Lapeer Co Pound Sells Family’s Purebred Dog “to the Highest Bidder”

Daisy, as pictured on the WNEM website.

Daisy, as pictured on the WNEM website.

Too many animal shelters seem to be engaged in a war against pet owners – insistent upon breaking families apart while demanding to be called “compassionate” and “humane” by critics.

Like many pet owners, Steve and Kathy Foster of Lapeer Co, MI consider their dogs family.  They have pictures of their dogs on the family portrait wall in their home.  And when they found a stray border collie in rough shape last month, they were willing to help.

The Fosters took the dog, whom they named Daisy, to the vet to get her the care she needed, including vaccinations and spay surgery.  But then Daisy got lost.  The Fosters searched the area, called neighbors and local vets and posted about Daisy on social media in an effort to find her.  After a week, they learned Daisy had been impounded by Lapeer Co Animal Control.  Kathy Foster called the pound and asked what she needed to do in order to redeem her dog:

She said she was told she had to pay $180 and she didn’t have much time. That’s because the shelter had two people ready to adopt Daisy.

Having just paid the vet $420 to fix Daisy up, the Fosters didn’t immediately have $180 to bail her out of the pound:

“I said I don’t have $180 right now. And she said well that’s the only way you can get her back,” said Kathy Foster.

Lapeer Co AC reportedly sold Daisy just minutes after Kathy Foster called and said she didn’t have the cash. Local news station WNEM asked the Lapeer Co pound director why Daisy wasn’t allowed to return to her family. The director cast blame on the Fosters, indicating they were at fault for failing to report the stray dog and failing to immediately license her. And steel yourself, because this next part is jarring:

TV5 spoke to Carla Frantz, the Lapeer County Animal Control chief, over the phone on Monday evening. She said the dog exhausted the county’s four day stray hold policy, and once it does that, it becomes county property. Because the Foster’s could not come up with the money, Daisy, who now goes by the name Bella, was adopted out to the highest bidder.

It sounds like the Lapeer Co pound saw dollar signs when they looked at freshly vetted, purebred Daisy. And they were so eager to collect those dollars, they wasted no time selling her “to the highest bidder” when they got the call that Daisy’s family couldn’t immediately pay the ransom.

The Fosters are heartbroken and want the pound to change its policy about breaking up families for profit. It’s too late for their family, but they hope to spare another family the same pain in future.

The Lapeer Co pound killed roughly half its animals last year. The state of Michigan does not require them to disclose how many families they broke up while auctioning owned pets so that number is unknown. But this year, we know it’s at least one.  Oh and remember – don’t criticize, it’s a hard job and we all want the same thing and DOMFL.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Philly Pound Oops-Kills Microchipped Lost Dog Whose Owner Filled Out Lost Dog Report

When Cailin Mulvihill’s 15 year old microchipped chihuahua named Rhonda accidentally wandered out of her yard, she immediately began searching for her.  She put up flyers around the neighborhood and went to the Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Team where she filled out a lost dog report.  One day later, a Good Samaritan saw Ms. Mulvihill’s flyer and called her with good news:  Rhonda had been found just a block from home and taken to the pound.  Ms. Mulvihill immediately went to reclaim her pet but the pound had killed her upon intake.  Oops.

The devastated woman asked for an explanation from ACCT’s staff, who initially told her they had scanned Rhonda’s microchip but it didn’t work, Mulvihill explained.

Ms. Mulvihill didn’t buy it. She drove Rhonda’s body to her veterinarian, Dr. Judith Tamas, where the pet was scanned three times and the chip was located three times. (There is a video of Rhonda’s body being scanned at the link but her face is not shown.)  So the pound staff had lied.

“This is the worst kind of negligence [and] laziness,” Dr. Tamas said.

I was thinking that too but pound director Sue Cosby seems to be of the mind that the
rush to kill Rhonda was a kindness:

“I believe the expediency was based on concern for the condition of the dog. It was not callous,” says Cosby, “but policy was overlooked.”

Policy being to scan every animal for a microchip – twice. Staff failed to scan Rhonda even once in their rush to kindness her. Then they lied about it to the owner in an effort to cover up their wrongdoing. I never thought “expediency” could be made to sound so creepy.

Rhonda’s vet said her health was that of a typical elderly dog and that she suffered from sporadic seizures – something which could have been quickly clarified by the pound staff had they done their jobs and gotten the owner’s contact info off the chip. Or failing that, checked their own lost dog reports to find the owner’s info. Or you know – kill, lie, whatever.

After admitting the error, the ACCT put the staff member responsible for the euthanization on unpaid leave while the agency decides what steps to take next, Cosby said.

Maybe a roundtable discussion on expediency and the value of life? Just a suggestion.

The director is refusing to release the name of the employee. But we should just take her word that there is someone on unpaid leave and the pound is taking this seriously, I guess.

Meanwhile Ms. Mulvihill grieves for the loss of her family member and gave the local NBC affiliate a message for her beloved pet:

“I love you Rhonda and you are perfect in every way.”

We have tragically seen callous pound workers fail to protect the lost pets in their care and kill them instead of returning them to their owners countless times. Often, they blame the owners for failing to microchip their pets. Except when they kill chipped pets like Rhonda, in which case – uh, lie.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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.)

The Myth of Unadoptable Shelter Animals

Puppy #269268 as posted on PetHarbor by the Memphis pound.

Puppy #269268 as posted on PetHarbor by the Memphis pound.

When we talk about shelter animals being adoptable, we are talking about them being able to love and be loved by a family who would give them a home.  By this definition, only those pets who have been deemed medically hopeless and suffering by a veterinarian or in rare cases, dogs who have been deemed behaviorally hopeless by qualified parties after all rehabilitative efforts have failed would qualify as unadoptable.  All other animals in shelters are adoptable.  That is to say, there’s someone for everyone.  And it’s the shelter director’s job to find that someone for every one of the pets in their care.

In the case of feral cats, “someone” is the community – usually volunteer colony caretakers who feed and monitor free living neutered, vaccinated cats.  In other cases, “someone” might be an adopter, rescuer, foster or owner of a pet who’s gotten lost and been picked up by animal control.

Shelter directors encounter a wide array of pets and temperaments – from adorable toy breed dogs to large, strong dogs who don’t play well with others to cats too scared to interact with humans in a shelter environment.  Some pets will appeal to a large swath of the public, others to a narrower market.  It is the shelter director’s job to find that someone.

No pet is unadoptable due to age.  That is simply an excuse for killing, invented by lazy shelter directors who don’t feel like doing their jobs.  No matter how young or old, there is someone out there willing to love and be loved by that animal – in some cases, it’s the owner who has lost their beloved pet  It is ignorant and cruel to deny this.  Imagine if we applied the same standard to babies abandoned at hospitals or elderly people living on the streets.  Would we find such a person in need of care and tell them that due to their age, no one could ever possibly love them?  That there is no possibility anyone is looking for them due to their age and that death is truly the kindest option?  It sounds absurd because it is, no matter what group of sentient beings we are talking about.

Likewise, with the rare exceptions noted in the opening paragraph, no shelter pet is unadoptable due to health or behavior.  Like age, this is another excuse for killing invented by lazy shelter directors who won’t do their jobs.  Pregnant animals are adoptable.  Coughing animals are adoptable.  Pets with broken legs are adoptable.  Cats who hide at the back of the cage are adoptable.  Ninety pound dogs who haven’t yet been trained to walk on a leash are adoptable.  And again, there may be owners looking for any of these animals which is why that possibility can not be ruled out during the holding period and why shelters must make all their animals accessible by posting photos of all animals online immediately upon impound.

Granted, these special needs animals are not going to appeal to that wide swath of adopters and rescuers.  That’s why they call it work.  And why it’s so important that shelter directors have established relationships within the community, so they know how to best market pets with particular needs and who to call when they need help with certain animals.  Simply branding all, or any, of these animals as unadoptable and sending them to the kill room has become the standard protocol in too many so-called shelters in this country.  Shelter directors do it because they can.  And when they do it, they feed into the negative perception held by some that shelters only have broken animals.  That you shouldn’t adopt from a shelter because, as is often heard, there’s a reason those animals are there.  Their lives have no value – even the shelter director agrees because otherwise, why would he spend so much time killing them?  Nobody wants to kill animals, right?

The Companion Animal Protection Act is model legislation which takes away the discretion of shelter directors to kill randomly and in secret.  CAPA requires transparency and accountability from shelter directors.  It forces them to do their jobs by giving every animal in their care a chance to live and love and be loved.  For every animal advocate lamenting the arbitrary killing of pets by their local shelter director whom they believe will never willingly embrace the work of saving lives, getting CAPA passed in your community is an alternative worth exploring.

Nebraska Humane Society Kills Two Cats for Hissing

Chloe and Truman, as shown on the WOWT website.

Chloe and Truman, as shown on the WOWT website.

The Lovewell family in Nebraska had 2 snuggly cats since they were kittens – Chloe, age 13 and Truman, age 7.  Due to a chronic health issue with a family member, the Lovewells decided to take the cats to the Nebraska Humane Society where they believed the cats would find new homes.  No one at the facility led them to suspect otherwise and had anyone done so, the family says they would not have left them there.

But that night, the Lovewells were unable to sleep and realized they could not bear to part with their pets, no matter what.  They called the Nebraska HS first thing the next morning to let them know not to adopt out Chloe and Truman as they wanted them back.  But their calls were sent to voicemail.  And anyway, the Nebraska HS had already killed both pets:

Nebraska Humane Society spokesperson Pam Wiese said, “They were acting aggressively, hissing and spitting and swatting and we couldn’t really handle them. If you can’t handle them, you can’t get them into a kennel to get them into adoptable condition.”

It sounds like the cats were scared at the time they entered the facility – which is normal behavior for cats.  The staff at the Nebraska HS should know this and should have protocols in place to allow cats time to settle.  Instead, the facility apparently has a policy that if a pet is not immediately made “into adoptable condition” – wearing a bow tie and playfully rolling a ball of yarn around the cage I suppose – he needs to be made into dead condition.  The Humane, it hurts.

The Nebraska HS says it will now explain to all surrendering parties that their pets might be killed.  And someone will start answering calls from people wanting to reclaim their pets.  Oh.  I was hoping they were going to stop killing animals and conducting useless behavioral assessments at the time of impound.  I guess humane doesn’t mean what I think it means.

Note:  Comments bashing the owners for surrendering the cats will be deleted.  Every single one of us has made decisions we regret.  Sometimes we can correct them, sometimes we can not.  This family tried.  They believed, as most people do, that a place calling itself a humane society was staffed by animal lovers who would not kill their pets.  Now they know better.  Blame the people doing the killing.

(Thanks Karen for the link.)

One Dog Not Killed by the Pound

Not chasing tennis balls anytime soon.

Not chasing tennis balls anytime soon.

Yesterday a dog apparently crawled underneath someone’s truck in a parking lot where I too was parked. When the family returned to their vehicle and tried to leave, they said they felt a hump and knew instantly they had run over something. It was the dog, of course.

A few of us approached to help but no one wanted to get too close to the pitbull, who was dragging her hind leg and trying to find a quiet spot. I talked to her and since she appeared friendly, I decided to kneel down and hold my hand close enough to her face so she could respond one way or the other. (How brave I am now that I have health insurance and can get seen by a doctor if a dog bites me, heh. Thanks Obamacare!) She gave my hand a kiss so I moved in to pick up the tether she was dragging. Someone had wrapped a chain around her neck 3 times and attached a leash type tether to it, which appeared frayed at the end, as if possibly she’d broken free.

I attempted to get information from the family who had accidentally run over her regarding any possible owner. There was no known person with the dog. Another woman asked if we should call animal control to pick the dog up and of course I said no, knowing that would be a death sentence. Just then the driver of the truck came around the corner and announced that she had called AC and they were on the way. So I decided to stay with the dog and see if pleading for her life might do any good. Nothing to lose.

When the ACO arrived I was so pleased to see how gentle he was with the dog and how compassionate he appeared to be. I asked if there was any chance at all the dog would not be killed and he told me in a very straightforward manner that there was no hope of that. He explained how much he hated that fact but that he wanted to be honest with me. I told him I could not send an apparently young, friendly and otherwise healthy dog to be killed. She at least deserved a veterinary evaluation. I am currently broke but I still have a couple hundred dollars in the bank, courtesy of donations that readers have made to the blog’s expense account over the years. I made an executive decision and decided no one who donated to the blog expenses fund would mind if I raided it under these circumstances. I am going to pay it back over time and a woman in the parking lot offered to chip in as well.

The kind ACO managed to get the dog onto his stretcher and unwind the chain from around her neck. He loaded her into my car for me and said I could call him later in the week and he would come by to pick up the stretcher. He scanned her for a chip, found none and wrote up a found dog report. I asked if he needed to take her picture and he said the pound doesn’t have that capability.  He explained to me that someone could potentially reclaim her but added that anyone attempting to do so would need to have a very good explanation for why the dog was loose with a chain wound around her neck.  He thanked me profusely for helping the dog and asked me to let him know what happens with her.

I called the emergency vet clinic on the way and they took her to the back immediately upon arrival. I was asked to fill out paperwork, which I did, scrawling “I have financial limitations.” across the top. After awhile, the vet who had examined her spoke to me about his findings. The injuries did not appear to be grave and he explained that despite the fact that I was being handed an $800 estimate for care that would be ideal, much of it was precautionary in nature. I was given the option to go through the estimate item by item, picking out the services I could afford. He strongly recommended at least one x-ray. I picked out $200 worth of services, including an x-ray. This is that x-ray:

Radiograph of dog pelvis showing 2 fractures  (click to enlarge)

Radiograph of dog pelvis showing 2 fractures (click to enlarge)

The dog’s pelvis is fractured in 2 places but they will heal on their own, with approximately 6 weeks of cage rest. The vet said, “She got lucky.” I was never so happy to hear 3 words. The vet told me the story of the Good Samaritan from the Bible and thanked me for not leaving the dog in the lobby, which he said happens regularly.  He gave me $50 off the bill. They sent us home with pain pills and home care instructions.

We already have too many dogs. Now we have one more, at least temporarily. I tried reaching out to some area rescues but have been turned down. She is approximately 9 months old and I am assuming she is intact, although due to the pain she’s in, I haven’t checked for a spay scar. Her belly looks wormy but she has not been starved and has a good amount of muscle on her. I assume she needs vaccines, heartworm testing/meds, deworming and spay surgery, once she regains her health. But that’s down the road. For now, I am taking things with her one day at a time. Yesterday was a good day.

In the absence of a shelter that actually shelters animals in need, at least we have the so-called irresponsible public. Thank you to the generous woman who offered on the spot to help with the bill, to all of you who have donated to the blog’s expense fund in the past, and to the kind ACO who wasn’t afraid to tell the truth when it mattered. I will keep everyone posted on this dog’s progress.

For as long as this dog is with us, she will need a name. I decided to name her in honor of the little girl whose family accidentally ran over the dog. She was so polite and well spoken and she impressed me with her sincere concern for the dog. She waited with me for awhile until her family left. While we were waiting for AC, she spotted an ambulance coming down the road and said, “I think that’s them!” This fills me with hope. I want that world to exist in this little girl’s lifetime. I want it to be true that animals are treated as sentient beings with the right to live and that when a stray dog has an emergency, the local shelter takes swift action to help protect that dog from further harm. And so, this dog will be called Jade.

Billy can not stand for any dog to be without a tennis ball.

Billy can not stand for any dog to be without a tennis ball.

Denver Police Threaten a Good Samaritan While Dog Suffers and Dies

A 14 year old mixed breed dog named Harley ran out a door accidentally left open by his kids last week.  His family began searching for him by putting up fliers around the neighborhood and online.  Unbeknownst to owner Dani Juras, Harley had been hit by a car just 2 blocks from home that night.  Ross Knapp, a compassionate resident who lived near the scene of the accident, brought water out to Harley, who was severely injured, and stayed by his side to comfort him while waiting for help to arrive.

Instead, the Denver police arrived and told Mr. Knapp he could not comfort Harley or take him to a vet for treatment.  Mr. Knapp tried repeatedly to get back to Harley’s side as he lay gasping for breath in the street but the police threatened to arrest him if he did not leave.  Denver police contacted the on-call ACO and stood guard over the suffering pet for more than an hour, preventing anyone from assisting.  Harley finally died shortly before the ACO arrived.

Screengrab from the ABC 7 website depicting Harley's owners meeting the Good Sam who tired to help him.

Screengrab from the ABC 7 website depicting Harley’s owners meeting the Good Sam who tired to help him.

The heartbroken owner would like to see the officers held accountable for their cruelty in some way.  One local pet advocate wrote to city council, asking that the city stagger its ACO shifts so there would be better coverage for community pets in need during evening hours.  Dozens of people attended a memorial for Harley last night.  But the police department has stood by the actions of its officers:

Denver Police said injured dogs are unpredictable and helping them puts both the animal and the person at risk.  Police posted a YouTube video in which a veterinarian and animal control officer explain why it’s best to wait for professionals to handle an injured animal.

While we can all agree that allowing a trained professional to handle an emergency situation sounds ideal, it’s not always practical in real life.  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to allow the Good Sam to transport the dog to a vet and free up the resources of the police department so they didn’t have to stand guard over a dying pet?  I mean, assuming Denver still has actual crime happening?

Harley’s right to live should have been protected.  Instead, he was left to suffer an agonizing death while the police threatened someone willing to try to save Harley’s life.  Trying to help an injured dog is not a crime.  If these officers are not needed in Denver to fight real crime, perhaps they should be laid off or at least transferred to the Threateners of Good Samaritans department, since Denver apparently sees such a need.

(Thanks Tonya for sending me this story.)

Main Line Animal Rescue Refuses to Return Lost Pet to Owners

Many people looking to add a pet to the family are open to the idea of getting one from a rescue group.  It’s got a built-in feel good that people enjoy.  And a satisfied customer is likely to refer friends and family in future.  In these ways, rescue groups have got a good thing going.  In fact, they would have to work hard in order to negate the positivity inherent in their work and turn it into disdain.

Unfortunately, there are too many rescue groups doing exactly that.  They discourage people from adopting by employing restrictive screening protocols, shut poor people out of the opportunity to rescue by selling pets for large amounts of money and/or sell lost pets whose owners want them back because the rescue deems the owners unworthy.  That’s a lot of effort to shoot oneself in the foot.  And it’s widely accepted that unsatisfied customers tell many more people about their bad experiences than satisfied customers.  Homeless pets continue to be homeless and so-called shelters continue to kill, citing the long debunked “not enough homes” reason for the killing.

When a PA family’s beagle accidentally escaped his home last week, the owners immediately began searching for him.  The Kreksteins left their contact information with both the police and the local SPCA.  Their dog Flash was microchipped and they were reassured that if any animal group scanned that chip, they would receive a phone call.  And they did – from Main Line Animal Rescue, the place where they’d adopted Flash two years ago. But it wasn’t about getting their dog back:

The Kreksteins say the organization’s executive director, Bill Smith, then sent them an email letting them know that Flash would not be returned to their care because the family violated the adoption agreement. The message said the family failed to call the animal rescue and notify them the dog was missing and said they were not properly caring for him.

The Kreksteins are understandably outraged. They love Flash and consider him a member of the family. And they want their family member back home with them. Main Line Animal Rescue is refusing to reunite Flash with his family because the owners have been deemed unworthy due to the failure to contact Main Line to advise Flash was lost.

Rob Krekstein says the family technically broke the adoption contract, but that he doesn’t consider his dog “a contract.”

“I didn’t rent the dog. The dog lives in my home. It’s a member of my family,” Rob Krekstein said.

Smith said The Kreksteins know what they agreed to when they signed the contract.

Apparently what they agreed to was to make a homeless pet a part of their family, to love and cherish him, and to allow Main Line Animal Rescue to abruptly tear their family apart if the group ever determined the contract hadn’t been followed to the letter, regardless of circumstances. Now everyone knows. If you adopt from Main Line Animal Rescue, don’t get too attached, don’t fall in love with the pet and definitely don’t consider him a member of your family because one mistake and Main Line will smash that bond to bits. Tell all your friends.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Town of Hempstead Kills Owned Pets, Owners File Lawsuit

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Screengrab from the WABC website depicting Cici and Yankee

Last month, 2 mixed breed dogs called Cici and Yankee escaped their yard and went for a run around the neighborhood in Long Island, NY.  Both were known by neighbors to be friendly and playful.  But apparently any loose animal that looks like a Pitbull type dog in Nassau Co warrants the summoning of the National Guard:

An incident in Lakeview involving Pit bulls three days prior caused  police to send multiple police officers including detectives and a police helicopter.

Nassau Co police responded to a report that Cici and Yankee were chasing kids and started shooting at the dogs, hitting Yankee.  The dogs ran home and the Town of Hempstead sent an ACO to the residence where police had gathered.  The owner, who is unable to read English, signed a form he was given by the ACO and the dogs were taken to the pound.

There are no reports indicating the dogs bit anyone, growled at anyone or even cast a stern glance in anyone’s general direction.

The family went to the pound the next day it was open to reclaim Cici and Yankee and were told both had already been killed.  The form the owner signed without understanding what it said due to the language barrier reportedly transferred ownership of the dogs to the Town of Hempstead to do with as the pound saw fit.  The family was apparently so shocked at this news that they went home and returned the next day, believing they must have been given the wrong information.  But they were again told their pets had been killed.

The Town of Hempstead, well known for its alleged abuse of shelter animals, offered this response to a reporter:

“We are confident that the police don’t throw their weapons and shoot at animals unless they present a danger to the public.”

Oh the Town of Hempstead is jokes.  If police shot at the dogs, they must be the spawn of Satan because police.

Cici and Yankee’s owners have filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead for killing their pets without due process.  The town is apparently rolling in dough.  I hope the owners get every penny and just maybe, some stuffed shirt mooching off taxpayers there will take notice and effect change.

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Karma Rescue in CA Sells Lost Pet While Ignoring Owner’s Pleas

When a CA family’s 8 month old puppy got lost last month, owner Rosa Torres began looking for her right away.  She visited her local shelter repeatedly but never saw her puppy, called Raffiki.

In fact, Raffiki had been found running loose and was taken to a neighboring shelter – not the one the owner kept searching.  An area group called Karma Rescue pulled Raffiki from that shelter and listed her online as an adoptable pet.  That’s how Ms. Torres found out where her puppy was.  The owner immediately tried to reach Karma Rescue by phone but had to leave a frantic message explaining she wanted to get her lost pet back.  She then went to the group’s website and filled out an adoption application for Raffiki.

“The application form says why do you want this particular dog. I said because she belongs to me,” Torres said. “I said we love her and we miss her and we want her back home with us.”

But no one from Karma Rescue got back to Ms. Torres.  Instead, they sold Raffiki for $300 to another owner.  In a statement to the L.A. Times, Karma Rescue said Ms. Torres’s application “did not meet the qualifications that Karma looks for when adopting a dog to a home.” The L.A. Times writer explains:

As someone who’s worked with animal rescue, let me translate that: Torres is young; she and her son live with her parents in a small rental home in a not-so-great part of town. Her dog wasn’t microchipped, spayed or wearing ID tags. If she couldn’t manage to find the dog in a week, she doesn’t deserve to get her back.

Worse:

“Had [Ms. Torres] been a little more diligent, we would have spoken with her,” acknowledged Karma Rescue’s lawyer Susan Willis.

Karma Rescue decided that Raffiki’s owner wasn’t even worth talking to, never mind considering the return of her family member to her.  Not everyone agreed with the decision:

“You’ve got groups that help people and their pets, through education and support, versus people who just focus on the animals and tend to demonize owners,” said Jessica Gary, who spent the last year volunteering with Karma Rescue and considered the group one of the city’s best.

She resigned last week because this case revealed an elitism that’s shocked and disappointed her.
[...]
“If they’d returned this dog to the original owner, this new family could have adopted another dog, one that might die in the shelter now because it doesn’t have a home.”

Affirmative.

As we’ve discussed numerous times on this blog, rescue groups have no right to act like they are the 1%, trickling down animals upon the unwashed masses as they see fit. Poor people love their pets too. If rescues are truly wanting to save as many lives as possible, returning a lost pet to an owner should be a no-brainer under normal circumstances. It’s a way to put another one in the WIN column while reallocating resources to save the next animal on the local pound’s kill list. Instead Karma Rescue appears to have been determined to break up Raffiki’s family, because they deemed Ms. Torres unworthy.

On its website, Karma Rescue claims that the human-animal bond is sacred and must be respected:

“Unfortunately, your pet does not have a voice,” the Karma Rescue website reminds pet owners considering giving up their pets. “He can’t tell you he would rather stay with the family he has known and loved all his life.”
“Dogs and cats … go through psychological torment when they lose their family. Your pet deserves to stay with the family he/she loves.”

Apparently Karma Rescue neglected to include a giant asterisk there.

The owner who bought Raffiki is refusing to return her and it’s unclear to me whether Karma Rescue would send her home to Ms. Torres even if the puppy was returned. Ms. Torres and her 4 year old son are heartbroken that their family member will not be coming home. And you can probably guess what Ms. Torres’s opinion of rescue groups is at this point:

“My image for a rescue was always kind people who wanted homes for animals that need rescuing,” she told me. “I was really in shock that they weren’t trying to help me get my dog back.”

Instead of putting one in the WIN column and saving another pet in Raffiki’s place, Karma Rescue has broken up a family and needlessly given other rescue groups a bad name. It’s not lost on me that the group chose the name Karma. In Buddhism, there is no one to deem you unworthy like this group did Ms. Torres, but bad karma must be worked off, no matter how many lifetimes it takes. They might want to get started on that now. Ending their discriminatory practices and focusing on lifesaving would be a step in the right direction.

(Thanks Anne and Davyd for sending me this story.)

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