection.  You can count on seeing an update on this gal very soon.

Thank you so kindly to everyone who sent me beagles in need.  And of course to those who helped me get this sweet dog home.

***

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. – Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Foster Pet of the Day

Tiger is an adoptable cat in New York City.  (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Tiger is an adoptable cat in New York City. (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Submitted by Anne who writes:

I pulled a cat off the kill list at the NYCACC a week before xmas because a woman in VA said she wanted him. After he was delivered to me the potential adopter backed out. Now I have this cat in my tiny apt. with 3 other cats. He is so sweet, healthy, mushy lovebug, neutered 3 yr. old who loves other cats. I love him but due to space and finances can’t keep him. I just want to make sure Tiger ends up in a wonderful, cat loving home with another playful cat. Tiger is very playful and affectionate.

Tiger in NYC (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Tiger in NYC (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Anyone interested in learning more about Tiger should e-mail Anne.

Jacksonville Pound: Never Too Busy to Kill

Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services in FL was very busy on Friday after issuing a public appeal for help on Thursday due to the shelter being over capacity:

The shelter, which has a capacity of 390 animals, had 466 animals Thursday morning. By closing time at 4 p.m. Friday, 186 animals had been adopted, fostered or taken by rescue groups over the two-day period, [city spokeswoman Monica] Landeros said.

Amidst all the lifesaving, courtesy of the so-called irresponsible public, the kill techs were apparently patrolling the halls, looking for victims.  An employee recognized a pair of bottle baby kittens who had been sent out to foster.  The foster had brought them back to the pound Friday in order to transfer them to another foster, who was on the way to pick them up.  The employee reportedly did not know the new foster was on the way and I guess the prospect of killing healthy newborn kittens was too exciting to take the time to ask.  The kittens were killed before the new foster could get in the front door.

Characterizing the killings of two healthy kittens the public was willing to save as an “unfortunate miscommunication,” Ms. Landeros said the pound “has begun necessary improvements” to avoid similar killings in future.  When the local paper asked her for specifics on these improvements, she refused to answer.  Because why do anything to reassure the public, right?  And next time the pound issues a plea for help and people don’t show up for fear of having pets they cared for immediately taken to the kill room with no questions asked, the city of Jacksonville can tell the media they “have to” kill because the irresponsible public won’t help.

(Thanks Eucritta and Clarice.)

Being Born is Not a Crime

In May and June of 2012, records obtained via FOIA show the Memphis pound killed a total of 20 kittens and 22 puppies for the crime of being “too young”.  Being born is not a medically hopeless condition requiring euthanasia.  It is a gift, something to be cherished and protected.

Photo submitted by reader Ashley, who writes: “My foster kitten, Ollie, at 1 week old, right after a feed.”

Photo by reader Ashley, who writes: “Ollie at 10 weeks with one of my other fosters, a couple days before they were adopted.”

Compassionate foster owners value the lives of newborn kittens and puppies and are willing to put in the work to make sure they are well cared for and given every chance at a good life. Shouldn’t a taxpayer funded “shelter” at least do as good a job as the so-called irresponsible public?

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