As always, I want to be clear and this is why I reiterate a point made often on this blog: No one wants to see pets suffer and die in sub-standard conditions. It makes no difference to me whether these dogs are being warehoused for breeding in a “puppy mill” or warehoused for killing in a “shelter”. Causing suffering and needless death for pets is wrong. Full stop.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has never done anything to make me believe they care one bit about dogs suffering and dying anywhere. Neither has the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). And yet the two are frequently pitted against one another by reporters seeking “both sides of the story”. Newsflash: it’s the same story.
The Today Show website has an investigative report on AKC registered puppies and interviewed both an AKC representative and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, presumably for balance:
[Wayne Pacelle] says that while most AKC-registered breeders are probably fine, they’re seeing too many bad apples, from Montana to North Carolina. In some cases, those breeders are even convicted of animal cruelty.
“Most” are probably ok but some are bad – even to the point of animal cruelty. Gee Wayne Pacelle, have you ever heard of this system of pet killing facilities we have in our country? They deceptively call themselves “shelters” and you know, “humane societies” when in fact they are causing pets to suffer and die. “Most” are not fine. In fact most are killing healthy/treatable animals – the ultimate form of animal cruelty. And the directors of these pet killing facilities are keeping puppy mills in business.
But it’s no surprise Wayne Pacelle wouldn’t talk about that. It’s his job to ix-nay the uth-tray in order to keep compassionate donors on the hook. Thankfully more people are catching on every day. A reporter for WZTV in TN ran this story yesterday:
We checked the HSUS tax records Form 990. It shows the non-profit took in over $133 million in donations last year. Of that, $6 million went to local shelters.
So what does the Humane Society spend your donations on? Primarily fundraising, advertising, legislation to protect animals, and the lobbyists to push it through.
What else does the Humane Society of the U.S. spend your donations on? $17.3 million on lobbyists between the years of 2005-2009, more than it gave to local animal shelters in that time. In a letter, half a dozen congressmen called for an IRS investigation into HSUS’ tax exempt status. Tax exempt organizations are prohibited by law from attempting to influence legislation on a large scale. In a response, the IRS confirms to a congressman that it’s investigating, but wouldn’t comment on what, if any action it may take.
The reporter states that for 3 weeks, Wayne Pacelle declined the station’s requests for an interview.
We are not all on the same team. I am for no kill which means pets suffering and dying anywhere is unacceptable to me. HSUS and AKC are both on Team Screw The Pets, Show Me The Money.
April 1, 2013
Many pet lovers are shocked to learn that most municipal facilities that call themselves animal shelters do not actually shelter animals. In fact, these so-called shelters kill pets rescuers are willing to save, because they can. More still are astonished when they learn that some of the private non-profits calling themselves humane societies or societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals are guilty of the same crimes against pets as the municipal facilities that kill pets who are wanted.
In the case of public facilities, pet advocates can and should petition their government for a redress of grievances. But historically this has been a mixed bag of results with far too many elected officials blatantly thumbing their noses at taxpayers who call upon them to force animal shelter staff to do their jobs. Our public servants delete animal advocacy comments from their Facebook pages, ignore e-mails and petitions, and refuse to meet with advocates in person. When they do address the issue publicly, it’s usually to give the pet killing facility a pat on the back while wagging their fingers at the “irresponsible public”.
When it comes to the private HS/SPCA organizations, well-meaning advocates sometimes believe they should report the needless killing of pets there to the “national” HS/SPCA, meaning the Humane Society of the U.S. and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The sad truth is that neither of these organizations is affiliated with your local shelter, even if the names are similar. Furthermore, HSUS and ASPCA are primarily fundraising organizations and will likely not intervene to prevent wanted pets from being killed by your local non-profit organization.
But there is a solution that addresses the needless killing of wanted pets, and offers numerous other protections for shelter animals, at both public and private shelters. It’s called the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA). CAPA has already been passed in DE and has been introduced by legislators in MN, RI and WV. Modified versions have been introduced in NY, TX, IL and FL. More states will be announcing modified versions of CAPA on their legislative agendas soon.
CAPA lays out a number of important requirements for public and private shelters that include lifesaving, transparency and community participation. Specifically, neither public nor private shelter directors would have the discretion to kill pets under CAPA without giving public notice nor would they be allowed to kill pets that a rescue is willing to take.
Too often on this blog, we hear from pet advocates who have been shafted by shelter directors committed to killing for arbitrary reasons and, in some cases, in retaliation for shining a light on their dark secrets. Here is a way to do something about that. Augment your existing animal advocacy (fostering, rescue, networking, etc.) with some political advocacy that will not only save pets’ lives, but help the people who love them too.
Do you want accountability, transparency and legal access to the animals in your shelter’s care? If so, you want CAPA. Talk to your state or local legislators about getting CAPA introduced to protect your community’s pets from those who are needlessly killing them, because they can. CAPA would make needless and secretive shelter pet killing illegal, regardless of whether the shelter is public or private. Under CAPA, we would not only protect the lives of shelter pets but the hearts and minds of pet advocates who currently suffer at the whims of directors, standing by their cabinets of Fatal Plus and scoffing at the so-called irresponsible public’s attempts to actually shelter animals.
March 29, 2013
February 8, 2013
The Halifax Co pound in NC is a catch and kill facility that is not open to the public for adoptions. A well intentioned but obviously misinformed pet advocate recently wrote to the county in an attempt to get them to open their doors to adopters:
A recent email from N.C. Advocate Jane Tzilvelis, of N.C. Abandoned and Homeless State Pets, threatened the county with consequences from the Humane Society of the United States.
“Perhaps, after the HSUS puts your shelter on the map to the public, you will consider allowing North Carolina taxpayers entrance into the Halifax County Animal Shelter,” she said in the email. “I heard you are the next shelter project on the HSUS list.”
I commend the effort to hold the county accountable for its failures on behalf of the community pets in Halifax Co but let’s be clear: HSUS has never brought meaningful reform to any animal shelter anywhere. HSUS has created zero no kill communities. If “HSUS puts your shelter on the map to the public” it will likely be to give the pet killing facility an award or to chastise locals for not bringing the staff enough cupcakes.
[Halifax County Manager Tony] Brown said the Halifax County Animal Shelter is compliant with all state laws[.]
It’s an interesting use of the word “compliant” and a novel one. In the state of NC, the law requires municipal shelters to be open to the public and to make unclaimed pets available for adoption. Halifax Co does neither. Which probably makes HSUS love them even more.
I hope people keep advocating for the Halifax Co pound to start doing its job. But don’t count on any help from HSUS. They are killing apologists and enablers who use their millions bilked from unsuspecting donors to whitewash the reputation of dog torturer Michael Vick and fake-rescue pets for the cameras.
December 28, 2012
CA state Senator Ted Lieu sponsored a pet related, HSUS backed bill that was signed by the governor in September and will take effect January 1, 2013. Senator’s Lieu’s website makes the bill sound pretty good:
Neglected or injured animals will no longer be returned to abusive owners[.]
Pretty good, yes? Hold your applause.
The bill purportedly fixes a “loophole” in existing CA law which allows for the return of seized pets under certain circumstances:
Specifically, the law states mistreated animals must be returned to the owner if the animal is physically fit or the owner can and will provide the necessary care for the animal. Because these hearings typically occur weeks after an animal has been seized, the animal is almost always “fit” due to the care provided by the animal-control agency. This means the agencies are then forced to return animals to the same harmful environment where they had been abused.
I am not seeing a loophole here. What I see is a poorly worded law that allows a sluggish court system to dictate when the assessment of the abused animal is made. It could be fixed by speeding up the wheels of justice (not likely) or by simply wording it such that the assessment of the animal is made at time of seizure. The new law does nothing to address the time of assessment but rather replaces the “or” with “and”, requiring pets to be fit and the owner to demonstrate ability to provide care before a seized pet is returned. I have to wonder how prosecutors in CA are able to secure animal cruelty convictions if assessments of the animals’ health are not made until the court case comes up on the docket. This makes no sense to me and the new bill does not fix it.
In addition, the bill “would allow a seizing agency or a prosecutor to file a petition in the criminal action requesting that the court issue an order forfeiting the animal(s) to the county or seizing agency prior to final disposition of the criminal charge.“ [emphasis added] The reasons given for this change are:
- The cost of housing seized animals at the pound.
- The cruelty of keeping seized animals in cages for an extended period of time.
- The fact that pounds “have to” kill other pets for space taken up by the seized animals.
- If the accused owner lives in an area with a pet limit law and has more than the allowed number of pets seized, the owner won’t legally be able to keep all the pets anyway, regardless of the outcome of the case.
This is a bunch of baloney. It’s all a fancy way of saying that shelters aren’t doing their jobs therefore the state should be able to seize and dispose of property (pets) as it deems fit, regardless of the owner’s right to due process.
No shelter “has to” kill healthy/treatable pets. Many don’t, in fact. Only the ones that choose to kill do so. If an owner is simply over the pet limit and not found guilty of animal cruelty, the owner should have first option to place as many pets as needed to come into compliance with the law. Animal control can offer to assist with placement but no pet killing facility should be able to legally take ownership of someone’s well cared for pets without due process.
Furthermore, I see nothing to protect the lives of the seized animals and no mechanism to return the legally allowed number of pets to the accused owner. It looks as if the law will allow the pound, or the state, to simply take every animal from a home and give the owner nothing in return, even if he is acquitted.
Thanks Senator Lieu and HSUS for another backwards law enabling shelters to kill more animals, even ones whose owners love and want them, under the guise of animal protection. How humane. We are the real humane society – small h, small s. Join us.
(Thanks Jan for alerting me to this bill.)
A concerned shelter pet advocate contacted Maricopa Co Animal Care & Control in AZ last month regarding the photo posted online of a Chihuahua being held down with a chokepole. This was the response received:
On Sep 20, 2012, at 10:59 AM, Karen Dickey – ACSX <KDickey@mail.maricopa.gov> wrote:
Thank you for your concern. Unfortunately, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control does receive a few dogs that are not manageable on a leash. A catch pole, which works like a leash with a stiff pole instead of a floppy lead is used to keep the biting dog away from the animal handler. Dogs are placed into a portable kennel or rolling cart and transported from intake room to stationary kennel. This method of temporary handling is an acceptable means of assisting the dog in the new environment and safe guarding the handler.
Karen Dickey, Executive Assistant to an Executive Officer
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
2500 South 27th Avenue
Phoenix AZ 85009
(602) 506-2772 office
(602) 506-2739 fax
A follow-up e-mail yielded the following response, which was also received by other shelter pet advocates:
Sep 21, 2012, at 11:08 AM, Karen Dickey – ACSX <KDickey@mail.maricopa.gov> wrote:
On September 15, 2012 Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) obtained a fractious Chihuahua running stray. In an attempt to scan for a microchip, vaccination against deadly disease, and treat for parasites, the dog was placed on a catch pole for safe management being the dog’s behavior did not allow the use of a leash, a Y pole, or close contact. No matter the size of the dog, a dog’s bite can cause extreme pain, infection, and medical complications. The dog was taken to its kennel in a roller cart to reduce the stress on the dog and move the dog around in a safe manner.
The picture posted on Petfinder.com and then spread to Facebook was in the best interest of the dog. It gave an opportunity for the dog to be identified by its owner. Many attempts were made by volunteers and staff to take a better picture. However, the dog’s behavior made it impossible to obtain such picture. A picture gives the owner another chance to identify his animal. Unfortunately, the owner did not come to reclaim the dog. After the legal holding period of seventy-two hours, no rescue organization came forward to accept the small, yet still very fractious Chihuahua. With no outlet for the dog, the dog was humanely euthanized.
MCACC has a duty to protect the public and its staff from being bitten. The catch pole is a humane method of restraining a fractious dog by the Humane Society of the United States, Petfinder.com, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
This type of incident is not uncommon. This dog was not unlike the many dogs entering the shelter system that show continued aggression toward the public and the staff during their stay. It is unfortunate this dog continued to lunge at the kennel door during its stay and at one point caused a staff member to be injured.
Karen Dickey, Executive Assistant to an Executive Officer
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
2500 South 27th Avenue
Phoenix AZ 85009
(602) 506-2772 office
(602) 506-2739 fax
To the best of my knowledge, no further information has been provided by MCACC about the nature or circumstances of the injury referenced at the end of this letter. Since Ms. Dickey mentioned HSUS in her response, a shelter pet advocate contacted the AZ director for HSUS regarding the dog and received the following reply:
From: Kari Nienstedt <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: strong concern about shelter operations
Date: Friday, September 21, 2012, 3:25 PM
Hi [redacted], thanks so much for bringing this photograph to my attention. Catch poles are one tool in the toolbox for shelters dealing with aggressive animals of any size, but like any tool they must be used appropriately. We encourage all shelters to review their handling procedures on an ongoing basis and recommend that they engage the services of a professional animal handling expert for continuing education to ensure all of their staff is properly trained on the most current humane handling methods.
I have reached out to MCACC to make them aware of your concerns as well. They are committed to the humane treatment of animals and take any allegations of abuse very seriously. Any concerns about their shelters should be sent directly to them so they can investigate and take any appropriate action.
Arizona State Director
c 480.381.4410 f 202.351.0499
The Humane Society of the United States
P.O. Box 4936 Scottsdale, AZ 85261
[excessive HSUS propaganda trimmed]
So there it is. Lots of blah, blah, blah from those in positions of leadership and one poor Chihuahua – abused with a chokepole, records apparently tampered with to cover it up, then killed without having been scanned for a microchip. As usual, it is up to the so-called irresponsible public to demand justice and defend the most basic rights of shelter pets – even if we are forced to do it after it’s too late to save them.
If you want to take action on behalf of this dog, there is an action item at the end of this post. Shelter pet advocates continue to fight for her and you can support those efforts by following the No Kill Maricopa Co page on Facebook.
October 7, 2012
Due to Michael Vick’s admitted federal crimes related to dogfighting, a judge barred him from owning a dog for 3 years after his release from prison. But he has repeatedly expressed an interest in owning a dog again “for the kids” and in fact his partnership with the Humane Society of the United States yielded an endorsement on that front from CEO Wayne Pacelle in December 2010:
“I have been around him a lot, and feel confident that he would do a good job as a pet owner.”
Last week, Vick reportedly tweeted and quickly deleted a photo of himself and his daughter at home, sitting at a table that had a box of Milk Bones on it. He replaced it with a very similar photo but the box of dog treats had been removed from the table. Common sense tells us that Vick currently has some personal involvement with dogs (due to the box of treats) and that he wants to keep that information from becoming public (tweet-and-delete). Given that he has been expressing a desire to get a dog for some time, it seems a reasonable conclusion to believe he may have done so. But what are the legalities here?
Profootballtalk.com reports that Vick’s court documents allow him to own, buy and sell dogs at some time in 2012:
We tracked down (thanks to a reader who also is a lawyer) a copy of Vick’s sentencing order from December 10, 2007. And while the document states that “[t]he defendant shall not engage in the purchase, possession, or sale of any canine,” that limitation appears as a condition of Vick’s supervised release, otherwise known as probation.
Vick was placed on three years of “supervised release,” which began to run after he was released from prison. Thus, at some point in 2012, he’ll no longer be on supervised release — and he’ll be able to buy, own, and/or sell dogs.
My question is this: Has Vick’s probation officer (or anyone else) checked to see if in fact he does has some personal involvement with dogs and if so, whether he began owning, buying and/or selling dogs after the date allowed by the courts?
And as a follow-up, if Vick did get a dog, I’d really, truly and sincerely like to know who on this planet gave him one?
September 30, 2012
There is currently some online drama surrounding the Humane Society of Richmond Co in NC. The basic issue appears to involve money and has the board threatening to terminate its animal control contract with the county. E-mails and Facebook postings are circulating stating basically that 250 pets at the HSRC have until October 31 to get adopted before the evil county takes over and starts killing animals. But as Fix NC points out, the HSRC is already killing animals – more than 70% of those who came through the door in 2011. Could the county possibly be worse?
Reader Dot contacted me about a number of pets at HSRC posted on FB whom she wanted to help network but was unable to because the photos contain no identifying information. And they depict pets who appear to be suffering in filthy conditions and without veterinary care. Here are some of the unidentified pets posted on the HSRC Facebook page. As heart wrenching as the dog photos are, I found it even harder to look through the cats. Many of them are at the front of the cages, crying or reaching out, apparently starved for attention and desperate to be let out of their cages.
Again I ask, why isn’t HSUS helping the pets at this shelter? The NC chapter of HSUS is constantly telling us how wonderful the shelters there are and how it’s the so-called irresponsible public that needs to be punished. Ask them why they are ignoring the suffering of pets at the Humane Society of Richmond Co.
September 29, 2012
I happened upon a KY shelter dog’s photo on Facebook this morning which caught my eye. So I began flipping through the photo album of the dogs at the Taylor Co pound until I found myself searching the desk drawer for a pencil sharp enough to gouge out my eyes. I am thankful there are volunteers willing to go into the pound, photograph the dogs and post them on Facebook in an effort to help get them out. If not for their volunteer work, these pets would be suffering in relative anonymity and even more dogs would probably be killed at the pound.
The Taylor Co pound warehouses dogs in what appear to be substandard conditions, selling them for $100. If they don’t sell quickly enough, the pound kills them. If these practices and pictures emerged from a place that was breeding dogs, I imagine HSUS would hop in their “rescue” rig and have the media meet them at the place as soon as the light was good to show off their HSUS logo attire. HSUS staff would parade the dogs in front of the cameras, telling reporters how the dogs have been forced to live in terrible conditions, left with untreated medical issues and killed when they failed to generate revenue. Then they would use the case as an example of why new or stronger laws are needed to protect animals from this type of treatment. But given that this is a municipal pound, HSUS will probably give them an award, tell us to bring them cupcakes, or most likely, sit on their $100 million dollar checkbook and do nothing.
(All images via Facebook, posted by volunteers hoping to help save the pets at the Taylor Co pound. Click an image to enlarge.)
Why isn’t HSUS helping dogs at the Taylor Co pound?
September 12, 2012
We all know how much HSUS loves to put on their logo attire and grab an armful of puppies to parade before the TV cameras so they can yell RESCUE! immediately followed by SEND MONEY! And while I believe HSUS is a misleading, dishonest anti-pet organization who does the opposite of rescue, I do support the general idea that neglected pets living in horrific conditions should be helped. So here’s the thing: If HSUS is truly taking suffering dogs away from these vile living conditions, why don’t they show it? I mean, wouldn’t it be good for fundraising? They sure seemed to like the idea when they tried to fundraise off Fay (a disfigured dog they didn’t have).
The HSUS “rescue” of 206 dogs, 31 chickens, 12 ducks, 9 horses, 3 geese, 2 guinea hens and a parrot (and a partridge in a pear tree) from a home in Edgefield Co, SC yesterday yielded the following:
Many of those dogs have eye and skin infections and dental problems[.]
“It’s simply unacceptable for dogs to be housed in such cruel conditions,” said Kim Kelly, South Carolina state director for The HSUS.
“They were living in just deplorable conditions. A lot of them had some pretty serious health issues, which the veterinarians are looking at and documenting.”
“It’s pretty tough to see animals suffering like this, and we really want to be able to help them as much as we can.”
And yet, these are the dogs HSUS chooses to show the media:
While it’s impossible to see inside these dogs’ mouths or examine their skin up close, and most of us are not vets anyway, they look ok in the video. They appear to be clean and fuzzy and accustomed to being held by people. If they were truly suffering in deplorable conditions and are afflicted with serious health issues, it’s not evident to me in these images. And knowing how HSUS makes use of deceptive advertising ploys, it makes me question the whole story. I hope they didn’t just take 206 dogs et al away from someone because they were being bred.
Kim Kelly, again:
“The situation we found today demonstrates the need for stronger laws in South Carolina.”
It’s not illegal to breed pets or to keep them clean and fed. I don’t know what laws have been broken here but once again, I question whether it was necessary for HSUS to remove every last living thing from this property. Could the owner provide better care for fewer pets perhaps? Could HSUS have offered education and assistance to improve the living conditions? We don’t know many details of this case but we do know that HSUS has an anti-pet agenda and does nothing to actually rescue pets. All these animals will be left at various financially strapped shelters and rescues, already full of pets in need, and HSUS will be sending out donation pleas to pad its $100 million bank account. Win?