We Interrupt Your Celebratory Michael Vick News for This Reminder

As football fans swoon with the news that the NY Jets have signed Michael Vick and he may be a starting quarterback next season instead of a backup, I thought I’d just take a moment to remind the internet that Michael Vick tortured and killed dogs, was never charged with animal cruelty for those crimes and never served a day in jail for them.  Vick pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture in 2008.  The animal cruelty charge was dropped in the plea agreement.  Do not peddle your “He’s paid for his crimes” excuse here.

At the time, the Humane Society of the United States had harsh words regarding Vick’s slap on the wrist from the state of VA which added no time to his 23 month federal sentence:

The Humane Society of the United States said it wished that Vick’s sentence was stiffer.

“We had hoped that the Commonwealth of Virginia would send a stronger message that dogfighting crimes are cruel and unacceptable,” Michael Markarian, the executive vice president of the Humane Society, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Michael Vick is already paying his debt to society with a federal prison sentence, and his example has demonstrated to people across the country that dogfighting is a dead-end activity that can jeopardize your freedom and your future.”

Of course that was before HSUS saw dollar signs and partnered with Vick to whitewash his image.

Some of us were never fooled and still remember.

An excerpt from Jim Gorant’s book The Lost Dogs:

Vick and friends had not simply eliminated these [failed fighting] dogs with a cold efficiency, they’d beaten them first.  The revelation added another layer of brutality to the already nasty case.

And then there was one last body that stood out from the rest.  It had signs of bruising on all four ankles and all along one side.  Its skull was fractured in two places and it had four broken vertebrae.  Brownie had said that all of the dogs that didn’t die from being hanged were drowned, except one.

As that dog lay on the ground fighting for air, Quanis Phillips grabbed its front legs and Michael Vick grabbed its hind legs.  They swung the dog over their head like a jump rope then slammed it to the ground.  The first impact didn’t kill it.  So Phillips and Vick slammed it again.  The two men kept at it, alternating back and forth, pounding the creature against the ground, until at last, the little red dog was dead.

Number of days in prison Michael Vick served for torturing and killing “underperforming” dogs?  Zero.  Number of animal cruelty convictions on his record?  Zero.  The value of Vick’s one year contract with the Eagles last year?  10 million dollars.

In Which Randolph Co Clings to its Gas Chamber

When HSUS gave Randolph Co, NC $3000 in December 2011 to send its gas chamber to the landfill, Randolph Co was all, “Yay, put that fat check straight into our bank account!”  Then they kept right on merrily stuffing dogs and cats into the gas chamber.  Of the 6705 dogs and cats who came through the Randolph Co pound’s front door in 2012, 5395 of them were killed by the staff.

Portion of the state's public animal shelter report for 2012 showing Randolph Co, NC

Portion of the state’s public animal shelter report for 2012 showing Randolph Co, NC

In 2013, Randolph Co pound staff continued gassing animals instead of doing their jobs (although the state hasn’t yet released the 2013 numbers). After 2 years of continued gassing with no end in sight, HSUS finally got up the nerve to ask the county to either stop putting animals into the gas chamber or give back the $3000. The county decided it would be less painful to part with the cash so that they could hang on to their beloved torture machine.

Kim Alboum, the NC director for HSUS, issued a statement in response which reads, in part:

It is shocking that a North Carolina county would return desperately needed funding for their animal shelter because they would rather continue a practice that has been denounced by every national humane organization. This does nothing but hurt the animals of Randolph County, for absolutely no reason.

It certainly is a head-scratcher.  Unless… maybe we didn’t bring the Randolph Co pet killers enough cupcakes?

For those not inclined to reward animal gassers with dessert, Fix NC has the info you need to take meaningful action.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

The Public Rallies Around Vandalized Georgia Shelter

A brick and mortar rescue group called All About Animals in Macon, Georgia suffered a tragedy this month.  On the night of October 16, some person or persons apparently went into the no kill shelter and opened the doors on the pet cages.  When volunteers arrived at the shelter the next morning, they found forty loose dogs who had been fighting overnight – two dogs were dead, a third died shortly afterward and fifteen other dogs were injured, many severely.

Since the tragic incident, misinformation has been circulating including that the dogs were released in order to fight other dogs who were brought into the facility by the perpetrators.  An allegation that the dogs were cut is attributed to PETA.  The Macon police department has offered clarifications:

In a statement released Tuesday night, Macon police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet stated there was no evidence that dog fighting was a motive. Police do not believe any other dogs were brought to the shelter to induce the fighting.

“Investigators have found no evidence of dogs being injured by sharp objects,” Gaudet stated. “It appears that all injuries to the dogs were caused by other dogs.”

The public has rallied around the shelter:

Mary Crawford, director of the no-kill shelter, said Tuesday she’s been overwhelmed by the flood of local support. A community vigil last Sunday drew more than 100 people, including Mayor Robert Reichert, to the shelter to remember the three dogs killed — Jack, Butler and Flapjack.

Besides donations of a security system, cash, blankets, dog toys and medical supplies, All About Animals has a stack of dozens of applications from people who want to volunteer with the group.

“We’re getting support like never ever before,” Crawford said.

And there’s more, courtesy of the so-called irresponsible public:

Meanwhile, several Macon-area security companies stepped up to offer a free security system for the facility, which had no surveillance in place when the break-in happened. In addition, two people volunteered to each pay for a year of the monthly security bills.

Others helped out Friday by washing and walking the dogs, which [volunteer Carolyn] Yager said was “extremely helpful.”

Crawford said the rescue group has received at least $2,000 in cash donations, as well as offers to pay for the dogs’ medical bills and boarding. Some people have donated new locks for the facility, she said.

HSUS has given All About Animals a $2500 crisis grant to help with vet bills and renovations.

PETA, an organization opposed to no kill shelters, HSUS and the Atlanta Humane Society have each offered $5000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the break-in.  This money is in addition to $3000 contributed by local citizens bringing the current reward total to $18,000.

Anyone with information is asked to call Macon Regional CrimeStoppers at 877-68-CRIME.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Hundreds of Dogs Seized in Multi-State Dogfighting Bust

Several of you have sent in links pertaining to the recent multi-state seizure of 367 dogs in connection with a dogfighting bust.  And almost everyone who did also asked the question:  What will happen to the dogs?

Since the ASPCA and HSUS are involved, I will speculate based on past performance:  Already overburdened rescue groups will be tasked with saving many of these dogs, forcing them to stretch their meager resources even further and to create space where none currently exists.  Local dogs in need of rescue will be displaced.   ASPCA and/or HSUS will probably leave some of the dogs at pet killing facilities under cover of night and will never reveal what happened to the dogs.  But none of this will occur until after ASPCA and HSUS feel they have sufficient video and photos of the dogs featuring people dressed in logo’d attire, for future exploitation purposes aimed at suckering compassionate animal lovers into padding their enormous bank accounts.

In short, the only ones likely to come out of this situation in the WIN column are those who get their paychecks from ASPCA and HSUS.  For everyone else involved, both human and canine, it’s a crapshoot, at best.

Journalism Fail: HSUS and AKC are Both Money Grabbers

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.

*fake gasp*

“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.

Why are shelter directors killing pets whom rescue groups are willing to save? Because they can.

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 4_0001

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.

HSUS Social Media Fail

Screengrab from Twitter, submitted by Kei.

Screengrab from Twitter, submitted by Kei.

Don’t Make Us Sic HSUS on You

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.

Hurray for torturing and killing dogs.  Also: financial profit.

Hurray for torturing and killing dogs. Also: financial profit.

Nobody WANTS to kill animals – CA Law Edition

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 sJoin us.

(Thanks Jan for alerting me to this bill.)

 

The “Irresponsible Public” Seeks Justice for Dog Killed by Maricopa Co

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.

Sincerely,

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
kdickey@mail.maricopa.gov

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.

Sincerely,

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
kdickey@mail.maricopa.gov

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 <knienstedt@humanesociety.org>
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.

Kari Nienstedt
Arizona State Director
knienstedt@humanesociety.org
c 480.381.4410 f 202.351.0499

The Humane Society of the United States
P.O. Box 4936 Scottsdale, AZ 85261
humanesociety.org

[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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 894 other followers